Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Baby Whisperer

Baby Girl is the sweetest. She LOVES to be held and really only sleeps well if she is being held. As much as I would love to accommodate her, I have to get things done for the rest of the family.

To my rescue comes my Baby Whisperer--aka Whirlwind.  Who would have guessed?  He loves to hold her and help her be happy.  He can calm her down when no one besides me can.

What a blessing to all of us!   Whirlwind is developing a special bond with his baby sister, and I take every opportunity to praise and thank him for his efforts.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Good Friends Are There For You

I am so thankful for good friends. My good friend, Monica, knew I hadn't been able to get the school district (a long story) to put Acroboy into their free preschool program. She also how concerned I was that he have a chance to adjust going to school, and that budget constraints precluded many private schools.

Monica's own daughters attend an early education training program at our high school. Students have to apply and be accepted into the program which works with young children 3-5 years in age.  The preschool class size is limited and the whole program is under the supervision of a wonderful teacher. The students spend weeks learning before they are ever put in charge of children.  Then, each Friday (when there is no preschool), they evaluate the week.  The cost is nominal. 

Monica talked to the teacher in charge about getting Acroboy into the program just once a week so he could have exposure to sitting in a classroom, learning and using routines, and getting along with other kids.

The teacher called me and she had some concerns too, but in the end we decided to try it out for a few weeks.

Overall it went well.  Things went well enough that Acroboy went Mondays and Wednesdays, then at the end, he went every day.

We hit a few snags with him learning the rules, learning about people's personal space (that one is still an issue), and learning about what not to say in class (it involves quoting dialog from a video game out-of-context).  We had a few days when there were tears because he didn't want to go to school.  I would sit in my car in the parking lot and wait for them to come get me if it became too much.  In the end he would come out smiling and happy and having totally forgotten he had not wanted to be at school. 

It was a good experience and I think a much needed one to prepare him for the transition to kindergarten.  I can't thank Monica enough for her help.  I can only imagine what kindergarten would be like if we were fighting all of these battles then, and not now. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Old Nemesis Anxiety is Back

Much as was hoping to avoid anxiety it's here.

I tried to prepare for and anticipate any triggers.  I brought earplugs and an eye mask to the hospital so I could drown out extra noise.  The earplugs were just enough so I couldn't hear the baby down the hall crying, but I could still hear our bundle of joy in our room.  My sweet husband spent the first night with us and held our daughter so I could sleep.  I was able to get some sleep.

The next night I had sent my exhausted husband home to sleep in our bed.  I tried to get some sleep, but was having a very difficult time.  It was the second night "wakefulness" night.  Baby Girl just pretty much wanted to party.  Two other new moms were also having trouble sleeping.  The hospital beds were not conducive at all for "sleeping in", and they had no nursery.  Our fantastic nurses came up with a plan though.  They put all three babies in an unused room with one of them on watch at all times.  They rotated rounds, medication stops and everything and allowed us to sleep.  I got four and a half hours and I was thrilled!

The third day we came home from the hospital and it all fell apart.  I have a nursing pillow I use to position the baby as I nurse--the problem was the night time feedings.  I would get sleepy nursing the baby, but then I would "jerk" awake because I didn't want to put the baby in a dangerous position.  I kept doing this.  I would try and lay her down, but she wouldn't sleep for long before waking and wanting to nurse again. 

I also found myself drifting off to sleep in my bed, then "jerking" awake again even though I didn't have her in my arms.

The end result was I slept about an hour.

The next day was not much better.  I got an hour nap and 2 two hour stretches of sleep.  I began to have anxiety that I would never have a decent night's sleep again--even though I have faith that I would get through this like I did last time.  I had forgotten how to fall asleep.  I worried about what kind of mother I would be for my other children and how I would function when my in-laws and husband were gone. This only added to my stress level. 

I talked with my mother-in-law and she reminded me of talk I had recently heard from a modern-day apostle of Jesus Christ.  The apostle had taught us from the New Testament and pointed out that even when Jesus was at his lowest point having fasted for forty days and then having been tempted by the devil, the Savior did not turn inward, but ministered to John the Baptist by sending angels to him.  He served others even when he must have been weary and beaten down.

I realized I was wrapped in my own drama of "will I have a normal sleep schedule again?"  I realized I needed to get outside of myself and serve others.  I could serve my family--especially our new little daughter who is wholly dependent upon me, but I can also do little things to help others.  I can send a note to a sick friend, or call someone on the phone to let them know I am thinking of them.  I can make a few phone calls for another busy mom who is trying to pull together a big activity.  I can help others in small, but meaningful ways.

I also have come to the realization that this is likely NOT the last time I'll ever face anxiety--and that's okay.  Heavenly Father has helped me get through my bouts of anxiety in the past, and I know He will help me get through them now, and when I face them again in the future.  This knowledge helps me because I know I am not alone.  I can also use the experience as an opportunity to draw ever closer to my Father in Heaven and His son, Jesus Christ.  

And that my friends, is a very good thing.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I got the best present in the world. My sweet Baby Girl made it here safely. She was a little over nine ponds and was 21 1/2" long. My hypertension has not completely subsided, but I hope it will soon.

The amount of drama near the end of my pregnancy was probably fitting for the dramatic start with how much morning sickness I had. Without going into too many details let's just say I made four trips to the hospital before she was born. One of those was for pregnancy induced hypertension. 

It's never boring in our lives.  :D

In any case she is finally here and she is beautiful!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Getting Ready for Baby

My in-laws will be coming out to visit and help with the baby soon. They plan on being here for a week or so. The bad news is about two weeks after we are due, DH has to go out-of-town on a trip that has been planned for a year.

To prepare myself for that, I've been putting together freezer meals and cleaning and decluttering. My laundry room is cleaner and more organized than it has been in years. I went to the dollar store and got some bins for the shelf to hold various cleaning supplies. I labeled those so we know what is in them. I swept and sort of scrubbed the floor (it's kind of hard being this big).

I also got some smaller containers to hold my spices. I can now pull the basket out, find what I need and put it back. I also grouped my most used spices into one basket and labeled it as well. Now finding what I need is easy.

I've got the baby clothes clean and put away, the portable crib/bassinet set up in my room... I think we are close to being ready. I just have to talk to the doctors about how far over my due date they'll let me go with my history of big babies.

The doctor's visit is tomorrow--wish me luck!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Passing a Torch

We're getting down to the wire now--Baby girl is due in a little over a month.

For the last two years I've served as the head of our women's organization at church.  Lately the needs of my family have increased.  The bishop asked me if I wanted to be released or keep serving with the approaching birth of our baby.  I told him I would serve as long as he felt inspired to keep me in that position. A little while after that I admit I started feeling like my time was coming to an end. The Bishop told me he felt it was time to make a change as well.

I started working with my first counselor, who I knew was going to be the next Relief Society president to be prepared for the switchover.  The bishop asked for our input as to when the changed would be presented to the congregation.  We asked if the change could be announced the day of our Visiting Teaching Conference.**  We all worked together to have myself, my counselors, the new counselors and the visiting teaching coordinator all present the information for the day.

It was an emotional day for me. I can't begin to express my gratitude for the opportunity to serve the sisters in our ward/parish.  I love them so much and hope I was able to help them feel of their Heavenly Father's love for them.  I hope I was able to strengthen them and their testimonies.

I do feel it is time to pass the torch. I have done my best, but now it is someone else's job. Nora (my former first counselor and now the president) will be wonderful. I have no doubt of this. I believe firmly The Lord has a plan for each of us, and this is part of his plan. The blessings that come from serving are immeasurable. And though there have been some challenges, the blessings have far outweighed any cost from serving. Words really can't express my gratitude.

I hope you each have opportunities to serve your fellow men.  

**A quick Visiting teaching primer. The purpose of Relief Society is to prepare women for the blessings of eternal life by helping them increase their faith and personal righteousness, strengthen families and homes, and help those in need. Relief Society accomplishes these purposes through Sunday gospel instruction, other Relief Society meetings, visiting teaching, and welfare and compassionate service.

As mentioned, one of the ways we do that is through the visiting teaching program. Two sisters are assigned as companions and are given the responsibility to visit, strengthen, and uplift other sisters one on one. For instance I go with Mary (who is my companion) to visit Judith and Jean. 

The Visiting Teaching conference is where the local Relief Society presidency presents a program to inspire and remind the ladies at church why it is so important to be a visiting teacher.  Every conference will be different, but there will always be scriptures, and hymns.  Usually there testimonies and stories shared as well.

A wonderful talk titled, "Fulfilling the Purpose of Relief Society" can be found here.  It was given by the former General Relief Society President for the whole chuch, Julie B. Beck.   You can also follow the first link to where more questions can be answered. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Getaway with the Hubby

A few weeks ago I mentioned I might be able to go with my husband to a conference in Orlando.  We were able to work it out with someone to watch the children and we went away for a few days.  I was able to visit with a good friend and her family during the day when my husband was involved in his conference.  

My friend's husband works at Disney and so we made a visit there as well.  I finally got to see the Beauty and the Beast show and I loved it.  I also finally saw the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular as well and I can't wait to get my family back to see it.  I think the boys in particular will enjoy it.  

I didn't ride much while I was there since I'm pretty pregnant, but I did ride Snow White's adventure before it closes down for good, and I rode Peter Pan's Flight.
I admit to falling  asleep during Impressions de France.  I blame being pregnant.

It was some nice getaway time with DH (Dear Husband) which we haven't for eight years.  Far too long since we'd been able to go somewhere together sans children.  It was also good to visit with a good friend and visit WDW with the only child being the one in my belly.  

The kids were good for the sitter and her husband, and she gave us a new idea for handling our schedules after school.  

It was definitely a win all the way around. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

More Doctors, More Evals, and a Break

Looking at my month you can see it is very full of evaluations for Acroboy, and Doctors appointments for the kids and myself. We had the usual orthodontist visits, immunization visits for Acroboy, and a visit for Princess Ballerina to the dermatologist to look at the birthmark on her forehead. I also had my checkup for the baby and things still look good.

It turns out the birthmark on Princess Ballerina's forehead is a very light Port Wine stain. It will not fade anymore than it has.  We were told we could take her to a pediatric dermatologist and have it removed with a laser treatment if we wanted. We could also do it when she is older. DH and I talked about it, and we think if it becomes a self-esteem issue later on we'll do it, but for now we'll let things be.

I did find a way to bring up her birthmark to Princess Ballerina and speak with her about how she feels about it. She said, "If I didn't have my birthmark, I wouldn't look like me."

You rock girl, you rock.

Acroboy has had speech evaluations and a psychologist observe him at music time. She observed for about 15- 20 minutes. After spending several hours at our evaluations at our favorite autism medical center, and even with the speech therapist, let's just say I'm skeptical about how full a picture she got of Acroboy after just 20 minutes.

Our Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquet is coming up, and it will be my last one for a while. Last month was our last Pinewood Derby until Acroboy turns eight and joins cub scouts.

Lastly, in a couple of weeks I get to join DH at a conference in Orlando. I have a good friend who lives in the area, and the plan is to hang out with her during the day while DH is in his meetings. It will be a last getaway before this baby gets here. I'm looking forward to it. We may even hit up Disney. Disney World without kids? I haven't done that in ages. If we go, I think I'll see all those shows my kids have no patience to sit through (like Beauty and the Beast).

My friend's grown daughter is coming with her husband (for one night) and their little girl to stay with my kids (the rest of the time).

I'm looking forward to a brief, but welcome break.

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Feel Guilty

I feel guilty. I really do. And yet i feel justified. I took Acroboy to music time and sat back and watched him act at his worst. I watched him be hyperactive, get in other people's spaces, and not pay attention, and I did nothing. Not a thing, nada, zip, diddly squat.

I did this because I wanted the school employees to see just how much help Acroboy needs. I just want to get him into a preschool setting where he can start working more on some social skills.

One of the other moms commented to me as we were leaving, "Boy, he sure has a lot of energy, doesn't he?"

Yep, I feel guilty.

I explained to her that I had purposely sat back because I wanted them to see how much help he'll need adjusting to kindergarten.

I think I was a little ticked off too, because I got a note in the mail saying there was no record of us ever applying for Acroboy to be in preschool. Umm, right. That would be why we got the letter saying Acroboy was on the wait list. Okay.

Now I have to straighten out this mess.

In addition, Firstborn's grades have been slipping lower and lower in math and science. He gets the concepts, but his anxieties are popping up again. He stresses out over quizzes and test and his mind goes blank for a few minutes. He then realizes how much time has passed and freaks out more. In his mind the missing time means he'll fail the quiz/test. If he fails the quiz/test, he will fail the class. If he fails the class, there is no way he can get into a good school. If he can't get into a good school, there is no way he can provide for his family. It goes on and on.

When I first started talking to the counselor, her first reaction was, "If his grades are slipping, maybe he shouldn't be in honors classes." Hold it right there sister. He gets the information, it's the tests, quizzes and organization problems that are the problem. All you have to do is talk with him and know he gets it. So do that--talk with my kid.

He had a decent handle on his anxieties thanks to the work with the school counselor and school psychologist and amazing teachers we had up to fourth grade before we moved here. Firstborn used to cry every time things did not go as he expected or when he would get himself working into an anxiety spiral. We had a number of student support meetings regarding how to help him. It was because of my friend's comment about Firstborn's behavior we talked to the school and started his diagnosis process. However it was not on an official 504. I've written a separate post on Firstborn's journey to diagnosis.

If I am really honest with myself, i think part of the reason the anxieties weren't as pronounced the last couple of years is I don't think Firstborn has felt quite as challenged at the schools here. Now that he is finally starting to get more challenged by new material and he is getting closer to high school, his anxieties have been creeping back in.

I had asked for copies of the school records before we moved, but I was told they would just forward everything to the new school. I took them at their word--everything would be forwarded. I should have been more adamant.

I went to the junior high to get copies of their current records and while I was looking at them with the counselor, we saw that there are absolutely no notes about any student support meetings, teacher's notes on behavior, counselor notes, or anything other than standardized test scores and grades. Either the notes never made it into the file, or somewhere between the move they got lost.

So there is no record of any supports or diagnosis for Firstborn. I think I have to take responsibility. I did not understand what would be at stake if I didn't put a "label" on my son. I thought I was helping him.

I was wrong and I feel guilty about it.

Now I've got to call our favorite Autism medical center and get Firstborn in the wait list to be reevaluated. I'm going to go about this the correct way so we can get him just a few accommodations so he can deal with his anxiety. He'll be starting high school next year, and the pressure will be on. I need to do everything I can to help him succeed.

I resolve to not let any guilt I feel hold me back. From now on I will be the warrior mom my kids need me to be.

Monday, January 30, 2012

School frustrations

It's been a busy few weeks. I met with the school IEP group again about my concerns with Acroboy. They actually were more concerned about his ADHD diagnosis and how it will affect his learning than they were about PDD-NOS. They basically said to me, "We don't think he really needs an IEP right now-an IEP is for education impact. But since you've come back to us again, we'll do our own evaluation of him and his abilities and we'll see if he needs anything."

Okay folks, forget the fact that a world renowned institute has already looked at him.


Forget the fact I've been asking you for help with him since before he was two and that I've been doing all his therapies by myself until recently. Forget the fact that I was once a school teacher before I made the decision to stay home with my kids. You go ahead and finally deign to do an evaluation on him.


I talked to my friend, Michele, and she helped me realize that at the core of this, they are probably stalling and putting me off because extra help usually means extra resources spent. I know how overworked teachers can be--I was on a productivity schedule when I taught which meant no free planning period--everything I did was before and after school on my own time. Still I wanted my students to succeed, and I found time to touch base with parents of those students I had concerns about.

In the end the school district said I could bring him to a preschool music time, and they would look into getting him speech help again. They were also going to talk to the preschool program people and see if Acroboy could be moved to the top of the wait list (he was supposed to be near the top already with his diagnosis).

Despite all that, this month has had some positive notes. While I was waiting at the orthodontist for Firstborn (he's getting braces off and Whirlwind is going to get them soon), I ran into Julie,my second counselor in the Relief Society, who also had her son in for a visit. She asked how Acroboy's evaluation went. Another mom was in the waiting room and she got pulled into our conversation. It turns out she has six children--three of whom she adopted. A couple of her children are also on the spectrum. She and I exchanged information, and she told me about some additional resources I could look into. Michele also found an autism support group, and what they had to say opened my eyes.

I am frankly still overwhelmed by the amount of information I need to process, but I feel like I am becoming better and better equipped to fight the battles for my children that need to be fought.


Another positive thing--Firstborn had a very important concert and was first chair for his string section. He also had an important audition and we hope he did well. He's been playing the strings since 2007. I was so proud listening to him play. It was an amazing concert to watch.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Food therapy

We've started "food therapy" for Acroboy. Basically I make the nearly two hour drive every week to meet with the ocupational therapist who works with food. We do a food practice to help Acroboy get over his food aversions.

What aversions you might say? Gagging on foods he doesn't want to swallow, crying and melting down just even seeing certain foods. Limited diet that consists of pizza, pot stickers, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, pb&J sandwiches on bread (it has to be the Goober stuff grape flavor), only certain kinds of chicken nuggets,etc. Having issues with textures of foods or the way they are presented. He'll eat scrambled eggs, and but not the yolk in a sunny side or hard boiled egg. He'd eat french fries, but not potato wedges.

His therapist was great. She gave me so many things to work on with him. It's my responsibility to work with him at home to try new foods. We also don't refer to thefoods by name, but by attribute. So we try the yellow lines (Pirate Booty), then yellow circles (bananas), then blue circles (blueberries). Initially we link foods by at least one common attribute.

Acroboy won't touch a lot of the foods right now, but he thought today was fun enough he didn't cry so much when we had green circles (Cucumber slices). He wanted them as far away as possible, and he whined a little, but he didn't cry.

The therapist says it takes at least ten exposures of trying a food before you can really know if you like it or not. The goal for us and Acroboy is to keep exposing him to foods over and over and to slowly increase contact with those foods.

Let's hope this works!