Sunday, November 10, 2013

On to therapy #3

We have been taking Roman to OT now for a month. Three times a week, we jump in the car at 4pm, drive 50 min. to the office, do 50 min. of therapy, and then drive the 50 min. home again. It makes for some long days! However, his confidence has already grown, his core & upper arm strength is increasing, and best of all - his encopresis is already improving. They have an OT named Sandy that we had been told about, who apparently has a "magic touch" when it comes to this problem. She has done 3 half-hour sessions with Ro and the problem has gone from 3-4 times a week to 2x a week.

She does something called "visceral manipulation." Basically, as she explains it, his internal organs and nerves in the private area are bound, restricted, and confused. She applies different techniques to his low back & upper buttocks. Ro doesn't mind it - he gets to watch a video while he lays on a massage table. Sandy told me she currently has five clients with encopresis. She also told Doug that this is commonly found in children from Russia.

Anyway, so he will do OT through mid-December. Some days it's just me and Roman, which is very enjoyable - we have time to talk in the car, where we rarely do at home. Other days we have Charlie with us, and he's very jealous - OT generally looks like a big playtime to him! Ro sees 2 therapists, depending on the day, and one will allow Charlie to be in the gym with them and sometimes "help" by swinging Roman or bouncing him in a hammock.

As for school, even with accommodations they have put in place, Roman still occasionally gets overwhelmed with things. He commonly doesn't complete things at school, so ends up with lots to make up on the weekends. We have noticed that extra time on tests has led to better scores (a B on the most recent one!). All this together, we are going to insist on an IEP to make things official. We've been told multiple times that while homework should take time at home, it shouldn't be something that brings tears and stress to our family. Um, welcome to almost every night?  We've rearranged when Ro does his homework, and he's even been doing it in the car on the way to OT. But he does need frequent breaks, and him just knowing he has extra time has helped quite a bit.

Archery doesn't start again until January, and OT will be done by then. Thank goodness!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Charlie, my heart

Kindergarten is hard. That's Charlie's summary of his school year so far. He has a teacher who has high expectations! It was a good/bad start - he likes school, but some things are too easy and boring (alphabet, he already knows it). On the other hand, some things have been challenging to him - cutting, sitting quietly. We have gotten 2 calls from his teacher so far about his behavior. We all agree his behavior is worse in the afternoon and it's because he is so darn tired! That doesn't excuse his hitting, of course, or refusing to follow directions - but it does explain it.
He's on a special behavior plan now, where his teacher notifies us what "color" he is (green, yellow, blue, red). If he gets 2 green in a row, we will give him a reward. Since starting it 4 weeks ago, he has earned 3 rewards. It clearly helps. He likes gym the best, and loves before & after-school care. Playtime! He is definitely ready to read - he's always spelling out words he sees, asking how to spell things so he can write them, & recently has begun to recognize a few three-letter words
He's been doing tang soo do with Doug once a week, and is testing for his yellow belt next weekend. He loves going, and other black belts have commented that he does some of the best pushups of all the students. The occasional Friday he and Doug go to "Friday Night Fights" which is just a big sparring hour.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The oldest boy

Roman finished 4th grade and as he described it, it was "bittersweet." in our district students switch schools to an upper elementary for 5/6 grade, and while he is excited to move on, he really doesn't do well with transitions & changes. He likes Social Studies, art, gym, & computer lab. Math & Language Arts is where he struggles. We had some interventions in place and his teacher continued to grant us extra time if needed for work.  His class traveled to Lansing to tour the state Supreme Court & the Capitol building, which he liked very much. It's great to see him understanding parts of our government and how the state/country works.

This summer I've allowed him to be lazy. He has 3 friends in the neighborhood (all younger than him) that he plays with - they are all into Minecraft, a computer game. 2 of the 3 really like Legos too. His bestest friend who moved away, Nick, we try to see a couple times a month. He attended a laser tag birthday party followed by cake & movies, but chose not to spend the night - thank goodness! There were 10 boys who stayed up all night, I hear. I am so glad that for a variety of reasons, Ro decided against that.

Regarding his challenges, we've gained some ground in some areas and are plowing ahead in new ones. We are still on the waiting list for the UofM sensory group for his encopresis - seriously, who knew that so many kids need help in this area?  We actually once talked Roman out of a bipolar high, which I am pretty proud of. (I do believe his choice of not spending the night at the birthday party was also because he didn't want to emotionally "go there.")  While we've noticed a growing defiance, especially late afternoon/evenings, he is generally more pleasant, even-keeled, & helpful during the day.

We finally, after a couple years of putting it off, took Ro for an evaluation at a sensory clinic. While it's a good 45 min. drive away, it's also the best-recommended place for kids with issues like Roman's. Both his therapist and us have thought for awhile that Roman could use some help in the sensory area, but we couldn't really put a big word or diagnosis to his challenges. To explain it easiest to you, gentle readers, you could say it's an overall "uncoordinated" appearance. Officially the Occupational Therapist called it dyspraxia. Things we see often in Ro:
-problems using utensils (knife) and dressing (shirts backwards)
-eats in sloppy manner
-difficulty with multi-step directions
-strong desire for routines
-awkward pencil grasp
-poor handwriting
-dislikes or refuses to participate in sports or on playground

Other areas include:
-dislike nail cutting
-reacts defensively to tastes of food
-grasps objects too tight or uses too much force
-chews on or sucks non-food items
-craves movement; likes to spin self around
-fatigues easily
-slumps while sitting

Many people we talk to about this say "well, a lot of kids do that" or "boys tend to do that." This is a much more severe level - and it isn't a phase. These are things we've seen since birth.  It also explains a lot of his frustration with karate, swimming, tying shoes (poorly coordinated muscle control), why he still can't tell his left from his right, and why he likes archery - he can just stand and shoot.  So we're working on making real-world goals for him with the therapist, and will start OT 2x a week once school starts. He's not thrilled with starting a new therapy, but archery doesn't start again until January and we should be finishing up by then.

Meanwhile, he plays a lot of video games, we force him outside to ride his bike, and we reward him with lots of playtime with his friends (and going to the movies!). Speaking of which, we are on our way out to see "Planes"...

Sunday, June 30, 2013


Family members not on Facebook, this is for you!  I'll get to my family in a future post, but today - projects. We've attacked many. Over winter break back in January, we had the wood floors refinished. Over spring break in April, we finally decided to act on our daydreams and redid the living room. I can't say remodeled, because we didn't change much.... but gutted? Definitely.

We were excited for this project, but you know how one thing just snowballs into something else? Well, we pulled the old insulation down and besides a mouse nest (complete with baby), we found rotted deck boards. A lot of them.  After a couple of estimates and some discussion, we also got - a new roof! All in all, we had 13 deck boards replaced, a new roof, and new soffets & downspouts too. On the upside - we've noticed a temperature difference in our house already.

Anyway... after our budget was surpassed (thanks, roof) and our couple-week timeline turned into a month, it was finally finished.

Well, this is mostly finished. It turns out, I never did post a picture of the actual finished living room. But look at that door! And new carpet! And shelves! I'll have to take a picture soon.  So that's been our excitement, putting finishing touches on the room (trim & molding), rediscovering the books we've put in storage (in the basement, in Charlie's closet...) and so on. Next up will be the bathroom, but that's going to be summer of 2014 if it happens.

Another project that has turned into a big one is our camper. We've kind of "let it go" the past couple years, just shoving things into it and not doing beautification upkeep, just the basics. Doug decided it was time. We completely emptied it last week, and discovered there's more to do there too. Like rotten boards again, but this time just inside the door. Well, to be honest, we knew there was a soft spot there, but now it's a glaring problem. Doug repaired a part of the ceiling already, and is installing shelving in the little closet & put new stabilizer jacks on. These things are that exciting to me (well, the shelves kinda are).  The exciting part is I get to buy some replacement items, such as new rugs.  I have a reason to shop!! And that's the excitement this week.

I had a lot of little projects I wanted to complete this summer, but I think the camper (combined with me cochairing VBS, another post) is going to wipe me out. The bathroom closet and the lazy-susan in the kitchen will have to wait for another time. Maybe... Thanksgiving weekend.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Snow days? No thanks.

My dislike of snow days started when Roman was probably 3 or 4. They were no longer fun, carefree days - they were a lot of work!  Having a lack of imagination, Roman needed constant "entertainment." He was always asking for me to play with him, create with him, watch TV with him... and if I tried to do tasks around the house, or heaven forbid - something fun for me - he would cry, yell, complain, you name it.  It makes sense to us now - an abandonment feeling, a need he had to be close to someone - but at the time, just the most frustrating, annoying behavior.

It hasn't gotten much better with the addition of little brother. There are days that the boys play well together, and days where all they do is pick, poke, and yell at each other. Snow days, sadly, seem to be days they do not get along.  I actually dread the phone call, because all it means is a long day of playing referee, sending them to separate locations, and listening to them whine either about each other or because they're bored.

Today is another snow day. It is just past 9:30am and already they have been in 2 fights, been sent to their rooms, and Charlie has hit me to earn a second time-out. On my agenda today is empty the dishwasher, do a load of laundry, put 3 loads of laundry away, and perhaps - perhaps! - spend 15 or 20 minutes working on a craft project. We'll see...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A new year, a new effort

Christmas: check.
New Year's: check.
Charlie's birthday: check.
Semester break: check.
Practically February: oh my gosh!

2013 arrived with a whoosh and it's been nonstop since we all returned to work/school. We had a great Christmas break, probably the best yet - spent time with family & friends, visited the Institute of Art for some fun, had a couple lazy pajama-days here at home. As usual, Charlie's birthday snuck up on us but he turned 5 with much fanfare.

It seems the older he gets, the less he wants to follow directions - there is a large learning curve going on in his life right now. Of course, he reminds me of... well, of me. And I turned out just fine!

Roman is finding 4th grade to be really fun and really tough all at the same time. Homework is taking longer & is much more involved. He's done a couple projects & the great thing is, he tells me he doesn't get nervous before he has to do a speech or presentation. What a great gift.  There are certain things he really struggles with due to mood/ADHD, so we're going to request a 504 plan (accommodations) based on his ADHD. He doesn't have any learning disabilities, per se, but his ability to concentrate for any length of time is greatly hampered; so this affects his reading & figuring math problems. Science and Social Studies, with its shorter content & clear questions to answer, seem to be more his style.

I did get to chaperone his 4th grade trip to Lansing to visit the Capitol building & the Supreme Court. It was great fun & I was glad to spend that kind of time with Ro.

Roman plays the part of a witness in a trial

My work? Doug's work? We're plugging along. We rearranged our dining room after getting the floors redone & piano tuned... now we're saving up to gut the living room & improve it. Hopefully April will bring financial showers. :)
February brings the annual DC trip for me, ice fishing for Doug, a visit to my parents for my boys, & the camper & RV show - Doug and I are going to arrange a "date afternoon" for it & spend some time daydreaming. Life is good.