Monday, March 24, 2014

Stow Takes Over the World

Well, the good news is that Ren figured out how to re-child-proof the pantry. It's not as easy as you'd think. Most of the traditional approaches haven't worked. One required grown-ups to pry the door open with the help of a small flathead screw driver. But even that plan failed when Stow found enough strength to bend the latch permanently. Ren even considered fitting the pantry with one of our old outside door knobs with its keyed lock. We couldn't remember where we'd put the keys, though, so that idea never really got off the ground.

Before Ren hit upon the current childproofing method, Stow managed to find the means and motivation to reach even the highest shelf in the pantry. He required constant supervision. One day, over the course of not all that many minutes, he stealthily ate half the contents of the second shelf. Fortunately, the food in the pantry is all dairy and gluten free. Unfortunately, in that brief unsupervised period, Stow managed to consume most of the cereal and at least two days worth of lunchbox fillers.

The child is relentless.

He also appears to be bottomless. As I type this, he is standing in front of me, eating a clementine he secured (by climbing up onto the counter) and peeled all by himself. He's telling me, "I eat fruit. Pon pon** feel better." A little while ago, he told me that his pon pon hurt and the only thing that would help it was apple sauce and possibly a granola bar. By the time I finish this paragraph, he will have peeled and eaten four clementines. Four.

Managing three energetic, curious, and often mischievous kids while also working and dealing with Ren's back issues hasn't been easy. Still, we trudge ahead. We've been very fortunate to have the help of friends and family. My parents came while we were at Mayo. Big Sissy came and stayed a few days the following week when I had to go to New York for a conference. One friend had them over for a play date. Another friend brought dinner. A third took them to the gym, the library, and out to eat, all so Ren could get a few hours off while I was gone. I'm glad for the help. Especially since without it, I'm pretty sure our toddler just might take over the world.

Case in point--the photo stream from my trip:

Washington Square Arch

Stow selfie?!?!!

Empire State Building
Not only can the kid take a selfie. He also seems to know how to independently change the iPad photo stream settings, inadvertently providing photographic evidence that you should always sleep with one eye open around Stow. Always.

**"Pon pon" is Japanese toddler-speak for stomach.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Luck of the Leprechaun

This came home from school with Pink on Friday afternoon.

"Your homework assignment is to create a leprechaun trap to bring to school. We will set the traps out at the end of the day on Friday, March 14th to see if we can catch a clever leprechaun on Monday, March 17th.....Some helpful hints: color your trap green and decorate it with green items. Leprechauns like four leaf clovers, Lucky Charms,  Skittles, and rainbows..."

Do you ever feel like school is just making up things for kindergarteners to do for homework? I do. First, there was the turkey decorating, then the Christmas tree, then the 100th day of school homework, then Dr. Seuss's birthday (a whole week of activities) and now this. Normally, I wouldn't mind,* but this weekend Ren and I are getting ready to make a trip of undetermined length to the Mayo Clinic,** so I am a bit stressed with trying to get my work stuff in order, preparing everything to help my parents while they watch the kids, and packing for our trip.

Really, the last thing I need or want to think about is a leprechaun trap. It doesn't help that I was not blessed with any genetic predispositions toward crafting or creativity. When I mention that I think the assignment is silly since leprechauns aren't real, Pink interrupts me to explain that I am wrong and she knows I am wrong because their teacher would never tell them to make a trap for things that don't exist. I back pedal quickly, remembering that Pink's belief system is still fully intact (unlike her brother's), and reply, "Well, I guess they could be real. I've just never seen one."

After buying some St. Patrick's Day garland and raiding our craft stash, we came up with this (I knew those new shoe boxes from Stow's brace-friendly shoes would come in handy! I'm feeling pretty thankful for leftover sequins from the sensory boxes, too):

Pink feels certain no leprechaun is his right mind would skip this party. And, she knows the camouflage garland is sure to trick him right into that hole. I, on the other hand, feel pretty sure the whole thing may be destroyed before drop-off day (we've already had to make two repairs due to the antics of a certain curious two-year old), and even if it does, there's no way she's going to get it to school safely on the bus. Lucky for me, I guess, that's one problem I don't have to worry about (sorry, Mom and Dad!).

Wish us all luck!

UPDATE (3/17/14):

The leprechaun came to the classroom while the kids were at recess and damaged all of their boxes. WTH?

* Actually, that's not true. I tend to get annoyed by busy work that they can't do on their own and that has no educational value--not to mention "homework" that requires me to fabricate stories about make-believe green tricksters.

**In the interest of Ren's privacy, I'm not going to go into detail on this other than to say that the back still stinks and, well, we have to go to Mayo Clinic, so that should give you a pretty good idea of how things have been going.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Perspective by MOE

I just posted a picture of the shoes I bought (on sale!) for Stow to wear with his new braces (link). Under it, I wrote, "Sometimes I totally rock (and other times I fail miserably, so I guess it works out in the end)." This second part is the real truth.

Proof in point: Pink P's glasses.

Pink lost her first pair within 32 hours (link) but then found them. And then lost them. And then found them. And then broke them before losing them again and deciding she didn't really want to wear them after all--which was good because they were broken and we were moving, and I didn't want to mess with them.

The first week of school, I tried to send Pink to kindergarten with her glasses, but by then, she'd chewed off both of the nose pieces and didn't like to wear them. I know I should have been proactive and figured out a way to make the whole thing a learning experience for her, but I was starting a new job and trying to get Early Intervention for Stow and an IEP for Sky.

Then classes started, I went to Japan, and Ren had back surgery. Then it was Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year before everything started all over again in January.

In other words, I let Pink go to school without her glasses for a very long time, and I felt bad about it. I really did.

In the meantime, Sky's glasses got broken in PE class and weeks of soldering and/or duct taping eventually took a toll on the integrity of the frames. So, two weekends ago, I managed to get both kids in to be fitted for new glasses (after, of course, being forced to call the old optometrist to request she resend the prescriptions which I'd lost). I also had Pink's old pair repaired, so she'd have a back-up pair.

And, for a brief moment, I felt like I'd managed to get my sh** together.

The feeling lasted almost a week. But then this happened:

At least she didn't lose the teeny tiny screw.

And I thought that maybe some battles really aren't worth fighting.


Pink is the kind of spunky that can make a mom a little crazy, especially when she does things like take Sky's stash of "calming" gum and pass it out to all the other kids on the bus without offering him a piece of his own gum (....not that this really happened or anything.....). But, right at the exact moment when I am pretty sure I'm going to lose my cool with her, she turns around and does things like this:

"I love mom more than gum and Skittles."
Or, this:

"My Mom Wind" (Sorry for the poor white-out job today--too tired to match the color)
And, I am reminded that I have to keep fighting the good fight for all three kids, no matter how crazy it all seems or how much I seem to fail at it. Because, even when I think I'm blowing it, they think I'm a winner (or, more precisely, a wind-er).

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Taking Things in Stride

I keep making lists of possible blog topics on small pieces of memo paper and then losing them. I suppose this is a metaphor for something, but I couldn't say what.

A month or so ago, we had Stow re-evaluated for Early Intervention (or First Steps, or whatever the 0 to 3 early development program is called where you live). He'd been getting speech, OT, and developmental therapy before we moved, but it took a herculean effort (and several months) to get things started here in our new town. Fortunately, he improved A LOT over the 12 months of therapy he did before we moved, so I wasn't panicked about how long it took for things to fall into place here. I was actually starting to think maybe he didn't need the extra help anymore.

But, then we had the evaluations and he qualified for just about everything--weekly occupational, developmental, and behavioral therapy as well as speech and PT consults. He even got these (just today):

Stow-approved colors and dinosaur design.
Proudly modeling his new AFOs (Ankle Foot Orthoses)--and, OMG, who can resist those chubby toddler legs?
See that white circle highlighted by my deftly-drawn yellow arrow? That's a "potato chip pad," and I am pretty sure it will become the new bane of my existence much like Pink P's glasses did. There is no way we are going to be able to keep track of two little Pringle-shaped pieces of foam. No way.

To be honest, I thought Stow would never wear these. But, when he tried them on for the first time, I pointed out that they made him look like the robot on his shirt (and, yes, I totally dressed him in his favorite robot shirt for this very purpose). He loves robots so immediately agreed with me. Then, he quite willingly wore the braces out of the doctor's office and into the car. After that, he refused to take them off when we got home despite the fact that the smooth, hard plastic turned the braces into ice skates on our hardwood floors. He didn't even want to take them off for bed. So, I guess that's one less thing to worry about. (Now I just have to figure out where to get shoes big enough and socks long enough to work with these braces--so far, I'm 0 for 3).

Sometimes people ask me if Stow is on the autism spectrum like his brother (this, by the way, is a rude question). Therapists sent to evaluate him always assume he isn't. Then they do their evaluations and change their minds. I don't know whether he is or not. Do I think about it? Yes. Do I worry about it? Of course. But, as our old (beloved and much missed) doctor used to say, "It doesn't matter either way. You're still going to do the same things." And, she's right. Since Sky's diagnosis, we naturally do things differently with all three kids. We offer sensory breaks and places to crash. We eat and sleep well and make sure their schedules are well-structured. We assume non-compliance doesn't necessarily mean defiance. We slow down. We listen better. We get the therapies they need when they need them. It's not always easy, and we make plenty of mistakes. But here's the thing: in the end, I know that no matter how things go for Stow (or Pink, or Sky), we're probably going to figure out how to take it in stride.

UPDATE 3/7/14

I found not one but THREE pairs of shoes (on sale!) that work well with the braces. Stow's thrilled because two of the three pairs have Planes characters on them. Sometimes I totally rock (and other times I fail miserably, so I suppose it all works out in the end).