Saturday, January 31, 2009

The man is brilliant, and so is Roman

Today we had our first appointment with a psychologist to talk with Roman. We explained to Roman that we want to become a "less yelling family" so that's why we wanted to talk to a man who can help us. We were there almost 2 hours, and Ro did pretty well. What appeared to first be long drawn-out small talk (which on one hand, it was) was the dr's way of watching Roman play, interact with us, get bored, etc. The psych's reactions were the following:
1. Roman is ahead of development in vocabulary, communication, math, & reading. In other words, "a very bright boy." Honestly, we thought this all along but wondered if it was just because we're his parents. No, he assured me, he could be on the "advanced" end of things.
2. As a result of #1, it's possible all these issues are because Roman is bored at school.
3. We will do more observational testing for ADD/ADHD (forms for teacher and each of us to fill out) but his initial reaction is, that's probably not the problem.
4. There still is something going on. Could be some sort of brain-motor connection or disconnection that makes Roman be busy all the time, although definitely some underlying issues rooted in emotional upheaval (institution-upbringing, Mama going in the hospital and coming home with a preemie, Bekka being yanked with no explanation).

We will continue to see him and talk deeper. While the psych. talks a lot, we got to know him a bit. Impressive credentials - Dartmouth undergrad, 2 Masters, used to teach statistics, educational psychology, etc. Is a real advocate for learning disabled children as well as gifted.

In other news, we have made arrangements for super-money-saving to go into effect for February. We will remove Roman from his afternoon school-care for 3 weeks, and Charlie from daycare for 3 weeks, starting Feb. 9. Reason? Doug was handed yet another week of layoff, so he will have 2 weeks in a row in February, followed by me being on "midwinter break" the last week of February. So combined we will save almost our entire mortgage payment by having the kids out of daycare. My gosh, it makes me almost sick to know what we're paying in daycare costs.

Doug's been playing with the budget and we're still looking okay, but we do want to cut the grocery bill down a bit. We got a tip from a colleague of mine (shout out, Jeanette!) to Angel Food Ministries. I heard of it first through my own church last fall as we are trying to become a distribution center, but hadn't thought of it to use myself. Jeanette mentioned that anyone can order a box of food and can even see the menu for the month, as well as "special boxes," on their website. I think we're definitely going to order it this month. Essentially, you pay $30 for groceries that would cost $60-75 in the store. Our trick is going to be to keep eating healthy while changing what goes in our grocery cart. Inexpensive food is so fattening!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

staying current with Project 365

I wondered how long it would be before I forgot to take a picture each day. Apparently only 23 days! I missed last Thursday's, but luckily made it up on Friday as it was more of a "staged" photo. It's not been real hard to come up with a picture a day - it actually gives me some freedom to snap away as I would normally like to. In the past I would take a picture and think, "how will I scrap this one photo?" And I've caught myself not taking pictures at some places because I didn't want to have yet another event to scrap. Which totally defeats the purpose of the hobby.

The 365 project is replacing my events this year, I think. Of course I will still have to scrap the big stuff - birthdays and the like - but now I won't feel bad that I haven't scrapped some events, because there will be some basic documentation of our life in the 365 album.

I'm also excited because Becky Higgins, the woman who designed the original kit (which sold out in hours, upsetting lots of people) allowed free downloads of the digital version of the journaling cards, title cards, and the like. So now I don't even have to think about what papers and such I will use, which truly is a problem - I am already 2 weeks behind! I scrapped my first week's layout and that's all I've had time for! Now I just have to pick which cards to use and slap them in the template. Awesome.

Anyway, here's some shots of the past couple weeks for your amusement.

Day 9 at the pediatrician's
Day 14 reading a class book
Day 17 first bath together

Day 23 emptying storage unit - with help

Day 24 - Me coloring my hair (a $$-saving sacrifice!)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's the little things

It's the end of the semester, which makes me busier than normal. I also took advantage of Doug's being home to stay late a couple days and catch up and plan ahead at work. I have missed my routine of the computer, though, I haven't truly spent time with it in 48 hours. I think it could be bad that I missed it so much, huh? I haven't named the computer yet.

I have been wanting to crow about the fact that Roman is doing a fantastic job reading the last few weeks. He is very proud of himself, although when presented with slightly challenging words he tends to give up. If it's not a "word wall" word he gets flustered. However, he read the book "The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear" in its entirety to me the other night. We also have introduced "Dick & Jane" and I noticed that he concentrates so hard on the words, he's not getting the comprehension of the story. He does like to do it, though. He also has been willingly practicing his writing too, wanting to copy the titles of his book onto his own pad of paper we keep in the car. On the way to Target today he wrote out "Star Wars The Clone Wars Watch Out for Jabba the Hutt!" Awesome. He had to consult with me to make sure his b's were not d's.

Charlie's appt. for tubes is in February. I think we'll see some real progress with language then. I have to keep reminding myself, too, that he's still on "adjusted" schedule. There's not been much past the usual ba, da, ma, tongue clicking, & the occasional whispered "ha-ta." Lots of screeching and grunting, though, to make his older brother laugh. While Doug's been home this week Charlie has kept him company, and I think it's been good for both of them. A couple people have been confused by my earlier post of Doug applying for unemployment - being laid off is the same as being unemployed, and he qualifies for the payments.

I have begun grad class and am doing fine. Not too much work this time around, a research paper and presentation at the end as is typical. I also have found myself on the committee to refurbish (?) our neighborhood park. I made a call in the summer to find out why a slide had disappeared and who was in charge of replacing the broken stuff. That started a very slow snowball that avalanched this month into a public hearing, formation of a committee, and commitment of $$ by the Parks & Rec Dept. to replace or refurbish the park. Decided I better be on the committee as a voice of reason & compromise. I know many of you will laugh at that, but even Doug said "most the time" I was that way! Did I also mention I'm now chairperson of the Board of Christian Ed. at church, too? Because I don't have enough going on, you know.

So, while I can keep all that stuff juggled, I'm missing out on personal & organizational time, so I hope to get to some of that tomorrow. We (well, Doug) hauled all the boxes out of our storage unit and all that's left is furniture... ack... and we've gone through every box that came in the house and purged 2 loads. Sometimes wish I was a stay-at-home mom to post everything on Ebay or Craigslist or something, but we'll get our $$ back in taxes next year.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Give me some time before I unite, okay?

We have a new president now, and I'm fine with that. I feel like such a minority sometimes, being middle of the road. I like Obama, really. I also like McCain. I don't like the Clintons, but thank goodness that didn't have to come into play. I surprise myself with how dispassionate I feel about politics. In fact, more and more people who get all wound up about it irritate me, no matter what party they are. If supposedly Obama has gotten people more involved in the political process, I find myself growing more laissez-faire about it.

The election didn't surprise me - after 8 years of a Republican the country was bound to swing the other way. I didn't see it as a big "race" or anything, I figured the outcome. And when talking to some coworkers, a couple who are very politically-minded, I was kind of surprised, I guess, that they felt it necessary to be all passionate and working the polls. How strange for a Social Studies teacher to feel that way.

I think that Clinton and W. Bush were such polarizing figures... love to hate 'em, and how easy it was to feel that way if you wanted to. Obama is certainly saying all the right things, and the patriotic spot in my heart finds itself getting woken up every once in awhile from his speeches. If the media would just give me some time, I will probably consider uniting for Obama. Well, at least for education & the economy. But there's one big sticking point that raises my hackles. And that's his race.

I don't have a problem with the fact he's black. But it's the broader question - is he? Are mixed-race citizens having to identify with one race? Is it a card he played to help get votes? Is he belittling his mother's and her parents' influence? I understand the significance, of course. But he's not the same as African-Americans who are descended from slavery. Sure, the civil rights era played a major role in his life. Sure, he suffered the same way other blacks did (and do) socially, I'm sure. But as much as the media and everyone else celebrates our first black president, I'll tell you when tears will be in my eyes - when a man or woman, whose ancestors were sold in Africa by rival tribes, chained aboard a ship, and resold into bondage in this land - when THAT person ascends to the highest office in the land, I will believe we've achieved the goal of equality. I know that others need to put cracks into walls before it finally breaks, but I'm saving my emotion for that day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Birthday past, reality present

So the birthday party happened, 2/3rds of it anyway. Doug's parents and my brother & family made it, but my parents were still suffering from lake-effect snow and had to turn back. And then I, shocker of shockers, didn't charge my battery and only got a couple shots of the birthday in action! But here are two cute ones.

Can you believe the look of anticipation on Charlie's face in that first one?! He was too funny, he picked off and licked all the frosting first, and then mashed up and ate the cupcake. Pretty cautious too; I mean, he did end up with frosting all over, but it was nothing like his brother's of 5 years before where we had to bathe him for all the chocolate frosting in his hair.
But today back to "almost" normal. I decided not to attend meetings at work and stayed home to ease Doug into his new job as "house frau," aka unemployed dad. And for the history books, this is what a man looks like when he's filing for unemployment online.

He didn't even make himself look grumpier for the picture. That's what he looked like. Anyway, when that emotionally painful 10 minutes was over we continued to clean out the "back end" of our house, the laundry and workroom. We're getting rid of the storage unit and hauling all that stuff back here (save money!), but it means some pretty serious purging. We have the Vets coming tomorrow morning for pickup #1 and I expect another will be needed for the end of the week.
Lastly, Charlie had an appt. with an ENT today and it's looking like we'll go ahead with tubes in his ears. The dr. said their rule of thumb for the surgery is 6 ear infections in a year OR 3 months of fluid in the ears. Charlie is just on the edge of the 3-month rule, and dr. explained that if it was spring or summer he'd advise us to "wait and see." But since it's January, many more colds to come, and his daycare situation, we could decide. We've decided to do it and stop the poor guy's suffering. It was nice because they could tell it is a fluid buildup and not just teething; his throat has drainage as well. I've been waiting for something to be wrong with Charlie, and this could be partially his preemie-ness and partially genetic - while his ears probably weren't developed enough when he was born, we also know that Doug's brother had many ear infections (and tubes, I believe) when he was young.
Roman? Doing totally fine. Can't wait to go back to school and his own life, enough of this Charlie-attention! We borrowed a couple movies from our good friends as we haven't refreshed our collection in quite awhile, and he has been watching "Madagascar" religiously.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Charlie's 1st birthday

There were a couple frightening moments when I thought we wouldn't get to this day. But here we are, one year after January 17, 2008, and we are celebrating Charlie's first birthday. There is something significant about getting a year "past" something, especially something traumatic. Charlie's birth was not an evening of celebration; rather, I felt some relief, quite a bit of sadness, and a lot of worry. In fact, when looking for a picture taken on his day of birth, I decided I couldn't post it. I couldn't even stand to see them. He had the CPAP up his nose and frankly looked like a wax figure. Instead, I chose one of my favorites from the day after he was born - the first time I was allowed to hold him.

Charlie: 3 lbs, 8 oz. 30 weeks' gestation.

Charlie: 22 lbs, 3 oz, 12 months old!

Today was a quiet day. Our birthday party was a bust due to weather; neither set of grandparents, nor my brother & family, could make it because of the snow. We have rescheduled for tomorrow but it's not looking promising. I did bake cupcakes (well, Ro did almost all, including mixing!) and couldn't resist temptation - had to eat one tonight. Charlie will wait for his until tomorrow, when hopefully he can have an audience.

I was successful in one thing, though - got a shot of him showing his two upper teeth! He actually has a third cutting through on the top, honestly it's like they're all going to come in one after the other.

Happy Birthday, Charlie. We are so blessed to have you.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Single-handedly keeping the economy going

We want to. Really. We want to buy chairs at the La-Z-Boy Galleries, which are all closing and clearancing everything. Would love to "make our best offer" at the local pool, spa, and billiards store. We were itching to take advantage of IKEA's unprecedented sale (kitchen cabinets at $19.99 each?!). But we just can't do it. Why? Because we're going to Disney World!

No, really. We are. Spring Break. Well, that's the plan. There are many sub-plans, depending on the layoff situation and how well I can resist the siren call of the sales as we move toward Spring. But we had planned this over a year ago; we stuck the money away into a vacation account and haven't touched it. The first week of November, before all this auto *crap* began, we made reservations with a coworker's connections at a resort just outside WDW. Our minds and hearts committed. And after some long talking, decided we're still going to do it. We purchased airline tickets and made reservations for a rental car this evening.

Now, life being as it is, here is our list of various sub-plans.
A: Fly to Orlando, stay at resort, buy 5-day park hopper pass to WDW and have the time of our life. Breakfast in room, all other meals out. (there's a mini-kitchen).

B: Fly and stay, buy less days on a pass to WDW. Breakfast in room, other meals out.

C. Fly and stay, keep 5 days on passes, breakfast and dinner in room.

D: Fly and stay, buy less days on pass to WDW, cook our own breakfast and dinner at the resort.

E. Don't even want to go to plan E. But I have verbalized the heartache of going to Orlando and not doing WDW. I don't know how we'd explain that to Roman, though.

So far our hearts are saying plan A (the "screw the economy! We'll eat ramen noodles all summer" plan) and our heads are saying plan C (the "it's not really a vacation because I'm cooking all the time, but I'll deal with it because we're going to WDW" plan). We found a good deal on Southwest Airlines with good times (direct flight), good price on car, and we got a great discount already on the resort where we're staying thanks to my coworker. If only Disney would now offer some great rate on their park hopper passes...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My kids & their health

Charlie now has 4 teeth. His top 2 have broken through (at the same time, poor guy!). Thinking he's got his Mama's teeth, as they look awfully big and could definitely be buckteeth at a future date. His digestive system is struggling with his antibiotics, and someone at church recommended giving him baby probiotics to counteract the loss of bacteria. Picked some up today and he received his first dose tonight, so fingers crossed the "liquid farts" as we call them, can now not cause such a big rash. Detailed enough for you, gentle readers?

(Charlie in calmer, happier times)

We have been increasingly frustrated with lack of communication from a psychology service that we contacted (in September!) for an evaluation of Roman. Our insurance only covered a small amount of places, but even though we have called them 3 different times and talked to various people, we have never gotten an actual appointment. Doug finally did more research and found a psychologist in our town that our insurance covers. We called yesterday, and he called back today. Wow! On top of that, we have an appointment on the 31st for an initial evaluation. A lot was talked about on the phone which I find intriguing, about adoption and attachment and the like. I'll have to roll it around in my brain before I blog, though.

(Roman on Charlie's toy - "I'm goin' to Canada!" is what he whooped)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

First of the one-year anniversaries (& Star Wars)

Today around 4am is the one year anniversary of the harrowing journey I like to call, "get that baby out of my body before it kills me - wait - no, leave him in!" It was a year ago today that I entered bedrest at Beaumont Hospital and life spun out of control. So. A year ago I was on magnesium drip and a fetal monitor; today I went to church, shopped at Kroger, and cooked breaded chicken for dinner. A year ago I laid in a hospital bed listening to Charlie's heartbeat on a monitor for hours; today I played "Noah's Ark" with him and sang "Wheels on the Bus." All in all, certainly glad to be in 2009.

Yesterday was a day of ultimate thrills. I had been doing research for a field trip for school on Friday when I saw that Henry Ford Museum was doing a Star Wars-themed day to celebrate the last day of their "Out of This World" costume exhibit. We immediately changed plans around so we could get there - even a winter storm dumping 5 inches on us couldn't stop us from getting there! And the following pictures will show why.

Above: Roman and "Obi Qui-Et"

Below: The family with Darth Vader (Charlie patting him on the shoulder)

Above: Roman and Boba Fett

Below: Roman and R2-D2

The family with a Scout trooper, below.

There are lots of other pictures - many poses, many characters, lots of us holding their "training weapons." Roman absolutely believes the stormtroopers were real, visiting from a galaxy far, far away. And there is nothing like being able to provide your child with the day of his dreams. Roman pronounced it "the best day EVER!"

Friday, January 09, 2009

He may be able to hear, but...

Charlie is on the brink of yet another ear infection. I took him in this afternoon as the followup from the 4th round of antibiotics. We knew he was clear because we had audiology testing last week at Beaumont and they said his ears were free of fluid and top of that, his hearing was above-normal (he heard more tones than they expected) for a baby his age. Perfect.

So I took him in and Dr. noted his crusty nose right away. Well, I reported, we returned to daycare and we figured he just had the "daycare disease." But, true, his appetite was decreased yesterday and today. And he still claws at his left ear every once in awhile, but figured that was being tired. Well.

Right ear "bloodshot" and left ear got an "oh, shoot." It was red with a bit of fluid. She said if it was a normal case, she'd tell us to wait a few days to see what happens. Being that we just finished with a marathon antibiotic treatment, she gave us 2 things - more antibiotics & a referral to an ENT. He's a good candidate for tubes, since it's only been 2 weeks since he finished antibiotics and within days of returning to a group situation, he started developing another. So our 5th dance with antibiotics begins. Get the diapers ready, for his innards will be torn up once again.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Project 365: Days 1-7

Jan. 1, 12:01 am

Jan. 2 - revisit the NICU

Jan. 3 - Christmas with dad's side

Jan. 4 - Roman goes "fishing" in my parents' staircase

Jan. 5 - back to school (the daily schedule for the students)

Jan. 6 - boys playing around

Jan. 7 - we tried out the CD "No!" by They Might Be Giants, and Roman couldn't stop giggling at the song "I Am Not Your Broom."

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

the January blues

I don't usually have January blues. But a lot has been thrown at us the past couple months, and 2009 doesn't seem to look better. And I'm just feeling... blah. From previous bouts, I'm pretty sure I've stumbled into a depression. Which is interesting. It's interesting to know the symptoms, realize I have them, and not care. Or know that I am in it, but can't get out of it. Know what I should do, but don't want to do. Even when I say things, I know I'm being totally melodramatic and it's because of my mental state. I even joke about it, which is odd too. I was talking to Doug in a "woe is me" state and finally I said, "don't you see? Everything is horrible, nothing goes right..." in my most dramatic fashion. I even know that I sound melodramatic. But I can't stop feeling that way.

So. It could be the impending one-year anniversary of when my world turned upside down. Could be the housing problem and realizing we're never getting out of here with a profit. Could be Roman's ADHD-like behaviors that have ramped up immediately upon return to school. Could be I'm no longer interested in teaching (or the kids) for a variety of reasons. Could be I'm missing time with Charlie. Could be that Doug's job security is questionable. Could be that him getting another job is synonomous with "out of state." Could be that I'm tired of what I consider extraneous things taking up all my free time (grad school, anyone?). Could be I'm just... well, you get the idea.

Two bright spots for me personally are the swim season coming up and I'm back to coaching, and also I've received the book "Brisingr" which is third in a series I was introduced to this Fall. Also discovered the "Artemis Fowl" series which is entertaining. Boy, I've missed reading. I suppose I will have to do something about this state of mind as well.

Oh, and a couple people have mentioned they can't leave comments anymore. I adjusted the settings, so try again when the mood strikes you.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Project 365, & happy new year!

The start of 2009! I'm kind of grumpy today, not sure if it's just that kind of day, or I'm tired, or what. We had fun with friends last night who we usually spend New Year's Eve with. We played Settlers, of course, 2 games - Doug won one, and Nicole won one.

I had a hard time staying up, in fact dozed off a couple times between 11:30 and midnight. But, we made it to watch the ball drop and welcome the new year. I was promptly in bed by 12:10am.

To start the year I am going to participate in Project 365. Basically, taking a photo a day (or more than one, and narrowing it down or collaging them) for an entire year. It's been around for awhile but in a magazine I get there was a layout template on how to showcase each week's photos so in the end, you have a completed album. So I'm intrigued to see what I end up taking pictures of.