Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Case of the Magic Desk

The human mind is a funny thing. After our first go'round on the child-rearing front made it so very clear we were in over our heads, it has only become more and more obvious how ancient-mapesque the human brain is with all its unexplored nooks, nuances, micro-biomes and genomes. Thus it didn't come as a surprise when the school psychologist said that Charlie's hand writing problems were seemingly averted by a child sized desk (that couldn't be tipped, moved, hoisted or otherwise diverted from its lifelong purpose of being a desk). What we thought was just a fine motor skill problem, was also (actually?) a proprioceptive problem. He needed to feel grounded. Who knew those industrial strength behemoths used to trap children in the 50's actually had a purpose besides lead poisoning? Truly. 

As a homeschooler, I'd always thought the kitchen table held a distinct advantage, but I'm also fond of unusual living room furniture and decided a (safely) restored vintage school desk had an anthopologie like allure, so off to craigslist I went. (all for the betterment of my child of course)  $10 and a can of spray paint later, I had this.

It was inspiring. I couldn't wait to put it to use.  It said "It's ok Summer is ending because you have a magnificent desk to play 'school' with." and "This is going to fix all of Charlie's problems and he will henceforth be a genius." 

Fortunately I was right (well, maybe he's not a genius yet, but definitely less frustrated).

Unfortunately the magic desk was whispering the same thing to the rest of the people in the house. On the first day of school, Charlie couldn't wait to use it.... neither could Jamie...or Robbie...even the wee babe wanted in on the action. Consequently, what I had pictured as this:

Turned out to be more like this:

Even now, three weeks into school, it's still like catnip to the baby who happily tries to climb off and on it a hundred times a day and usually ends in a scrimmage between Jamie and Charlie. So now instead of just teaching Charlie how to read, Jamie how to do square roots, and Robbie his ABC's, I am also a paper snatcher (from the jaws of baby drool), circus director, taxi driver and most illustriously: potentate of the magic desk.

Clearly a position I've always dreamed of having.

But in general life is going pretty good (even if my lobbying has been unsuccessful to have summer moved to Aug-Sep-Oct, as all of our faces are about to melt into our math books).   The kids "therapy" day is on Wednesday now which is hard coming off the merry-go-round that is Tuesday (Classical Conversations). Julian Charter School hired all new therapists and redecorated the special ed office with a decidedly Azkaban theme, which makes speech therapy a bit of a hard sell. "Yes dear, you have to go in, but don't worry I hear the dementors are still on vacation".

 Mostly I try to be the voice of reason, but I may have perhaps called Jim today in the middle of therapy, panicking about how I was going blind. We've had some weird virus go through the family that is part eyeball ache, part headache, part sore throat and so when I was driving to the charter school today and a traffic light literally wobbled and hopped across my vision...I sort of freaked out. It was like one of those dreams where you have to get to some important deadline, or you're running from something, but you feel like you're slogging through waist deep sand and everyone sounds like they're talking whale. It was like that except I felt sort of like I was walking sideways, I couldn't see hardly anything at all, and everything kept going double. I walked into a door I thought was farther away than it actually was, and I kept missing stair steps I didn't realize were there.

I stayed calm initially. I mean, as a wearer of contacts I know this sort of thing can happen if you've put them on inside out, mixed up the right and left, or are about to die of an anurism. My children aren't big fans of the aforementioned Azkaban redecorating, so when we successfully navigated up the stairs and into the building it felt a bit like one of those funny houses where everything was oddly distorted and my children were hanging onto me like the desk monkeys (but more terrified and less magical). And it only went downhill from there. After the third person asked me to keep everyone quiet and calm (I have no excuses for my children's less than angelic behavior, just that I was relieved to find out the glass bauble pig I thought Robbie was banging against the wall, was actually a hotwheel car), I decided it was time to go sit outside.   Which is (long story long) how I ended up stumbling blind through East San Diego sobbing on the phone to Jim. 

Of course we all survived. I made it home safely and promptly went to the bathroom mirror to assess my likelihood of death by eyeball dysfunction only to discover my contacts were still sitting on the bathroom counter sensibly esconced in their case...

...which meant I was wearing Jim's contacts.

At least I didn't injure/kill/maim anyone?

In my defense, he's using case that looks like one I used for years.

I've never claimed to be a morning person. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

11 months

One tick tock shy of a whole year.   He's teething a bunch of upper teeth which makes him gnaw on random knees, noses or friendly hands like the pokey little puppy he still is.  

When I was pregnant with Will, Jim and I were looking at pictures of Robbie's blue eyes, Charlie's pouty lips and Jamie's spiral curls and joking that the only thing left to this baby was to end up redheaded.


His hair is definitely distinctly strawberry blondish these days. Lol

He's been crawling for several months now and has perfected the art to include the one legger crawl, bear crawl, toe crawl, drag-Robbie-along crawl, and the super speedy I-have-something-in-my-mouth crawl.   He's standing alone a lot more, and takes one step...but no one is in a hurry to have him walking.   All of Robbie's therapists managed to freak me out about all of the gross and fine motor skills that sometimes don't develop correctly if they skip down baby down.  Feel free to keep tearing it up with your mad quadruped skills.

He finally started eating food!...kinda sorta.   He's still super picky.  Gagging on random textures and puking on the least provocation.   Some days he likes blueberries, and other days they're tiny morsels of destruction and I'm surely trying to poison him.  One day he ate a ton of homemade applesauce and the next day he cocked an eyebrow at me after delicately touching the spoon with the tip of his tongue.  What madness is this weirdly mushy tangy thing  you're trying to tempt me with?

Daddy coming home from work is like Christmas and the beach combined, he flaps his arms and freaks out in sheer joy.    And speaking of the beach... he's still a water baby.  Watching him and Robbie is like being torn in two opposite directions.  Robbie runs shrieking from the waves and William crawls shrieking towards the waves.   Vacuuming is more of a chore than usual.  Robbie runs shrieking to unplug what he considers a terrifying noise monster, and William tries to climb on the vacuum like it's a super awesome indoor wave runner. 

His current nicknames are:

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Headless toys and magnet puzzles

As someone who reads parenting books and still relates more to the kid side of things than the parent side, I think one of the reasons teenagerdom can be difficult enlightening is that everything seemingly makes sense.  The well structured pieces of life that have been handed to you oh-so-carefully for the last 15 years collide with a new found ability to reason abstractly like an adult.   It's like tapping one of those Melissa and Doug magnet pattern things that kids are supposed to learn from (but instead end up using as a slide for a herd of dinosaur), a little tap and everything falls into place....

I liked that feeling.  I want that feeling back. 

Dissected apart, I love every bit of life.   Sleep deprivation is a mere twiddling annoyance. Crayons on the wall lead to good work ethics and life lessons. Climbing over the neighbor's fence is just an opportunity for meaningful conversations.   ....peeled zucchini for secret veggie chili...homemade math flashcards for optimal left/right brain integration... essential oil cleaner to wipe up the thrown up fermented cod liver oil... nine loads of laundry... four baths.... gardening....mud...more laundry and baths. When you put it all together it's much messier than I envisioned grown up life.   And it's not that it's hard or praiseworthy, it's just a long enough list that being adult is a lot more like playing life-tetris than I thought.  Ahem.

My biggest shortcoming seems to be that I either freak out too much or not enough.  Jump off the rope swing onto the jogging stroller to propel yourself across the backyard?  Fine.  Teach long division?  Totally lose it.  Growing up with an RN for a mother, I couldn't count the number of times she'd haul off with the random contents of the diaper bag to administer first aid in an emergency.  She's that person who pulls her van of children off the road in an accident to slap a disposable diaper on someone's bloody wound until paramedics arrive.

   I've always hoped this was genetic somehow and I would naturally react the same way in a real emergency.  Unfortunately, I got a real life practice session yesterday.

 I was in the middle of trying to do vision therapy exercises with the older two, while Robbie emptied every container of toys he could find and William sat in a plastic laundry basket trying his best to slobber on every article of clean clothing.  The phone rang and I excused myself down the hall so the person on the other side could hear something more than a modern impression of the Battle of the Bulge.   Meanwhile, while I was doing my best impression of a polite, chipper, helpful human being, Jamie dragged William in and yelled that the baby wasn't breathing.    Now this is where I'd expect myself to drop the phone, hang up, or start screaming... Or you know... react like the expert my mom is, but no... instead I continued to talk on the phone.

"Yes, 6:30 would be perfect..."

Check airway, breathing and circulation.  Note that there is a toy lodged deep down his throat.

"Yes, we live in La Mesa, right off Grossmont Blvd..."

Turn baby over knee, administer three hard whacks.  Finger sweep.  No change.

"Feel free to bring  something to dip in fondue..."

Repeat Heimlich, finger sweep.

"Sounds awesome, I'll see you tonight..."

I did finally get the object out on the third try.  It was a random Playmobil head from Robbie's French Revolution tendencies.   I managed the thank Jamie profusely for his awesome big brotherness, and then William and I sat down for a good long bawling fest.

For Mother's Day I should probably thank my mom for all the first aid certifications she made us take.  Apparently they stuck somewhere in there.

May I never have to use them again. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

My bit of sea glass

Thanks to all the lactation specialists and weight gain issues it's hard for me to believe my wee baby is a half year old today!  Bah!  

He started sitting alone a few days ago, but still waves his arms out like a helicopter to keep his balance.   Because he's my fourth child (and all my other children had speech delays) poor William has every tiny sound he makes cataloged meticulously like it's some sort of seismographic code.  I've been somewhat concerned because he's not making any consonant sounds yet, but he finally popped out this week with a few dadadada's!  I'm so proud (but still keeping the speech therapist on speed dial just in case ;-)  ).  

We haven't started solids unless you count pudding....breastmilk pudding (which is really just breastmilk with the thick chilled cream skimmed off the top... don't tell Robbie I spike his yogurt occasionally with it.  Vitamins, right?)

He's a super sweet baby.  So chill and calm and happy...until he's not, and then hell hath no fury like a fourth born who has been forgotten too long.    He and Robbie are starting to develop a little brotherly friendship which is just amazing to me.  Jamie and Charlie were too far apart to feel like peers at this age, and Jamie and Charlie currently call Will "The Royal Cuteness"  which translates more like doting genie-in-a-bottle behavior rather than a sibling relationship. 

Will thinks Jamie and Charlie are hilarious though.   I pulled out the camera for his pictures and I couldn't get rid of serious baby.  

This is how he is 90% of the time, very stoic and judge-like until Jamie starts doing something crazy and then...

He has that full face smile that's more grimace than smile, but we still think it's awesome.

This goofy barrel of boys is all mine, and the only reason I want to currently ship them all off to the African Serengeti is because today is Monday and it's raining, and they've woken the baby up thirty minutes into every nap.    Sorry baby, happy half birthday! 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tongues and Rope Swings

Well, we're currently three for four as far as occupational therapy goes, and Charlie has an IEP meeting and evaluation scheduled so we might just go ahead and make it an even four for four.   Jamie's in for fine motor skills.  Robbie poor facial muscle tone.  And William, feeding problems.  Turns out occupational therapists are jack of all trades and basically you get sent to one for just about everything.   I was joking with Robbie's OT that their job is harder and covers more specialties than any doctor and he totally agreed as he sat on my living room floor with his bags of therapy toys and my two year old climbing on his head. 

Poor William.  Little did he know that while he was bouncing around in a vat of amniotic fluid, his tongue wasn't supposed to be glued to the roof of his mouth.  Now nothing in his mouth works right.  Listening to the dr is like listening to the naughty list for Christmas (in length and breadth but not necessarily variety).  "His palette is too high...and dome shaped...and narrow.  His tongue is too small for his mouth...and has no muscle tone...and won't come forward properly,which is why he gags and pulls off your nipple.  He feels like he's drowning and can't breathe."
Awesome.  So basically while everyone else is snuggling and nourishing their child, I'm water boarding mine.

So he had his second tongue tie revision today.  "Repeat frenectomy for a reattached posterior tie on the left side" is what I believe the paperwork said.  All Will understood was: "I was perfectly happy until someone tied me in a torture device, taped my eyes shut and burned the living crap out of my mouth with a fiery knife and made me so mad I'm never going to forgive mommy...ever."    I wouldn't have taken him in again...the first tongue tie revision was so traumatic, but he was nursing worse and worse.   Gagging, choking, coming off and on....not gaining weight, so something had to be done.  We currently own at least eleven different kinds of bottles and nipples, two different breast pumps, and a tube/syringe setup, and he despises all of it, so back to the Dr. we went to figure out what was going wrong with the only thing he will at least attempt, breastfeeding.  I can only hope he's like Jamie and turns into an awesome consumer of vittles eventually. 

Oh and the baby has thrush again, so it looks like I need to lay off those dark chocolate chips I've eating in the corner while rocking back and forth telling myself everything's going to be all right.

But no, I say that and we're all actually doing fine.  Besides the epic level of sleep deprivation I self inflicted on this week thanks to my stupidity, I really can't stop marveling at how easy my life is right now.  While I was pacing around the house with an inconsolable baby, the kids were playing on the rope swing in the backyard.  After that they went and rode bikes with the neighbor kid up and down our nice quiet cul-de-sac, then they pretended they were dinosaurs and went tearing up and down the hall and doing back flips off the couch (actually, only Charlie can do a back flip but Jamie can do a mean shoulder roll).   A month ago that same scenario would have resulted in a neighbor or two cussing me out, a call from the office management, and a toddler trying to commit suicide down three flights of stairs all while the next door neighbor screamed at his girlfriend through a cloud of marijuana smoke.  So now I literally feel like I've moved to Buckingham Palace... if Buckingham Palace had weird mis matching kitchen cabinets, a neon green bathroom and folding table and chairs for a dining set.  :-D

Will's tongue may not work right, but that didn't seem to stop him from going on and on and on about the injustice of it all. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

A planned trip to crazytown

Five hours past bedtime...only eight more to go.

The next time an educated, semi rational looking adult tells me to keep my toddler up all night, I'm going to suggest a sleepover at his house.   Robbie is finally getting the sleep deprived EEG I was supposed to do a month ago but kept putting off because we kept getting sick.  Now the evil day is finally here and  I knew it was going to be rough, but it's turning out to be more like an all night preschool rave.   There is playdough.  There is a waffle iron.   Mix the two...throw in some glow in the dark stickers and a lime.   Blast broadway music and you've got a slight slice of the pie that is barrels of fun we're having. Just loads of it.

The scheduling guy from the neurology dept tried to give me some advice.  Ice-cream he said, and a long bath...lots of snacks and movies.   Didn't sound too bad until it was 11 pm and we'd done all of that and Robbie was falling asleep standing up.   Even Yo Gaba Gaba and The Wiggles are mellow lulu byes when you're three hours past your bedtime.   So I took him into the kitchen and anything he pointed or looked at, I took out.  Eggs?  Fine.  Lets break some...sure...on the floor is fine too.   It's all natural finger paint on a large non porous canvas, right?  I believe even DaVinci used egg tempura.

Poor Robbie, his eyes kept rolling back and his eyelids struggled to stay half mast as we played and sang and danced.  He kept looking at me like, is this really happening?  I can really ice skate on the floor? This is awesome!  And then suspicious.  Have you lost your mind woman?  And then he'd lay on the floor.  Oh the inhumanity.  A mom who finally let's you do anything you want, and you're too delirious to fully enjoy it.

....And he's falling asleep again.  Time to pull out his brother's legos. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Holes in the wall

In the apartment of floating stairs there was a thin sheen of very cheap paint that barely covered the antics of the previous tenants.   I'd do the dishes and stare at a tiny little indentation in the wall in front of me and imagine what hung there and what it said.  Was it a pithy saying?  A bible verse?  A motivational "you are awesome, go get em tiger!" type of thing?  Or maybe feet that used to stand there were way more practical than mine.  Maybe the hole was the birthplace of a hook for a towel or pot holder.  Although it would have to be an unused pot holder because there is no way anyone ever cooked in that place.   In the year we lived there, the apartment remained a steamy hundred and twenty degrees no matter what the outside climate was.  I thought maybe it was just because we were locked in an eternal summer, but even when the rains came down and the floods came up and they issued a once in a lifetime frost advisory at the was still like the amazon rain forest in my apartment  (a life saving capsule perhaps if the world ever plunges into another ice age?).   I think I turned the oven on twice the whole time I lived there which is why I almost burned the place down those two times because the oven had morphed into a storage place for the random lego man, or pizza box.  ( I swear we didn't eat pizza every day and instead utilized costco and my crockpot a lot too).

But the apartment, for all its faults had a fairly "clean slate" feel to it in comparison to THE HOUSE,   as in THIS HOUSE.  As in, I HAVE A HOUSE! We moved last week and if the apartment had a handful of quirks that caused me great wonderment, THIS HOUSE has a veritable cornucopia of intriguing blemishes that give my imagination no end of musings.  Random patches on the ceiling and walls...brown and neon green tile in the bathroom...curtain rods that are all hung at different cabinets that don't match... the creepiest poster of Pavarotti you've ever seen.... but those are all overshadowed by the epic and awesome fact that there is no neighbor beneath me. (although I still cringe every time I drop so much as a sock on the floor).   And we have a backyard!  And....... a washer and dryer!  It's pure magic.  I gather up all the shed fabric off my dirty children, stuff it in an enchanted box, turn it on and everything comes out like looking brand new and smelling like violet bliss!  And all I have to do is walk a few steps.   It's so much awesomeness in one spot we are beside ourselves with excitement (even if we are living like mole rats in a mountain of half unpacked boxes).     

 The boys are taking to their new digs like prairie dogs in a sand dune.  For the first time they're all falling asleep the moment their heads hit the pillow (that'll happen when you have a big backyard to gallop around all day).   They're also eating me out of house and home (more so than usual).  Mornings and I are not on speaking terms, and it's just starting to dawn on me that I am the mother of four little boys.  I got everyone fed this morning and finally sat down to my own breakfast and coffee only to have the oldest one come back in and say he was still hungry.  So I gave him my breakfast while I made myself a new breakfast.  Then son number two came in and decided he was still hungry too, so I gave him my second breakfast while I made a third....which...yeah, the third son ate my third attempt at breakfast and I gave up and decided I didn't really want breakfast anyway. 

Lord have mercy on me when they're actually teenagers.

At least I won't have to worry about them beating up this house?