Olive Background


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jackson is 7!!


The little boy who no longer wants to hug and kiss his mother but will cuddle with a teddy bear is now 7. No, I am not bitter.

There is an excitement seeing your babies grow up. There is a sense of sadness seeing your babies grow up....at least for some of us. You know who you are.
As he continues to grow there are things I am certain of:

- Soon at least 3 out of 4 of my boys will grunt as their main form of communication. I leave Jared out of that because I don't ever expect him to shut up. It's physically not possible.

- I am not going to have enough bedrooms to keep up with the demand for privacy.

- My refrigerator is going get empty faster than it already does.

- My house is going to smell like stinky armpit more than it already does. I do buy pit stick, but it is used sparingly.

- I will be out of the birthday party phase soon. YEAH!!!!!

- Braces.

- Wisdom teeth removal.....before the braces.

- An empty house during winter camp!!

- Tall, handsome men who fear their mama - 5' 2"

- Girls.....nothin' but trouble.

Ahhh.....all my babies are growing. It's a little scary seeing what some may refer to as the light at the end of the tunnel. I don't know that I would call it that. I didn't have children so that I could endure a third of my life. I want to enjoy it, warts and all. And I do enjoy it.

But Jackson, promise me that out of the blue one day you will give me that hug and kiss that I miss so much.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bathroom Number 2, Part 1

Sean has begun the work of transforming bathroom number 2. Our plans have drastically changed for the renovation since the real estate market turned nasty. We have a two piece ensuite that was going to become a walk-in closet for the master bedroom and the existing closet in the master was going to become part of bathroom number 2. With me so far? Since the expense to make those changes were high, we opted to keep both bathrooms as is, but updated.

This is the texture of the walls. Someone thought it would be cool to wallpaper with some funky design and paint over it. It's almost impossible to remove in some places. We were able to peel it of around the shower, but may be left to try to sand off as much as possible for the rest. I think the finished work will still look textured, but a little less "in your face".
My biggest fear was the toilet and what was underneath. This picture was taken after we cleaned the linoleum. This is an area that smelled worse AFTER I cleaned it. As expected the subfloor under the lino is mushy and smelly. So no real surprises here, but a bummer nonetheless.
Before we run out and buy a new tub, we are going to try to salvage this one the best we can. There is some peeling going on and some bad patch jobs. We would like save ourselves the expense of ripping out and installing a new tub, which we will do if we have to, but we thought we would take our chances.
Say "bye, bye" to the green. I will be so glad to see it go. Sean is going to paint the existing tile white. That was not our original plan, but it was another area where we could save money. Bathroom number 1 turned out so well that we hope to have the same outcome on number 2.
The sink, fixtures, and base cabinet are all being replaced. The wall mirror/cabinet will stay and painted darker.

There's the plan. Sean is doing all the work on this one. I'm at work and he is spending the days that are too cold to work on this little project. I am looking forward to taking my first bath in this bathroom. Up to this point I just wouldn't dare.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines Shmalentines

Anyone who knows me knows I am a complete Grinch when it comes to Valentines Day. I also get grumpy around Mothers' Day. I find no shame in it and I am not about to change my ways. I just feel that we shouldn't have to wait until a specific date on a calendar or await the heralding of Hallmark angels to show our sweeties and mommies that we love and appreciate them. Minus some important holidays, there are 360ish other days to make me breakfast in bed and treat me like a queen.

I don't know when I started to dislike February 14th. I am sure I've blocked out a number of unpleasant memories of unrequited love.....that would mean my love was unrequited.....and memories of watching the boy I was completely in love with dancing the last dance with some other girl in junior high school.

Just to show that I was not slouch back then, a friend from junior and senior high school came up to me at our 20th reunion and told me how much he had really liked me back then but was too scared to do anything about it. He was pretty drunk that night, but hey, I'll take it.

When Sean and I were married, I let him know that Valentines sucked and not to bother with it. He's been more or less compliant on that issue over the years. But now we have kids. They make gifts and cards for moms in art classes. They bring home class lists to aid in the preparation of a gazillion Valentine cards. Every year it looms in my face. Christmas is done. New Years is done. Now come Valentines.

Last night I did something. It was kind of celebratory. The whole time I was planning it I was in disbelief that I would cave. I invited over a family for dinner and a Valentines Party.

Karri has become a good friend. She's very nice and she quickly invited our family over for dinner when we first moved here. We go out for lunch occasionally. Our oldest boys are friends. I have not invited anyone over while the major portions of our renovations were happening. Now they are mostly done. So I invited Karri and her family and we had such a good time. She and her husband have 4 kids too - all close in age to mine.

So I've done it. I did Valentines Day and I had fun......but don't think for a moment that I will change my ways. I will still bah humbug the whole affair and exclaim from the rooftops that there are 360ish days a year..........

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cub Car Rally

A couple of nights ago Jordan and Jared participated in the Cub Car Rally at church. Those rallies are always such an interesting thing. Overall you could tell that the boys were mostly responsible for the design and look of their cars. Obviously you don't let the kids near the power tools, but everything else the boys can do. You get the odd dad who turns his kid's car into a bullet, but for the most part everyone was equally mediocore. It makes things much more fun.

Everyone received a trophey at the end. Jordan got a certificate for his car design and Jared got one for his sportmanship. We had a LONG talk on that subject.

I suppose I will have a few more years of this since Jackson has yet to go through the Cub program. He's looking forward to it already.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Toothless



Jackson is so pleased to have lost his two front teeth. The new teeth are coming right in.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

When Mom's Not Watching


This week I heard stories from two different individuals about Jordan that melted my heart and made me determined to keep him once and for all.

Jordan is our #2. He flies under the radar and it's not hard to see how.

When James was born, there was a lot of fuss. He was the first child, grandchild, and great grandchild on both sides of the family. He got a lot of attention.

Jordan came along 2 1/2 years later. He was a great baby, though he had this look he would give me (even in infancy) that indicated that perhaps he didn't think I was competent enough to be caring for him.

14 months later Jared pops out and all hell breaks loose. Well not really, but Jared is a handful and he was SO entertaining. He was also fairly high maintenance.

2 1/2 years after that Jackson arrives. He is the youngest and at almost 7 years old, I still treat him like my little baby.

So James is the beloved eldest, Jared sucks up people's attention, Jackson is the sweet baby.....Jordan can often be the forgotten one. I hate that, but that is how life has been for him and not just from his family.

So you can imagine my joy when I heard about these two events.

At school a few months ago, Jared lost his water bottle before school. This is a bad thing and he was very concerned and upset and completely fixated on this bottle. Jared's teacher, who is amazing, did all she could to help him and calm him to no avail. So she went over to Jordan's classroom across the hall to get his assistance. She wanted him to help Jared retrace his steps and look for this water bottle. Jordan agreed to do it, of course, and just calmly put his arm around Jared's shoulder and walked him down the hall telling him it would be okay.

A few weeks ago in Cubs Jared was having difficulty with an activity. Jared has challenges with following instructions and fine motor skills and was getting agitated. Jordan went to help him, again calmly, and helped him and coached him and gently said now Jared will know how to do it the next time.

Jordan is 10 years old. Jared's condition is tough for him. It can be embarrassing for Jordan. He doesn't know what to tell his friends, that is until yesterday and he is relieved in some ways. His friends know what Autism is. Jordan and Jared are a grade apart. They will almost always be in the same school and that often puts a lot of responsibility on Jordan . It may not be fair, but it's life.

At home these are not typical events, and as the mom I worry about the dynamics the boys have with each other. I find relief and joy in these experiences.

I talked to Jordan about what I had been told about him. I told him how much I appreciated him and was grateful to him for taking care of his brother. I acknowledged how hard these situations could be for him and gave him permission to let others know what Jared's challenges are. It was a real nice moment and I must make a greater effort to sit down and talk with him more.

He's a bright, brilliant boy with a little sarcasm on the side. He also feels things deeply. Next year he moves on to middle school and has a year off, so to speak. I told him to enjoy it and he laughed.

I love him to bits. You hear that, Jordan???? To bits!!!!!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Diagnosis

I started working at a paying job this week. I survived. The transition for the family has hit some rough patches, but I think it takes more than a week to figure all that out.

The last few weeks have brought a few extra appointments for Jared. He's had some tests done and yesterday we met with that hotshot pediatric psychiatrist who came from Calgary to see us. I heard he was brilliant. As I watched him do his work I had to agree.

He's gone through everything - all the medical records, the tests. He interviewed us and Jared and his school teacher. He asked a lot of questions. He shared his thoughts and part of it surprised me and part of it didn't.

Jared is on the Autism Spectrum. Some call it Asperger Syndrome. He is a high functioning person on the spectrum. This part did not surprise me. It validated what I had been feeling for a long time. Teachers brought up the subject when he was younger, but the doctors we saw didn't agree. The doctors here thought it was a possibility but wanted a second opinion. I don't think it reflects on the medical field at all. Jared is so verbal and has so many other strengths that it's taken a specialist from Calgary to say for sure that it is. I also think this was the right time for diagnosis. Jared's differences from other kids his age is more apparent now than it was in earlier years.

Jared also has severe ADHD. This was a surprise. When you live with it for so long, and you don't know any differently, life becomes this new level of normal. I didn't think his ADHD was severe, but I've never met another diagnosed child to observe and compare to Jared.

Jared also has an issue with medication we will need to figure out. We are not sure what is going on. Jared's history is such that he starts a medication and it works for a few days or a few weeks and then the meds seem to lose effect on him. The psychiatrist said that some individual's bodies can become resistant to certain medication. Sean and I hate that he is on as much as he is, but we have also seen the success Jared has achieved with the help of medication. Because of this we will continue with various trials to see what will work best for him.

This doctor is going to advocate strongly for us with the Ministry of Education to get Jared a medical disability coding and his own educational assistant at school. He told us we would get a copy of the letter and not be alarmed or frightened by the letter. It's going to sound 30% worse than reality.

The diagnosing is done. Now we are being political. We are into getting money out of the government for Jared's education. This is business. I get it and I am all for it.

The future is hazy at best at the moment. I don't know what to expect or if anything we do now will change. I guess the direction we are taking is more clear, but we have been dealing with this issue for years now. It just didn't have a name.

I worry about the unknown. What will he excel in? Will there be things he will miss out on? How much do I protect him from hurtful words of others?

I heard that Autism is considered the invisible disability because in many cases there is not a physical sign of a disability. He looks like any other regular kid. Sometimes I am grateful for that. Sometimes I think it may be the cruelest thing. Where do you find compassion from strangers?

Here's what I do know. Jared is a most unique and wonderful child. He is beautiful. He is handsome. He is smart. He is loved not only by his family, but by the other adults who have the honor to cross paths with him. He is more teacher to us than student. His spirit is strong. Really strong. I would miss him if he wasn't who he is, even though the challenges are many.

I know that moving here was for Jared. I suppose had we not moved we may have achieved the same results, but not as quickly as we have here. I may have had to fight more. I may have had to finance much of the testing on my own. But since coming here I have felt like we were in the middle of the ocean and caught up by a wave that carried us closer to shore. Things have just happened and we were along for the ride.

So here we are, my gut feelings confirmed. A sense of direction will become more clear to us and we can start doing what we need to do for our whole family as we continue our journey in life.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Celebrations and Transitions


Last week Jared received his recognition award at the school's monthly assembly. He's worked so hard this past month and is doing things in school that he was not doing in the fall. It's been a relief to see him playing outside, playing organized floor hockey, and performing musical numbers in front of his class, having fewer outbursts, getting his work done, challenging himself - all of which demonstrate a 180 degree turn from what it was.
He still has work to do, but he is trying. It's not easy. We participated in some more testing with mental health and we see a hotshot doctor at the end of the week. I don't know what and if they will find. We can all agree that Jared is not a classic textbook case of anything. His personality is unique. His anxiety is unique. He has the emotional capacity of a 4 or 5 year old - which makes for interesting conversations when Jackson (6) tells Jared that his behavior is a little immature for his age. Grown ups really are drawn to him and that makes them want to help him as much as they can. He is really likable....if you are old enough to vote.
My gut still says we are missing a component of the Jared puzzle, but I don't know what it is. Maybe I am wrong, but at least this is an opportunity to get some cards off the table if possible.
In other news, I am back to work today. I have not looked forward to this, but here it is. It's going to be a big change for our family since I will not longer be able to save the day at a moment's notice. On the other hand, perhaps that is not a bad thing. It will be a week or two of transition and figuring out how to do some things a little differently. Update on that later.