Thursday, December 11, 2008

Update

Just a quick update, as I haven’t blogged in a while. Thanks for all your supportive comments on my last post. Things are on a pretty even keel here these days. No big meltdowns, not major incidents - just our steady, regular efforts to maintain routine and consistency in an unpredictable world.

Tonight we are going to the Christmas Concert at Lucas’s school. Then on the weekend Jama has her Christmas pageant, plus we need to get our tree up and go see Santa. Next week is the last week of school, so I have to get my butt into gear with making the teachers gifts! I have them all planned out, and I have most of the supplies, I just need to sit and craft away. I really like crafting though, so it’s not a chore, it’s just finding the time.

I still haven’t decided what we are giving the boys for Christmas. It seems all they want is video games, and I don’t want to give them that. So I am waiting for inspiration. I am running out of time though! I am sure some great idea will come to me.

If I don’t make it here again before the end of the year, I wish you all the most wonderful of whichever holidays you celebrate!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Day She Called the Cops (or How I Hurt My Back)

So, this story is now a few months old, but I haven’t had time to tell it before now, so here goes.

My younger son is Autistic. One of the ways his symptoms express themselves is through tantrums. This is becoming a bigger and bigger problem as he himself gets bigger. I used to be able to sit him on my lap and wrap my arms around him while he flailed about, and it would stop him and keep him (and us!) safe. Now that he is about four and a half feet tall and 90 pounds, containing him and restraining him is becoming much more dangerous – bordering on impossible. We have enlisted a behavioural consultant to help with this, but in the meantime we are just doing our best.

Over the summer, my son goes to a program called ‘Kids Safe’ which is a day camp that runs out of our local school. I have him there because he needs the routine of getting up, going to school, and having structured days during the summer so that the transition to back to school in September is easier. This is his third year with Kids Safe, and they are experiencing the same problems we are at home with his size. Their only solution is to call me when his tantrums are unsafe for himself and for others. This happened one day in August. Coram had been climbing the pipes in the basement, kicking walls, and screaming. I had to pick him up, which was upsetting for him. What was more upsetting was that the rest of the kids were leaving for a field trip. He had been looking forward to going, but had lost the privilege, and was no longer welcome.

He tried to run after the group, which was worrisome, but became much more so when the group crossed a busy street. They had crossed at the light, but as he was running after them, the light had changed and he was about to go barrelling pout into oncoming traffic. I caught hold of him by the waist and held him. He pulled, screamed, kicked. I locked my feet into the ground and just held on. We spent a good 8 to 10 minutes struggling like this, then I began trying to get him back to my car, which was half a block away. I can no longer carry him, so I had to sort of man-handle him up the street, one leg under him lifting him forward as I stepped forward. He screamed the entire time, straining to follow the other kids.

At some point, a neighbour came out, cordless phone in hand. She walked past me, glared at me, and went to talk to the leaders at the day camp. She walked back past me, and made sure that I knew she was on the phone with the cops, reporting me. I asked the leaders to go talk to her, and they tried, but she said, ‘Get out of my face or I’ll f-ing punch you.’

I’m sure this friendly (?) neighbour thought she was helping a child who was being abused. What I don’t understand was why she had to be so hostile to the leaders of the day camp. The leaders called the cops, too, and explained to them what was really happening. The cops said they weren’t planning to send a car out, but I still wasn’t sure. We went back home, and I spent the evening wondering if I was going to have a visit from child services that day.

I got up the next morning to a sore back. I have had muscle strain before, so I thought nothing of it. I got in the car, and went to work. By about 2 in the afternoon I was having a hard time bearing any weight at all. When I got home that night, I could barely walk. When I woke up the next morning, I could not move.

When I had my first son, I was in labour for 40 hours – and I did not get pain meds until 38 hours in. It was extremely painful back labour, and I thought I was in hell. This back pain was far, far worse.

I had to have my husband stand and brace me so I could take baby steps to the bathroom – slowly, and painfully, with tears streaming down my face. Then to actually sit down I had to scream in pain; then the same going back to lie down flat on my back. This was no ordinary back strain. My husband called the pharmacist, because there was no way I could get to the car to go to the doc, and the pharmacist said to get the pain under control first, go to the doc later.

It was almost a week before I could bear any weight on my own. When I did get to the doc, who referred me to physio, I found out it was likely a lumbar sprain or a disk injury. That explained why it was pain unlike any back pain I had ever had – it was not muscular pain. I ended up taking 2 months off of work, going to physio twice a week and am only just back to work mid October.

Family services never came, which was a huge relief. I have never seen that neighbour again, either – even though she was just two blocks away. I wonder what she thinks when she reflects on the whole experience?

When I reflect on it, I know that I did what I needed to do to stop my son from getting hit by fast moving traffic. I took the injury in his stead. But I am afraid that next time I won’t be strong enough.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

All This and a Blog Too?


Ya, so, um... *cough* ... I’m a bad blogger. I’m sorry, I do have the best intentions. You wouldn’t believe how many blogs I compose in my head as I am busy driving, or just falling asleep. I come up with a witty title and starter paragraph, and I think ‘I’ll blog this as soon as I get home/wake up tomorrow/finish bedtime with the kids/{random activity here}’

But life, for me, is a series of chasing time, being late, leaving important things unfinished, and leaving hobbies un-started. Ok we all know parenting is non-stop, but I do have a couple of other things in the mix:

- I have a child with Autism (insert regular medical appointments, school meetings, therapy, and dealing with tantrums)

- I have a child with a cleft lip and palate, anxiety disorder and ADHD (insert more regular medical appointments, school meetings and therapy, and dealing with constant activity and desire to climb things not created for climbing – like furniture, walls, door frames, and small animals)

- I have my own struggles with depression (insert weekly appointments and a desire to hide in bed all day)

- I am working closely with a very busy parenting resource to build and market it (insert 40 hrs + of online time, and staying on top of 4 different email accounts)

- I work 15 to 17 hours a week out of the home (insert drive time and prep time, too)

And so I suggest to you, dear reader, that I have many very good reason to be a bad blogger. I hope you understand. I do my best, and I know many of you wish I’d update more often, and I will try to do better. But I can’t promise it will get much better than this.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I Laughed So Hard it Hurt

OK so in the interests of full disclosure, it doesn’t take much to make me hurt right now, seeing as I have this deep tissue injury n my back. But don’t let that detract from how funny this blog is. Even if I didn’t have a back injury, I may have laughed until I hurt.

I do love to make character cakes myself, but now I think I might just let my sarcasm get the better of some of my upcoming cakes for adult friends. What better way to say happy Birthday to a dear friend than with this cake?

Thanks to Bloggers ‘Blogs Of Note’ for sharing this gem with me today :)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Square Pizza Night

It’s not clear to me when the tradition started. Maybe it was the kids fighting over the television (AGAIN), or the kitchen full of dirty dishes (AGAIN), or that fact that we were both exhausted after a full week in the trenches (ALWAYS) but somehow we launched a family tradition: Pizza Fridays.

Now in case you are thinking of chiming in here with, ‘But pizza once a week isn’t healthy!’ let me just stop you now. It has bread, vegetables, dairy, and sometimes meat. I have it from a nutritionist that it is actually considered a healthy food choice, depending on what is on it (and we don’t load it with high fat meats.) And that makes it good enough for me.

So, after we established the tradition, we embarked on the laborious of mission of Perfecting the Pizza Friday. We ordered from various local restaurants, and we have a few standby favourites, but we have always been up to trying something new. So when I was at my local grocery store one day, and saw a nice bunch of Airmiles attached to a pizza (I am an Airmiles addict, but that’s another story) I decided to give it a try. It was a fresh, bake-it-yourself style pizza, and it was square.

I’m not sure if it was the shape of the pizza, the taste of it, or the fact that it was something we had never tried before, but it was a hit. Fresh from our oven, fit perfectly onto a cookie sheet, and really good sauce. So (for now at least) we have a new tradition: Square Pizza Fridays.

Want a piece?


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Here I am!

I have been completely AWOL and I apologize to all of my loyal readers. I’ll try to do better.

Things with the family are going very smoothly. The kids wrapped their school year without a hiccup, and we have all moved nicely into summer. The kids have had one week at Kidsafe and seem to be enjoyng it a great deal – more than in previous years. I think it’s because this is their third year, they are amongst the older kids, and they really fit in now with kids they have been spending summers with for so long. Also it helps that the leaders are so great – they all know the kids, and they don’t try to push Coram to eat, which has always lead to problems in the past. We have a couple of weeks off as a family later in July, but haven’t decided as of yet what to do with them. It might be nice just to hang out close to home, and do some day trips and relax, but it might also be nice to go on a longer road trip. We’ll figure it out eventually.

I’ll end this post with some pics of the boys hamming it up this summer at some local community events.



I think the boys had their faces painted to look like Mario and Luigi from Super Mario brothers, but I'm not sure. Whatever it was supposed to be, it was funny.



The police came by for a visit and brought their bikes.



Police officer Steve. Yum.




Here I am with the boys at the school fair. Too bad half Lucas's face got cut off heh.





This is a nice shot of all three of my boys at Rocky Point Station in Port Moody.



Here is a panoramic I took at Rocky Point Station with one of my many new Kodak Cameras. It was really pretty there.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Pine Nuts In My Cereal

Ok so I admit I wanted my title to get your attention. But I also really do have pine nuts in my cereal. It’s granola, actually, and is surprisingly tasty. I picked it up yesterday at Portobello West, where we were promoting yoyomama. The booth next to us was for the Granola Girl, and she had samples. I don’t think I would have bought homemade granola if it weren’t for those samples. This stuff is sooooo good. And she packages some bags with bigger pieces so you can just grab a chunk and go. And no, I am not being paid to write this. I just really like my granola today.

Things with the family are on a pretty even keel these days. Coram’s new school is great, and he is settling in – finally! This week will be his first week of full dayss We have been adding gradually and I am so thrilled that we are finally here. So much for two weeks of half days (which was the plan in September). I am stunned really when I look back at how difficult the fall/winter was for us. But here we are in Spring – complete with sun, blooms, hail and snow (yes, really). I guess it truly is a time for new beginnings, and Coram is having one.
Lucas has an appointment with his ENT (Ear Nose and Throat Doctor) in a couple of weeks where we will find out if he still has fluid behind the one ear drum, and if we need to go in and put a new set of tubes in. He really notices the fluid, and I really notice he has hearing loss, so I am pretty sure I know what the answer will be. But we’ll just wait and see before we freak out about an upcoming anaesthetic on a boy with needle phobia.

I have been working a LOT. I still merchandise DVDs, but have added merchandising for Kodak into the mix. Also, yoyomama is doing very well and I am trying to focus a good chunk of time per week on that, too. I don’t get to see my pseudo-third-baby as much as I used to, and I miss him a lot. He is walking now, but still in that stage where he looks like a slight breeze would topple him over. Legs wide, arms out to the side for balance, and of course a huge proud grin on his face. I really enjoy our time with him, and Lucas tells me he wishes Christopher was his real baby brother. So sweet.

So that’s the update. I feel bad I am not able to blog more these days, but as I like to say these days, ‘It is what it is.’

Friday, January 18, 2008

Lucas and The Ear Tubes

Lucas has had several sets of myringotomy tubes over the years. It is quite common for kids with cleft palate to have issues with their Eustachian tubes adequately draining the ear.

For those of you new to the world of cleft palate, here is a brief tutorial.

Close your mouth, and touch your tongue to the top of your mouth. It feels hard, right? That is your hard palate. Now, move your tongue back to where it gets squishy. That is your soft palate., and it goes to the back of your mouth. A cleft palate is a cleft, or opening, in the palate area. Some clefts are soft palate only, some are of the hard palate only, and some are soft and hard palate.

Ok, now, yawn. Feel those muscles at the back of your mouth along the top (the soft palate)? Those muscles form an arch at the back of your throat, and they have several functions in addition to helping you yawn. One of their functions is to help drain the Eustachian tubes. Eustachian tubes are internal tubes that equalize pressure in your ear.

Now, imagine an opening, or cleft, in the soft palate. Where would that arch of muscles go without tissue there? The answer is, they can't go there. The muscles don't form the arch, they just go straight up on either side of the palate. And because they aren't attached the same way, they don't work as well. Fluid and pressure can build up behind the ear drum, which is very painful and can effect hearing. Hence, many kids with cleft palates need ear tubes, and some continue needing them into adulthood.

Ear tubes are very small tubes that are placed in the actual eardrum. They function as an alternative way for the ear to equalize the pressure, by allowing fluid to drain through the tubes.

Lucas had his first set of tubes when he had his palate repaired at 10 months old. He has had three other sets since. His most recent set was a slightly longer tube, with a slight 't' shape. They are designed to stay in the ear longer than regular tubes, which usually fall our within 8 months or so. We used these t-tubes for his last set because we didn't want to have to keep going back for new tubes that often.

One of the tubes fell out after about two years, which we expected. The other tube has not fallen out. This is good for pressure equalization, but not very good for his ear drum. The tissue around the tube is a bit irritated, and the doctor is worried it will develop scar tissue around the ear tube and create a permanent hole. So, the tube needed to come out.

Enter the long thing instrument with the tiny tweezer-like pincers on the end. The procedure coudl be performed in office, by simply using the instrument to pull the tube out. It would hurt somewhat like pulling off a bandaid, and could hurt for one to three minutes. Sounds pretty harmless, right?

Well, unless you have a needle-phobia, that is. That long thing metal instrument with pincers on the end looks a heck of a lot like a needle. And for a boy who has had one too many doctors trick him into doing something unpleasant by promising it wouldn't hut, there was no way Lucas was going to let the ear doctor remove that tube.

So, we got a referral to the psychologist, the same one who helped us through bone graft surgery. She got the instrument and some Playdough, and a model of an ear, and she and Lucas worked out a lot of his anxiety and got a lot of his questions answered. I purchased a reward (an Action Replay for his Nintendo DS) and we all went together to have the tube removed.

Part of our strategy was for me not to be in the office at the time. Lucas went in with his Psychologist, and they did their relaxation techniques, and Lucas was able to handle the situation without me – a great step toward his independence.

But we had a wrinkle. It turns out that the other ear, the one that had the tube fall out over a year ago, is showing fluid behind the ear drum. This means that his Eustachian tubes are likely will not working. So it would be a mistake to take the remaining tube out, as fluid could build up in that ear too, and we would end up going in to put the tube back. So the tube was left in, and we are keeping an eye on the tube-free ear for the next few months before we decide if we will put a tube ion that one, too.

So I guess in many ways, we had success, because Lucas was calm and prepared and capable of doing the procedure. But I can't deny the irony of the situation, that the procedure couldn't happen for a completely different reason that was out of our control.

So I gave Lucas the reward, because he did his job just perfectly. And I guess in three months, we will either have to go through it all again and take the tube out, or we will have to schedule a trip to the OR to get a new tube in the un-tubed ear. Either way, I can see several trips to the psychologist in our future. Just call my psychic.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

We're Alive

Despite my lengthy absence from this and other blogs, I am alive, and so is the rest of the family.

As if working 30+ hours a week around a child who only goes to school until noon, taking said child to various appointments, and getting orthodontic work for other child wasn't enough, the calendar rolled into December and I got hit by the holidays.

Though busy, I have no other complaints about this holiday season. On the contrary, I really enjoyed Christmas with the kids this year. Tree decorating is no longer an tense struggle to keep the kids from breaking heirloom ornaments: they are old enough now to handle everything with the care and reverence they deserve. We didn't have a single meltdown at any of our gatherings: the kids are older now, and don't get as overworked at Christmas as they have in past years, and better know how to handle themselves when they are excited. And after their first attempt to get up at 12:15 am, the boys went back to sleep until 7:00 am, which is a very respectable rising hour for Christmas morning.

The boys got a Nintendo Wii from one side of our extended family, and several games for it from the other site. Lucas was so happy, he literally had tears in his eyes. To my utmost pleasure, playing the Wii is much more fun than any of the other game systems we have had in the past, and the whole family has been bowling together regularly ever since. I never thought a game system would create more family together time, but it has.

When we had very young kids, new Years Eve was always a non event. If we did anything, it was watching a movie and we were lucky to stay up until midnight. Now that the kids are older, they are excited to stay up themselves and ring in the new year. So, this year we had a small party with one friend. We made New Years ornaments, fizzy pink punch, and had chocolate fondue. Coram was worried he wouldn't be able to stay awake, so we took our noise makers outside at 9PM and shouted 'Happy New Year Ontario!'. At twelve we went out again and danced around the yard with our horns and shakers. Having made it to midnight, the kids were happy to go to bed and we were all asleep by one.

After New Years, we had a week of just hanging out around the house. The kids played their Wii for hours, but did take breaks to read their new books, build lego, and play with various other toys they were given. They also had some cool field trips through Kidsafe to the Vancouver Aquarium, Watermania, and skating.

This week is back to school, and so far it is going ok. Coram is at his new school, still half days, but with the intention of working up to full days. He has been spending sometime with his class mates, mostly for un-structured activities like library and gym, but it is all a slow process to get him worked into the classroom. His aid is motivated and positive, and I am cautiously optimistic. My work hours have gone back to the normal pre-Christmas level, so I am no longer rushing out for 6 am starts, for which I am very thankful.