Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Summer Field Trips

I feel like all I have done for the last couple of months is moan and groan, but in reality things have not been all bad:).

In fact we have been pretty busy enjoying lots of fun things that help get us out of the house and keeps Isabella busy and smiling--win, win!

As an added bonus, as much as I love A.J., it is getting tricker to take he and Isabella on field trips together.  His family's schedule has been crazy over the last two months and they usually don't remember to let me know until the last minute so there have been a number of times I have gotten paid for watching my own kid--win, win, win!

We are very fortunate to have an amazing local library system.  There is a HUGE children's library downtown and then each of the regional libraries have an awesome children's section with puzzles and wooden toys.  Since it has been ridiculously hot we have taken full advantage of these indoor spaces.

We also have lots of great public parks to choose from.  I am lucky in that Isabella is super mobile and adventurous so even if a park's equipment is geared for 5 year olds and up we are usually able to at least eek out 15-20 minutes of entertainment.  Again with the weather, these outings have been more sporadic and early in the morning before the sun melts us.

The splash pad has been an outdoor option that provides some relief from the heat.  While I think Isabella prefers the pool, I'm kind of partial to the splash pad as it involves less effort on my part:).

Our last favorite spot this summer has been the local children's museum.  It is right up the road and when she turned one (when we had to start paying for her) we got a year family membership with a guest pass.  So when we go as a family we have not issue stopping in for 30 minutes because there's no guilt for not getting our money's worth.  Also like today we went with my friend Amy and her girls and only spent $8.  That membership has been worth it's weight in gold and will definitely become a yearly thing until either we move or Isabella ages out! 

Our other field trips usually involve some variation of Target, the grocery store, or a consignment store, but no matter the destination it is nice to have the freedom to come and go as we please.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mental Upgrade

What began as a joke--a brain upgrade--transformed into a project!  While of course I cannot physically change my brain I became intrigued with the idea of taking steps to improve its function.  The current drag isn't emotional, it isn't spiritual, it isn't physical, it is 100% mental so it is only from that angle that any progress would be felt. 

The phone analogy was an interesting one because it got me thinking about the two functions of my brain that are being hit the hardest:  the amount of information it is trying to hold (storage space) and the speed with which it is being taken care of (processing speed).  So I did a quick search in coping with information overload.  Forbes had a good article the first step of which was a brain dump.  So I went old school, took out a paper and some markers and went to town.

I laid out every thought that seems to play on a continual loop in brain--there was a LOT of stuff rattling around up there.  And when you consider that each and every one of those things requires decisions, supporting thoughts and actions -holy crap no wonder it's been struggling!  The next step of the article talked about taking the items from your brain dump and putting them into one of four categories:  do it, delegate it, defer it, and drop it.  Unfortunately none of this items is actually droppable:(.  Also at first blush none of them seemed able to be delegated or able to be deffered, so feeling a bit defeated I made a three column chart and left it on the counter next to the brain dump.  

Over the course of the day I slowly but surely DID find items that I was able to defer (yes those three publications will definitely help my resume BUT not taking care of my child is NOT an option sooo those publications got put on the defer it list).  I also figured out items that I could, in a way, delegate.  For example, friendships.  I often take the lead or at least get the ball rolling for getting together so I am, for the foreseeable future, allowing others the opportunity to do so (they just don't know it;).   

By the end of the day everything from the brain dump had a category and my shoulders (and more importantly my brain) felt lighter!  

So then I started thinking about how I might could help my brain process more effectively.  Side note you can tell I have spent almost half my life living in the south when terms like "might could" flow from my subconscious ramblings--yikes before too long I'll be telling people to "cut off the lights" and that "I'm fixing" to do something!  But I digress...

After doing some research I'm going to start popping some of J.T's fish oil (why does it seem that fish oil is the answer to EVERYTHING?!?!).  Then later today Isabella and I are going to take a field trip to the Vitamin Store for some Ginko Biloba.  I may also be the only stay at home mom I know who needs to consider upping her caffeine intake.  Since I don't do coffee I only consume, at most, 70 mg a day by way of the 1-2 diet Cokes I drink.  I was going to try to shoot for 200, but began to feel a little loopy after 2 diet cokes and an iced caramel mocha so currently going to shoot for 100 and see what happens:).

What began as a joke may actual be the thing that saves the day--here's to hoping!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Where'd I Put My Get Up and Go?

Cause it's clearly gotten up, gone away and doesn't appear to be resurfacing anytime soon!

I have a dissertation proposal that needs revising, three in progress publications that need attention, a house that is in desperate need of some deep cleaning, and a yard that is in danger of being overtaken by weeds.  I have zero desire to even touch any of these endeavors.

I am in much better shape than I was two weeks ago (mentally and physically), but I am still struggling with feeling "normal".

I am getting a decent amount of sleep, eating pretty well, and exercising.  I went to the doctor a few weeks ago for a thyroid checkup.  All is well on that front and he tested my iron which looked good too.

After giving it some thought I think the issue is my brain.  After a semester that kicked my ass new stressors keep popping up that require my immediate attention-cancer...resolution in being a family of three...breaking up with our adoption agency...home repairs...speech disorders.  This is on top of ya know regular life stuff-taking care of little people....taking care of dogs...maintaining relationships...keeping up with regular housework...

It's like my brain is currently processing like an iPhone 4 but my life requires more of an iPhone 8.  My brain is moving at a glacial pace and the storage is full even though new apps are needed ASAP!

Not quite sure how to get a brain upgrade, but I feel like this would help:).

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Speech Update

As I mentioned earlier Isabella qualified for Early Intervention services in early May under the category of Speech/Language.  In late May a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) conducted a more comprehensive Speech/Language assessment.  This assessment gave us more information as it showed us that our 13 month little girl only had the mastery of skills of a typically developing 9 month child for speech and language.  This was important information as it gave us a place to start working.  The SLP also gave what turned out to be an incredibly valuable resource in the form of a website and podcast.  It is hosted by an early childhood SLP who works specifically with late talking toddlers.

It was here that I learned there were in fact ELEVEN skills a toddler needed to have before they could even begin to demonstrate the ability to communicate verbally with words-who knew?!?! 

Some of them she had already mastered such as reacts to events in her environment, plays with a variety of toys appropriately, vocalizes, initiates interactions with others, responding to others and follows simple directions.  So we were more than half way there! 

Over the next few weeks I worked with her on the ones for which were emerging such as those related to attention span (the child has a typical toddler attention span for anything physical but try to get her to sit for more than a minute to do anything else? Forget it!) and imitation.  During this time her receptive language skills seemed to really blossom.  She could go and get just about anything I asked her to and when I told her it was time to eat, go outside, go the car, etc. she would go to the exact right spot.  Her ability to understand what we were saying was becoming very evident which was super exciting and made me hopeful that our "late talker" would begin talking soon.  A.J. calls me Mama (though I always try to redirect him to attempt to say Beth), so I would love to hear my own kiddo call me Mama too:). 

Imitation was interesting because it began with purposeful imitation with objects and then body movements.  The first we had done some, but as soon as we began to be more deliberate with it things really took off and the same was true about body movements.  She could now wave and clap consistently.  She could also spin, do some yoga pose J.T. does to stretch his back, and dance to music.  The next level of imitation involves imitating sound effect like sounds (beep, whee!, animal noises, etc.).  This is where we hit a roadblock.  This roadblock was more telling than we realized.

During Isabella's speech assessment in May we signed up for Speech once a month.  This involves an SLP coming to the house once a month for an hour primarily to check progress and provide me with new strategies.  Our first session was on Thursday and in it we got more information than we bargained for.

Recently I was watching Bubble Guppies with Isabella and there was a horse saying neigh.  I said neigh and asked if Isabella could say neigh.  She was sitting on my lap so I couldn't see her face, but I could feel her body stiffen as she strained to try to imitate the sound.  After much effort the only thing to come out was some type of guttural sound I couldn't replicate to save my life.  She didn't seem upset or frustrated but it was the first time I wondered if it wasn't that she wasn't ready to imitate sounds, but rather maybe she COULDN'T physically imitate sounds.  So my first question for the SLP was whether or not there was any type of issue that involves an inability to reproduce sounds.  The answer is yes and after working with Isabella for a little bit it became clear to the SLP that it may be what we are dealing with.  It is called Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

Apraxia is not usually diagnosed until a child is closer to three, but one of the tell tale signs is apparently what is called "groping".  This is the clinical term for what I was hearing Isabella do when she was trying to imitate a sound.  For the first time I saw her face when she was trying to imitate a sound the SLP was making.  It made me want to cry.  Isabella's eyes were fixed on the SLP's mouth, her jaw was jutted out the way it does when she is concentrating really hard, and you could tell she REALLY wanted to make the sound but no sound would come out.  It didn't seem to upset her, but to see her physically unable to do something she really wanted to do hurt my heart:(.

Like most disorders there is a continuum.  The fact that Isabella can make sounds (and boy can she make a LOT of them!) is very promising as severely Apraxic children often make few if any sounds at all at this age.  There is also a physical component that will be assessed by an Occupational Therapist at the beginning of August.  So as we continue to collect more information our current goals are to continue to encourage sounds, ramp up our use and teaching of sign language, and encourage imitation of the use of open vowel sounds as word approximations (for example uh for up or oh for go).   The fact that we know what we may be working with is very helpful, though it is taking some time to process that what we are working with may be less temporary than we thought.

At the end of the day however our little girl has been fearfully and wonderfully made to do great things and we have been blessed with the resources to help her achieve every last one of them even if the road we take is, as usual, the road less traveled. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Early to bed, way too early to rise!

Isabella began sleeping through the night last fall.  She had two sleep regressions the last being around Christmas.  She is super easy to put to bed and once in bed stays put until morning.  Morning is where the trouble still lies as her definition of morning and mine differ at times. 

There were times earlier in the year when she would wake up between 3-5am.  When she was still taking a bottle I would feed her and then put her in bed with me.  She would usually fall back to sleep within about 45 minutes (even sooner on good days!) and sleep for at least another hour.  These episodes were random and manageable.

Then about the time we kicked the bottle and switched to milk (late March) the 3-5 am wake ups became an almost daily occurrence and she wanted to go downstairs and start the day.  She would not drink her milk upstairs.  She would not lay with me in the glider or bed.  She would only calm down once we were downstairs where it was pitch black outside and no one else in their right mind would be up for hours.

I am all for the early bird catching the work, but anything before 5 is still NIGHT time in my book.

In searching for help I found that cutting back or even down on her naps might help.  It would help for a couple of days and then we would be right back to it.  We made sure she ate a good dinner and moved bedtime back some so that her tummy was full later.  Changing her bedtime did nothing.  We tried earlier and we tried later and still the results were the same.  Eventually if she woke up before 5 I just let her cry:(.  It was always just a whiny cry but not the way either one of wanted to start the day.  It helped some in that after about 5 minutes of crying she would lay back down.  She would lay back down for like 10 minutes and then try again.  Rinse and repeat until 5 am.

Over time the formula seems to be 2 naps (each one can last no longer than 90 minutes), peanut butter and banana smoothie and a walk before bed followed by a 7/7:15 bed time.  There is still the occasional 4:30/4:45 wake up (this was the case twice this week), but most days she gets up between 5-5:30. 

My dream is that as she gets older and we cut the morning nap she will sleep until 6.  I don't know the likelihood since she has been waking up around 5:30 since birth, but a girl can dream right?!?

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th of July

This is not generally the space for which I share my thoughts on things political, but given the day and the times I will for just today.

While there is much that frustrates me about the direction our leaders are trying to take our nation, I am equally hopeful given the increasing energy of those including myself who feel this direction does not speak to democracy or, more importantly, the message the Lord gave to us through Jesus Christ and are actively working toward change.  

Cheers to Independence Day and the ideology it represents!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Umm, what's that?

This was my question to J.T. on Saturday as I was unpacking from the beach and he and Isabella were playing in our bedroom.  Burgeoning from the wall was a bubble of paint about the size of a hoagie roll (sub roll if you grew up somewhere other than PA).  We also saw a lovely stain on the ceiling above the bubble.  Ugh, water damage of some way shape or form:(.

J.T. punctured the bubble and it was cold and clear so if we were going to hope for anything we put our hope in HVAC ($$)  issues instead of roof ($$$$!).  Turns out we were right and that there was a clog in the condensation pipe from algae.  Apparently we were supposed to be running a bleach mixture through  it a couple of times a year-who knew?  As a side note, what else are we supposed to be doing to maintain our home that we don't know-yikes!.

The pipe repair was relatively inexpensive...relative to the water damage that is!  There is damage to the attic, master bedroom (ceiling, wall and subfloor), as well as the ceiling of the playroom below.   The plumber suggested that we might be able to have the repairs covered through our home owners insurance.  Thankfully God was using him as a messenger as neither J.T. nor I would have thought of that on our own. 

The good news is our insurance company accepted the claim so we only have to pay our deductible-yay!  The bad news is the repair work is no small task.  Drying it out took holes cut into our ceiling and walls and giant fans running for 72 hours straight.  Fortunately, with Isabella's sound machine her sleeping was not disturbed.  Unfortunately the same could not be said for the rest of us.

Repairing the walls and the ceiling is the next step which is more involved.  Even though the hole in the ceiling is only about 10 inches in diameter they have to re-do the entire ceiling in the playroom AND the foyer as it is one continuous piece of ceiling.  Scheduling that should be fun considering the fact the playroom is where we spend most of our lives Monday-Friday.  Not  sure how I'm going to entertain three toddlers safely in the other rooms of our home, but guess we will cross that bridge when we get to is never dull around here these days...