Changes afoot

Deep breath.

Okay.  It has been far too long since I have written in this space.  I have sat down on a few different occasions and made the effort to organize my current experiences, thoughts, and emotions into some form that makes sense; but I have failed every time.

And then tonight I sat down, wrote a long post…actually finished it!…and went to publish it, only to find out that it had somehow magically disappeared in between clicks of the mouse.

I don’t think I have the energy to completely rewrite it; but I wanted to say this at least.  I am here.  My little family and I are going through momentous–and largely difficult–changes on many different fronts right now, and not all of us are dealing well with them.  I certainly am not coping as well as I wish I were.  Pain, loss, uncertainty, endings, beginnings, the abortion of nearly all of my self-definitions…none of these are things that are comfy for me.  I don’t like them.  I am teetering on the edge of depression, and find it really, really hard to get out of bed some mornings.  Like yesterday.

But then, something happens.  A friend messages me.  A wise counselor checks in.  A sister calls late at night just to see if I am okay.  I read a blog post that keeps me going for another five minutes.  And I realize…as this essay reminded me this morning…I am still here.  I just have to keep showing up, and eventually (as hard as it is to believe at the moment), everything really will be okay.

None of our days right now are perfect.  But today, we had a pretty good school day.  We picked up our milk, and skimmed the cream and made butter.  We sang.  We painted.  We read.  We counted. We ate hard boiled eggs and gluten free waffles and fruit and cheese and pasta with zucchini sauce.

So yes: I am showing up, hard as it is sometimes.  And I plan to keep showing up in this space, because I need it.  I need the interaction, the satisfaction, the accountability.  The practice. 

And yes, I am still reading (forgive the cloudy lens…didn’t realize that someone with small grubby hands had been the last to use the camera!)…

010

and making…

008

and loving every minute of my children’s growth.

024

017

And sometime last week, I found honeysuckle and goldenrod growing together along the border of the back field.  It was comforting to me; spring mixed with fall, unexpected pleasures.  A surprising beauty.

‘Cause every little thing is gonna be all right…”

012

Published in: on October 10, 2013 at 2:45 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Motor skills. Successes. GRATITUDE.

I have been in tears twice in the last two days.  And they were tears of happiness, not of frustration.

Let me explain.

We deal with lots and lots of things connected to Little Guy’s SPD and various delays.  To describe them all would take me many hours and many blog posts.  Suffice it to say that, unless you have a child with this or a similar diagnosis, it is hard to imagine the sheer multiplicity of ways in which these issues invade every corner of a child’s life, making everything just a little bit harder for him than for other kids.

With many SPD kids, Little Guy included, delayed motor skills are one of the most obvious problems.  We have issues with fine motor skills, motor planning, gross motor skills, proprioception, etc.  Anything physical is hard for Little Guy.  He can’t catch a ball.  He can’t write all those amazing words he can spell.  He certainly can’t dance.   I watch Baby V rocking back and forth happily in rhythm with whatever music she hears, and I am filled with wonder because Little Guy has never done that.  Never.  Not once.

We spend hours each week working on these things.  We listen to music and try to move to it.  We play physical imitation games.  We work with scarves, tossing them in the air and trying to catch them.  We work with every art and sensory medium available.  We string beads.  We practice carrying things level.  We do hand-over-hand writing.  We work, and work, and work.

Sometimes, I see no progress for weeks.  That is discouraging, but I doggedly keep going.  Sometimes, we seem to take a step backward, and that is heartbreaking.  Sometimes, there is minimal ongoing progress, and that gives me hope.  We keep going.

And sometimes there is a week like this one.  A week in which everything suddenly goes right.

I don’t know what happened this week.  But after all the hundreds of times we have worked with writing letters hand-over-hand, suddenly this week he started writing some on his own.  He wrote D’s and I’s and a couple more.  He wrote them several times, on three consecutive days.  I was in shock.

Then last night, Hubby and I took him to the playground.  We sat watching him as he carefully moved across the equipment.  After a while, we got distracted talking for a moment; and when we turned back to him, we both gasped.  You know those arched  ladder-like things with far-apart rungs that often connect separate pieces of playground equipment?  I’m not sure what they’re called…but anyway.  Little Guy had never dared try one on his own before, and the two times I had coaxed him into trying, he couldn’t balance on the initial rung to  lean forward and steady himself, and ended up falling through the bars (with me there to catch him.)  But last night was different.  We looked over, and there he was already half-way across the arch, moving confidently forward.  No trouble at all.  He reached the end of the arch, climbed off, and just kept going as if it were no big deal.  But I was already tearing up.  I called him over and asked him to do it again.  Sure enough, he climbed up, put one foot on the first rung, leaned carefully forward to balance himself, and quickly climbed over….confidently, steady, and with perfect balance.  I immediately started sobbing.

I just couldn’t handle the hope.  Sometimes it is the littlest things that make it most real.  It sneaks up on you by surprise.

Oh, and then today, this.

Little Guy has played with play-doh for a long time, but has never actually made anything.  The motor planning and fine motor skills involved have just been beyond him.  He loves playing with the dough, though….pinching it into pieces, squishing it, rolling it.  It has been great sensory play for him, and I have been  happy to let it be just that, and to keep gently showing him how to make things.   Then today, when I set him at the table, I had to walk away and take care of Baby V.  I came back to find this.

IM000077.JPG

IM000079.JPG

IM000080.JPG

Now, for all of you parents of neurotypical five-year-olds who make amazing play-doh creations every day, that may not look like much.  But that is a HUGE achievement in our book…huge.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is a train…complete with a freight-car, rooftop claw, eyes, buffers, and whistle.  I am not kidding.  Can’t you see it??? And it was completely his idea and his work.  These pictures were NOT staged in any way.  I promise.

That was my second time crying tears of joy this week.

Oh, and did I mention that several months ago (pre-GAPS), he was still stringing giant wooden blocks, with help?  And that now he strings small beads in rhythm, all by himself?  Here’s proof.  He’s been making beaded candy cane ornaments for family and friends.  The only thing I did was tie off the ends of the pipe cleaners.

IM000075.JPG

So yes, I am swimming in gratitude this week.  My children are all the Christmas I could ever ask for…and this is just the icing on the cake.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Published in: on December 8, 2012 at 8:50 pm  Comments (2)  
Tags: , , ,

The second week

My children are the most amazing thing in my life right now.  They are both developing so fast I can hardly keep up and am so afraid of forgetting all the little important moments, even though I know it is impossible to remember them all.

This was our second week of Oak Meadow.  It was good.

We continued starting every morning with circle time.  This week, we continued singing “Down by the Station,” but dropped “Michael, Row the Boat Ashore” in favor of “Kum-ba-yah.”  To my great surprise, Little Guy loved “Kum-ba-yah”!  He listened intently every morning, while staring into the candle flame.  He even asked to listen to it at other random times.  We’re going to recycle it this coming week, and hopefully I can get him to actually sing it by Friday.

He also said, ALMOST by himself and with just a little prompting, his whole morning verse.  He really enjoys the hand motions we do with it.

“Morning has come,

night is away,

we rise with the sun,

to welcome the day.”

                                                           –Oak Meadow K curriculum

Our circle time–left to right, Little Guy, me, and Baby V 🙂

This week, our focus was on the letter “B”.  I told him the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears every day, and we worked on narration.  That wasn’t hard, because it’s a story I’ve told him since he was little.  (I fleshed it out a bit this week.)  We drew a bear in the shape of a B, and butterflies with B-shape sas their wings. For science, we capitalized on the butterfly theme, and read stories about metamorphosis.  His syllabus had one good story, and then we checked out more from the library.  I also did an interactive drawing of the stages of metamorphosis with him (please ignore my obvious inability to draw!)  The funny thing was, when we started and I first asked him to narrate the process back to me, it turned out that what he had somehow processed was that eggs hatch into snakes, and that when the snakes come out of their chrysalises, they turn into bees.  *sigh and giggle* Fortunately, his understanding of the process improved as the week went on.

Learning about butterflies

Little Guy did AMAZINGLY with his letter boards this week.  We use the Melissa and Doug see-and-spell boards, and he loves them.  His focus is fantastic when he uses them…he is so tactile.  He spelled lots of words this week, some on his own and some with help.  We did a lot of “B” words, and then of course many of his beloved engine names.  I was so proud of him sitting there and spelling things out correctly and left-to-right on his own!

One interesting thing did happen.  I had not planned to do any computer work just yet, but it turns out that he is very interested in the keyboard and in learning to type!  Because of his delayed fine motor skills, writing words is going to be a while coming, but he can type them with no problem.  I set him up on Microsoft Word two mornings this week, enlarged the font size and colored it red, and let him go to town.  He loved it.  So I think we will be incorporating a bit of computer time into our school time a couple of days a week.

For math this week, we talked about the number 1.  Little Guy can count to twenty and beyond, but we are working on the tangible qualities of the numbers.  I told him the story of Father Sun, who is just one but has enough light for everyone; we drew suns and ones; we talked about trees with just one trunk but many branches.  On Thursday, we baked GAPS-friendly cookies together, and he counted.  He counted ten dates, twenty cookies, and so on.

For health, in continuation of our cleanliness/self care topic, he worked on self-washing.

What else did we do?  We read nursery rhymes.  We read many, many other books (especially Dr. Seuss.)  We did puzzles.  We did speech therapy games.  We reviewed the seasons (last week’s science topic) and read books about them.  We went to the library.  On Wednesday, we made rhythm drums out of coffee cans.  It was a disaster.  Little Guy has NO sense of rhythm and does not like to be reminded of the fact.  That’s fine: rhythm can wait.

We did watercolor painting, on both wet and dry paper.  He loves to paint, so that was a big hit.  This week, we did mostly yellow, as we talked about the warmth of the sun in summer.

Happy boy with his watercolors

His focus was excellent, most of the week.  Thursday got a little rough, but I expect that.  He has been concentrating so much better than I expected, and I know there are bound to be down times.  Thursday morning, he couldn’t focus on our stories, didn’t want to do his table work, kept talking over me, was stimming a lot, and so on.  So what did we do?  We dropped everything for two hours, went outside and got really, really dirty then really, really wet, and came in and took baths.  And then we started again, and it went much better.

That is why I am glad I can homeschool.

Till next time!

Published in: on August 19, 2012 at 3:03 am  Comments (2)  
Tags: , ,