More Talking About Talking

July 31, 2008

This morning PJ had his six-month review for ECI.  After six months, you are required to start paying your cost-share for the service (the first six months are free), so they always do an evaluation at that point to determine if your child has made enough progress to be dismissed from ECI before you have to start forking over money for it.  It’s not a lot, but for some lower income families, that extra $15 or $20 a month is really tough on their budgets.

The last time his teacher was here, she mentioned that she wasn’t sure whether she thought PJ would need to continue.  It was up to us–if we wanted to keep the services, we were welcome to pay for them whether or not she recommended he stay in the program–so they wouldn’t dismiss him either way.  But she thought the progress he had made was significant.  He’s still not caught up, she told us, but because of the fast progress that would likely continue even without the services, he would probably catch up pretty well on his own.

I disagreed with her at the time, at least to myself.  He was only barely talking in short sentences every so often.  Yes, that was much better than six months ago when he started the program, but she can’t fool me into thinking that’s anywhere close to being caught up.

Then over the last month, his language really has taken off.  PJ is repeating a lot of what we say and reusing many of those words later in different contexts.  He uses short sentences much more often and even surprises us with four- and five-word sentences frequently.  M and I decided that his ECI teacher may have been right.  We fully expected that today would be the last day we would see her; when she recommended they end services today, we were going to agree.

As you may have already figured out, that’s not what happened.  His progress with his language certainly is impressive, but it’s not enough.  He still doesn’t hold conversations.  His language development has been very one-sided.  He can’t–or won’t–answer questions often, and never with yes or no.  He only communicates in response to us when he benefits from it in some way–as his teacher puts it, according to his own agenda.

It’s likely some of these problems will resolve themselves when he starts MDO.  She thinks the environment will force him to bend to someone else’s agenda as well as communicate in responsive conversations.  But since there’s no guarantee that will resolve the problem, we are continuing with ECI for now, even increasing our visits with her.

I’m actually a little disappointed.  It’s never fun to hear your kid isn’t doing as well as you thought he was.  The number she gave me really hurt, though: he’s a 33-month-old communicating at the level of a 20-month-old (although he is probably capable of more and just hasn’t shown us because of his inability to do anything not part of his own agenda).  He is clearly still significantly more behind than I had thought.

I guess it’s not such a big deal right now for him to stay in the program.  Like I said, the cost of it is nothing to us.  It’s a miniscule price to pay to help him catch up.  My main worry is that in three more months, he is dismissed from the program whether or not he has made any progress.  In three more months, he is passed on to the school district’s special ed program.  In three months, I get to learn just what it’s like to be the mother of one of those children, the ones with the special secret folder passed from teacher to teacher that catalogues the child’s special needs and specific issues.

If there was one thing about being a mother I was least certain about being capable of handling, it was being one of those mothers, having to deal with one of those children.  I am NOT good around people with special needs, and it terrifies me to think my son is one of them.  Sure, it’s a simple language delay…but what if it’s not?  Am I really strong enough to handle it if they diagnose him with something more?

I admire those other mothers who have children with special needs, who have such an inner strength to love and embrace their children, despite and because of their differences.  I admire these women, but I don’t think I could ever be one of them.

But if this is what God has in store for me, I can only pray that he gives me that same inner strength he has given those women.  And instead of worrying about it, I can pray that in the next three months, miracles happen for my little boy.

Already Looking Forward to the Weekend

July 29, 2008

Did I tell you my mom is coming to town on Saturday?  When plans didn’t pan out for her to go to California for my niece’s first birthday, she decided to hang out here instead.  The following week M has to be out of town for a conference, so we decided to make an event out of the week.

Saturday she flies into town to spend the weekend with us.  After M leaves for the conference, she will drive with us back to her place so that I can spend the week there with her and Dad and not have to stay here all alone.  When her school inservice stuff is over (the only reason we’re bothering to go back at all), she’ll drive with us back down here to spend another day or so, and then she flies back up there the next Saturday.

I can’t even begin to articulate how excited I am.  I’m actually cleaning for her visit, even though I know she really won’t care.  AND I’m cleaning this far ahead of her visit, a full four days.  You know it’s a momentous occasion when I start prepping this early.

We’ve been talking almost every day lately, and it only makes me miss her more than ever.  It’s been far too long since I’ve gotten to see her.  I miss those days of easily being able to skip up there for a weekend at the spur of the moment.  I know that’s one of those sacrifices you make when you have kids, but I still miss it.

Anyway, pardon me if that’s all I talk about over the next few days; it’s just about all I can think about.

Living in the Moment

July 28, 2008

I am so happy, in that supreme blissful way.  I have a life to be envied, with two of the cutest boys ever and a husband who could be a model for all other men.

If you haven’t figured it out, I had a good weekend.  What did we do?  Nothing.  We bought groceries and chilled the rest of the weekend.  It was some awesome bonding time for all four of us and relaxed me enough that I feel prepared to take on the week ahead.

By the end of last week, I was starting to get annoyed with everyone.  PJ couldn’t do anything right, and M was irritating me at least once an hour (not that I let on).  I was worried that maybe things weren’t as perfect in my world as I’d assumed for the past few years.  I was letting insecurities in.

Then one weekend chock-full of quality time, and all is right in my world again.  It turns out that M really is as sweet and thoughtful as I remembered, and nothing can go wrong if he’s holding me.  My kids are hilarious and really pretty well-behaved, considering their ages.  (Well, PJ is.  BabyN is astoundingly obedient and easygoing.  Yeah, everyone should want this baby.)

So this morning I woke up content.  I always worry a little that this kind of happiness is an omen of bad luck in my future, but I’m not going to worry about that right now.  I’m planning to just let this happiness overwhelm me as I bask in it.  The future can take care of itself when it happens, but I won’t be able to get this moment of supreme bliss back.

So excuse me as I go enjoy my children, one of whom is walking around with a sock on his hand (“sock puppet”) and the other of whom is cooing at the top of his lungs (“ga ga googoo GA”).

A Hard Look at the American Economy

July 26, 2008

A few days ago, M and I were having a stimulating conversation about the episode of Blue’s Clues that was playing.  In particular, we were remarking how the price of gas on the show in Blue dollars was cheaper than normal dollars.

I laughed hard at M’s comment: “It’s sad when even the Blue dollar is stronger than the American dollar.”

So true.

Yucky Banana

July 25, 2008

It was a normal breakfast.  PJ had a waffle and banana like normal, and Doddledo (remember his stuffed dinosaur friend?) was sitting in PJ’s booster seat waiting on the bites PJ would offer him.  BabyN acted starved, and I couldn’t feed him his own breakfast fast enough.

He was still starving when I finished his usual breakfast, so I offered him a small piece of PJ’s banana, something that happens often.  He loves banana, just like his big brother.

All of a sudden, there was nasty stuff coming out of BabyN’s mouth.  The little stream of vomit quickly escalated into a full-blown volcano.  I attempted to catch it all with his bib, but there was simply too much.

I’m pretty sure it was mucus-related again.  Anytime he’s had too much drainage, that’s how his body copes with it.

In the past, I’ve handled it pretty well, treating it as a simple mess that needed to be cleaned, but today I found myself struggling a lot more.  I couldn’t get out of my mind exactly what it was I was cleaning, and the thought nearly gagged me many, many times.

In fact, I’ve been having lots of tummy issues over the past few days.  There’s been an underlying low-grade nausea that gets worse for a few seconds at a time completely at random, although it seems like it’s connected to thoughts (not that I could pinpoint which ones).  I remember something similar happening in 8th grade, right before I got a nasty stomach virus that kept me out of school for a week and landed me in the ER.  Let’s hope that this time it’s hormone-related or something.

Anyway, BabyN is fine now.  He was already cooing and smiling seconds after it happened, even while covered in his own vomit.  Boy do I wish I could recover from it so easily.

PJ was oddly affected by it, though.  I left him at the table while I went to go change BabyN and finish cleaning him up, but I’m pretty sure PJ didn’t take one more bite after that point.  He kept repeating, “Yucky banana!”  I have to wonder if he thought the banana caused the puke, or that the puke was the banana.  Either way, he recognized just how disgusting the whole event was, and it killed his appetite.

Fortunately they both seem to have forgotten about it already and should be able to eat lunch just fine.  I hope the same will be true for me.

The Name Game

July 24, 2008

I’ve seen lots of posts over the past few weeks asking about name ideas for new babies.  I always read the comments, sometimes checking in several times over the next few days to make sure I’ve read them all.

I never comment, however.  I did once or twice, long ago, but I quickly realized that not only am I pretty bad at guessing other people’s tastes in names, but mine are pretty unusual too.  I’ll probably love the names that these people choose, agreeing that they are perfect for them, but if I offer a contribution, I’ll always feel kind of bad that my suggestion wasn’t chosen.

But, hey, that’s not what I’m really writing about today.  I’m not sure where I saw it, but somebody mentioned in one of those numerous comments a site called nymbler.  It’s a site that claims to help you name your child based on names you like (say, names of your current children or your own name).  It will offer endless suggestions of names that somehow relate to your favorite names, either by origin or popularity, etc.

Intrigued, I checked it out for myself.  It’s not like I have another kid to name, but I still love playing the name game.  What would I name another kid if we ended up with a third boy?  What if we somehow got a girl?  Would I keep the names we would have named the boys if they’d been girls?

I realized something as I perused name after name after name: I’m awfully picky.  I would love for a third name to fit the pattern of the rest of our names (if you know the family blog, you know the pattern), but honestly can’t think of a (decent) name that fits.  But even without taking that into consideration, I had a hard time finding names I liked.  They have options to mark names as favorites or to remove them from the list of possibilities.  After playing around for about an hour, I had two names earmarked as favorites, and those had barely made the list.  The names I would never consider, though, were well over a hundred.

The funny part?  It’s not like I was vetoing the normal, common names.  If you know our kids’ real names, you know they’re not unusual by any means.  I really dislike a lot of the popular names right now (possibly simply because of their popularity), and I will only consider names that are pretty normal.  Even then, I have to veto many, many more because of bad memories associated with students from my teaching days–or ex-boyfriends.

That last one kind of stinks because two of my otherwise favorite names belong to the most annoying of all my students and the most serious ex I had.

Oh, yeah, and they have to sound decent with our last name.  Since it’s such a short, choppy name, the first name has to be at least two syllables, with very few exceptions.  The first letter of our last name as well as the vowel sound also sound weird with many names.  A lot of names I would consider just don’t sound right.

After playing around on that naming site, I started to wonder if I wanted to consider having another baby ever, simply because of the difficulties I would have in naming another kid.  PJ’s name was easy; it was the name M and I said we would name a boy if we ever had one, a name we had created early in our dating days.  BabyN’s name seemed pretty obvious once we saw the pattern of the rest of our names; it fit perfectly and we both loved the name.  This long after PJ’s birth, I already had a pretty good idea of what our next son’s name would be, if we had another.

Now?  No clue.  It’s not like it matters.  I don’t have a nameless gestating baby or anything.  But I’m still curious what ideas you might be able to come up with, what names you think we might like.  Will you join me in playing the name game?  What are some of your favorite names, especially ones you think I might like (this will be easier for those of you who know the boys’ real names)?  If your kids had been a boy/girl instead, what would their names have been?  What are some of your favorites that you couldn’t use for whatever reason?  Or what are some of your most hated names that your husband liked?  That one ought to be interesting!

A Rant about Birth Control

July 23, 2008

I’m having some cramps this morning.  It’s a vaguely familiar feeling, but one I haven’t really felt for ages, well over a year and a half.  Is it that time of month for me, though?  I wish I knew.  I’ve had lots of “maybe this is it” moments over the past eight months since getting my IUD put in.  I’ve never known for certain, though, and that’s starting to annoy me.  I mean, I guess I shouldn’t complain about how light my periods are, if indeed I’ve had a period yet, but I think most of you will agree with me that it’s pretty disconcerting to never know when your cycle is happening.

If I didn’t know just how impossible it is to get pregnant with an IUD (and spermicide, just to be on the safe side), I’d be constantly taking pregnancy tests.  The hormone changes it makes throw me off a lot.  I’m often cranky like I’m PMS-ing, with or without any spotting that might or might not be a period.  I’ve even had some pregnancy-like symptoms, to a lesser degree, for a few days at a time.  They always dissipate before I decide I ought to pick up a pregnancy test, though.

Let’s just say that this is all driving me crazy.  I don’t know whether to blame the crazy business going on in my lady parts on breastfeeding or the IUD.  I don’t know how much longer I should put up with this before calling a doctor (not MY doctor, though, since she is no longer practicing–what fun).  I’m sure much of this is normal, but I’m frustrated enough with it that it’s tempting to beg to have it taken out already.  It will only be a few months before I quit nursing and can go on a normal pill, and if we’re careful until then I probably won’t end up pregnant again, right?

Yeah, like M would agree to that.  We’re still worried enough about my super fertility scoffing at the nearly 100% protection rate of the IUD to use the spermicide as a back-up.  Attempting the rhythm method would just be tempting fate.  But hey, I kinda sorta want a third kid eventually anyway–maybe.

Right.  Not going to happen.  I guess I just get to put up with all this nonsense for now.  I’ll take comfort in these dull cramps that at least it’s reassurance the IUD is doing its job, even when I don’t have the periods to reassure me as well.

Old Friends

July 22, 2008

I can’t believe I forgot to write about the biggest event of the weekend, the one even bigger than having to break a doorknob to get PJ out of our locked room.

On Friday night, a friend from high school came over to visit.  She and I had met up again through  We e-mailed a few times to do a basic catch-up, where she learned that I live on the opposite side of town from her.  After that, we just kind of sat on each other’s friends lists but didn’t communicate.

Last week, I suddenly got a message from her.  She wanted to let me know that her sister was moving to our end of town and she would be helping them move.  Could we get together in the downtime during the weekend?

I was hesitant at first.  We were okay friends in high school, but not best friends, and we hadn’t seen each other in something like ten years.  Besides there’s this little bit of weirdness with her because she briefly dated my older brother and was much more upset than he was when it didn’t work out.  Now he’s happily married with a kid and a dog and she’s still single.  I knew that would be an awkward topic and wasn’t sure how to handle it if we ended up hanging out.

Then I found out just how close her sister was moving.  It’s literally no more than two miles away.  I would have felt rotten to have an old friend less than two miles away and not visit with her.

When Friday morning dawned, however, I woke up with a migraine that just kept getting worse as the day progressed.  My tummy was very upset by it all as well.  I didn’t get to shower all day between the migraine and waiting for the cable guy.  When she called to say she had some free time, I was overwhelmed with everything going on and still suffering from the headache.  I was ready to back out; I didn’t feel good and was embarrassed by the unkempt state of our house.

But I felt bad for her.  She was sitting in her sister’s empty house waiting for her to show up with the moving van.  At the time, they hadn’t even left the old place yet and it was three hours away.  That was a lot of lonely, boring time.  So I decided to see if I could get a shower and if that would help me feel better.

Oddly enough, it worked.  My head was better enough that I could think about socializing again, and by the end of the evening it was gone completely.

It turned out to be a really fun evening.  It was neat to see how the friend had matured over the last ten years.  I was reminded why we were friends in the first place, and if anything, we are only more likely to be friends now.  She was also really good with both M and the boys.  Considering what different kinds of people appeal to each, that’s quite a feat.  I was quite impressed with the way everyone fell in love with her.

Now I’m looking forward to the next time she comes over here to visit her sister.  With any luck, she will be able to carve out some time to spend with us too.  I’m looking forward to renewing this ten-year-old friendship.

Following Up

July 21, 2008

By some miracle, I seem to have avoided a full-blown case of mastitis.  After posting that on Saturday, the very next time BabyN ate, he sucked the clog right out.  It was just tender for a little while afterwards, and now it’s fine.  And Jessica, I’d heard the cabbage thing before, but since I’d never tried it, I’d forgotten about it.  If I have the boob issues again, I’ll definitely have to try it.

We’ve also been working with PJ on keeping the sheets on his bed, but it’s still not happening.  I’m struggling between resolve to stick to my word about refusing to give him any of his comforts for bed and feeling too mean about it.  I can’t decide whether this is a battle worth fighting.  M assures me that it is; we’re both sick of making his bed twice a day every day.  If he knows better–and he does–then he should be able to exert at least that little bit of self-control.

I just feel like I’m bordering on child abuse by making sleep on a bare mattress with no blankets or anything (not that he needs them in this heat).  We relented several times this weekend and gave him back some of his confiscated comforts, although not all of them, and I doubt it was a good decision.  I wish I could find a compromise I felt comfortable with, something harsh enough to teach him a lesson but that doesn’t make me feel heartless.

By the way, tomorrow BabyN turns ten months.  I think it’s high time to retire his nickname I’m using here, since he’s only barely a baby anymore.  I’m having a creative brain fart as to good nicknames to replace BabyN, though, so I’m hoping I can appeal to you guys for some help in the creative department.  Do you have any suggestions for something new and more mature I can call him here?  All suggestions are welcome, and the odds are good that I’ll end up choosing from them, since I have no ideas of my own at the moment.

Eventually I’ll Be Able to Laugh About It

July 19, 2008

I knew things were going to be different this morning when I went back to sleep after BabyN’s early feeding with fire in my right boob.  It’s one of those painful lumps that precedes another bout of mastitis.  I’m still waiting on the fever and the delirious call to the doctor for antibiotics, but I suspect that’s around the corner.

M got up with the boys when BabyN decided he was up for the day at a thankfully late hour, and I tried to sleep off the boob pain.  It felt like just minutes later (even though it was a full hour) when the bedroom door opened and a 2-year-old leaped on the bed, followed shortly by a dog who wanted to get a whiff of my morning breath and lick the skin off my face.  I was up for the day at that point, oddly enough.

PJ didn’t want to leave the room with me, and my boob was hurting to much to physically drag him out, so I left him in our room for a few minutes, figuring he’d follow me as soon as he heard me in the kitchen getting breakfast.  Nope.  Instead, he decided to keep playing “sleep tight” on our bed, which required the door be closed.  As I sat down in the other room, I heard what sounded distinctly like the lock being turned on the inside of our door–where we couldn’t get to it.

I calmly pointed out to M that PJ had locked himself in our room, hoping he’d remember how to unlock it from the outside since I had forgotten what tool he had used to show me how ages ago when we first suspected this might become a problem.  He looked at the door and got a funny look on his face.  “Kayce, that tool we use to unlock the doors…it’s in the closet in our bathroom.”  Not long ago we decided to move the tools to an even more toddler-proof place in our house, which is unfortunately only accessed through our room.

Now what?

M was shirtless still, as he had only gotten up an hour earlier and didn’t want to come get dressed while I was still sleeping.  He borrowed my sweaty sleepshirt, leaving me in a bra, as he ran next door to find a neighbor to help.  After two runs to the neighbors, he finally found a tool to borrow that would work.  In the meantime, I was sitting shirtless on this side of the door, holding BabyN and listening for sounds of catastrophe from within our room.  I also spent lots of time trying to convince PJ to try to unlock the door himself.  No such luck, but at least he wasn’t upset about being locked in.  It was all a huge adventure to him.

Finally M had the appropriate tool.  It wouldn’t work.  He tried it on other locking doors and it worked fine, but not on this door.  Apparently the lock was broken so that it was unpickable.  By this point, PJ had been in there about twenty minutes unsupervised.  We couldn’t take the doorknob off because all his tools were still in the closet in our room.

M turned into Superman and grabbed that doorknob and twisted it just right so that it broke the locking mechanism altogether.  We decided it was easier to replace the doorknob than the kid.  Fortunately that worked, and we could get into the room again to see what kind of a mess PJ had made.

PJ was standing in front of my jewelry box with a handful of bling, happy as can be.  Nothing was broken, and the jewelry was the only mess in the room.

Yeah, it’s starting to get funny now.  Not so much at the time.

Of course, as soon as all this ended, the phone rang, and we spent the next forty-five minutes talking to my mom to figure out when she will fly down here to spend a few days with us.  I was on the phone trying to listen to both her and M and relay messages back and forth in the pauses in the conversations while chasing after a hyper toddler.  With a sore boob.

By the time everything settled down and I could get breakfast, it was lunchtime.  That’s what I get for trying to sleep late.  On the bright side, my mom is going to get to come visit for a few days, and then we’re going to drive up to her place while M is out of town for work, and then she’s going to drive back with us to spend another day or so with the whole family before flying back.  It sounds busy and complicated, but it’s a good way to maximize my time with her and not have to stay here all alone.  I can’t believe we worked it all out!