Thursday, September 30, 2010

In Which We Have A Pretty Awesome Day

Okay, roller derby is officially awesome.  Not that I hadn't told you that already.  But after today it's, you know, even more awesome.

I had my first day of the Dockyard Derby Dames Bootcamp this evening, and I had a fantastic time!  And I didn't break my legs or knock my teeth out or anything!  All of the women I met were absolutely amazing no matter what their skill level.  I even found a girl who lives in my neighborhood so I can carpool!

The skill levels ranged from incredible skating veterans with killer moves to somewhere around where I am (at day five of skating).  We did a lot of drills, including falling, duck-walking, stopping (which I'm definitely still working on), and a lot of skating around the track. 

I was really nervous today anticipating how things would go this evening, but I'm so glad I scraped up the courage and decided to do this.  I'm having a blast, meeting some wonderful people, and on my way to being a derby girl! 

Connor also had a great day today!  School went really well for him; he was back to his usual giggly, happy self.  I talked with the neurologist today about the crazy seizures of yesterday and Monday.  He said that it sounds like maybe the Lamictal is changing the path in the brain that the seizures take.  We'll see what happens as we continue to increase it; hopefully the seizures will start tapering off.  If he starts having more of them after his next dose increase, than we'll go get his levels checked and see what's going on in there. 

At any rate, it was a great day for everybody!

~Jess

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Which Connor Gives Me A Heart Attack

We had a busy and sort of insane day today!

Connor and I got up a little early and headed into post for my doctor's appointment.  I needed a letter for our adoption (though we still haven't chosen a child yet, we're continuing to gather our dossier paperwork) from a doctor stating that I have a normal life expectancy and am in good enough physical health to adopt.  The letter has to be notarized, so we made plans to make that happen tomorrow.

After my appointment I drove over with Connor to the on-post skating arena, where I unloaded my gear and headed inside with the little guy for some stroller skating!  Every Wednesday from 9:00-11:00 they have their Tot and Stroller Skating Time, and I figured that while skating while holding on to something probably wasn't going to help my form any, the more time I have on skates no matter the circumstances, the better!  I got there right as it opened and sat down to change my outside wheels out for my inside ones and discovered I'd left my skate key at home.  So I asked the woman behind the counter if I could borrow or rent one.  To my astonishment, she told me that they didn't have any available.

What kind of a skating rink doesn't have any skate keys? 

So I had to run over to a store and buy a socket wrench so I could skate!  Oh well.  We still got in a good forty five minutes of skating, and Connor and I both had a pretty good time!

We had to stop skating about about 10:00 because Connor had a doctor's appointment at 11:00 and I wanted to get cleaned up before then.  About 10:20 I loaded Connor into the car and headed out with the intention of finding something to eat.  As I did so I noticed that Connor was staring intensely at his feet, which is not all that unusual-- he likes to watch the sidewalk go by underneath his wheelchair.  However, five minutes down the road I noticed that while he was still moving his head up and down, signing and seemed in a good mood, his eyes were still fixed downward in the exact same position.  Then he started getting upset.

Then he started throwing up.  A lot.  His face turned pale as a sheet and his skin was cold and clammy.  He was still conscious and moving his arms and legs with purpose, but his eyes continued to be fixed straight down. 

That's when I started freaking out a little bit.  Connor's at risk for a ton of things in addition to seizures.  Things like hydrocephalus and strokes, among other potentially deadly medical conditions.  I wasn't sure what I was seeing, but I didn't like it at all.  So I decided that instead of driving to the hospital and finding something to eat before Connor's appointment I'd just drive straight to the ER.  I called Jeremy on the way and let him know what was going on.  He said he'd meet me at the hospital.

I hit just about every red light on my way over, so it took me a while to get to the hospital.  As I pulled into the ER parking lot, all of the sudden Connor's eyes started tracking again, and he stopped throwing up and started crying.  His left side was a little weak, and he was extremely sleepy.  That's a classic post-seizure response from him. 

Since he wasn't in respiratory stress or displaying any really distressing symptoms anymore, and since his doctor's appointment was supposed to be in fifteen minutes anyway, we decided to take him to that instead.  The doctor agreed with our thought that more than likely this was a new and funky kind of seizure for him.  If it had been something like hydrocephalus, the symptoms wouldn't have stopped after ten minutes.  I didn't give him Diastat this time because I didn't think it was a seizure, so that wasn't so hot because it went on a pretty long time, but at least I'll know what to do next time.

Forty minutes later (after a good nap) he was perfectly fine.

So that was our fun and excitement for the day; it was not something I'd particularly care to repeat.  We'll be calling the neurologist to let him know that Connor has had two really long seizures in the past three days.  We gave the little guy another dose of Ativan this evening to hopefully stave off any more.

So a busy, crazy day! 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In Which We Get Fingerprinted

Today was a pretty good day.

I dropped Connor off at school and headed straight for Bradley Park, where I continued furthering my connection with the pavement.  Today I decided to work on the two kinds of stopping that are the most basic for roller derby; the Plow and the T-Stop.  The Plow is pretty much what you do when you're on skies and want to stop; you widen your stance and turn your skates in towards one another.  I can manage that one.  The T-Stop is a little bit different; basically you are putting all of your weight on the front skate and dragging the back skate perpendicular to the front skate until the friction makes you stop.  Or at least that's what supposed to happen, and it occurs with me about one out of ten times.  The other nine times I put my weight on my front skate, drag my back skate perpendicular to the front skate and launched myself skyward.  Oh well; I'll figure it out eventually.  In the meantime I'm very grateful I'm wearing full gear!

After Connor came home and had his Zen Time (i.e. defunct nap time) we took off for Seattle because it was time for our fingerprinting appointment!  You have to be fingerprinted by the Department of Homeland Security during the international adoption process.  So that was an interesting trip; they have those crazy high tech biometrics scanners that take digital impressions of your fingerprints.  Our fingerprinting went relatively quickly and was uneventful, but it got me thinking.  Connor didn't have to have his fingerprints taken because it's highly unlikely he's committed too many felonies in his four years of existence, but in another ten years or so he'll have to have them done to get a military ID.  That's going to be a problem.

Connor doesn't have any fingerprints.

Really!  Absolutely none.  The big lines that cross everyone's palms just continue up onto the tips of his fingers.  The lines on his palms are kind of off, too-- I'm not entirely sure he even has lifelines.  Whenever I see a fortune teller at the farmer's market I'm always tempted to take him over just to watch their reaction when they see his palms.  I'm not exactly sure what they'll do about fingerprinting for him in the future-- I guess it will be whatever they do for people without hands. 

Right now the only issue he has with not having them is that it makes it much harder for him to grip things (because his fingers are slick) and also he can't really make those thumb print animals that are so popular for craft times.  Tragic!

~Jess

Monday, September 27, 2010

In Which I Do Some Skating And Connor Has A Seizure

Today I was lucky enough to have respite care for most of the afternoon; I'd originally scheduled it so I could go to a dentist appointment and then the time ended up being expanded when we had to move some of our respite care hours around due to everyone being sick earlier in the month.  So I went to the dentist's, which was every bit as exciting and fun as dentist appointments of mine usually are, only without the added drama of anyone being blown up this time.  I did accidentally leave my cell phone at home so I spent the entire appointment convinced that Connor was being rushed to the hospital at that very moment and Joanna couldn't get ahold of me, but otherwise everything went fine.  No cavities for me, and Connor didn't have any issues either so my paranoia was unfounded. 

So after the dental appointment (and my subsequent rush home to make sure Connor was still alive and to retrieve my cell phone) it was time for me to go skating!  I had originally planned to go in the morning while Connor was in school, but instead after doing some research I went to the store during that time and bought myself a pair of snowboarding pants.  Basically they're like bicycle pants (AKA Bubble Butt pants) times seven; they've got thick padding at the thigh, waist, rear cheeks and tailbone.  I am absolutely in love with these pants despite how ridiculous they make me look because thanks to them I am still able to walk after this afternoon's skating session.

I didn't waste any time trying out all of that padding.

So anyway, after my appointment I decided to head out to Bradley Park because it's got some nice flat areas of asphalt and a long bike trail which still had some decent hills but would be much easier to learn on than my street.  This session went much, much better than yesterday.  I figured out a way to stop that does not involve falling down, and after a while the crouching position you take on roller derby skates felt pretty natural and I stopped trying to straighten up, which cut back on my flailing considerably.  I spent about an hour on the half of the trail with the gentler curves, and then decided to try out the other side.

I was moving at a pretty good clip down a long hill and feeling spectacular when I rounded a wide curve and suddenly realized that I had forgotten about the wooden log bridge at the end of the slope.  I realized this about three feet from the bridge.  Anticipating a pretty spectacular fall but figuring I'd give it a go anyway, I hunkered down even lower on the skates and, much to my own surprise, bumped my way across!  I was mentally high-fiving myself and, due to my much lower stance, going even faster when I rounded the second curve and suddenly realized there was a second wooden bridge.  This one had the added feature of a rather large gap between logs right in the middle of the bridge.

About twenty feet up the trail from the bridge a sweet little old lady in a pale pink tracksuit was walking her beagle.  We made eye contact just as I hit the edge of the first log.  She watched, eyes the size of silver dollars, as I skidded across the planks, hit the big gap in the middle of the bridge and was launched airborne.  I came down on my left kneepad and wristguard simultaneously in kind of a superman position and slid the rest of the way across the bridge, coming to rest just on the other side. 

Thanks to my pads, I wasn't hurt a bit.  Actually it was kind of awesome.  Though I probably didn't impress the sweet little old lady at all.

I had planned to skate for two hours, but my time was cut short when I got a phone call from Joanna.  Connor was quite courteous and waited until I was in possession of my cell phone before having a seven minute seizure.  Not so great.  The good news, though, is that he didn't stop breathing once during the whole thing!  I can live with seven minute long seizures if they don't involve, you know, having to stave off death.

Joanna ended up using Diastat on the little guy but it stopped the seizure five seconds after she administered it and he was still breathing (Diastat is a respiratory depressant), so she didn't have to call the ambulance.  I'm not surprised that he had another one; if you don't count the febrile seizures it's been fifteen days since he had one last so he's overdue.  Hopefully this means that the new medication is starting to have an effect!

He did end up paralyzed on his left side, though.  We'll see how he's feeling in the morning. 

~Jess

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In Which I Demonstrate The Art Of Falling

 
I'm wasting no time getting into roller derby shape!

So today I took a trip up to visit Fast Girl Skates, which is the first brick-and-mortar roller derby store in the world.  Lucky for me, it just happens to be in Seattle!  I dropped my car off to have the oil changed across the street (scoring an easy parking space at the same time, which is a rare thing in the wheelchair van) and walked over.  One of the proprietors, Morty (who was extremely nice and is an awesome derby girl to boot) fitted me for skates and hooked me up with a set of beginner's gear.  I walked out with a full kit, complete with a set of nifty black Sure-Grip Rebels (size 8 in mens-- I have huge feet) and a shiny new helmet in cherry red (the only color they had in XS-- I have a tiny head) and was rarin' to go.

I am about six inches taller than Jeremy in skates, by the way.  I feel like an Amazon.  It's awesome.

As soon as I got home I switched out my indoor wheels (bright pink!) for my outdoor set (bright blue!) and strapped on all my protective gear, which I had a feeling was going to see a lot of use.  My neighborhood had rough sidewalks and a whole lot of really steep hills, which is pretty much a recipe for disaster when you've been up on roller skates maybe four times since you were twelve.  I sort of figure that if I can learn how to skate in that sort of terrain, though, a flat track should be no sweat.  Jeremy took a picture of me geared up (though somehow he neglected to get my skates in the picture) and I took off. 

Or rather, I got about three feet down our steep, pebbly, curving front walk and then ate it. 

The next half an hour was an exercise to see how evenly I could distribute bruises to all parts of my body.  I have discovered that I have a natural, hidden talent for falling down; I do it easily and effortlessly.  I believe I invented at least six new ways to become extremely intimate with the asphalt before I'd rounded the first corner (which was, of course, a sharp turn at the end of another long, steep, bumpy curve of sidewalk).  Most of my truly spectacular falls were directly in front of neighbors or preadolescent boys.  The neighbors all looked concerned and vaguely disgruntled at the sight of a woman who was obviously pushing thirty staggering around on roller skates and throwing herself face-first at various hard surfaces.  The boys all thought I was hilarious.

But I had a fantastic time and I plan to go out tomorrow while Connor is in school to a flatter surface in order to get some practice that doesn't involve falling down.  Not that I won't get some of that in; I still have several inches of skin left not currently sporting bruises that I need to cover.  I also plan to stop by the store to get some duct tape; I'm already doing a number on the toes of my skates, thanks to the number of times I've skidded across the cement.  But I'm having an absolute blast, and my only regret is that I didn't discover roller derby sooner so that I would have skating skills by now and could already be playing. 

Maybe I should get a part time job as a carhop.  Juggling someone else's food on roller skates would probably cure me of that falling habit really quickly.

~Jess

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In Which Jer And I Go On A Date And Fall In Love With A Sport

So Jer and I went on a date today, and as a result I am now going to the Dockyard Derby Dames Roller Derby Boot Camp. 

Also I might have possibly signed up for the Tacoma Women's Rugby League.  Though I don't think that I can actually do that, because after looking at the website it turns out that their practices would conflict with my sign language class, and also with the aforementioned roller derby boot camp.  So that's probably not going to happen, even though rugby is also very cool and the lady who picked me out of the crowd because I "looked like a rugby player" seemed very nice. 

What does a rugby player look like, anyway? 

At any rate, Jer and I have been looking for creative things to do on our dates recently.  Today Joanna was here from 8:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night, so we needed a lot of creative things to do on our date.  I mean, we love coffee shops and books, but fourteen hours of reading and sipping yummy beverages is a little much even for us. 

So after Joanna arrived I went out and ate a leisurely breakfast by myself while Jeremy completed his chemistry final.  Then I came back home and finished the first coat of stain on the outside of our fence.  Jeremy came out and helped once he was done with his final, and then after that we cleaned up and went out to lunch.  Since it was such a hot day we mixed it up in the afternoon by going to an ice cream store and reading our books.  See how creative we are!

And then it was time to drive down to Lakewood to watch the Rose City Rollers battle The Wave of Mutilation, which was our main entertainment for the evening.  Yep.  Roller derby!

This was the first roller derby game Jeremy and I had ever been to, and we didn't quite know what to expect.  I had been looking up things to do in the area and came across the Dockyard Derby Dames website by accident.  We looked up the rules and watched a few national league jams on YouTube to try and figure out what exactly the sport was about and whether or not it would be something we'd be interested in going to.  It looked pretty cool and it would eat up about three hours of date time, so we figured we'd check out the match.

It was awesome.

Okay, first of all, the game was great.  It had all of the fun parts I remember about soccer (yes, I played soccer for about ten years)-- mainly the teamwork and the body checking-- without the parts I wasn't so good at, like kicking the ball.  Also it was really exciting to watch, and there were many people in the audience and on the track who looked like they would be incredible amounts of fun to hang out with.  I was basing this on their socks.  Most of them had really awesome knee-high socks on.  We're talking fluorescent and rainbow-striped and fishnets and pirate socks.  Vintage T-shirts and hipster glasses abounded.  Some of the women were dressed rockabilly style, or in dresses straight out of the 50's, complete with a string of pearls and kitten heels.  At least one man was wearing a utilikilt.

These were my kind of people.

Everybody seemed to know everybody else.  We plunked ourselves down next to a friendly man named Thurston, who coached for a team in another county and was here to watch the game and get ideas about what his team's strategy needed to be when they played the current competitors.  He kept us informed on what exactly was going on in between chatting with all the people who came up to say hello, and clued us in about the penalties and the rules. 

As fun as it was to watch, it looked like it would be even more fun to play.

I spent plenty of time on roller skates growing up, but it's been a long time since I've spent any substantial amount of time on them; I'm pretty sure the few times Connor and I have gone stroller skating don't really count.  And I certainly haven't done any body checking on roller skates for a long time; I usually got in trouble when I did it to my little brother as a kid, so I've been out of the habit for a while.  I have played enough competitive, relatively high contact sports to know that I enjoy them, though.  Really.  In addition to soccer, which I managed to break my collar bone playing (who knew seventh-graders played so rough?) in the past I've dabbled in judo and krav maga-- both of which are pretty full contact to say the least.  I'm in okay shape right now; while I'm certainly not my best, I'd probably be able to get by.

Well lucky for me, it turns out that there just happens to be a roller derby boot camp starting up next week where you can learn more about the sport.  So I'm signing up!  Something about body checking on roller skates sounds like a lot of fun to me.  And maybe I'll make some new friends doing it.  I think it'll be a blast, even if I don't end up trying out for a team this year.  We'll just have to see.

If I did try out, I'd have to come up with a cool nickname.  And also possibly buy some more socks.

~Jess

Friday, September 24, 2010

In Which I Play Detective

Connor woke up and seemed a little subdued but otherwise fine this morning.  I dropped him off at school and then went back home and took a nap.  Then I headed off to the library and a coffee shop, where I got some breakfast and sat and read until it was time to pick him up.  Don't ask me about the state of my house right now-- a week of everyone being sick does not make for a good looking place.  However, after yesterday I badly needed that break.  I feel much better now and up for tackling all the housework that's piled up.  It's on my to-do list for tomorrow.

Connor apparently didn't have a great day at school-- he had a couple of meltdowns and was actually asking to go home, which is really unusual for him.  He had a few more at home too, though he was better than yesterday.  He's got a doctor's appointment set up for next week, so we'll be bringing him in then.  Hopefully the weekend will give him a chance to recharge.  I'm still not sure what's going on with him, but something is definitely off.  I'm still just not sure if it's something physical or not.  I tried to play the "does your fill-in-the-blank-body-part-here hurt?" game but wasn't able to really get any answers out of him.  It's hard trying to figure out what your kid needs when they've only got a 60 some-odd word vocabulary. 

Of course, it's gotten a lot better.  His first sign was "more," and he used it for everything.  We spent a whole lot of time running around saying "more what, honey?" while he got increasingly frustrated with us.  Now he's actually gotten to the point where he'll look at what he wants and sign more.  That makes our guessing game a whole heck of a lot easier, let me tell you.

We've been playing with the iPad at Speech Therapy, using the Prologuo2Go program.  Connor knows exactly what the thing does; he'll eyepoint (ie look fixedly) at the choice he wants to make on the iPad.  He just refuses to actually touch the thing.  Part of the problem, of course, is that he has a bit of a hard time making it recognize that his fingers are actually fingers.  He has circulation problems which tend to make his fingers pretty cold and no fingerprints (really!  he's like a ninja!) so it doesn't seem to recognize that he's a person and half the time we have to help him activate it.  The other part of the problem is that due to his sensory issues he doesn't want to touch anything.  That kind of defeats the whole purpose of the iPad. 

I'm sure we'll bring him around eventually on the whole assistive technology thing, and it will be fantastic because we'll finally be able to really understand what he's thinking.  I'm sort of wishing we were able to do that now, though, because thus far I haven't been able to figure out what's ailing him. 

I hope he feels better soon.

~Jess

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In Which Connor Is A Sadkin

Well today was not exactly one of the most fun days I have ever had in my life.

Jeremy was feeling better this morning and went into work, but I woke up still in the throes of The Gremlin Invasion and feeling thoroughly miserable.  I crawled into the shower and mentally steeled myself to get Connor up and take him to school.  I figured I could stand about ten feet off and push him over to his aide to avoid the risk of infecting anyone else, and then I could rush home and enjoy three blissful hours of sleep before I had to pick him up again. 

It didn't quite work out that way.

So I went in to get Connor ready at about 8:00 after not hearing any noise from his room, and was surprised to find that he was still asleep.  Normally he starts waking up when I give him his meds at 7:00, and is very ready to get up by 7:30 or so.  I gently woke him up and told him it was time to go to school.  He opened his eyes, took one look at me and burst into tears. 

He cried for the next two hours

He was obviously miserable-- basically he was a limp and sodden mess draped against my shoulder who was rapidly covering my shirt in tears and snot.  He would stop crying for a few minutes and drift back off into an uneasy sleep before waking up and immediately starting to sob like his little heart was breaking.  Obviously school was not going to work out so well.  So I called and told them he wouldn't be coming in today as he was sick again and prepared to hunker down with him for the day.  He didn't have a fever and nothing seemed tender; he was just kind of congested (though it's hard to tell if that came before or after all of the crying) and extremely sad.

I quickly discovered that there were two circumstances in which I could get him to stop crying.  I could either cuddle him on my lap and rock back and forth gently with him while singing one of four different songs, or I could cuddle him on my lap and watch TV.  Those were my choices.  Any attempt to put him down, sing a different song, change positions, bang my head against the wall, etc. was met with the same reaction as if I'd decided to stomp a puppy in front of him.  By about hour five of this I was ready for someone to rock and cuddle me. 

And by the time Jeremy came home (around hour ten of this) I was really tempted to shove our son at him and lock myself in the bathroom until past his bedtime. 

So I have absolutely no idea what that was all about.  Normally this is the most laid-back kid in the world, so something was obviously up.  If he does this again tomorrow I'll take him in to see the doctor; maybe he's got a UTI or something that's making him uncomfortable.  Or maybe I just threw off his groove when I woke him up this morning; it's happened in the past.  However normally when he's having a Very Sad Time because of sensory issues when I put him back in his bed he stops crying instead of immediately doing his best impression of a fire engine.

I'm really hoping that tomorrow he's his normal happy self, or that at least by then the Gremlins have moved on.  Then at least I'll have a little more energy to deal with The Saddest Sadkin That Ever There Was.

Not a fun day.

~Jess

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In Which Now I Am Sick

During the night, I'm pretty sure some gremlins moved into my head and began renovations.  First they sandpapered my eyeballs and the back of my throat.  Then they stuffed my head full of cotton wool.  Currently they are jackhammering my temples.

Yep.  Connor shared with me, too.

~Jess

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Which Jeremy Is Sick

Jeremy isn't feeling so hot right now; I think Connor was generous and decided to share his lovely illness with his daddy.  I'm really hoping that he chose to gift only his favorite parent, because there's nothing like the fun of two sick adults parenting a fully recovered kid.  I'm trying my best not to think about it, because I've heard happy thoughts make you less likely to become ill.

So this is going to be a really short blog tonight, because I'm going to bed early in a desperate last-ditch attempt to ward off getting sick. 

Really, really short. 

~Jess

Monday, September 20, 2010

In Which Connor Discovers A New Game And I Am Not Thrilled About It

Today Connor was thoroughly on the mend; his temperature was back to normal and he was feeling much better, which I am very thankful for.  Provided he's still feeling pretty good tomorrow I should be sending him back to school-- and just in time too, because he spent most of the day horribly bored.  He was still too physically worn out to be playing the kind of games we usually do, so instead he had some (extremely rare in our household) TV time with a couple of Fraggle Rock episodes.  I also read him a couple of stories, set him up with his drums, etc.  However, he didn't really want to do any of that stuff.  What he really wanted to do was demonstrate his new brand new exciting skill.

Despite him having to figure out how to isolate two fingers to do this activity, I am not really thrilled about his new fun habit.

Connor seems to go through phases where he has to find one particular noise or gesture that will drive me absolutely crazy, and then make it his favorite thing to do in the whole wide world.  For a while he ground his teeth.  Then he blew spit bubbles.  After that it was that thing where he'd pull all his sleeves out of shape, and then he learned how to blow raspberries.  Well, today Connor discovered that he can put two fingers up his nose!  You can imagine how overjoyed I am by this.  He puts one up each nostril and then breathes through his mouth.  Loudly.  It's apparently fascinating.  I'm really hoping that he'll have forgotten about it by tomorrow (though he can keep the whole isolating two fingers thing) but I suspect that this is going to become his new habit. 

At least he's figured this one out here at home instead of in some public area-- and I'm hoping to keep this habit out of the public eye if I can't break him of it entirely.  He learned how to put one finger up his nose several years ago in the middle pf the Department of Motor Vehicles office.  I thought everyone was staring at him on my lap because he was a cute baby.  Whoops.

So that's why you get no picture today; this is not a memory I particularly want to capture on film.  Oh well.  We're already that family, so people are going to stare at us in the grocery store anyway.  We might as well provide them with a good reason.  I just wish it was a reason that was slightly more . . . sanitary.

Guess I'll be stocking up on tissues.


~Jess

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In Which Connor Is Still Sick

Connor had another sick day today-- his temperature hovered around 100 degrees and we dosed him with Tylenol every four hours to keep it from climbing.  He was much more congested today, which leads me to suspect that maybe he's picked up a virus.  He spent most of the day either sleeping or snuggling with me or Jeremy, which tells me he wasn't feeling so hot.  Thankfully we didn't see a single seizure, though-- keeping his temperature from spiking seems to have fixed that issue.  I'm very grateful that we didn't have to spend any time in the ER today; that would not have been particularly fun, and any time we go we run the risk of him picking up something else in the hospital. 

Since he's still running a temperature today, we'll be keeping him home from school tomorrow.  I'm hoping this is a two-day bug and that he'll be feeling better soon!  We'll just have to see how things go.

If he is feeling better tomorrow we'll have one of those fun days where he's too sick to go to school, but well enough that he wants to do things.  It's difficult finding a good balance between activities that will keep him entertained but won't tax him too much.  Usually he ends up doing quite a bit of swinging, some story reading, some drumming and-- if he's pretty close to being well and can handle the sensory input-- a little bit finger painting.  He has a tendency to get bored and grumpy pretty quickly when he's recovering from being sick, so he keeps me hopping.  What activities do you all do with your kids when they're in that fun limbo between being really sick and being well?  I'd love to add to my repertoire of things to keep him busy!

~Jess
My monthly post is up over at Hopeful Parents.

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Hopeful Parents

Saturday, September 18, 2010

In Which Connor Is Sick

Well, it turns out it was a good thing that I kept Connor home from school yesterday, because he's not feeling so hot right now.

He slept in until almost 9:30 this morning, and when I finally went in to wake him up it was obvious from his flushed cheeks and quivering lip that something wasn't right.  "Are you feeling sick?" I asked him, stroking his hot forehead.  He nodded and closed his eyes again. 

I took his temperature.  He was running at about 99.9-- just high enough for me to know that he wasn't just feeling the effects of yesterday.  So I figured we'd have another pajama day today.  I picked him up, took him into the living room and snuggled in with him on the couch, expecting to just take it easy with him all day and hoping that we wouldn't see any excitement.

Connor didn't have any congestion or tummy troubles, so I wasn't expecting any problems there.  What I was really worried about was the fever, because while it was pretty low in the morning, if his temperature spikes sharply he can have febrile seizures.

Sure enough, around one in the afternoon his temperature began spiking, and within a three hour time period he had four seizures-- one of them after we'd used the Ativan.  The highest his temperature got was 102.9 before the Tylenol really kicked in.  The seizures all lasted between one and three minutes, and they varied-- a couple were his typical pass-out-and-stop-breathing, and a couple involved violent shaking and his eyes rolling back into his head.  The only tonic-clonic seizure he's ever had was a febrile seizure, so I'm not surprised by the change.  Currently he's hovering around 101.5, and I'll be setting my alarm to give him a dose of Tylenol every four hours during the night so that it doesn't have a chance to spike again.  The last thing we need is for him to start another run of seizures at two in the morning. 

If he does start having another series of seizures (whatever the time) we'll be taking him into the Emergency Room, because we've pretty much exhausted what we can do for him here at home and his seizures are still causing him to quit breathing.  Normally I would never take a kid above the age of three months running a measly 102 degree fever to the hospital, but Connor is kind of a special case.  The kid can go downhill really quickly and we'd like to prevent that if we can. 

Connor has been gifted with a surprisingly good immune system for a kid in his circumstances, and so he doesn't get sick very often.  When he does, though, it can take weeks for him to get better.  If his fever isn't going down by tomorrow afternoon, we'll probably be making an appointment to take him in and make sure he has a virus and not a UTI or an ear infection.  Connor only has one kidney and he's had at least one UTI in the past, so we have to be careful about making sure that's not what's going on. 

I hope the little guy feels better tomorrow.

~Jess   

Friday, September 17, 2010

In Which Connor Has A Pajama Day

Today was a pajama day.

As you all know, Connor is currently on a number of seizure medications, including Lamictal.  One of the side effects of Lamictal can be insomnia, and we've been seeing that with a vengeance the past few days.  Connor also has issues common to many g-tube fed kids-- periodic constipation and tummy troubles. 

Combine the two and you get last night.

Connor got a grand total of a little less than two hours of sleep.  He had trouble falling asleep, and then once he finally managed it his upset tummy would wake him up and he'd refuse to go back to sleep.  I spent a good portion of last night rocking him in the living room to try and help him calm down-- he was wound up so tightly that he kept gulping air and no amount of venting with the g-tube was helping.  So I kept him in his pajamas today and out of school.  I wanted to make sure the tummy troubles weren't related to something more sinister than his GI system backing up, and also I thought we'd both be absolutely exhausted today and he'd be too tired to be functional. 

Ha.

The kid woke up at 8:30 this morning and refused, despite all my pleading (remember that I also got a little less than two hours of sleep) to go back down.  He also refused to nap.  Perhaps he gets his energy from some alternate, invisible source-- or maybe he was just delirious-- but at any rate not only was he absolutely fine-- no tummy troubles at all-- but he was also bouncing off the walls the whole day.  I put him down at his usual time, and he lay in bed and sang to himself for an hour and a half before finally falling asleep. 

Next time I guess I'll just send him to school.  At least then I'll get a nap.

~Jess

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In Which Connor Shops Reluctantly, And We Make An Unusual Find

It was raining today but I was feeling cooped up and really wanted to get out of the house, so after Connor was finished with school and Quiet Time I loaded him in the van and we took off for the antique mall.  I absolutely love the antique mall because there are so many fun things to look at, and it's a rare occasion when I don't walk out with at least one find. 

Connor, however, was not particularly thrilled with our outing.  Connor was convinced that going to the antique mall was the Worst Idea Ever.  You can see just how thrilled he is to be there.

He's still in a funk from the previous week, though I think he's just showing us the attitude at home as I haven't received any reports of it from school.  Kids always seem to save those special moods for their parents, right?  At any rate, he spent the entire time with a variation of the Pouty Face or the Angry Face on.  He signed "Bye bye" to every single person we passed in the store. 

The women who work at the antique mall know Connor and me pretty well by now-- we've been coming in there for over three years.  They all think Connor is absolutely adorable, and coo over him every time he comes in, which he normally eats up.  Today he waved "Please bye bye" to them and went back to pouting.  At least he was polite about it.

We also ran into a woman who had been a special education teacher for many years, and knew sign language.  Of course she fell under Connor's spell too, found the store cat for Connor, and brought him over for the little guy to see. 

Connor waved "Please bye bye" to the cat.

So my antique store outing didn't last as long as I'd expected it to because the little guy was asking very nicely to leave, and I like to reward that sort of behavior.  I would much rather see "Please bye bye" than hear a whole lot of ear-piercing shrieking, which is what he usually resorts to if we're somewhere he doesn't want to be and I don't leave immediately. 

As a result I didn't end up picking up anything this time, but I did see an interesting wall hanging leaning on a little hutch in a country-style booth.  This was a booth filled with tea cups, scented soap, teddy bears in overalls, lace doilies and wooden chickens-- the kind you'd picture a sweet little old lady selling.  The wall hanging was labeled "Leaf Picture" and was leaning against a shelf along with a bunch of other frames filled with pressed leaves and flowers-- violets, roses, oak leaf arrangements, daisies and the like.

So if anyone was wondering, apparently $11.50 is the going rate for "Leaf Pictures" these days.  At least when they're sold by little old ladies in antique malls.


~Jess

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Which Connor Is Not Sad About Being An Only Child

Thanks everyone, for your comments, e-mails, and kind thoughts of yesterday.  We appreciate all your love and support.

We had a pretty quiet day today.  Connor had his physical therapy and occupational therapy this morning, and they both went well.  He has back-to-back sessions now, which usually leaves him pretty tired but not totally overwhelmed like it would have done a couple of years ago.  He was a bit ornery today, which I'm pretty sure was fall out from the drama of the past week.  Connor's a pretty good barometer for our moods, and we'd also been preparing him for travel and for having a little brother for the past week.  And you know how much this kid loves change-- which is to say not at all.

I am absolutely sure that when we bring another child home we are going to be dealing with some jealousy issues for the first few weeks.  Not that there's much Connor would be able to do except mope about it-- his mobility issues and lack of functional opposable thumbs wouldn't allow him to do anything more threatening.  When we first told Connor that he was going to have a brother, his response was "No.  All done.  Go away."  Obviously he was less than thrilled.  When I told him that the baby's Mommy and Daddy had decided to take care of him and so Connor would not be a big brother soon, the little stinker actually applauded.  While I have no doubt that after the first few weeks of adjustment Connor would love having a brother or sister, clearly he is not exactly sad about being an only child for a while longer. 

Oh well.  I suspect if four year olds were allowed to make decisions on having more siblings there would be very few multiple-child households.  Luckily Connor is not in charge around here.

I think he's not, anyway.  Sometimes it seems like a gray area.

Anyway, so he had a good time despite himself at therapy.  Laura and Jolie pulled out the big guns-- the swings, which always get a smile out of him no matter how hard he tries to convince us he's in a bad mood.  It's really funny how he'll grin until he realizes that you're watching him and then immediately tries to put a serious look back on his face.  By the end of the second hour he'd forgotten about his bad mood and I walked out of there with a tired but obviously happy kid.

Silly little guy. 

~Jess

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Which I Make A Happy And Sad Announcement

So you may have noticed that my posts have been rather devoid of actual content for the last few days.

I mean, I wrote about my laundry room, for Pete's sake.

That's because for the past week, we've been keeping a secret that I was waiting to share with you all.  Now that things have come to a conclusion, I think it's time to tell.

Up until this morning, we were bringing a newborn home in the next couple of weeks.

One week ago, on the day after I wrote the blog post about letting Sylvie go, we received an e-mail about a possible placement in the United States.  I'm not going to go into too much detail about the circumstances of the family because that's not my story to tell.  Suffice it to say that the child was a few days old and had been born with unexpected physical special needs that would require extensive medical care.  Though the child was an American citizen, the parents were of a different nationality and would be returning to their home country soon, where it would be very difficult for the child to receive the medical support he needed.  The family was making the extremely hard decision of choosing an adoption plan because they wanted to make sure their child had access to all of the medical support and services he would need as he grew up.  However, they wanted to remain very much a part of his life.  They needed to find a family quickly because of the limited time they could remain in the country.

It didn't take Jeremy and I very long after hearing about this little guy to make the decision that we wanted to try and become part of his family.  The baby boy fit almost perfectly the description of what we were looking for; he had treatable, physical special needs but probably would not have any cognitive or developmental delay.  His medical needs would be completely covered by our insurance and we already knew a lot about most aspects of the care he would require.  We would have a very open adoption with as much contact as the family was comfortable with, which we felt would be extremely beneficial for the baby.  Our family also already had strong connections with the heritage and nationality of this child.

While we wouldn't have been comfortable with the idea of switching over if we had already been matched with a child, right now we didn't have a placement in Thailand.  So we spoke with our adoption agency, who very graciously put our Thailand process on hold so that we could see whether or not we might be an acceptable family for this baby boy and told us that we could update our home study to reflect a domestic adoption and if it didn't work out, switch back without trouble.  We submitted our profile to the family's adoption agency, and they expressed an interest in us right away.

Over the next few days we exchanged e-mails and talked on the phone with the family about a wide range of topics dealing with adoption and parenting.  Yesterday afternoon we received an e-mail from them saying that they had chosen us as a family and were ready to relinquish their parental rights.  Everything seemed to be falling perfectly into place for us.

We spent the rest of yesterday caught up in a whirlwind of planning, making preliminary travel preparations as the baby was not in our state and trying to figure out exactly what we would need, as we'd been planning on bringing home a school-aged child next summer and were suddenly bringing home an infant next week.  We began calling our family and friends to give them the news.  We were extremely happy and excited, but that was tempered by the knowledge that the parents whose child we were preparing to welcome into our lives were probably experiencing the exact opposite emotions. 

Those of you with medically fragile children who didn't know that your child would be born with special needs probably remember all too vividly the nightmare of the first few days after your child's birth.  Now add the gut-wrenching grief of having to make an adoption plan for a much-wanted child on top of that and you have some idea of what this family was probably going through at the time.  While Jeremy and I cannot imagine what that possibly felt like, we were very aware of the fact that our happiness and joy was directly tied to someone else's pain.  That's a very sobering thought, and one of those unpleasant truths about adoption that I don't think any of us like to examine very closely.  But all the same we couldn't help but be joyful about the thought of getting the chance to be a part of this child's life.  So I guess you could say my feelings were mixed; I was happy for me, and I was sad for them.

This morning we got another e-mail from the family.  They changed their minds and have decided to parent.

So now I'm very happy for them because I know that this child will be very loved; I have no doubt they will be amazing, strong parents and advocates for him.   I don't know if circumstances changed or if they just decided that they'd work things out as they go along, but in any case this little boy will be part of a healthy family and will grow up knowing every day just how much his parents care for him.  I'm so glad that he will have the chance to experience that. 

But I'm sad for me.

We have now lost two adoption placements in the last three weeks.  I compared losing Sylvie to having a miscarriage, and this second loss feels much the same only I think it's hitting me harder just because everything has happened so quickly.  Once again we're saying goodbye to a child who is still alive.  Once again we will be starting over at the beginning of our adoption journey, a little more wary, our hearts a little more bruised.

I am not a person capable, I think, of holding myself back from loving these children before we ever know them even if it would save me a lot of heartache.  Jeremy is a little better at being able to keep himself at a distance, but it's just not part of my personality to be able to hold back reserves until the day we actually cross all the 't's, dot the 'i's and the child is actually, legally ours.  Once we make a commitment to adopt a child, that's it for me. 

And though it opens me up to a lot more pain, I can't think that loving these children could ever be a bad thing, even if we will never be a part of their lives like we expected.  It makes me wonder how many people are out there now walking around not knowing that they are thought of by a stranger now and again with love.  It's amazing to think about the invisible connections that tie us all together.  How could more love being directed at a child, even if it is never known about or returned, ever be anything but positive?  I know love isn't a finite resource; there's room in my heart for all these children, whether or not we ever meet.

So I allowed myself to have a sad day today; after I took Connor to school I spent a few hours in the bathtub, sobbing into a washcloth and eating Cherry Garcia ice cream directly out of the carton, and by the time I needed to go pick him up I felt a lot better.  It'll take us more than a few hours to recover, of course, but over the next few days we'll start the process of saying goodbye.  I'll create another ritual for myself (guess those owls will have company) so that I can have some closure, and I'll allow myself to process the fact that we won't be bringing this precious little guy home either but that I'll always think about him, wonder how he is doing, and love him.  And that's okay. 

And then when we're ready, Jeremy and I will sit down with the Waiting Child list and start the process of finding the next child to fall in love with. 

We've got room.

~Jess

Monday, September 13, 2010

In Which Connor Loves School, And I Am Grateful For It

I was lazy today and didn't take a picture, so here's Connor's backpack again because this is, after all, a school related post.  It's working out really well, and I just received a bunch of iron-on labels in the mail for his clothes and burp cloths, so pretty soon everything will be labeled for the school year.

Connor has had an amazing time at school so far!

This Friday he had one of his best days yet; his teacher said that he was repeating sounds back to them, participating in songs, and even playing Go Fish with the other children!  What a long, long way he's come from the quiet, withdrawn child of last year who obviously loved school but was too overwhelmed to participate.

There are probably a few things helping him along; right now he has a smaller class size and all of the children are familiar from last year.  One of the interesting issues within a special needs preschool is that children enter the classroom when they turn three and not when school starts, so it is likely that as the school year progresses Connor's class will grow.  However, starting out with children who are all familiar to him is really helpful because it lets him get comfortable in the classroom before changes are made.  He already knows most of the staff who are working with him as well, which probably helps him out even more.  While Connor usually bonds with other children pretty quickly it takes him longer to open up to adults, so having lots of familiar faces in the classroom seems to make him feel a lot better.

So he's having the time of his life right now, and it's pretty neat to see just how excited he gets in the morning when I tell him it's time to go to school! 

It's a really great thing that he enjoys school so much, because they push him there just as hard as Jeremy and I do at home.  They're forever sticking his hands and feet into substances he doesn't particularly want to touch and doing plenty of activities that are outside his comfort zone.  But he still really enjoys his classroom experience despite all the unpleasent things he has to do there, and that makes me extremely happy.  I remember just how fun I thought preschool was, and I'm so glad that Connor's getting the same sort of experience.  It's really nice to have a kid who wakes up in the morning and wants to go to school, and it's very important to us that Connor gets as much out of his time at school as he possibly can. 

He had a substitute teacher today for the first time this year, and we were in a rush to leave so I didn't get the chance to ask how things went.  However he came home in a pretty good mood, so I'm assuming he had a pretty good day.  It's so great to hear the glowing reports the staff are giving me every day when I go to pick him up at school; it's obvious they love having him as a student and are as excited about his progress as I am. 

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be able to send him off and not worry about what he's doing while I'm not with him!

~Jess

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In Which We Have A Mostly Quiet Day

Today it was back to drizzly, gray weather, so we spent most of our time quietly indoors.  I decided today was the perfect day to put together a project I'd been planning for a few weeks.  I've been wanting some artwork for the end of our laundry room wall next to our mudroom bench, and I've been in the mood for something a little whimsical.  So I started buying prints on Etsy-- most of them under ten dollars-- that all had to do with Little Red Riding Hood, or at least with girls in red cloaks.  Today I framed all of them with frames I either already had or purchased on sale from our local arts and crafts place, and hung them up on the wall.  I still need one more (possibly a doll or ornament-- you can see the space for it) to round things out and I plan to find a wolf portrait to hang on the adjoining wall, but otherwise I think it looks pretty good!

Oh, and of course I have books in my laundry room.  Doesn't everybody?

This is a major achievement for me, by the way, because I can't hang a picture level to save my life.  Hanging these took me a ridiculous amount of time, and they still aren't perfectly level but they're far better than what my usual hanging jobs look like.  I've tried enough tricks and hints by now to know that my ability to hang a picture crooked despite meticulous planning is an ingrained part of my personality and no amount of measuring, remeasuring, marking and leveling is going to correct it.  Oh well.  I think it will still look cute when I'm finished.

Connor had a pretty quiet day today too, though he did have about a 45 second seizure this evening.  I think the new medication is starting to have an effect; he didn't stop breathing at all.  He got a little blue around the mouth before we put him on oxygen, but his color came back nicely as soon as the cannula was in and he didn't have any problems after it was over.  We went ahead and gave him a single dose of Ativan, so we shouldn't see any more seizures for a while. 

Otherwise he spent most of the day critiquing my picture hanging efforts, singing little songs to himself while he played with toys, or hanging out with Jeremy, who goes back to work tomorrow after having taken a couple of weeks off.  It's been really nice getting the chance to relax with him, and he still has a lot of vacation saved up so we can do it again some time soon! 

~Jess

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Which We Have A Lovely Day

Today was a lovely, sunny day-- something that's been relatively scarce around here for the last week or two.  I know that summers here are usually pretty short, but six weeks is a little ridiculous even for this area.  At any rate, with it so nice outside we just couldn't stay indoors, so we headed out to soak up some sun. 

Connor and I took a nice long walk around the neighborhood.  All of the neighbors seemed to be out and about too-- mostly walking their dogs or catching up on yard work.  We made a slow circuit around the block, stopping to chat every few houses with the neighbors we know.  Every once in a while a large cloud of children would speed past us on their bicycles, which Connor thought was enormously funny.  He got particularly excited when a kid of about ten or eleven slowed down and rang the bell for him-- he even turned his bike back around and rode past us a second and third time so Connor could hear it again.  It was really cute, and we're lucky to live in a place with such great people!

I was a little disappointed that I didn't see one particular group of folks out when Connor and I took our walk, though.  I'd run some errands earlier that morning without the little guy along and was driving down our street on the way back to our house when I passed three men out in a driveway.  Surrounding the driveway was a small clump of children.  I slowed down because I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

The men were probably in their thirties, and they were dressed in full karate gear.  Two of the men wore black belts and one wore a red belt.  The three of them were doing nonstop back flips and jump kicks, stopping only to spar with each other before launching themselves into the air again.  All the kids were cheering. 

I am totally not making this up.  Seriously, do we live in the coolest neighborhood ever, or what? 

So after checking to see that our martial arts neighbors were (sadly) not out in their yard anymore, we stopped by the playground across the street from our house, where Connor enjoyed playing on the slide and the bouncing duck.  You know what I'm talking about-- it's a duck, and on a big spring, and you ride on it and it bounces.  What the heck do you call those things anyway?  And why, for that matter, is it a duck?  Wouldn't it make more sense for it to be a frog or something?

So while we played on the bouncing duck (or whatever that thing is called) I also kept an eye out for the owl; the park has the playground carved out of it and otherwise is several acres of woodland, so it's likely that he's got a nest somewhere in there.  That would explain why he was so close to our house.  We didn't catch sight of him though; he must be holed up somewhere sleeping, like owls are supposed to do in the daytime.  The only wildlife we saw out and about was this squirrel, who thought we looked suspicious and watched us from a perch in the trees the entire time we were there.

Anyway, after that we headed back home, and Connor spent some time indoors with his daddy while I finished out the afternoon by weeding the garden. 

So all in all it was a lovely day!

~Jess

Friday, September 10, 2010

In Which We Encounter Nature With A Bang

There's never a dull moment around here, I swear.

This morning I dropped Connor off for school and then spent a quiet morning puttering around the house with my cell phone in hand, catching up with friends and family.  It is physically impossible for me to talk on the phone and stay in one place, so I was slowly circling the house, chattering away.  I was in the middle of a conversation with my friend Julia and wandering towards our dining room table when there was a tremendous BANG and our closed sliding door curtains rattled violently.  In the same moment Cricket, who had been curled up in between the closed curtain and the glass of the door, levitated backwards about four feet and then shot past me, puffed up to about six times her normal size.  After I quit screaming into poor Julia's ear, I cracked open part of the curtain and looked out. 

It was an owl.

A Northern Barred Owl, to be exact, and an extremely large specimen of one.  He was sitting on the deck a few feet back from the sliding door looking rather dazed, as if he wasn't sure exactly what had just happened. 

I'm pretty sure that owls have stellar eyesight and don't normally make a habit of flying into doors, especially those that have shut opaque curtains behind them.  He must have either not been looking where he was going, been going after another bird and didn't manage to pull up in time, or thought that Cricket's head, which was probably the only part of her visible through the glass, looked like a particularly tasty treat.  At any rate-- after a very worrisome minute in which Jeremy and I stared at the owl through the glass and tried to figure out who the heck we would call if it was injured-- the owl seemed to recover and flew up onto our fence. 

He sat there for about ten minutes or so recuperating.  Jeremy and I were able to go out and take some pictures of him; he didn't seem phased by us at all!  He spent much of the time looking around (completely around-- backwards and everything), squinting up at the sky, and then looking at the cats through the door as if to say "Um, what was that?"  Every time we moved he'd snap his attention back to us, but otherwise didn't show any distress.  I took these pictures standing about eight feet away!  It was pretty amazing because I've never been that close to an owl in the wild before.  He somehow managed to be intimidating, gorgeous and unbelievably cute all at the same time.  Now that takes talent.


See what I mean?  Isn't he unbelievably cute when he does that?

We went back inside after a little while to discover both of the cats crouched about ten feet away from the sliding door and staring fixedly at the owl, the fur completely raised up on the ridges of their back and their tails puffed up like bottle brushes.  Loki was growling loudly.  Both cats spent the next six hours startling at everything and tearing around the house at top speed.  It was hilarious.

The owl flew off into the tall trees surrounding our house shortly afterwards, but I could tell exactly where it was because all the birds in the immediate area were going nuts.  There are a lot of nests in those trees and the woodpeckers, crows, grosbeaks, and even the thrushes and sparrows were all calling as loudly as they could and gathering together in ominous clouds in preparation of dive bombing the owl.  He flew off for quieter realms and things immediately settled down, but for a while there it was a total cacophony of bird noises outside.

So that was our crazy wildlife encounter for the day.  I'm glad that all parties involved were okay!  While our cats are far too big for the owl to carry off, I would be willing to bet they are very happy right now that they are indoor cats.

~Jess

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In Which We All Go To The Museum

Connor had another fantastic day at school today!  Apparently he not only had his feet put in a tray full of rice and was (marginally) okay with it, but he also actually had his hand encased in playdough and didn't cry. 

Wow.  That's my big boy!

After school he went down for his usual Quiet Time during which he (of course) didn't nap at all.  Once the hour was up Jeremy and I loaded him up and we drove to Seattle with the intention of meeting some friends at the Seattle Children's Museum.  Unfortunately it ended up being closed, so instead we went to the Pacific Science Museum.  Connor and I have been there before, but this was the first time Jeremy had seen it.  We had a blast!

The Pacific Science museum is a very different experience with Jeremy along than it is when it's just me and Connor.  When Connor and I are by ourselves, we usually move at a fairly leisurely pace, taking plenty of breaks and spending a lot of time reading the exhibits.  When Jeremy is along, it's all I can do to keep up-- every time I stopped to take a picture they'd leave me behind!

Like this picture of the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum building that we passed on our way to the PSC.  They were supposed to be in it, but were walking so fast that they were out of the frame before I hit the shutter button!  Most of the pictures I have are of vaguely Connor-and-Jeremy-shaped blurs.  Boy that is a really weird and awesome building though.  I always do a double take when I see the back of it because I think it's melting.

We visited the dinosaur room, the health area, the space exhibit and the outdoor water area.  We also spent quite a bit of time in the butterfly house and in the toddler music room, both of which Connor thoroughly enjoyed.  I got some good pictures of the butterflies, because unlike Connor and Jeremy they would hold still.  Connor also, believe it or not, enjoyed the tide pool!  I didn't get any pictures because I was helping him stick his hand in the water, but he got to touch a sea anemone, some shells and a hermit crab.  He thought the sticky anemone was pretty cool!

After the museum we stopped by the Seattle Center food complex and discovered to our great delight that they made beignets, which we haven't eaten since we moved up to the Pacific Northwest.  There was a tiny cafe in the little Texas town we went to college in that specialized in beignets, and we used to eat huge quantities of them so we were excited to see them again-- though probably excited for different reasons.  I love the taste of beignets.  Jeremy loves beignets for the large quantities of powdered sugar on top, and also because he knows that if he pronounces them as "bagnets" or "you know, those b things" he can always get a rise out of me.  We sat and ate our horribly mispronounced (on Jeremy's part, anyway) pastries and I listened to Jeremy pass the time by telling Connor further happy falsehoods about the museum complex** that I then had to correct.  We spend a lot of time doing that sort of thing. 

All in all we ended up staying about three hours in the Seattle Center complex, and this was after a full morning of school activities on Connor's part so it was a really long day!  We thought the little guy was going to fall asleep in the car, he was so bushed.  But he made it home and fell deeply asleep the second we put him to bed-- no melt downs!  He's come such a long way in the past year; I can't believe that we were able to cram so much in and he not only took it in stride, but really enjoyed himself. 

What a busy, but great day!

~Jess




**Connor, all the dinosaurs didn't go extinct, they went to live in museums!  They hold really, really still because they are hunting.  When kids wander away from their parents, the dinosaurs eat them.  That is how they get their food!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In Which Connor Is Amazing!

Connor had a great day in therapy today!

Connor doesn't have school on Wednesdays, so those are his big outside therapy days.  Connor now has back-to-back PT and OT, which is pretty intense!  This is a schedule that would have completely exhausted him last year, but this year he hasn't had any trouble with it.  Other than a mild round of poutiness halfway through, he did really well.

He spent quite a bit of time on the swings today, which is always a favorite pastime.  We saw a couple of new things today while swinging, though, which were pretty exciting!  Connor was using one of the typical plastic bucket toddler-type swings, and it was suspended just low enough that his feet could rest on the ground.  He actually started using his feet to push himself around and make the swing go!  You could tell he was concentrating really hard to figure out how to deliberately straighten his knees out and push off to get the swing started, and then to pull his legs in so that his feet wouldn't brush against the ground.  He only did it a couple of times, but that's a great start.

The other exciting thing that happened was that Connor decided to hang on to the rope attached to the swing!  This is fairly rough stuff, and so it's some pretty good sensory input and normally we would have to force him to touch it.  This time he did it completely voluntarily!  He was wildly praised for it, of course, so hopefully we'll see some more of that.

I am so proud and excited at how far he's come just over the last few weeks.  The fact that he's learning to consciously bend and straighten his knees is a huge step towards standing on his own, and the strides that he's made in sensory work have been nothing short of amazing. 

I can't wait to see what my big boy will do next!

~Jess

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In Which Connor Loves The Box

So my child has, sitting untouched in his room, several hundred dollars worth of developmental toys.  He has around 300 books.  He has a rocking horse, a race car track and a tricycle.  He has a swing suspended from his bedroom ceiling, for Pete's sake.

Guess what he wants to play with?

Yes, that's right.  The Box.  I'm relatively convinced that this is some sort of universal principle and that every child between the ages of two and eight-- regardless of their life circumstances-- believes that The Box represents the pinnacle of all things that are fun and will prefer it to any other source of amusement.  Toy manufacturers have been trying to recreate the essence of that recycled cardboard goodness for years and have never quite managed it. 

We are never in short supply of The Box around here because Connor's g-tube supplies arrive every month neatly packaged in four large brown cartons made out of 100% pure hilarious entertainment.  Connor used to be only marginally interested in The Box, but all of the sudden his eyes were opened to the wonders contained within and he couldn't get enough of it.  Now for a large portion of the afternoon on delivery day, this is what you'll see in our household:



That little finger-curling hand motion you see him make with his right hand each time before The Box descends upon his head is his sign for "want," by the way.  Connor must have worried that the ear-piercing shrieks of excitement weren't going to tip us off. 

So until I take out the recycling, all of those toys, games and developmental activities can stay in Connor's room.  Right now The Box is here, and Connor is over the moon about it.

I'll do anything for a chance to hear that little squeaky bicycle-wheel laugh.

~Jess

Monday, September 6, 2010

In Which We Have A Lazy Holiday

As I'm sitting here typing this from my usual cozy chair in our library, Cricket and Loki are curled up in the chair next to me where they've been for the last three hours or so, storing up energy for their three-in-the-morning romp. 

They are both snoring.  Loudly.

Crazy cats.

We didn't do a whole lot for the holiday today, other than take a quick trip to the bookstore (of course).  Jeremy was a little sore today from some of the weight workouts he did earlier in the week, so we decided to take it easy.  Connor had the day off from school, and he had a good day for the most part, though he did have a really short, 30 second seizure late this afternoon.  We will be upping his Lamictal medication dosage tomorrow, though, so the dosage change should reset his system again.  We were told to expect him to start having seizures closer together as his body gets used to the medication dosage he's on (until we reach a therapeutic dose of his medication in about nine weeks, when hopefully they'll stop entirely) so it wasn't unexpected.  He was fine afterwards-- no left-side paralysis this time-- so that was a very good thing.  He took just enough of a nap after the seizure to make him not want to go to bed later. 

Oh well.

~Jess

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In Which I Write An Entirely Too Long And Sentimental Post About Adoption


I'm sitting here drinking a hot glass of lemon tea (with a generous dollop of honey, of course) and browsing the Internet for children's room decoration ideas.  Since Sylvie is going to another family, I've been trying to give myself some closure so I can start preparing for the next little boy or girl we select off the Waiting Child list.  Sylvie should be joining her new family this week, and I've been trying to picture how happy and excited that family must be to finally meet her and taking her home.  It's helped considerably knowing how much joy they must be experiencing right now, and I'm sure Sylvia will be in good hands.

Even though Sylvie never even knew we existed, I wanted to feel like she was giving me "permission" to start thinking about another child.  Call me silly, but I kind of felt like I a needed a little private ceremony to send her off, like the ones I had for all of the children I miscarried.  So I decided that I'd pick out something for the new child and think of it as a gift from Sylvie. 

Because we got Sylvia a stuffed animal owl as a first gift from us, I thought that something along those lines would be ideal.  Since I don't know yet how old our child (or children, since we're approved for a sibling group) will be though, I wasn't sure a stuffed animal would be appropriate.  So I bought two owl prints (from here and here) that I thought would work for either gender and pretty much any age-- heck, I'd hang them on my bedroom wall-- and I'm thinking of them as a sweet parting gift from the little girl we'll never meet, but will always have a special place for in our hearts.  The second one arrived yesterday, and I feel ready now to start concentrating on finding the child that's still waiting for us out there somewhere.

Okay, and to tell you the truth I probably would have bought these anyway.  Because they are really cute.

As far as that child goes, we're back to the proverbial drawing board.  We're perfectly fine with either a girl or a boy, which means we're much more likely to end up with a boy as there are many more available.  We figured either way we're still going to let them have their own room now though instead of making the boys (if the kid is a boy) share, since Connor's seizure medications have been giving him insomnia lately.  Besides, they'll probably end up sleeping with us for the first six months anyway.  We're approved for a kid (or kids) up to the age of nine with moderate special needs, and honestly there are very few special needs we wouldn't do.  We told the adoption agency we would do pretty much anything except for these four things:

1) Total blindness.  Because Connor can't finger spell into someone's hand and isn't using a computer to talk yet, so our kids couldn't speak to each other if child #2 is completely unable to see.  Also I am way, way too messy to have a kid who is blind-- I never put things down in the same place twice-- and our house is set up for pretty much any disability except blindness.  Not enough transition between rooms, too little color contrast, etc.  So total blindness is probably not a good idea.  A degree of blindness (and yes, legal blindness covers a wide range of vision; Connor actually qualifies as deafblind, believe it or not, because of his Duane Syndrome) would be okay depending on the type and severity of blindness.

2) Severe known behavioral, emotional or psychological issues.  Okay, so there's certainly a risk that any adopted child is going to end up with these due to their traumatic past, and if we end up with a child who fits in this category we'll deal with that as it comes.  Once we've adopted them that's it-- they're family-- and we'll treat them the same way we'd treat a biological child with these sorts of issues.  However, knowingly adopting a child with any of these conditions would not be terribly responsible of us, as Connor is nonverbal and completely unable to defend himself.  Not a good combination.

3) Moderate to severe cognitive delay.  So maybe this is kind of selfish on our parts, but we want our next kid to grow up and leave the house.  Really.  We're already planning our retirement for three, because the odds of Connor ever being able to live on his own are pretty much nil.  Not that we wouldn't be thrilled if it happened, but we're going to do the smart thing and figure he'll be right there with us.  A kid who won't be completely dependent on us for the rest of his or her life sounds like a good plan.

4)  Terminal illness.  We've lost enough children.  While we're planning for three as far as retirement goes, we are well aware that it's more than likely we'll outlive Connor by a good number of years.  So we'd rather not go there again if we can possibly help it, because with our next kid we'd like to try the novelty of worrying about whether or not they will grow up well instead of just worrying about if they will grow up.

Anyway, other than those four things we're pretty much completely open.  Deafness, limb differences, CP, cranialfacial issues, spina bifida, dwarfism, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  No problem.  Hopefully some time in the next week or two we'll go in to the adoption agency and start the process to be matched with a new child.  Because we're so open, I have absolutely no idea what that child will be like, but I'm looking forward to finding out!

In the meantime I'm preventing myself from going completely crazy by continuing to work on what paperwork we can do right now and also by planning the basic decor for our child(ren)'s room.  While we'll leave some things for when they get here so that they have to chance to help decorate the room to their tastes, things like paint colors and major pieces of furniture should already be in place before they arrive.  I like to bargain shop, so it's better for me to get an idea of what I want to do way, way in advance rather than trying to buy everything at the last minute. 

I'm finding it a challenge; designing a completely neutral kid's room isn't exactly a walk in the park.  But I'm deliberately thinking about a room for any child rather than a child of a specific age, gender or special need because until we have that kid physically on the plane I'm probably going to be half-convinced things are going to fall through again. 

I've come up with a general color scheme-- it's gray (along with that latte color and the shoji white trim that's in every room of our house) with turquoise and orange accents-- and I'll spend the next few months happily painting and buying furniture and doing my best to keep myself busy until the day when I've got a little helper (or two) to pick out the finishing touches. 

And I'll hang the pair of owls in a place of pride on the wall, so that when our child or children walk through the door for the very first time into the room where they will grow up, they'll receive a silent, heartfelt welcome home.

~Jess

Saturday, September 4, 2010

In Which Jer And I Have A Date

I didn't take any pictures today, so here's a totally irrelevant shot of the top of Connor's bookcase, which I am posting because I feel like it.  Enjoy.

Today Jeremy and I went out on a long date, from eleven in the morning until seven at night!  It was pretty nice to be able to spend a solid block of time with him like that.  The first thing we did was went over to our local conveyor-belt sushi place and had some lunch.  Then we headed down to the movie theater.

Jeremy and I don't watch a whole lot of movies, but every once in a while one will hit the theaters that gets good reviews and looks intriguing enough to check out.  So we'd heard quite a bit about Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and decided it would be worth seeing in theater.  It was a pretty awesome movie, though anyone over the age of about forty probably isn't going to like it as it leans very heavily on the gaming, indie, hipster crowd sort of culture and has a lot of references and humor that people outside that demographic probably aren't going to catch.  But Jer and I really enjoyed it. 

So after the movie we ran a few errands together, which doesn't really sound terribly romantic.  More than anything, though, I just enjoy spending time with Jeremy; it doesn't really matter what we're doing.  So a visit to the pharmacy and the bakery outlet store were perfectly fine date activities as far as I'm concerned. 

After that, of course, if you've read about any of our previous date nights you can probably guess where we went.  I'll give you a hint: it involved literature and hot beverages.

Really there are very few dates that cannot be improved upon by the addition of a good book and a cup of tea.

That kind of a quiet, leisurely day was just what we needed to relax!

~Jess

Friday, September 3, 2010

In Which Connor Gets A New Wardrobe

Today I discovered why I've had to do laundry so often for Connor in recent weeks.

The little guy has been growing like a weed, and he's finally on the cusp of needing 4T clothes, which is a landmark event in this household.  This is the first time that Connor has worn the same size clothes that other kids his age are wearing.  Ever. 

I'm still kind of in shock about it, actually. 

Since Connor is moving up a size, I decided it was time to clean his closet out, as he still had a lot of 18-24 month clothes in there.  I pulled out everything that wasn't a 3T or 4T, and suddenly my weird laundry schedule made a heck of a lot more sense.  By the time I was finished a mountain of discarded clothing lay on the bed, waiting to go to Goodwill.  The clothing I didn't cull from the closet huddled in a pathetic little clump in the center of the closet, surrounded by a sea of empty hangers. 

Connor had a grand total of three pairs of pants in his current size-- counting the ones he was wearing.  He had eight short sleeve shirts, four light-weight long sleeve shirts, and no winter gear other than the single sweater and jacket I'd purchased him just before school started.  And keep in mind the kid normally drools a lot, so we go through two or three shirt changes on a good day.  With the crisp weather we've had recently, he's been in his long sleeve gear.  No wonder I kept having to throw stuff in the washing machine!  All of the clothing with the exception of the jacket, sweater, one short sleeve shirt and one pair of jeans (he's wearing the shirt and jeans in this picture) was 3T, so at the rate the kid's been growing he was going to be naked in about three weeks. 

Laundry is my least favorite chore.  This problem had to be corrected immediately.

So after Connor came home from school and had his "zen time" (what we call nap time now that he doesn't use it to nap) Jeremy and I loaded him in the car and took off for the mall to buy the little guy a new wardrobe.  All the Back-To-School sales were going on, so it was a good time to stock up.  We ended up walking out with two pairs of long pants, a pair of sweats, four long sleeve shirts and a winter hat.  I still need to pick up a sweater or two for him, but I'll go to a thrift store for that as sweaters in the stores tend to be fifteen to twenty bucks even with the sales, and that's the equivalent of about forty bucks a yard for fabric.  I can't justify paying that kind of money for a sweater that's going to be covered in Pediasure on a regular basis, even if it does have a cool robot or dinosaur embroidered on it or something.

At any rate, everybody walked out happy: Connor because he got a shirt with dinosaurs on it, Jeremy because the shopping trip was extremely short, and me because I will be able to quit doing laundry for Connor every single day, like I've been doing for the past few weeks. 

I'd say that's a pretty successful outing!

~Jess
 
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