The end of an era

Two weeks ago, Cadet’s speech therapist gave her notice. She’s moving back to her home state to be near her family. She’ll be with us through the end of July. It’s a sad thing. I love Tay. She started out as this young thing, right out of grad school. But, in the last 18 months, she’s really grown into her own as a speech therapist and as an advocate for her clients. She’s easily one of Cadet’s favorite people.

I remember meeting Tay for the first time and thinking that there was no way she could help us. She was too young, too new, or too peppy. And it took us several months to find the right balance with her and Cadet. But, when we found it…things clicked.

When she first met Cadet, he was barely talking. He couldn’t say “mama” or “ball”. At 2, he didn’t have much speech at all, it’s hard to recall that time without a deep sense of sadness. I remember being on the verge of tears when I told her that he couldn’t say “mama” anymore. And, to her credit, she told me that we’d get that back. Even if she didn’t know it was true…she knew enough to tell me that for some hope.

Now, Cadet is talking up a storm. Sure, we have some concepts we’re working on: plurals and pronouns, currently. We also work on slowing down his speech when he’s excited and not stumbling over words. He’s speaking so much now, that it’s really a matter of getting him interested in something…and the lesson just takes off from there.

Tay has been amazing at supporting my homeschooling efforts. She prints interesting ideas or lessons and brings them to me or she e-mails good articles about speech. Most amazingly, she does the lessons at our home (the only client she does that for). She says she loves working around whatever we happen to be doing that day (baking, outdoor play, or taking a walk). I found out a while ago that life can’t stop because of a therapy session, and sometimes you just need to work therapy into whatever happens to be going on. Thankfully, Tay agrees.

When Tay announced she was leaving, we had a long discussion about Cadet’s future in speech. He’s really hitting on all cylinders these days and according to her latest round of testing: he’s “at or above” his age range for 90% of skills. And he still has some skills that are in the “gifted” range. Since we had talked about tapering off her sessions at the beginning of the year, her leaving falls naturally into that timeframe. She feels confident that Cadet’s in a good space to be leaving speech therapy, and I agree.

But, despite it being the “right” time for speech to be ending, I admit I’m nervous about it. Tay is my sounding board for all things speech-related. Is this “normal” or “should” he be doing that? I’ll miss hearing her reassuring “yeah, that’s totally normal”. She is also my barometer for Cadet’s progress. If I have ever felt there was a setback or something he wasn’t doing that he was a week ago…I could ask and she’d watch for it or do a little probing to come up with an answer. She’s always telling me that Cadet is doing wonderfully. And that working with Cadet has been so reassuring to her about her profession.

We haven’t told Cadet yet about Tay’s eventual departure. We’ll tell him two or three weeks before she’s due to leave, giving him plenty of time to ask questions and adjust to the idea. I can tell that Tay’s going to miss Cadet. At our session this week she asked me if it was okay to just have a “play day”…and I gave the go-ahead. Play days in speech therapy, are just that…a day to play. Tay and Cadet blew bubbles on the patio, played with cars, danced, rolled the hula hoop, and were generally silly together. They didn’t work on anything…just played and laughed and sang. She occasionally would make notes if she heard a new word or phrase, but it was all just play. At the end of the session, she had tears in her eyes when she told me she’s really going to miss Cadet.

Once Tay leaves, Cadet will be down to his weekly OT appointment and nothing else. And, even that will be starting to phase out over the next several months.  In just 7 months, we’ve gone from several therapy appointments a week…to one. It’s a startling change to have such open weeks. But, I know it’s because Cadet is doing so well.

Tay and I reminisced at the end of the session. It’s really quite amazing how far Cadet has come. I thanked Tay for all her hard work. She smiled, and told me that it’s all Cadet’s doing. As most people have told me (and I know)…he’s a very strong and determined young man. Tay told me that he deserves the credit for his progress. Just at that moment, Cadet came over and said: “I love you Mama. Are you happy?” I told I was happy. He gave me a hug and shouted with his arms flung wide: “Mama, I’m very, very, very happy!!!” and then wandered off to blow some more bubbles. My heart melted…

 

Categories: Cadet, speech | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

“Depriving” my child?

Recently, Cadet was invited to a birthday party for a little boy who is turning two. Cadet has met this boy on a few occasions, and his mother and I are casual friends through a local mom-swap group. We won’t be able to go to the party, since we already have another event to go to. However, this mother and I got into a very serious discussion when we last met…and it’s been lingering. It’s about children and TV.

You see, Cadet doesn’t watch much TV. He has relatively no experience with commercial TV, and just a little experience watching streaming shows like “Dinosaur Train” via Netflix. He’s watched only two movies in his entire life….”Cars” and “Wall-E” (to be honest, he’s watched those several times during the beginning of this year). My MIL let him watch about half hour of “UP” before I found a way to redirect him. He watches “videos” on my phone occasionally, mostly of animals at my parent’s farm…or little videos I’ve taken of Cadet around the house.

And, McRuger and I don’t watch that much TV either. We have a few shows we enjoy: Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, a few cooking shows, and one reality show (if you haven’t discovered Married at First Sight, we highly recommend it). Over the course of a week, we maybe watch 4 hours total of TV, sometimes more…but usually much less.

Anyway, this mother said that she thought I was “depriving” Cadet because we don’t let him watch TV or “Disney movies”. She was frankly shocked that Cadet didn’t know Mickey Mouse and that he hasn’t seen “Frozen”. She started to tell me how much her child enjoyed sitting down and watching a few Disney movies (in one day). And how, parking him in front of the TV for several hours a day was the ONLY way she was able to function as a mother.

I heard this from another mom recently, a mom I met in the park. She was saying how she has to keep the TV going for several hours a day (“usually around 6-8 hours”…direct quote), just so she didn’t “go nuts” with the demands of her 4 year old. At first I thought she meant that she had it on as “background noise” while folding laundry or something…she didn’t. She meant that she lets her son watch up to 8 hours of TV a day. She wanted to “know my secret” for not going crazy while being a mom. She was shocked that we don’t watch a lot of TV in our home.

As I’m writing this, Cadet is jumping on his trampoline…running to the side yard…screeching at the raven which is sitting in the tree there…and running back to his trampoline…just to do it all over again. Earlier he was playing with his trains in the water and before that we were playing with his soccer ball in the front yard. And just since finishing this last paragraph, Cadet has gotten out his trains, tow truck, and tractor…and they are having a playdate (apparently, it’s lots of fun, as Cadet keeps telling me). Pumpkin is either napping or hanging with us (he’s a very “zen” baby). It’s been a rough start to the day…Cadet has been dysregulated all morning, and we don’t know why. But, even then…. I’ve had time to do some organization, start menu planning for next week, write a letter to MsV, water the garden, get some laundry started, started mapping out some lessons, and have spent some time on Instagram and Facebook (during quiet time). At what point this morning did I need a TV?

Even though this particular mom is judging me, I try not to judge her and the others like them that I know. Motherhood can be rough and you got to do what you can to just make it through. But, I think it’s pretty harsh to say that I’m “depriving” my son of his childhood because he doesn’t watch much TV. Of course, some days we need TV. Some days Cadet gets to watch 15-30 minutes of Dinosaur Train while I’m finishing dinner, or have a phone call I must return, or Pumpkin is having a rough time napping. But, I draw the line at sitting Cadet down for hours to watch something. I draw the line at him knowing more about a TV show than the world around him. I draw the line at Cadet demanding to watch TV over other activities like painting, playing, or just being outside.

I know how powerful TV can be. I see Cadet latching on to characters on TV. Even with his limited access, he knows about “Buddy” and can sing the DT theme song. He can also recite lines from Cars…after just watching it a few times. It’s amazing how fast he catches on…scary actually.

A cousin of mine told me once that her daughter demanded to watch TV and would scream for hours on end unless she could “veg out” for a few hours every day. Her daughter at the time was 3, and my cousin gave in… I was floored at that statement. Because, I believe to a certain extent, you are raising the child you create. I’m not talking about their personalities or inherent self-hood. I’m talking about the things we do as parents having a direct impact on how our children see the world. If you give in to the screaming child who wants to only eat cheese crackers at every meal, power over the situation…they see that as permission to act that way in different scenarios. McRuger likens it to negotiating with terrorists…something you just shouldn’t do for various reasons. We give Cadet choices in every situation we can, but we draw the line at demanding. If he asks nicely, we’ll consider/discuss it with him, but demanding/throwing a tantrum/crying won’t get him very far. A few weeks ago, Cadet wasn’t feeling well and asked if he could watch some Dinosaur Train (actually, he said: “Mama, I’m not feeling okay. Can I please watch a little bit of Dinosaur Train on the couch?”). Done. He got to sit on the couch and veg out for a while. About halfway through an episode, he told me he’d like to go back outside and play with bubbles.

I never want to get to the point with TV that Cadet prefers it to being outside or playing. That apparently is something these other moms have lost out on. On the few occasions (like earlier this year) when watching TV became something he was demanding, I just redirect him: let’s play with some flashcards, or hey…let’s going outside for a while…or let’s whip up some cookies. And, usually that works. If it doesn’t, then I bring in the “big guns”….the bubble machine! Yes, there were a few tantrums. Yes, screaming was involved. But, in the end, he played outside, happily.

McRuger and I have discussed our TV watching policies many times, and we don’t see them changing any time soon. There’s simply no reason for Cadet to watch TV…unless I need the time for something. Or, as was the case last weekend, McRuger and I really wanted to watch our favorite cooking show (New Scandinavian Cooking…OMG…it’s AWESOME!), and Pumpkin was sleeping. Cadet was having a bit of a hard time waking up from his nap, so we let him watch the 20 minute show with us. Cadet enjoyed the quiet time and asked a ton of questions about cooking. It was a choice we made in the moment, but at the end of 20 minutes it was over…and there was no advertising.

My parents were here this weekend for a very short visit (dropping off some stuff). My mom and I had a long conversation about how refreshing it is to walk into a home with children, and not see “brands” and “rampant consumerism”. She said it was nice to see that Cadet didn’t want to “go shopping” as his source of  fun. She also said (for the zillionth time) how she’s proud of me for not always having the TV on in our house. I know that she was referring to my nieces and their friends.

I’ll admit, I have a certain amount of pride knowing that Cadet doesn’t know…and doesn’t care…about Disney (short-hand for all the mass marketing media aimed at children). I am happy that I have managed to steer clear of the pressure for children to have some sort of “cultural knowledge” about media. And, I plan to keep it that way for a while. I want his imagination to be open and uninhibited for as long as possible. I want his pretend play to come from him, his life, and the world around us…not from the mind of some producer in LA. I want Cadet to be a kid. And, I really fail to see how that’s depriving him of anything.

If you’d like to do more reading on the subject of media and children, I’d highly recommend:  Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Last Child in the Woods, and Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. 

 

 

Categories: Choices, Family, Motherhood | 16 Comments

It’s like college…but way more intense!

It’s 9pm. I’ve got a bowl of cheese crackers in my lap, a cup of water, 5 books on 3 different educational methods spread out on the bed in front of me, 12 tabs are open on my laptop, and my notebook is open, with several pens just hanging around. There’s a few highlighters too, a calendar, and even a few printouts of things I don’t want to forget. It’s a real party here. I really should be sleeping, but I’m planning the next 6 months of our homeschooling. Holy heck…I feel like I’m back in college cramming for some exam. Except, of course, the exam is my son’s education. Right…no pressure.

Things are starting to really “get real” with homeschooling around here. Funnily enough, it started with the name. We have an official name of our homeschool…which I won’t share here, but it’s awesome. We didn’t go with “The Nutty Goose” (a random reference to a particular pillow in our house) or “Dark Elven Academy” (“Dark Elven” is a very partial anagram of all of our first names) or even “Don’t Panic Mama: School for the Perpetually Tired”. In actuality, McRuger and I have been discussing names for a while…and we just happened to figure it out one morning last week.

After I had the name, I started to fiddle with mottos…just for fun. I’m still working on that. But, it got me thinking, that I really should have a plan. Up to this point, “homeschooling” has been all about some hastily put-together plan a few days ahead of schedule and gathering materials the night before. Frankly, it was stressing me out not to have a plan. I have been so used to hearing the Waldorf-y folks telling me to “don’t worry about anything until the child is 6….” I thought I didn’t need to plan. That planning was bad somehow. But, I am just not that easy-going. I need a plan. And then I remembered…I used to do this for a living. Like…this was my job…coming up with a curriculum and implementing it. And I was pretty darn good at it. Turns out, I still am.

I don’t want homeschool to be like an actual school day for Cadet. It should be fun, with lots of movement and time for play. In fact, it should feel like playing most of the time, that doesn’t mean learning can’t be happening. At the same time, I want to have a clear understanding of where Cadet is and where we should be headed with his education. When I talk about “curriculum”, “plans”, and “goals”, keep in mind that I am using those to keep my sanity…so Cadet can have as much fun as possible. I want him to have this time to be a child. Actual “academics” will be very light. McRuger and I have decided that we’ll be delaying learning (more) of the alphabet and reading…unless Cadet shows a strong to desire to learn. He has plenty of time to learn to read, and every study/book I’ve read says that pushing early reading is actually harmful (or at least not beneficial) to a child’s lifelong learning. And, as I keep reminding people who ask why he isn’t writing or reading yet…he’s only 3.5!

Over the last several days, I have created a general outline of goals for the 2015/16 homeschooling year for Cadet. Some goals are for Cadet, some are for me. Goals like: “Incorporate Bill (Cadet’s doll) into more activities to encourage imaginative play” or  “Cadet will learn to put events in a story in order”. These aren’t lofty goals (most of them are simple things…small changes that I hope will have an impact), and Cadet has already begun to master a few. I have 40 goals spread out over 6 subject areas.

Next, I’ve begun to work on various themes that would fit naturally into the various months. We have themes like: “What’s Cooking”, “Heading to the Ocean”, and “The Five Senses”. Some themes are a little less exciting, like “Earthquakes” (because, we do live in earthquake country), “Helping Around the House”, or “My Emotions”. Now, I’m going through our extensive children’s book collection to find books that match themes and figuring out what goals can be met most naturally with with themes. And then what activities/trips/games can be used for each goal. I’ve noted all the holidays we’re planning on celebrating, trips we’re planning on making, and the important local days (fairs, free-museum days, etc…), and tailored various themes to them. Even McRuger, after looking through my notes, said that it’s the kind of schooling he wished he had. And I’m glad, because, I want this to be FUN for Cadet (and Pumpkin too). The “themes” just help me keep organized and to help keep things fresh and new for Cadet. I keep reminding myself that this isn’t high school. For Cadet, it’s the process that’s important, far more so than results.

I have a notebook which is filled with notes that I’ve taken from the 12+ books and lectures I’ve read on homeschooling methods. It’s helped me organize the ideas and passions I want to pass on…or things I need to talk to McRuger about. Every day, I’ve been taking 5-10 minutes to journal about how the process is going for me. Because, someday, I know it’s going to be hysterical to look back on how much I’m studying for this.

A great book that I’ve discovered recently is Tinkerlab by Rachelle Doorley. It’s a book about how to help/allow/encourage the natural instinct children have to tinker with things. And she has “10 Habits of Mind” that I’ve been trying to follow as I go through this planning stage. They are:

  1. Make room for creativity
  2. Encourage questions
  3. Listen actively
  4. Be curious
  5. See mistakes as gifts
  6. Embrace a good mess
  7. Accept boredom as a tool for self-discovery
  8. Step back and enjoy the flow (this is one that I struggle with…clearly)
  9. Spend time outdoors
  10. Think of everything as an experiment.

I’m viewing the next 6-12 months as an experiment and expect there’s going to be a steep learning curve. I’m doing a lot of planning and taking Cadet’s interests into account. But, I fully expect that I am going to (probably many times) fail at this “homeschooling mom” business. I expect that Cadet is going to look at me funny many times as we go down this path…as if to ask “are you sure you want to teach me how to do this?”.

Technically, in California, there is legally nothing I have to do with Cadet’s education until age 6. That’s 2.5 years away. That’s a LONG time to practice how to do all of this planning, keep Cadet interested, and meet goals that are supposed to be met.

My mom asked me why I’m even bothering to plan since Cadet is so young, and the answer is complex. Basically, I need the plan for my sanity. Even if the plan is to “do nothing”, I need to have that in place. But, since I want to make the days/weeks/months ahead interesting and fun for Cadet…”do nothing” isn’t really an option. He’s increasingly curious and loves doing new things. I want to embrace that energy. Have fun with it and see where it takes us. And that’s what this planning is aimed toward…

It’s late now. I’m supposed to be in bed.

 

 

Categories: Cadet, Homeschool, thoughts | Tags: | 3 Comments

Reflections on the past week or so…

Well, we’re definitely in a groove here and a good one at that.

  • Pumpkin is sleeping 5-6 hours at a stretch most nights, which is awesome. He’s moved to a 4-hour schedule and is eating like a champ. I’ve started introducing solid foods, which he isn’t fond of. We tried carrots first…and OH THE BETRAYAL. His face was one of horror when he looked at me…”what are you feeding me, mom????”. We then moved on to apricots…and again, he’s not a fan. So, I’ll take a break and re-try in a week or two. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before he gets that “real food” is so much more tasty than formula.
  • Cadet, after a very long stretch of not napping, is finally napping again. Actually, it’s not really napping. We call it “quiet time”. Every day from 1-2pm, Cadet needs to be in his room and quiet. He can have his toys, books, his cup of water, and be awake or asleep…but he must be doing something quietly. It’s been a rocky transition, but a good one. He really needs a nap. And, I can’t have him falling asleep every time we’re in the car…so Quiet Time was the answer.
  • McRuger is ramping up for his busy time. From now until the middle of July…he’ll be in more meetings and have more work. It means that there’s a little more on my plate, but at least I know the craziness will have an end.
  • My friend Rose and I took the boys to the beach last week and had a blast! It was Pumpkin’s first introduction to the ocean, and he liked it until we put his toes in the cold water/sand. Cadet was a bit reluctant at first (the noise of the breakers bothers him), but soon he was up and dancing around in the warm sand. I had purchased a sun-shade and cooler for the trip…and now feel very well armed to go on the next beach outing. Thanks Rose! I can’t wait until our next trip!!
  • My love affair with Waldorf education is waning further. I’ve had two interactions with people in the Waldorf community about race…and they weren’t pleasant. In fact, one person I talked to was downright racist. I know that two people aren’t indicative of an entire educational movement, but it was enough to get me out of a singular mindset, and on to other things. I’m starting to feel more confident about my place as a homeschooling mom, something that I never felt while dealing with the Waldorf community (lots of perfectionism there). So…while I still love some of the principles of the methodology, I am slowly removing myself from the various online communities.
  • AE has finally moved! She found an apartment she loves, and she’s now just 45 minutes away from me. It’s a heady feeling to have my BFF that close, and living in a community McRuger and I have often thought about moving to. Today was her first day in her new job, so send her lots of positive thoughts.
  • After 6 months of not having the energy or time, I have finally brought back my Monday tradition of baking bread. It’s something that Cadet and I used to do together, and I think he was missing it. We use the Tassajara method and it comes out amazing each time…soft, flavorful, and delightfully fragrant. It’s the same bread recipe my father used to make when I was a child…with some small and delicious tweaks.
  • I’ve been very impressed with Cadet’s eating recently. While he’s never been a particularly fussy eater, he’s been on a “I’ll try anything and most likely eat everything” kick of late. Beef and broccoli with brown rice? Oh yeah! Quinoa and baked tomatoes with goat cheese? Yes, please! Slightly spicy pulled pork sliders? More! Enchilada casserole? Can’t stop. With the exception of raw beets, he’s eaten everything I’ve put in front of him for the past month or so. Sure, he loves french fries and Cheerios, but he’s not a stickler.
  • Also impressing me about Cadet right now is his vocabulary, especially his “emotion words”. A few nights ago, as I was rubbing some shea butter into his hair, he asked me to stop. When I asked why, he looked at me and told me he was frustrated it was taking so long. Long pause!  How awesome is that?? My son is expressing an emotion, and instead of having a tantrum…he told me what he was feeling. I stopped rubbing his head, he thanked me, and turned to have a conversation with McRuger.  Now, don’t get me wrong…tantrums can be an everyday occurrence around here…but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • I got my eyes checked last week. I’ve been wearing glasses since 5th grade, and getting yearly check ups for most of that time. This was the first time that the doctor found something slightly concerning. Apparently, the pressure in my eyes is a bit high, which can be a sign of glaucoma or macular degeneration. She scanned my eyes pretty well, and didn’t see anything else concerning, but advised me to get checked again in a year. As for my new glasses, they are a departure for me. For the last few years, I’ve been wearing black frames. McRuger has never liked seeing that much black on my face. He wanted color…I still liked the black. So we compromised, I got a light tortoiseshell frame, which actually looks really good. He wanted the bright purple one…which I vetoed pretty quickly. McRuger is going to get his eyes checked next week. He’s been having a harder time looking at screens recently (sadly, that’s part of his job…).
  • McRuger surprised me last week by informing me that he had purchased me an iWatch. We had discussed the possibility of buying one for me (he’ll be likely given one by his employer due to the nature of his job), but had never gotten around to finishing the conversation. But, McRuger in his generous way, just did it anyway. He also (on the same day!) ordered me a new Kind.le! My eyes were getting strained reading on my iPad (and my old Kindl.le had long ago been lost to a friend who borrowed it and then lost it), so he went ahead and purchased another one. He loves surprising me, and it seems he’s been on a streak of it! Gotta say, I love the new Kind.le, and I’m reading every day!
  • How are McRuger and I doing? Well, really well. I really want to write a post about the changes we’ve made, but it also seems really personal. Sufficed to say, both of us are feeling very good about how our marriage is going. Sure, we’ve had a few fights, but they have been resolved relatively easily…and the aftermath is much less confusing. And those nights of passion we had before we had kids? Yeah, those are back…and then some!
  • Of course, life isn’t all sunshine and roses. Grams is having a rough time. She’s fighting the staff at the place she lives. She won’t let them help her shower or go to the bathroom…and she needs the help. After several long meetings, the family and staff have agreed that she needs to be given anti-anxiety medications…which Grams hates. This also means that they might be moving up her level of care in the next few months, which she won’t like either.
  • My aunt, who was diagnosed with uterine cancer earlier this year, isn’t doing so well. Her recovery from the initial surgery has been very rough and her doctors have had to postponed the chemo treatments (which she really needs) several times. My aunt hasn’t allowed me to visit because she’s worried I’ll carry “kid germs” with me. So, I’m getting all my reports from my parents. Apparently, she’s going into the hospital  this week to start “intensive chemo treatments”. Please be thinking positive thoughts.
  • My father (my aunt’s brother) has been shouldering much of the emotional burden of the family over my aunt’s cancer diagnosis. He’s tired, worn down, and anxious about the cancer deaths in his family. He recently took the step to contact a local university hospital and ask about cancer screenings. And next week, he’ll be getting quite a few tests looking for genetic markers for cancer. I am proud of him for taking that step, and I’m quite interested in the findings.
  • My homeschooling planning is going poorly. I love to plan things out! But, it’s so complex to plan out our homeschooling half or full year. Most curriculums or homeschooling moms suggest planning out your year…but I just have no way of doing that with where Cadet’s at. And, I want to get into the swing of planning out stuff. So, I’ve cheated and am planning a month in advance. Doing a ton of reading…but sometimes I get overwhelmed with all the choices and ideas out there!

So overall, things are going well. I wish I had more time to write. It’s taken me three days to get this post published…which seems crazy as I write it. I have so many posts in my head…SO MANY, but I end up settling for updates as the week winds down. Sigh….

Categories: Cadet, Family, Homeschool, Household, Marriage | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Because I slept…

Holy crackers…Pumpkin has been sleeping really well of late. Last night…6.5 hours (with one wake up for his paci). The night before…5.5 hours with no wake up. So, I am actually feeling rested. It’s a strange feeling to feel like I am not a zombie every morning. But, wow…it’s amazing.

This weekend was a nice one. Friday was a bit rough, as we had a gardener here late that night to take out some plants that haven’t been doing well…which contributed to some spectacular tantrums on Cadet’s part. Saturday was mostly about resting and getting a few things done around the house. McRuger had to spend most of the morning replacing a key to my car (it’s a long story that involves a LOT of incompetence on my part).  In the afternoon, we drove about 20 minutes to pick up a new baby carrier I had purchased…it’s really lovely!

Sunday we went to the farmer’s market and got strawberries, blueberries, broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, and olive bread. We then rushed home to get showers done and change. We were meeting up with a old college buddy of McRuger’s and his wife for Korean BBQ. And while we had a decent time, I’m not sure I made a new friend with his wife. I have a sneaky suspicion that they are going through some infertility issues, and being around children seemed hard for her. Despite the fact that we seemed to have a lot in common, she just didn’t seem interested in taking any conversations forward into the future. Oh well…

Cadet’s language is going through yet another spurt…does it ever really end? He’s talking up a storm…seriously. Just last night we had this conversations:

Me: Sweetie, it’s time to head to bed. 

Cadet: Mama, I’m not tired. I want to be awake and play. 

Me: I know you feel like that, but you are really tired. We’ve had a long day. 

Cadet: Long day? No…. The sun’s still up in the sky. 

Me: Yes, but it’s bedtime. You’ll feel better after getting some rest. 

Cadet: No. No. No rest. How about some pizza and Nutella toast?

My son…folks! This kid wasn’t talking just 18 months ago….and now he won’t stop. It’s so wonderful!

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Our sitter, Verbena, seems to be working out better. She and I had a talk about her not being on her cell phone so often, and that cleared up the issue. Cadet loves her and they spend lots of time playing in the yard, reading books, and learning new things together. I have her hear about 9 hours a week, which works out really well for my well-being. I’ve even started doing my felting again!

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I’ve been on a homeschooling-shopping spree of late. I have purchased a few things I wanted to work on with Cadet. Lots of fine motor work. Slowly, ever so slowly, his hand-dominance is starting to emerge…and he’s a lefty (with a hefty dose of his right helping him with drawing and eating)! My dad’s a lefty, and I know how challenging it can be to learn in a right-handed world. So, I’ve been reading quite a bit about how to teach a predominantly left-handed child. If any of you have advice…please share!

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Pumpkin has been doing well and eating like a champ. He’s not yet 6 months, and already in 12-month clothing! Both these boys are going to be tall and solid! He hasn’t really rolled over yet, his pedi isn’t too concerned, given that he’s doing so well on all other metrics. He’s smiling, laughing, making great eye-contact, has great head/neck/trunk control, and all his limbs are moving appropriately.

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So, that’s the update from us.

 

Not sure what Microblog Mondays is…check here for the post that tells you all about it!

Categories: Other Stuff | 5 Comments

Just some stuff rattling around in my head…

It’s been a very busy few weeks, but not all bad. Frankly, things have been pretty decent for a while (of course, we could all use more sleep….but…). Life is humming along, with the occasional bumps that keep us on our toes. Isn’t that they way….?

1) Cadet got bitten by a pit bull a while back. Yeah, a pit bull. Cadet got too close to a fence, the dog reached through and nipped his finger. The wound was small, and it could have been MUCH worse. The dog’s owner got in McRuger’s face about being a bad parent for letting Cadet close to a fence, and finally the police were called. Got to hand it to the local FD and PD…they arrived within 5 minutes of McRuger’s 911 call. The fire fighters were wonderful in handling Cadet, and even let him ride in the cab of the fire truck. The dog is currently under quarantine, and the owners were cited. Since the owners couldn’t produce any medical records for the dog, Cadet had been on a pretty strong anti-biotic, just in case. Right now, Cadet’s still processing the event, and he talks a lot about it. We talk about how dogs are mostly friendly, but we need to be careful. Thankfully, it hasn’t dampened his love of Em or other dogs in our neighborhood (most of the local dogs LOVE Cadet).

2) We’ve hired a new babysitter, whom I’ll call Verbena. Verbena is 19 and lives just a few blocks for us. She’s had a very rough background and has seen quite a bit. However, Cadet loves her and she really tries hard to learn about Cadet and what HE needs. We had a bit of stumbling block early in her employment, as she was always on her cell phone. However, she and I talked about it, and she’s much better now. I mostly use her as a “Mother’s Helper” so I can run errands with both kids. But, I’m slowly letting her be alone with Cadet more and more…and she’s done a great job.

3) Easter at my parent’s farm was a good time. My parents let us have the house, while they stayed at Bro’s guest house. It was my mom’s 65th birthday, which we celebrated with pizza and cake. It was nice to have all the cousins around the big outdoor table. We used the time to go through a whole bunch of family heirlooms. After my parent’s house got hit by power surges, they had to re-wire the whole house. In the process, they emptied the entire attic…some of the stuff had been there since they moved in in 1979! They loaded an empty shipping container and Bro and I went through everything in just a few hours. Overall, we handled ourselves well…no fights, which was a pleasant surprised. We even put down a few rules for how we handle family heirlooms in the future.

4) After 15 years of sleeping in the same bed (only 7 of those with me), McRuger finally agreed that we needed a new bed. I’ve been hinting at it for the last several years. Due to McRuger’s history with back issues, we decided to get a newer version of our old Sleep Number bed. Despite some serious off-gassing issues, we are both sleeping better. And, of course, it helps that we moved from a queen to a king sized bed! It allows the whole family to sleep together if we need to, which is helpful!

5) Grams has had two falls at her living facility. And, she’s having some aggression issues towards the staff (stemming from her memory loss). There’s a big meeting next week to discuss how to best handle her in the future. My best guess is that they want to medicate her more, which most of the family is against…but we’ll just have to see. No one expected Grams to live this long, and so most people are at a loss as to how best to handle her case.

6) Pumpkin is doing well. He’s been growing like a weed and is now in 9-12 month clothing (at 5.5 months)! He’s smiling and coo-ing and starting to do some teething. He hasn’t really rolled over yet with purpose, but he’s getting there. I’m still in daily contact with MsV, and she seems to be doing fairly well. I know Easter was a hard holiday for her to face without Pumpkin, and Mother’s Day will be even more challenging. We’ve been sending her plenty of pictures, per her request, and keeping her updated on Pumpkin’s progress. She says she loves hearing about what we’re up to.

7) Since I now have help during the days, I have been able to get more stuff done. I finally (after what seemed like an eternity) organized a formal home schooling space. It’s tidy, organized, and perfect for quickly getting “lessons” together for Cadet. My next task is to re-organize the guest/craft room to make it more useful as a space for guests and for crafting.

8) Speaking of Cadet, it’s such a roller coaster with him these days. His language has gone through another “spurt” and he’s talking up a storm. Complete sentences, lots of questions, and tons of observations. Just this morning, he came up to me and said: “Mama, I need a big bowl of cheerios then I want to go outside”. So, yeah…he’s talking! Plus, he’s learning manners and says “please”, “thank you”, “you’re welcome”, and “excuse me”. That’s wonderful and so amazing to watch. But, at the same time, he’s been having terrible tantrums. Awful, horrible, long, and painful tantrums. We had one last week that lasted almost 45 minutes, and McRuger had to have Cadet in a safety hold to prevent him from hurting himself or the house. Thankfully, that caliber of tantrum isn’t regular…but it’s so tough to see Cadet struggling. I need to remember that he’s 3.5 and has big emotions! I’ve been working very hard to help Cadet find his calmer self…and sometimes it works. He has a finger labyrinth to calm him down after a busy day, we have a deck of yoga cards he loves to work through, and of course a book to help him calm down (Breathe by Scott Magoon). All those things seem to help, but we still have the bad days of constant melt-downs.

9) Our final post-placement social worker visit is next week. There’s a few more bits of paperwork to complete, and then we just wait for a court date. It’s exciting to know that we’re that close to having our family building complete. My friend Robyn has offered to throw us a “Baby Welcoming Party” sometime after finalization, which is so generous of her. I can’t wait for some of my extended family to meet Pumpkin.

10) With the severe drought in our area, I’m constantly searching for ways to save water. It’s hard with a child who loves water and a baby who has bottles which need washing daily. Next week, I’ll be speaking to our property manager to see if I can replant some of the more water-loving plants the original owners put in. Plus, the expectation last year was that we’d be keeping the lawns green…which is insane. So, we’re going to have a little chat about that as well.

11) Probably the best news thus far is about AE. After about 6 months of her department going slowly down the tubes (result of a bad management change), AE finally landed her dream job. That alone is worth celebrating, but there’s more! For the first time since high school, AE and I will live within an hour drive of each other! Her job puts her closer to almost all of her family and friends! YAY!!

12) McRuger and I have been having a great time in our marriage. Like, serious fun! Despite being tired most of the time…we’re enjoying our time together. It seems odd to me that just last year, we were having rough fights and discussing counseling (not that there’s anything wrong with that). But, we’ve made a few changes to our relationship dynamic and the results have been amazing! Fights are now smallish and relatively minor. And we feel really close. I’m not sure how to write about it, without going into some intimate details of our marriage, but I might find the words.

13) I’m making a real effort to expand our friendship circle (as a couple). We have “Rain’s friends” and “McRuger’s friends”…but we have just two “couple friends”. So, I’m working on that.

14) Our plans for the summer are starting to firm up, which is nice. Lots of family visits, a U2 concert for me, and at least one mini-vacation. Verbena (the sitter) has agreed to help me on any trips I might want to do with the boys, which is awesome! With late spring/summer being so busy for McRuger, I’d love to get away for a while. Plus, there are two families moving to the area for the summer, which will be nice for play dates and perhaps a few extended trips.

15) Okay, last thing…I think. Homeschooling. Loving it. Seriously. Can’t imagine sending Cadet off to school for several hours a day. We have so much fun learning together. We do lots of outdoor time, music time, and reading time. Fine motor skills are always a focus, but with the help of Pinterest, I’ve got some great ideas for that! My mom gifted me her mountain dulcimer (which she used to play when I was a kid). I got it cleaned, tuned, and polished…and Cadet loves learning on it. I used to know how to play basic songs, but I’ve forgotten most of it. So, I’m re-learning as well. Right now, Cadet is just fascinated by the fact that he can play notes on it. We were also gifted some amazing art supplies from a friend, so Cadet has been having lots of art time. He’s thrilled. I’m thrilled. It’s all good.

I’m hopeful that I won’t be going so long between postings anymore…but we’ll just have to see. Hope you all are doing well.

Categories: Other Stuff | 4 Comments

Cancer scare…

For many of you who have been reading here for a while, you know about my struggle with anxiety, especially in terms of my health. Well, I had my first cancer scare recently and it threw me into a pretty bad place in terms of my anxiety.

Here’s the story…

It was a lovely night. The boys were asleep. McRuger and I had just finished having some very wonderful “adult time”. I was relaxing and felt an itch in my lower, right armpit…and then I felt it…a lump. It didn’t feel small, about the size of a garbanzo bean or a little bigger. My mind flashed one word: cancer.

I instantly had a panic attack. For over an hour, I fought the panic attack. I took some of my medication and I called my mom, McRuger talked to me and rubbed my back, and nothing helped. In my mind I had cancer and that was it. I started playing out all the eventualities in my mind…going to some very dark places. My body was shaking uncontrollably, my body dumped all the contents from my bowels and stomach, and I couldn’t breathe normally. It was the worst attack I have ever had.

McRuger messaged my doctor and within an hour, she had messaged back with an appointment time for the next day.

That night, I barely slept. My dreams were dark and twisted. My anxiety was always there.

The next morning, our new babysitter arrived (more on her later), and McRuger, Pumpkin, and I headed of to my doctor’s office. We took Pumpkin because the sitter can’t watch both kids effectively for more than an hour or so…and I didn’t know how long we’d be gone.

They checked me in at the office. My BP was sky-high…and that was on my meds! My doctor came in and proceeded to check me out. We did the typical question/answer session of a typical physical. And then she examined me. Eyes, ears, mouth, heart, lungs, abdomen, breasts…then she tried to find the lump. At first she couldn’t find it…and for a heady moment I thought it had disappeared overnight. I felt the area, found it instantly…and then she felt around.

One thing I really appreciate about my doctor is her absolute candor and her upbeat nature. I also appreciate that her husband is an oncologist…and she knows a bit more about cancer than other GPs. She felt the lump, took a measurement, marked it with a surgical pen and said it probably wasn’t cancer, but she couldn’t be sure. She wanted me to get an ultrasound immediately so we could alleviate my concerns. She and McRuger talked candidly about what the next steps would be if the lump proved to be cancerous. And my doctor told me how good it was that I had taken care of this quickly.

Within 5 minutes, she had me set up with an ultrasound for later that afternoon. The appointment was for the same time as an appointment I had set up for Pumpkin to check his ears for an infection (he’d been rubbing at them quite a bit). My doctor said that she’d look at his ears and that way I could stop stressing about that. Turns out, Pumpkin has a ton of wax in his ears, but no infection…so that was great news.

I left the office feeling a bit more reassured, but not worry-free. I knew the ultrasound was going to be stressful, and I didn’t want Pumpkin to be there for it (he doesn’t need that in his little life!). The sitter could take care of Cadet. So, I called a dear friend, Rose (Hello!!!) and she (without hesitation) told me she’d be at my house in an hour to watch Pumpkin. I cannot tell you what a relief and sense of peace that brought me. It’s wonderful to have friends like her!

We came home, nerves still jangled. I had a bit of lunch, and called my parents. With my aunt currently battling Stage 4 ovarian cancer, my parents know how this part goes…if the ultrasound showed a growth, we made a plan for them to come down to go through the next steps with us. If not…we’d be celebrating my mother’s 65th birthday in a few weekends…worry-free.

Rose arrived, gave me a big hug…and put my mind at ease about Pumpkin. She knows my kids very well, and they know her. So, when we left…I just put the boys out of my mind and focused on not vomiting.

The ultrasound went well. We were called in almost immediately and everything went very fast. The tech took about 10 minutes to get all the images, and then excused herself to talk to the head radiologist. This was unexpected, but she explained that she wanted to make sure she had taken all the images that would be needed.

For about 5 minutes, McRuger and I sat in that dark little room. He was online chatting to a few of my nurse friends…filling them in on what was happening. When the tech came back in she said that the head radiologist was fairly confident that it wasn’t cancer, but he’d need to review all the images and consult with an oncologist. We’d get a call from my GP before the end of the day.

I put my dress back on, worry slowly easing away…the shakiness still with me. In the room, I had a little time to cry. It wasn’t from worry, but more from a sense of how much my life could be changing. I flashed through all the scenarios of who would take care of the boys if I were to die…or how would McRuger handle my death. McRuger rubbed my back, helped gather my things, and we walked out of the room.

Before we exited the facility, we took 5 minutes to sit in their Zen garden. We talked about the weekend, the trip we have planned for Easter, and the weather. McRuger joked that this was our first date since Pumpkin arrived…and he was right. We had a good laugh over that. I was so in awe of his steadfastness and humor. McRuger had never once wavered in his belief that I would be okay, and even when we discussed what would happen if it was cancer…he still managed to have a sense of humor. It really made me realize how much he steadies me and keeps me balanced.

We drove home, he dropped me off so I could let the sitter go home…while he picked a prescription for valium (in case I had another panic attack). Rose and I sat on the front yard after the sitter left. We discussed the ordinary things in our life. It was so good to have her calm presence. Each moment, I felt myself coming back into my body and soul. Plus, getting hugs from Cadet always helps!

McRuger called about 15 minutes later, he had news. My doctor had called him (on my previous instructions) and said “it’s nothing”. Apparently, as I would learn later, the lump is probably is fluid filled cyst…perhaps from a ingrown hair. I’m supposed to put a warm compress on it a few times a day and call if things get worse. How pedestrian! But…not cancer!

We ordered pizza and Rose and I made a simple salad from the greens from my little garden…Rose, Cadet, McRuger, Pumpkin, and I had dinner and chatted. It was normal and it was so wonderful. My body, still processing the massive adrenaline dump from the night before, was exhausted….but my soul was light and alive.

I slept wonderfully well…with no medication. I had fuzzy dreams of going on trips and seeing people I loved.

Someday, I may have cancer or some other serious ailment. But this scare taught me that I have what I need to battle anything: a loving partner, good friends, a caring family, and a very good doctor.

Stay well, my friends.

 

 

Categories: Anxiety/Worry, doctors, health, McRuger | 11 Comments

Homeschooling and “needs”

I’ve been doing quite a bit of work on the homeschooling front…some at night after the kiddos are asleep…some while trying to get some “quiet time” in the bathroom. Lots of reading, researching, Pinterest-ing, and even some shopping on Ama.zon. Even a good bit of organization, when time permits.

While I am still very much drawn to the Waldorf way of homeschooling, I have recognized that Cadet will need extra help in some areas. Those issues or “needs” aren’t really addressed in any Waldorf curriculum I have seen. So, I’ve had to branch out, and I’m glad I have…I’ve learned quite a bit about homeschooling for various “special needs”.

Cadet’s needs are becoming more prominent as he gets older, something which his OT and SLP and I have discussed at length. First up is speech. While Cadet’s speech is doing really well in most areas, he’s rapidly falling behind in others: namely articulation. In addition, he’s still behind in certain areas of expressive speech. And his pacing is off when speaking. But, the articulation part is what has our SLP a little concerned. Because we both know Cadet really well, we can understand his speech. Strangers still need me to translate most of the time. So, his SLP and I are working on a plan to help him with these issues during home lessons. Already, we’re working on slowing everyone’s pace of speech, in hopes that modeling the behavior will help Cadet. Our SLP is very cautious about bringing Cadet’s attention to his speech difficulties. She never wants him to feel self-conscious or worried about his speech. We keep everything very positive and upbeat, continuing with our motto of “all communication is valid communication”. So, that’s speech.

On the OT side of things, we’re dealing with a fine motor delay and sensory processing issues. Cadet has had this diagnosis for a while, so it’s not something new. However, as his gross motor skills are FAR beyond his age…it makes his fine motor delays a bit more pronounced. Originally, his OT and I agreed that once his gross motor needs were taken care of, then he’d be able to focus on the fine motor stuff. That worked up to a point. It’s become increasingly clear that Cadet is focusing on gross motor, because the fine motor stuff is too challenging or boring for him. So, we’re working on forcing the issue as much as we can. Lots of scissor activities, using tongs, and balancing small objects.

About a year ago, I began to notice that Cadet didn’t seem to have a hand preference. He did somethings with his right and some with his left. When I spoke to MsJ about it, she said that there are several people in her family who are ambidextrous.  His OT and I are trying to figure out which hand he wants to use for writing/painting, throwing, cutting….and integrate that into our home lessons.

DrM (the OT) came out to do a home assessment last week. I wanted her opinion about what (if anything) we could add to help Cadet and his sensory needs. She was here for about 45 minutes, and during that time, she inspected every room Cadet spends time in. And, at the end of it, concluded that we’ve “covered the bases and then some”. We took time to discuss how to work fine motor skills into every day activities for Cadet. And I started Pinterest-ing right after she left.

As for how these lesson work on a practical level, most of you might not even notice a “lesson” if visiting our home. It looks a lot like playing a game or art time. We have we pushed golf tees into some floral foam and balanced marbles on them. Or, we played with play-dough and then cut up our creations. And, we’ve been working with pipettes to play with colored water. We’ll be doing some work with stringing cereal a little later this week too. We paint, draw, bake, and even “chop” veggies for dinner. Occasionally, I’ll bring out a “work sheet” for him to cut along lines (which he can’t do yet), just to test where he is. But I try to keep things “fun”. And, of course, Cadet also had tons of time to play with his cars out in the dirt pile or in his “car wash” (a bucket filled with water and a scrubby brush). I firmly believe in the power of play and childhood discovery to overcome a lot.

Several family members have asked if he can spell his name yet or if he knows his alphabet. The simple answer is “yes”…but he can’t write anything down yet. He’ll spell out his name or he’ll point out all the “R’s” on a page. His counting is coming along, but it’s not something he enjoys doing, so I don’t force it. That’s basically my motto right now: “don’t force it”. Much of this stuff will come naturally as Cadet hears it more and more. I know (both from testing and observations) that Cadet is a very bright child. His memory for things is quite amazing, his ability to recall the location of toys we put away months ago is uncanny, and his love of books is reassuring. And I have to have a degree of faith that as we continue to slowly, patiently,d work with Cadet…he will get where he needs to go (just look how far he’s come in two years!). And I also need to remember that Cadet will not excel in all things. He will have gifts and challenges, as we all do.

I’ve had a few friends ask if we’re planning on sending him to school at all. At the moment, the answer is a resounding “no”. Pretty much everyone who knows Cadet agrees that he would not do well in a traditional classroom setting. And since, in our state, school isn’t mandatory until 6…I have plenty of time to work on the things he needs to work on. Once he turns 6, I’ll reevaluate where we are, and go from there.  So many people seem to think that I should be sending him to school by now, annd I just don’t understand why. He’s 3.5. He’s learning. He’s happy. He’s growing on all levels. He has everything a kid his age could need or want, so why rock the boat when things are going so well.

The social aspect of homeschooling is challenging, especially in the winter. We have several friends with children around Cadet’s age, but we have only seen them a few times this winter. I’m not sure about your area, but ours was hit hard by several very bad flus and colds. And, it seemed like everyone was ALWAYS getting sick (Cadet currently is recovering from a bad cold). So, while we managed to escape the worst of the bugs…social time for Cadet has been lacking for a few months. It’s something I need to work harder on this spring.

I find myself slowly owning the idea that I will be a homeschooling mom. Occasionally, I find myself completely overwhelmed with all the details. What happens if I forget to teach Cadet about X or Y? But, I remind myself that I had a very decent public school education, and even I wasn’t taught everything! This is what is right for Cadet. Perhaps it will be right for Pumpkin too…but I don’t know that yet. Pumpkin will certainly be getting an early education with all the work we’re doing with Cadet!!

So, that’s where things stand with homeschooling. If you have any questions, I hope you’ll ask.

 

 

Categories: Cadet, Choices, Homeschool, speech | 3 Comments

Pumpkin at 4 months…

It’s 3am, and I’m not asleep. I hate it when I’m having a great night of sleep…then suddenly…I’m not. So, here I am, blogging and eating a small bowl of cereal.

Anyway, last week, Pumpkin had his 4 month check up. It was a great appointment, despite the fact that Pumpkin had a bit of a cold.

Basically, Pumpkin is right on track. He’s 88% for weight, 81% for height, and 98% for head circumference (lots of room for his brains!). Dr. Smiles couldn’t stop smiling at how cute Pumpkin is…and it’s true…Pumpkin is a stunner of a baby. Despite the fact that he’s lost most of his baby hair on the back of his head, he’s just so cute to look at.

Dr. Smiles was very impressed by how engaged and curious Pumpkin was, and also how happy. It was nice to hear someone “professional” say it, because Pumpkin is just one of the happiest babies I know. He loves to “talk” and smile and coo to pretty much anyone, but especially McRuger and me. It’s the cutest thing, he just lights up when he sees one of us.

Pumpkin’s umbilical hernia has pretty much completely healed. Both Dr. Smiles and I agreed that we couldn’t feel the opening anymore. His belly button will continue to heal over, which will take some time. I think we were both surprised at how quickly it’s healed, given the fact that Pumpkin’s half sister still has hers at 2 years old.

Dr. Smiles suggested, and I agreed, that we put off the standard vaccines until Pumpkin started feeling better. We are both extra cautious given Pumpkin’s brush with neutropenia. So, next week, I’ll take Pumpkin in and get those shots done.

I was given “permission” to start “real food”, but I won’t start that for at least another 2 months. I don’t like pushing that, especially since Pumpkin still occasionally struggles with formula and his tongue tie.

Dr. Smiles and I actually spent most of the appointment discussing Cadet and his current troubles, since Pumpkin was just so normal.

Besides the medical stuff, Pumpkin at 4 months is just a sweetie. He’s starting to really show his personality as a laid back, curious kind of person. He loves sucking on his fingers (just his middle or his pointer…sometimes both), which is a family trait! Pumpkin LOVES being outside and is happiest when we’re all out on the lawn. He’s still not sleeping for more than 3-4 hours a night, which is frustrating, but not horrible. We’ve had a few nights where he’s gone as long as 5, but those are rare.

We’ve nicknamed Pumpkin the “Baby Wookie” because when he’s happy, he chortles, screeches, and trills like a wookie would. Cutest thing ever!

So, that’s Pumpkin at 4 months. I’m still in daily contact with MsV. She’s doing well and has a new job, which is helping her to spend more time with her children. I’ve sent her off a bunch of photos, which she seemed to appreciate. But, communication is overall pretty limited. She just texts a few words here and there, but I get the feeling that she’s struggling with the adoption at times.

Last month, the last of the potential birth fathers had his rights terminated. He never actually contested anything, we think, at MsV’s urging. She seemed so relieved to have that taken care of. So, the adoption is moving forward again. McRuger had his physical last week (normal) and I’ll have mine in two weeks (cue minor panic). Once Pumpkin has his 6 month check up, all our paper work will be complete and our social worker can petition the court for a date.

That’s really all that’s going on here with Pumpkin. He’s a normal, happy 4 month old with a good set of lungs on him!

Here’s the post about Cadet at 4 months…..it’s a fun reminder!

 

Categories: Adoption, doctors, health, Pumpkin | 1 Comment

A little good and a little bad…

The two weeks have been pretty intense here. There have been lots of ups and downs. Frankly, dear readers, I’m exhausted. Mentally, emotionally, physically…I’m just worn down. Every time I think that life is on the upswing, it seems like it comes crashing down again. Here’s the rundown of what’s been going on.

  • My father e-mailed Bro and me last week to let us know that our aunt (his sister) has cancer. Not sure why he e-mailed us that shocking news, but he did. Aunt J (in her late 50’s) was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and will be having surgery to remove the cancer early next week. She’s roughly the same age when her mother (my grandmother) was diagnosed (and later died from) the same type of cancer. Aunt J’s prognosis is unknown right now, so once the surgery is over, we’ll know more. My father’s side of the family is plagued with cancer. So far, both grandparents and two aunts have died from cancer.
  • My relationship with Aunt J has been strained for many years. But, to know she’s going through this breaks my heart. She’s never been married, has a very small support system, and not a lot of income. She’ll be leaning heavily on my parents to get her through this, and I’ll be doing what I can as well.
  • Cadet has basically stopped sleeping through the night. He’s now awake for vast portions of the night/early morning. Over the last two weeks, he’s slept through the night only one or two nights. We have tried everything to get him back on a good schedule and nothing has been working. It’s insanely frustrating, because I know he’s exhausted, but nothing I can do will get him back to sleep. At this point, he’s spending most of the early morning in bed with McRuger (not always sleeping, but at least not crying).
  • Pumpkin’s sleep has been vastly disturbed by Cadet’s screaming/crying tantrums in the middle of the night. And so he’s not sleeping well either. No matter what, he’s awake at 2am…and it takes him forever to go back to sleep. In general, he’s a good sleeper…but conditions haven’t been optimal.
  • As you can imagine, both McRuger and I are exhausted. I’m averaging about 4 hours of continuous sleep a night (probably 6 hours total, if you could the mini-naps I take between feedings). McRuger is getting more, but that’s because he has to go to work in the mornings.
  • The sleep stuff has gotten so bad we’re actually talking about hiring a baby sleep specialist (several have been highly recommended by friends). That’s not something I ever thought I would need to do, but the whole family needs sleep.
  • McRuger’s “paternity” leave is half over. We were going to hold a garage sale, but it rained the day we had planned it.  We’re basically spending the remainder of his leave getting little things done: curtains up, garage cleaned, kitchen reorganized, bedroom fixed up…. Our plans for a mini-vacation went out the window with the lack of sleep…and then my aunt diagnosis.
  • On the “good news” side of things, my hair stylist came back from maternity leave! So, for the first time in a year, I have a decent hair cut.
  • We had a wonderful visit from AE. She’s just gotten back from Africa, and spent the entire day with us. AE and I had some great conversations and it felt good to connect with her again. Nothing like a best friend to brighten a day! And we had sushi to top it off!
  • My car is finally back from the body shop, and looks shiny new. We spent a good deal of money to outfit it with everything for having two boys: kick mats, seat protectors, cup holders, and a mirror. I finally installed the two decals I really wanted on it (one is a mandala, the other is more geek-related). I love my car, and it seems like every day I discover another reason to love it.
  • Just as my car is back from the shop, McRuger’s car has gone into the mechanic for about $2,000 in repairs. Mostly it’s just maintenance stuff that we’ve been putting off, so we wanted to get it done while McRuger is home.
  • Last week, I met with a local homeschooling expert. We had about an hour meeting over lunch at a local cafe. Originally, I was meeting with her to get more information on her “private school for homeschoolers”…but it rapidly morphed into a meeting about how I could (and should) open my own. At the end of the hour, I felt very good about moving forward with homeschooling and doing it independently if I choose to.
  • Cadet and I continue to work on some “homeschooling” lessons every day. Right now, we’re working on his fine motor skills and doing lots of painting and cutting. We also spend a lot of time outside digging in the dirt, drawing in chalk, or playing with cars. It seems like such a small thing, but I really try to give him the space he needs to learn on his own. Cadet’s imaginary life has been amazing these days. I want to bottle the joy that Cadet exudes when he’s playing with his toys.
  • Pumpkin is such a delightful baby. He’s so smily and communicative (in ways Cadet never was). Seriously, he just lights up a room and he loves meeting new people. He turned 4 months old and I just can’t get enough of his smiles.

I’m reading your blogs when I can…answering emails when I can…just trying to keep up with life. Whew…it’s not easy being an adult sometimes!

This wasn’t such a “microblog”…but I hope you’ll forgive me! To find out more about MicroBlog Mondays, please go here….

 

 

Categories: Cadet, Family, McRuger, Pumpkin, sleep | 7 Comments

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