Sunday, May 31, 2009

Look what we found!

Look what has stumbled into our life? Wahoo! I've been horseless for almost 7 years, which was WAAAaaaaaay too long! The girls are having a blast with him! More on "Yodi" soon!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

And an added note as a second thought.....

Following up that last post about Grant's great accomplishments in track, obviously with a little success under their belts, the boys are all looking forward to football season in the fall. Which is a good thing!!

But, yesterday we found out that Grant is probably going to have some major surgery on his lower jaw over the summer. We meet with the maxillo-facial surgeon in Seattle next Wednesday, and will know more after that. His upper jaw growth is exceeding the lower jaw growth, and his head-gear is not stopping the growth adequately, so it appears that they are going to "extend" his lower jaw by cutting bone and extending it and pinning it, and ya da ya da ya da. Not an ideal situation, but also necessary and not catastrophic, as long as it is treated properly ASAP.

So.....obviously, Grant is concerned about getting the surgery done, so he has plenty of time to heal before football practice starts. I kind of rolled my eyes and reminded him that his medical care takes first priority.........until I remembered that I was almost exactly the same age when I had oral surgery on a Monday, and was riding my horse two days later. It was a good reminder about what it is like to be 14!!

I'll keep you posted on what will happen with Grant. Not sure yet whether this is going to involve in hospitalization, or will be outpatient. Part of me doesn't want him booted too early from the hospital, when we live so far from the surgeon that will be overseeing his care, but we'll see how it goes.......

WOW-some track stars

I've been REALLY busy the past week or so, but I'm dropping by here for just a minute to send some well-deserved kudos to Grant, and his fellow track teammates. Their season has just ended, and they accomplished some REALLY amazing stuff! I was aware that they were doing well, but didn't realize just how well until the end of the season awards' thingy-ma-bobber. is a re-cap:

Our Junior High Track Team broke 18 school records this year.
Our 7th grade boys team was un-defeated. (Several of the boys were undefeated in their individual events as well.)
Our 7th grade boys team won the League Championship Meet by 105 points!!!

As for Grant........he qualified for league in all four of his individual events, and was on the winning 4 x 100 Relay Team. He finished the season at league with some personal records, which was a great way to go out.

And I have to give an extra "hurray" for one of his best friends, Ally P.--I swear this kid has wings. Ally just turned 13, and jumped 18'7" in the Long Jump, and just over 38 feet in the Triple Jump. That is so phenomenal that coaches from other schools were joking about checking his birth certificate. (Ally also went undefeated all season in the 100 meters and 200 meters. This kid is AMAZING! Go Ally!)

Raymond athletics has taken a long turn "in the bottom of the barrel" in the last 10-15 years. We've had scattered successes, but its been a LONG time since anyone can remember the type of dominance that this group of 7th grade boys are showing. A winning season (with the 8th graders) in football, undefeated in basketball, and undefeated in track.

GO BOYS!!! We're proud of you!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Furthering the cause.....

For all of you people out there interested in SPD, I am posting a link here. Read and peruse at will. It is full of information.

I would encourage all of you to click on the button for "Help us Help" in the left column, and sign the petition. It is crucial to all people with SPD that it be recognized in 2012 as a medical diagnosis. This petition will help further that cause. Read the stuff on the website, which explains the petition, the DSM V, and what the goals are!

Happy reading!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Sport of People-Watching

Clear back in December, I heard that Ron "Tater Salad" White was going to be having a tour stop near us in May, so immediately bought tickets in anticipation of Mike's birthday. (For those of you that are not fans, he is a scotch-drinking, cigar-smoking comedian that tours with the Blue Collar Comedy Tour...Bill Engvall, Larry the Cable Guy, Jeff Foxworthy, and Ron White.) Mike is a fan, and so I thought it would be fun to go see Ron perform in person.

Now........let me mention that he just recently released, in conjunction with the new tour, a new DVD titled, "Behavioral Problems." Mike already knew that I had tickets to the show, but I also bought the new DVD and gave it to him on his actual birthday, as kind of a "theme gift." Of course, we watched the new DVD right away, which is BY FAR, the rudest and crudest of his work. (Some of it is, in fact, so downright appalling that I sat on our couch in stunned silence. However, for me at least, it was a good thing that I had heard it before last night. It kind of allowed me to brace myself in advance, as I knew what to expect. Consider this a warning...if you feel inclined to go out and buy tickets or the new DVD. Send the kids to bed BEFORE watching!)

So......there we were last night. Great tickets. Surrounded by a huge crowd of rowdy people. And here comes Ron White with 90 minutes of trash-talking comedy. Since I had heard much of the routine on DVD before, it allowed me to listen with one ear, while I watched all the people around us. It was interesting to watch people!! Who laughed at what? Was it courtesy laugh type laughter, or did it appear genuine? We had two age 60-ish couples seated directly in front of us that laughed at virtually nothing. Even from the backs of their heads, their posture in their seats suggested that they were just hoping that the whole show would be over soon, and that on the way out, they wouldn't see anybody they knew. I think maybe they were expecting the Smothers Brothers. Oops! Wrong show........

Overall, it was a fun experience! Made even better by the fact that Mike put a $20 bill into a slot machine in the casino, and almost immediately took out $237.00. Ka-Ching!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Casual reading....

Jennica and I made our usual stop this morning after her occupational therapy appointment in Olympia--the grocery store. Its our weekly chance to stock up on whatever gluten-free/dairy-free/egg-free/peanut-free supplies that we're running low on.

Anyway, getting to the point, I'm standing in the checkout line this morning with my 5-year-old, and my eyes wander over the fronts of the magazines, reading headlines. My eyes settle, a bit startled, on the cover of this month's Cosmopolitan. Best Sex Ever. Followed by some other words in smaller print. One of which was Badass. And then lower on the page, a title stated Bitch Something-Or-Other. Okay???.........Hmmm.

I've thought about this a lot today, and tried to think about exactly WHY it bugs me. To me, those are pretty adult-type words emblazoned in large print across the front of a very public newsstand. If you buy that magazine and find those types of articles on the inside of the magazine, so be it. You are then the consumer......and have made a choice to spend your money there. All the more power to you. I may not choose to spend my money in the same way, but I will defend to the death your right to make your own choices.

But standing in the checkout line, I found it offensive to realize that my children, simply by standing in a checkout line, are subjected to terminology and vocabulary that we deliberately try to avoid in our home. No.......Jennica can't read yet, but Tiersten can! And Jennica is getting close! We're trying to raise our children that you treat others with respect, and words like "bitch" and "bad-ass" are not terms that we choose to use. I don't think this is overly prude-ish of us. We don't live an overly-sheltered life.

So.....what happened to keeping the trashy stuff on the inside of the magazines? Have I missed something? When did we become so complacent that BITCH can be printed in very large letters on the cover of a magazine, and stacked at eye level in the grocery store aisle? Am I THAT old?? Sheesh. The Cosmo cover that I'm attaching is not this month's issue, but has several other words emblazoned on the cover that aren't rated E, for Everyone.
I guess this is further proof that sex sells, huh?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The swimsuit dilemma we're getting ready to go on vacation in late June. I really want/need a new swimsuit, since mine is a couple of years old and, quite frankly, I intend to spend as much time as possible lying in the sun and playing in the water with the kids. What is the point to spending a bunch of money on going someplace with lots of sun and water if you're not going to enjoy it, right?

With that said, I don't know a single woman over 22 that feels 100% confident in a swimsuit. Period. Its just not the type of clothing that we feel good in. I could go on.....but you get it.

So.......what to buy? I'm pretty much at a point right now in my life where my body "is what it is." I would love to be in perfect shape, but the time that it takes to do that just isn't in my schedule right now unless we add a few hours to each day. And even then, let's face it, someone would find other things for me to do with that time. I should actually gain some time to work out in the fall when Jen starts kindergarten, but I'm not putting vacation on hold until my body looks perfect in a swimsuit. That's just reality and I'm learning to pick my battles. Laundry, appraisals, and Jennica's daily therapy schedules come before my thighs on the priority list at this point.

So.......I'm 40 years old and have four kids. What to wear that doesn't maximize any body flaws, doesn't look like I'm trying to be 18, doesn't scream senior citizen, doesn't embarrass my children and husband (or myself), or resemble a tent? I'm going for something that just says, "If you want to stare......go elsewhere. I'm here for the sun and the fun--not for your viewing pleasure. Now beat it. You're blocking my rays." Or I guess I could go for the string bikini and have the entire poolside to myself? :)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The honor of being their Mom

My family is my favorite part of my life. While I'm proud of my other accomplishments, too, the people that my children are becoming is definitely at the top of my list. I'm so proud of who they are and enjoy each of their unique personalities. Motherhood is so much work, but the rewards are also so worth it.

Let's start with Dane. My blond-haired, curly-headed, blue-eyed boy has grown a lot in the last few years. He towers over me in height now, and is tall and thin. He has a fantastic sense of humor, and has a wonderful ability to recognize his own strengths and weaknesses. As much as he would love to be one of those stellar athletes with talent to spare that can grab a ball from the air with the greatest of ease, he is fully aware that his athletic ability all comes from hard work. He's okay with that.....and I remind him regularly that a great work ethic and good attitude will take him much farther in life anyway. He's amazingly fantastic with his sisters and I SO appreciate his willingness to know when I'm at the end of my rope with Jennica, and he happily tells me to "take a break" and steps into a situation and talks her through it. If Dane is reading to them at bedtime, they always grab a Shel Silverstein poetry book, as that is one of his "special things" with the girls. And one of my very favorite things about Dane? His love and thirst for knowledge! I never know what he's going to find fascinating next, but its so fun to hear him be passionate about the gestational period of the African Sea Turtle, or have him ask me if I knew that the Statue of Liberty was worked on by the same guy that designed the Eiffel Tower, or quote the world records for the 100 meters in sequence from 1932. :)

And then there is Grant. My "sleeper" boy--in that most people see only the quiet side of him that appears to just sort of float through life in a fog. Its always interesting to hear people's reaction when they find out that beneath the calm exterior is a brain that never slows down and misses nothing. He has memorization skills to die for. If he sees it or hears it once, he never forgets it. And Grant has a mischievous streak that doesn't quit. His hazel eyes twinkle and the deep dimples appear in his cheeks and you'd better watch out! Interestingly enough, with our months of therapy with Jennica, we've recognized a number of sensory issues with Grant. The difference is that he is functioning at a full level, but it gives me new respect for why he's always hated loud noises and things like vacuum cleaners. He's a gifted student, particularly in mathematics, and I look forward to watching what path he chooses in life. Despite his light build, he is brutally tough in athletics, and has an inner drive to excel. I love to watch Grant's face when facing a challenge, and watching him on the football field is akin to David vs. Goliath--he refuses to back down!

Tiersten is a scrappy little thing. She and I clash almost constantly, because we're so much alike in so many ways--she absolutely hates to be told "no" and always wants her own way (Did I really just admit to that?). Tiersten is stunningly beautiful in a way that scares this Mom half to death. Her navy blue eyes are so dark that they're often mistaken for brown--until you look closer--and are the eyes that romance novels are written about. Her hair is so thick and has natural highlights of gold that people often assume that I have had her hair highlighted. Her olive skin is completely freckle-less (envy here) and she tans beautifully. Like the boys, Tiersten has a thirst for knowledge and breezes easily through school. She's competitive, and is driven to excel to her fullest by classmates that are learning at a similar level. But a girly-girl, she often goes through three outfits in the morning before settling on one. The girly stuff has been hard for me--as I would prefer that she climb trees and make mud pies for a few more years, but I'm beginning to accept that my choices are not to be Tiersten's choices. She is a beautiful free spirit with a full life ahead of her!

And Jennica. Beautiful, brown-eyed, blossoming Jennica. She is the most loving and trusting child I've ever known, and she is so thrilled by the smallest things. She gives the greatest hugs! It is so much fun to watch her blossoming and opening to the world, now that her brain is learning to control the world entering her senses. She's been a story of contradictions almost from the beginning. How can a child that is so obviously intelligent not be able to understand the logic behind some basic concepts? How can a child that loves music and movement determine on the first day of ballet that she emphatically hates it and announce that she's never going back? And on and on it goes. But she has taught me so much about the world around me, and that there are people that see and feel things differently. She's tested my commitment to parenting, and I've found out that I'm willing to do some things that are way outside my personal comfort zone in order to help my child succeed. I don't wonder anymore if I have the inner strength to fight for my child in the face of adversity. I'm watching her reaching for the stars AND catching them. There is no bigger thrill.

So, while Mother's Day is supposed to be about honoring our mothers, I have to say that being the Mom of my four kids......well.......the honor is all mine. I love them, not only because they are my children, but I love the person that each of them is becoming. They have brought so much joy to my life, and........maybe most of all..........I am a better person for having been their Mom.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

100 miles per hour and out of control

For some reason, Jennica came home yesterday in total sensory overload. I wish we knew what set it off, but we probably will never know. In any case, it was an experience that we hadn't seen at that level in a month or more, and it was a HUGE reminder of how far we've come.

Mike's Mom has been here for a week staying with us, so we all decided to hit a local restaurant for dinner last night. I went to pick up boys after track practice, Mike and Gerri went and picked up the girls at the day care, and we all met at the restaurant. The instant that Jen walked into the restaurant, I knew she was "off" because she was immediately very clingy to me. She tends to be a little clingy with me anyway when she's tired, but this was beyond that. I tried to convince myself that I was imagining things, but within minutes, she was a "frog-on-a-hot-rock" and wouldn't sit down, which was another bad sign of things to come for our evening. For the next five minutes, she swung between clinging to me, and bouncing around the restaurant like a ping-pong ball. We got dinner ordered.......and then things deteriorated when the appetizer arrived and she LOUDLY demanded that they were all hers and she wasn't going to share. A typical fight ensued........but typical to a 2-year old, not a 5-year-old with good language skills. She did a lot of yelling! I did a lot of quietly trying to convince her to cooperate. Mike finally took her outside for a minute to catch her breath, and she came back calmer. But it didn't last.

I ended up literally having to feed her dinner one bite at a time. In the roughest days of months gone by, this was really typical when she went into overload, but we've gotten past that.....until last night. For whatever reason, when she loses the ability to reason, she also loses the logical ability to understand that food satisfies her hunger. And the hungrier she gets, the worse her reasoning skills get. Its a horrible downward spiral that used to result in hours of out-of-control behavior that we now know could have been corrected (or at least minimized) by a good meal. We also now know that there is a blood sugar issue involved when she's hungry (one that isn't diagnosing in usual blood tests), and that the hungrier she gets, the less her brain identifies hunger as the problem. Once again, its pretty common in sensory kids to have difficulty recognizing their body cues of hunger, cold, heat, etc.....but Jen has come a LONG way in these areas. Which added to the "shock factor" of dealing with it last night. I think I'd almost forgotten just how bad it can be.

About halfway through her dinner(which she had buried in ketchup in a fit), she started to improve, and started using her language again. Interestingly enough, she commented that she didn't like the music in the restaurant. We keep getting more and more hints that auditory input (sound) is HUGE for her. And oddly enough, in the middle of this, she kept asking, "What was that?" I finally figured out that she was asking about the bell in the kitchen that the cook rings when the next order is ready! Despite the music, all the conversations around us, the clang of dishes and eating utensils, etc..........she was picking that bell out each time it rang!

So....... we finally escaped the restaurant with everyone frazzled.......but alive and grateful to be out of there. We got home, only to have the next phase start when she flipped out over the noise from the lawnmower. More screaming and yelling. We got her in the bathtub, and watching a movie..........only to have her TOTALLY lose it when it was time to go to bed. By this time is was an hour past her normal bedtime, and we tried to skip her usual bedtime story on the premise that she had watched a movie and we would read tomorrow......Saturday. Seems reasonable, right? And in her usual behavioral state these days, she would have totally been able to understand that and hop in bed. But she just wasn't with us last night. After 5 minutes of screaming in her bed, we went to Plan B. Read the darn story! (There was a time not so long ago when I would have insisted that we said "no story tonight" so "stick to my guns" and "follow through". I am SO SO SO grateful that we've moved beyond that point! There is a time to hold your ground.........and a time to realize that she's not doing this to be a brat. She's out of control due to a brain issue and trying to prove a point is akin to punishing an Alzheimer's patient for forgetting things. Move on.....)

So........I read the story and she was sound asleep for the night within 10 minutes. Mike and I were both exhausted from the effort, and it was a huge reminder of just how far we've come. It took a solid hour for my blood pressure to return to normal, but eventually I relaxed and life moved on.

This morning, so far, she's just fine. No remnants of last night's sensory overload, and no clue as to what triggered it. I admit to having some tension in my neck this morning, just waiting for a behavioral explosion from her. She's fine...I'm not. The effort of the fight took a lot out of me. Always trying to pick up the clues and fend off the next fight before it comes........trying to think through what is causing it so you can eliminate it.........and wondering if you're being manipulated and walked all over by a very smart 5-year-old that knows how to push your buttons.

I had forgotten just how bad it could be. The bald spot on the top of her head is almost grown back in from where she was twisting her hair so badly that she pulled it all out. The scabs on her face from the last gluten rash are finally totally healed and gone. She's taking her supplements easily each day now. And she's sleeping all night every night. Thank you very much.......I think I could have done without the reminder of just how bad it can be. And the reminder that Sensory Processing Disorder never really goes away.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Just shoot me now.....

Ballet pictures were today. Which means that I spent over two hours in a crowded room full of hyperactive girls while they all had their individual photos taken in three different costumes, and had group photos in each costume, and had their hair done, and changed costumes, and fretted over make-up, and fretted over how to best attach the hair accessory for this costume, and fretted over getting the tights just right for that costume.......UGH! Of course, we've been doing ballet with Tiersten for months to get prepared for the upcoming recital, but this is my first experience with the whole ballet school in one place doing costume changes, and all that "stuff". Modesty was right out the window as the stress level climbed. I think the Jonas Brothers could have walked through the room and would not have even been noticed while the girls ripped off one outfit to hurriedly grab another and rush back to the photography set.

And Tiersten.........what to say. She LOVED every single stressful minute of the whole darn thing. She was SO in her element. I had taken my camera along, hoping to capture some backstage candids, but she kept glaring at me, as I was distracting her from her "duties". But I did manage to capture the one shot that I'm enclosing in her full stage make-up. Somebody just shoot me now. She's 6.......going on 16!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Making sense of Sensory Integration

While I was looking forward to our SPD class this weekend, I have to admit that it exceeded my expectations! So I've been thinking about exactly WHAT I gained from this class and here's what I come up with:
1)Did I hear anything that I hadn't heard before? No.
2)Was any of the information earth-shattering or shocking in its revelations? No.

So why was it so good?
I guess for me, the instructor managed to put ME into the position of the person with Sensory Processing Disorder. To some degree. I don't think we can EVER truly understand without having the disorder itself, but any understanding that we can gain is insight........Insight into what it might feel like to have our head floating through space with no awareness of where are legs are......and being made fun of in PE class because we trip over everything. Insight into what it feels like to be so painfully aware of the clothing on our bodies that we can't step scratching ourselves......ever. Insight into being so overwhelmed by the smell of candles in the aisle of a store that I can't go back into that store ever again.

And I got to experience firsthand what it feels like to sit on a ball chair in class. Did it help me stay awake? Or was it distracting to me? I got to chew potato chips, suck warheads, drink ice water, drink hot drinks, play with a huge variety of fidgets.........all for the sheer purpose of finding out what helped ME stay awake and attentive in class, in order that I might gain insight into what helps others stay awake and attentive. And through it all, we watched videos of a huge variety of children with a variety of manifestations of the disorder, and how the issues were worked through with a cognitive, patient, step-by-step approach.

Most of all, I think what I came away with is a new and profound understanding that human beings truly are UNIQUE. While this is pretty obvious, its also a great reminder!! I can't take my own preferences for what I like to fidget with, munch on, sit on, etc. and project those onto Jennica! Instead, I need to be patient and let her tell me! If not through words, then through her actions and responses. What does she seek out? What does she ask for? And what helps her succeed?

So I came home with an increased desire to listen twice as much as I talk. Listen and watch. And the answers will come.

Friday, May 01, 2009

A weekend away......sort of

Several months ago, our OT told us about an upcoming weekend class at a regional hospital on Sensory Processing Disorder. We immediately jumped on the bandwagon, and started making preparations for both of us to attend. Well......that weekend has arrived, so tonight, we head to the big city for two days of SPD classes. We're staying in a nice hotel and the whole works. Mike and I are both looking forward to the time away together, but it should be interesting to see how we do sitting all day from 8:00-5:00. Although we are both "desk jockeys" to some extent, our jobs are also a lot of "up-and-down". I'm hoping that there will be lots of crowd participation in the afternoons to keep us awake!

In any case, as soon as we heard about the class, we passed the word along to our preschool teacher. She ran with the information, and lo-and-behold....our school district is paying for her to attend AND our school's occupational therapy assistant! This is totally AWESOME! I love our school district!!!

So......while its hardly going to be a vacation, the whole concept of 2 days away from home and the kids sounds pretty darn good at the moment! And we're hoping to gain some new enlightenment to help Jennica, which is the most important thing of all.

And upon returning home next week, we will finally be testing for the amino acid levels in her body. I haven't talked much about this issue, but it is a huge step forward and I'll explain more on this next week!

Have a great weekend!

Prayers for Miss Marlee

Anybody remember Jennifer, my friend that used to work for me here at Precision Appraisals?

Jennifer's 6-month-old baby girl, Marlee, was diagnosed recently with neuroblastoma. They are pretty much living in a Portland hospital at the moment, while Marlee undergoes a whole host of tests to determine exactly how far the cancer has invaded her little body, and to insert the pic line and all that stuff that will prepare her for next week's surgery schedule.

While I haven't seen much of Jennifer since she moved an hour away in 2007, she is very much in my thoughts and prayers right now. Her two older children are staying with family, while she helps Marlee fight for life. Jen is the ultimate "Barricuda-Mom" (a real long as you don't mess with her kids).

Please join me in praying and cheering for Marlee and her recovery!