Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The winds of change

Ten weeks without a blog update, huh? I think thats a first for me since creating this blog. But its been a busy 10 weeks. Let me explain.

First, my business exploded in March. It needed to happen and I came out of it inspired to appraise again. It was nice to be able to focus on my career for a month--even if it was relatively short-lived because.....

.....In April, Grant had jaw surgery. Eighteen months of preparation finally culminated into 36 hours in Swedish Hospital and a full three days in Seattle. I'm happy to report that it went well. Remarkably well, actually. Once he was past the vomiting blood with his jaw banded shut coming out of surgery. That part wasn't so pleasant. (He was heavily drugged at that point so he doesn't remember it clearly. I'm not so fortunate.) They cut his lower jaw bone lengthwise in three places with a reciprocating bone saw (oooohhhh.....say those last three words again. Sounds great, doesn't it?), slid the pieces around, and pinned them with titanium pins. With a mouth full of stitches, little stitches on his cheeks, and a head packed in ice, they sent him home. He swelled up, which is to be expected. And although he wasn't wired or banded shut after the 24 hour mark, the swelling made eating pretty difficult for about 10 days. But he's now 3 1/2 weeks post-surgery and doing very well. He will compete tomorrow at the Track and Field League Championships in 3 events, after qualifying this past Monday. (Yes....he went back to track already. And yes....I think he's insane.) His diet is still limited to nothing that requires intense pressure or pulling. In other words, no licorice, taffy, raw get the idea. Otherwise, he's footloose and fancy-free. Oh......but no pole-vaulting or contact sports until the end of June. On a final "Mom note"........yes, he looks different. Its still disturbing to me how much his facial shape changed with the surgery, but this was medically necessary and Mom will just have to adjust to his new face. :(

The end of April, Mike and I and the girls went to Disneyland for 6 days. Mike was the only one with previous Disney experience, so I wasn't totally sure what to expect. It was a pretty awesome vacation!!! The girls were wonderful, and we learned that Tiersten is a daredevil beyond our wildest expectations. No ride was too hairy and there was only one that she was too short to ride. Darn......I was disappointed not to get to experience the Mali-Boomer (Yeah...sure!), but she and I did California Screamin' and the Tower of Terror together. Mike doesn't "do" big rides, and so he happily stayed with Jen. From all descriptions from Disney addicts, we were there at the perfect time. The weather was in the 60s and 70s each day, and the longest we waited in line ANYWHERE was 45 minutes to meet Tinkerbell. (Personally, I could have skipped that one, but was important to the girls.) We consistently walked on to even the headliner rides with less than 10 minutes of a wait. This allowed us a LOT of time to ride again and again, which we did on several. With Jen's SPD, we totally expected her to melt each day in over-stimulation. Much to our amazement, she was phenomenally in charge of her senses. As long as she was well-fed, she was a complete trooper! She very quickly showed us that she was quick to cover her eyes, or limit sensory input in some other way on some of the rides to make it tolerable. Impressive! Truly. Considering that this is a child that wouldn't even attempt to ride a bike 18 months ago due to the overwhelming sensory forces involved.

Which brings me back to the title of this blog post. The winds of change are blowing around here! After 18 months of preparation for this major jaw surgery for Grant, it is finally behind us. Dane is nearing the end of his sophomore year of high school and I totally realized at his self-led conference at the school today, that he is TWO YEARS from graduation! He's stepping up to meet the challenge, and his Junior Class Schedule that he presented today is.....challenging. To say the least, I'm proud of him! Tiersten is also maturing and becoming more independent. Her no-fear approach at Disneyland is definitely carrying over to her horsemanship, and she's demanding a higher level of instruction. As always, I'm eternally grateful that we're with a trainer that understands my priorities for safety at Tiersten's age. (Good grief...I sound like MY has finally happened.)

And, as any family with a special needs child knows, the life and behavior of the special needs child often rules the roost. Regardless of how hard you might try not to let it, accomodations for that child are a necessity, and so it goes. But since Christmas, Jen has matured immensely. She is still gluten-free, casein-free, and all that other jazz. She still has SPD. But she is regulating HERSELF much more. She now recognizes the signs of sensory overload, and is making good choices and asking for intervention as needed to help her regain control BEFORE she is melted into a screaming puddle on the floor. She has lots of friends and is accepted by her peers, which means she is interacting with them in age-appropriate ways. She is academically in the middle of her class, which means that she is controlling her sensory environment and getting the content out of what is being taught. She is able to accept last-minute changes in life, and is able to deal appropriately when unexpected things arise. We are SO SO SO grateful for our miraculous school district, which has helped all of this happen. While we certainly do our part here at home, we always knew that it was really the intense sensory environment of a lively elementary school that could make or break our journey. So many parents of SPD children give up and home school, in order to keep the sensory input at a level that the child can handle. I would never never never assume that all SPD kids need to remain in public school, as our situation with a 1:1 paraeducator that has learned to balance the right amount of help while encouraging independence is rare and ever-so-perfect. For our daughter.......PUBLIC SCHOOL IS THE RIGHT CHOICE!!! It is SO great to see her beginning to be successful!!! And not just successful at an individual level, but successful at an age-appropriate, typically-developing level. Wahoo! There is hope!!!

And so it goes. Spring feels good. I'm back and will blog again soon! :)

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