Thursday, February 28, 2013

the reason for the depression

my friend, chelsea, and i had planned to meet for dinner last night but with harrison's sickness, we ended up canceling. she was, legitimately, concerned about the things she was reading on this here website and wanted to make sure i felt supported and to see for herself that i really am making my way out from under the dark cloud that's been looming overhead. she's a keeper, that chels.

since we had to cancel dinner we've been chatting back and forth via email. i swear, email is the busy mom's best friend. the minute i get on the phone my boys turn into chimpanzees. just today, in fact, as i was attempting to talk with my dad, i had to abruptly hang up and reintroduce two tooshies to the ouchie spoon. sigh. but email they don't seem to mind as much. they tend to remain more human and less monkey when i'm online. i don't know why...i'll just take it while i can get it.

a big fat my email response to chelsea i addressed the reasoning behind the depression, or at least what i, at this point, consider to be the reason behind it. i copied most of what i wrote to her so you can read it too...

so here we are. 6:43pm. jer is finally done working and the boys are finally getting to spend some much needed daddy-time with him. and i am finally getting to write back to you.

your concern after reading my blog is a legit one. i was, honestly, quite concerned myself. so i guess that's one good thing: i was sane enough to KNOW i was not acting like myself, and to KNOW that i need to speak to a professional, and to KNOW that i might need some temporary medicinal support. but thankfully, i really do feel better! i still plan to talk to someone about my feelings, and to make an appointment with the GYN you recommended (to discuss a hormonal correlation)...but at least i feel like the worst is over! for which i am incredibly thankful!

it was really jer who prompted me to figure out THE WHY behind what was going on. as i was talking to him one night (i wish i could remember exactly when this was, but it was toward the end of my depression) he asked me, "why is this happening now?" he went on to say that he is confused about the timing given that we finally have harrison in a kindergarten we like and are finally getting ready to start therapy. he commented about how odd it was that i was falling apart at this stage in the process as opposed to earlier.

the morning after that conversation, i was in the shower and it hit's been a heck of a long year (decision-making, schooling changes, jer's job stress, spd craziness), and things are finally at a point where we can pass the baton over to people who can help harrison (his teacher and his OT), we are finally at the point where i can see the light at the end of the tunnel. so what i realized is that the depression was just the result of holding in all the stress, emotion, worry, pain, etc. over the past 6 months (at least). it was my body's way of "crashing" after such a long journey.
interestingly, jeremy came upstairs at some point that same morning and said, "i get it". he continued to tell me that he thinks what i was feeling was just "relief"...after "holding it all together for so long"...and "i could finally let go". i thought it was poignant that we both came to the same conclusion separately. and i really think we were, and are, both correct.

as you said, as moms we do our darnedest to help and support everyone else and we put ourselves last! and i will be honest in telling you that jeremy has taken the boys skiing on many saturdays over the past couple months, which allows for great alone time, relax time, rejuvenation time, or girlfriend time. i am fortunate that even though he does work long hours, he is incredibly helpful when it comes to the boys.  BUT, up until now (now that i truly am feeling better), i was wasting that alone time!  i was mostly sleeping or vegging out in front of the tv, or eating a ton of sugar (my body's way of trying to energize itself and my heart's way of trying to numb its feelings). now that my head is clearer, i think my free time on saturdays will be much more wisely spent in caring for myself!

so that's the gist of it. as i said in this post...acceptance is the first step in recovery? well, here's to hoping and praying that searching, discovering and understanding the reasons WHY will be the final step to kicking this blue-ness to the curb!

or maybe i should just introduce depression to the ouchie spoon. that outta make him go running for cover!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

real life conversations...

...that involve cold and flu season.

i cannot remember a cold and flu season that's been as nasty to us as this one. our family has experienced cycle after cycle of yucky bugs. in fact, as i type this, harrison is lying in bed with a 102.3 fever, home from school once again. sweet boy.

here are some snippets of conversations that have taken place recently, all having to do with our family ailments...

the scene: a couple days after graham had to go to the e.r. with a painful ear infection, the boys and i are sitting at the breakfast table. they are eating waffles. i'm not.

graham: mommy, are we gluten free?

me: no, only i am. gluten makes me have headaches.

graham: i have a headache.

harrison: no, graham, you have an ear affection.

infection. affection. cute little word switcheroo. 

another scene: graham has been complaining that his left foot hurts. (i think it may be because his snow boots are too small)

graham: mama, my foot hurts. i think i have an ear infection in my foot.

love him.

another scene: graham is sitting on the potty.

graham (yelling): MOMMY! my tummy was hurting and i had to go poo-poo and, guess what, i had the majorest poo-poo in the whole world!

me: oh good.

graham (still yelling): COME SEE IT!

still love him. but do not understand why boys SO enjoy looking at their poop.

and, with that, i'll leave you to the rest of your day! since harrison has some type of infection he's more in the mood to receive affection. i'm going to sneak some cuddles from my, typically, anti-cuddle boy! wish me luck!


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

the weekend recap

our weekend was fascinating as usual.

saturday morning i woke up with vertigo. i got out of bed and tried to walk to the bathroom and quickly realized something was wrong. it felt like i was walking sideways. i got back into bed, begged my husband to wake up, bring me dramamine, and make breakfast for the boys. in that order.

instead, he woke up, couldn't find the dramamine, yelled at me about not being able to find the dramimine, started making breakfast for the boys, yelled at me that the bread was moldy, tried to make toaster french toast sticks, yelled at me about not being able to find the toaster french toast get the picture.

our saturday started out gloriously.

and just to be fair, i yelled right back at him. from my horizontal position. vertigo makes you feel like you are going to vomit if you move but it doesn't hinder your ability to yell at the top of your lungs that the dang french toast sticks are on the bottom shelf in the freezer.

thankfully, he was able to finally find the dramamine (after i yelled the location). i took two and knocked myself into the kind of sleep every mom longs for and woke up 2.5 hours later feeling slightly better. i slowly got out of bed, showered, dressed and went about preparing a few things for a little surprise party the boys and i put together for meme.

saturday was her birthday. her 23rd birthday. that's her story and she's sticking to it. and we are all following suit. in fact, harrison informed meme that his teacher, mrs. brown, recently turned 24. "that means she's older than you," harrison said. "that's right," meme replied.

we arrived at meme and papa's house around 2:00pm to decorate. the boys and i had spent a couple afternoons making cards for meme and red and white bunting to hang. they also helped make vanilla cupcakes with strawberry frosting and chocolate covered strawberries. the strawberry theme was harrison's idea, "because meme loves strawberries". and, lastly, jeremy took the boys to get red, pink and white helium balloons.

balloons, bunting, baked goods. it's the birthday trifecta. you can quote me on that.

papa managed to get meme home at 3:00pm on the nose and she was very surprised to find her favorite people inside her house. it was a fun afternoon!

sunday i woke up feeling a bit better, still dizzy but manageable so, thanks mostly to modern medicine. lots and lots of beautiful, much needed, snow fell overnight and the boys were delighted to get to climb and play on the giant snow-plow-made mountain in front of our house. the whole family stayed in our pajamas all day.

sunday was actually, non-sarcastically, glorious.

what made it even better was that jeremy got to watch some of the daytona 500 and i got to watch some of the oscars. and you know what my take-away was? i think quentin tarantino is on the spectrum. spd spectrum? autism spectrum? definitely some kind of spectrum.

after all, the most brilliant minds typically are.

i have zero data to back up that statement. but i still believe it's true.

let see...moving on to monday...

the mom at harrison's school still really doesn't like me. sigh. i brought her delicious chocolove candy bars which didn't seem to help much. but she did kinda sorta give me the tiniest bit of a smile at pick up time, so maaaaaybeeee she's coming around. we shall see.

maaaaaybeeee i should park in the handicapped space again today and she what happens. ha! i know. i'm terrible. and i don't think i could deal with the consequences of actually carrying through with that idea. but if my life was a movie and i was watching jennifer aniston intentionally park in the handicapped space just to make someone mad, i would probably laugh. a lot.

just saying.

monday afternoon i took the boys with me down to the tech center (where STAR is located) for my appointment with juliana. this visit was to set our goals for therapy. we discussed quite a few goals, some more attainable than others. some more about training jeremy and me (specifically regarding modifying our behavior and the way we touch harrison) than "training" harrison. training really isn't the correct word as therapy isn't about training...but i have less than five minutes to finish this post and leave the house to pick up harrison from school.

the appointment was good. i feel confident moving forward. therapy begins march 18th. i'm telling you, STAR's schedule is jam packed! it's a lengthy process we've been through and i'm very much looking forward to the actual therapy start date!

okay...gotta go. happy tuesday to everyone!

Friday, February 22, 2013

my questionable musical tastes

i believe there are different levels of music for different moments in our lives.

having worked a minor gig in the music industry, i'm sensitive to the fact that not all music is good. in fact, a lot of music is really not good. at all. although it's safe to say my standards for determining "good" music would be less strict than cook's and ottley's standards.

much less strict. 

i recall a time when ottley needed to borrow my car because one of the bands we worked with - blindside, which is by far harrison's, and graham's, most requested musical choice - was in town and his car wasn't big enough to get them all where they needed to go. so off they went in my sedan. when ottley got back to the office he asked me "what in the world were you listening to?!!?!" i had left the volume cranked on a song i had, at the time, been obsessed with. it was by a christian band. a canadian band. not sure now who they were or what the song was. obviously, it was memorable.

that last sentence was dripping with sarcasm. just fyi.

when confronted with the fact that ottley and blindside, who are creators of very good music, discovered i'd been jamming to some really not so good music, i was embarrassed. sheepish. red in the face. just all together mortified.

but i had a justification.

ya know how, at that time, before the death of tangible and the birth of digital, you could buy a cd because it had one song that you loved? anyone else do that? just one song was all it took for me and that cd was a keeper.

well, whatever that canadian christian song was, it was speaking to me. and i had it on repeat in my car at all times.

that song was my anthem for that moment in my life. and it definitely was not "good" music.

which leads to my point...this is how i categorize the different levels of music:

first there's good music. like, really good music. respectable music. legendary music. but, then, there are times in life when you just don't feel legendary. maybe you are feeling stressed. maybe you are just in the mood for a more mellow vibe. second level music includes stuff like enya. are you feeling me here? and, lastly, when things get really bad, you might have to turn to christian music. i'm not talking good christian music. (some would argue if there even is such a thing). i'm talking this-song-is-speaking-to-my-heart-inspite-of-itself christian music.

and that's what i had cranked in my car that fateful day when ottley and blindside drove off into the sunset and forevermore questioned my musical taste.
fast forward ten years - TEN YEARS?! - and my musical tastes have grown to accommodate children's music. so what i'm saying is that things have gotten worse, not better. sigh.

and i've recently found myself a new anthem for this moment in my life. and it's another christian song. and if it was the olden days and i had to buy the entire album just hear this one record over and over again, i would do it.

by the way, did you know that's the correct terminology? a record is one song. an album is a collection of songs. just fyi.

and i would keep it on repeat, on high volume, in my car at all times.

because it speaks to me.

and, frankly, i think it could be anyone's anthem...for any time in life. depressed? needing a magic word? weary? dealing with life-changing disorders? or maybe you are just an exhausted mom? or an exhausted mom of a newborn? or an exhausted mom of a newborn and toddler? or an exhausted mom of a newborn and toddler who is potty training?


this song is for you. it's for me. it's for anyone. it's for everyone. whether they know it or not.

wanna hear it? click HERE.

you listen and tell me if it speaks to you, too.

and, ottley, if you're reading, whatcha think? can we put this song anywhere in the vicinity of the good music category? (wink)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

beef stew with mashed potatoes

okay.  so here's an iphone photo of the beef stew i made a while back. i mentioned it HERE. then i stumbled upon a post by the pioneer woman, who also made beef stew with mashed potatoes and i wrote about that HERE.

and today is snowy...and i'm NOT going to drive to the mountains to see my friend kylie...sad!...and i just so happen to have some beef stew meat thawed in the i'm going to make beef stew again today...and i realized i hadn't yet shared the recipe with you! shame!

so here it is. loosely based on this recipe from the pioneer woman.

bacon grease (if you have it or you can use olive oil)
2 lbs beef stew meat
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
4 beef bullion cubes
4 cups water
2.5 tbsp cornstarch
carrots, cut in 1 inch pieces
celery, cut in 1 inch pieces
mushrooms, quartered
mashed potatoes

heat bacon grease or oil in a large pot. saute the stew meat until brown on all sides but NOT cooked through. remove from pot and set aside. add a bit more grease or oil, if necessary. add in the onion and saute until softened and golden in color. if using mushrooms you can add them in now and brown/caramelize them on all sides. add minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant. stir in paprika, ketchup, parsley, worcestershire sauce, vinegar, sugar and salt. add in 4 cups of water + 4 beef bullion cubes. stir. add beef back in and simmer over low heat for 2 hours. after a couple hours, remove a bit of the beef broth and mix it together with 2.5 tbsp cornstarch to make a slurry. add the slurry into the pot to thicken the sauce. at this time you can add the carrots and celery (or any other vegetables you like). simmer for one more hour our until the vegetables are cooked through and the beef is very tender. serve over mashed potatoes.

**you can add in more water + beef bullion cubes at any point if you feel like the stew needs it.

this recipe makes my husband a very happy man. i hope it makes you and your husband giddy too!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

a list of 6 random things

1) i managed to piss off the mom of one of harrison's new classmates because i've been parking in one of the handicapped parking spaces when i pick harrison up from kindergarten. i explained to her that i've grown accustomed to doing that during school pick-ups because at preschool the only open spaces are designated handicapped and everyone uses them. she didn't seem to care about our preschool or their parking lot situation. i apologized to her and told her i would try to be more cognizant.

oh man.

2) when i dropped graham off at school this morning teacher mary asked me if we are looking for a new house. i said no. she then explained that yesterday graham told her we were looking at a new home "that had a hot tub and a swimming pool and two tvs!" i informed teacher mary that we had stayed in a hotel suite over the weekend that meets that exact description. funny to hear things from a little person's perspective!

3) today when i picked graham up miss rachel told me she overheard a conversation graham had with a couple of classmates. he pointed to a picture of jeremy and said something like..."hey guys, see this? that's my dad. wanna know why he doesn't have any hair? because he didn't wash it. so you gotta wash your hair or it will fall out."

4) i am coming out of my depressive funk. i think i'll write a whole post about it. but, for now, i just wanted you to know i'm doing better.

but i still hate doing the dishes and the laundry. and cooking meals. and wearing real clothes. and picking up my children's things. and making beds.

so i guess what i'm saying is I NEED A HOUSEKEEPER!! 

but, seriously, i am improving. i know this because i went to the grocery store today and i actually remembered to unload the groceries from the car!

5) so i do believe everyone has now seen the season finale of downton abbey, right? i knew it was going to happen. i called it, people. as soon as i saw him driving in that carefree...everything just as it should happy. i just knew it was too good to be true.

6) the other show i've been watching is the bachelor. i'm a channel surfer. and we get all of five channels (basically the networks and pbs) so most evenings jeremy and i watch something he's pulled down from the interwebs. but on nights when he's busy working or when i just have a few minutes to veg i'll flip through the stations mindlessly. and, of course, i end up on the bachelor or the biggest loser or...well, those are the only two shows that are coming to mind right now.  anyway, i hate the beginning episodes of the bachelor but when it gets down to the last four or five girls i find myself actually watching the show! can't wait to see who he's going to end up with!

jeremy tells me i'm losing brain cells by watching it. i tell him i already lost plenty of brain cells by carrying, birthing, and raising his children...a few more won't hurt. :-)

i do believe that's all i have in my brain to share with you today. we are supposed to get snow tonight and tomorrow...and again on sunday. on one hand i desperately hope we do. we really need the precipitation. and the boys love playing in it. however, my friend kylie is visiting from oklahoma and i was very much hoping to drive to the mountains tomorrow to see her! if they issue travel advisories i won't be able to go. so, snow or no or no travel...we shall see!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

crested butte ski trip

we had a great time in crested butte this past weekend. what a blessing to get to spend time with family, in a stunningly beautiful location, and participate in activities we love! (skiing for the boys and watching tv for me).

just kidding.

kind of.

our weekend started out with a smooth four hour drive. we got settled into our hotel suite (that we shared with meme and papa), ate some dinner and chilled out until bedtime. i noticed that graham didn't eat much which is unusual for him. typically, he has two hollow legs. he kept complaining that his head hurt and he was holding the side of his head. i had a slight concern that it was really his ear that was hurting, which was confirmed when he woke up crying just one hour after he went to sleep. he proceeded to wake up and cry, moan, hold his head, thrash around, curl up in a ball, and say "something is wrong" and "can i please go to the doctor?"until i finally decided we needed to go to the emergency room, which was a 30 minute drive back down the mountain.

poor guy.

indeed, he did have an ear infection. the hospital sent us home with enough antibiotic to get us through the rest of our stay and we headed back to the resort. needless to say, graham stayed home with meme and me on saturday and took a good long nap. harrison went to ski school by himself (which you know i was freaking out about). jeremy and papa skied all day, picked harrison up from ski school at 3:00 and took a couple runs with him.

the guys came back to the room, graham was feeling better, and everyone got ready to go for a dip in the hot tub, which is the boy's favorite part of any ski trip, second only to the actual skiing. in fact, they keep asking me when we are going to get a hot tub at our house. i told them we have one. but we call it a bath tub. they didn't buy it.

graham and harrison, in the bathrobes meme made for them, just before heading outside for a soak.

this was in the outdoor pool.

graham had a really awesome night's sleep saturday night. i felt like we were getting a "do-over" and was thankful he made such a quick recovery! sunday morning everyone woke up, put on their hot chillys and went down to the breakfast buffet. graham ate his normal healthy portions! he was ready for ski school! 

so the little boys walked with the big boys to the lifts. ski school doesn't begin until 9:30 but the lifts open earlier, so the four of them had time to take a run together before drop-off. what a great way to start the day! 

meme and i walked to the base a few times throughout the day to check on everyone, give graham his antibiotic at noon, meet jer and papa for lunch, and take photos.  the rest of this post will be very photo-laden!  

getting on the red lady lift.

off they go. love seeing harrison and graham's little skis in between papa and jer's big skis. 

here they come. 

off they go again. 

here they come again. papa leading them down.
 harrison in the blue helmet, graham in the green, jer bringing up the rear.

graham is pouting because the lift had closed and he couldn't go back up again.

so they took a little snack break. food makes everything better.

and then they went to play on this cute little tree fort that was at the base.

 my handsome husband.

big boots, little boots, little boots, big boots.

harrison took this photo of meme and papa. i love it.

last shot before heading back to the room...and another dip in the hot tub!

but not before we took a photo op on the ice bench. 

 harrison took this pic of me. 

monday morning came too quickly. we loaded up the car and the kids and headed back to reality. the only thing that could have made the trip better (aside from erasing the first night's complete lack of sleep and e.r. visit) would be to stay another day...or two...or three... 

crested butte, we'll be back!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

extreme candyland - a "sensational" way to play the classic board game

so last time i wrote (which seems like eons ago but was really only five days ago) i told you i'd share a super fun, but also therapeutic (if we are using "therapeutic" in the getting-more-sensory-input sense of the term, not in the mama-needs-a-break-from-reality sense of the term) play idea.

the very first time juliana came to play with us she asked harrison what he wanted to do and he suggested candyland. the board game. the let's-all-sit-around-on-the-floor-and-not-move, very sedentary board game. sure, there is some conversation that needs to take place - who gets to go first? what color guy am i again? oh, yes, i'm winning! oh, man, i'm losing! - but, mostly, it's just a draw a card, move your guy, wait your turn kind of game.

well. no longer. because sweet juliana had some tricks up her sleeve and she taught us how to turn boring old candyland into what we like to call extreme candyland! as you can see from harrison's sentences below (for a homework assignment he had this week), it's now his favorite game. or his favrit game. either one.

"candyland is my favorite game. miss juliana made it fun." makes this mama's heart happy.

so how do you play? i'm glad you asked! first, you sort out all the single square cards and set them aside. extreme candyland is played with the double squares and the character cards. it makes the game go faster.

then you make a plan. you decide on an action/activity/interaction/exercise/etc for each color card and write it down. it could be anything from "wiggle your hips" to "do jumping jacks" to "army crawl across the floor" to "walk on tip toes" to "shake your booty" to "spin in circles"...something that you could do ten times or for 10-20 seconds. have fun with it! be silly with it!

here's the plan juliana made the first time we played (we make new plans each time we play just to change things up a bit)...

once you have everything in place you're all set to play! i'll show you some of the fun actions we do...

donkey kicks - they are kind of hard to describe. basically, bend at the waist and put pressure on your hands/arms while kicking your legs and toosh upward and then coming back down to land on your feet.  does that make any sense at all?!

the next two are a variation on the same thing. here's the superman - lie on tummy while lifting legs and chest off the floor. hold for a ten count.

or you could do seal claps - lie on tummy while holding legs and chest off the floor. clap your hands ten times.

make a silly face - here's the progression of how silly faces turn out at our house...

please pardon my son's nakedness. he's a wild one.

wiggle bugs - lie on back. pull knees to chest. pull head off floor. wiggle arms and kick legs for a count of ten.

another one we've added recently is to bounce on a ball ten times...

any type of jumping is usually the favorite movement around here - kickbox jumps, scissor kicks, jumping jacks - and at the end of the game, no matter who wins, we've all had a great time!

and managed to get some sillies out!

and get some sensory input in!

what i've learned from the occupational therapists whom we've been blessed to know (and from the speech therapist who used to come play with harrison so long ago), all it takes to elevate a normal activity is a little bit of imagination. all you have to do is ask, "how can we do this differently? what can we do to make this more active instead of passive?"

the answer is usually simple. it doesn't have to be hard. that's the beauty of it.

so, as i've said before, god bless occupational therapists! and in this case, god bless juliana!

without her, candyland would still be just a sit-on-your-toosh board game.

we are all thrilled she showed us a more "sensational" way to play!

Friday, February 8, 2013

so, what happens next?

after reading my last post regarding our journey with sensory processing disorder you'll know that we've received the results of harrison's evaluation and you'll remember that harrison's sensory system gets dysregulated too easily. remember the graphic i showed you? essentially, he is in fight-or-flight mode quite frequently. too frequently.

sweet boy.

sidenote: i'm sure you can imagine how this fight-or-flight state could easily cause sensory kids to develop anxiety issues. they are always wondering, worrying, about what might set them off next. i can see tidbits of anxiety in harrison, but nothing concerning at this point. our hope is to head that off.

so. all this begs the question, "what are we going to do about it?"

the goal of therapy is to increase the size of harrison's "optimal level of arousal" window (go back and look at the graphic again if you need to) so that he does not become dysregulated as easily or as often. therapy will also teach harrison, and retrain his brain/central nervous system, to regulate himself so he doesn't spend as long up in the "sensory overload" area and can level out more quickly.

another sidenote: did you know that the very first stage of development - the very first thing babies learn how to do - is self-regulation? at first we moms need to help our babies regulate. maybe we swaddle them, or swing them, or rock them, or sing to them. but quickly they learn how to soothe (aka regulate) themselves. it's the foundation of who we are as human beings.

this is a picture rachel ottley drew for us when she was explaining what spd is all about. notice #1 says regulation. it's the very first stage of development. #6 is logical and emotional thinking.

this graph shows the same thing. basically, if there are missing pieces in the foundation, the higher level elements at the top of the pyramid might also be cracked. in harrison's case, the higher level areas he struggles with are social participation, interactions with others, emotional regulation, emotional thinking and communication. the reason he struggles with those things is all because his over-responsive sensory system causes him to get dystregulated.

harrison's foundation is cracked.

therapy will repair those cracks.


the honest is answer is that i have absolutely no idea.  that's why god made occupational therapists. and god bless occupational therapists! man, they are incredible people! what would we have ever done without our precious occupational therapist friend?

what i do know is this: therapy will look like play time. fun, exciting, tons-of-movement activities. STAR's first rule is that harrison has to LOVE it, or they won't do it. they will monopolize on the things harrison enjoys and the things he does well in order to build up the areas in which he struggles.

it's also our understanding that juliana, harrison's OT, acts as a co-regulator. her job is to play with harrison, notice if he is becoming dysregulated, help him regulate, then once he's back to "normal" she will create a problem for him - something that he might struggle with, something that might cause him to dysregulate - and then she'll help him regulate again. it's a cycle.

and all the while harrison will be having fun.

like i said, incredible people, those OTs!

now. i might not be explaining therapy correctly. heck, i might not even be understanding it correctly! all that matters, though, is that juliana understands harrison and she knows how to help him. and she will be teaching jeremy and me how to help him, too.

so, all good things.

next time i'll share one example of how we do "therapy" play sessions at home, which would be fun for any child, not just sensory kids. rachel modeled how to play with harrison in a therapeutic way while she was here back in september. and juliana has given us some ideas too. i'm sure once we begin our actual therapy appointments at STAR we will learn much more.

alright. off to do something productive around the house.

ha! if you believe that i've got you very fooled! :-)


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

what's been up at the white house

uno - i have one addition to yesterday's list of reasons why i just might possibly have a touch of the depression: if your friend's husband happens to see you while you are outside checking the mail and asks how you're doing and you start crying, then, yes, that could be a sign that you are in a not-quite-right emotional state.

not that that's ever happened to me. nope. not me.

and this isn't the current state of my kitchen:

nope. not mine. there's no way i would let a mess like that accumulate. never. 
dos - even though it's true that i've been a bit blue/down in the dumps/downcast/gloomy that hasn't stopped us from doing some fun things around here. it might have stopped us from doing the dishes. but dishes smishes, i always say.

tres - we made love bugs, as found in an article in highlights magazine. i cannot find the exact link - sorry! harrison saw the idea and wanted to make them. i happened to have everything on hand so we got out the supplies and put them together last saturday morning. even jeremy got in on the action. they are just a paper heart glued or taped to a tongue depressor.  then draw a face or glue on googly eyes and tape on some kind of antennae. both harrison and graham were able to complete every single part of this project by themselves!

we took turns putting on a puppet show, which entailed turning the couch and the curtains into a stage...

cuatro - we've been doing quite a bit of reading! i have a new obsession...

books by chris van dusen. it all started when i began looking for winter/ski themed books to check out from the library. i stumbled upon learning to ski with mr. mcgee, which is a fantastic book that both boys loved reading again and again. the back cover of that book listed other "mcgee" books that i knew i just had to read as well. and the library also had king hugo, randy riley, and the circus ship. i love them all! the illustrations are beautiful, the stories draw you in, but the best part is the rhyming poetic way the stories are told! HIGHLY recommend these books!

cinco - we've been able to be an encouragement to others... 

"dear chloe, i hope you get better soon."

we put together a get-well present for a friend who was just released from the hospital after a crazy, scary bout of croup/stridor. harrison needed help spelling chloe's name, but he wrote the rest of the card all on his own. i love watching his handwriting and his spelling improve! it's amazing how kids learn this stuff!

we rejoiced with a friend who's husband has been looking for a job! he got one - a better one than he could have imagined - an answer to prayer! and through it all we watched them maintain such faith and have such peace!

we tried to be supportive of friends who are just now beginning the process of evaluation and treatment for their own son's developmental delays; speaking encouraging words - life giving words - and just letting them know we are here to walk beside them through it all. it's not much, but sometimes, it's just enough.

here's what all this teaches me...

even in the midst of sadness, there is joy. even during times of trial, there is peace. even when you don't feel loving, you can still BE loving. even when you are discouraged, there is still the ability to be an encouragement to others.

for these opportunities i am thankful.

because being a blessing to others really ends up being a blessing to ourselves.

and seeking out the fun things, the good things, the silly things, the opposite of the dirty-dishes-still-in-the-sink things is really what makes the days here at the white house a little bit brighter.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

16 signs you might have a touch of the depression

1. it's hard to get out of bed in the morning.

2. you stay in your pajamas all day.

3. when you do get out of your pajamas, you put on yoga pants, which is the socially acceptable equivalent to pajama pants.

4. you've worn real clothes and applied make-up only one time in the past three weeks, maybe longer.

5. you have become sedentary.

6. you have eaten an entire bag of bbq potato chips. in less than 24 hours.

7. you have gained weight.

8. you have caught yourself saying "i'm too tired to..." about lots of things.

okay.  so, most of these things can simply be chalked up to motherhood.  how bout these...

9. you have caught yourself saying "i don't have the energy to..." about lots of things, but mostly with regard to any kind of decision-making.  you are d.o.n.e. making decisions.

10. you have turned down invitations, cancelled plans, avoided phone calls.

11. you started paying your children to make your bed instead of doing it yourself.

12. you are being more forgetful than usual.

13. you have realized you are WALKING THROUGH YOUR LIFE IN A DAZE.  for example,

a. you forget your son's backpack (including his snack).

b. you drive around all morning with said backpack in the passenger seat next to you and still didn't realize you forgot to give him his backpack until you pull into the school parking lot to pick him up.

c. you walk in to the school, apologize for forgetting his snack, and the teacher tells you that you actually carried the backpack on your shoulder into the school that morning, and then right back out of the school. you tossed the backpack onto the passenger seat and drove off. you remember none of this.

d. you make your weekly trip to the grocery store, get home, do some chores...whatever...and it's not until you get back in the car 1.5 hours later that you discover you never unloaded the groceries.
e. you forget to turn off the burner on the stove.

f. worse, you turn on the wrong burner.

g. you leave the house with the wrong burner on, expecting to come home to warm soup but discover, instead, that you've completely melted a plastic measuring cup.

h. you have to set an alarm in order to remember to pick up your children from school.

and the daily tasks have become so exhausting...

14. you realize your children are looking at you funny so you look in the mirror to discover that your inner hairy iranian has risen to the surface. girlfriend, you need to pluck those eyebrows, wax that lip, and stop frightening the children!

yes, plucking my eyebrows is a daily task.  like i said, hairy iranian

15. you serve lunch to your frightened children only to notice you never cleared the previous night's dinner plates, or the breakfast bowls, from the table.

16. your family is using disposable plastic cutlery because you simply

so...i think i'm a wee bit depressed. what do they say? acceptance is the first step to recovery? if that's the case then, lord willing, this post will serve as the turning point and things should be improving soon.

one thing i know, this didn't come on overnight. and it won't get better overnight. but it will get better.

until then i'll be the one stuffing herself (and her feelings) with homemade reese's peanut butter cups and wallowing in the ever-growing mountain of laundry.

Monday, February 4, 2013

congratulations to the pigeons

our weekend was uneventful. the boys had planned to go skiing on saturday but then had to cancel their trip because papa needed to take care of his mother, granny white, who was having some health issues. harrison and graham were sad that papa - and, therefore, they - couldn't go skiing but attempted to convince jeremy that they could "ride the chair lift by ourselves and we won't fall off".

jeremy did not want to give his wife any more grey hairs so he informed the boys that there will be no solo chair lift riding for a very, very long time. or until mommy is dead and buried. whichever comes first.

we just hung around the house on saturday. the boys took a trip to the home depot for light bulbs - mostly CFLs, but also some LEDs, which proves my point that you need to be a genius to purchase light bulbs these days. as if trying to demystify the various watts and volts isn't already enough to give me more grey hairs, now i have to determine the actual type of bulb i need. so i leave the bulb hunting to the man who has already lost his hair. at least he doesn't have to worry about it turning grey. and also, unlike his wife, he won't be found in the middle of the home depot pulling his hair out.

over the course of the weekend we turned down a number of invitations to super bowl events. mostly because i came to the realization that i'm depressed. i just don't want to leave the house. or be around people. or do the dishes. or the laundry. but i guess those last two are nothing new. i think jeremy is ready to exchange me for a new model. someone with less grey hair might be nice but i'm sure, at this point, he'd settle for a wife who can actually get out of bed in the morning.

on sunday jeremy took the boys up north to meme and papa's house because papa's brother, uncle ivan, was visiting from chicago. i opted out. and i stayed home, and i stayed in my pajamas, and i stayed on the couch, the entire time they were gone.

and then jeremy came home with symptoms of the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, stomach bug that's been making it's way throughout our family. i'll spare you the details. after all, i don't want to give you any grey hairs. needless to say, i got up off the couch and he laid down.

all four of us were in pajamas well before kickoff and we snuggled together to watch the super bowl. harrison was rooting for the 49ers, or "the red guys" as he put it.  graham cheered for the ravens. except he kept calling them "the pigeons". so the red guys and the pigeons battled it out.  when graham woke up this morning i told him he chose the right team - the ravens won the super bowl! he said, "YES!  I LOVE TO WIN!"

i'm sure that's exactly what all the pigeons were saying too.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

a real life conversation...

...about a cavewoman.

the scene:  graham and i were lying side by side on the couch, head to toe.  he reached his sweet little hand up my yoga pant leg and said...

graham:  mommy, you need to shave your legs.

me:  i do?  why?

graham:  (while rubbing his hand up and down the front of my leg, from ankle to knee) because they feel fingernail-y... they feel whiskery... (still rubbing and, now, talking to himself) whiskers, whiskers, whiskery...(talking under his breath now) ouch, ouch, ouch.

i have no comment.

i plead the fifth.

i refuse to respond on the grounds that i might incriminate myself.

happy saturday to you! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

the results are in

as i mentioned before, jeremy and i had an appointment at STAR to find out the results of harrison's evaluation.

one thing we were not surprised about:  harrison did very well on the evaluation.  he is a very intelligent little boy.

one interesting fact we learned:  lucy miller, the doctor and occupational therapist who founded STAR and the SPD Foundation, conducted research of typical school age children and found that 5% of them have some type of sensory struggle.  then she did the same research in schools for gifted and talented children and found that 35% of them have sensory issues

food for thought.

one thing we were surprised about: harrison scored well - surprisingly well - on the auditory test.  here i thought he was having so much difficulty inferring meanings from the short stories but he actually scored above average in that area!  he scored average, or above average, in every area of the auditory test with exception to one.

the section i described previously when harrison was wearing headphones and two different sentences were spoken (one in each ear) at the exact same time...he completely shut down and did not even try to answer at all.  the speech pathologist honestly believes, though, that harrison was quite capable of repeating those sentences.  but when he missed the first two, the perfectionist in him kicked in...and then he may have gotten a bit dysregulated...and he didn't even try to respond after that.

again, they are going to repeat that portion of the auditory test at some point but therapists felt confident moving ahead without it at this point.

all that to say, our original hypothesis, based on what rachel ottley observed, was that harrison's main struggle is auditory processing.

these scientific guesses are just that - a best guess based on what was observed at the time.  only continued time, and therapy, will reveal whether the hypothesis was correct, or partially correct, or incorrect...and then adaptations can be made.

the new hypothesis is that harrison's main struggle is modulation, specifically sensory over responsivity.  imagine our bodies as cups.  all day, every day, our cups are being filled with sensory input.  typically, our bodies are able to easily process the input.  and we can keep our cups regulated so they maintain a fairly even level of "stuff" at all times.

harrison's cup is very small.

and his body has a hard time processing the input that's being put into the cup.

therefore, his cup is overflowing.

and what happens when you've got a cup that's overflowing?  it creates a great big mess.

here is a fabulous graphic that really helped me understand what harrison is going through:

in the center of the chart is our optimal level of arousal.  as we go throughout our day we may experience events that spike our arousal levels up into the sensory overload area.  for example, your alarm blares to wake you up in the morning so your arousal level shoots up.  but then you get into the shower, your body regulates, and your arousal level comes back to normal.  then you get to the office and every one is running around because you forgot to do something.  so your arousal level shoots up again.  but then you make a plan, make a couple calls, get the situation under control and you regulate back down to normal fairly easily.  our days are full of this type of arousal activity.  but our bodies are able to, for the most part, maintain pretty middle-of-the-graph levels. 

now.  when harrison's arousal level shoots up (because of loud unexpected noise, because i yelled at him, because daddy tickled him, because he got excited, because he saw something scary on tv, etc) it is MUCH HARDER and takes MUCH LONGER for his body to regulate and for his arousal level to come back down to optimum.   

also, you'll note how the optimal level on the graph above is approximately 1.5 inches tall.  with sensory kids, that window is shorter.  maybe half that size?  which makes it MUCH EASIER for harrison's levels to shoot into sensory overload.

so harrison's days are full of spikes.  his body is not able to maintain a middle-of-the-graph level.  he is up and down, up, up, up, up, still up, and down, and back up, all day long.

it's hard to imagine how that might feel.

**one note.  an important one.  i am not a therapist.  i really have no idea of which i speak (or type).  i'm just doing the best i can to understand all this stuff myself.  but i want to relay what i'm learning so that you can better understand too.  so...please, pretty please, just know that.  and forgive me if i've misinterpreted or misexplained anything in the above paragraphs.  or just anything at all ever.  ok.  thanks!

i need to go pick up the kiddos from school...and i think this is as good a place to stop as any.

catch ya later!