Tuesday, December 9, 2014

No Easy Fixes

There are no easy fixes when it comes to Little Man. Going in to our appointment last Friday, I was pretty sure there would be tears - from me as well as Little Man. I woke up that morning and my bug had finally decided to hit me HARD. In the face. I walked around like a zombie while Hubs got everyone dressed and out the door, and managed to make me some breakfast for the road. I was miserable all day so I knew a stress-related breakdown at the appointment was inevitable. I am the kind of person who releases any emotion with tears, so I knew to stock the van with a box of soft and lotion-y tissues for the day.

Little Man started the appointment by having a serious tantrum that lasted a solid twenty minutes or so. Some head slapping and dramatic tears were eventually alleviated with three bags of fruit snacks and some therapy work. But the news was pretty much what I expected - we are on one wait list to see a psychiatrist for a med evaluation, and a second wait list for a two week long intensive outpatient program for behavioral modification. We are also restarting the every-other-week sessions with his psychologist. Even knowing it was coming, the serious look on his therapist's face brought me to tears. This therapist has seen Little Man since he was three years old, so he's seen Little Man at his best and at his lowest. This look said to me that this is the lowest we've been in those three years. And even typing that makes me tear up and my heart break.

I set aside all thoughts of therapy this weekend to just enjoy time with friends and Hubs. Even though we both were exhausted and still a little sick, I think we needed it. We spent Saturday night at a friend's Christmas party and Sunday night I went to brunch with more friends. Then yesterday I auditioned for another community theater production. Being busy is the only thing that keeps me sane. Sometimes I feel like the more I have on my plate, the more focused and happy I am. I mean, talk to me about that again in a few months, but yes - busy is good!

Speaking of busy, we have only a few days until I leave with two wiggly little boys and Hubs for a 16 hour road trip to Wisconsin. To save a crapton (yes, a unit of measurement) of money we decided on renting the smaller car versus the SUV. Cross your fingers and hearts for us, I'm hoping we make it in one piece. We are literally driving up, spending two days with family, and then driving back. We are insane.
Add caption
And because he didn't get mentioned much, here is a photo of Vegas being adorable. Also a reminder that I love this little squish, because seriously this grumpy mood he's been in for two days is no fun at all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Life is Hitting Us Hard

As usual, the holidays came and we all caught some sort of horrible bug.  We've been out of commission for about a week now with various levels of sick, although Little Man has been miserable much longer than the rest of us. About a month now. We even ended up taking him to Urgent Care, because his cough started to get a horrible whooping sound for a few days. He was given steroids, cough syrup, and a diagnosis of croup. Yikes!

Luckily they said it wasn't very contagious, unless you shared food or drink immediately after him.

Two days later, Vegas was a snotty, sick little mess.

Oh little boys...


Because Little Man is sick and miserable, his behavior has been really out of whack lately too. His normal stimming and head-hitting has escalated to full blown punches to the left side of his head when he's angry. He leaves big red marks all down the side of his face, and screams bloody murder while he does it. I'm sure it hurts, which is a problem, but it is also really scary to watch. When he does the hitting in public I have to brace myself for not only his actions, but my own reaction as I sense people watching me to see what happens next. I never let the people-watchers dictate my own actions - Little Man is my child and I know when he needs to be redirected and pushed through an activity and when it's time to cut our losses and bail. But it stings to feel those eyes on you and your child, for sure.

I know there will be a time when Little Man is too big to pick up and hold, and too strong for me. I can feel it coming every time I lift him into his chair at dinnertime. So I worry all the time that this hitting phase will be permanent and that there will be a time where he will cause serious harm to himself or others, and that I won't be able to fix this. And of course right now it's too early to tell what will happen in a year, or five years, or ten. But I still worry. Because that's what mommas do best. Love and worry.

Right now, the hitting is only a problem when he is mad, and he only hits himself. So we're talking with his behavioral psychologist and trying to decide how best to handle things. I have a feeling that our psych trips will increase after we see him again this week and let him know our progress. Which is okay. We are okay.  And Little Man is okay.

Things had just been really smooth for awhile there, and so this feels like a huge setback. Behaviorally Little Man has developed leaps and bounds from where he was even just last year, but this just... its rough. Every once in awhile I just feel so overwhelmed with this one.

My Little Man being a lovebug at the doctor's office.
But this is also my Little Man. This cuddly little love-bug of a kid, who lately has been crawling into our laps at night when he gets tired, just to be held for awhile. The kid who never once hits his brother or is mean to him, despite how much Vegas is in his face all day long. The kid who loves to run his hands over beard stubble while he looks lovingly into your eyes.  This crazy, adorable little guy.

I love this little guy, and today I want to just look at this picture and remember how much he melts my heart even when it's been a long, hard, month.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Back To Work

The title is slightly misleading I suppose. I'm not back to work in the traditional sense, but I am back to my workout routine!

If you have run into me recently, you probably have heard about how Hubs and I are in the early stages of planning for Baby #3. As early as July we had discussed when would be the ideal time to try again, and I'd pretty much put the lid on it until I could decide how I felt about things. When the topic came up again (and honestly, I bring it up much more than he does), I decided to set a goal and stick to it. I needed to lose the rest of my "baby weight" and feel like I was happy with my body again before we started trying.

Exercising does not come easy for me. I absolutely hate every minute of it. Some people love the endorphins or whatever, I can't stand being achy, sweaty, and straight up bored. The only way I've ever stuck with an exercise program is if it is something that doesn't feel like exercise, or if I have a clear and defined goal in mind. Case in point - I lost all my baby weight from Little Man in the months leading up to my wedding. I'd lost five or six pounds doing Wii Fit for awhile, and not working at a restaurant had helped. But nothing jump started me faster than realizing I was about to be front and center in a white dress with a corset that I bought a size too small.

So I am back again after lots of starting and stopping, and I'm working out harder than I have in a very long time. I'm taking just a half hour every day during Vegas' nap to kick some ass on the treadclimber. And the benefits of working out have started to pay off... not only have I lost seven pounds, I have gotten my energy levels back up during the day! I hadn't been getting as much done around the house, and suddenly my closets are cleaner, my kitchen sparkling (okay the floors are still kind of sticky but somehow they won't magically repel kid food!), and I'm preparing healthier and better meals.

I'm no fool. It is going to be a struggle to keep wanting to exercise daily as the weather gets colder and and I run out of decent stations on Pandora. But our anniversary is in a month, and that is when I will weigh in on my weigh-ins (hahahahahah I'm so punny). I want to love my body again, and be as healthy as I can be before I start the next chapter in our story.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Family Weekend

This past weekend we won a free trip to Williamsburg from a timeshare company and headed out there for a great couple of days with the boys. Since we are very wary of flying with Little Man, we're always excited when we can take him places within driving distance. Although considering we drove to Wisconsin last winter, driving distance is actually a pretty loose term.

The stipulation of winning a "free" stay at the condo meant we had to listen to a timeshare lecture, which ate a good chunk of one of our days in Williamsburg. Despite that though, we managed to go out to dinner as a family, spend a full day walking the streets of colonial Williamsburg, visit the outlets, and even take advantage of the giant jacuzzi tub we had in the condo! Well... Hubs and the boys did. I sat on the sidelines and laughed at boy's swimtime.

Our major worry heading in to the weekend was what to do with Little Man at night. At home we have our routines and our safety measures in place for him, but hotels are a whole different ballgame. Luckily Hubs' parents had come up with a fairly ingenious solution for when they watched Little Man while we were in Las Vegas, and so we decided to try it on a larger scale at the condo since it was a 2-bedroom unit.
Bed Jail!
The baby gate/playyard went around the entire bed, and we kept it snug using the end tables on either side of the bed. Surprisingly enough Little Man didn't try to get out of bed or even move the end tables to release the gate, which weren't expecting at all! So he stayed in the 2nd bedroom all night and kept to his usual schedule. Hurray and score one for us!

Vegas was another story. He was not pleased with his sleep option - a pack n play in the living room. The first night he cried for several hours while we tried everything we knew how to get him to relax and sleep, and even after finally getting him down he woke up once or twice during the night. That did mean that the next night he was so exhausted it only took a half-hour to get him to bed, but man were we exhausted after night one! We were shocked it was Vegas and not Little Man who kept us up all night, but kids are always surprising little beasts so go figure!

All in all it was a really fun weekend away, despite a little rain and Little Man's refusal to pose for photo ops.
Cold and rain didn't phase him!

Not a fan of the forced photo. Sigh.
The day after we got back we decided the weather was perfect pumpkin patch/apple buying weather, so we headed to a local farm to grab a wagon full of autumn.
Not exaggerating, a wagon full.

The boys probably had more fun here than Williamsburg because we let them explore at their own pace - although Vegas seemed unsure of what to do with all of his freedom...
Little Man was just pleased we let him wander around and clamp his hands over his ears as much as he wanted. It's the little things in life.
Dance like nobody is watching
And while Hubs got in a cute photo or two, I got shafted again with photo ops. Oh well, I'll have beautiful memories, right?


After the pumpkin patch we headed over to a local winery with my in-laws and then had them over for chili dinner. I don't think we could have crammed any more activities into the weekend!!

By Monday morning we were exhausted and had to use the conveniently placed national holiday to recuperate from all the vacationing. We binge-watched Survivor and caught up on the DVR while eating leftover chili. 

It was really one of the best family weekends we've had yet. Sometimes I can't believe how lucky I am to have these boys and marvel at how much my life has changed in just a few years. We are all so, so lucky.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"It's Probably Not Cancer" and how we switched pediatricians

Before Vegas was born, we knew that having a good local pediatrician would be crucial. We couldn't use Little Man's - she was not only over two hours away, she also had terrible availability. So we toured an office on the recommendation of friends and absolutely loved it. It wasn't perfect, this ped was still a half hour's drive from us. But we figured it would all work out in the end and we were fairly used to driving to any appointment so it was decided - New Ped would see Vegas and eventually we'd transfer Little Man there as well.

Flash forward to the day we arrive home from the hospital... New Ped didn't have privileges at our hospital so we called to set up the newborn visit for sometime in the next few days. I was very anxious to get the all-clear on Vegas despite all the assurances he was practically perfect in every way, and New Ped had promised to see him herself ASAP.

"We're sorry, we don't have any availability for at least three weeks."

Three weeks? But this was the newborn check!  He would be practically ancient by then! And if there was a brain bleed, it would go undetected for three weeks? Hell no. 

We begged, we pleaded, we repeated the assurances we'd received only a couple of weeks prior. But the receptionist was rude as hell firm - no visits were available.

So we called another pediatrician, this one was between Hubs' office and the house, an ideal location but we'd never met them. He could see Vegas the next day for his newborn check. We were sold.

New New Pediatrician's office was a little more ancient classic. It was in a bigger building with a lot of other doctors, and these pediatricians had been practicing for a lot longer than New Ped. This didn't really bother me much, most of his wisdom was the kind of stuff I'd grown up hearing at my own doctor's visits, and I could relate. He was a friendly doctor, great with Vegas, and he said it would be fine to switch Little Man to him as well.

After we brought in Little Man though, he quickly realized that he was not equipped to handle a kid with disabilities this intense. Although he did say we could continue with his practice, his actions suggested he was uncomfortable with the situation. He refused to even give Little Man a flu shot because he was unsure of the protocol for kids with shunts. We decided after that visit that Little Man would continue with a New New New Pediatrician, and we'd keep Vegas with New New Ped.  Still following?  Good. You're doing better than I thought you would!

Back to Vegas' story - New New Ped was now very cautious with Vegas' health after seeing his big brother. Within his first few weeks, we'd already been directed to a see a specialist about Vegas' feet (slightly bowed from his position in the womb), and another specialist about his pretty intense baby acne.  A few months after that, we were told that Vegas' head was above average sized and he would need to be brought in for extra appointments, our heads needed to be measured and averaged, and then we'd possibly see a third specialist at Children's Hospital.  A couple months later and we were finally told that he just has a big head - but now his "slow development" was concerning. Vegas was already 9 months old and not playing patty-cake.

I think that day was when I finally realized this pediatrician - despite his good nature and great location - was not going to work out. I knew there was nothing wrong with my littlest. He didn't play patty-cake because I don't play patty-cake with him. No, he didn't stand already - but he was slower to walk and so I wasn't worried in the slightest. Until New New Ped told me to worry that is. I didn't have any options for a new ped that I liked and trusted in the area though, so we just stayed with New New Ped because it was convenient. I figured if I found someone we'd eventually switch, but I was not in a big hurry.

With birthdays and vacations keeping us busy all summer, Vegas was late for his 1 year checkup. We went in and he needed his four vaccinations and a blood test for iron levels. The nurse suggested we do the blood test first, and it would be a quick finger prick.

The finger prick took forever, he was slow to start bleeding and it felt like that vial couldn't fill up fast enough. He was hysterically crying and it was breaking my heart to hold him down. Eventually she'd gotten enough blood and she gave him a bandaid and left the room to drop off the vial.

Suddenly Vegas' finger started to bleed for real - all down his arm, the table, and the floor. He was struggling and screaming and I couldn't keep a grip on him on the exam table. I screamed for someone to help me and no one came, even though I had seen a group of nurses hanging out just outside the door.  After what felt like an eternity but was probably only a minute or two, the nurse came back and helped me calm him down and bandaged him back up.  But I was totally thrown, and the shots that followed didn't do anything to calm me down.

We got home and I called Hubs to let him know he was in charge for the next blood draw, and I that I hated the nurses. Even then I was still not "done" with New New Ped, but we were definitely going to be looking for a new doctor sooner rather than later. I was angry, but not angry enough.

That is, I wasn't angry enough until the next day. Hubs called me while I was at a class and told me that New New Ped called him at home around 5 pm. He had gotten the results of Vegas' blood draw and he'd "never seen anything like it before", it was extremely abnormal. He wanted Vegas' in for a redraw in a week, because even his colleagues were confused by these results.

He did want to assure us that it was "probably not cancer though".  This was an issue with red blood cells, so yeah, he didn't think it was cancer.  But it was definitely urgent, and we needed to be in soon.

That is when I went from angry, to Mama Bear furious.  Calling a family at home as they sit down to dinner to inform them of this kind of news? News that you probably had all day, that you waited til end of business day to call to talk about?  News that is "urgent", but we will wait a week to see what happens?! And where in the WORLD did the "c" word come from?!  I am no medical doctor, but even I know that an abnormal red blood cell count doesn't bring cancer to the front of the pack of medical issues you're having, and you're talking to the very frightened family of a one year old!?!? OVER THE PHONE?!

By the next morning we'd switched Vegas to New New New Ped, the lovely but not local doctor we'd found for Little Man. Between 8 am and 11 am, they'd called New New Ped, gotten the lab results, gotten Vegas' records released, reread the lab results, and confirmed with me that they felt it was a faulty test and human error - not a horrible blood problem. Possibly anemia. They wanted to do a retest to confirm that, because they didn't trust this test at all, but it was nothing to panic over. And that was that.

I wish we'd started seeing a new doctor sooner. I should have trusted my gut and switched the minute I realized that this guy was not a good fit for our family. Lesson learned the hard way.

Little Man and Vegas, healthy and probably cancer free.
Seriously, eff that doctor.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

3 Years Ago...

3 years ago Little Man underwent a shunt revision. He'd been having vomiting episodes for almost a year, and every time I took him to the doctor or the E.R. I was assured everything was 'normal'. He was exposed to germs in daycare and Ex's house wasn't the cleanest of places (a story for another day), so his vomiting was chalked up to those things and called a day.

Eventually Hubs and I ended up making a 2 hour trip to the only emergency room qualified to give Little Man an MRI or CT because of his shunt. Even after I brought my listless and exhausted three year old in to this major hospital E.R., they couldn't find anything wrong him. They tapped it (took some cerebral spinal fluid from inside the shunt) and his pressure seemed normal. But as the medical resident was tapping the shunt, some spinal fluid leaked and he seemed to be having a tough time with the procedure. We didn't know it then, but he hadn't gotten an accurate result.
He was sleeping most of the time, a symptom of shunt failure but also a symptom of every other illness ever.

So after a three day hospital stay, the head of the pediatric neurology team came and performed the tap again herself. They'd been hesitant to tap again so soon because every tap can introduce germs into the shunt and that's a place you don't particularly want germs. Also because of other medical junk I cannot remember 3 years out. But anyhow, the neurologist found out that the shunt was partially clogged and not working, so they scheduled a brain surgery for that afternoon. The surgery was quick, "an easy brain surgery" (according to the surgeon, not me), and after another overnight he was able to leave the next day.

Wicked headache and bad haircut, but a total trooper.

Needless to say, I felt terrible that it took nearly a year of doctor visits and nightly vomiting episodes to figure out that he was having a shunt malfunction.  Unfortunately, the symptoms of a shunt malfunction are:
  • Irritability
  • Refusal to eat
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling more sleepy than normal
  • Headache
Do you recognize any of these symptoms? Surprise! A shunt malfunction looks like any other three year old's regular old stomach bug. And with Little Man having had only partial blockage in his shunt, his symptoms were coming and going without a pattern of any kind. Not to mention that he could never tell me if he had a headache or not, and at that time in his life he wasn't refusing to eat the way he does now. With so few symptoms, it took a long time to come to the decision to perform brain surgery on him again, which I suppose is both good and bad.

So what makes me bring this up now? Well, Little Man is going through a new fun stage where he likes to see how far he can get his fingers back in his mouth to touch his tongue and his teeth. A couple times, he's made himself gag nearly to the point of vomiting. (YUM!)

Last week I came into his room to get him ready for school and he'd vomited during the night. He was otherwise absolutely fine, and raced downstairs for breakfast before I could say, "hey dude are you okay?"  I decided to chalk it up to the new gagging thing, and after cleaning it up I thought very little about it.

Then yesterday morning I walked in and Little Man was just waking up. He immediately started gagging and threw up two or three times before crawling back in to bed exhausted and sleeping for another two and half hours. Since I watched this one and know it wasn't self-induced, I was pretty panicked. He woke up around 10:30 in a terrific mood and bounced all over the house... and while that might seem like great news, it actually puts a lot more fear into this situation for me and Hubs.

So this is why I worry every time my kid is sick. This is why every stomach bug or sniffle has me on high alert... because we're hoping this isn't the start of another long process. We're hoping this is something normal and kindergarten related. Cross your fingers for us.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Little Man Hates Dentist, Vegas Loves Food

Little Man's dental appointment has been pushed back so many times it's embarrassing.  The first time we tried to take him was over a year ago, and while filling out the medical form I naively added "by the way, he has a shunt" line to the medical issues part.  Turns out with a shunt that they don't clean your teeth without prior approval from a doctor.  Whoops.  So his teeth were counted, looked fine, and I called it a dentist win.  I rescheduled and canceled several times because every time the appointment came up again, I'd forgotten to talk to his neurosurgeon.  After intense prodding from his social worker this summer, I re-re-re-scheduled the visit, only to forget again.  Sensing a theme?  But this time I got on the phone with neurology and got everything taken care of in less than an hour. Except it was 1 hour after his appointment time.  Sigh.

So finally yesterday was the big day!  We got to the dentist, and of course we had been mislabeled as a regular ole kid who can get his teeth cleaned by a nice little old lady.  After a gentle reminder (and 30 minutes), we got a strapping young doctor and strong dental hygienist who could help me pin the kid down while his teeth were cleaned. I still got kicked in the kidney several times, as I was designated "hand-holder". On the bright side, he was given a thumbs up on the clean, straight teeth. Then I was warned that six-year molars are on their way.  Yikes!

We raced back home to get Little Man off to kindergarten, which meant Vegas skipped lunch while Little Man ate a danish in the car. Mom points for that one, I know. I quickly realized that Vegas was not enjoying watching Little Man eat and not having lunch, but since Vegas is a little on the messy side, I was S.O.L. on what to feed him as we drove. A half-hour of wailing later, I caved and tossed an applesauce squeeze to him in a church parking lot.  I figured, what the hell, he'll either be covered in applesauce or get a bite to eat. Surprisingly enough, he grasped the squeeze and sip solo concept pretty fast, ate the whole thing, and was dying for more.  Two more parking lot pull overs later and he fell asleep as we pulled into Little Man's school.  Of course.

When we got home from dropping off Little Man, Vegas ate a hard boiled egg, 1/4 cup of olives, a cheesestick, and half a mango before passing out again.  That kid can eat!!

Today we are finally off to get the last few issues in my car looked at before I never shop at that dealership again.  I've had so much trouble with them I could scream.  And I have, several times. Wish us luck!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The First Day of Kindergarten... Er... Again

Yesterday was Little Man's first day of kindergarten, round 2.  We held him back this year for a few reasons, the main one being that he is still not able to sit and follow directions for any significant length of time, and he's still having a lot of trouble with transitioning from one activity to the next.

I met his teacher a couple of days ago.  She seems nice enough.  I'm hoping she is as fabulous as his last teacher, but jury's still out.  Open House was kind of my worst nightmare, because it was during the day and so with Hubs at work I had to take both boys in the double stroller.  I tore off a toenail and managed to bash into a doorjamb. Sorry Vegas.  He didn't flinch, but the parents watching me sure did.  Whoops.  Oh and also, Little Man threw an epic tantrum that lasted the entire 45 minutes we were in the building.  I was a sweaty beast by the time we left.

Quick story - In the morning when Little Man's bus turned into our neighborhood, we walked down to the end of the driveway per usual.  (I always watch from the shelter of the garage until the bus drives past us, because she has to U-turn at the cul-de-sac to exit the neighborhood/stop at our house with the bus door on the correct side.)  Our new bus driver drives right past us as I give my best "HEY WTF ARE YOU GOING!?" face and frantic arm wave.  So she brakes at the very end of the neighborhood, and I drag Little Man to the bus and push Vegas' stroller along side.  Apparently the paperwork was incorrect again and she'd been expecting to stop at the bus stop in the cul-de-sac.  Womp womp.  She got pretty snippy with me and it was a fairly stressful start to the morning.  As I tried to clear things up she waved me off and told me to call transportation to deal with the paperwork, she had no time for me.

Transportation's phones were all busy (first day of school must be awesome there), and after several tries over the course of the morning I got a machine where I left a terse message to please call me back to correct an issue with a bus stop for a special needs child.  Less than 3 minutes after leaving the message, the para (assistant who stays with the kids on the bus so they are safe) from the bus calls me to apologize and let me know she'll take care of all the paperwork and not to worry my pretty little head about it.  I might have paraphrased that conversation.  Which was great, because surprise surprise, transportation never called me back anyways.

So that was the start to our first year!  Today Little Man was shepherded onto his bus with four Target bags filled with important kindergarten supplies like glue sticks, crackers, and juice boxes - and it definitely stopped at the end of our driveway.  Here's to another great year!
Wiggly boy = Blurry memory.  Sorry kid.

Monday, August 18, 2014

My Darling "Baby Vegas"

My littlest "bug-bug", Baby Vegas,

This morning you woke up cheerful - you always do.  You love to rock back on forth on your chubby little feet and give me a big grin to start the day.

We had a big breakfast of oatmeal and yogurt, and I turned on my phone to play some music from the Disney station on Pandora.  The first song that came on was "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, and I cried because I knew your uncle was watching over you and wishing you a Happy Birthday.  I don't have the song saved on my phone and had never heard it on the Disney station before... so I knew it was him right away.  I had called your grandma last night missing him so much with your birthday coming up - he would have loved learning about you and being your friend.  I watch you growing into your name (your real name, my little Vegas), and I laugh sometimes at how much you honor him without any prompting necessary.

You are my explorer, you are the little boy who doesn't quite understand "no" yet.  You are sunshine and big hearty belly laughs.  You are my healing.  You are the spitting image of your Daddy, with a smidge of Mommy thrown in.  I have never loved any baby boy quite the way I love you, you are unique and special and brilliant.

Some days I can't put you first, some days it is all about your brother - and you already seem to understand this and accept it.  You already watch out for him, and you make sure his DVDs never stop and he always has a wrestling buddy.  You want to do everything he does - eat what he eats, drink from his cups, watch his movies.  You are patient and loving when he cries, and a bit of a pest when he is calm.  In other words - you are a great little brother, and it makes my heart grow six sizes when I watch you two together.

Every month as you grow up and get bigger, I think that I want to keep you this way forever.  I want you to always be snuggly and sweet and innocent and beautiful forever.  Then every time you change, and every time you surprise me with a new milestone - I know I can't wait to watch you become a little toddler, and soon a little boy, and then a little man.  I am so proud of you Baby Vegas.  Today you are not a baby any longer, and even though that breaks my heart a little... this next year is going to be magical.  I love you oh-so-much Vegas.  I am so glad I get to be your Mommy.  Happy Birthday buddy!

Love You Forever -

Monday, August 4, 2014

Getting Through Dinner

This video showed up on my newsfeed this morning.  If you're like me and don't enjoy clicking back and forth on a phone, I'll sum it up for you. The ABC program "What Would You Do" did an episode about a child being taken out to lunch with his family.  The child in the program behaved as if he had autism (repetitive words and wandering, among other things) and then ABC waited with their hidden cameras to see what diners would do.  When no one reacted to the boy's behavior, they used another actor to instigate some trouble - he acted offended and gave advice to the family (ie; take your kid home or discipline him.) The entire diner then rallied behind the family and the actor that was being rude was encouraged to leave the diner amid cheers and clapping.

I cried a few times watching the video.  Probably because I'm really over-tired from a fun yesterday of wine tasting and grilling out with my in-laws.  Also because I cry at commercials and kids movies.  But honestly I probably cried a little because it was great to see people doing the right thing by this family, whether it was a real situation or not.

Taking Little Man out in public is always risky.  We do our best to prepare for any possibility, but sometimes it just doesn't want to work. Little Man chooses seemingly on a whim the days where he will be a reasonable companion to our outing, and something that worked to calm him the week before will suddenly no longer work.  Our diaper bag has more distractions for Little Man than diapers and formula, and we are constantly finding new items to carry with us that might just help us during those crucial few moments before a tantrum becomes a full-out meltdown.

Last weekend we took Hubs out to dinner for his birthday to a crab shack that is way out in the boonies.  We'd been there a few times before, and it's great food and short wait times - basically a good place for dining with kids.  We packed up the diaper bag full of snacks, toys, and the portable DVD player and were all set for a great lunch.  Until we sat down and stuck Little Man in the highchair.  Nope.  Not having it.  He was screaming bloody murder, and we took out the Last Resort - the magic DVD player.  And it broke.  And because we were out in the boonies, there was no WiFi to stream a movie on our phones.

We were in the back corner of the restaurant, but the screams were loud and then he started hitting his ears and head (extreme meltdown mode).  So Hubs grabbed his beer and the Little Man and they went outside to cool down.  Ten minutes go by and we think we've got the DVD player working again, so they come back in.  The DVD player works for a few minutes and then it breaks again, leaving Little Man in tears. Not even the allure of fruit snacks is stopping this tantrum.  They go back outside and hang there until dinner arrives and we decide to try one more time.  For whatever reason, third time is the charm and we make it through dinner.  Crisis averted, I guess.  We got to eat dinner, and it wasn't cold.

When  I was waiting for Hubs to come back inside the second time, the woman from the table next to us stopped by our table and leaned down to talk to me.  "You're doing a great job", she said, and then just smiled and walked off.

As strange and awkward as it might seem to offer that sentiment to a complete stranger, I wish more people had the courage to say something.  Because it really helps.  It helps when you feel like everyone is staring, and everyone is judging you for not having your kid "under control" and not "disciplining him".  It helps in those horrible moments in the grocery store where you just want to melt into the floor because you know that it isn't "normal" for a six year old to be sobbing uncontrollably while wiping his tears into his mouth and chewing on his fingers.  It helps when you are watching your child slap his head and face, and you're wondering what the dozens of watchful eyes are thinking to themselves as they stare at your family in the checkout lane.

We live this situation in varying degrees all the time, and it is very, very real.  That horrible diner from the video that is judging that family is out there, and he embarrasses you and breaks your heart sometimes.  The "it takes a village" mentality about being able to shame all children (yours or not) into behaving while they are out in public is mortifying to a parent of a child with developmental disabilities.  People who know nothing about your child find it extremely important to tell you what you are doing is wrong and that you aren't parenting properly. Despite the happy message of the video, it is much more rare for me to encounter a person who simply supports us, builds us up, and reminds us we aren't alone and that even though it looks bad today - we are doing a great job and things will be better tomorrow.

Just think about it next time you see a family struggling out in public.  Think about how hard they are working to be "normal", or even to just get through this one outing, this one afternoon. Think about it before you give them a dirty look or roll your eyes because they are disrupting your life somehow.  I promise that most of those families wish you weren't inconvenienced by them as well.  I promise that most of those families wished you never even noticed them.  We're just trying to get through dinner too.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Now What Do We Do For The Rest Of Summer?

Little Man had his last day of summer camp yesterday.  I was thrilled at the idea of getting a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning, but then reality set in - the kids wake up whether there is camp or not!  My alarm didn't go off this morning, but I still woke up at 7:15 on the dot to get everyone downstairs and our day started.

We only have two weeks until school starts, but I am not really looking forward to the weekdays. I know I won't get nearly as much done during the day. I also know that too much contact between Little Man and Vegas gives Little Man a case of the "ohmygodshutthatkidup".  Especially now that Vegas can babble and follow Little Man all around the house.  I don't know who to feel sorry for - the big kid who needs quiet and alone time without being overstimulated by a squealing toddler, or the little kid who thinks everything his big brother does is awesome and he wants to be right next to him all day long.

Speaking of toddler, Vegas is almost one year old!  Just in the last few weeks he's been making physical leaps - he now uses his Thomas train as a walker to toddle all over the house, stands alone for a few minutes at a time, and has mastered the sippy cup!  I found out the last one when I heard the familiar sound of milk being tugged out of a sippy, and realized it was Vegas taking a big gulp out of Little Man's milk cup. Whoops.  So yesterday we started weaning him off formula and I don't think there is going to be a problem there at all.  He loves his nighttime bottle, but I think that is more of a comfort thing than a nourishment at this point.  He eats so much food now too, and he has no dislikes yet - so his diet is pretty varied and healthy. I've also felt pretty strongly throughout his babyhood that I would let him help guide me in what he was ready to eat and how much he'd like - no rushing him into solids and when he was hungry, we'd eat.  He really preferred/could best handle purees for the longest time and just now has started being able to swallow and tolerate firmer chunks of food. I feel like we've gone from 0-60 in food options overnight!!!  Yesterday for dinner he had avocado, banana, broccoli, carrots, lima beans, and rice cakes and a half cup of water!
This was after a nectarine massacre.
Did you know it is really hard to peel a nectarine?!

Last month we found a sweet portrait deal online for a 16x16 gallery canvas and 40% off any additional sheets of photos for only $16.  So we scheduled some first year photos for Vegas, since Little Man is... less than enthusiastic about photo shoots (plus he will get school photos in a few weeks).  On the other hand, Vegas is always serious and contemplative when in a new place, so it was still really tough to get some smiles and poses out of him.  But we persevered and got several cute shots of him that should be here just in time for his giant birthday bash!! I can't wait to show them off -I'm such a proud momma.

A photo of the website storing previews of photos.
I'm so tech savvy.
We had arranged for the end of the photo shoot to be a cake smash. Vegas was not at all amused. He was very grossed out by the idea of smashing his hands into cake, and just tried to run away the entire time.  I tried to "help" by placing his hands in the cake and swiping some frosting on his lip.  No dice - now he was just dirty and trying to run away. Oh well - we've got another chance for cake photos at his party.  Little Man was such a pro at his cake smash, I think I got spoiled.

He was seriously the cutest cake smasher I've ever seen.

And that about wraps up the last couple of weeks.  Vegas' eczema cleared up with the medicated cream they gave us.  I was diagnosed with TMJ six minutes after walking into the ENT's office.  Little Man has been healthy and has the best suntan out of all of us - he looks like a little Coppertone baby commercial.  Camp kept him outside and wore him out every day, and I think it was a great experience for him.

Time to get back to organized chaos...

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!"

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Age Ain't Nothing But A Number

Time keeps plodding along despite my attempts at slowing it down.  The little baby Vegas I held in my arms 8 months ago is now a chunky, giggling 8 month old.  Even more shocking though... my Little Man is a few months away from being 6 years old.  SIX!  It takes my breath away any time I say that out loud.  The usual "he's still my baby" thoughts fly through my head, followed by... "Holy shit, soon he's going to be too big to be a baby."

I guess I just mean that it's no longer "acceptable" for me to carry him into a grocery store without shoes on, knowing he's going to take them off in the cart anyways.  Or for him to melt down in the middle of the mall. Or to watch a DVD and eat food from home at a restaurant so he doesn't scream bloody murder.  All these little things that are tolerated for parents with toddlers are things that more and more invite a frown or concerned looks from "well-meaning" outsiders.  I feel their stares on my back and I want to blurt out - HEY!  We're good parents!  We know this is a shitty parenting technique!  But it is the only thing getting us through this hour, this day, this week of crazy.  Cut us some slack?  

He's not a baby anymore, right, I know. We're making it possible for him to enjoy this outing, or this event that is probably more stressful than it is fun for us.  And he might look like a "big kid"... but yeah... I guess he's still my baby.

Speaking of family outings, Easter this year was really special.  We spent time with both our extended families and had our annual beer-tasting.  I even got my life together enough to make the boys Easter baskets with all their favorite things in them.  I am not a particularly religious person, so we don't do church and dress-up - but the boys got cleaned up for the family dinners and had brand new outfits for their first Easter as brothers.  

Baskets and Sunday outfits

I'm so proud of both boys for being well-behaved and freakin' adorable all weekend.  

Gotta catch this guy when you can...

This weekend coming up is our annual Day Out With Thomas - it will be Little Man's third and Vegas' first!!  I've seen Thomas the Tank Engine "live" more often than I've seen any of my favorite bands or Broadway musicals.  Sigh.  Parenthood is awesome kids, everyone should do it.

Back to the grind - chicken nuggets don't microwave themselves ya know!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Today marks a full month that I have been working out every day after sending Little Man off to school and while Vegas takes his morning nap.  At first I ran a mile a day, and now I'm up to a respectable 3 miles. We have a little home gym in the basement with a treadclimber that I like using, and I blast my 80's Pandora station and try to stave off the inevitable boredom I feel after Mile 1. I think at some point I'd like a little TV down there, but for now the music keeps me moving. Between the working out and making better food choices, you'd think I'd have lost a bit of weight by now - but I'm only down maybe 3 or 4 pounds. So this month I've decided to take a break from any form of booze to help jumpstart my weight loss.  Yep.  This is after a 10 month dry spell so you know I'm pretty serious about losing some weight.

The other plan for the month of March is to treat myself better emotionally. One of my bad habits is when I'm talking to a friend and I start being negative about myself. I'll put down my body image, my personality, or my talent because I feel self-conscious and less-than.  I don't like hearing other people say those things about themselves, so why do I want to perpetuate that behavior in myself?  I don't.  So my promise to myself has been that I will do my best to say more positive things about myself, and if I don't have anything nice to say - stuff it. I've had this goal before, but I'm hoping that pairing the goal with Lent where everyone else is trying hard to give up things will be a good reminder of what I'm doing (although I'm not religious myself).

Along that line, I am also planning on cutting a few negative people out of my life. This will be a really challenging thing for me, even though it sounds like such a simple goal.  Part of my personality is that I constantly strive to be accepted and liked at the risk of my own feelings and opinions. My insecurity in some of my friendships means I put up with a lot of negativity that I know isn't healthy. Last night something finally just snapped into place for me. I need friends who boost me up, because I tear myself down enough as it is! Dwelling on the negative feedback I always get from certain people just keeps me in that vicious cycle of being down on myself, which then just allows them to think it is okay to say hurtful or negative things.

I've been so overwhelmed the last month or so with negative thoughts and I'm not going to be okay with that anymore. This next month is going to be getting in shape physically and emotionally, and I am so ready for it!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hashtag Real Talk

Little Man is finally back in school after a million snow days.  We got notice from the county that he will be in school til the end of June making up the missed days, which is actually a good thing.  The kid just thrives on schedule and being active!  Once school lets out he will start a special needs summer camp, because our county has claimed it is the best alternative to having very little ESY (extended school year) funding for any kids over preschool age. It's only four days a week, but he will get whatever therapy he qualifies for there (I assume very little), and it will keep him very busy.  He sleeps so much better if he is up early and plays hard all day, so I'm very happy we have a plan in place for summer. Originally camp was off the table for him since we thought it would be much too expensive, but now that I have read the paperwork properly (oops) it has gone from "astronomically priced" to just "slightly more expensive than an ideal summer camp".  I've been working like a madwoman trying to find funding from the county and private companies to help offset the cost, but we don't qualify for much.  I won't go into how angry I am that I am going to pay an arm and a leg for a summer program because the county is being cheap.  Actually that's all I really have to say - I'm pissed about it.  But I'm not going to let that stop me from putting him into the program because I think that will be his best opportunity for growth this summer.  

Vegas is 6 months old, and growing like a weed!  He wears size 6-9 months in pajamas because he's so long (26 inches) and right now he is filling out and weighs about 18 lbs.  His doctor had us come in for a follow-up on his head circumference because he went through a head-growthspurt, but it normalized and now his head is just right.  I was strangely calm about waiting the month in between appointments after the initial freakout on my birthday. But looking at Vegas, he is just so on-track developmentally that I never thought that there would be a problem.  He is hitting all his milestones and very emotionally engaged.  Sometimes I just look at him and get weepy thinking about how fast this baby will 'grow up' compared to my first sweetheart.  Vegas is already making the sign for milk whenever he gets hungry, and he's able to play games with us and relate so well.  Things that Little Man took so long to do, and sometimes still can't do.  

Hubs and I have had many talks lately about how strange it will be to have a little person around that is able to listen and repeat things, and eventually communicate more complex wants than simply food and TV.  How weird it will be as Vegas grows and surpasses the level that his big brother is at. We've discussed how we will have to parent Vegas who will be able to understand things like time-outs and reason (and bribes), and how one day he will ask us why he is treated differently than Little Man.  We want to be the best parents that we can be - as I assume most parents do.  But really everything we know about parenting has been about what works for our one-in-a-million kiddo. Our kid that doesn't fit in any box or diagnosis, who struggles with so many things but has surprised us with his achievements over and over again.  To be clear though, we don't ever discuss all this and think that parenting Vegas will be so much easier or better - just different.

My love for Little Man is unconditional.  If he never communicates well with us or becomes potty trained (but please baby Jesus, help us potty train this child!), it won't lessen how much I love his snuggles, his laugh, and his cold little feet in my lap. It won't change that he is my first true love, the little man who taught me everything I know about selflessness and made me a Mommy for the first time. But can we real-talk here?Things are tough with him right now, really really tough.  It's hard to wake up every morning raving about this unconditional love I feel for him when I'm cleaning up another spilled diaper, or giving a third bath that day, or encouraging him to eat something besides his safe foods.  It is much easier to rave on Facebook about the smiles from Vegas and how he is tasting solid foods for the first time, than it is to try and get my five year old to stop and pose for a picture after he's screamed for 45 endless minutes. Without stopping.  Have I mentioned there seems to be no earthly reason?

As we go through this rough patch with Little Man, I know it will all settle down eventually.  We've gone through some crazy months of things before, and they always iron themselves out.  I think it is especially hard this time because things are so simple with Vegas right now that it almost magnifies the issues Little Man is having.  I'm sure there will be times in the future where this situation is reversed.  But right now I think we just need the support of family and friends, and maybe a little luck.

 This took forever to edit.  I had a lot I wanted to get across and am still not sure I did it all justice. Sorry if the train-of-thought is chaotic!