Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where do they get this stuff?

Interesting the things little ears hear...and the things little mouths repeat. 

Last year, after watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, my children took to calling each other stupid.  Today, that word has mostly disappeared from our house thanks to a threatening bottle of apple cider vinegar waiting to be swished in the next mouth that utters it.  

Since watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving last week the boys have started saying "he's all yours, Priscilla" and "you sly dog".  Of course, with Graham, that's pronounced "he's all yours, Pwis-si-wha" and "you swhy dog".

I guess, according to Harrison, Peppermint Patty says "you sly dog" to Charlie Brown and Marcy says "he's all yours, Priscilla" to Peppermint Patty.  My boys don't necessarily use the phrases in the proper context: 

Harrison: You did a great job riding without training wheels, Graham.  You're such a sly dog!

Graham:  (angry, yelling) Be quiet, Harrison!  It's all yours Priscilla!

The other phrase they've started saying is "listen, woman".  And, yes, they know how to say it in context:

Me: Harrison, come inside and put this puzzle away.
Harrison:  Listen, woman! ...

Me:  Graham, it's time to come upstairs and put your jammies on.
 Graham:  Listen, woman! ...

And, no, I don't have to ask where they learned this.  I know first hand.  They are simply modeling what they see and hear their father doing.  In fact, the other day Jer was standing there when I asked Harrison to do something and he replied "listen, woman" and his father laughed!  Now if that isn't the way to encourage bad behavior, I don't know what is!

Now, I don't want to paint my husband as a chauvinist.  But he kinda is.  You think apple cider vinegar will work on him?  Hmmm...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Decorations

Well, I finished decorating the tree yesterday evening and we already have two ornament casualties.  Let the tally begin!

During the holiday season I keep a tube of super-glue on alert at the Kitchen Counter Trauma Center.  Boys + Christmas ornaments = lots of super-glued fingers for doctor-mom.  If I was a gambling woman I'd bet we'll treat no less than 15 patients this year.  

I have a confession to make - you are going to think I'm an awful mom.  Please try not to judge.

Here it is: I did NOT let the boys help me put ornaments on the tree.

And it's not because I was worried they would break things.  It's because I have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Ornament Placement OCD.

In fact, now that I'm looking at the above photo, I'm feeling some hypertension about the letter H.  It's hanging too low for my liking.  And there's too much of an empty green patch above it.  As soon as I finish this post I'll rehang it.

Seriously, people.
It's a legitimate syndrome, you know.  The symptoms appear when provoked by offers of decorating help and, worse, daring to help without asking and, even worse, when decorating does not go as planned.  Symptoms may include grouchiness, bossiness, sneakiness and profuse sweating.

Here's the bad part: The boys kept asking and asking if they could help.  I kept telling them no.  Then when I finally conceded and handed them a few non-breakable ornaments to hang, I lectured them within an inch of their lives about where they were allowed to hang them.  And then after they hesitantly hung them, I rearranged them anyway.

I know.


The entire time I was doing this the narrative in my head went something like this: Rachel, this is not a big deal.  You are stealing their joy.  They just want to help.  What's the harm in having 6 snowflakes right next to each other?  

You will be the only one who notices that the puffball snowmen aren't facing forward.  

Why are you so bothered when all the birds are facing the same direction?  That's how birds fly, Rachel!  Just let the little birds flock together!  Your children are going to grow up and have ornament OCD just like you.  Stop the insanity!

But I just couldn't stop.

I wish I was one of those moms who give their kiddos free reign over the tree decorating.  I am so envious of them!  And I'm certain their trees look beautiful!

But not as beautiful as mine.

I know.


I ought to check myself into the Kitchen Counter Trauma Center.  Maybe sniffing the super-glue would help me relax!

Monday, November 26, 2012

the road less traveled

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Next Chapter - Part Two

To read Part One click here.

Our son's full name is Harrison Ottley White. Let me tell you how we chose it.

After my 20-week pregnancy ultrasound showed we were expecting a son the search for names ensued. I had lists and lists of boy names which dwindled quickly because Jeremy applied his power of veto to most of them. From the get-go he was very much in favor of the name Harrison. It was a name he had always liked. I liked Harrison, too. It's a fine name. But as my womb grew to accommodate the boy kicking inside me, I kept coming back to a different one - the name Ottley.

During the year Jeremy and I met, began dating, got engaged, planned a wedding and got hitched I worked for two guys, both named Tim. Tim Cook and Tim Ottley. Most everyone referred to Tim Ottley as just Ottley, so I did as well. People had lots of different names for Tim Cook – tim, tc, tmc, mr. cook, bigness, mother f*cker – but I called him Cook. (that last one was a term of endearment used by one crazy-lady business associate from NYC. She spoke to me in the same loving manner, “What the f*ck, Mother F***er! Where the f*ck is that Mother F***er, Tim Cook?!” It always made my day to transfer her calls.) So I worked for Cook and Ottley.

A funny side note: Tim Cook had a daughter named Rachel, Tim Ottley had a wife named Rachel, and they both had an assistant named Rachel (that would be me). There were a lot of Tims and a lot of Rachels.

I loved both Cook and Ottley. I still do. They were great to work for, made me feel like part of their family, taught me so much (both professionally and personally) and opened my eyes to some wild and crazy things. Things like flying first class, shipping luggage via overnight FedEx because it was too much hassle to carry, being in charge of getting a band, crew and gear to NYC during a blizzard, being on a tour bus, being back stage, being the only non-naked female at a party. But those are stories for another time.

That was a special time for me because I was falling in love with my husband. But falling in love with him was all the more fun because I was so very happy with my life and felt fulfilled in my job. At work, during that year, Cook and Ottley left an impression on me. So it only makes sense that I would want to name my son after one of them!


What? Are you thinking that's kind of weird?

I suppose, looking back on it now, maybe you're right. But at the time I did not think it was odd at all. I just really, really liked the name Ottley! I was adamant about calling my son Ottley and no amount of veto power was going to remove it from my list. While Jeremy and I were still in name negotiations my girlfriends would ask which names we were considering and I made no qualms about replying,

“I really like the name Ottley”


“Ottley. O-t-t-l-e-y.”

“Where does that come from?”

“It's the last name of a friend I used to work with.”

Then the responses would vary...

“Oh. How nice.”


“Cute. You could call him O.”

It never crossed my mind to wonder what others might think of my choice. No one - not my friends, not my coworkers, not my husband, not my family – commented that it is unusual to name your son after “a guy I used to work with”. If they had any strange thoughts about it, they kept them quiet. Truthfully, if anyone had spoken up, it wouldn't have made a difference. It simply came down to this:

I had my heart set on calling my son Ottley.

I certainly didn't worry over how Tim Ottley's wife might react to the idea. (How terrible of me! Can I claim baby brain for my complete self-centeredness?) If I had taken the time to think about it I may have realized the slight awkwardness. Can you imagine Ottley saying to his wife, “Hey Honey, remember my old assistant? She wants to name her son after me.” Oh man! Putting myself in her shoes, if Jeremy came home and said that to me, I would definitely wonder what in the world had transpired between them to make her want to name her son after my husband! Is my husband worthy of that honor? Absolutely! But I would still question it! What wife wouldn't?

Was Tim Ottley worthy of having my son named after him? Without a doubt. He is a man who, for many reasons, is more than deserving of that honor! But, as it turns out, things aren't always as simple as having your “heart set” on something. What God showed me when I was lying in the dark that night is this: I didn't simply like the name Ottley and I didn't simply name my son after “the friend I used to work with”.

Harrison Ottley White was named with purpose.  And he was named to honor someone else too.

Someone Harrison would need. Someone who would care about him enough to want the best for him, to be the best for him. Someone who would become our angel, sent to us in times of trouble. Someone who would show us the light.

God told me “this is why you named him Ottley” because he was reassuring me that all along, before Harrison was even born, he would hold our son dear. And all along, before Harrison was even born, he knew who our son would be and the difficulties he would face. And all along, before Harrison was even born, God had the perfect person in place to help him overcome his struggles. And all along, Harrison would share that person's name.

"This is why you named him Ottley...because it is Rachel Ottley (Tim's wife)...your lovely occupational therapist friend...whom I have perfectly gifted...before Harrison was even help him and you through this hardship".

Even now I weep at God's amazing, incomprehensible, provision.
He is so gracious. He is so good. I am so thankful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Next Chapter - Part One

This post is a continuation in the story of our family's journey with Sensory Processing Disorder.  To read the previous parts of the story click here first, and 2nd, and 3rd, and 4th, and 5th.

I'm actually writing this next portion of the story out of turn.  What should come now is an explanation of how Rachel (our occupational therapist friend) flew out, stayed with us, evaluated Harrison, informed us regarding what she noticed, and advised us on how we should proceed.   And I promise I will get to all that.  But there's something you should know first.

It's a realization I had.

Thoughts come to me at night...when the house is quiet...when I am at my most peaceful.   I get impressions of things.  Phrases that repeat.   My heart feels heavy.  I feel urges to pray.  Sometimes I cry.   This does not happen often.  But when it does I feel comfortable saying that, in these moments, I am hearing the voice of God.  It's not a literal sound, of's more of a feeling.  But it's a feeling, I am certain, that comes from outside myself – or maybe it's from deep within?  That made no sense, but what i'm trying to say is this:

It's a feeling, a thought, an impression, that would not normally occur to me.

It's an idea so far beyond my scope of understanding that I can't fathom it.

It's recognizing that there is always a bigger plan – a greater story – and that I am only one thread within a giant patchwork quilt, which God is piecing together as he sees fit.

And, usually, I'm left knowing – deeply knowing – that everything is going to be alright.

I believe, with my whole heart, that this is the way God speaks to me.

At least that's how he spoke to me that night – Friday night, September 14th - the night Rachel explained what was going on with our sweet Harrison.

I was alone in the dark pondering my son and the sensory issues he struggles with when a very specific thought came to me.

“This is why you named him Ottley.”  "This is why you named him Ottley."  "This is why..."

And I immediately began to weep.

You see, I've written in the past about the importance of a name.  Let me tell you about Harrison's...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

follow up & a joke

i thought i'd share some updates...

1) miss erika was happy i stalked her and tracked her down.  her new salon suits her much better - very rock & roll.  oh, and her hair is now dark brown and red. 

2) my friend erica is still my friend despite the fact that i unknowingly spread germs to her family.  my cheeks turned red and became hot as i talked to her about it over the phone.  oh, the humiliation.

3) the photos leslie took turned out great!  and i did cave and order christmas cards.  it's just not christmas without cards!  but we are still going to figure out a way to give to others this christmas season.

4) we haven't seen our friend juliana for the past two weeks and i'm doubtful she will come this friday as it's the day after thanksgiving.  basically, if we don't see her this friday, that will be only two out of six weeks that harrison has had therapy.  i really love having juliana come to our home but we are anxious for a more intensive form of therapy.  that's part of the reason we are trying to get into STAR.  it's our understanding that their treatment model is the best.  and juliana will still be our therapist at STAR, too.  if you think of it, please pray that we are able to get in!  please, oh please, oh please.

5) some of you have expressed an interest in being able to "follow" this blog.  or to receive my postings via email.  i realize it's hard to remember to check here regularly.  honestly, though, i can't figure out how to set that up.  anyone out there knowledgeable about these things???

6) we are considering montessori schools for harrison for first grade.  and, of course, we have to figure this out now because choice enrollment starts on january 7th.  anyone out there knowledgeable about montessori schools and which ones in our area are good???

7) anyone?  anyone?  bueller?  bueller?

and, lastly, i'll leave you with a joke.  harrison likes to tell this one...

how does a farmer count his cows?

with a cowculator!

hahaha.  get it?  a COWculator!

oh my.  yes, indeed, these are the kind of jokes - much worse than this, actually - that are par for the course around here.  usually it's more like this...

knock knock.

who's there?


elephant who?

elephant mommy!

hahaha hohoho hehehe (graham slaps his knee and rolls around on the floor because it's


knock knock.

who's there?

um, harrison.

harrison who?

harrison had to go poo-poo.

hahaha hohoho hehehe (graham AND harrison roll on the floor with knee-slapping laughter)

and, once again, i'm left guessing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

a list

the next section of my sensory processing story is taking a little while to write so in the meantime you get a list of random things that may or may not have occurred recently in the white family.

1) i had a migraine yesterday.  boo.

2) i love my husband dearly and cannot imagine my life without him.  he took care of me yesterday.  i am blessed.  the boys are pretty incredible when i'm feeling yucky too!

3) i have a mountain - a mountain! - of laundry waiting to be washed.  one day with a migraine = three days of catching up on housework.

4) the boys and i dropped off our operation christmas child shoeboxes last week.  we filled them full of awesome things that any boy would be happy to have.  this year we can follow our boxes and find out what country they get shipped too!  and we included a family photo, letter and our address in hopes that the boys who receive our boxes will write to us.  fingers crossed!

5) i'm meeting two girlfriends, amy & chelsea, for dinner tonight and am so looking forward to seeing them and catching up on how their lives are!  i have missed them!  we are eating at little ollie's  in cherry creek.  yum.  the three of us used to work together at cb richard ellis (i started in november of 2004) and have stayed in touch ever since.  hard to believe it's been eight years this month!  they are amazing ladies - career women, loving/supportive wives, beautiful inside & out, awesome moms, and great friends!! 

6) i have already finished christmas shopping for the boys.  i just need to buy a few small things to fill their stockings.  last year i went overboard on gifts for them.  lots of educational toys - so that's been good - but it was just too much.  this year they are each getting one gift from us and one from santa.  plus their stockings.  that's it.  that's plenty.

7) please don't feel sorry for them.  they have a meme & papa and grandma & grandpa and uncles & aunts who are very generous in spoiling them!

8) for christmas this year we are meeting jeremy's family (uncle, aunt & cousins) in steamboat springs and the boys are going to ski school.  they are super excited about it!  jer and his dad spent much of the day saturday shopping for the boy's gear.  they are going to be the cutest, most stylish, ski dudes on the mountain, i tell you!  and, of course, jer found new skis and boots for himself. 

9) we had a play date with a friend and her two sweet daughters last friday afternoon.  we always enjoy seeing them and we had a fun time.  my friend and i got to talking, though, and i quickly realized her heart was heavy.  after we chatted she said, "thanks for letting me be real with you".  are you kidding?  i would not want it any other way!  i have a hard time with friendships that involve tip-toeing around subjects - i much prefer getting straight to the heart of it!  but you know what her comment made me realize?  being real with one another doesn't come naturally.  it's easier to lie. "i'm fine" "i'm good" "nothing's wrong".  those are lies we tell others all the time.  sometimes those are lies we tell ourselves!  i'm not sure why we do it.  the busyness of life perhaps?  fear of being vulnerable?  whatever the case, i'm thankful my friend felt comfortable enough with me to be real.  i'm honored she shared her concerns.  that conversation turned what would have been just a fun play date into a meaningful play date.  and we can all use a little more meaning in our lives, no?

10) i made this better than take-out orange chicken for dinner last week.  let me tell you.  it really truly is better than take-out.  even jeremy thought so!  and he is one difficult man to please.  i mean, he'll eat pretty much anything.  but it's rare that he raves about things.  and he raved about this!  so, i highly recommend this recipe.  with one caveat, though: it's not healthy.  there's quite a bit of sugar and oil involved, which is why it tastes so darn incredible!!  i added broccoli to ease my conscious. 

ten things.  over and out.  love, rachel

Friday, November 16, 2012

A girl would never do that! Right?

I always wanted to be a mom to boys.  I love my friend's pink-tutu-wearing daughters but I, myself, never felt the longing for a mother/daughter relationship.  In fact, that is one of the main reasons I don't want a third child.  It may come out a she.  And then what would I do? 

Thankfully, God saw fit to bless me with boys.  But as much as I longed for them - and love them! - life with them always keeps me guessing. 

Take, for example, the other morning.    

We had company over for dinner last Sunday night - friends we hadn't seen in quite a while.  We wanted to get together before the holiday hustle took over our schedules, planned a somewhat impromptu date, and decided to keep the gathering simple - just sharing some healthy snacks/appetizers while we caught up on life.  It was a pleasure to see them and we feel blessed to call them friends.

I hope after reading this story (Hi Erica!) they will still be able to say the same for us!

Any time guests are coming over I make sure to clean the bathrooms.  Living with two little boys  - and, let's just be honest, one big boy - wreaks havoc on toilets.  I have lost count of how many times I've sat down to go potty and realized the seat was wet.  I have lost count of how many times I've walked into the bathroom only to step in urine.  I have lost count...well, I've just stopped counting.

So last Sunday I cleaned the powder room, made sure the toilet paper was replenished and neatly folded the hand towel and placed it beside the sink.  All set for company.

The next morning I was awakened to the fact that my littlest munchkin had been using the hand towel - yes, the very hand towel I had laid out for our guests -


And, worse, upon closer hand towel inspection, there was evidence of such usage!

shudder shudder shudder shudder shudder shudder
Who used this bathroom last night?!  Oh my Lord!  Did they dry their hands on this towel?!
cringe cringe cringe cringe cringe cringe cringe cringe

My world crumbled to pieces and I died a thousand deaths.

I did not know how long this behavior had been going on but the mere question made the shudders and cringes start all over again.  I did not want to know.  I just wanted to be very, very sure it would never happen again.

So I'm left guessing...

about boys, and why they are so dirty, and why they do terrible germy things, and why God gave them to me, and why i didn't want girls.

One thing I'm NOT guessing about: I can safely say there will never again be a misuse of hand towels in the White house. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I had a completely different topic in mind for this afternoon- just another funny story from my life with these boys - but on the way to pick Graham up from preschool I noticed that something was going on...but was quite unsure what it could be.  Harrison and I saw police vehicles from every city in the metro area and all types of City of Lakewood vehicles lined up on the sides of the road.  There were many bystanders too.  One holding an American flag.  Everyone seemed to be waiting for something.  A parade maybe?

As we pulled into the school I asked the city workers who were parked at the entrance what was happening.  They informed me that the funeral procession for the local police officer who was killed in the line of duty was to start at any moment and told me good luck in finding a way to get home.  When we walked inside I heard the school bus drivers talking.  They told me which route the procession was planned to take and gave me advice on an alternate route home.  God bless bus drivers. 

It turned out we were able to get home without incident and along the way I saw that the fire department had raised the ladders on two of their trucks and hung an American flag between them so the procession would pass underneath it.  I instantly decided to run through the Wendy's drive-thru, pick up two happy meals (I know happy meals are from McDonald's but what are they called at Wendy's?), and take the boys to watch.  I figured they might like to see all the police cars.

 terrible iphone photos, but you get the idea

They ate their lunch peacefully, excited about seeing the fire trucks and their tall ladders up close.  And then we starting waiting.  And we waited and waited.  And waited.  We waited close to two hours.  Honestly, the boys didn't seem to mind.  Honestly, I didn't mind either.  For whatever reason, I just felt like we were supposed to wait.  We played around outside.  When we got cold we warmed up inside our car.  I then began to notice...the longer we waited the more people showed up to wait with us.  The longer we waited the more I realized it wasn't excitement I was feeling.  The longer we waited the more I got to talk to the boys about what we were waiting for, why we were there, how to show respect toward those who serve, why that's important.  The longer we waited the more my heart hurt for the wife who lost her husband, the kids who lost their dad,  and the brotherhood who lost one of their own. 

When the procession finally passed by us the firemen stood in solidarity along both sides of the road, civilians stood solemnly with hats in hand, and with tears streaming down my cheeks I hugged my boys close.

I was thankful we had a firsthand view of such a memorable occasion.  It was incredible to feel a sense of togetherness - a city united, a people in support of one another - especially after a time of divisiveness in our nation.

I hope those who viewed it from behind black tinted limousine windows were able to soak in what a special moment it was too. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Happy Fourth Birthday, Graham!

Can someone please tell me what happened to this precious baby?

 When did he turn one?

Or two?

 When did he develop such a gregarious personality?

 How did he get so brave?

 When did he realize his cuteness would get him out of trouble?

 Who taught him to be such a fun brother?

 When did his little face change and begin to lose those chubby cheeks? 

 Where did he learn to love life so much?

 How is it possible this little mister is four today?

Thank you so, so much Sweet Boy for being such a joy to your daddy, brother and me. 
You aren't the life of the party - you ARE the party!
It is not possible to express how happy you make my heart.
Nor can words begin to explain how much I love you. 
Happy birthday.

Who Am I?

The latest edition of "Who Am I?" was played this morning on the way to take Graham to preschool. 

Graham: I have four legs, a big face, a small winky and fingernails on my feet.  Can you guess who I am?

Seriously people.  I am not making this up.  These are exact quotes.  

Harrison: An elephant.

Graham: No, I said a SMALL winky!  My children associate elephants with big winkys because one fateful day at the Denver zoo a male elephant shall we say it?...excited to see us.  I have photographic evidence.

Harrison: Oh.  A rhino?

Graham:  I'll tell you.  It's a hippo.

Harrison:  But hippos have big winkys, Graham.  My children also associate hippos with big winkys because the hippos get excited to see us too.  Again, I have photographic evidence. 

Graham:  Oh yeah.  Let me go again.  Ok.  Let me think of an animal.  Alright.  I have four legs, a big winky, a big face, a back and a tummy.  Can you guess what I am?

Harrison:  A hippo!

Graham:  YES!

All this talk of hippos and winkys is reminding me of the time (a year ago probably) when we met my friend Amy and her two girls Asher and Brooklyn at the zoo.  Asher was in preschool with Harrison last year and Brooklyn is currently in preschool with Graham.  They are perfect age play mates but as much as my boys love them there is just one little problem - they are girls. 

So we were all at the zoo watching the hippos when I heard Harrison say, "Look at his winky." (which was straight as a flagpole at that exact moment)

To which Asher responded, "What's a winky?"

ha ha ha ha ha he he he he ho ho ho ho

I offered up a silent prayer...

Dear Lord, why are my children so dang focused on winkys?

That is still my prayer today!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

seeking evaluation

when i finally realized our son's quirks amounted to more than just quirkiness i began searching for someone to evaluate what was going on inside him.  i started by contacting our friend rachel, an occupational therapist who lives in oklahoma.  she was a great resource for me back when harrison was 15 months old and he was being tested for autism.

sidenote (i have an awful lot of these, don't i?) -
all that testing resulted in confirmation of a speech delay.  he received speech therapy for 6 or 7 months and graduated with flying colors!  or so we thought.  if only i had known then what i know now.  BUT, guess what helped the language poor out of him all those years ago?  tons of proprioception - heavy lifting, running, jumping, crashing, smooshing, deep pressure squeezes, balance boards, swinging - gross motor activities harrison thought were so much fun!  activities that gave his body the SENSORY INPUT he needed so he could use actual words to communicate instead of grunts.  see.  if only i had known then...

moving on -
i asked rachel for suggestions about where to take harrison for evaluation for spd.  her immediate response was STAR, one of our nation's leading treatment facilities for spd.  that was her first choice, her best suggestion, and if that option didn't work out she could give me some other ideas. 

i contacted STAR and began their intake process.  it's a dosey.  loads of paperwork.  with questions like how was your pregnancy?  did you carry to term?  were you induced or go into labor naturally?  was delivery uneventful?  did you have an epidural?  vaginal birth or c-section?  did baby present face up or face down?  what were the apgar scores?  what pain medication was prescribed?  did baby latch on properly?

it just goes on and on through every itty bitty stage of pregnancy straight through to current life.  i have trouble remembering my own last name, people.  the minute details from 6 years ago are tough to excavate from the recesses of my brain.  but, alas, once the paperwork is complete an intake appointment is scheduled.  once you've completed the intake process an evaluation will be scheduled.  once you've had an evaluation you can begin treatment.  that is, if you can pay for it.

(we are actually, at this very moment, just beginning this intake process all over again as we have decided to pursue treatment at STAR.  i'll keep you posted on how it all goes down).

i also contacted our pediatrician who gave me a referral to the occupational therapy department at children's hospital.  i scheduled an appointment to have harrison evaluated and filled out all their dang paperwork too.  i was pleased at how things were moving along until i asked one very important question - "how much do you charge for the evaluation?" 

STAR's response was "$900".  children's hospital's response was "$1000 but since you are paying out of pocket we will give you a 30% discount, making it $700".

this is the part where you need to know i almost had a heart attack.  and i cried.  and i prayed.  and jeremy and i talked at length about the need - is this REALLY necessary?! - and we marinated on it for a couple weeks.  and we argued too.  and we backtracked - maybe harrison IS just a quirky kid.  maybe he will grow out of it.  maybe i am an overreacting and overprotecting and overworrying mom.  and SO WHAT if he doesn't like movies!  

you should also know that on top of my panic about cost i was having doubts about the short evaluation time.  how would someone, in just a one hour appointment, truly see what's going on with him?  how could that be enough time or interaction?  because, again, he is high functioning.  and he attended school with fantastic therapists who interacted with him daily.  and THEY didn't notice anything wrong.  how would a new therapist be able to really see...

i was afraid we were going to spend a bunch of money and not find out anything more than we already knew.

but deeper than that, i was afraid they were going to tell me everything was fine. 

and my gut was telling me differently.

ultimately, we made a conscious decision to error on the side of caution (if i was overanalyzing my son's quirks) rather than do nothing and look back with regret (if my son really does have some issues).  we also made a conscious decision to go back and ask our friend rachel for other ideas.

i sent her a text that read "rach, i really wish you could come out and see him"

and that, my friends, is how rachel came to our rescue. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

today is monday

we had a very productive weekend.  jeremy drove the boys to meme and papa's house after breakfast saturday morning.  he left our car there and brought home papa's truck so we could haul off some unneeded things from our storage/laundry room.  we got a new sectional sofa two weeks ago and it's welcome into our home has brought about "the great furniture reconfiguration of 2012".  my muscles are sore today from all the heavy lifting (a really great activity for sensory kids, by the way).

here's what we got rid of:
two truckloads of "stuff" to goodwill
one truckload of "stuff" to the recycling center
one truckload of "computer stuff" to the electronics recycling center
four bags of trash

 - the computer stuff included six cpu's, one monitor, two routers, one laptop, one printer, and the biggest size rubbermaid container full of cables, wires, keyboards, speakers, etc.
- my husband is a computer hoarder.
- the list above does not include the four cpu's, two monitors, one extra large flat screen monitor, one mac, one printer, one ipad, one windows tablet and two smart phones we still currently own.
- sigh.

anyway, the furniture has been rearranged, the stuff is gone and the house is clean.  i could not ask for more.  here's the thing about our house - people consider it peaceful.  i think it's peaceful too when two little boys are not jumping off things or flinging things or swinging from things or running around things or climbing on things or hitting i guess what i'm saying is that i don't really think it's all that peaceful.

BUT, i think the reason THEY feel it's peaceful is because we don't have much clutter.

clutter kills me.  it sucks the energy right out of me.  it makes me feel claustrophobic and panicky.  yes, i do realize i'm a wee bit hypersensitive to clutter.  hmmmm, hypersensitive.  there's that word again.

so i do try to keep a tidy home but it's not solely for my sanity, it's also because we just don't have much storage space.  our home is 1700 square feet.  that may seem small to some or large to others but i would say it's just about right for us.  i'm very content here.

another sidenote:
- i just introduced the boys to the word content as part of We Choose Virtues.
- the card reads "i am content.  i have my "wanter" under control.  i am not bored or greedy or always wanting more and i don't beg or whine."
- isn't that great?!
- perfect timing just before Christmas
- and, really, it's just perfect for life in general.

as i was saying, i am content here.  i cannot picture our lives happening any place else.  but part of living here is that we just don't have room for lots of extra stuff.  and i'm learning that simple is better. 

less is really is more.

i've been attracted recently to these blogs and this book and this book, which have left a deep impression on my heart with regard to how i live this life.  am i just filling up my home, my heart, my time with things of lesser value?  or am i being FULfilled by things of greater worth?

at this stage i can safely say it's a combination of both.  sure, we completed a good environmental clean-out this weekend but that's not the issue i struggle with most.  (although i still have some work to do inside my cabinets.  please, people, don't look inside my cabinets!  surface clutter = A+.  cabinet clutter = D).  what's harder for me to concentrate on is the work that needs to be done in my heart and with my time.  does my heart need a good cleaning?  does my schedule need an overhaul?  am i truly being fulfilled?  am i helping others to feel the same?  am i wasting my time?  am i focusing on what's of value?

at least i'm willing to ask the questions.

now if i could just get jer to ask some tough questions about all those computers.

Friday, November 9, 2012

the apple orchard

The last week of September was "A is for apple" week in our homeschool curriculum so we took a family field trip to Ya-Ya Farm & Orchard, which is approximately an hour north of us.  We invited Meme and Papa (Jeremy's parents) to come along.  Meme had been wanting to make and jar applesauce, so we made a day of it.  Unfortunately, the apple season arrived early (and was shorter) this year so we missed the "u pick it" opportunities by one week but we were still able to buy bags of apples, apple cider, apple cider donuts and apple blossom honey.  

This old truck was parked just within a barn that held antique farming equipment.  A perfect backdrop for a photo although I'm not certain the barn was actually supposed to be "on display".  Off limits or not, the boys thoroughly investigated every machine.

The white horse was Sweetie Pie, the biggest horse I've ever seen - taller and broader than a Clydesdale.  I wish I could recall the name of her breed.  Her baby, the black horse, was five months old.  Both of them were incredibly friendly.  Meme shelled out dollar after dollar so the boys could feed them carrots. 

 Meme and her boys.  Graham was just SO excited to have his picture taken, he couldn't hold still. 

 Papa and his boys.  It was very bright.  Can you tell?

This was while we were on a hay ride, being pulled behind a tractor, that took us through the orchard.  What a beautiful scene for a hay ride!  Incidentally, the tractor driver asked if anyone knew what type of flower apples are related to and Harrison was the only one who knew the answer because we had learned it during school.  Answer: the rose!

 Feeding the donkeys/beasts of burden/asses/burros/mules/democrats.  Whichever you prefer.

 Harrison took this photo.  Not too shabby.  We may have a future photographer on our hands.

On the antique tractor.

We were able to take our donuts and cider and sit at picnic tables nestled between the rows of apple trees in the orchard.  It was a lovely experience.  One that I hope we will visit again in the years to come.  If you are local, I would definitely recommend it as a relaxing and fun family activity!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

the checklist

after sara gave me the word "hypersensitivity", i began to google.  (i love that "google" has become a verb, by the way.)  it took a few days to find any useful information because i wasn't sure exactly what i was looking for and, therefore, wasn't typing in good search criteria.  hypersensitive + disney movies = 0 search results. 

as i was clicking on different links, though, i began to notice a trend - the words "sensory" and "sensory input" kept popping up.  eventually i found a sensory checklist and began tallying...

1) becomes fearful or anxious with light or unexpected touch
2) complains about having hair brushed
3) is a picky eater
4) gets motion sickness
5) loves pushing/pulling/dragging objects
6) chews on pens, straws, shirt sleeves etc.
7) fearful of the sound of a flushing toilet (especially in public bathrooms)
8) constantly putting objects in mouth past the toddler years
9) sensitive to bright lights
10) prefers playing by self with objects or toys rather than with people

as you read through that list of ten items what do you think?  not too much out of the ordinary, really.  i'm sure many children complain about having their hair brushed at one time or another.  i know lots of other kids (including graham) who cover their ears when a public toilet is flushed (those things are loud, man!).  i imagine every boy on the planet loves to push, pull and drag heavy objects.  i, myself, am sensitive to bright light and rarely go out under the colorado sun without protection on my eyes. 

i added up my tally marks and counted.  ten out of 100 or so isn't so bad, right? was my thought at the time.  the checklist didn't make me worry or cause immediate panic (which i'm known to do with very little provocation), it just gave me insight and armed me with descriptive words so i could ask more questions. 

my next step was to email harrison's preschool teacher.  many of you know about harrison's (and, now, graham's) awesome preschool, but i'll just highlight the details.  fletcher miller is a public k-12 school for kids with special needs.  they offer a 3 & 4 year old preschool program that integrates typical kids with special needs kids.  it's pretty amazing.  the typical kids are called peer models and they are there for that exact reason - to be a model for their peers.  one of harrison's friends from preschool was zak, a sweet blonde-haired boy with cerebral palsy who mostly communicates with an ipad.  harrison frequently talked about how he wanted to "wear glasses because zak does" and "have a wheel chair like zak does".  i love that my boys have some friends who are more like them, some who are less like them, but they are all still friends!  in fact, i've noticed graham discriminates between the boys and the girls ("mommy, i don't like girls because they like pink and purple and princesses") but i've never heard him distinguish the typical and the special. 

all that to say, the unique nature of our preschool provided for interaction with lots of different therapists.  speech, occupational and physical therapists, as well as special needs teachers, saw harrison each and every day yet no one noticed anything about him that warranted a conversation with me. 

so i emailed "teacher mary" (this was back in july).  i mentioned the lion king experience and the checklist and asked for her advice.  her response was very helpful as she encouraged me to trust my mommy instinct.  but then she wrote this:

"it will be difficult to find an evaluator who knows enough about sensory issues as harrison has been around therapists who know LOTS about sensory issues and who noticed he has some quirks but didn't think it was anything that would require intervention.  so make sure that you find a good evaluator."

she confirmed exactly what i was already thinking - i should go ahead and seek out evaluation but how in the world will i ever find someone who can determine harrison's issues if all these other therapists weren't able to?

that was the next step. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

a list of random things

1) the election.  this is what i know: 1) i'm thankful it's over!  2) everything happens for a reason!  are you getting tired of me saying that yet?  3) our election process sucks.  sorry if that word offends anyone but, really, it sucks.  if i could have my way i would change a few things... 
- nominees are each allowed 10 million in campaign contributions.
- funds raised above that cap go directly to paying down our debt, boosting social security, ending poverty in america, etc.  
- let's see how those candidates really can operate within a budget!
- excepting debates, ALL television air time concerning the campaign is eliminated.  no ads, no interviews, no guest spots on saturday night live.
- no paper ads in my mailbox either.  
- each candidate is allowed an interview with one reporter from each reputable national newspaper.
- if they want to reach voters who don't read newspapers they have to use their 10 million and get creative.
- let's see how resourceful those candidates can be!
- during debates if the nominees go over their allotted time the microphone automatically turns off so we cannot hear the rest of what they are saying.  my friend jillynn mentioned this idea on facebook (hi jillynn! good idea!)
- so that's it.  10 million.  televised debates.  newspaper articles.  no hanky panky.  wouldn't that be so much better?

2) thank you so very, very much for all the words of encouragement with regard to this blog and the things i write.  thank you for your prayers!  thanks for investing the time to read and learn (along with me) more about sensory processing disorder.  your support makes me feel stronger and more assured about this "great adventure", as my friend amy put it.  most of all, thanks for loving this cutie patootie...

3) this picture was taken at a local apple orchard about a month ago.  our family went there for homeschool "a is for apple" week.  i'll have to do a whole post on it and share more pictures.  it was fun!

4) just because i am serious in writing about our journey with spd does not mean i will stop  addressing the hilarious things that happen in our home.  after all, what would life be without a little laughter?  and, boy, does this family provide me with content!  just this morning both boys climbed in bed with us and, out of the blue, one of them casually said "my winky just keeps on standing up straight".  people, i couldn't make this stuff up if i tried!  i've been thinking we should change our last name to winky so this blog could officially become what's up at the winky house!

5) i made pepperoni pizza burgers for dinner last night.  oh holy lord!  they are not remotely close to being healthy - i'm sure jer's cholesterol went up 100 points - but whatever the consequences it was worth it!

6) our friend leslie took our annual family christmas card photos last sunday afternoon.  i haven't seen the results yet but i'm crossing my fingers for just one good one.  i love sending christmas cards mostly because i love receiving them but every year after christmas i wonder if i shouldn't have taken the money spent on cards (and postage!) and donated it to a worthwhile cause instead.  interestingly, one of leslie's clients is heifer international.  i'm toying with the idea of doing a paperless card for 2012 and buying some chicks and ducks and geese...better scurry when i take you out in my surrey.  when i take you out in the surrey with the fringe on top!  oh, hang on, i got side tracked.  you can't sing in high school show choir, and then live in oklahoma for ten years, without breaking out into the occasional musical number from ooooooooklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plains...

7) i think that's all i got for today.  as harrison says, "adios french toast"!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

why we homeschool

i mentioned yesterday that i believe things happen for a reason.  homeschooling definitely falls under that category.

there have been many times, during many conversations, when i have declared - shouted from the rooftops, even - I WILL NEVER HOMESCHOOL MY CHILDREN!  back before my horizons were broadened by motherhood i made other naive declarations.  my children will never talk back to me like that and my children will never ride in those germ-infested car carts at the grocery store are just two off the cuff examples.

here's what enlightenment has taught me: never say never.

kindergarten is a tough nut to crack in our area.  that is if you don't want to attend your neighborhood school.  and, for a handful of reasons, we do not care for our neighborhood school.  but colorado's school system has options.  as residents we can "choice enroll" into any school.  names are added to a waiting list on a first-come-first-served basis.  if the school has space available after all the neighborhood children have been accounted for, they will offer your child a spot.  the first round of choice enrollment begins on the first day back to school after christmas break.  so on january 4th of last year (seven months before harrison would start kindergarten!), first thing in the morning, i was driving around town dropping off enrollment forms at four area schools. 

prior to choice enrollment, back before christmas break began, we registered for the lottery at one other school.  this particular school made no apologies about their rigorous academics and i knew my  smarty pants boy would thrive in that environment.  it is not a neighborhood school so every kindergarten spot they had, which were filled by random drawing, were open to kids who wanted to choice in.  the parent meeting i attended - one of three - hosted approximately 200 moms and dads with high hopes of having their number drawn.

needless to say, we did not win the lottery.  nor did we receive phone calls from any of the four neighborhood schools where i dropped an application.  further, both cost and distance were deterrents from pursuing private education at the two christian schools we reviewed.  suddenly, in a state that boasts so many options i was feeling like i didn't have any!

and that, my friends, is how we stumbled and fell into homeschooling.

here's the thing, though: i whole-heartedly believe it was god's plan for me to homeschool harrison this year.


i'm stubborn like that.

so if everything happens for a reason...we didn't get into any schools because we were supposed to homeschool...we were supposed to homeschool because...during the summer before kindergarten, harrison's sensory issues would come to light...and when his issues would come to light homeschooling would provided lots of flexibility with regard to treatment opportunities.

that's reason enough for me but i have a feeling we'll continue to discover more reasons for homeschooling as our school year and spd journey progress.  when i do, i'll thank god for his amazing foresight, provision, and his detailed option-removal plan. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

it all began with the lion king

here at the white house we have plenty of screen time.

jeremy loves computers.  he works on them all day long only to come home and tinker with them all night.  i love television and would love nothing more than a constant stream of food network or hgtv playing in the background of my life.  it is for that reason i cancelled our dish network service in may of last year.  it was just too tempting for me to turn the tube on, sit down, and...become a boob.

sidenote:  jeremy and i went out of town back in august and stayed in a hotel for the weekend.  i watched the food network for the first time in more than a year and it felt like i was seeing my old friends - oh, giada!  ina!  i missed you so!  thank you so much for being my pals during those early years of mommyhood when i was nursing babies and chasing toddlers - i couldn't have done it without you.  i'm sorry i had to quit you but i'll always remember our times together fondly!

ok, moving on...

consequentially, our boys don't watch much actual television.  they do, however, have access to loads of videos either downloaded from the interwebs or borrowed from the library.  they began watching baby einstein videos before they turned one.  those held their attention for a good year or so and then we moved on to more "mature" cartoons - curious george, thomas the tank engine, and little bear are still favorites around here.

so the 30 minute video format was a hit with harrison but it was probably around age 3 1/2 when i realized he had never watched anything longer.  at some point i believe we tried to watch a couple disney movies.  i'm not recalling exactly which ones, nor do i remember his precise reaction to them.  i know he didn't seem to like them and we turned them off.  i DO remember it was at age 4 when harrison's preschool teacher told me the class was going to watch the movie cinderella  for "prince and princess" day at school and i explained to her that harrison does not like movies and he may get scared and not want to watch it.

now, at age 5 1/2, i can count on two hands the number of movies we've seen:
winnie the pooh
the tigger movie
horton hears a who 
lady and the tramp
the old 1970's disney robinhood movie

other than this list, any movie we've attempted to watch has been abruptly stopped.  in fact, even in the few we've actually seen, there were points when we had to fast forward because it was too scary for harrison.

and then there was the lion king.

this past summer, for some hair-brained reason, i decided it would be a good idea to have "family movie night" and watch the lion king.  i thought if we popped some corn, dimmed the lights, cuddled as a family and ate some m&ms harrison would enjoy the experience.  what was supposed to be a  fun family time turned dark very quickly.

within 15 minutes of showtime harrison was 1) hiding behind a chair 2) wailing 3) begging for us to turn the movie off.

the hyenas had scared him.

i pulled him into my lap, dried his tears and tried to get his breathing regulated.  then, for better or worse, i calmly explained that we were going to finish watching the whole show.

then scar tried to have simba killed.  mufasa rescued simba.  mufasa died.

harrison, who never really did stop crying, began wailing again.  my poor boy.

the rest of the movie continued on just like that.  he hesitantly giggled once or twice at timon and pumba, but most of the movie was spent crying and fast forwarding.

when it was finished harrison went straight to bed and asked me to come sleep with him.

i knew this.was.not.normal.

after relaying this story and expressing my bewilderment, my sweet friend sara suggested i look into hypersensitivity.  not OVER sensitive.  HYPER sensitive.  it was her highly intuitive advice that led me to research and, eventually, find sensory processing disorder.

the long and short of it is this:  i HATE that harrison was traumatized because of a decision i made to force him to watch the lion king.  BUT without having witnessed such a visceral reaction on his part, i never would have been concerned enough to mention it to my friends...and sara never would have suggested hypersensitivity...and i never would have figured out that there is an actual reason for what i always simply brushed aside as harrison's sweet little quirks.

it is my hope, as i continue documenting this journey, that you are able to see how everything really does happen for a reason.

for today, though, i'll close by saying thank you, disney, for scaring the crap out of my little boy.  i'll be forever grateful. 

**updated to add i have submitted this post to the spd blogger network

Saturday, November 3, 2012

the reason i write - sensory processing disorder

i did not have an opportunity to write yesterday because we had a visitor in the afternoon.  our new friend, juliana, comes to play with us each friday.  juliana is an occupational therapist and our play times with her are therapy for harrison.  more on that in a bit.

the reason i felt the urge to begin blogging again is complex.  i enjoy writing.  i enjoy writing daily.  it is somewhat of a creative outlet for me.  i typically write for the 30 minutes or so that the boys are in room time and that mid-day escape does wonders for my emotional state as the afternoon progresses.

more than that, i love chronicling our lives.  for quite some time facebook became an outlet for recording the "status" in the white family but this blog is a better venue for remembering the details.  i may, at some point, go back and review the funnier status updates from the past year or so and attempt to tell the story behind them.  i have come to realize i have a very poor memory.  i claim "baby brain" although i'm not certain it can solely be blamed on that.  i often wonder if it has to do with battling migraine headaches for more than 25 years.  whatever the case, i need all the help i can get in the remembering department.  writing out the details seems to benefit me.

mostly, though, as we are now adjusting to new information concerning our son, i wanted a place to process it all, to share with others who are going through similar circumstances, possibly to enlighten those who aren't in similar circumstances, a way of documenting where harrison currently is in hopes of one day seeing how far he has come, and a space to keep our family (and friends) apprised.

so, this all begs the question "what is going on with harrison?"

in mid september our sweet boy was evaluated and it was determined that he has sensory processing disorder.  i am still learning about spd but here's how one website explains it: "humans receive and perceive sensory input through sights, sounds, touches, tastes, smells, movement and balance, body position and muscle control.  difficulty taking in, or interpreting, this input can lead to devastating consequences with regard to interaction with others, daily functions, social and family relationships, behavioral challenges, regulating emotions, self-esteem and learning." (

that's a mouthful.  basically, harrison's little body (specifically his central nervous system??  i'm still learning) has to work harder than normal.  and because his body is focusing so much on functioning at a basic level (actually, it's not a basic level.  it's an incredibly-complicated, masterfully-designed, intricately-working, hard-to-understand-how-the-human-body-is-able-to-do-so-much-at-one-time-without-even-being-aware-we-are-doing-it level) he has a tougher time doing higher level activities such as interacting with others and regulating his emotions.  i will get more specific about all this in separate posts. 

like autism, spd is a spectrum disorder.  harrison would be considered high-functioning.  as his proud mama, i would say he is very high functioning.  :-)  this, of course, is good news!  and i am thankful for it!  but my heart is still heavy and my eyes still get teary as we negotiate this path.  my emotion comes from wanting the best for my son.  not wanting him to have to struggle.  not wanting him to have to work so dang hard to just be a kid.  trying to determine the best therapy.  trying to pay for it.  managing the guilt.  loving my precious boy unconditionally.  looking at him without picking out his weaknesses (just being honest).  seeing him for the amazing boy that he is 

it's an emotional journey.

as i mentioned at the top, harrison has started weekly speech and occupational therapy.  again, i'll detail this more later.  he isn't aware that it is therapy.  well, he may be aware on some level, but we don't call it therapy.  we call juliana our friend.  she is a super fun grown-up who comes to the house to play with him.  it's pretty special.

sigh.  i'm a bit drained from having actually written this out so i think i'll close for now.  i am grateful, though, for the platform and ability to write my thoughts and feelings.  this is MY therapy.

thank you for reading.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

one of my very best friends

a couple days ago i mentioned we were picking up a friend at the airport.  andrea, one of my oldest and dearest friends, flew into town from kansas city last saturday morning.  she left behind her husband, four children and full-time job because i sent out a distress signal.  it went something like "i'm a desperate housewife with a mundane life, please save me from myself".  and she came running (flying) like any good friend would.

i planned a very low-key girls night in, kicked my husband and two children out of the house and invited a bunch of sister chicks over for snacks and drinks.  it was a fun break from the ordinary.  as i told the girls, i just needed a time-out from giving time-outs.  of course we still ended up mostly talking about our children.  it seems that even though we need some distance from them, the little munchkins are never far from our thoughts and certainly never out of our hearts.  mamas tend to live and breathe their babies.  i'm no exception.  

the rest of the weekend andrea and i managed to go to whole foods, the mall, pei wei, ikea, michael's, whole foods again, and target.  that's more shopping in 24 hours than i typically do in a month.  andrea brought a huge duffle bag full of hand-me-down clothes that her sons have outgrown.  we emptied it out and she filled that sucker right back up with the weekend's purchases.  if there was an award for packing skills andrea would win hands down!  she would win lots of other awards, too - "most able to do ten things at one time", "most creative", "most able to maintain long distance friendships", "fastest talker", "amazing mom", "most able to balance work life and home life and social life and married life...".  i could go on. 

but the best thing about my friendship with andrea is this:  i can tell her anything - and i mean anything - things i wouldn't tell anyone else (except jer) and she does not judge or condemn or laugh in my face or talk behind my back.  she listens.  she commiserates.  she advises.  she shares in my joys and trials and walks through them right along side me.  she can be honest and direct with me - tell me i was wrong in the way i handled something or encourage me when i've done well or call me out on my b.s. - all without fear of losing the friendship.  and i can do the same for her.

it is incredibly rare when you feel safe enough in a relationship to reveal your unedited, authentic self.  especially, i've found, among women.  so i feel richly blessed and deeply thankful to have found a trusted friend with whom i can share life's crazy journeys.

thanks, ani d, for setting aside your responsibilities for a weekend to come rescue me from mine!  i love you, dear friend!