We survived our first week with our new crazy schedule.

I am enjoying working with my students at school. The classroom routine really just started to get established on Friday, so I’m eager to see how things go once we’re into a regular schedule there. I feel a bit rushed in the morning (and after school) to get everyone to where they need to be at the right time, but hopefully that will get easier with time, too.

Christian finally decided that school will be a good thing again. (Whew!) We were all happy that Miss R is his bus driver for both before AND after school. She and Christian just have an amazing understanding and trust with each other. I feel 100% safe having her transport Christian. (I’d love to keep her as his bus driver as long as he’s in school!) School seems to be going well for Christian. He is greeting people and using their names. He is taking charge of his routine in the lunchroom and no longer needs to have an adult sitting immediately next to him. (HUGE!) He is having some issues with tearing up paper (i.e. worksheets) and we have seen this behavior at home over the summer. I’m hoping we can figure out how to solve this, but I’m excited that things have been going as well as they have so far.

Olivia has been loving school. (She’s 2-1/2 weeks in already.) I’m not sure that she enjoys going to both before and after school care this year, she’s surviving. 😉 (Last year she constantly asked to stay. You’d think she’d be happier that she has to now!) She and I are still figuring out how to efficiently get out of the house in the morning, but I’m sure we’ll have it figured out by Christmas. 😉

Brian has been coming home to get Christian on and off the bus. It sounds like that is going well and that Christian is enjoying some “guy time” with Daddy. 🙂 (I don’t think Brian minds either.)

I hoping that next week goes as well as this week has…

While I am super excited and thankful for my new job, I feel a bit like I’m in mourning for parts of my “old” routine. The things that I will no longer be able to be a part. Things that I will miss deeply. Things that I took for granted before.

To be able to pass through this transitional stage of my life, I thought that I’d compile a list of things that are changing — not for the good, nor the bad, but just the things that are…

  • I will no longer be able to put Christian on the bus in the morning. It is hard for me to hand off this responsibility, even if it is to Brian. I remember going through some great joys and fears and tears and laughs throughout this process over the years. I will miss it.
  • I cannot volunteer at Olivia’s school this year. I loved every minute of being there last year – the staff and students are wonderful. The fun of being the volunteer – “Mrs. [Mama] is here!” and the smiles and the hugs and the sighs and … the everything. I will miss it.
  • I can no longer “sleep in.” I will miss this, even if it was an unpredictable perk.
  • I cannot just stop by Christian’s school to drop off this or that, to drive him in on a hard day, to pick him up if necessary… I will miss that.
  • I won’t be home in the middle of the day to get the mail. I’ll miss that, too.
  • My Tuesday morning BodyPump class definitely won’t be happening. I knew a former therapist and family friends in that class. It is such an awesome and amazing workout. I always left class feeling empowered. I will miss that Tuesday morning workout.
  • I will not be able to just chill in the office at Liv’s school waiting for my “entrance” time. I will miss that down time and the weekly coffee chats with a fav principal.
  • I will not be able to do all doctors appointments with the kids anymore. That has been very hard for me. (The first one that I missed was yesterday.) While I know that Brian is perfectly able to take care of these things, this has been my responsibility the last 8 years. The well-checks, the specialists, the therapists, the sick visits, the dentist, the evaluations, the diagnoses, the everything … I know this stuff backward, forward, in my sleep and it feels so strange to hand this off. I will miss this tremendously.
  • I still miss not being able to help coach sports, especially soccer. It’s been over ten years since I’ve assisted in this area, but I still miss it. Perhaps it was the excellent head coach that I worked with. The one who started every practice/game, whatever the weather/mood/time of day, with – “It’s a beautiful day for soccer!” And it always was. I find myself watching teams practicing and wishing that there was a way to be involved. Someday, I hope that there will be. Until then, I will miss it.

I’m sure there are many more things that I will be missing this year with this transition in my life, but I feel blessed by the opportunity to start this new adventure. I am looking forward to seeing where it leads me.

Everything changes on Monday. OK, well, maybe not everything, but it will definitely be a sweeping change to our family and schedule.

I am going back to work.

I am mostly excited with a little bit of nervousness thrown in (for good measure).

I will be starting as a 2nd grade special education instructional assistant at Jacob Shapiro Brain-based Instruction Laboratory Charter School. Sounds like an impressive school, doesn’t it?!? I was impressed during the interview and happy that they wanted me as a part of their team.

Brian and I are working hard with schedules — trying to figure everything out, yet waiting on Christian’s bus schedule for the year. We’ll get it all worked out, I’m sure, but I’m eager to get things finalized. But the awesome thing about being able to get into a school as an assistant is that the kids’ major holiday breaks/vacations will line up with mine and I can stay home with them. What a blessing!

What a change!

I’m excited. 🙂

OK, so last time I wrote (before our computer was out of commission) I mentioned that we were looking into getting Christian on a new med before the start of the school year.

It’s happening.

His morning Adderal has been switched out to Vyvanse. They are in the same class of drug and are both long-lasting. Thankfully the Vyvanse comes in a powder-capsule form, so I can open it up and let it melt into the butter on the top of Christian’s morning toast. It has been working wonderfully so far. 🙂 I am praying that the benefits will continue.

A nice side effect of the Vyvanse (as it was with the Adderal, too) is a decrease in appetite. That is a good thing since Christian’s other morning med (Risperidone) causes increased appetite/weight gain. The Vyvanse seems to be evening out the Risperidone in the appetite department. 🙂 The frig is no longer being raided all day, every day.

This puts my mind at peace a bit as the school year is closing in on us quickly. Christian is very ready to go back. I’m happy for him! 🙂

This post has been a long time in coming…

Back in April, after months of trying to find a specialist who would see us, Christian landed an appointment with a behavioral pediatrician. I held out high hopes for this appointment, especially since the doctor only agreed to meet with us after reading through the 60-some (double-sided) pages of reports that I had prepared and sent to her. I figured that she wouldn’t waste her time with us if she didn’t believe that she could offer us some assistance.

It was a long appointment. 2-hours. But it was good. I felt that Dr. C actually heard me without letting her mind jump six steps ahead and missing some of the key concerns/issues that we were having. And she had done her homework on Christian. She came in with a plan and had papers prepared to give to me explaining the benefits/side effects of each medication and why she was choosing them.

After leaving that appointment, I felt that we didn’t get to see all of those other doctors for a reason. We were meant to see Dr. C. This was the blessing amidst all of the frustration and disappointment.

So … you might be wondering what medication path we are now leading.

Before we had the appointment, Christian was taking risperidone in the morning and clonidine at night. To that Dr. C added Adderall in the morning with the hopes that eventually we could switch the morning risperidone to abilify (to minimize the weight gain that Christian was having). (She also gave Christian an ADHD diagnosis.)

This seemed to working, but the Adderal was wearing off in the early afternoon, so Dr. C added a low dose of methyphenidate (Ridalin) to an afternoon snack. This was supposed to help him make it through his afternoon slump until dinnertime.

Everything was working fine and dandy until Christian caught on to my sneakiness near the end of June. You see, he is unwilling to just take medications. They have to be hidden in food or drink. He started figuring out that the sprinkles on that donut/ice cream sandwich/cinnamon roll/whipped cream/etc. were more than just sprinkles and refused to eat them. RE FUSE ED. My creative juices were depleted and I stopped trying to force the Adderal for the summer. However, school is just around the corner now, so Dr. C and I will have to come up with something – either a new medication or a creative way to deliver it.

The choice to medicate is not an easy one. Or a simple one. It is not for everyone, nor is every medication that is tried.

Right now, I feel like Christian has a good ally in Dr. C. She is on his side. Part of the team.

Wow! My Christian is 8 today!

I still remember that long night of laboring before the roomful of doctors decided to take you by emergency c-section. Ah, my boy, what a fighter you were and still are!

I love you, my buddy. I love your determination and creativity, your giggles and smile, your charisma and perspective on life. I love everything that you have taught me. Thank you for your patience with me on this journey of life.

I love you!!  ~Mama

On Christian's birthday - 8 years ago

Christian doesn’t actually want to have a birthday this year, so if you happen to cross his path today feel free to say, “Christian, have a day!” 🙂 That’s all that he’s been able to handle so far…

Sigh. I’ve waited to post this (and actually wondered if I ever would) because it gets my emotions so raw. Let me start at the beginning…
Brian and I decided that it would be a good idea to put both kids in swimming lessons this spring. Liv has never taken “formal” lessons. Christian took “special needs” lessons last winter. Christian enjoyed the water, however, Brian and I were concerned that they didn’t focus enough on swimming skills vs. the-love-of-water. Christian has never had a problem with the latter. We really wanted him to learn some basic water survival skills.
About a month before the classes were set to start (and we were ready to register), I tried emailing the aquatics director to see if it was feasible for Christian to partake in “regular” lessons. I waited and waited. A week passed and I hadn’t heard from her, so I stopped into her office to talk with her directly.
She didn’t seem too concerned about anything that I wanted to tell her about Christian. She just asked (more than once) if Christian was OK without me in the water with him.
Well, yes, he is OK without me.
Her answer to me then was to enroll him in whatever class I wanted to. She didn’t seem to have time or attention to listen to any of my other concerns, so I left her office and signed him up for “regular” class at the same time as Olivia. Easier for me. Awesome.
…or so I thought…
I arrived with the kids on the first night of class. Both were excited and couldn’t wait to get into the water. When all of the children were divided into smaller groups, I could sense a rumble of concern about Christian from the instructors. They were nervous about him. One of them went and asked the aquatics director if she was “OK with him being here.” Her reply was, “If he’s OK without Mom in the pool, then I’m fine with him being here.”
I started to get nervous and anxious about my son being referred to as him. I was starting to get irked, but tried to stay calm and positive for Christian.
I backed out through the door and watched carefully. As I stood there I was horrified, crushed, and angry as one of the instructors (right in front of Christian), started tearing up and shaking. As I tried to read her lips, I could see that she was saying, “I can’t handle this! I don’t know how to teach him! I can’t do this!” She was panicking, shaking her hands, and looking at him like he was the plague! I wanted to run out there, grab Christian out of the water, and shield him from her reaction.
Eventually, the aquatic director came out and talked to the teary-eyed instructor, went and talked to one of the other lifeguards, and then headed my direction. Sigh.
Aquatic director walked right over to me, and in front of all of the other parents, started telling me that Christian could not be in these classes. She told me that he is not capable and that thankfully they were overstaffed on lifeguards that night so one of them could spend time with Christian for the rest of the allotted class time. She told me that I would have to enroll him in the “special needs” classes if I wanted him to continue lessons and that she supposed that she could “roll him over” into the special class that started in two days. She made this sound like she was doing me this huge favor. Sigh.
Had it not been such a long day by that point, I might have been more vocal with the aquatic director. However, as I watched my beautiful boy now happily splashing around with extra lifeguard, I just nodded and told her that I would like to continue the lessons and to go ahead and put my baby in the other class.
I’m sure that aquatic director said some more things to me, but I was done listening. I was too busy watching Christian and fighting back my own tears. I was lost in thought wondering whether Christian had heard and how much he understood about what the swim instructor had said about him at the beginning of the class.
As soon as aquatic director walked away, I could no longer hold myself together. I started bawling, uncontrollably, by that window, in front of the other parents. I tried to stop. I really did. But I just couldn’t. There were too many emotions washing over me all at once.  I donned as brave face as best as I could and attempted to pull myself back together by the end of the class.
Two days later, Christian started lessons in the special needs swim class again.
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Three weeks passed and my emotions were not as raw as they had been. The kids are thriving in their swim classes. I made an appointment to talk to the CEO of the place where the kids were taking their classes. He agreed to meet with me the next day.
I recounted our story. He listened to my every word. He asked questioned and repeated me, just to make sure that he fully understood what I had said. He promised to use it as a “teaching moment” and asked that I let him know how the swimming class turned out in the end.
I was satisfied.
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Swimming lessons have now come to a close.
Olivia did fantastically well and loved every minute of her class.
And Christian … well, Christian did great. He also had the most excellent of teachers, Mr. Tim. Mr. Tim was genuinely happy to see Christian every week. Mr. Tim was energetic, caring, and resourceful. He got Christian to try things that I wasn’t sure I would ever see him do – like putting his head underwater to grab a ring off of the bottom of the pool! I know! Awesome, right?!? Mr. Tim had him working on paddling with his arms. Once Christian could do that pretty well, Mr. Tim had Christian start working on his kick. Christian still may be a long way from swimming on his own, but he is now on his way thanks to the patience and understanding of Mr. Tim.
I wish that there were more Mr. Tim s in this world…