Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sick of Being Sick

I thought we were doing really well, with only my daughter succumbing to a bout of the flu early in the school year and me with a sinus cold just before Halloween.

Well, then December hit. Duh-duh-duhhhhhhh!!! My daughter's birthday, Christmas, gifts & cards for not only family & friends, but for teachers (or in James' case, his support team of 7). Oh, and don't forget James' birthday to follow early in the New Year!

Yeah, the sinus cold came roaring back, and gave me 2 presents: bronchitis and a sinus infection. I blame not being able to sleep, due to kids having bad dreams and James coming down with a cold (later to bloom inot a raging ear infection; we were on antibiotics at the same time: yay. not). Oh, and the fact that our temps would bounce between 70 and 20 degrees a couple of times a week. So not healthful.
James, bursting into howls of "Mooommeeeee" and tears at his schools Christmas performance. The meds had just started to kick in and his aide said he did great singing with his class, but it was Game Over when he saw me.

Two weeks before Christmas, I threw in the towel and basically shut down. There are a couple of people who will be getting their Christmas in January. Sorry, that's how it goes this year.

I spent my days on the sofa, reading Meg Cabot and drinking enormous quantities of tea. Who cares if I doze off or lose my place when I get dog-piled by the kids? It's Meg Cabot, my tasty bon-bon lit of the moment.

It really, really sucks being "It" for 2 kids and a husband while being dragged under constantly by a virus and infection. It's not like I can call a friend or hire a sitter. My friends are either up to their eyeballs themselves or 70 miles away and happily involved in their own lives. No money for a sitter. And the respite care folks? Well, our luck has broken with them and lately I've been hearing more promises than opening the door to actual aides. I understand, it's the holidays. Still sucks for me.

Days like this are when I feel tired, having to be on call 24/7 (because my husband, in addition to working full-time, has seen his commute balloon out to about 2.5-3 hours each way on a regular basis -- you do the math, he's wiped too). My folks were down & out from this virus too. In fact, a high point was high-fiving each other weakly as we managed to swap favours one day.

I don't know if it's the cold, being off his schedule, or a growth spurt (or probably a combo of them all), but James has suddenly become uber-sensitive to noises: the bathroom fan, the microwave, any music on the stereo. He screams and becomes so upset. So add to all the activities, trying to balance being protective of him and not letting him get walled in too much by sensitivities. He's also become very clingy and I keep hearing "Mommy, Mommy, Mommy" every 5 minutes. Sometimes my head feels like it's about to explode.

I am so sick of being sick. I am trying to hang in there, breathe as deeply as possible, and focus on having a healthier start to 2011. I am trying to keep a check on my whinging about being sick so I can manage to enjoy some of the good things that have been happening: Our daughter having a great birthday party with her new classmates, both kids' faces when they saw their first new bikes on Christmas morning, quiet moments when my husband and I could just relax and watch the kids having fun ... and Meg Cabot on the sofa. With a pot of tea.

Magic Marker Monday: Making Our Holidays Bright

We've been laid low by a virus that just won't quit, James and I. Still we've found time to make our holidays bright, even if I haven't been coming online to share recently.

Voila! Candy Cane Reindeer, made with sweets from the Dollar Store and leftover bits of pipecleaner (probably from the same store):

Jingle bells, made with jingle bells, pipecleaners, and the odd pet collar. Add music and friends and suddenly, we're re-enacting the dancing scenes from A Charlie Brown Christmas in the school's gym!

Making cookies from a simple roll cookie recipe (thank you, Joy of Cooking!) makes the kids happy, works those hands in needs of deep muscle pressure and fine motor tuning, heats the cold house, and makes a delicious treat to eat and share:

Last for today (but not least) is an art project that James made for us at school, using paint and his foot & hands:

Notice he wrote his name in the lower right corner!

Visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

Special Needs Blog Photobucket

Thursday, December 02, 2010

"Best Thing"? Really?

This news snipped caught my eye "Brain scan 'best thing so far' in detecting Autism." It seemed so cavalier that I clicked to the article.

I do not agree. At most, it's an interesting future diagnostic tool. I see it as more of a "best thing" for the people who perform the scans and conduct research than for the patient.

When James was first diagnosed, his pediatrician said "He can't be autistic. He looks you in the eye." I had to insist that he call in a referral to our Regional Center. They sent out a wonderful woman, who talked with his father and I, and tried engaging James in a series of activities. She listened; she handed us tissue when we teared up. She looked at James and took lots of notes. And she wrote up orders for O/T, Speech & Language therapy, and home visits for a developmental specialist, who later became a personal friend, mentor, and support.

Pardon me for snorting and being skeptical that a brain scan is better than anything that woman and those groups of nonprofits did and continue to do for our son.

Brain scans CAN: can help target patterns of activity in an individual's brain; help provide scientific evidence of aberrations in brain function; be costly and freak out the patients.

Brain scans do NOT: help a person interact with others; provide behavioral redirection; cure Autism; show which therapies might be most beneficial to an individual; open doors for therapies that will help the individual and their families to get the help and services they need.

So in my opinion, right now these new brain scans are really not the "best thing so far." So far the professional people who care and work with our kids are the best things. Ever.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Special Exp. / Wordless Weds: Thankful

James' face says it all about how he feels about the holidays:

He participated in so many activities this Thanksgiving: making cookies, decorating the house, and (a biggie) sitting at the table all through Thanksgiving dinner, chatting with his great-aunt and nibbling on chicken nuggets. He laughed and played with his cousins. For this and more, we are thankful.

For more great images or to join in the fun, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs
and ... Wordless Wednesday

Tackling the Chores, or: Life Lesson, Part XVIX

I don't know how it is for others, but I find that life moves in waves. Things can be going along okay and then, I get swamped. Someone gets sick, we go on vacation, stuff happens. The rhythms get disrupted and things build up. For several years, I've been building a backlog of cleaning, chores, and projects that will take several child-free years to work through (hahaha, I still am talking about it being possible to finish ... but I digress). So I've realigned expectations and try to go more with the flow, living life right now and not stressing too much about doing it perfectly or just right. Or like Everyone Else.

I also get periods where I feel overwhelmed and isolated. Stuck in a rut. I hate that. Life is not fun and the kids know that Cranky Mom is in the house. I've been working with a parenting counselor to learn some managing strategies. One thing that has really helped is talking things through with a supportive person outside our routines. I've remembered lessons I learned in college, when I had to juggle classes, extra-curricular activities, and several part-time jobs.

I remember that I can get a lot accomplished if I focus on routines, and a few, basic tasks. I remember that routines can be set to a fixed amount of time, so that I don't get too carried away. I remember the power of 20-minute naps or rest sessions.

Other things, such as Positive parenting & partner support are discussed in the ongoing counseling sessions. They are also helpful and are long-term works in progress.

Meanwhile, the kids and I have come up with some set chores they do to help keep the house clean each day, as well as take on some responsibilities for preparing for school. Having them help with bussing their meal plates, organizing their backpacks, and doing a daily pick-up around the house are already helping so much.

I started with having the kids decorate old diaper boxes. At the end of every day they do the rounds of the house, popping their socks, toys, and miscellanea into them. Then the boxes go to their rooms, and I help them put things away. If a place cannot be found for them after several days, into the garage it goes, where it will be sold or donated. After a couple weeks of this, they are now picking up without the boxes or having to refer to the charts.

I remember that I used to set up or break down an entire cafeteria in 20 minutes in college. Yes, I was part of a team, but our kitchen is a lot smaller than the cafeteria. So I tell myself it will take me 20 minutes -- tops -- to clear the table, take care of the dishes, and prep lunches for the next day. I do it in the lag time between bedtimes. I think the noise I make is like a lullaby to James, because he drops off quickly on the nights I actually do this.

My future goal is to plan a menu for the week. Scary! I am working up to it by having one or two meals planned a week to cook (quiche, spaghetti, casserole, etc.). I know the theory behind it, but I am hanging on to the illusion of culinary spontaneity as type of freedom in my life.

Now I find that I am excited to tackle occasional projects. Last week it was washing curtains and cleaning windows in the family room. This week, it was cleaning the hall bathroom. I had to take a picture of that last one.
Ooooohhhhh .... aahhhhhhhh .... yay, Team!