Sunday, January 26, 2014

Attack of the Sweet Gum Balls

Breaking News!

This spring is going to be an ankle breaker for sure!  

Our resident Sweet Gum tree is launching an attack by the thousands!  

The invasion has started with a sea of deadly sweet gum balls are far as the eye can see!

What is behind the attack?  A rebound year from the drought of 2012!

What will be the counter attack?  A rake, a shovel, and handy dandy children driven by the promise of quarters!

This story will be continued at a later date!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Life In These Four Walls

We are kicking back and relaxing this morning.  Hopefully in an hour we may venture out to the library.  I was able to get my grocery shopping done last night.  We had chocolate crumble muffins for breakfast and I had mint hot chocolate.  Yum!  It has been a while since I have cooked a breakfast besides Pop Tarts for the kids.  It is always rush, rush, rush in the mornings.

The kids snuggled in my bed this morning with a Lalaloopsy movie while I snuck to my secret hiding place and inventoried what I had for each child for their upcoming birthdays.  I have realize that I need to even out the presents still.  Just a couple more presents for Princess and I will be done.  Maybe hubby and I can find someone to watch the kids this evening, so we can have dinner together and finish birthday shopping.  Sometime today I need to figure out when we will have their birthday party and who to send invitations to.  Next weekend is definitely too short of notice, so most likely we will plan for the weekend after that.

Right now the kids are watching Epic.  We would be watching PBS kids, but with all of the wind today that station is not coming in too well on the television.  Pumpkin is trying to build an elaborate Hot Wheel track out of the couch cushions, pillows, and other various objects like a stool, laundry basket, boxes, and more.  Princess is working on getting dressed and snuggling with her Specs Read-A-Lot Lalaloopsy silly hair doll.

Pumpkin is recovery well from his surgery on Monday morning.  He had the remain ear tube removed.  The doctor also found a cyst in association with the tube so that has been removed too.  He goes back in two months for a recheck to see if the hole in the ear drum has closed.  Monday afternoon you would of never known that he had had surgery that morning by the way that he was bouncing off the walls.  Never boring in our household.

I have heard from the special education administrator that I contacted a few weeks ago in regards to Pumpkin getting an education evaluation.  After talking to her supervisor, we are being transferred to another administrator that works more with parochial schools.  So hopefully I will hear the new person in the next few weeks.  I hope to make some progress soon.  Kind of tired of feeling like we are always in a holding pattern.

I talk with the childhood behavior pediatrician yesterday and she has recommended that Pumpkin have an autism panel.  It will be about a two month process to actually get to the appointment date, but hopefully it will answer more questions.  I really like this doctor and she has talked to me multiple times on the phone and answered any questions that I have.  In this day and age you are lucky to just get past talking to the nurse.  Anyway, most likely we as parent and probably his teacher will have more paperwork, surveys, and evaluations to complete prior to the appointment.  The doctor said that the appointment will be an all day thing, so hopefully I can manage to schedule it on a day off from school.  We will meet with a speech therapist, then a childhood occupational therapist, then our doctor who is specialized in autism, and finally a educational psychologist.  Then everyone will have a break for lunch.  All four doctor will reconvene and share notes and thoughts.  Then our doctor and probably the educational psychologist will sit down with us and share their finding and thoughts.  The main purpose of the panel is to help distinguish what aspects of our son's behavior are caused by ADHD and what might be caused by high functioning autism.  Once we have the information it will be easier for us, the school, and the doctor to determine what are the best methods and treatments to help our child succeed academically and socially.  I am going to hate to see how much this is going to cost.  I know that we have met our $2,500 deductible on Pumpkin with the surgery he had.  So maybe that will be in our favor for all of the other appointments that we will have this year.

Pumpkin is struggling at school, but his teacher is working with us to see how we can modify things to help him improve.  Right now math is the largest hurdle.  We are working on Touch Math, which works perfect for 1-5 but 6-9 is confusing to him.  He did get 100% on his spelling test yesterday.  YAY!!!!  That has not happened since September.  He enjoys listening to the Junie B Jones books so we got him the collection through Scholastic to see if it would help to entice him to read more.  He picked up one of the books that we have read in the past and told me all about it, but yet he cannot get a single question right when he takes the computerized AR test at school on the book.  I talked with him about trying to read the books today and he told me that the words were too small.  Ugh!  We will have to figure out a solution to that problem.

I am still trying to wrap my head around everything.  I am glad that we are finally starting to understand our son's quirks.  It could be so much worse.  I keep reminding myself that I survived my mom losing her battle to cancer, survived losing two family members just a month apart, survived my dad's bone marrow transplants, survived family alcoholism, and survived many more hurdles.  I am so tired of dealing with the continuous hurdles of life, but I can survive this.  There may not be an easy fix.  There may not be a cure.  But, my son should live a long and healthy life.

I worry though.  I worry that Princess will not always get the attention that she needs.  I worry that both kids will get teased at school by their peers.  I worry that we are not doing enough to help Pumpkin succeed at school.  I worry about what the future holds.  I try to not plan ahead, because nothing ever turns out the way that I plan.  Believe me there are so things in life that I definitely would not have planned.  I know, it makes us the person that we are today.  Struggles strengthen us and fortify us.  God is always with us and picks us up when we fall.  It is just frustrating to see how easy it is for others when it seems like our world is a constant struggle.

I know for me, I need to work on finding myself again.  I feel like I do for everyone else all of the time.  My Energizer Bunny wears me out on a daily basis.  I have lost my love for cooking along the way.  It is always fast and rushed, so we can get on with perpetual homework.  Cleaning usually has to wait until the weekends because there is no time during the week.  Then when the weekend comes, I do not want to clean.  I just want to relax and unwind.  My only escape from the world right now is reading. 

Well back to reality and the monkeys.  I hope that everyone has a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


We use words everyday.  

I have this crazy feeling that you know that you are reading words right now. 

So here are some of the words that I have used today:

Apple             Auntie              Another
Bath               Bear                Blinds
Coyote           Crack              Cyst
Daycare         Deer                Demographic
Email             Embroidery      Ears
Family           Friday              Frustrated
Glasses         Grandma         Get
Homework     Hug                 Hook
Ice                 I've                  Interrogate
Jokes            Just
Keep             Kicked               Keys
Laundry         Lunch               Love
Meatloaf         Mittens             Meeting
Negative         No                   Never
Outside          Open               Order
pH                  Popcorn          Prairie
QUIET            Queen            Question
Rainbow         Rat                 Receipt
Snow             STOP              Surgery
Thank            Test                 Tape
Up                 Under              Uncommon
Vintage          Volunteer         Volume
Water             Window           Windchill
eXcept           X-country
You                Youth              Yes
AmaZing        Zap

Well, time to think of a few more words for tomorrow! 

Egads!  More words!

Have a lovely evening!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ups And Downs

Pumpkin has been bumping along on the pathway of education.  He definitely has his ups and downs in the past few years.  He is our Pumpkin.  He is just himself, nothing more and nothing less.  He is a loving child.  He can be a helpful child.  He loves to play with his sister.  He loves to invent and tinker.  He loves sharks and penguins.  He enjoys Piggie and Elephant books.  And he has ADHD (attention deficient hyperactivity disorder difference).  

He was diagnosed at the end of November.  He is not defective, he just learns and acts a bit differently than his peers.  He is an active child that does have trouble focusing and can be impulsive.  He is an active child that would much rather be outdoors than inside (what child really wants to be stuck indoors anyway).  He is an active child that has so much energy that he just cannot contain it, kind of like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.  ADHD has such a negative stigma at times.  But he is a child.  He is not suppose to be mature all the time.  He is not suppose to know all the answers.  He is just different.  He is just Pumpkin.

This year we have learned how to establish eye contact.  We have learned that repeating simple rules creates ownership and better adherence to actually following the rules.  We have learned that we cannot defect from our daily peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich for lunch.  Yikes!  We have learned that it helps to take breaks during homework time.  We have learned about online games that help with learning spelling and math.  We have learned that sometimes parents need a time out.

Pumpkin also has the social skills of a rock.  Last year we had to ask the teacher send home pictures with the kids names, so he could learn his classmates names.  He still cannot tell us the names of his "new" classmates in his class this year.  He does not ask social questions of others, just talks about himself and his interests.  If someone says hi to him it is like he has blinders on and he just keeps going.  He shies away from shaking hands at church.  He laughs at things that may not necessarily be funny.  If he drops a glass of water on the floor at home, he will shriek like a banshee until someone comes to see what has happened. 

We had a second appointment Monday and he is border line high functioning autism (HFA).  He met most of but not all of the criteria on the parent survey.  He also had a 18 point difference between his verbal (108) and analytic (126) IQ values.  The childhood development pediatrician that we saw is going to consult with colleagues to figure out what our next steps will be. There is a very good chance that we will need to travel to a larger city in the area to partake in an autism panel to determine if he does indeed have HFA. 

We met with Pumpkin's principal and teacher today.  Even though he attends a parochial school, it is encouraging to know that they have had students in the past that have been successful academically with similar diagnoses.  They are receptive to helping us and Pumpkin succeed.  We are looking into methods and ideas since he is more designed for visual learning instead of verbal learning.  As suggested by the specialist, we are looking into obtaining an educational evaluation through our local "home" school.  I am sure that it will be an uphill battle since we have not gone the traditional route through the local school system.  I have tried a first mode of contact and if I do not hear anything within a week, I will try my next method of contact.

I have been read the book Easy to Love but Hard to Raise by Marner and Bashista.  It has been very fascinating.  Unfortunately, I will not get a chance to finish reading it before it has to be returned to the library on Friday.  I will either have to order it through interlibrary loan again or purchase the book for reference at home.  From what I have read so far, I think everyone should read this book to obtain a better understanding of what it is like to have a child that is considered different and to add a bit of humor and insight to enrich our own lives.

We have a long road ahead of us.  Rome was not built in a day.  So we will take one day at a time.  Some days I wish mom was still here.  I have questions that I would love to ask her.  At least we are starting to grow our own network of knowledgeable, kind, and supportive people.  And for me talking about things helps.  It helps me to process information, it helps me to de-stress, it helps me to heal.  So from time to time Pumpkins ups and down will probably appear on this little old blog.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Eye See You!

Princess finally got her new glasses yesterday afternoon.  We received her new prescription on November 25.  It then took 31 days to find frames her size.  Then it was another week and a half for her new glasses to arrive.  But FINALLY on January 7 we got the glasses!

Her eyeglass size is 39-17-110.  Say what???  The first number is the eye size which is the length across the front of the glasses, the second number is the bridge size which is the distance between the two lenses, and the last number is the temple size which is the length of the piece that goes back and over the ear.   These numbers are measured in millimeters.  Around here the smallest eye size frames that they carry is 44.  So needless to say, it took a while and a lot of time to order frames into the local shops.  Then they had to be tried on to see if they would fit or not.  We also decided to stray away from the cable temples that her first pair of glasses had.  She will start kindergarten in the fall and I figured regular temples would be best especially if she still has the glasses in first grade.  

Princess was a bit picky when it came to choose the glasses.  She definitely knew what she wanted.  "Too square."  "Too round."  "Hurts my ears."  "Hurts my nose."  "Not pink or purple."  We ended up with oval dusty rose colored frames.  The dusty rose has a lavender tint to it, so they appear more purple than pink.  Very lovely frames!

Her old prescription was:
OD: -5.25 sph, -1.50 cyl, 110 axis
OS: -5.50 sph, -2.00 cyl, 070 axis

Her new prescription is:
OD: -5.00 sph, -1.50 cyl x 110 axis
OS: -6.50 sph, -1.00 cyl x 035 axis

Princess was quite happy to show off her new glasses last night at family dinner night and today at preschool.  She is really happy with her new glasses!  Whew, good thing!  A mother's work is never done!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Stir Crazy

We have been home since Friday evening.  Sigh. . . . A bit too long if you ask me.  We did go outside and play on Saturday a few times.  The kids went out for just a bit yesterday morning, but the kids have not left the house today.  School, daycare, and my workplace were closed today.  I did got outside long enough to make sure my car started, but that was it.  Hubby's truck will not start, so he got a lift into work with his dad this morning. 

The kids cheered when one of the guys from grandpa's farm came into town and plowed our driveway.  Whew!!  We had about 7 inches on top of the snow from last week that had partially melted.  There was a lot of drifting during the storm, so some areas of the driveway were bare whereas other areas had about three to four feet of snow.  The forecast is calling for more snow on Wednesday.  Oh joy!

We woke up this morning to -16 degrees Fahrenheit. said it felt like -35 degrees Fahrenheit.  Definitely happy that the kids and I did not have to go out.  This is the coldest that I have ever remembered it getting around here.

Oh, I did finish reading a book today- The Gift of ADHD by Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D.  It is an interesting tool book that I may be able to apply to our lives.  We will see.  On to the next book!

When it gets a bit warmer outside, but before the snow melts I want to try a new idea with the kids.  A couple of years ago, I saw that a friend posted on her Facebook page that her children drew in the snow with food coloring in squirt bottles.  I got some clear plastic condiment bottles over the summer.  All I need to do is mix up some colored water and send my kids out to color the snow! 

Ack . . . thinking about the cold weather now has me cold.  I am going to make a nice warm cup of Vanilla Dream.  Stay warm!!!

Vanilla Dream

Pour milk into a coffee cup, about 1 cup milk.  Stir in 1-2 spoons of white sugar.  Stir in 1-2 drops of vanilla extract.  Warm in the microwave or on the stove top in a pan to desired temperature.  Makes 1 serving.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Snowy Days

Our kids LOVE the snow!  

They love to dig in the snow.  
They love to sled.  
They love to build snowmen.  
They love to make snowballs.  
They love to roll down a hill in the snow.  
They love to help shovel the snow.  
They love making snow angels.  
They love just playing in the snow.  

Basically, they LOVE snow!

With the drop in temperatures we brought the snow indoors.  A few years ago I came up with this idea and it works (at least with my monkeys).  Send an adult outside with a bucket or large storage tub.  Fill it up with snow and deposit it into your bathtub.  We ended up with three 5-gallon buckets full of snow in our bathtub today.  The kids had a blast burying toys in the snow and making snow balls once it had melted just right.  The best part is little clean-up as the water goes down the drain as the snow melts.  

Enjoy the snow & stay safe!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Adventures of Chippy- Part 4

Sorry for the delay.  Next Christmas season Chippy might make a few appearances on the blog, but I will not be attempting a daily journal again.

Day 21-  Chippy was found chilling out next to the sunflower lamp on the newly cleaned and organized ledge in the sun room.  Princess drew him a picture to take back to the North Pole.


Day 22-  Chippy was hanging from a ceiling hook in the kitchen.  He had a great view of the making of yummy food.

Day 23-  The kids found Chippy climbing the cabinets in the sunroom with five days until Christmas remaining.

Day 24-  It took a while, but we discovered Chippy swimming in a pot of poinsettias.

Day 25-  Chippy snuck into Princess's room and was found on top of her messy dresser.

Day 26-  Chippy was found missing the cousins as he was in the highchair that we had out for our youngest niece.

Day 27-  We discovered that Chippy had hung a snowman in the kitchen and he was sitting on top on Christmas Eve.

Day 28-  Even though Chippy was suppose to return to the North Pole, he stayed one last day because Princess really wanted him to see their Christmas presents.  He even donned a pair of glasses to check out the festivities.  Then again maybe he was checking out the angel sitting next to him. ;-)

Alright, now I guess I should get back to preparing for the incoming weather.  Facebook is being blown up with the name SNOWMAGEDDON.  Oh joy!  I am not really worried about the snowfall (6-12 inches) as much as the extreme negative wind chills (-25 to -45 degrees Fahrenheit, yikes!).  As long as we have electricity we should be good though.  I am thinking chocolate chip banana bread and cheese soup this evening.  Yummy comfort foods!  Stay safe and warm!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Random Thoughts

  • Sometime soon I will complete the Adventures of Chippy Series.  Hopefully it will occur this coming weekend.
  • 2014 is here.  Where did 2013 go?
  • Princess is finally getting a new pair of glasses.  A post will appear when her new glasses appear.
  • I need to eat more veggies.
  • It snowed last night.  I gave up shoveling the drive after 20 minutes this evening.
  • My favorite Christmas present was a family membership to our local zoo. 

  • We ate black eyed peas last night.  I heard that it was good luck for the new year.  It is worth a try, don't you think? 
  • Pumpkin has had quite a few medical appointments the past few months.  Eventually a post will appear once we have a better idea what is going on.
  • The Christmas tree is down, but the boxes have yet to make it to the basement.
  • There was a photo of me in my pajamas on the front page of the local newspaper.  Normally this would not be acceptable to me, but since it was for work I will concede this time.
  • Hubby and I are looking forward to Season 4 of Downton Abbey starting this Sunday!
  • I think this year, I will try to write something good down in a daily calendar and also write something that I did with the kiddos each day.

  • I loathe cleaning these days.  I just want to curl up with a cup of hot coco and a nice book.
  • I am looking forward to hubby getting his new tooth in a few weeks!  Hopefully his facial scar will fade in the next few months from his work accident in November.
  • We need to take the time to get a family photograph taken.
  • Princess LOVES popcorn!
  • Hubby gave me a gift card for Christmas.  Best purchase with the gift card was a beautiful dragonfly necklace.
  • We got to see my brother and his family a few weeks ago.  My youngest niece will be 1 soon! 

  • I need to take more pictures!
  • Pumpkin's favorite Christmas present was a remote controlled helicopter.
  • We had a good Christmas.
  • I am finally to the point that I am no longer hobbling around on my ankle.  Yay!
  • I have been enjoying sneak attacking hubby with kisses.
  • Princess's favorite Christmas present was a Lalaloopsy with glasses and silly hair.
  • Pumpkin and Princess love their newest game: Elefun.  Fireflies shoot out of the elephants trunk and the child that catches the most wins.