Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

On this day, I am keenly aware of my blessings of health and beautifully whole children. As I keep my daily cyber-vigil with a new blogger friend Darlene, I am reminded that The Boy's TS is a cake walk compared to what some people are dealing with. As I shared with a couple at church today (one of many people at church that have been enchanted with The Boy), I told them about The Boy's TS. They both remarked that it was sad that he will have to wrestle with this but how great it is that it is so mild right now. I still thank God for that, too. And as I get ready to pray for our 37 yr old music director as he prepares for brain surgery on Tuesday, again, I am reminded that my burden is light - and not even a burden at all.

Tonight is New Year's eve. The Boy (6) and Lil Bro (3) both tried to stay up until midnite. Lil Bro made it to about 10:45 (amazing) and The Boy made it to about 11:30 (also amazing). They are both asleep in their tents (thank you Big Sis & Her Ridiculously Tall Husband) in the front room. I made little beds in each tent and crammed the tents around the Christmas tree. [The picture above shows THe Boy peaking out from his hippo tent. The hippo mouth opens and closes to let kids in and out. It's big enough to actually fit me in there. You can't quite tell but Lil Bro's tent is an elephant. The pink ear flaps are rolled up to expose mesh windows.]

Anyway, we all stayed up playing games and just enjoying each other's company. At one point, I just sat there watching Hubby & The Boy play Uno Spin and Lil Bro just play with the Candy Land pieces. And I felt the need to soak this up. To soak up the pure carefree closeness that I know one day I'll crave. I felt that, if I didn't fully appreciate the beauty of this evening, Darlene would tell me I would regret it. Because I know memories like this - memories of precious moments with her Mark - are probably helping her through her hell. But I also know that times like this are gifts from God. And on a larger scale, the fact that I'm sitting in a well heated home in a safe neighborhood where no war is being waged and nothing is taking my attention away from those two beautiful little faces...that is a huge gift from God.

I have to tell you two quick stories and then I'll leave you all to go pray in the new year:

1) Last week at church (Christmas Eve day), our pastor's wife, Saundra, gathered the children at the front of the sanctuary to light candles on a birthday cake and tell them the story of Jesus' birth. As she started setting up the story, talking about why we celebrate his birthday, Hubby and I hear The Boy pipe up, "How do we know how old he is?" Fortunately, this was appreciated with some laughter and Saundra answered his question saying he'd be about 2000 years old. I think that impressed The Boy. It just cracked me up but also made me happy that he felt comfortable enough in our church to ask an honest question.

2) This week at church, I was teaching the toddler class. The rest of the younger kids stayed in the service so The Boy sat with Saundra. At one point, I'm told pastor Barry was talking about different ages - he must have been saying something like "little kids and older kids" because The Boy piped up and said, "I'm middle aged!" - I assume he was meaning he's not a little kid and note quite an older kid. Again, his honest comment got light laughter. Barry didn't miss a beat and said something to the effect of, "Well, if you're middle aged, I'm in big trouble!" I was told this after church by someone who had obviously gotten a big kick out of The Boy's freedom of speech.

Love that kid.

God bless you all this year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lovin' the Laughter

I'm sitting here listening to my two boys playing together. They're chasing each other around the house with pillows from the study. It's that kind of gleeful laughter that only kids can make (happy kids, that is). I turned to watch them and noticed The Boy's eye movement (tilting his head forward to see when he rolls his eyes up). It's so automatic, it doesn't interrupt his playing.

A new thing developed today. The Boy was laying on the couch watching some mindless Disney show and we heard this little "" like about every 10-20 seconds. The kind of quick "mm" you give someone as you're listening to a story. An abbreviation of "mm-hmm", you know? He did it through the entire show. Never heard that before.

Earlier in the day, as I was playing with him (which entailed wrestling, hugging and kissing all over while he yells, "[Lil Bro]! Save me!!!"), I noticed lots of verbal tics happening but with his mouth closed. I'm wondering if he's subconciously suppressing them by clamping them behind a closed mouth. Because he didn't seem to notice he was doing the tics or the closed mouth. Who knows - could be that he's teaching himself ways to socially control things. I only noticed it because I was literally in his face during the play time.

The good thing is, it didn't interrupt his play. It didn't stop the squeals and laughter. And I am lovin' the laughter!

Holiday Stress?

In my last report, The Boy was doing swimmingly. Few to no tics and things were great. You'd think that, for a six year old, starting your almost-month-long winter vacation would totally mellow you out. But alas, we've noticed quite a pronounced increase in The Boy's tics since he started vacation.

His exaggerated blinking was almost non existent. It is now very noticable again and so much so that he has to tip his head down in order to look at you from underneath his eyebrows again. That had disappeared. But it's back.

The other day, hubby noticed that a modified "Spidey Hands" was back (see my 09/11/06 posting). We haven't seen that since...I don't even know.

Verbal tics are back. Mostly that same one I tried (poorly) to describe in a recent post where it almost sounds like he's blowing quickly out of his mouth between words or sentences. I've also noticed a bit of stammering here and there. Or...more like...hesitation in his speech - which isn't normal for him. It sounds like a nervous kid speaking. And he's not a nervous kid. He's a very eloquent speaker usually.

The one that bugged me (or made me nervous) the most showed up for one day and seems to be gone. He was talking to me and I noticed a tiny shake of the head. It was a very slight side-to-side movement kind of like when you're telling someone something that you just can't believe? Like you're shaking your head in disbelief - a slight no. That was over this past weekend. I noticed it for most of a day and haven't really seen it since.

Yes, everything is mild. I'm still thankful for that. But every now and then, I get these moments of panic. I get these visions of what things might grow into. I know I shouldn't worry until there is something to worry about. But anyone who loves a small person knows - you just want to fight off anything that will cause them ridicule. Even without the TS, he will get noticed by the kids who search for difference. Every kid takes their lumps at some point. Those idiot kids will find a reason. But man, big tics are just a giant target sign. Guh!!! It just kills me to think of it.

I gotta get my head out of this state. I have to go pray. See you all later.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Great Checkup

Well, back to the original intent of this here blog thang.

Today, The Boy went to see his psychiatrist for a checkup. Since he's seen her, he's been having a very mild time of it. (Thank you, God!) I have to say that it was a very nice checkup. She asks him lots of questions. Today, she seemed to be gauging his anxiety levels. He's not a huge worrier but he does tend to worry about things more than most 6 yr olds. It's hard to describe. He's not an anxious kid. But if he needs something to stick to a regimen or schedule, he really needs it to stick. Example: today, we had his doc appointment at 9am. So that meant missing morning school. He asked me when he'd get to school and I said probably some time around 10:30am. He immediately did a mental check of his class schedule and realized he wasn't sure what the class would be doing at 10:30. The class schedule had recently changed and he got pretty upset over the fact that he wasn't sure what they'd be doing at 10:30. Now, if an adult did that, I'd think they had serious problems. When a six yr old does that, I think, wow, they're headed for quite a rigid scheduled life. Anyway, I assured him that he'd find out what the class was doing once he got there and he shouldn't worry about it. He calmed down immediately. And what was so interesting about his self calming? I watched him - it was like he made a mental decision to calm down. I mean, honestly, he was so upset that his fists were balled up and his whole face was scrunched up in that panicky freak out expression we get when we're about to lose it. I thought he was going to flip out. But I watched him get a hold of himself and it was like he said, ok, I can deal with this. And he just calmed down. I thought that was interesting. I wish he could do that every time he was upset. Are you kidding? I wish I could do that every time I was upset!

The only other stuff going on is the continuing exaggerated blinking. It's not real bad these days. And he has this new verbal tic. Hard to describe. I need to start finding a way of embedding sound clips on this site. But it's like, while speaking, he's subconsciously doing this quick blowing out of the mouth but he'll flip his tongue in a way that...I don't know how to describe it. It ends up sounding like if you were pretending to hock a loogie but very softly. I have no other way to describe it. As his doctor pointed out, it's not so severe that you're taken aback. Most people don't seem to notice it. And, those of you that have 4-6 yr old children in your life know that they're all making some kind of noise almost constantly. It's a very experimental age. With most kids, you can tell they're just trying stuff out. With The Boy, you can pretty much tell that he doesn't realize he's doing it and he can't control it. But hey - it's a very mild tic given the spectrum of tics.

The doctor asked if he had been making any progress in his maturity development. He is quite an interesting little guy. He's brilliant and that is very apparent when you meet him. But being incredibly smart doesn't always mean you're mature. And I think that tends to be a problem for The Boy. People meet him and note his ability to communicate way beyond his age. He can read texts that you and I might struggle with. Granted, he won't know what all the words mean, but he can read and write better than a lot of high school students I know. He can add and subtract the most ridiculously large numbers. His hobby is making multiplication charts on the computer - and not using a calculator - using his head. And not just 12 by 12 but 15 by 15 or larger. People experience these things in him and accidentally classify him as an older person than he is. He's so smart, we expect him to be able to function with the maturity of a junior high kid. But he is the quintessential 6 yr old. He loves burping and farting and slapstick humor (wait...that describes most grown men....hmmmm). He loves to dance with wild abandon. He loves to run around large areas until he falls down. He likes to spin until he falls down. He loves Care Bears and could care less how many boys tell him they're just for girls. He will get right up in someone's face, introduce himself and start asking them their name, age, house number, etc. He has no boundaries like an older kid would have.

His doctor said something very interesting today. She said The Boy lives in a very happy world where people are nice and friendly. Where everyone is helpful and loving. It's a beautiful world he lives in. When the real world (or negative aspects of that world) intrude on his world, it's still hard for him to deal with at times. That may be where the anxiety comes in. But we discussed how it's a lovely world The Boy lives in. And it's sad that, some day, he'll need to realize that not everyone is part of that world. I love that part of him because it's part of what makes him so generous and loving. But I fear his world because it's what makes him trust anyone. As his doctor put it, "He knows no strangers." We're teaching him. But I still see the confusion for him. When we try to explain dangers of strangers, why he can't play outside alone, why we can't leave him in the car alone, why he has to stay close to us, why he can't open the door when the doorbell rings, he'll accept our rules. And he'll accept that we're saying there are people out there who aren't all that nice. But I can see that younger mentality wrestling with - how can anyone be mean or dangerous? Everyone is so NICE! It's a normal part of growing up. But I think the point here is, most kids in 1st grade have a much better grip on that caution with the unknown. Not all. But most of the ones I know are not still as trusting as they were when they were 4 or 5.

Boy I'm really rambling here. I don't really have much direction in my thoughts today. I guess The Boy's duality still amazes me: his brilliance that rivals kids much older than him and his youthful trust in the entire world that speaks of a much younger kid. It's wacky. And I love it.

Anyway, I'm thankful that the TS tics are minimal at this point. And his anxiety seems to be at levels that he can control himself. His doctor says she won't need to see him until July 2007 unless something comes up in the mean time. That made me pretty darn happy.

Pray big. Expect miracles. Yah baby!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Another Aside: Christmas Tag

Trish tagged, me! Yes, I've been off my TS subject a lot lately. But that's a good thing. It means there isn't much to report on Liam's TS. Which means it's still very mild. So while we have this little break, here is everything you never wanted to know about me and Christmas:

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Now who would be cruel enough to make me choose only one? I mean, is someone standing there with a gun forcing me to choose? I'll take both please.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
The big stuff is assembled and left near the fireplace. Usually with a big-ass bow on it. If it's small enough, it's wrapped under the tree. This was the fireplace last year...

3. Coloured lights on tree/house or white? Classic white. The ornaments add the color. I loved colored lights as a kid but just don't like them now. It's too much. Here's a shot from last year's tree.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
No. I'm not into obligatory kissing.

5. When do you put your decorations up? I'm not anal enough about it to have a deadline. That's for people who stress out over holidays. I put them up when I find the time and the spirit (or my kids) move me. In other words, they ain't up yet.

6. What is your favourite holiday dish? "Dish" makes me think main meal stuff. I love it all. And it doesn't have to be the Norman Rockwell turkey dinner. I love my friend's traditional lasagna. I love the turkey/stuffing/gravy/cranberry sauce thing, too. But my absolute favorite (and yes, I spelled it American) is my chocolate chess pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

7. Favourite holiday memory as a child? One year doesn't stand out above the rest. I have a generic memory of me and my sister & brothers all running in to grab our stocking's (each labeled with our names by my mom or Muzzy), emptying them out and freaking out over the loot. Also, mom making home-made cinnamon rolls. Or - going WAY back - when my dad would make his cinnamon toast in the oven. I mean, it was a huge deal and oh-so-special.

8. When did you learn the truth about Santa? I don't know. I just know my brother Middle Bro took great pleasure in telling both Big Sis and me the truth. Not sure what I thought. I don't recall much trauma over the revelation. I'll have to ask my mom.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Yup. Growing up, we opened our Muzzy gift (from my mom's mom, aka - Muzzy). But lately, we open our ornaments. Everyone gets one each Christmas. Which reminds me, we're gonna need a bigger tree...

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Well, this year, the first thing we'll do is check our fake (yes FAKE - get over it) tree for brown recluse spiders. If I find one, I will promptly scream and possibly curse. Then I'll spray the whole tree with any deadly chemical I can get my hands on. Bug spray, hair spray, that perfume some lady was wearing at the Dixie Chicks concert last night. Whatever works. Then we'll put the ornaments on with the help of my two boys (6 & 3). And then I'll reposition everything the boys did. Yah...that's about it.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?
Loved it when I rented and our landlord was responsible for snow removal. Loved it with much griping once I rented and had to split shoveling duty with our upstairs neighbors (the ones who conveniently waited for ME to shovel it). REALLY love it now that I don't have it (sniff).

12. Can you ice skate?
Hmmm...once upon a time I was actually very good at it. I'm trying to remember the last time I was on any kind of skates. What decade is this? Yah, I'm thinking it might not be so pretty these days.

13. Do you remember your favourite gift? Cai's arrival on Dec. 22, 2003. (Plus, I got the spa treatement in Boston's Beth Israel for the next 5 days. Mellow stress-free Christmas in post-partum, being waited on hand & foot by an entire nursing staff? Can I go back please?)

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Being with family (that I like). Hands down.

15. What is your favourite holiday dessert? Refer up to #6. Chocolate Chess Pie - YAH BABY!!!

16. What is your favourite holiday tradition?
Watching It's A Wonderful Life, White Christmas and Scrooge (black & white version with Alastair Sim - it's the only one!).

17. What tops your tree? Last year, we had a star that was pretty but a bit too heavy. I want to find something special that will become a tradition for my family but haven't yet.

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving?
Trish will think I'm wimping out here but I'm actually being honest. Giving is WAY more fun. I want to win a huge lottery just so I can find all the people from my life that I remember fondly just to hand them envelopes with various sums of money inside. That would just be the BOMB! But selfishly? When I give, I just LOVE watching people react (usually it's when they react in a positive manner that I like).

19. What is your favourite Christmas song?
Well, I love the drama of the "Oh Holy Night" but hate when people have to totally over do it. But I love so many of them it would be hard to pick just one.

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? Not a fan.

There it is. More than you ever wanted to know.

I'm tagging Kendra, Monica & Donny. Mostly because they're the only other bloggers I know!