Tuesday, December 3, 2013

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

How Great Evan Art

So I sit here in quiet. Beautiful, thought-provoking quiet.  I used to lament the fact that I never had time in our house by myself anymore. Todd and I have always been good about letting each other have our "me" time, whether that means going to an exercise class, going camping, blogging, out with friends, etc. But just by the way of scheduling and being a mommy- I never got the house to myself. Well wouldn't you know it, going back to work actually provided me with not one, but two days where that happened. Even if just for a short while. It's weird, I keep thinking I hear Evan on the monitor that isn't even turned on.  Since I am a teacher in N.J, we still get off for the annual NJEA convention in Atlantic City.  This year since there was an election for governor, we also got off on election day. I decided Evan could still go to school, since he loves it so much, and this way I would get more done.
So I decided to spend election day working on insurance phone calls and paperwork that had started to pile up. In my crazy little head (actually the Gaynor cranium is not a small one), I had thought it would be a great day. A day that would clear my mind, and get all that insurance stuff off of my shoulders and some more money in our pockets from reimbursements to come.  Oh Erin, silly, silly Erin. How quickly you forgot how incredibly frustrating it is to go through menu after menu of automated voices. How infuriating it is to speak to four different people at the same insurance company but only one of them seem to have an idea of what is what. How emotionally exhausting it is to realize how many therapies your child receives and how much it all really adds up to financially.  And honestly, we do not have it that bad. I know our situation could be much much worse. But Tuesday afternoon, after about five hours of sitting at a laptop with two different phones and bills strewn around me, I felt myself start to crumble a bit. I popped on the beautiful piano music of Alec Sweazy.
Can't you see Evan in his kind eyes and smile?
I felt myself relax and the tears flowed a bit. Not in frustration though. In appreciation of Alec's talent and hope for Evan's future.  Alec also has WS and he is handsome, talented, and honest. On his website he mentions the meaning behind some of his compositions. He says this about one song:
I’m Still StandingAs a student in elementary school… being treated like a scab… other students picking on me and beating me up.  It hurt a lot.  I tried to let people know of the threats, calling me names, pushing me down stairs.  It was like having monsters with laser beams for eyes coming after me, destroying me from the inside out.”  
Of course this tears me up from the inside out too. Some of my worst fears are of Evan being teased and bullied.  
But then he also writes this about another song:
Long Time Coming — “This project.  To have goals for yourself in life… and the CD is probably the biggest thing I’ve done in my whole life.  I’m pretty sure I haven’t done anything that takes so much patience, doing things over and over again.  To keep it moving takes many steps.  Many people are needed to get a big project like this off the ground.  Who would have thought, after the variety shows in junior high school, that this is where I would be now?”    
Thank you Alec. Thank you for sharing your talent and your honest feelings.  It scares me, but I know not to be driven by fear. It will get me nowhere.
Here is a little glimpse into how Evan reminds me not to fear. (There is no video, just audio)




He "gets it." 
at two and a half years old. 
So lucky to be his mom. 
So gosh darn lucky. 







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Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Boy and his Horse

Hi Horsie.
This weekend we took Evan for his hippotherapy evaluation.  Yes, that means exactly what you think, he is going to do therapeutic activities on a hippo. Just kidding.....Or maybe you are thinking he is going to be hypnotized, ala hypnotherapy.  Neither is correct, but don't feel bad if you aren't familiar with the term either.
Hippos is the English translation of the word horse in Greek.  Thus, hippotherapy is the use of a horse in occupational, speech, and/physical therapy.  (I did not know the etymology of the word until I started doing this blog entry)

Not sure about this horse stuff, Mama.


Of everything we have tried, this was one therapy that I was super excited for, but I also had no clue how it would go, or how effective it would truly be.  I knew Evan would enjoy being around horses and spending time with adults and young people at the farm. I also have a love of horses and I have ridden horses several times in my life.  But I had a hard time imagining him doing well on a horse, and I wondered how exactly it would help him to progress.  When he wasn't walking- not all that long ago!, both his physical therapist and Dr. Mervis, the researcher we see in Kentucky, suggested that we look into hippotherapy. Dr. M's exact words were, "Get him on a horse."  She felt it would help strengthen his core., which in turn would help with his language development and walking.  I started looking into it last spring. I found a lot of local places that did recreational horse therapy, but not hippotherapy.  Apparently they are similar but it is harder to get insurance coverage with the former because it is not done by a licensed therapist.  I called around, asked questions, looked into our insurance and decided it would make sense to wait until the fall when we were back on my insurance, which has better coverage overall. 

 And then as luck would have it, one of my new warrior mama friends (who I practically cyber stalked-a story for another day) suggested this horse farm.  She had taken her daughter here for hippotherapy and raved about it.  She also was very happy with the support the therapist gave her as far as getting insurance to acknowledge the therapy and get most of it covered.  Sounded like a win-win situation to me! So off we went to do a barn tour and then an evaluation was scheduled.  
We set off to Brandywine Occupational Therapy and the wonderful Miss Lauren.  My mother went with me, which was very helpful. The occupational therapist asked a lot of questions and it was nice to have a second pair of hands to keep Evan close by while we were having him climb on the playground equipment and walk around.  Her extensive knowledge in the area of occupational therapy is evident and it made me feel very at ease to know Evan was in good, professional, educated hands at this facility.  She used technical terminology and offered reasons for things that Evan does, while also giving praise for different things he has recently started to do.  It's always heartening to know your child's therapist really knows her stuff. And Evan's really do.
At first, I was worried Evan was not going to dig the horse experience.  He started this low whine when they put his helmet on, and he kept looking around like he wanted to anywhere else but at this farm.  Then they had him use a mounting block (bc she thought he could handle it-which thrilled me) and got him up on the horse. He kept doing this low whine and squinting his eyes, like he does when he doesn't like the food you offer him.  My heart sank, because I really had such high hopes for him. (which translates to high hopes for me- I need to work on that) Luckily, as often happens with Evan, the waiting and anticipation of the activity can sometimes cause him to whine and get impatient. But once they started to move, and the horse began to ebb and flow beneath him, it all changed. After a few short moments he started to say, "Whee!" and "Neighhhhh." His whole demeanor changed. He held on tightly and kept his back erect the whole time, not waivering at all.  I thought for sure he would try to get off, or lean side to side but I was very wrong.  The therapist started to try different things, like going diagonally across the ring, doing figure eights, and stopping and starting.  When she would stop, she would ask Evan to tell the horse to "walk."  He just kept saying, "Neighhh!" Then she suggested saying, "Go, Vixie!" (the name of the horse)  After two times modeling for him, he did it independently when she stopped!
I was floored. We are working hard on two word combinations, but I never thought he would do one so quickly, and with a new therapist, on a horse!!! But looking back, that is probably precisely why he did respond so quickly.  No need for bells and whistles when you have horses! (thanks Aimee for that realization)  He probably spent about 15-20 minutes straight on the horse with no signs of fatiguing.  He was especially fond of saying, "Hi! How are you!" to the young lady who was helping on the other side of the horse.  He didn't tire of looking at he and batting his big blue eyes at her and smiling before shouting, "Neigh!!" all over again.  The natural feeling of riding a horse is so significant for a child like Evan who seeks sensory input all the time. He loves movement, bouncing, being upside down, rocking, etc. And a horse provides all of that in a controlled, organized way.  
 
Sorry for the shakiness, I was trying to keep up with them with my cell phone camera.  If you listen closely at the end, you'll hear Evan exclaim, "Vixie!"

So the biggest deal of the whole experience was when he had to get off the horse.  She said "Ok, Evan, we're all done now, we have to get off the horse." He responded by gripping as hard as he could onto the handles and sticking his bottom lip out as far as he could. She pulled him off, handed him to me and he went in to full blown teary meltdown.  He wanted to get back on her so badly. I can't really put into words how this hit me emotionally.  I can say I definitely welled up with tears.  Not so much because I was sad for Evan, but more because I was so excited at how much he connected with the horse, and how he truly was sad he had to get off.  Evan has such an easy going temperament. He does not throw a fit when I drop him off at school, in fact, he will walk up to almost anyone, saying "Hi!" and he does not seem to lament the fact that his mommy or daddy are leaving him.  (believe me I know how enviable that is) But that also means he does not display other typical behaviors, like an affinity for things that mean something to him.  So to see him feel true sadness because of how much he LOVED being on that horse, it just filled me up inside. 
He kept saying, "Vixie, Vixie," on the way home and I showed him the video a few times. So now when he sees me phone, he says, "Vixie, vid-ee-oooo"
I can't wait to take him again.
And to see how she is going to work on self feeding goals on a horse.
Somehow, I trust it will work.





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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Finish the Sentence Friday- (a little late)

I've recently become a geeked out fan of Kristi over at Finding Ninee. Her writing is beautiful, clever, hysterical, and the emotion behind her prose is very familiar. She reached out to me through a few comments and I became like a giggly schoolgirl all excited to hear from a blog "celebrity." 
Anyhoo.... I hope to be guest posting on her awesome site at some point, and in the meantime I am doing a "Finish the Sentence Friday," that she and a few other bloggers host every Friday.  (Yes, I am aware it is almost Sunday, but we'll just ignore that little fact)

This week's prompt is:
 The best part of my day is.......

I wasn't planning to blog today. I am shooting to get one blog entry done a week, if I can manage that, and I already filled that quota.  However, I had a few emotional few days this week and then today was a darn good day. An all around, decent, worth remembering, GOOD day. And those days need to be blogged about. Like that preposition at the end? Good, because there will probably be plenty more, I have a tough time avoiding them. 
Typically, the best part of my day is the last ten minutes or so before I put Evan in his crib for the night. We sit in his nursery almost every night, feed the fish, sing songs, and cuddle. We sit in the dark, whispering, singing, and wrangling. Wrangling is what I do when he wiggles all over the place  trying to get out of my arms. I wrap him up in his doggie weighted blanket and some nights he actually leans on my shoulder and allows me to hug him and really hold him. I can remember when he was teeny tiny and I could do that whenever I wanted to. However, because of many different circumstances- MAJOR sleep deprivation being the main one- I didn't enjoy it like I wish I could have.
But I sure do now.
And today was a day where I feel like I had moments like that over and over. I started out the day heavy lidded, as I listened to Evan bounce and sing in his crib at 7:15.  I typically would have been thrilled he slept that long but I had a tough night's sleep so I was pretty out of it.  But then he ate a great breakfast, almost an entire waffle with jelly and cream cheese, and we set out in stroller and on foot to the local park to meet E's speech therapist for a session at the playground.  On the way, she wrote me to say she was running a little late. So I walked a longer route, and took Evan out of the stroller along the way to let him walk. He toddled all over, through piles of leaves, sidewalk, grass, transitioning from surface to surface with no problem. I was amazed. Each person who passed by jogging or walking a dog was greeted with a very upbeat "Hi!" and a huge toothy smile from Evan. He independently pointed to and identified flowers and a dog. I just couldn't stop smiling. 
Then on the playground equipment, we had a ball. During the speech session, we worked on two word combinations, waiting for him to say, "Push, Mommy" when on the swing. And then generalizing to, "Push, Becky." to his therapist. Not only did he do that after only a few examples of modeling- we are pretty sure he tried to say, "Push me, mommy!" Which is MASSIVELY HUGE. I don't know that he has said three words together on his own, except for book text or songs. One of the most exciting moments was when he went down the twisty slide totally on his own- so much on his own, that I didn't even know he went down until he was at the bottom, face down because he went down on his belly. A few months ago he wouldn't have gone down even with assistance.
video He did get a mouthful of mulch once, but he bounced right back. I love his resilience.

Becky worked on adjectives in two word combos- "Green leaf, yellow leaf, bumpy slide, etc."  All the leaves she used were on the ground.  On the way home I stopped a few times and pointed up to trees that were within reach and without receiving an cue- he said "green leaf." Of course he did that for red leaves too, but it was two words, and he knew they were leaves! I just kept beaming. 
One thing I have been working on with Evan for months and months is getting him to use please and thank you. Becky has said it is not necessary for me to worry about him using them with any type of consistency- that we should focus on other things first. But I still keep trying. I had just mentioned to her that Evan still isn't saying please. Well, we got home, and I got out a bag of veggie sticks (the ones that are glorified potato chips in stick form with a little veggie dust. I held one out to him and he said, "stick please" (his approximation sounds a little more like "ick, pee."). I squealed with happiness and he definitely got his ick.
Moment after moment of progress and joy.  
He also ate a dinner that consisted entirely of solid foods. No jars. Fish sticks and tater tots. Gourmet and fancy it was not. But age appropriate it was. Our tough little guy who used to balk at eating anything that wasn't watery and on a spoon.
My favorite part of today was the whole kit and kaboodle. I was able to take a nap with Todd while Evan napped. Evan ate like a toddler. I finally bought new shampoo this week so I was able to clean my hair today without squeezing the heck out of an practically empty bottle. Evan sang along with me while I sang some showtunes. 
Thursday night I found myself teary eyed while talking to some friends about how I was worried I was "missing it." Worried I was missing the good moments with Evan, that life was passing by too quickly now that I was back to work. 
Then today happened.
I'm not missing it. 
Not entirely anyway. Today was a good day. Darn good. And that is all that matters right now.



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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Just to clarify...

Ok, I feel the need to clear something up.
I am NOT the poster woman for working mothers. 

Indeed, I am a working mother. 
And sometimes, I manage to make it through the day alive and mostly well with a happy son and a somewhat pleased husband.  
But more often than not, there is dirt on our kitchen floor that you could write your name in.  There is laundry that I can never seem to get through.  There are several months of insurance claims that I need to submit, and for some reason I keep avoiding.  I blow dry my hair and actually "do it" about three times a month. I left Evan's "nap bag" at home today, I forgot my water bottle, and then I was picking up Evan from school this afternoon before I realized I had left my purse at work and had to go back and get it.  I yawn about 25 times in the afternoon hours.  I forgot about Evan's OT appointment last Friday, thank goodness for Google Calendar reminders on my phone.
I still miss Evan while I'm at work. I miss him terribly sometimes. It can be hard to hear stories about his day that I have had no part of.  It feels strange to not get to work early every day, and to leave right on time without working late because I have to go pick Evan up from school.  I buy the ready made rotisserie chicken from Shoprite because I forgot to get chicken out of the freezer.  I often lament the lack of time I have with Todd one on one, but when we do have time to spend together and catch up, we often just need to rest because of how tired we both are. 
Don't get me wrong, things are going better than I expected. Mostly because of how incredible Evan's school is. And I truly do feel very blessed to have the job I do.
But as I stated before, being a working mom is no joke. And I give props to any woman or man who is navigating parenthood while also holding a full time job in or out of the home. It is quite the experience. 
Give yourself a little grace and give YOURSELF some props. You deserve it. 

Evan, the human boombox.








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Sunday, October 13, 2013

October-Fest


Reading in the book nook he created.

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables  
 
Future Riders like their Pop Pop
Riding with Mama

Cousins

Funny Faces!

The ultimate in sensory play


Framer, pun intended








Choo Choo!

Getting signed up for hippotherapy!

Evan loves his Pappy

And his Mimi
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Friday, October 11, 2013

No Joke

My Big Boy
I only have a few minutes before I pass out for the night but I have felt very negligent of the blog the last few weeks so I wanted to make sure to pop in.  I have had many moments in the past few weeks where I though, "ooh, I really need to blog about that." I need to start writing ideas on napkins like song writers of yore. (if that ever was a thing?)
Being a working mom is no joke.
For real.
But I'm doing it.
Arrrr Matey! 
I'm about a month and two weeks into the school year.  I survived the difficult first few weeks. I'm not texting my friend at Evan's school multiple times a day anymore.  I'm not feeling guilt laden as I browse through the messages on the local SAHM mommy boards  at all the fun activities they are doing throughout the day. Well, it is hard to feel guilty when you don't read the boards anymore. (ahem, it was better for my sanity to take a little break) I'm figuring out how to make lunches, mix Evan's "milk," make myself presentable, remember my materials, Evan's materials, and make sure the dog is taken care of- all before running out the door. Albeit not at the time I would like to get out the door, but I am working on it. I'm definitely not doing this alone. Todd has been awesome, feeding Evan on the mornings I take him to school, getting him dressed so I can run around like a ninny getting things done.
As I mentioned in another entry, Evan is doing so well at school.  He loves his teachers and they love him.  The other day I picked him up, and as I was pulling out of my parking spot- the kids who were still there were walking out to the playground. One little girl saw my van backing up and waved with excitement and said, "Bye Evan!" and my heart just soared.  It was the smallest thing, but it meant the world to me.  The fact that other children like to be around him and he is being well cared for, is really all that matters to me. 
The hardest thing right now, is finding a balance.  Time management-finding a way to take care of all aspects of my world- teaching, mothering, being a wife, friend, daughter, taking care of Evan's therapies and health, and fitting in the occasional exercise class and a little time to breath. I'm sure that will continue to be a work in progress.  Thank you for all the well wishes and supportive messages I received in the first few weeks back to work.  I know I am not the first person to have to juggle a lot of different roles in a day.  In fact, I hope to learn from the many savvy working mothers who have already been there and done that and know what works best.

 More blogging to come later. My eyes seem to enjoy being closed right now. 

he's worth it.....








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