Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy 5th Birthday, Dominic!

My sweet baby boy is 5 years old today! He is my last child and my only boy so of course he holds a special place in my heart. I remember being pregnant with him and being worried that he would inherit whatever issues Anna had at that time, not knowing just how involved she was going to become. I did not find out the gender of Jenny or Anna, but I needed to know with Dominic. We paid for the 4d ultrasound so I could bond even more with my baby. He had so much personality, even in utero.

Don't you love this? It's like, "Hey, I'm a boy. Check out this package!"

Anna had no idea what she was in store for!

He was a beautiful newborn.

This was the first time Anna met him, she was so scared!

The first picture of my three children all together.

Dominic has always been photogenic, but he was a very serious baby. He would rarely smile, so it was a real treat when we caught a smile on camera.

What a cute baby!!!

This was on his first birthday. He took his first steps on his birthday, just like Jenny did.

I had a friend, who was a professional photographer, capture the family when Dominic was one. This was my favorite picture of him.

He's about 1.5 here, at the park. I was so smitten with him and this picture. What a cute toddler!

Dominic met all his milestones right on time, he has been healthy and active.

What a handsome little boy!!!

I love this pouty face, those eyes... oh my!

I think he looks suddenly much older at 4 years old.

I think he'll always have a baby face, what an angel!

Dominic, I love you so much!!!

Happy 5th Birthday!!! Thanks for sharing my walk down memory lane, the first five years in pictures. I'll share some pics from his party later this week!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday: Guilty pleasures

So I've been thinking a lot about pleasure lately, and why it evokes feelings of guilt while indulging in pleasurable things. Now I'm not talking about indulging in immoral acts or anything, lol... just the little things that we enjoy. Maybe I'm alone in feeling guilty, I am quite neurotic. Ha. I have several guilty pleasures; Photoshop, Starbucks Caramel Macchiato ice cream, and reading the obituaries are a few.

Working in Photoshop is a passion. I lose myself when working, I disconnect from reality, and I'm amazed when I look at the clock how much time has passed. Most of the time, I justify my time on the computer with how much I've done around the house. For example, I did 2 loads of laundry, spent an hour playing with the kids, and unloaded the dishwasher, so I can have 30 minutes of PS time, guilt-free. What the heck?! Where does the guilt come from? I feel like I always have to make sure my chores are done before my playtime.

Now I understand my guilty feelings about food, in particular, ice cream. I began having weight issues at age 17 and have been every size from 10 to 24 in my adult life. I seem to maintain a size 16 when I'm not trying and when I work at it, I can be a 14. I even made lifetime member in Weight Watchers years ago. Since having Dominic and especially since Anna started having seizures, my weight has stayed a bit on the heavier side than I'd like. I joked with a computer repair guy last month (as I handed over a batch of homemade cookies to thank him for fixing my laptop in one day) that I didn't get this curvy figure by eating salads. My newest craze is Starbucks Caramel Macchiato ice cream. OMG, this ice cream gives me tingles on the side of my face. I am almost 40 years old and if I want to eat ice cream, I should not feel so bad about it. Right?

I don't know why I enjoy reading the obituaries. My husband thinks I'm morbid so I hide it from him... in fact, reading them is something I always do privately. I guess it's a way for me to honor those lives, to read their accomplishments, their families, their legacies. When I see someone my age, it gives me pause and makes me take a breath in gratitude for my life. It's all so fragile and tenuous and I forget to appreciate it when I'm dealing with my day-to-day stresses.

I'm not advocating a completely hedonistic, selfish lifestyle, but I wonder why pleasure is so fraught with guilt. Maybe it's a mom thing, we are usually at the bottom of our own to-do lists. Maybe it's listening too much to what the "experts" say is good for us and bad for us. I think everyone knows someone who lived to be 75 and didn't eat the right foods and smoked and drank too much. Balancing pleasure and living in the moment with being thoughtful about the future is something I continually struggle with. But for right now, I'm going to sneak a spoonful of ice cream and not feel guilty about it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

No plans...

Today is one of those days where we have nothing planned and nothing specific to do... I wish it wasn't 100 degrees outside. Anna is having a really good week and it's been fun just hanging out with her. I have to say that parenting is much easier when you have happy children. Unfortunately, Dominic hasn't been happy. The Focalin has some negative side effects for him; it hits him hard in the morning and makes him very tired. He gets quiet and sedated, and all he wants to do is play video games. He doesn't want to eat or engage in any kind of group play activities. In the late afternoon, when it starts wearing off, he gets angry and mean, saying things like, "I hate you!" and "You're an idiot!" Needless to say, it's been rough going with him. We have a followup appointment with the neuro next week, but I'm going to send him an email today. (Isn't that awesome that our neuro accepts email from parents?) I just couldn't give Dominic the Focalin yesterday... he doesn't like taking it and recently, he looked up at me with these big eyes and said, "Mommy, I like my hyperness." Nope, this med just doesn't feel right. I also have a series of appointments set up with a child psychologist in early August... I'm hoping she'll have some additional guidance for us. So much of the time, I feel like I'm in over my head with my children. I've read parenting books, and even attended a few seminars, but these kids don't follow any of the rules... even those for challenges and special needs, lol.

I do have a little brag about my boy. He's 4 years old and is reading so well, it blows me away. Yesterday, I found him reading Baby Blue Cat and the Smiley Worm Doll to himself so I asked him to read it to me. He read it like I would, quickly, with inflection. It is really cool. He's also doing some complicated math. He'll look at the clock and note the time, like it's 9:43, then he'll say there is 17 minutes until 10 o'clock. He'll multiply 60 by 2 and tell people there are 120 minutes in 2 hours. He loves time. I think he'll be bored stiff in kindergarten!

I should be going... the massive SpongeBob SpongeBash this weekend left us with lots of new SpongeBob episodes taped, woohoo! Silly the things that make me happy. ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I followed through!

So I took Anna and Dominic to run a couple of errands this afternoon. We picked up dry cleaning and ran to the store for a few items for us and my mom (who is returning tomorrow night after being gone 2.5 weeks, boy have we missed her!). We were listening to the new Black-Eyed Peas cd in the car and we were all in a good mood. (My favorite track is Imma Be... anyone else like that one?)

We entered the produce section first and we had gotten about 4 items when Anna started not listening to me. She was touching fruit and wandering. This happened several times and I realized I had already spent more time redirecting Anna than I had shopping. I asked her to stay with the cart while I got some tomatoes in the corner and she took off as I was coming back. With a warning about her choices, I took a deep breath and thought to myself that I would just get the bare essentials on this run. Then Anna left me again to inspect some melons. I gave her a 3-count warning, telling her we would leave the store if she chose not to listen. She started returning to me on 2, so I paused. She decided, in that pregnant pause, to turn her back to me and resume what she was doing, so I said, "Three!" and went to fetch her. In the few steps back to the cart, she grabbed at a woman's hands, I think the woman was holding a cell phone and a grocery list. Apologizing, I abandoned the cart and we left the store. The entire way back to the car, she was trying to hit Dominic. It means that I will have to go back to the store later (we are completely out of milk) but I am really proud of myself. I've only ever left the store after having items in the cart twice before... it's really hard to do!

Once we got home, she seemed fine. Sometimes I have a hard time discerning if she is overloaded with sensory input at the store or if she's testing me. Somedays she can handle a lot of input, even crying babies, and somedays (like today), even a simple trip can be too much. Today, I can't really tell. I think I handled it well though, and I didn't raise my voice or get upset... I stayed nice and calm. I admit I have a hard time following through on every single one of my disciplinary threats. Dominic especially can be charming and manipulative enough to renegotiate consequences. I try to be consistent about the big stuff though and we have a set of family rules tacked up in the playroom. The kids are having some independent time at the moment and I am really enjoying the little break.

Remind me sometime to tell you about one or two of our worst public outings. They are doozies!

Monday, July 13, 2009

So proud!

Jenny just got her AP test results and she passed US History and English!!! Woohoo!!! I am so proud of her! She has been taking an insane level of AP classes in high school; this fall she will be a senior. She passed World History last year, so that means she will already have 9 college credits as a high school senior. I am so happy for her! Go Jenny!!!


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thoughtful Thursday: One of *those* moments

I thought I'd start a new weekly spotlight called Thoughtful Thursday. My mind is often full of stories, anecdotes, and blog topics, so each week I'll pick one about which to write. It will often be about being a mother to a child with special needs since the majority of my life is consumed and enriched by that role.

This week I want to share an experience we had a couple of days ago in PetSmart. I had taken Charlie, Dominic, Anna, Jenny, and Jenny's boyfriend, Chris, to PetSmart to get some puppy items. We were there quite a while and I was having trouble finding everything on my list. Anna started losing her ability to follow directions and cope (large stores, especially ones with florescent lights are difficult for her). Jenny and Chris did a great job walking around with her but Anna had reached her limit.

There were two employees talking in one of the aisles and we approached them to ask for assistance. Anna went up to the man and grabbed at some tape he was holding. She tried to take it from him and he said, "Oh no, honey, this is trash." She kept tugging so I said, "Anna, no. You can't have that. It's trash." She did her little smile that she does when she's chastised (it's common for kids with PDD-NOS to have an inappropiate reaction, especially with facial expressions) and ran off down the aisle. I called after her to stop, which she did... then she started pulling something off the shelf. I apologized to the man explaining that Anna doesn't always understand what is appropriate. He nodded, then we watched Anna run down the aisle, flapping her hands. The man looked at me sideways and asked, "Autistic?" I replied, yes, and he remarked, "One of God's special children." I said, "She is special indeed."

It's not often that someone will label her quickly and accurately because most of the time, she blends in pretty well. She is verbal and engaged, especially with adults. She wasn't even diagnosed with autism until she was five. The whole interaction with the PetSmart employee lasted maybe two minutes but is has stuck with me all week. I'm not sure why. I guess it's that I don't often see her through other's eyes though I wonder how people view her. People make judgments, that doesn't bother me. Maybe it was the matter of fact way he said it or maybe it was the hint of pity in his voice. Whatever it was, it made my heart heavy... for Anna and her struggles, for people that will see the label and not the little girl, for all the children who are diagnosed with this spectrum of disorders, for how hard it all is sometimes.

My thought for today is simply love. Love for my daughter, being her tireless advocate, educating people about autism spectrum disorders, helping her find her place in our society, searching for ways to help her while also accepting her exactly the way she is. Love for my family who is so incredibly supportive. Love for our neighbors who always include Anna in birthday celebrations and parties. Love for the people who meet us in public, who make judgments perhaps in ignorance, who offer a kind word. Love for my friends, online and in real life, who listen and offer a support, and especially for my special moms, my sisters in this special need journey who "get" it even when I don't.

I love you all.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Heard from the neuro...

Anna's neuro is not concerned about the change in presentation for Anna or the occurence of the myoclonic seizure cluster after her tonic-clonic/complex partial seizure. What will be different is that we will have to administer Diastat (and should have on Saturday)... he would consider this one prolonged seizure. If the Diastat doesn't stop the myoclonics, then we call EMS.

I thought those days would be over. When Anna was first diagnosed with epilepsy almost 5 years ago, she would turn very blue and not get enough oxygen; that sent us to the hospital twice. I asked for a pulse-ox and oxygen at home so that we could avoid calling EMS or going to the hospital. Once we had to give Diastat and it really affected her breathing, so I'm not thrilled about having to use it again. More often, we've had to use Ativan to stop clusters of tonic-clonics (and we got a new script for that since on Saturday I realized ours had expired in 2007). It has been a long, long time since we needed a rescue medicine. I don't know why her seizures have changed. Probably 90% of the time, she has a seizure due to fever... this weekend she was not sick. It makes me worry.

She has bounced back slowly. She is very fragile emotionally and very sensitive to noise, even more than usual. She's also having trouble with her words and pronunciation.

So on that happy note, lol, I'll share a couple of pictures from Saturday. The first one I edited a bit to make the colors pop and I added a vignette. I thought the little flag in the ground was just so poignant. The second picture is SOOC and I thought the shot turned out so nicely... with Dominic's back in focus and the kiddie train in the background. Such a typical, all-American, neighborhood parade for the 4th of July.

Thanks for looking!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

4 months and 2 days

When we got home from the parade, Anna seemed very tired. I wasn't surprised, it was very hot outside and Dominic woke us up at 6:30 this morning. She wanted to lay down, which did surprise me... so we laid down for a little while, she slept about 20 minutes, then got up complaining of a tummy ache. For the next couple of hours, she cried, moaned, whined, and really cried about her tummy. She wanted to lay down again and slept for an hour, then woke up suddenly, talked to me briefly, then fell back asleep. That's when the seizure hit.

This one lasted about 3.5 minutes, the first 45 seconds was a tonic-clonic (grand mal or convulsive), then the rest of the seizure was a complex partial where she had facial grimacing, lip smacking, and her eyes were dilated. For the next 10 minutes or so, she had about 6 myoclonic jerks (like when you are falling asleep and jerk?)... she's never had those before so I'll need to write to her neuro. It's been a rough day. She had 3 naps total and she didn't have a fever when the seizure started or throughout the day. After her last nap, she was hot at 101 degrees. Her last seizure was on her birthday on March 2nd.

I got some nice pictures of the kids and the parade this morning and of course, some cute ones of Charlie, so I'll post those when I'm not feeling so blue.

Happy 4th of July!

We are heading over to see our neighborhood parade in a little bit. The kids are excited because the folks on the float will be throwing candy. Poor Jenny has to work this morning. It's been so hot that I'm not sure how much we'll be participating in our community events today, but Dominic really wants to stay up late to see the fireworks. Anna is scared of them, of course.

I'm going to take Charlie to the parade... he is getting better and better everyday being on the leash. We start our formal obedience class tomorrow! He has been so amazing... we haven't even had him a week yet and he's already learned come, sit, shake, down, and roll over. There have been several times when Anna's been struggling or in a full-out meltdown and holding Charlie immediately calms her. He is nearly sleeping through the night already too and I'm so pleased to see him resting his little head on Anna's feet during the night. I wonder what's involved in getting him certified as a service dog? Thank goodness for Google, lol!

I hope everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July!

Friday, July 3, 2009

A new mini-kit from AnnaBV Designs

Anna has released a new mini-kit called Flower Power at ScrapMatters today.

Here's my layout:

Doesn't Anna make beautiful kits? Thanks for looking!
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