Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fun and Work, an update on everyone

The weekend visit with the Carithers family was such a wonderful reprieve. As usualy, we did a whole lot of nothing, our kids were happy just to have each other around, we were happy to have other adults around to talk to, and I was especially happy to have that knot in my stomach that tells me that if I'm having idle time, I should be downstairs sewing. We ate, drank and were merry. We went to the indian mounds in Macon and had a nice hike. I'm really really grateful to have found a close lady friend like Ariane. She's strong, upbeat and positive, and always has something good to say. Thanks for being my friend. Thank you for inviting us down and Happy Birthday Kevin. I hope you had a great one. It was the best celebration that Manny and I could have for our Birthdays as well.

After spending Sunday night recovering from what may have been a slight bug, I worked around the house a bit and sewed while Manny napped. Micaela, the special education teacher, called around noon and reminded me of an IP meeting at the school that I had completely forgotten about. The meeting was in just about an hour and a half, and I was frantic as I had not secured childcare for Manny for that day. I thought of calling Steve's mom, but she was already watching him on scheduled days this week. I called Mamaw's house and got Dad. He INSISTED that I bring Manny over, even though he was sitting with Papaw, who is slipping into a world of confusion as his life on this planet draws to a close, while Mamaw ran errands. I was grateful, and according to Dad, it went well! Thanks for saving my life Dad.

The IP meeting went well. It is a reassessment of Jake's need for special needs services, etc. His delays in speech and consistency in answering questions was discussed. Basically, he is still not "testable" since he will not answer questions on a regular basis. His social skills are lacking, of course. I was so very very proud when they completely skipped the section on behavioral problems, simply stating that Jake doesn't have any. We discussed his placement for next year, and I think what will probably happen will be that he will re-attend the exact same program next year. I see no reason to send him to kindergarten at all, he simply doesn't possess the learning skills, and the teachers agree. We're going to take it slow. Its quite possible that he won't enter 1st grade until he is 7 or 8, and that is just fine with me. The teachers there say that they love him and that he is a joy, and they seem sincere.

Manny had an appointment with Dr. Michaels today. He weighs 26 lbs! He's such a little guy, as Jake was around 26 lbs at one year old. He's fattening up and having a growth spurt. The appointment with Dr. M was simply a follow up and really a non-event and more of an organizational meeting. Since he has all of the medical reports from various doctors right there, he can tell me the next steps and instruct his staff to make the appointments for me. Its really a blessing, as my mind gets cluttered sometimes. He gave his obligatory speech on vaccinations, I declined, and he was supportive of my decisions. He was very complimentary and told me I was doing "a good job." Gosh, I hope so... I just do the best that I can.

Both of my businesses have seen an upswing in activity. I am often frustrated when I have no time to sew because my grooming business has had an unexpected boom in business. I can't actually COMPLAIN though, because money is money, right? I have a wonderful lady helping me with my sewing, and my friend Sam is showing up and learning to do odd jobs with Bratsacks, including some sewing. Today I got an email from the press contact at etsy. He was informing me that one of my items could be featured at (of Parents Magazine). If that happens, it will be HUGE. One of the largest parenting magazines in America? I am extremely excited, but trying not to get my hopes up.

I have a very understanding husband to put up with me during all of this. I am pretty much a frazzled, exhausted mess. My patience wears thin and, once he gets off from his own 40 hour (plus 8 hours of driving) job, he is given the job of watching the kids and getting them ready for bed while I either sew or work on shipping and receiving. I really really don't want to be one of "those" moms who is absent because they are obsessed with their job, but I also want to be successful and have a part in providing for my family. I honestly don't think that there's anything this man wouldn't do for his kids. I like to think that Steve and I have a good balance most of the time, and I hope he feels the same way.

The boys in my family continue to amaze and frustrate me and constantly make me crazy. I would like to say that my kids make me laugh a lot, but really, they don't. However, when they do, its good laughter. Jake had me cracking up tonight at the mexican restaurant when I told him to get the spoon off of his head. He put it on his nose, and I said "get it off of your nose" (I was starting to get frustrated) and he grinned and put it on his ear. I was totally sucked in... "get it off of your ear." "get it off of your foot" "get it off of your bellybutton." Maybe not a great lesson in table manners, but sometimes its more important to catch those moments of humor, communication and social participation.

(In the photo above, Jake wears a pair of 18 months pajama pants and an 18 months onesie jumper unsnapped, both inside out, and one fluffy shoe. He is signing "walk" and informing me that he is ready to go walk down the street)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Birthdays and Sentences

Time to update on the family. I've been working so amazingly hard getting Bratsacks going strong and hopefully prepared for the holidays. I've found a seamstress who helps me finish my bags, and my friend Sam wants to learn some sewing skills, so I've got him doing various odd jobs around the sewing room. Soon, my empire will be complete.. bwaahahaha. On top of record sales with Bratsacks, my grooming business has improved a bit.. so really, I'm just nuts. I definitely have to give part of the credit for my recent business success to Steve's mom, Elaine for giving us the family support and childcare help. Its almost a blessing that we've gone without this sort of help for so long, because we can truly appreciate it and do our best not to wear out our welcome or take advantage. Last Wednesday Steve and I had an impromptu middle of the week date and concert. I can't tell you how much steam we were able to blow off, especially since it didn't take weeks of planning and stress, and just sort of "happened". Thanks Granny.

Monday, also Labor Day, was Manny's second birthday. We took the kids to the Creative Discovery Museum and Manny was a complete mess. Jake wasn't into it either. We came home and Manny continued to exhibit his "terrible twos." He just wasn't feeling well and I don't know what was wrong. It was mostly an unfortunate coincidence, but it made me glad that we didn't decide to have a party that weekend. The fortunate AND unfortunate thing about having children who's birthdays fall on holidays (Jake's is memorial day, Manny's is Labor day) is that most of the time everybody that you'd want to invite has plans already. Birthdays are still hard on my mind these days, and I try hard not to, but can't help thinking about where my kids SHOULD be, as opposed to where they are. My mom called and asked the question "Does he even know that its his birthday." I'm sure she meant nothing by it, but it started the first of several tearful episodes that day.

Later in the day Pops and Granny showed up with a big silver balloon for each boy, and some cash for Manny. We had an wonderfully unexpected shared dinner of leftover chili and fixins, I skipped sitting down right away for dinner to make some (reportedly not-so-great) banana bread "cupcakes" with powdered sugar glaze and we stuck 2 candles in Manny's and sang Happy Birthday while Jake chomped at the bit to blow them out. It was fun and a great birthday celebration for a little guy who was otherwise somewhat under-the-weather.

Jake.. OH goodness. Jake. He loved his first few days of school, but I think once he figured out that it was going to be EVERY DAY? He wasn't so happy. There have been a few days that we have had to literally drag and carry him to the bus. Fortunately, the bus drivers are some sort of amazing angels sent directly from heaven because they give him love, hugs, kisses and just dote over him to the point that he can't resist. Jake can turn down a lot of things.. chocolate, his favorite food, bribery, toys, but actual physical love and kisses... not so much. They also let him push the button to close the bus door if it is a really bad day, a special treat. Despite the fact that he is "whiney" when the bus comes some mornings (who wouldn't be, it comes at 7:15... I'm still pretty whiney at that hour), he always returns happy, and his teachers give great reports of his behaviour. I still haven't managed to get to volunteer, due to my "make hay while the sun shines" business strategy, but I did show up a couple of hours before school let out for the parent-teacher conference and met some of his friends and got a little look into what goes on there. I'm really happy with the program. The most important thing.. Jake loves it and....

He's learning to talk. Honestly, I can care less about a LOT of things that go on at school, but it seems that the intense long hours of socializing with typical children, scheduling, etc , something that is really hard to give him in the home environment, is really starting to effect him in a good way. The other morning Jake walked into the living room and said "There's a blanket on the floor. Did Bree pee?" (we have an old poodle with a bad bladder). Regardless of the subject matter.. that was TWO sentences, and one was a question. I was half asleep and was open mouthed with awe. "What?" I said. "Did Bree pee.. right there?" (the floor was wet from a spill). Wow.. really? I almost couldn't answer because I was so shocked.

Another funnier (and possibly less uncomfortable) example came today. Jake will sometimes turn himself upside down on the couch and kick my arm with his little sweaty feet while I'm working. Its just a sensory thing he likes to do while he's watching TV, but I REALLY don't like it. He was getting into position for this and I noticed and looked at him with my best "mean mommy" face and said "you'd better not." He pulled his feet close to his face and said "Shhhh! feet, be quiet feet, or Mommy's going to freak out." Then he looked me right in the eyes and giggled at his joke. I guess its hard to explain to those who have typical children... but these episodes of typical behavior, and FORWARD social behavior mean so much to me.

Jake still can't answer a lot of questions. "what is your teachers name?" is answered with a sullen "teachers name." Or "What did you do at school today" answered with an angry and annoyed "do at school today!" I know in my heart that he doesn't possess the skills to answer these questions, therein lies his handicap. However, I also know that HE KNOWS that he isn't answering correctly, and that HE KNOWS that he is disappointing us in some way. I occasionally ask "How old are you?" hoping that magically he has, after our prompting and his experience at school, he has finally learned to answer this question consistently, or at all, but that one is a little to hard on both of us. Jake will get upset and angry and possibly tantrum, and I will think about both children, and how old they actually WILL be before they'll have the skills to answer this question. He is becoming aware of his disability, and becoming aware that he isn't like other children his age. What do I do to make this journey less painful for him?

Tomorrow we will head to Kevin and Ariane's house. These amazing people, hopefully soon to be officially the godparents of our children, have invited us down for a triple birthday celebration weekend. Kevin, Manny's and my birthdays all fall close together, so we will leave mid-day tomorrow and go stay with them and have all sorts of revelry and fun, I am sure. It has taken all of my self-control not to tell Jake where we are going, just so that he doesn't throw a rod tomorrow when he gets on the bus. He LOVES going to see them, and we get to sleep in their very nice camper, much to his delight. We can't wait. As always, a visit with the Carithers family will refresh and renew us.. YAY!