Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Follow up interview with Ellie Kate

And now I sit down to interview my kindergartener first grader (insert tear).

EK: "What are you writing?What did you spell, Mama?"
Me: What was yesterday?
EK:"May 2nd."
Me:"Yesterday was your last day of..."
EK:"Kindergarten...What test are you giving me now? Who are you sending this to?"
Me:"What was your favorite thing about school?"
EK:"We went to summer splash."
Me:"What did you do there?"
EK: "We got to get in sprinklers.Frst we did snack time. Then we did gym class. Then we went to bouncy house. Disco. Playground. Sprinkler. Pool. And back to our classroom."
Me:"Sit down.  What is something that you learned in kindergarten?"
EK: "Um..we learned about the ocean."
Me: "What about it?"
EK: "We learned about all the creatures that live in there. That's all."
Me:"How many days were you in kindergarten?"
EK:"Fer about 24, I mean 25.   My initials are EKK. That's my initials."
Me:"What were your teachers names?"
EK:"Ms. Adams, Ms. Ashley, Ms. Marty, & Ms. Cutler."
Me: "How do you think 1st grade will be different than kindergarten?"
EK:"It's gonna be different.  It has a library, art, and that is all that we got to see and the last thing we saw is music."
Me:"So you're talking about your fieldtrip to 1st grade."
EK:"Right. And um, we saw Super Girl."
Me:"Who is Super Girl?"
EK:"A woman on a cartoon.  She's a superhero. She's American girl."
Me:"What makes her super?"
EK:"She has a mask and a cape and a superhero shirt with a star on it and superhero pants."
Me:"Could I be her?"
EK:"Noooo.  You don't even know her."
Me:"So she has a super outfit but what makes her super?"
EK:"That was what makes her super.  Who are you sending this to?"
Me:"I was going to put it on my blog."
EK:"Afterwards can you read it to me?"
Me:"Yeah. You be thinking about what you want to tell me about kindergarten."
EK:"That was all.We made some jellyfish.  Can I get to coloring?"
Me:"Let's finish up. Give me...sit"
EK: "Why am I gonna do another test?"
Me:"Give me one word to describe kindergarten."
EK:"What does descibe mean?  What does dehydrate mean?"
Me:"You tell me."
EK:"I don't know."
Me:"It's when you don't drink enough and your body runs out of fluid.  What were you telling me about Texas earlier?"
EK:"That it was hot."
Me:"Why's it hot?"
EK:"Because they live near the desert. There's tumbleweeds.  Um...there is ugly lookin' armadillos for sure.  You always have to dehydrate.  It means drink plenty of water."
Me:"And if you walked into the desert?You said earlier that you would run into Africa, then New York..."
EK:"Egypt comes after New York City."
EK:"(Giggling with nostrils flaring) ... blah blah blah blah blah..."
Me:"You are silly."

Well there wasn't much to that.  I can be assured that she gets her sense of geography from me.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Process

\\\\\\\\ Those opening slash marks were typed by Jack.  He is currently playing at my feet.  And by playing, I mean continuously unplugging the battery charger to my computer.  When being lured away redirected to play with other toys, he can often figure out what his Mommy is up to and then comes THE squeal.  That would be THE squeal that breaks glass.  After said squeal, I often check our front porch to take inventory of all the neighborhood dogs that have spontaneously appeared. 
Anyway, this post isn't about my Little Siren.  It's an update on his big brother, Emmett.  Last month we got a call from the place in Birmingham whose waiting list we'd been on for close to 12 months.  Due to a cancellation, we were being scheduled to start the diagnosing process with Emmett.  I only took a few pictures from our first visit.  Ross and I were able to make the first trip together.  To the right, are pictures of Emmett entertaining himself on the drive to Birmingham.  The top shot shows him playing with my necklace.  The second picture shows him making some of his usual hand motions along with his cute little smirked face.  That dimple coupled with those big ole' blue eyes, can render this mama helpless. 
Upon arrival, we encountered one of the highlights of the trip for Emmett.  That's right we got to ride an elevator.  Joy abounded for our Little Man.  We exited the elevator and checked in.  Below is a picture of our view from the waiting room. 
Thankfully we never waited for long periods of time. 
I couldn't help but look around at the others in the waiting room and wonder what their stories were.  I'm sure that there was a level of connectivity that would have quickly surfaced had we had time to talk.
Our first visit was with a speech pathologist.  She asked me and Ross alot of questions.  We then stepped out into an observation room so that she could begin her testing with Emmett.  It was really cool to be able to watch.  I knew the questions that he could answer. Of course there are the questions that he could answer and then there are the questions that he would answer. Ross and I had prayed that above all, those testing Emmett would be able to get an accurate picture of him.  We simply trusted that our prayer was being answered.
One thing that you can know for sure is that you won't have to guess when Emmett is finished.  He'll let you know.  That's just what he did for the lady below.  He began saying "Aw done" and "Dee end". 
 It was decided that we should take a lunch break and try again later.

 Being in downtown Birmingham, we walked to lunch.

We literally feasted on Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q.  Those cheddar biscuits...oh glory.
We returned to the clinic for more appointments that included meeting with a social worker and continued testing with the speech pathologist.  I so wish I had a picture of Emmett getting his hearing checked.  He actually sat in the sound booth with headphones on and tested beautifully.  Our day ended with having Emmett's vision checked.  We left the clinic with a three-year-old with dialated eyes. 

Make that a very tired three-year-old.  It was a long day for our Little Man, but he did so well.

He slept most of the way home.

Our next day of appointments didn't go so smoothly.  The date coincided with Ross's office opening, so this time it was just Emmett and me. 
Our day started with a psychiatric evaluation.  I answered question after question.  Meanwhile, Emmett was evaluated thru playing.  At one point, he came over to me.  I encouraged him to return to his testing.  He turned around, completed the task at hand, sat in his chair and said,"Mama, happy now?"  I had never heard him say that.  I looked around at the others to see if they had heard the same thing.  I then looked back at Emmett and said,"Yes, baby, Mama's happy now." 
I mentioned to the psychiatrist that Ellie Kate had been a strength for Emmett and if we needed to confirm this Ellie Kate herself would come and share all of her data that she had collected concerning Emmett. The doctor went on to say that she had recently been at a conference where the speaker said that he wished every delayed child could be given a big sister.
That appointment lasted for a good long while.  I had already heard some "Aw done"s and "Dee end"s.
Our next appointment was with an occupational therapist.  I left the room to observe on the other side of the glass.  I could quickly tell that this appointment was over before it even started.  Instead of stacking blocks, Emmett would throw them on the floor and say,"Dee End!"
By this point I had been told that our 1:00 appointment had been cancelled due to the doctor's sickness.  I suggested that we break for lunch and try again later.
Emmett and I went to lunch.  We returned to give our time with the occupational therapist another try.
I was feeling "Aw done" by this point as well.
Bless their hearts, those girls tried and tried to entice Emmett to participate in their testing.  After much prompting, he would occasionally comply.  One of them told me that she knew that he could do more than what she had seen.  It didn't end well.  He took off his shoes and repeatedly said "No" as I drug him out from under a table and back to the waiting room.
Our last appointment for the day was with a nutritionist.  Emmett was resistent again. This mama was emotional.  The nutritionist asked me my name and I cried.  I accepted a tissue, wiped away my tears, and promised myself that I could cry all the way home if I would just finish up here.
We completed our last appointment and then we headed home.  Emmett was asleep before we ever got out of Birmingham.
It's funny how I'm always caught off guard by my own emotions.  I guess I psych myself out to think that I've hit an even keel.  No more highs.  No more lows.  Just steady.  I go from mountain top floating to give me a butterfly net and my own pasture at break neck speed, making every emotional pitstop along the way.
As I sat answering the psychiatrist's questions, I would think,"We aren't talking about my child. Emmett is fine.  No delays.  He's just who he is."  Of course, I would come back to reality and realize that we were indeed talking about my child.
The Lord has been ever so faithful along this road.  The truth is that Emmett is the Lord's.  Ross and I have only been entrusted with this important, little soul.  I'm reminded of James 1:17,"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."  Emmett is our good and perfect gift sent to us from our Father. Period.
If you are around Emmett for any amount of time you will see that he is unhindered by the opinions of those around him.  He is who he is in more than just a three-year-old little boy kind of way.  He has a freedom about him that I will never personally know. 
 I have a fear that I must continually give to the Lord.  It's Emmett's future.  I know it's bright and promising.  I know the Lord will guide and direct each step along the way.  But the hard part for me is that Emmett won't be three forever.  I don't know what things years down the road look like.  I want to shield him from curious looks.  I don't want a cruel word ever spoken to or about him.
My fears often seem loud and over powering.  That's when I'm thankful that God is consistent, never changing and His Spirit gently reminds me of His promises.  HE DOES NOT CHANGE.  My emotions are haywire at best.  They are all over the map.  Sometimes it just ain't pretty.
But in the midst of it He wraps heartache in mercy.  He brings people into our lives to walk along side of us.  He opens doors that we didn't even know existed. Only He can produce something worthwhile out of pain. And even louder than Jack's squeal in my ears, John 1:16 rings true in my soul,"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another."
We go back at the end of the month for a diagnosis and recommendations.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers and kind words.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

In honor of Mothers' Day; A repost

This was originally posted on February 28, 2011 with the title being "Just Another Day in Paradise". 
No names have been changed because no one is innocent anyway. No sedatives were used after the completion of this post.
 Oh, and Happy Mothers' Day!

A quick little update.
This must be prefaced by saying that this post is more of a run-on thought with incomplete sentences. Grammar lovers beware.

The chaotic tone of this post is a reflection of my current day reality. So here is my unperfected post.

We have three children. This is one of my first thoughts every morning. This statement stirs my drowsy mind. The Lord has blessed us with three children. What a beautiful picture. At this point Jack and I are the only ones awake. He is drinking a bottle. Ellie Kate and Emmett are asleep and I am not the only one over four years of age in our home. Ross is still home. I know that in a little while he will get up with the older kids and make them breakfast in order that I may catch a few extra moments of sleep with Jack.

And so the day begins.

Fast forward...

Ross has left for work. I am out numbered 3 to 1. If I were a betting person, my money would be on the three little people. They know things. Oh yeah. Don't be fooled. They are all in this together.

Emmett doesn't acknowledge his little brother. I'll say,"Emmett, see the baby?" Without looking Jack's way, he shakes his head back and forth saying,"Nooo, nooo." Meanwhile, Bunny (our chihuahua) is curled up in the corner thinking,"I tried that same method with you, Kid, and it didn't work."

Ellie Kate, on the other hand, is THE big sister. I guess we've played up the role so much that now she feels that she needs to remind us of exactly who she is. After leaving the room for a quick moment and returning to find EK on the bed having scooped Jack up into her arms, nearly all her defensive statements after that began with,"But Mama, I'm the big sista." I follow this with, "And I'm the Mommy."

So where was I? Oh yes, Ross has left me... to go to work and carry on in our normal everyday life. And here is a quick glimpse of my new normal.

Jack cries. If not held, he cries. Sometimes I follow suit...with the crying.

There are 7 loads of laundry to be washed, dried, folded, and put away.

The dishwasher needs unloading.

I should at some point brush my teeth.

Something has set Emmett off. I put him in his room and close the door. He has developed superhuman strength. I hope his room can hold him.

Ellie Kate is using chairs from the kitchen table to make a "tent for 4 year olds". Apparently this tent should hold 137 toys from her room. I tell myself that we'll clean up later all the while knowing that I am lying to myself.

Meanwhile, the four year old is a tutu wearing pirate who has made herself a treasure map and thankfully has decided to allow her two year old brother into the tent made specifically for four year olds. I make a mental note to give her candy later. She makes a mental note to treat herself to hidden candy later.

I've decided that kitchen sinks are for holding dishes. I should not rush this process.

Dishwasher needs to be unloaded.

I should get out of my pajamas. No time to change and I don't want more clothes in the dirty pile.

Jack cries. He is little, but his newborn sensor lets him know when Mommy is trying to rest or do anything else for that matter. And so he cries.

I decide to just sit and hold him.

I observe my home.

Tent set up in living room. It contains a music box, a ball, chewing gum, shoe boxes, and anything else of utmost importance to a four year old.

Throughout the day one of two songs will play in my mind. The first is an old country song called Just Another Day in Paradise. The second is a silly song with Larry from Veggietales. The lyrics...If it doesn't have a tail it's not a monkey even if it has a monkey kind of shape. If it doesn't have a tale it's not a monkey, if it doesn't have a tail it's not a monkey, it's an ape.
I note that I don't have a tail.

Meanwhile, Ellie Kate lets me know that,"stupid isn't a bad word. You just don't say it at someone." It's never 'end of discussion' with her and she continues to discuss with herself.

Then Emmett makes his request time and time again for juice. He says,"Duice? Duice? Duice?"

He proceeds to say many other things and I pause to imagine a life with subtitles so that I can understand his little self.

I check the clock and wonder where the last 2 and a half hours have gone.

There are still 7 loads of laundry to wash, dry, fold and put away.

The dishwasher needs unloading.

How have I accomplished nothing?

I observe Emmett eating a piece of Bunny's food. I suddenly realize why his hair (or coat) has been so shiny lately.

I remember a thing called facebook and wonder what is going on in the outside world.

I log into my email for the first time in over a month and cringe to see that I need to sort through nearly 450 emails.

...If it doesn't have a tail it's not a monkey...

I'm back.

I check a friend's blog. She, too, has a newborn. She has had various photo shoots with him. Beautiful, peaceful photos.

I don't know if I've taken Jack's photo since he was a week old.

I walk down our hall and realize that it looks like a shrine to Ellie Kate, our firstborn. I make a mental note to schedule an appointment for Emmett and Jack to have their picture taken. I immediately wonder what file that note will end up in.

I walk into Emmett's room and wonder when the toy bomb blew up. Cars, blocks, balls, and the like are scattered about. And carefully hidden from my eyes are his various pacifiers. He even has a pink butterfly one carried over from Ellie Kate's baby days. At two and a half he has a full blown addiction and I am his enabler. That's right. I push aside thoughts of future visits to the orthodontist and instead resort to pacifier bribery when he needs his diaper changed or it's time to go to bed. I do so with no shame to speak of.

It's lunch time. Spaghetti.

I have a fork in one hand and Jack with a bottle, in the other. Ellie Kate sits across the table correcting my technique.

Strip Emmett down to his diaper. Cut the pasta. Give him a spoon. Watch as he occasionally finds his mouth. Call Bunny in to clean up the floor. Grateful for her service.


Put Ellie Kate and Emmett in tub. Have to fill tub up twice because Emmett's a splasher. Wipe down kitchen while kids play. Return to bathroom to wrestle Little Man out of tub. He once again develops superhuman strength. I hulk out and handle the situation. Both kids out of tub, clean, dressed, and ready for nap time.

Pick up crying Jack. Feed him. Get him down for a nap.

Emmett, pacifier in mouth and another in hand, is also down for a nap.

Retreat to my room with Ellie Kate. I decide that she can pick out a movie to watch while I get some rest.

Wake up and wonder if I ever really slept.

Call Ross to see when he'll be home. He notes desperation in my voice and makes plans to return home sooner than originally planned.

7 loads of laundry to be washed, dried, folded, and put away.

Dishwasher needs unloading.

Should get out of my pajamas.

Still hopeful of brushing my teeth at some point.

Call my mom to ask her how in the world she did this. I am the youngest of three. We were doorsteps, as well. Make note to apologize more often to my mom "just because". Receive encouragement and sympathy.

Ellie Kate tells me I have "pwecious teeth".

Emmett's diaper is approaching the 24 pound weight limit of what it will hold. I wrestle him to the ground and change him. He requests "duice".

The thought in my head,"WE HAVE THREE CHILDREN!" It's more of a screaming voice at this point.

Bunny peeks at me with her good eye, begging for her arthritis medicine.

We got the kids a dog for Christmas. His name was Baxter. Past tense because we let him out to go potty and he never came back. I lack the proper response of sadness. I'm sure he found a nice home and I don't have to feed, water, or clean up after him anymore. The kids weren't really upset. Emmett never acknowledged Baxter (I'm sensing a theme). Ellie Kate's prayer about the situation, "And dear Lorwd, we pway for Baxter that we can get a new dog."

Decide to attempt to fold laundry on guest bed. Wonder if anything is hiding in 5 foot mountain of clothes. Fold three items. Jack cries.

Note that the Elmo video is replaying for 6th time. Hear Emmett cry followed by Ellie Kate saying,"I didn't hit him", which lets me know that she did. I remind her that she is "the big sister" and she must be sweet to her brothers.
Impressed that Emmett can turn on breast pump.

Think of several mommies that I know who 'have it all together'. I'm not on this list.

Supper approaches. Three options tonight. Spaghetti, bowl of cereal, or a sandwich.

Ross returns home. Emmett says "Daaaaddy!" So precious. Ellie Kate and Emmett squeal with delight as "The Daddy" chases them throughout the house.

Ellie Kate takes her Daddy to our bedroom to show him what she and Emmett have done. They have dumped Applejack crumbs all over our bed. She tells him that,"We're kids...we don't know any better."

Supper then bedtime.

Whole family goes into Emmett's room. We sing songs and say his Bible verse. I note that his nails must be cut tomorrow and realize I made the same note the night before.

Ellie Kate gives Daddy hugs and kisses and tells him goodnight. I brush her teeth and remember that I forgot to do the same for Emmett. I sit on EK's bed with her and we say our prayers and her Bible verse. Then she picks a song or two. She often still decides on Silent Night and Away in a Manger. We sing. I tuck her in. She puts on a toboggan that she calls her bedtime hat. I explain to her that she doesn't need to talk anymore. She calls me back into her room 3 more times.

I feed Jack and hold my breath as I try to lay him down twice. Newborn buzzer goes off as he is automatically aware of the fact that he isn't being held. Third times a charm. At this point I will only allow Ross and myself to whisper and tip toe.

I brush my teeth. Yes. I brush my teeth. Ross breaks out into a "Hallelujah!" chorus.

I don't have to put on my pajamas because I never took them off anyway.

Ross and I lay down on the fine layer of crumbs that has settled on our bed. They itch. I make a note to wash the sheets the next day and then decide that I really should follow thru with this notation.

7 loads of laundry never got washed, dried, folded, or put away.

The dishwasher was never unloaded.

I decide that the next day will provide another chance to tackle each chore. I mentally pat myself on the back for getting the coffee maker ready to go for the next morning.

I think of my day. My new normal. I hit the ground running and feel as though I never accomplish anything. Then I think of the moments Emmett 'gave me lovin' or Ellie Kate sang to her new brother. I remember the times I wiped a tear...or a rear:) I think of tending to a fresh boo boo or rocking my newborn. I relish the laughter that filled our home when "The Daddy" tickled his little ones. I think of Emmett learning a new word and Ellie Kate sharing with her oldest brother. I think of my husband telling me that I was beautiful when I knew my outward appearance was much to the contrary. I think of the miracle of each child and the uniqueness of each soul. I'm reminded of the blessings in our home.

And ultimately I'm reminded of the verse at the top of this blog which says,"He gently leads those who have young." I ask Him to gently lead me. I drift off to sleep thinking, "The Lord has blessed us with three children" and it sounds melodious again.

Just another day in paradise, indeed.