Monday, July 30, 2007

Sensing Change

To the untrained observer, there is nothing remarkable about the photo of Eli at the top of this post. Your run-of-the-mill, happy-go-lucky two-and-a-half year old. But to me, there is something very important about this photo, taken just 10 minutes ago. What? Eli's shirt.

Eli is developmentally on-track and perfect in every way. Like every human on this planet, though, he has his challenges: For him, smells are a particular struggle, as are (to a lesser degree) touch, visual stimuli, and sounds. To put it succinctly - but also to vastly oversimplify it - he has Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Disorder. This is a very wide umbrella that covers so many symptoms ranging from hypersensitivity of the senses to hyposensitivity to the senses to difficulty with the sense of movement or with the sense of one's own position in relation to the world. For Eli, it means he reacts very strongly to certain smells - often to the point of gagging, sometimes to the point of vomiting - and can't stand to look at various foods. He doesn't like loud sounds, he's not a fan of finger paints (or of many other activities that require messy hands). He is also sometimes more aware of the tags in his shirts than the princess was of the pea. And since he began having a say in what he wears he has flatly refused collared shirts.

We didn't think much of most of the things I just listed; he is two, after all. Wouldn't you expect him to have some very strong preferences, especially ones that make little sense to an adult? But the gagging and refusal to even look at some dinners was making for very tedious meal times. When I saw an advertisement for a seminar on picky eaters I signed right up. The nutritionist who led the group was wonderful and talked a lot about offering reasonable portion sizes and about exposing young eaters to as many foods as possible. Even if they wouldn't eat it, let them see you eating it. I raised my hand: "What if your child won't even let you eat most things in the same room as him?" She asked: "Does he get gaggy, too?" When she said that, it was as if the heavens had opened so the angels could sing. This woman got it. I said "Yes," she said, "talk to me after," and a plan was hatched.

A couple of weeks before this a friend of mine who is an elementary teacher suggested that Eli might have some sensory issues and said I should look into Early Intervention. Not having a clue how it worked, I thought I needed to go to my pediatrician for a referral. So I made an appointment and hunkered down to wait a few weeks. It turns out, as I learned from the nutritionist, no referral is necessary at all. Just call, say you'd like your child evaluated, and they will come. So I called, said I'd like my child evaluated, and they came.

The evaluation was pretty straightforward. In order to qualify for services, Eli's sensory woes had to be delaying his development in one area or more by at least three months. Of course this wasn't slowing him down in the slightest with his language or cognitive development. He did, however, score a little low on "self care." Apparently, the fact that he doesn't show interest in getting himself dressed or undressed and the fact the often chooses not to use a fork puts him behind other kids his age. That (with a couple of other low scores) qualified him to work with an Occupational Therapist (OT).

So for the last couple of months she's been working with Eli once a week, trying to develop his central nervous system and to desensitize him to various tactile, auditory, and olfactory sensations. She gave us the details of a "sensory diet," which requires me to spend 15-20 minutes every two hours or so stimulating his proprioception and vestibular system. What it really amounts to is me helping him to bounce, march, crawl, or roll. Big movements. Being at the playground counts, so we try to make it there every day.

Eli is also very lucky to be part of an Early Intervention playgroup where he spends 90 minutes a week with 9 other kids and 5 OTs having all of his senses stimulated while experts work through the rough spots. For the first several weeks they gave the kids cheese as a snack because it's one of the things that tends to trigger Eli. Last week I watched him through the one-way mirror as they asked him if he wanted crackers or apples. His response? "No cheese this week!" You can't put anything past my boy.

In the fall he'll start Hippotherapy, which is basically work with an OT while he's on a pony. How fun is that?! But the smells of the stable and the texture of the horse and the movement of the ride - these will all be fantastic for him.

There are some days where I feel like all of this is much ado about nothing. I mean, he'll grow out of it, right? But what I always came back to was the worry that he wouldn't outgrow his trouble with smells and I'd have to send him off to school, knowing he'd end up in the stinky cafeteria. Knowing that if the smell bothered him enough, he'd get sick. And knowing that if he got sick, he might be embarrassed or - worse - be made fun of. That was enough to cause me to request the help.

And, as you can see from the picture, things seem to be working. He still has plenty that he doesn't like but look at my boy in his collared shirt! Just look at him! What a little man.

It has been on my mind since I started this blog that I wanted to post some details about all of this. When Eli first started having trouble with smells I googled the heck out the problem and came up with nothing. I didn't have a name for it so I stuck to search terms like gag, gagging, smells, etc., and the only thing I found was an old post to a message board - probably four or five years old - from a mother with the same problem. Sadly, no one had responded to her question. So my hope is that if someone else has the same trouble we do and they're not sure what to call it and not sure where to turn with it, they'll come across my post and know immediately that they aren't alone and that there is something that they can do. So I'm putting out there to the blogosphere, and even if it forever stays with "0 Comments" just below it, I won't care. It needed to be said.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fair, Not Fair

It's Theme Thursday again. The theme is "Fair" and I had to stretch pretty hard to find something that worked. We didn't visit any fairs this week, but we did suffer certain injustices. Specifically, my poor husband has diligently watered two small tomato plants every morning and night for the last few months. He had three tomatoes growing - until a few days ago, that is, when we noticed one missing. And then the next morning another. Animals - it doesn't matter what kind, but let's assume raccoon since that's what we tend to see around here - had taken the literal fruits of his labor. NOT FAIR.

BUT, there was one left. Not quite ready for picking, but close enough, and we couldn't risk losing it. He snatched it from the plant, ferried it inside, and we devoured it in three minutes flat.

Two for the scurrying nocturnal creature; one for us. FAIR ENOUGH.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More to chew on

I was talking with a pregnant friend the other day about whether or not she should have an amnio and she was saying she was leaning away from doing it and would be glad when the window of opportunity was over so she could stop thinking about it. I realized today that that's just how I feel. My window of opportunity for conceiving a second child is slowly closing - I've got time left yet, but not a lot - and I honestly believe I'll feel some relief when it's over. Regardless of what happens.

I think I've written earlier that I am completely at peace with all of our options: biological child; adoption; only child. I mull them all over and on any given day I feel great about one, good about another, and not much interested in the third. And it changes all the time. When I thought the day of the lucky sevens was going to pan out for us (it didn't, by the way) I was thrilled about being pregnant again and about having an infant in the house and about everything that went along with both of those things. The day I knew it wasn't our month I was crushed but by the next day I was back to thinking about adoption. Not international adoption this time, but adoption of a child from the foster care system.

I started research on all of that (it's what I do; I research) and am left feeling pretty good about that option. There are so many wonderful kids out there. I don't have hesitations about bringing an older child into our house, at least not when Eli's older too (this would be several years from now) and boy does this plan take a financial load off our minds. My hesitation lies more with the question of, "How do you get to know a child and then make a "decision" without potentially breaking a little heart?" I'm sure I'm not the first to ask this question and I think an info session is in order. (When Eli was first born I was a "new moms' group" junkie. I do believe I have now become an "info session" junkie.)

But then I have my days when I think having an only child is the right fit for us. Maybe. The thing is, I never fully get there. I want to. I have on-line role models who make parenting an only child seem just how I'd want it to be. The chance to get to know your kid inside and out. The time to really engage with them. Quite simply, a happy little family unit. Whether these women stay the mothers of only children or take a different path, at the moment they make life with their onlies look really, really wonderful.

And like I said, I want to get there. But I grew up with a sibling and so did David. We both always imagined we'd have two. When you don't think you will ever be the one having trouble getting knocked up it's easy to be certain about your choices, and that's what I was. Certain. The only thing in question was whether I'd have a boy first or a girl first (because I also somehow thought that was up to me). It's just so hard to imagine raising a boy with no brother or sister. I know I could do it and I know he'd be a happy person. I just never want to hear him say that he was lonely as a child. (That, and there's part of me that thinks that if I'm going to screw up as a mom, it's best spread across a couple of people. Concentrating my flaws onto just one person seems a little cruel, don't you think?)

So that brings us back to how best to grow this family. We'll keep on with the acupuncture and the TTC or the BD or whatever you want to call it. I'm shying away from international adoption (or domestic adoption, for that matter) these days because of two things: cost and time. We don't really have $30K to spend right now and don't anticipate having it in the future. I know there are tax breaks when you adopt and I also know our families would help out, so if money was the only issue, we wouldn't let that stop us. But, there's also the timing issue. Specifically, if we're going to adopt we should start the process now (or at least very soon). That means plunking down about $5K before we've completely given up on a biological child.

And that is how I have found myself looking at websites with photos of waiting children, asking myself if one of them could be mine. Like I said, if we did decide to adopt an older child it wouldn't happen for a few years so realistically, no, none of those children could be mine. But I'm trying this one on for size and it feels pretty good. More research to be done, of course, but it seems like a good option for us, for many reasons.

In the meantime, I'll just keep loving my only. Not a bad option.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


I love my kid - probably more than he loves water fountains, and that's saying something. This is my submission for this week's theme of "Drip."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Starts and stops, please

If there's one thing I like about blogger it's that you can start numerous posts and then stash them away like old movie stubs or your prom corsage - you know, just in case you need them later. That's what I've been doing lately. Stashing. I keep thinking I have an idea for a post but then when I sit down to write something about it, it fizzles out after a few sentences. In short: I don't have much to say.

I did want to make note of something for myself, however. Yesterday, my son became polite. That's right, he now says "please" without being begged and prodded and today I found myself in a bit of a honeymoon phase. I know where it all came from, too. We had a barbecue over the weekend and one of the desserts was a sort of "make your own sundae" deal. So, we are now up to our ears in chocolate and rainbow sprinkles. I wouldn't have wanted Eli eating any sprinkles anyway, but one of the conversations we had at the barbecue was about the fact that sprinkles, like the eyes of Peeps, don't dissolve in acid. And you thought the french fry in Super Size Me was gross. So, yeah, even with his pickiness and the fact that I am thrilled when he eats almost anything with calories, I wasn't pushing for these.

But, he's two, and he knows they're in the house, and we told him "no" once, and that pretty much means he's going to keep asking for them. So last night he formed one of his longest sentences yet: Some. Rainbow. Sprinkles. Now. Please. (Periods there because forming sentences is still a bit of work for him so each word comes out completely independent of the others.) This request was followed by a very hopeful and - if I do say so myself - adorable look on his face. How could we say no?

So there it was. In that brief moment our son discovered the power of "please." All day today he's been adding the word onto every request. "Go up escalator, please?" "Eat french fries, please?" "Go home now, please?" And because it's new and adorable and sweet and exactly how I want him to ask, I say "Yes" to everything. He's getting everything he asks for and I'm busting at the seams with mother-pride.

It can't last, though. One of these days he'll ask for something that I can't possibly agree to and he'll realize that the word is not magic after all. And I suppose at that point we'll regress a bit and I'll have to start dragging it out of him again. But for now I'll just enjoy it. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go hire a magician and learn how to juggle fire. (Hey, he asked!)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The HEAT is on!

It's time for this week's photo theme, courtesy of Tracey. With a theme like "heat," you'd think it would be easy to come up with a great kid photo, but somehow I've got nothin'. I had to dig into the archives and pull out this picture from almost exactly one year ago.

My family has a long history in the Adirondacks and we try to make it back, as a group, every couple of years. Last year my niece spent a lot of time escaping the heat just like this. (So did I, for that matter.)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

It's all in the numbers

One: The number of children I think we might wind up with.
Even as I ruminate over all of our options (acupuncture, charting, OPKs, adoption, donor eggs, adopting Vicki the Robot, you get the picture) I still keep coming back to the fabulousness of having just Eli. I mean, think of it: I can devote scads of time to him AND still have some time left over for myself. Pre-school of our choice, regardless of cost? Done. The cool sneakers when he's in 8th grade? No problem. A car when he turns 16? Sure, let's get him a safe one with airbags everywhere. College education? Not cheap, but we can manage it. Wedding? Sure! We'll spring for half. I mean, it all just seems so manageable. It's not lost on me that most of the things I just mentioned are financial, and we happen to be operating with a rather squeezed budget at the moment. I would never want to make this kind of decision based solely on money, but finances aside, sticking to one is very tempting. I've said all along that I'm content with whatever course our family history takes. It's the uncertainty of it all that'll be the death of me. But the number one does keep creeping back in to my head, and there must be a reason for that. I'm sure there will be other posts on this at other times, but this is all there is to say about it for now.

40: My age and, apparently, the shelf life of eggs.
For years I'd heard the statistics about fertility in your 40s and I figured, "Not me." I mean, I haven't had a cavity in years. My blood pressure is awesome, if I do say so myself. And sometimes I'll be very still, in the midst of doing something, and I feel like it's very possible that I haven't even breathed in the last minute or so. Seriously, this happens to me. Given that I actually question whether my body needs oxygen to survive, why would I think those blasted statistics would ever apply to me? I mean, I might not even be mortal, for goodness sake. And yet here I am, wishing and hoping that my tired ovaries will crank out a decent egg this weekend. And while I'm pushing for that, my best friend from childhood just had her ovaries removed the other day. She tested positive for the breast cancer gene and lost her mother to ovarian cancer, so this was what she considered the logical choice (and personally - though I know it's controversial - I don't disagree). So I'm thinking there's a shelf life on these things. It's not hard and fast, but it's there, it appears to be 40(ish), and it's annoying me.

Seven: The day, the month, the year.
I know a lot of very pregnant couples are hoping for their children to be born on this date, what with the lucky symbolism of it. I'm asking the Vegas gods to spread a little luck this way, though. The way I look at it, those couples are already lucky. Those babies are coming out one of these days anyway and there are some of us that could really, really use that luck. Like me, for instance. I'll be ovulating today (is that TMI? My blog; my personal details - sorry!) and I think conceiving a kid on this, the luckiest day of the century, could be very nice. And think of the fetus nicknames! Jackpot. Jackie P. Little JP. Yes, it's the perfect day indeed. So come on, sevens. Mama needs a new pair of baby shoes.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


It's Theme Thursday over at Tracey's and after a several week hiatus (following a lonely, solitary week of participation), I finally have something to share! The theme this week is spectacle, and that, on the surface, was hard for me. My life is not about spectacle. My family - in particular, my boy - is not about spectacle. Trying to cajole my quiet, somewhat introverted, never-one-to-make-a-spectacle-of-himself little one into doing something spectacular is like trying to squeeze milk out of a juice box. You'll get something, but it's not what you were going for. But, scratch the surface of the word "spectacle" and you find an "s" you can tack on, and voila! Spectacles!

One of my favorite things about this shot is being able to look over his shoulder to see a fuzzy image of one of my favorite baby photos of Eli. Something about the past being off in the distance, still recognizable, but not the focus. Something about my two-and-a-half year old being right there, front and (slightly off) center. Just how it should be.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Not sure who's the bigger loser here...

Today while I was with Eli at the park I saw a man wearing a t-shirt. As he had a catch with his 12-year-old son, I took the opportunity to read his shirt. And what did it say, you ask? It said "An '11' is a '10' that swallows." Seeing as how my mind only occasionally visits the gutter and does not permanently reside there, I spend a good few minutes trying to figure out how the number ten could swallow something, and what it might swallow that would make the zero look like a one. I'm not lying. As Eli ate his bagel and slurped his juice box, this is what I was doing. And only after that few minutes of strenuous mental exercise had passed did I mentally slap myself on the forehead and think to myself, "DOH! .... eew."

So while I am still appalled that this man chose this particular item of clothing for his trip to the park with his kid, I am nevertheless forced to ask the question, Who really is the bigger loser here? (On second thought, don't answer that.)

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I have real troubles.

I went to a birthday party with Eli this morning. The party was at an indoor playground and the group of us (about 10 families) had the run of the place. It gave me plenty of time to window shop off other people's bodies. Am I the only who does this? I don't have time to actually go to a store these days so I just look at what other people are wearing and if I like it enough, I ask them where they got it. Sometimes if I'm feeling shy I just memorize the details and - like some kind of ridiculous, expensive game - I google the heck out of some search terms and see if I can find it on its own. (Yeah, as I'm typing this, I think I probably am the only person who does this.)

In any case... this morning I wasn't feeling shy and one of the other moms had THE BAG I've been looking for. I didn't know that was the bag I was looking for until I saw it, but when I saw it, I knew it was it. The time has come, you see, for me to shed the diaper bag in favor of something a little more purse-like, a little less bulky. I can't go down to a cute little thing only big enough for a cell phone and a wallet (we haven't hit potty training yet, for goodness sake) but I can downsize from the cavernous Skip*Hop I've been carting around for the last two and a half years.

When I shop for something like a purse, I am picky. Very picky. I'm frugal (somewhat, anyway) so the thing has to be relatively timeless, or at least far enough from trendy that I won't look like a giant dork a year from now. It can't be flashy because I'm not changing bags every other day to coordinate with my outfits. And, for this particular purchase, it still has to be practical, with pockets and a strap I can use like a messenger bag. And, finally, above all else, it can't be frumpy because I get there pretty easily on my own, thankyouverymuch.

So there it was. The bag. I saw. I wanted. I hadn't chatted with this mom yet so I had to make a decision: to ask or not to ask. I sized her up. From what she was wearing I thought to myself, "I probably can't afford this bag." If she was going to tell me, "Oh, I got it at Neiman Marcus, on sale, only $380!" I just didn't want to know. But then I thought, "But I must have that bag. Must. Have." So I asked. The answer? The Gap! Score! I can do that! Even full price I could probably swing it. She said that her friend had it and she had to have it; they didn't have it in the stores anymore but she had ordered it on-line. My naptime plans were hatched.

With Eli snuggled cozy in his bed, I eagerly went to, credit card in hand. Click on "women." (Heart racing.) Click on "accessories." (Anticipation mounting.) Click on "handbags." (I can taste it!) Scroll, scroll.... DANGIT! No bag.

Head over to ebay. (Optimism waning.) Enter every possible combination of words like "Gap" "messenger" "canvas" "strap" "adjustable" "pockets." (Reality settling in.) DANGIT! Scroll, scroll, scroll some more, scroll again. No bag.

Head over to Old Navy, hoping they've done what they usually do and that some knock off exists there. (Enthusiasm fading.) And what we have at the top of this post is known as a "close but no cigar."

And with that, I have given up. Real troubles, I tell you. Real troubles, indeed.