Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Little Things

Lots of milestones to talk about today...among other things...

1) Carter is getting tooth #3.  In fact, I think it popped through overnight.  He was a cranky mess at dinnertime last night, and the only thing that seemed to soothe him was a teething ring (and his food).  Absent those things, he screamed bloody murder, which is totally unlike him.  When I noticed how the teething ring was so eagerly taken, I looked in his mouth, and sure enough, there was a bump to the right of his two teeth with a tooth clearly visible under the gums.  I couldn't feel it poking through, but I gathered pretty quickly that was his issue.  I gave him some Tylenol at bedtime, he slept through, but this morning I could feel it poking through.  Poor kid.  Carter seems to be on a totally different tooth schedule than Jacob.  Jacob only got his first two just before eight months, so Carter was a little ahead of the game already, but this seems soon for more.  Oddly, in looking back at pictures, it appears Jacob didn't get any other teeth on the bottom until after his first birthday.  The next two to come in were his top front teeth, and those came when he was 11 months.  Carter's not even nine months yet.  Weird things, these genes.  I love the two-tooth phase and will be sorry to see it go, but Carter's so cute anyway that it can't hurt!

2) Carter pulled himself up the other night.  No, he's not crawling yet, but I guess he skipped right along to pulling up.  Of course, until he can crawl there isn't much he can get to to pull up on, but he did it on our Incrediblock toy, twice.  It was really pure luck that he did it since he hasn't quite figured out the science to getting his feet under him in the right spot, but when he does happen to have them there, he can do it.  He also doesn't have much balance once he's up there, but it's amazing to see him do it!  He's a strong little dude, that's for sure.  I would think he'll be crawling soon, but you never know.  He's been doing all the rocking and ends up scooting backwards, but I know it'll click soon.

3) Jacob actually initiated playing with Carter over the weekend!  We invented this game while we were at my parents' house involving Carter's O-Ball rattle and a soft Nerf ball.  Jacob had been playing basketball with the Nerf ball, but somehow it morphed into having Carter "swing" the rattle like a bat (with our assistance, of course) and try to hit the ball.  Jacob loved it!  He was pretty much asking Carter to play, which was probably the most positive acknowledgement of his brother yet.  It was nice to see even if the baseball game itself got old (for us) rather quickly.

4) The gluten-free diet is well underway now, and it's hard to tell if it's making a difference...but we think it is.  Here's the thing...results are really mixed so far.  On one hand, morning and bedtime have been even worse than before.  He starts hitting almost immediately in the morning, and won't leave me alone once he gets going.  At bedtime he will not stay in his room and it's like pulling teeth to get him to get ready.  He freaks out and loses control.  It's awful.  We can sort of sense that a lot of it is excitement (rarely about anything specific), and he just doesn't know how else to express it, for some reason.  He just sort of loses control and is completely illogical and weird for a period of time, and then he snaps out of it just as suddenly.  It is so strange.  But when he's not having one of those moments, he's been so much better.  His school days have been mixed, but his afterschool reports have been really great this week, which is a switch.  With us he's much easier to manage at dinner time, and other times we spend with him (like playing sports, or tonight when we carved pumpkins) have been pretty great.  I'm hoping those other moments will start decreasing as well, but that may just be another issue we have to contend with.  Like, maybe the gluten is going to help his ADHD, but there's another underlying issue (God forbid, but I wouldn't be that surprised if he got some sort of bipolar diagnosis, honestly) that it won't help.  It's hard to tell.  But we'll take a small improvement and keep praying for more.  I can see how much he's learning at school despite his issues, and I can only imagine how much better he'll do if things continue to improve.

I probably had more to report, but I am exhausted.  It has been a very long day!  Looking forward to Halloween tomorrow, though!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Who am I?

I feel like I've been going through a major identity crisis recently.  I don't know why, though maybe it's because I'm finally out of the new baby fog.  When you think about it, between nine months of pregnancy and a good 6-8 months of new baby fog, that's well over a year of being sort of preoccupied with a lot of other stuff, and it becomes very easy to forget about yourself in the shuffle.  Or, at least, to care.  With Jacob I was obviously overwhelmed with getting ready for a first baby and being a new mom.  I had to juggle that with work and a house.  This time around I may have been more used to the baby stuff in general, but juggling my job, two kids, and a bigger house has been a challenge.  My downtime is just considerably less, and obviously in the past few months we've had a lot of other things going on with Jacob--behavior issues, school, new doctors, etc., so most of my downtime tends to be spent online researching one thing or another.  There just isn't a lot of time that I can dedicate to myself because I'm managing everyone else.  I go to the gym once a week, I try to make myself presentable in the morning, and I try to spend at least a little time in the evenings doing what I want to do, which is usually watching a show while browsing social media.  But I don't really go out, I don't really have any social friendships, and it's rare that I can even carve out a solo shopping trip where I can really browse for myself.

A couple weeks ago I got my hair cut.  I'm still not sure how I feel about it.  I mean, I appreciate the fact that Carter can't pull it all the time, and the fact that a lot of it is falling out (hormones? stress?) is a little less annoying, but I'm not sure how I feel about the style.  Part of it seems too cute.  Part of it seems boring.  But then sometimes it seems fresh and professional.  The long hair seemed sexier sometimes, but then again sometimes I felt like it made me look like I was trying to hard to be young.  The long hair was actually easier since I just blow dried it and brushed it, while this hair must be styled a bit so it doesn't flip out the wrong way, but once it's done I think it looks nicer for the duration of the day.  But I'm just not sure it reflects me right now.  But since I don't know who I am (or want to be), how could it?

The same can be said for my clothes.  As I mentioned briefly last week, I spent a good portion of a Saturday morning clearing out my wardrobe.  I have a closet, parts of two dressers, and one wardrobe full of clothes, covering all seasons.  Many of them I have owned for a really long time, some as long ago as my old job, which I haven't worked at in almost eight years.  Some of it was looking a little ratty, and some of it hasn't been worn in a few years, but some of it I wore right up until the winter before I got pregnant, and it never fit last year around my pregnancy.  In most cases the stuff just doesn't fit right anymore, but in some cases it's just not "me" anymore, either.  While I don't feel like my body is way different than it was before kids--a little squishier, yes, but I can still wear the same pants for the most part--it was amazing how many of the shirts just didn't quite work.  Most were either a little too clingy for my post-baby belly, or they were simply too short to look flattering.  I don't know if my dryer has destroyed them, or if styles have just changed so much that my perception has changed, or if subtle shifts in my body's composition has just rendered them awkward.  I mean, my chest is actually smaller now than it used to be, but button-down blouses either I have more back fat, or something else is happening.  Regardless, there were a lot of things that just didn't fit right, so they're getting donated.  I set aside a handful of nostalgic items (maybe someday they'll become a t-shirt quilt or something), but for the most part it was good to get them gone.  It felt a little wasteful (and sometimes sad, for pieces with memories attached), even though most of those clothes have gotten a considerable amount of wear.  It made a little room in my closet, but at this point I'm not even sure what to replace them with...because, again, I don't know what to buy.  I wear a lot of sweaters with camis, and the layering makes me feel a little more put together, but beyond that I'm not sure which styles will work for me.  Stacy and Clinton, where are you?!

Like I alluded to above, the process of having another baby tends to trigger this issue.  I remember having that feeling last time around, too.  After spending months not buying clothes in anticipation of being pregnant, then shopping only maternity racks (or shapeless stuff) for six months or so, followed by months of being unsure about how my body might turn out, that equaled a lot of months away from stores and a lot of changes in styles.  Going back in and having to shop countless "normal" racks, as opposed to a handful of racks with very specific styles, was very challenging.  This time was much the same.  I'm also a few years older at this point, so many of my "younger clothes" don't feel right--particularly for work. 

This time I added in the long hair vs. short hair debate.  Did long hair make me more of a fun mom?  Or was I looking like I was trying too hard to be young?  I had a really hard time deciding on a length once I decided to go shorter, which is rarely an issue for me.  I couldn't figure out if going too short would make me less feminine or too mom-ish, but I also didn't want to be stuck in between and look as undecided as I felt.  I've been hiding behind longer hair for a while now (can't believe I grew it out for three years!), so the thought of going back worried me a bit.  Was I trying to be something I no longer was, at any length? 

But the biggest problem this time around is that despite being more comfortable in the mom role, I'm more frazzled with even less time for myself.  Add in that Jacob's issues have been at the forefront for months now, and suffice it to say that focusing on myself has been more difficult than I ever imagined.  Or even if I have the chance to focus on myself, caring enough to make an effort is a challenge.  I guess it just seems like small potatoes compared to all we've been dealing with.  Like, why should I worry about changing my look when it's not going to make a difference in Jacob's situation?

On the other hand, I have noticed that lately I have a tendency to gravitate toward "fixing" little things.  Maybe it manifests itself in a new storage system, or making it a point to finally fix something that was broken, or clearing out a pile of clutter.  Mind you, I'm not very good at it, but when I get something on the brain, it bugs me until I do it.  I've mentioned here before all of the unfinished projects around my house, and yes, they are all still driving me nuts.  But most of them are too big to conquer with the time I have, so I've been going off on little tangents to fix what I can in the moment. For example, I decided that I want to get storage binders for all of my CDs so I can get my easy-to-topple, very heavy storage rack out of the living room.  I don't really have time to do that, but yet, it is bugging me.  I've been meaning to get a bin to put Carter's peek-a-blocks in (so they're easier to access than when they're stored in the Incrediblock), so imagine my joy when I realized mid-shopping trip that I already have a container that I can use.  It took me days to remember to get it out, but it felt good to do that tonight.  I get excited when I figure out a new gluten-free fix, or find a way to convince Jacob to do something without complaint, or manage to conquer one mess that's been bugging me.  All of those little things are so small in comparison to the major problems that really need fixing, but I guess mentally I take comfort in controlling what I can amidst the rest of the chaos in our lives.

I guess I just feel a little lost right now.  I don't know how I should look, how I should feel about being 35, or how I want people to see me as a mom.  I don't know where to start on my to do list, my cooking repertoire has been blown to smithereens, and my house is a mess.  I can't relate to one of my kids and I'm probably a pretty crappy wife right now, too.  I'm exhausted, my priorities are a mess, and there just aren't enough hours in the day to make it all work for everyone.  And yet I sit here and blog because I need some sort of outlet for all of the stuff that makes me crazy right now.  And I wonder where Jacob gets his irrationality.  Hmmmm.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

Today was officially day three of the gluten-free diet.  It's going fine so far, I guess.  Staying gluten-free hasn't really been a problem, but I know Jacob is annoyed by some of the things he can't eat, we're a little thrown off by trying to not eat it around him, and we definitely miss the convenience factor.  That said, we survived two parties this weekend, so that's gotta count for something.

The party with my family was a bit of a challenge since there were pretzels everywhere, but Jacob loved caramel and pumpkin dips that Lori made, and spent quite a while dipping apples and pears into both of them.  He also enjoyed veggies and dip, and eventually we pulled out the gluten-free pretzels.  He filled up on enough of that stuff that he didn't actually eat dinner (not much he would have liked anyway), and he didn't want dessert either.  Too bad he missed out on the apparently tasty (and gluten-free) cheesy potatoes I made!  He had a PB&J afterward, which worked out fine. 

The happy story of the weekend was Saturday morning's birthday party.  Earlier last week we got an invitation to a birthday party for a little girl in Jacob's class.  It wasn't much notice, and we already had plans in Buffalo this weekend.  Still, Jacob really wanted to go, and knowing that it hasn't been the easiest for him to make friends, I decided we'd make it work.  The kicker is that the party was at Chuck E. Cheese.  Let's just say that pizza and cake aren't exactly ideal for a Celiac, so I was trying to figure out our best option.  I decided we could leave early, which would get us to Buffalo on time and help us avoid the food part of the party.  When I called the mom to RSVP on Thursday, I told her that she probably shouldn't count Jacob in the food count since he couldn't eat any of it anyway, and said we'd probably be leaving early since we had other plans.  She seemed sympathetic and genuinely concerned, which was nice.

Well, when we arrived at the party (a half hour late, thanks to Jacob's usual antics, last-minute packing, and being on my own with both kids), she said that surprise--Chuck E. Cheese offers gluten-free pizza!  She had ordered some for Jacob, and she even stopped at Wegmans and picked up a bag of cookies for him!  How sweet is that?  She was so nice about the whole thing.  So, we ended up sticking around for the rest of the party (and ditching my carefully laid plans--ahhh, the things we do for our kids), playing a few games, enjoying the mini-pizza (came sealed in its own bake-in bag with a plastic sealed pizza cutter), and snacking on cookies while everyone else ate cake.  I even turned down a slice myself (and if you know me, you know how hard that was).  Jacob's friend loved her gift (we got her a bunch of crafty items--coloring pages, sparkly crayons, construction paper, watercolors, and a book that uses water to practice letters), and we had a nice time.  Jacob wanted to stay longer, but we did need to get on the road so we said our thank yous and left. 

I still can't believe the mom went out of her way like that for a kid she'd never even met.  It really meant a lot and made Jacob's first gluten-free event so much better.  I warned him that not all would be like this, and explained how nice it was that his friend's mom did that.  She even kept an eye on what was in his goodie bag.  So nice! 

On the mom end, I did talk to the birthday girl's mom a lot, and tried to get in on the conversation with four other moms, but I think they might have all been teachers so it definitely seemed a little cliquey.  The one mom (of the only other boy there) did introduce herself at the end, which was nice.  It was weird not being in the same group we've been used to with all the daycare parties we've had there, but a girl party was definitely different on its own!  It was a totally different vibe.   Not sure how often I'll see these moms, but I guess it's a start.

I'm still working on the gluten-free thing at home, trying to find good options and fill holes.  I found some condensed cream of mushroom soup, which is good to have.  I have a running list of meals we can have, meals I have to fix, things I should look into, etc., and I just need to keep working through that.  If I can get a solid two-week rotation, I'll be OK with that.  But it's going to take a lot of planning, for sure! 

But it's been a busy weekend and I'm exhausted.  All of that will have to wait another day...right along with a million other things on my to do list.  Yawn.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hello from Recovery...

Today was Jacob's small intestine biopsy to test for Celiac disease.  Obviously this has been long-awaited since that day at Disney where we got the news, and I guess you could say that today was a bit bittersweet.  You never want your kid to have to be put under, or be poked and prodded, but at the same time, you want your kid to be healthy.  This was simply the next step on that quest.  The bad news is that he couldn't eat all morning, or drink after 8:30am.  It's now almost 2:30 as I type and he's still asleep from the procedure.  I remembered that the last time he got anesthesia he took a while to wake up, and it looks like that's the case again.  So here we wait...

Ready to go!

The procedure went fine.  We won't get the results until early next week, but all indications are still that he's got Celiac disease.  She took a bunch of biopsies and saw a few spots that seemed to be a little suspect just from looking at them, but we'll know for sure when the pathology comes back. 

In the meantime, we're free to start a gluten-free diet...or not.  This weekend is a little complicated for a few reasons.  We're going to visit my family for our annual family Oktoberfest.  There will certainly be a lot of gluten-filled food there.  In addition, Jacob just got the invite for a birthday party on Saturday for one of his new classmates.  The party, of course, is at Chuck E. Cheese.  He won't be able to eat the pizza or any cake.  While he says now that it won't bother him, I'm not convinced.  I actually wanted to be in N.T. for another event earlier than we'd get there if he went to the party, so I suggested we go and play games for a bit, say happy birthday, and leave before the food became an issue.  In the future I can always try to bake up some cupcakes or take some gluten-free pizza, but the short notice and the busy rest of the weekend make that a challenge this time around.  And, given the fact that I'd like to leave town before the end of the party, it makes sense that we just skip that part. 

Craig originally said, "Oh, we can just let him eat normally this weekend," but I'm hesitant to do that.  First, we've been waiting so long to switch his diet and are desperate to see some behavior change from it that it seems silly to put it off.  Second, there's always going to be something that we'd like him to be able to eat normally for.  Next week is Halloween, and beyond that there will be other birthday parties, thanksgiving, or whatever else.  So we might as well face the music and start this new chapter.  It's not going to be easy, but it's inevitable.  And God knows we need whatever behavior change the new diet will bring.  As soon as possible.  We know it's going to be a while before anything happens, but no time like the present, right? 

So, Jacob took a while to wake up but he's up now.  He's had a popsicle and is chatting a bit, but he's still pretty low key.  I need to go get a little more work done (I am low on time off so I need to sneak in as much as I can just in case we have anything else come up), but Craig will take him home and get him settled in. 

We're obviously grateful that he came through this okay, but it's going to be a tough transition.  We're eager to get things moving, though, because we need our lives to get back to normal...or at least a little more normal normal.  Now if I could just find gluten-free recipes for my picky eaters, that would be great...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin Patch!

Sorry for the long's been a busy few days full of random tasks, falling asleep sitting up, and the usual household chores.  Anyway...
Over the weekend I was majorly annoyed by the meteorologists because they had predicted rain all weekend, but when Saturday was over, it had barely rained.  We could have gone down to Letchworth State Park to visit my family, who was camping in the park.  I wanted to stop in Geneseo along the way for some college reminiscing, too.  But I didn't trust the weather, and by the time it was legitimately sunny at 4pm, it was too late.  Another option I had wanted to do was go to a pumpkin patch.  We're busy next weekend so this was pretty much it, but the weather concerned me for that as well.  So, suffice it to say that by Saturday night I was so frustrated that the opportunity for both of those activities had slipped away. 
Sunday was going to be cooler, but the forecasted rain no longer seemed to be a sure thing, so we headed down the road to Cobble Creek Farm.  I'd never been there before, but Jacob has gone there on daycare field trips.  While it wasn't quite the scale of Stokoe Farms, our favorite, it was a nice option.  Jacob's going to Stokoe this week on a school field trip, so there was no sense battling the crowds for a place he'd be going to later in the week.  Of course, given our recent troubles, the thought of going to a pumpkin patch seemed risky, but it's only once a year and we had to give it a shot.
The farm was full of pumpkin people--basically dummies with pumpkin heads.  This one was painting a sign...

Jacob immediately gravitated toward this tepee, of course, since he is obsessed with Native Americans thanks to lacrosse...
Out front was a cool castle made out of hay.  Inside were some royal pumpkin people and an area for private parties...

Here's another pumpkin person in the "jail" on the side of the castle...

There was an old barn where you could get snacks, and in one section there was a dark room to walk through with a number of lit-up carved pumpkins.  I think they were the craft pumpkins (or they found some way to preserve them), but they looked pretty cool in the pitch-black room with their colored lighting...

We hopped on a hayride, which ended up being better than we expected. 

The first stop was the pumpkin patch.  Technically you could pick your own pumpkin, but what was left was pretty picked over so we opted to wait until we were back at the front to pick from their selection.  In the meantime, we enjoyed the fall views...

The hayride went around most of the farm, and we got to see a lot of corn, some sort of beans (I think), and Christmas trees.  The coolest part was that it went through the same area as their haunted hayride (at night), and we got to see some of the props in the daylight.  At one point two plumes of fire shot up alongside the path, giving us a little hint of what they must do at night.  It was pretty cool advertising, I must say!

When we got back from the hayride, we convinced Jacob to go on the barrel train, a train of cars made out of blue plastic barrels and pulled by a tractor.  He wanted Craig to ride with him, but the cars were tiny and I was his only option.  I did take one decent self-portrait of us while we were waiting to move, but I sort of like this one better, despite the blatant defiance it displays...
Classic, no?  This pretty much sums it up, I think.
 After the barrel ride, which was pleasant enough, Jacob checked out the straw crawl...
He did play, but this relaxation shot was funnier...
 ...and spent about 15 seconds in the corn box, until it got taken over by some 7-8 year old girls.

Back out front, we saw more pumpkin people...
Yes, they're scaling the building!
And then Jacob and Craig did some duck races...
In case you're not familiar, it's a carnival duck in a piece of gutter connected to a manual water pump.
 We also figured we should take this shot in case we make this an annual event...

We picked out a pumpkin to carve (though for the record, I didn't love their selection because the stems didn't look green enough, or long enough, for that matter) and a small pumpkin for pictures with Carter, and Jacob somehow snagged a free bundle of Indian corn.  By that point we were freezing (it was only about 50 degrees, with limited sun) and we headed for the car.

Along the way we remembered the goats we saw grazing on the way in, and we headed over to visit them.  Jacob discovered that they liked leaves nearly as much as goat food, and delighted in feeding them as many fallen leaves as he could find.  I hope that's okay for them! 

Back at home I got my picture of Carter with his little pumpkin!

You may recall my obsession with getting a picture of Jacob with a tiny pumpkin (the result is here), and while Carter is a little older, I was still determined.  I still want a picture of him holding himself up on the big one, but we'll see.  So cute, though!

As I mentioned, it's been a busy few days.  Work is crazy and home is even crazier.  I had a productive weekend that involved lots of laundry and going through the majority of my clothes to weed out stuff that no longer works.  Between style changes, my post-pregnancy body, and the general passage of time there was a lot that needed to go.  It felt good to get it out of the way, though it can be a little guilt-inducing, too, since it seems wasteful sometimes.  I still have so many other things to do around this house, but that was a big one.  Oh, and the kids' Halloween costumes are more or less ready to go, as well.  Now if I could just figure out how we're going to eat gluten-free in the next couple days, that would be great.  Stay tuned...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What's Dragging Me Down...

Obviously the Jacob stuff is a big issue right now in our house, but I've noticed a few specific issues that are driving me nuts at the moment and just plain bumming me out:

Unfinished Projects - Everywhere I look in my house, there are things that need to be done.  There are papers to sort through, things to pick up, crumbs on the countertops...and while all of that stuff bugs me (more on that in a second), what's really getting to me are the unfinished projects.  I have an ungodly pile of Jacob's artwork from the beginning of time sitting in our office downstairs.  Co-mingled with it are things that need to be scrapbooked, babybooked, or otherwise put away.  I bought bins for both boys a while back that I intend to use as a spot to save stuff--mementos, artwork, special toys or clothes--but I haven't even started putting stuff in them.  I had intended to take pictures of all of the artwork and toss all but the best, but now I'm realizing that will probably never happen.  I want to still take pictures of the good stuff, keep the very best and ditch the rest, but that all takes time.  A lot of it.  I also have curtains that have been waiting to be hung since I was pregnant, and the spot over my bed (which I swore I'd fill once we got our new quilt) is still empty.  Carter's room needs curtains, too, and I have a "C" decoration I've been meaning to do for months that isn't done.  I have a few pictures that need hanging, I want to move my printer up from my desktop to my laptop, and both baby books need some updating.  Jacob's is pretty much done aside from his 5th birthday and first day of school, but I haven't even started Carter's.  Ugh.  I also have some organizing of my digital music that needs to be done, and I'm a couple seasons behind on printing photos.  Seriously, the list never ends...

Dirty House - Not gonna lie, my house is sort of gross and I worry about how it might be impacting us.  It's been a long time since it got a deep cleaning, and I've only done a handful of moderate cleanings in the meantime, mostly before we have company.  I can't tell you the last time I scrubbed my bathtub or my kitchen floor, though both desperately need it.  It's been a while since everything's been vacuumed, partly because half the floors are usually covered with Legos or other small toys.  I got so annoyed by the state of our living room carpet by the front door that I pulled out my carpet cleaner the other day and did the highest traffic area.  I'm not convinced it did much, though, as it may be too far gone.  Stupid off-white textured berber.  Everything needs a good dusting, and all the nooks and crannies need scrubbing.  I'm simply too tired at the end of the day to do any of it, and any time on the weekends is usually taken up by the kids or errands that need running.  I dream about calling in a professional one of these days to just get me back to zero on it all, which at this point might be worth it, but I don't have any time to take off from work and I just don't trust anyone that much to not be there.  Not to mention that it'd be just plain embarrassing for anyone to see the state of certain parts of the house.  Ugh.  I mean, it's not like we're hoarder-bad or anything, but it's still not good.

Solid Food - Carter is taking baby steps as far as eating solid foods, but I'm currently feeling a little stuck.  We've done relatively well with everything except the rice cereal.  He's not really a fan of the green veggies, but everything else (including meat) has gone over pretty well.  It does cause him some constipation, though, which is sad.  He doesn't seem too impacted by it most of the time, but it's weird to not have him pooping, or to have him grunting with nothing coming out.  But what's really bugging me is that I feel like he's missing out, or that he's not getting enough.  He's actually eating less overall right now than he was a couple months ago.  While we were in Florida we transitioned to 7 oz. bottles every four hours, rather than 6 oz. every three.  That dropped out at least one feeding a day, and usually now he has about four feedings...8:30, 12:30, 4:30, and 8:30, with one solid feeding at dinner time.  I'm planning on sending solids to daycare soon, but I wanted to be sure he could tolerate foods before I sent them in.  We now have a pretty good assortment of what he likes and tolerates, so I can do that soon, but knowing he's not getting the extra bulk of cereal right now, or learning how to eat finger foods like Cheerios or Puffs (which almost all have some sort of grain in them), I worry about whether he's getting enough.  He's so skinny.  Anyway, I feel like we're in a holding pattern until we see the allergist in a few weeks and hopefully get some insight into what we can or cannot give him.  I can't bear the thought of making him sick again, so I'm very hesitant to try new things.

Gluten-Free Cooking - Honestly, I'm doing better with worrying less about gluten-free eating, but there are three elements that are still bugging me: Getting organized, eating out, and special events.  I really need to sit down and list out what we eat now, figure out what can be altered (i.e., gluten-free pasta, different flours, etc.), and what can't.  From there I also want to list out safe foods and try to make some new meals around those (i.e., stirfrys with gluten-free sauces).  I'm annoyed that it will be so much harder to eat out, especially fast food when we need it for convenience purposes, so I need to do more research on Celiac-friendly places around town.  While I'm glad there are a lot of cake mixes and cookie mixes that are safe, and gluten-free flour is pretty easy to come by, I still worry about going to picnics and parties because so much of what's there will be unknown and therefore unsafe.  I'm going to have to plan ahead somehow or just be prepared for the unexpected (do I just keep PB&J and gluten-free crackers in the car or something?).  No idea how to go about any of it, but that's on my mind--but again, most nights I'm too exhausted to think about it.

Working Mom Life - It seems like I routinely go through periods where I'm so annoyed by the working mom life.  There aren't enough hours in the day, and my priorities are never where they should be.  Lately it's been nagging me even more, for a few reasons.  The easy one is that Carter is just so darn cute and I hate being away from him all day.  He's my last baby and he's growing up so fast, and I'm afraid I'm missing out.  But on a more practical level, I just hate how my schedule makes it harder to help Jacob through all he's been dealing with.  It's hard to make up the time at work for all of his appointments, and I wish dearly that I could get myself out of bed earlier to get into work earlier, so I could get home earlier.  It would make it easier for him to get his homework done, easier for me to put a good meal on the table, and give him more time at home to chill, so bedtime doesn't come up so quickly.  But shifting my schedule would mean going to bed earlier, which means less time to get things done without interruption and less time to spend with Craig.  So, I'm not sure that's a solution either.  I just desperately wish I could work three days a week and have two days to cram in doctor's appointments, quality time with the kids, and anything else I need to do.  But the finances never make sense, so it's just not happening.  Not to mention that I'd totally be hanging my co-workers out to dry, which isn't fair to them either.

Babyproofing - I need to take the time to get the baby locks on all of the cabinets, and I need to figure out how we're babyproofing our entire main floor.  This house makes things far more complicated than our old one, and I'm convinced that Carter will have gotten all of the "investigative" genes that Jacob did not.  While Jacob certainly got into things, I never really worried that much about him getting into cabinets or climbing on furniture.  I feel like we got lucky with him, though, and that Carter will be the opposite.  Complicating matters is that we now have two readily accessible stairways to deal with.  While we could just block the stairways and call it a day, part of me is considering getting one of those god-awful baby jails that gives him a play area bigger than a pack-n-play but prevents him from getting to either staircase, the TV, the kitchen, etc.  There's a whole different philosophical discussion I could get into about providing a controlled play area vs. teaching your kid the value of the word "No"...where I used to fall on the latter end but now wonder if we didn't scold Jacob too much and dilute the effectiveness.  Anyway...with two stairways to worry about (and all of Jacob's stuff, for that matter), it may just be easier to fence him in.  We'll see.

Sick Kids - I have this one friend on Facebook who is always liking photos and statuses from every sick kid support page out there.  Seriously.  I know I shouldn't even look when I see those activities come across my feed, but somehow I get sucked in.  On one hand, it makes me so grateful that my kids' issues seem minor in comparison, but on the other it's a reminder of how fragile life is and how tragedy can strike any of us.  The other day there was a page about a baby boy that was born with a disease that makes his skin paper thin and he blisters with the slightest touch.  The poor kid is full of scabs and scars, and he's currently got a tracheotomy.  It looks like a miserable existence, but they soldier on trying to help him.  I don't know what the long term prognosis is, though.  Then I accidentally stumbled upon a blogger who I've read about before but hadn't checked in on for a while.  A couple years ago she miscarried twins, maybe around 20 weeks.  Then she tried to adopt, but that didn't work out for a few reasons.  Well, apparently since I last checked in, she got pregnant again and had a seemingly healthy baby boy.  Shortly after, however, they started to figure out that some of the ventricles of his heart weren't strong enough to pump properly, and while I don't know any of the details, I do know that he passed away after three weeks.  How horrible to lose three babies in the course of a couple years.  Add into that my two friends who each have kids fighting cancer, and let's just say that this hyperawareness of life's unexpected turns makes me simultaneously petrified for my own little world and super-thankful for all we have now.  Perhaps life before the internet was much more blissful because it was harder to stumble upon every rare, bizarre, horrible thing that can befall humankind. 

Differences of Opinion - One of the most important rules of parenting is to be on the same page with your co-parent.  Right now we're not always.  I mean, obviously we want Jacob to get better so we have that as a common goal, but how we get to that goal is a frequent point of contention right now.  Even though Craig has stepped up his game as far as discipline is concerned, I still think he lets him off the hook (or at least comes to the rescue) a little too often.  He thinks I fight too many of the small battles, though in my mind I'm just trying to be consistent. Lately Jacob's been crawling into our bed (on Craig's side) around 4-5am, pretty much every night.  I'm not thrilled with it, partly because it's a bad habit and partly because it infringes on my wifely right to snuggle my husband, but given the current state of Jacob's and my relationship, the last thing I want at 4am is a battle if I try to take him back to his room.  But even though we both agree it needs to stop, Craig lets him do it anyway.  We each have different tolerances for different behaviors, and our tempers can vary from day to day, depending on a lot of factors.  It's easy for one of us to tell the other to stay calm when we're not in the heat of the moment, or make suggestions for handling things, but it just doesn't always go over very well.  I just hate that we can't seem to agree on a lot of that stuff right now, but we're managing.  Still, it just bothers me because I know how bad of an issue that can be.  Our marriage needs to be a priority in all of this, but it's hard when you're tired, stressed, and coming from two different schools of thought. 

I don't want you to think that every waking moment is one big bummer, because in between Jacob outbursts, life is somewhat normal.  But the outbursts are many and there's just a lot to think about these days.  I did have a productive day today, nearly catching up on newspapers (which I have been behind on for months) and sorting through 75% of my clothes and designating quite a few things for donation.  That was huge.  Boy kids now have their Halloween costumes set, and hopefully tomorrow we'll get a pumpkin.  We're blessed and thankful for all the good in our lives.  We just wish for healthy kids and a little more time (or maybe a lot) to get life in order.  But in the meantime, it's hard.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

One step at a time...

Today we met with Jacob's therapist.  I don't know if I should really call her that, but it simplifies things, you know?  She's actually a social worker.  She's met with Jacob five or six times, and she wanted to meet with us to discuss some next steps and get an update from our perspective.  We told her about some of the things we've been experiencing most recently, and she eventually shared with us her thoughts.

So...she suggested we get him evaluated by the school district.  While she suspects there is some ADHD going on, but she doesn't want to say that definitively because there may be some other mental health issues happening as well.  Some of the things that she's been hearing make her unsure.  She's spoken with the school counselor about his distraction level at school.  The counselor shared that sometimes he just stares off into space or seems like he's in his own little world.  We mentioned that for a while he was telling us that his brain told him to do something bad, though that has trailed off a bit.  However, more recently he either apologizes for something he didn't actually do (like hit us, despite being two feet away) or says that he "almost" did something (like choke at dinner, which he clearly did not).  We don't know if his brain is just too full, or if he's hearing voices or envisioning himself doing things.  So while ADHD may be part of his issues, there may be more happening there.  The evaluation through the district should give us more insight. 

I think what shocked us more than anything was that she referred to it as "severe" ADHD.  We figured it might be minor ADHD (along with more, perhaps), but the "severe" adjective was something that we weren't prepared for.  There's no telling what treatments might be down the road, or what services he might need from the district, but we'll do whatever we can to get him help...even consider medication.  I fear all of the ups and downs that could go along with finding the right medicine and dose, but if we can find something that helps him, it'll all be worth it.

The wild card, of course, is the gluten-free diet.  Maybe it will do nothing, but maybe it will make all the difference.  We've heard plenty of stories about how it's helped people, but maybe it won't make as big of a difference as we hope.  Maybe his issues are more significant than that.  But right now we need to start with that and see how it goes.  I'm also trying to eliminate as many artificial colors from his diet as possible, starting with his vitamins and toothpaste.  I think it'll be easier with the gluten-free diet since so much of that is "natural" anyway.  I'm not crazy-vigilant about it, but I'm definitely keeping an eye out. 

We might never know why all of this is happening to him, but we're going to do everything we can to help him.  We can blame ourselves all we want--Craig wonders about a medication he was taking when we conceived, I wonder if there was something I did while pregnant, and we both wonder about past discipline decisions--but at this point we can't change how we got here.  We can only do everything in our power to help Jacob emerge from it a better person, and try to help Carter to avoid it, if possible.  It absolutely breaks our hearts to see him going through all of this, and to see how it's impacting every aspect of his life.  His relationship with us, his ability to learn at school, his friendships...everything is affected.  I just hope we can help him soon enough to prevent permanent damage. 

In the meantime we just have to be patient and hope for the best.  We have lots of people praying for us, and we're sending up plenty of our own, as well.  For now, that's all we can do.  One week left before a new beginning...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Eight Months!

I can barely believe that Carter is eight months old!  We're two-thirds of the way through his first year already.  It has absolutely flown by.  I have a hard time believing that it's already mid-October, seeing as how we were only a month and a half into the new year when Carter made his appearance, and life has been non-stop since.  Seasons have come and gone, clothes have been outgrown, and one doctor's appointment after another (for both kids) have kept things moving at a brisk pace.  I've been back to work for over six months already.  Halloween is just two weeks away, and Christmas is coming quicker than I'd like to admit, judging by the Christmas trees on display at K-Mart yesterday when I stopped in for Halloween shopping (yep, I was that desperate). 

The last few months have been some of the most stressful of my life, no doubt, and the fog I was in for so long contributed even more to the time warp.  Going to Florida seems to have helped the fog dissipate, though we still have a long road ahead of us that I may just be in denial about.  Gluten-free life is coming soon, and I'm officially starting to panic about Carter's chances of eating any sort of real birthday cake in four months.  Dairy and rice are known question marks, so who knows what wheat (which, of course, Jacob won't be able to eat) might do.  We'll know more in three weeks, I hope, or we'll at least be on the path to knowing more.  It's comforting to know that he should outgrow this stuff at some point, but who knows what else we'll pick up along the way.  The good news is that he's currently an absurdly happy kid, so I'm hoping that he'll just take everything in stride as he gets older. 

Speaking of happy, I can't even begin to explain how happy he is.  He's so smiley and even makes a lot of happy noises now.  I'm not particularly fond of his one happy screech, but knowing he's happy makes me happy nonetheless.  He takes such joy from seeing people, even his brother who completely ignores him.  He makes people smile wherever he goes--church, restaurants, stores, daycare--and garners an awful lot of "Oh, he's so cute!"  I don't know what it is about him, but it's uncanny.  People just love him.  I sometimes say that he must just have a "light" about him that just brightens people's days.  Jacob was a cute and generally happy baby, too, and people loved his dimple, but I truly don't think I got the same reaction when he was this age.  There is just something special about Carter.

The other night I was talking out loud to him, and I said something to him about him being the perfect baby for me.  He's just such a good baby.  We couldn't have asked for a better one given all that we've been through in the past couple months.  I found my own statement ironic, though, considering how badly I wanted a girl.  It was one year ago this Thursday that we found out he was a boy, and I'll admit, I was really sad.  I still get sad once in a while, mostly when I think about how my boys are going to grow up and leave me (and probably turn me into that mother-in-law), but how a daughter would have had the potential to be a dear friend forever.  But Carter has been such an amazing baby that I can't even complain.  God knew exactly what kind of baby we needed, and he sent him.  As much as I would have loved a girl, I know that Carter's arrival here was for a reason, and there's probably some other reason that I'm not meant to be the mom to a girl.

Eight months in, he brings me so much more joy than I could have imagined.  I need it now, more than ever.  While I love my kids equally, there's no doubt that right now Carter is the one that keeps me going through the worst of it.  He is a godsend, literally.  Happy eight months, sweet boy...

Monday, October 14, 2013

Video Roundup...and More...

I've been doing pretty good at keeping my videos uploaded to YouTube in a timely manner (all things considered), and there are a few I need to share...from the past couple months...

Here's one from Labor Day weekend of Carter giggling with Craig...

And here is why I've been so fascinated by jellyfish lately, as seen at The Seas in EPCOT.  It's just so entrancing...

And here is a video I got of Carter on our last night in Florida when he was in a super giggly mood...

Oh, that gets me every time! 

And finally, here's one showing Carter trying to pull up, per my post the other day...

He's getting so close to crawling, but he's able to move around pretty good right now as it is.  I really need to start utilizing the pack-n-play as a playpen very soon because too many of Jacob's little toys are all over the living room and serving as very good motivation to move!  I lowered his crib mattress tonight, since I think he will be able to pull up on the rails very soon and I don't want to risk him falling out.  I hate lowering it because it makes it considerably harder to put a sleeping baby in without jostling him, but obviously safety comes first!  I can't believe how big he's getting! 

In other news...I have once again returned to the ranks of those with "Mom Hair".  I obsessed over this greatly back when Jacob was born, but as with most second kids, the obsession dies down a bit.  I think I started growing my hair out, somewhat accidentally, three years ago.  I don't have a ton of pictures of myself, so I have to sort of guess, but it appears that I let it get a little longer in the fall of 2010, and it continued on from there.  It was a combination of laziness and not wanting to spend the money so often, and then I think it morphed into, "Well, I haven't done this style in a while, and maybe it looks a little more fun and young."  Then I added bangs into the mix, and I guess that just opened the door even more to something different.  I swore after my wedding that my hair would never be long again, but 10 years later it was.  The problem is that Carter had an uncanny ability (from the day he was born) to grab fistfuls of it, and then compounded with the usual hormone-induced postpartum hair loss, the long hair was a major pain in the neck.  I'm still shedding a ton, which I worry is more stress now than anything.  It got to the point where it just sort of hung there, and it's rare for me to do anything with it, so what was the point?  While I think it looked better than it did when I was younger (hormones?), I was pretty much bored with it and ready for a change.  It took a couple weeks for schedules to work out where I could duck out for 45 minutes to get it done, but I did yesterday.  I'm pretty sure about six inches came off.  It went from somewhere between my neck and my bra strap to about an inch above my shoulders.  I'm not sure I love it yet because I can't decide if it's too much in the middle (not shoulder-length long-ish, not short enough to be spunky).  I've gotten "cute" as an adjective so far (well, and "bad" from Jacob...thanks, kid), which isn't really what I'm going for, but maybe once I have it for a bit I can refine it a little easier.  It's definitely a big change, but I think it was needed.  I was mostly just relieved that Carter still knew exactly who I was!  I'll post a picture one of these days...

We had a good weekend.  Jacob went up to Canada with Craig for a lacrosse game on Saturday, which left Carter and me at home to be productive.  We did lots of errand running and he was an angel as always.  Sunday I got my haircut right after lunch, and then we all went out for a nature walk that Jacob had to do for homework.  We had to pick up leaves and whatever else for him to take into school.  We walked over to the elementary school around the corner (Jacob will go there starting in third grade), and the boys played some basketball and lacrosse.  It started to sprinkle as we were making our way back home, but it was nice to do something fall-ish.  After a good dinner, I took the boys out to Target (in full-fledged rain) to look at Halloween costumes.  We got part of Jacob's costume, and it confirmed that I needed to order Carter's costume online, which I did tonight.

Jacob's behavior in general was difficult as always, but we did manage some pleasant breaks in the insanity.  He actually did really well at daycare on Friday and today, as well.  Back to school tomorrow.  Just another 10 days before his test and hopefully the start of getting him back on track via diet.  We meet with his therapist on Thursday without him, and hopefully she'll have some insights, as well.  And yes, the next 10 days will be a continuing tour de gluten as I try to clear out my pantry and say goodbye to various meals and restaurants we've come to love.  I'm still not sure what we'll be eating once we go gluten-free, but I really just need to sit down and start making lists.  But that is a task for another day...

Lots going on...more soon!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dear Jacob...

Dear Jacob,

Usually I only write you letters on your birthday, but perhaps I feel the need right now because I feel like you haven't listened to a word I've said in months, and I miss that connection.  Even if you'll never read it, I hope this at least makes me feel a little better getting it out.

Suffice it to say that we haven't had a good few months.  It's definitely been tough since Carter was born, but the last couple months have been impossible.  All you want to do is hit us, kick us, and ignore every word we say.  Getting you to do anything is nearly impossible, and Mommy and Daddy are both so exhausted dealing with it that sometimes we have to switch off out of necessity.  To be fair, Daddy has taken the brunt of it lately, mostly because you want to be with him all of the time anyway, and partly because he can control his temper around you far more than I can.  I do spend a lot of time with Carter, mostly because Daddy's usually busy with you and because keeping track of Carter's schedule and needs isn't really his strong point.  In the morning and at bedtime he needs a series of medicines and once you get a system down, it's hard to break it up.  Most of the rest of the time you just want to be playing with Daddy anyway.  I miss having fun times together with you.  And while I'd love to have more, right now every moment I spend with you is a literal battle...I'm constantly deflecting your flailing extremities.

I can't even describe to you how hard these months have been.  You haven't always been the easiest kid to deal with, but right now I'd give good money to have a version of you from a couple years ago hanging around, because at least I could have a decent conversation and some fun with you without being under attack.  I don't know what's going on with you, and that is killing me.  I don't know if we somehow screwed up along the way with discipline, or if the gluten or something else is causing your brain to misfire so badly that you're nearly impossible to live with.  I feel like we've tried so many tactics to manage it, but nothing seems to work.  It's taken a lot of joy out of parenting, and I can't imagine you're really having a good time either, even though you seem to think it's pretty funny when you try to hurt us. 

You call us bad parents and mean parents, mostly because we discipline you.  You don't seem to understand that it's our job, no matter how many times we try to explain that.  Going to bed is not just something mean parents make you do.  Neither is going to school or getting dressed.  That's what we're supposed to make you do...really.  It's good for you.  Seriously, you have no idea how good you have it.  Your complete denial of reality and logic right now are what make me worry that your issues go beyond gluten.  I know gluten can have a huge impact, but your entire sense of reality right now is so confounding, so bizarre, that I fear for your future if we can't get this figured out.  We're at a loss right now, and when you're a parent, that is a very scary thing.  All you want to do is help your child succeed, and when that is challenged, it is crippling.

A lot of people want to blame your issues on Carter's arrival.  I'm sure it had a little something to do with it, but the timing doesn't really match up.  You may have gotten a little worse when he was born, but the worst of it came six months later without warning or reason.  I really hoped you'd like him by now, but it hasn't happened yet.  You're sometimes intrigued, but that's as far as it goes.  I'm sad for both of you, because you're both missing out on so much fun.  And I'm sad I don't get to see you enjoying each other's company, since that was one of the things I was looking forward to most.  That you were getting a brother was one of the things that eased my sadness of not having a girl.  But I guess that was all for naught.  We wanted to give you a sibling that could be your friend for life.  We really thought we were doing something good for you.  Turns out that, at least in the short term, that may not be the case.  But I'm holding out hope that someday you'll understand how awesome it is to have a brother.  And you may not believe it right now, but he's really been low-maintenance as far as babies go, so he's already done you a big favor.  God only knows how much bigger of a mess we'd be in if he was colicky or a major crier. 

I keep hoping that years from now we'll look back on this time and marvel at just how messed up things were.  Hopefully by then it'll be a distant memory and we'll have moved on to greener pastures.  We'll wonder how we made it through and you'll laugh at how silly it was to think hitting us would have gotten you your way.  Just like all of your other health issues over the years that we worried about like crazy, hopefully this one will be just another blip in the radar.  Yes, going gluten-free is going to be a big change, and we'll be so sad to not be able to go certain places or eat certain things anymore, but I'm going to do what I can to make this transition easier on you. 

I can't even describe how amazing it would be to have the real you back.  To have the intelligent, silly, creative you, stripped of the violence and the defiance that overshadows the just sounds so nice.  The moments when we were in Florida where you were genuinely excited, like when you finally got into the waterslide, were little flickers of the you I wanted to see on that trip.  Unfortunately those flickers never became anything more, and so much of the trip felt like a wasted opportunity.  You're finally old enough to remember some of these experiences for a lifetime, but it's so hard to see you holding yourself back with stubbornness and anger.  Other people I know have these awesome conversations, photo ops, and experiences with their kids your age, and yet we're fighting battles at every turn.  There are so many things I'd like to do with you, but most of the time it's not worth the effort because all we get is resistance.  You're only going to be five for a little while, and I hate that this is the version we're getting.  Five should be so much better, for all of us.  We miss the old you so much.

Of course, my big worry is that my dream of a happier you might never happen.  I worry about what happens if going gluten-free doesn't help, if you get diagnosed with something so much bigger than we could have ever imagined.  Mental illness is a scary thing, because so many people try to get help and for whatever reason, it doesn't work.  Sometimes all the money and the love in the world can't fix everything, and my greatest fear is that we won't be able to help you.  I look at the many pictures I have of you--perfect, sweet baby pictures, smiley toddler pictures, even pictures where I'm reminded of how stubborn you may have been in that moment--and it breaks my heart to think of where we are now.  How it's hard for me to be in the same room with you, how I wonder to what lengths we'll have to go to to help you, and how what we do might not feel like help at times.  I wonder if what we do could crush your spirit forever and make you feel like we've given up on you. 

Part of the problem is that we're not sure what you can help and what you can't.  Sometimes it seems like you can control things, and sometimes you can't.  It's unpredictable, and it makes it hard to have an appropriate reaction all the time.  When we feel like it's something you can't help, it's easier to be patient, but then when you do something that seems like you did it on purpose, and it's hard to keep our composure.  It's awful to have your own child beating on you constantly, and if the roles were reversed, we'd be in jail.  But there just isn't much we can do right now beyond what we're doing.  We're in a holding pattern at the moment, and it's so incredibly hard.

When I started this blog nearly six years ago (!), I hoped that someday you might want to read it.  It's gotten pretty long so it would be an awful lot of reading for anyone, but knowing how things are right now, I'd have to say that the chances of you reading it are pretty slim.  That makes me a little sad.  You don't seem to have enough focus to make it through one post, let alone 1,000.  But I hope that if you do read it, you understand how much we love you.  I know that it may seem like I complain about you a lot, and yes, this blog has definitely been a place to sound off about the trials of parenthood.  But the other side of the coin is that your behavior has frustrated me so much because I love you so much.  If I didn't care about you so deeply, your behavior wouldn't bug me as much as it does.  But because I love you so much, I hate to see you put yourself in a tough spot.  I hate to fight with you.  We want so much to have fun with you, but right now we can't, and it breaks our hearts. This isn't the life we wanted for you.  We're going to fight for you as hard as we can, but we're so tired of fighting with you.  I can't say we haven't made mistakes, or that we won't make more, but this is uncharted territory for all of us and there's no manual to follow.  Heck, we don't even know what's really happening here, so it's hard to know how to respond appropriately.  All we do know is that we miss the old you and pray continually that we'll get that little boy back as soon as possible.  I know you'll still be a challenge, but if you could get back to loving your parents and being cooperative at least some of the time, it would be much appreciated.  Our hearts are breaking in the meantime, and we love you so much.

Try hard to control what you can, and know that we (and a lot of other people) are praying for you.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

News & Notes - Time is Flying Edition

How are we already more than a week into October?  Time is seriously going way too fast for me.  In some ways I suppose it's good, but in others I am totally freaking out.  I actually got a couple emails from retailers this morning that referenced Christmas.  Come on.  I can't even figure out the kids' Halloween costumes right now, let alone think of Christmas.  Anyway...

- One more thing I meant to mention in my Kindergarten post is that the dynamics of homework down the road will change a bit.  Right now I know part of the purpose of homework is to engage the parents.  We need to be involved with helping our kids do their work.  But as Jacob gets older, he'll obviously (hopefully) take more ownership of his work, and he'll be able to do it when he's at the afterschool program.  If nothing else I'd think peer pressure should come into play a little more.  Right now I get that he needs someone sitting with him and guiding him, so I get why he's not doing it there, but later on hopefully he'll be smart enough to get it done there, let me look it over later, and hopefully be able to enjoy his evenings at home doing other things.  Unlike me, of course, who had TV as a constant temptation when I got home and often made me push it off into the evening hours. 

- Carter is getting to be such a big boy.  Maybe not in size, but definitely in behaviors.  Just in the past couple weeks I've seen a lot of changes in him.  He sits up better, is doing a lot more pushing up while on his belly, and is even doing some pre-crawling rocking motions.  Then, last night, I had him playing with our Incrediblock, a toy I was so desperate to get that I bought one on eBay for Jacob.  I ended up getting the big activity center block and a ton of the Peek-a-Blocks (blocks with "stuff" in them to make them all unique and interesting) for as much as the block itself would have cost.  And everything was in great shape!  Anyway, the one side has this ridge that lends itself to grabbing on to.  At first, Carter did really well standing up and playing with the top of the block.  I had to balance him a bit, but he stood up pretty steady a lot of the time.  And when I had him sitting on the floor in front of it, he grabbed the ridge and tried pulling himself up!  And he got his butt off the ground and was probably about a third of the way up!  Not bad for a kid that's not even crawling yet!  It's a little sobering to think he might be mobile in the next month or two, because we have a lot of baby proofing to do.  And what's worse, we're doing it in a new house with all sorts of different things we didn't have before, most notably a fireplace and hearth, stairs, and toys with tiny pieces.  It's crazy to even think about!

- We've started Jacob on a mega dose of vitamin D to make up for what his body isn't absorbing.  He's had one good day and one bad day, so no change yet.  Still two more weeks before his testing, so we've got a long road ahead.  His behavior was definitely an issue today, as he got a note sent home for not being able to focus on his work, and he got written up at the afterschool program.  That was his second write-up, so if he gets one more he can get suspended from the program, which would be very inconvenient.  He's definitely setting himself up for an ADHD diagnosis, I'd think.  We meet with the therapist next week, so hopefully she'll have some insights. 

- As a side note about the vitamin D, I'm a little annoyed with the vitamin business.  I decided to try to switch Jacob off the Flintstones-style chewables he'd been taking (Wegmans brand) because I wanted to stay away from the artificial dyes, just in case those are somehow impacting things, as well.  As I looked at the other options, I was so annoyed to find that pretty much everything without dyes are gummy vitamins that are twice as expensive.  When I had to look for the D supplement, the kids ones either weren't the right dosage or they had artificial dyes, so I ended up getting adult gummies, which were actually the right dosage.  Gummy vitamins are cool, but they worry me because he likes them a little too much.  We've given him the lecture on how they're not candy, but it's a little scary.  I get that people want their kids to take their vitamins, but this just doesn't seem safe.  And it's ridiculous that those are the only options for dye-free vitamins.  Brutal.

- Carter has successfully eaten a good number of foods now.  He's had squash, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, chicken, turkey, apples, and pears.  None of them have caused a reaction, though he's only eaten one container each of the last four, so I suppose that he could still react since it took a week for the cereal to bug him.  But so far so good.  He gets some constipation from the solids, I think, but it hasn't appeared that gas is much of an issue.  I'm hoping that he'll continue to handle new foods well, and hopefully we can get through the next month before his allergist appointment and get some insights on what else to try then.  On the bright side, he's eaten entire containers of food the last couple nights, so I think his appetite for food is improving.  He seems to get cranky if we eat in front of him now!  I feel bad, though, that he can't share any of our stuff.

- Sleep has been tough to come by around here lately between both kids.  Jacob's been waking up a lot and wanting to either sleep in our bed or have Craig sleep with him.  I keep cautioning Craig about doing that because Jacob's making it quite a habit, but I know most of it is done out of desperation for sleep.  Carter has been waking up a bit here and there, too, and while sometimes he'll go back down with some rocking, I'll admit to bringing him into bed with me a lot because he seems to sleep better there.  I'm very careful about how I place him, and I try to put him back in his bed as soon as I can, once whatever was bothering him has passed.  It's challenging to get up in the morning right now, but we don't really know what's causing the wakeups for either kid so there's not much we can do.

- We have a lot going on this month.  Besides Jacob's testing in two weeks, we have his open house on Thursday and Halloween to prepare for.  We have our family Oktoberfest in a couple weeks, and I'm trying to figure out what kind of gluten free treats I can bring with us.  We need to find time for a pumpkin patch, and yet Craig has work stuff the next two weekends.  Jacob has a four-day weekend coming up, but we'll be sending him to his old daycare for those two days.  He's been asking to go there, so I figured he might enjoy it.  Or, at worst, he'd go and see that his friends aren't there anymore and there's no reason to go back there.  I wish we could be off with him, but it's just not happening right now with me being out of vacation time.

Ok, I'm exhausted, so it's time to wrap this up.  I know there was more I wanted to write about, but my bed is calling....loudly.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why I Hate Kindergarten

When I went to Kindergarten, it was a half day.  I loved it.  I made some good friends (including one that is still among my closest friends), played kitchen, enjoyed some educational toys, and did lots of art projects.  We had a snack and a short naptime.  I learned how to tie my shoes, what my address and phone number were, and did some basic math and reading.  I don't think I was reading books or anything, but I'm sure we practiced a lot of words and things like that.  We made a city out of junk (it was awesome!), we performed a real play for graduation, and fought over favorite storytime books on library day.  I loved everything about Kindergarten, except maybe that it was only half a day.  That said, I loved my bus ride home with a handful of kids from my class, loved lunch at home with my mom, and loved having the rest of the day to spend with her.

I don't remember having much homework, aside from maybe bringing in some project supplies, or maybe a worksheet or something once in a while.  It certainly wasn't a regular thing.  Jacob, on the other hand...there's quite a bit.  Now, our situation wasn't helped by our trip to Florida.  We had a boatload of work to do while we were gone to keep him up on the things he was missing.  We had to do something every single day while we were gone in order to have a chance at keeping up, and we still didn't get it all done.  The work we had to finish up set us back for the entire time we've been back.  We've been in constant catch-up mode, because every day we have another worksheet or another project to do. 

Additionally, Jacob isn't helping matters.  We had a big project sent home last week because Jacob had two days to do it and hardly got anything done.  We've been struggling to get him to sit down and do it.  Today I managed to use a kitchen timer to get him to sit down for five or ten minutes at a time and crank through some coloring, but we have a bunch of cutting and pasting to do as soon as possible.  He hates every minute of it, though sometimes he'll get caught up in it until something throws him off.  The other day he was working on one worksheet and I stepped away for a couple minutes.  When I came back, he'd started on another one and had done it amazingly well.  He's so smart, but the concentration isn't there.  He'd rather be off playing than doing work, and it's like pulling teeth to get him to do it. 

There hasn't been a lot of information coming home specifically relating to the homework, so we don't really know due dates, or in some cases full instructions.  We're doing what we can, but it still may not be enough.  It's clear that Jacob is not your average student--he's smart, but his focus is debatable.  Hopefully his teacher knows that we're trying.  But we only have so many hours with him in any given day, and spending a third of that trying to get him to sit down and then to actually do it, really stinks.  We don't want to spend that time arguing, for sure.  I know we have to invest in his education, but with a kid like this, it's hard.  I'd love to do educational stuff with a kid who's really into it, but he sees through everything and knows when we're trying to sneak in some learning. 

When you're used to daycare where you get a sheet home each day reporting on his day, the lack of behavioral information coming home from Kindergarten is a tough switch.  The good news is that his teacher's behavioral system is color-coded, so we can get a general idea of his day based on his color for the day.  But beyond that, we've had a couple phone conversations about his quirks and the rest is pretty much a mystery.  In addition, we've got the afterschool element, as well, and there's very little information coming from there.  We know he really doesn't like it there, which is hard because we don't have a lot of options.  Long story short...even though he he's been used to a long day away from home, the additional structure, reduced play, and lack of friends have made Kindergarten a tough transition.   

I loved school for a long time and even when I hated homework I still appreciated the opportunity to learn new things.  One of my biggest fears as a parent was having a kid that didn't like to learn or to whom learning did not come easy.  I don't really know how to relate to that or to motivate him to like it, so it's a challenge.  Add in that he's not really a fan of spending time with me, and we've got a boatload of things against us as we're trying to get this work done.  And no matter how many times we explain that the sooner he does it the sooner he can play, or by putting it off he's wasting valuable play time before bed, nothing seems to get through to him.  So we sit there and struggle.  I'm pretty sure I hate homework more now than I did when it was my own.

Oh, and between the projects that we as parents have to do (collecting garbage for a project, working on a special shoebox for little books they're doing) and the crazy amount of notes about goings-on at the school, it's all pretty overwhelming.  I don't know how cut out I am for this school mom thing, but we're working on it.  It's new for both of us, so hopefully as the year goes on, things will get easier.  I hope.  But for now, I'm not really a fan...   

Friday, October 4, 2013

Ok, I need to vent...

I wanted to post this yesterday, but we had a random power outage that lasted from 8:30pm-4:45am, so without a working modem I was out of luck.  Regardless...

So...they didn't do the procedure yesterday as we'd thought they were going to.  I guess it was just a miscommunication which occurred to me this morning when I woke up and I realized they never gave us any instructions about not eating or drinking anything beforehand.  That's when I realized this might just be a normal introductory appointment...which it was.  I guess the miscommunication stemmed from the fact that they wanted us to get back on the gluten-filled diet ASAP so his test results were OK, and at the same time were telling us the GI doctor would be calling us to schedule an appointment.  I guess we just assumed that since they were telling us that the next step was the small intestine biopsy, that that's what we were heading for.  But, no.  Our bad, I guess, but man, this is really starting to get frustrating.

The frustration originally started when we found out that the therapist that Jacob is seeing would need weeks to gather information and come to any sort of conclusion.  In the meantime, we've had very little guidance on how to manage a nearly impossible living situation with him.  Sure, she's given us super obvious suggestions (spend one-on-one time with him, be consistent), but none of that helps when he's flat-out refusing to do something and we have no recourse because we've already taken away everything and he doesn't care.  The hitting and kicking have gotten ridiculous (you don't even want to know how many shots Craig has taken to a very sensitive area--mostly because Jacob knows it hurts and he thinks it's funny), and getting him to sit down and work on homework is absolute torture.  If he doesn't want to be doing it, it is a gargantuan task to make it happen.  Neither of us can deal with him for any extended period of time, and it's just getting to be too much.  But we're at the mercy of waiting for a diagnosis so we can move forward with some sort of treatment on the behavior front.

In the meantime, we had the Celiac suspicions come up over two weeks ago now.  Yes, we were in Florida for most of that first week, but it took over a week to get into the GI doctor, and now it's going to be three more weeks before we can get an initial diagnosis, and at least a week beyond that for the pathology to come back.  Our follow-up appointment isn't until the first full week of November.  All of that to say that we may be stuck on the same gluten-filled diet for another month before we can start making changes and hope that it impacts his behavior positively--which we already know is going to take some time in and of itself once the change is made.  Sometimes I don't know how we can make it through another day like this, let alone another month.

And, of course, that's not even getting to the fact that Jacob has stomach aches and is dealing with questionable nutrition now that we know he's not absorbing vitamins properly.  It was one thing when we didn't know it was happening--it's another now that we do.  It seems really cruel to subject him to another month of this, not to mention us.  It's another month of school that he'll have trouble focusing on, another month of homework he won't want to do, another month of meals that will make him uncomfortable.  Why does all of this have to take so darn long?

I know that what we're going through is nothing like cancer--and thank goodness for that--but when my friend's son was diagnosed with leukemia, he was getting chemo nearly immediately (and he's doing awesome, by the way!).  But because all of this doesn't seem life-threatening, it's just one wait after another.  What we're going through doesn't seem like an emergency to everyone else, but every day that goes by just gets harder and it seems like we don't have any recourse.  I'm concerned that something is going to go horribly wrong as a result of all of this--that Jacob's going to put himself in harm's way; or that his health is going to take a further beating; or that his constant beating on us is going to have repercussions; or that prolonging this behavior is going to make it harder for him to stop; or that this behavior is going to start popping up more at school and will start impacting his classmates; or, God forbid, that he'll actually listen to the voices in his head that he says are telling him to hurt Carter. 

No matter how many people we tell that we can't take much more of this, it doesn't seem to make a difference.  Most people chalk it up to bad disciplining on our part, and while I'm sure we've made our share of mistakes, I don't think any of them could have been bad enough to get us to where we are now, at least not without some underlying biologic driver.  Despite all of my complaints about his behavior over the years, this just isn't the kid we spent 4-1/2 years with.  This is so far beyond that right now that we're completely at a loss.  And no one seems to be in any rush to help us.  Instead we're stuck in a holding pattern for another month.  It just doesn't seem fair to anyone--not him, not us, not anyone that has to deal with him. 

I'm sure that everyone could make their case for why their situation is urgent, and you know, I'd probably agree with a lot of them.  I know things can't always happen immediately, but it seems cruel and excessive to make a five-year-old wait three weeks to feel relief.  I don't know what the solution is, since I know the health care system is generally maxed out.  I don't want to keep bugging people, but for years I've read on parenting blogs how you have to be an advocate for your kid.  I guess I just don't know where the line is between genuine need and overprotective parent.  Still, I am very frustrated that we have to do so much waiting because it doesn't seem fair to anyone right now.

In the meantime, we'll be starting some vitamin D supplements and using up all of the gluten-filled items in our pantry.  We have lots of restaurants to say goodbye to, and I need to do a lot of Googling to find the best gluten-free recipes out there.  We'll make the best of these three weeks, but limbo has never been my strong suit...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Rise and Fall of Taco Bell

When I was little, I loved Taco Bell.  It was one of my favorite places to eat.  And then they left our area for a few years.  I was bummed.  When I was about 10 or so, they came back, and I was overjoyed.  I loved it as much as I did as a little girl, and it's been a mainstay in my life ever since.  In fact, when I was 17, I worked there.  It just happened to be the one place that wanted to hire me, and I think they figured I was presentable enough to work the front register.  I hated the job for the most part, and took a break from the food during the first few months after I stopped working there to go to college.  However, there was a Taco Bell on campus so I couldn't stay away long!

It's always been one of my favorite guilty pleasures, and I was pleased when I took Jacob there and he liked it!  It became our special place to go for just the two of us, and often if we were out running errands or heading to a sporting event, that was our go-to dinner.  I could rely on him eating relatively well (albeit a bit messy), and we'd even share a caramel apple empanada as a treat.  More recently he's fallen in love with the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos tacos.

Unfortunately, Taco Bell's beef is not 100% beef (as made the news a while back) and it includes wheat as a filler.  Which means that, even with corn taco shells, he can't eat there.  While I know eating at home and at parties is going to be an issue, what breaks my heart the most is that eating out is going to be a challenge.  It's a nice break for me and we have a lot of fun and good memories from going to certain places.  In fact, it kills me even more that we'll soon be going gluten-free because so many of our favorite places are coming to our immediate area.  For example, a Dairy Queen just opened nearby, and Moe's, Red Robin, and a local bake shop are all in the new wing at our mall.  We finally got Cici's in our area last spring, too.  And while we may be able to eek out a meal at some of those places, cross-contamination is always a risk anywhere we go.  And how awful is it to tell a five-year-old that they can't have some of their favorite foods anymore? 

As much as it breaks my heart that he can't eat there anymore, it makes me even sadder that he and I can't share that like we used to.  Obviously right now we can't share much of anything without major issues, but assuming that he returns to his normal self once we get his problems sorted out (either through going gluten-free, behavioral therapy, or, God forbid, medicine), I assume he and I will once again be able to be in close proximity without constant battles and will need something to bond over.  I know we can bond over something besides food, but that was an easy one.  I just loved having something that was "ours".

Tonight we went to eat at Taco Bell, since there's a chance tonight might be the last chance he has to eat gluten.  Tomorrow morning we'll head off to the hospital to get a small intestine biopsy that will confirm the suspected Celiac diagnosis.  He'll have to be put under, and they'll check to see if the villi in his intestine are inflamed, which is the tell-tale sign of Celiac disease.  We don't know how soon they'll know, or whether or not anymore tests will be needed, so there's a chance we'd be going gluten-free tomorrow.  Part of me is hoping they won't know yet so we can sneak in a few more favorites (and use up more of what's in our pantry and freezer), but part of me just wants to get this show on the road and get ever closer to a possibly more tolerable child.  As we sat there tonight and Jacob wolfed down two tacos without complaint, I couldn't help but feel a little sad.  This silly fast food restaurant, one that many people refuse to go to because of what it does to their (generally healthy) bodies, has been a fun boding thing for us.  He won't ever be able to eat there again (unless he learns to eat other things, and even that's a stretch with cross-contamination) and he probably won't remember years from now how much we loved going there together.  It's just a bummer, especially when our ability to bond over anything has been reduced so greatly by his issues.

I'll certainly sneak there once in a while on my own, but it'll never be the same without Jacob.  Who knew that Taco Bell had the potential to make me so sad?