Friday, February 23, 2007

I've Been Meaning to Write...

...but life just keeps happening around me and not leaving much time to breathe. I've been meaning to write about the things that have been coming home in SmallBoy's notebook, good & bad. I've been meaning to write about Girl's latest round of injuries (none due to her insane sports schedule, believe it or not). I've been meaning to write about LargeBoy's first "big purchase," and I don't count the iPod, since that was gift money. I've been meaning to write about the new paint job in the house so that we can jack up the equity and hopefully get a good re-finance rate. I've been meaning to write about how North Country is just crashing onto the scene. I've been meaning to write about SmallBoy's sleepover, when his bestest bud, PQ, stayed, and how the whole social thing played out. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKK....I've had a lot to write about, but no time. When I manage to find the time, either someone else is on the computer, I'm insanely busy at work, or my laptop is busy crashing for the 10th time in 4hrs (no virus, it just hates me).

Let's start with SmallBoy, though, since he's the important one in this whole posting. I've mentioned before what great success we're having with the notebook that we're using to communicate between school and home. It's been helping all of us - SmallBoy, the teachers, and us, of course, to keep track of SmallBoy's comings and goings, send suggestions back to the teachers, send notes from J the Fabulous OT, etc... I've made smaller, one page, mini-notebooks for the teachers that he sees for the specials - music, art, Spanish, computer, library, gym. It truly is an amazing tool and I can't believe it took so long for me to pick up on it.

Every once in a while, though, I seem to be unprepared when the notebook comes home saying that SmallBoy had a bad day, even less prepared when he's had an awful day, and just dumbfounded when he's had an atrocious day. Why? Don't know. Last week, after having just a terrible week or so prior, due to schedules, Ex being a schmuck, SmallBoy feeling under the weather and just down on himself in general, the notebook came home and I was prepared. All week I had read about the difficulties that he had been having and sending the notebook back the next day with my tips and bits of SmallBoy wisdom. I didn't expect this entry to be any different than the rest, but was hopeful for something good. HA. I wish I could quote it verbatim, but I don't have it in front of me, but the premise was this: the teachers were chatting and thought that perhaps SmallBoy could also have ODD (for those of you not in the land of abbreviations, learning disabilities, and spectrum disorders, who just happen to be popping by for the first time, ODD is short for Oppostional Defiant Disorder). She asked if this is part of Asperger's, if it is something completely separate, etc. I've gotta tell you, I had that same, WTF moment that I had the first time the school suggested that there was something "wrong" with my child.

ASD, yes, maybe even a little ADHD when his engine gets really revved, but ODD???? Knowing now, from experience and learning, what I didn't know back then, I tried to push out the immediate reaction and attempted to look at it from the teacher's perspective, and consider everything that's been going on with SmallBoy. He's been melting down more frequently in class, especially when he has to make corrections or is overloaded on directions, etc...He's been not "showing respect" to the teachers in the school by speaking to them as he would a friend or a brother & sister when he disagrees with them. He's been melting even further if the teacher gets a little frustrated when he tries to leave the room during the middle of an assignment or classroom project because he's melting down. He's being loud and vocal in his objections to things. He's getting up from his seat and moving around more frequently. He's JUST NOT getting it with some of his assignments and getting upset by that.

Ok, I could see some of his behaviors mimicking those of ODD, but these behaviors are not exhibited outside of the school, and if they are, we understand why he's doing what he's doing and act appropriately, in ways, I suppose, they can't (or won't) at school. Don't get me wrong, I'm not speaking against the school or the teachers, I adore them, they're doing a wonderful job, and were it not for the notebook going back and forth, this situation could have gotten MUCH worse. I knew, again from the experience and scads of books that I've read, that ODD was NOT what we were looking at. The teachers happen to be with SmallBoy for some of the things that set him off the most - FRUSTRATION: due to comprehension issues with reading, due to not knowing how to handle his own disappointment, due to not being able to self-manage a meltdown, due to not being able to sit still, due to his need to be perfect to be "accepted," (gee, I'm pretty sure that I know from whence THIS came, Ex's lack of acceptance of him because in his eyes, SmallBoy is less than perfect?).

I wanted to be certain that I wasn't seeing this with the eyes of denial, as I did initially with the "something's wrong, we need you to have SmallBoy evaluated by the school district," conversation, so when we went to OT that night, I talked to J about the teachers' thoughts. She completely disagreed with the idea of ODD, but agreed with me, that yes, indeed, the teachers are with him for most of the things that will "set him off." She offered suggestions to the teachers, (ie: visual directions on the board in addition to oral directions to the class, allowing him to leave the classroom to a predetermined spot in order to self-manage a meltdown with the caveat that he must ask permission first, and a few more which I'll expand on in another post), and to us on helping SmallBoy learn more self-management techniques.

I am very pleased to report that since this "conversation," things have been better for him. Granted, he's still forgetting assignments, still having outbursts, etc, but he's learning to manage them MUCH better. One such instance happened just last week at an all-school mass. It was a LONG service and, in addition to the homily, there was an additional speaker. A 45-minute long mass is difficult on ANY child his age, especially when expected to act in a "proper" manner, but put this on an ASD-er, and then add an extra 15minutes for a speaker and the scene is set for trouble. Well, our SmallBoy, bored off his rocker with this ridiculously long service, let it be known that the speaker was taking WAAAAAAAAAYY too long! Everyone, of course, turned around to look and, instead of freaking because now everyone was staring, he used that moment of embarrassment (or the "oh-shit-moment"), to self-mange and compose himself. I have to applaud him for that! Since then, he's been fantastic! I'm SO proud of him.

To finish off his "lovely" week, SmallBoy had his "bestest bud" sleep over on Friday night. PQ is SmallBoy's rock and helps keep him on an even keel. He's a truly wonderful kid, we adore him! SmallBoy, as excited as he was about this sleepover, was off in SmallBoy Land. Oh yes, the boys definitely played together for quite a while, but when SmallBoy got bored, that was that. He would go off in another room and hole up with his GameBoy. PQ tried, I tried, PC tried...we all tried to get him to participate in fun things with us but all he wanted was his GameBoy. Perhaps this was his release for all of the stress from the week, because normally, he will come out of SmallBoy Land to hang with PQ and his buds, especially if it's on his turf. Not this time. He'd come out if he felt like it, or if they were playing the Game Cube, but other than that, it was a battle.

The next morning started off very well, the boys got up and played and were happy as clams. They discussed going out in the snow, since we had TONS of it outside. They played video games until I told them to stop. Yeah. That's when it got a little hairy, again. I asked them if they'd like to come and help me make breakfast, to which they both boisterously agreed. They wanted scrambled eggs, and we were going to make biscuits - something quick and easy, and something fun and tactile. I made the eggs and had the boys do the biscuits. Well, this time, SmallBoy was so upset with me for making him come and participate and turn off his game, that even the sensory that he loves so much of handmixing the biscuit dough and squishing it and getting it all over his fingers, was just way too much, but we got it done. It was time to roll and cut. I figured this would be fun, and it was. Each boy took turns rolling out the dough and using the glass to cut the biscuits. We got the biscuits out of the oven just in time for PQ's mom to arrive. We sent them on their way with half a dozen steaming biscuits fresh from the oven and all was well. SmallBoy, after PQ left, was totally bummed that his bestest bud was gone. Though I see this on a regular basis, I'm constantly amazed by the fact that, though SmallBoy wanted more to play with his GameBoy or Game Cube independently, and only interacted with PQ minimally, that he missed him so much when he was gone. What are friends for, though, right?

Ahhhh, m'ijita, my wittew goowah, Girl, in all her glory has managed to injure herself not once, but twice in different parts of her body over 4-day span. This used to be a regular occurence when she was little; we had a pool going on the block to see how many times in one summer she could skin her knees - no, seriously, we did. This time was beyond knee-skinning, however. This time, she was going for something big like "contusions" (she's rather fond of those). That's my Girl!

It all started on Friday at Mission Day, the school fair that benefits the Ursuline Sisters Mission. This is a big deal at school, and, being in 8th grade, it was her last one. She went all out. She won the "sacred" goldfish (long standing tradition - ring toss game, I think), and won a white cake, with chocolate frosting, topped in snow caps candies!! YUMMO!!!!! As the storm on Tuesday had dropped quite a heavy blanket of white fluffy snow upon us (not to mentione dropped the temperature quite a bit), the ground, as you can imagine, was quite frozen. Girl, SmallBoy, & Snood were getting a ride from Snood's father and, on her way to the car, she slipped. In the process of falling, she dropped the cake (which was saved by Snood's father, who would never let anything bad happen to chocolate), and tried to stop herself with one arm while attempting not to drop the goldfish bags. Let's just say the goldfish was in one piece.

(Update: I am now starting day 2 of this post) I was hopeful, when she called me at work and told me she fell, that she had just banged up her funny bone, because we all know what a sting that leaves. Those hopes were dashed when she delivered the next line, "Well, I can't really move it, and my arm is hanging funny." Thankfully I was at the end of my work day, so I bypassed my workout and went straight home to don my Dr. Mom hat. Her arm was definitely hanging funny, but I'm fairly certain that was due to the gigantic swelling of her elbow. She was able to bend it up and touch her shoulder, with pain, mind you, but she could do it. That pretty much quelled any worries I had about it being broken, but you never can tell. I thought about taking her for "just-in-case" x-rays, but they would have been fruitless with all of the swelling. Instead I plied her full of Ibuprofen and the heat/ice treatment and just made her rest. I kept her home from softball practices all weekend, and, thankfully, there wasn't much in the way of basketball. Within a couple of days, the swelling, and the pain, had gone...

...just in time for the 8th grade ski trip. Yep. I said "ski trip." This was a MUCH anticipated trip that had already been cancelled once due to the freezing temps with an even more freezing -30degree windchill. Fortunately, the two week span allowed the sun to awaken from its winter slumber and force its way out from behind the dreary gray winter clouds to warm the earth, or at least out little part of it, to a beautiful 35degrees. The ground was covered with many more inches of snow due to a massive snow storm earlier in the week (see pic at right), and the kids were more than willing to get up at the crack of dawn on their day off to hop on the bus at 6:30 in the morning. They skied all day, somewhere up in Wisconsin or Michigan and finally called around 8:30 that night to say they were almost home, exhausted, but exhilirated. When I spoke with Girl, I asked how the trip was. Her answer, "Well, mom, the first two hours were great, but I hurt my ankle and spent the rest of the day in the lodge. I'll tell you about it when I get home."

My immediate thought went to how lucky she was that she hadn't broken her elbow a few days back, and that I hoped we weren't tempting fate. After hobbling through the door with PC & ET, we did the ibuprofen heat/ice thing (again) while we listened to her tale of woe. The story began with her all so brief lesson on the bunny hill. She quickly ascended through the ranks and graduated from her 20minute course with flying colors. Next she moved on to the beginner hill, which she conquered with ease. Feeling bold, as she is want to do, she took to the intermediate hill. She was cruising along, and was almost to the bottom when IT happened: her ski fell off. Thankfully, she was pretty much at the bottom and was preparing to stop anyway. Unfortunately, the lack of ski left her a little out of control and as she tried to stop, she tumbled into a woman who had already finished the hill. If someone had a video camera, this would have made perfect fodder for AFV, as, after Girl fell into the woman, a classmate came down the hill and fell onto them. I'm not going to get into how rude and uncaring the ski patrol guy was because that's another story, but we'll just leave it at the fact that he was a very incondsiderate jerk who told my daughter that he could have her thrown in jail for being out of control on the ski hill...even the woman she fell onto was defending her.

ANYWAY, of course she did something in the fall to injure herself. We're still not quite certain what it is, but she wasn't swollen this time. Perhaps x-rays would have been helpful, but, nah. We think that she pulled a ligament or something. Thankfully, some pain spray and a couple of really hot baths helped to work this out and she was back at basketball practice the next night. Wearing the Smart Mom hat this time, I intercepted one of the coaches who, thankfully, had already heard the story, and let him know that she was insisting on practicing, but not to let her run. She's fine now, just home with the flu, or something normal like that, now.

LargeBoy - my child is growing up on me. Many moons ago, he played the cello and has since abandoned it for the bass guitar. He is quite accomplished in his songwriting (and novel writing), and has also taken up the acoustic guitar. Taking after his mother and step-dad, he and his buddies are working together to write music (I'm beaming with pride). LargeBoy's had a few issues with his bass, as it's old - I bought it used for him in 2002. It finally cashed out on him last weekend while he was at his friend's house writing. He called me and said, "Mom, is it ok if I buy a new bass? I've got the money, and I've already called the store and they've got one for $500, one for just over $200, and a couple for $99. I'm not even thinking about the $99 ones and I can't afford the $500 one. So, since I have the money saved up, can I go buy it?" We had a conversation about what he was saving the money for, originally - and is still saving for, an Outward Bound trip, and came to the conclusion that, well, it's his money, and he can spend it as he chooses; that he won't be going on the Outward Bound trip for at least another year or two, and that gives him time to save up again. For the most part, just the fact that he called me to ask my permission to make a major purchase, even though it was with his own money, showed me how incredibly responsible he's getting. He'll have no problem saving up the money for his trip! I'm so proud.

I was hoping to have the pictures of the new paint job that we did up already, but they're still in my camera and my laptop is just being stupid, so I haven't loaded them, but I promise I'll try real soon. The colors are fab!

Finally, the band is just bursting out into the world right now. This is keeping us oh so busy, and we're loving it. We've been writing, recording, promoting and haven't had a whole heck of a lot of time to do much else. We put together a demo of a few of the songs we've written, and a couple of cover tunes, and made a fabulous, professional looking insert for it....just tickles me pink. This is so much more than we ever got done with the previous band - and North Country's only been together since January, really. We've received airtime on a few internet stations, including the Susie Doo & Mandy Too Show on Thursdays 1:00 on HomeGrown Radio. Next week we'll be doing a live interview on the airwaves between 5 & 7 CST. See the widget in my sidebar for more info. I'm blanking on the station's .com, but I'll have that and post it ASAP. AND, if you haven't already, click on the little box off to the side here, to listen to our originals. We're extremely pleased with them. The most recent, Pick the Tune, was written by our bass player on Feb. 12, recorded on Feb. 13, and given to his wife as a Valentine's gift the next day. Click here to find out when and where you can hear and see North Country. I can't begin to tell you how incredibly exciting this is!

In the meantime, since I've "talked" your ear off, I'll post this and go back to doing my day job (since I'm sitting at my desk in my office on company time).


Lora said...

First off, I am glad that you write such long posts so that we know exactly what is going on in your lives. It is wonderful that the notebook is working out so well, Griffin's teacher and I are using one and it is just great. It is essential to his progress I believe especially for his toilet training. SmallBoy is doing just great and I must agree that there's no way that he has ODD. He did a great job self-managing and maintaining his composure, that is something to be proud of. Glad that Girl is okay but I hope that the flu isn't too bad and that she gets better right away, that stuff can be so nasty. Hooray for "all grown-up" LargeBoy and saving money like he has and making such a large purchase showing such great responsibility, you have every reason to be proud of all three kiddos. You are one heck of an awesome Mommy!!! I love "Pick The Tune" in fact I love all of your songs because you guys are so darn talented!!!!!

Laura said...

Hang in there you!