A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (Sort Of)

Oh what a day.

It started with me having to wake Liam up for school.  I never have to do this because the kid is out of bed, bright eyed and bushy tailed, at the stroke of seven each morning.  It’s like he stalks the clock in his room just waiting for it to hit 7 am before bursting into the hallway with a loud “I’M UP!”

Not so much this morning, though.  The boys got to bed late last night due to scheduling beyond my control and while Jamie handled it OK, Liam wasn’t prepared.  He woke up this morning with no spring in his step and bags under his eyes.

We got through the morning routine OK and made it to the bus on time.  I warned Liam that he had a dentist appointment this afternoon so I would pick him up early from school.

I got back to the house and noticed that my Mom had called so I called her back to find out what she called about.  A relative had passed away and she was calling to tell me.  The day was starting to take a downward slide.

After I got off the phone with Mom, I was sitting around with Jamie while he watched morning cartoons when it dawned on me that I completely forgot my brother-in-law’s birthday last week.  Not just missed it after thinking “hey!  That’s coming up!” but TOTALLY FORGOT.  It didn’t even occur to me that I had a birthday to remember.  I felt like a total heel.  We don’t exchange birthday gifts among the adults but we usually send cards and call each other.  I missed it entirely.  D’oh!

A bit later I turned off the TV and headed upstairs to sort out laundry for the day.  I needed to wash the jeans I was wearing so I peeled them off to throw in the pile.  I was sitting there sorting out loads of laundry – without pants on – when there was a knock at the door.

Crap.

I grabbed a pair of (dirty) jammy pants, hustled myself into them, and went downstairs to answer the door.  Who was there?  Jamie’s speech therapist.  Guess what I forgot?  Yep, Jamie had speech therapy this morning and I was standing there in what amounted to pajamas.  At least I was wearing a bra.

Batting 1,000, Cari.

The good news is that my house was not completely trashed so forgetting to clean before the therapist arrived wasn’t an issue.  Being a slave to the to-do list this week paid off and I didn’t have a family room sunk in dirty dishes and scattered toys.  WHEW!

After speech therapy we got lunch and I did laundry and then Jamie went down for a nap.  Things seemed to even out at this point so I thought the worst was over.  Not so.

I went downstairs to grab my now clean jeans out of the dryer so that I could get dressed to pick up Liam at school.  The washing machine was flashing an error code at me.  Aw, crap.  I looked up the code and it had something to do with a lack of water supply.  What the what?!  I hit the cancel button and it started to do something so I let it go to see what it would do while I went upstairs to get dressed and wake Jamie from his nap.  (I hate doing that but it was necessary so we could pick up Liam and get to the dentist on time.)

On our way down to the car to leave, I checked on the washer.  It had now shut off altogether.  Great.  It wasn’t working at all.  Lately, the dryer has also been on the fritz (sort of), so now I was looking at no laundry facilities at all.  Oh, this day.

The day finally seemed to turn a corner at the dentist.  There was no bad news at the dentist.  No cavities, everything in good shape, need a little work on the thoroughness of his brushing but otherwise good.

We got home and I turned the washing machine back on hoping that it had magically cleared up whatever was going on and decided to work again.  It did!  It washed the load with nary a hiccup.  Clean clothes!

The day ended on a high note when I weighed-in at Weight Watchers and lost another pound then came home and got the kids to bed early.

It was a hell of a Wednesday.

Life In Our House

People, my life is boring sometimes.  One day bleeds into the next and so on and so forth until it’s suddenly the last week in September and I’m not quite sure how that happened.
We’re now several weeks into the school year and it seems we’ve finally settled into our routine.  Liam has decided he no longer hates first grade and actually likes going to school.  Academically, he is already making progress from where he was at the end of last year and I’m pretty impressed with his abilities.
Jamie had both his 6 month speech evaluation and his 30 month check-up at the pediatrician on Wednesday.  As far as the speech goes, he’s clearly worlds ahead of where he was when we started speech therapy.  He’s made tremendous progress but he’s still going to need to transition to the 3-5 year old program in March when he ages out of the program he’s in.  In the meantime, he’s becoming a chatterbox and never. shuts. up.  
At his well-child check-up he weighed in at 36 lbs and is now 36 inches tall.  As his doctor says, “He’s a perfect square!”  I’ve noticed lately that he seems to be more difficult to cart around in my arms and now I know why.  Needless to say, he’s been getting around on his own two feet while holding my hand more often than not.  
I’m getting used to the new schedule, too.  Suddenly I have two days a week without the kids in the house and there’s so many things I want to get done I almost don’t know where to start.  I probably need to sit down and make a list so that I can pick one of those things when the kids are gone.  For now I’m just trying to keep up with the household chores – and doing my usual craptastic job of it.
I’m also still losing weight although very slowly.  I had a bad couple of weeks in there and I gained some back – welcome to eating your feelings, Cari.  But that has smoothed out and I lost what I gained so I’m sitting at around 16 lbs lost over all.  I have about 15 more to go.  So, I’m halfway there.  If I can just force myself to be a bit more dedicated to this, I’ll make better progress.
Scot is busy with work during the week and hanging out with us on the weekends.
So, that’s us in a nutshell these days.

PodCamp Memories

This weekend I attended PodCamp Pittsburgh 6.  Despite wanting to go for the two previous PodCamps, I wasn’t able to make it until this year so this was my first PodCamp.  It turns out that I wasn’t alone and about half the attendees were also newbies.

I was so nervous heading into this.  Everyone assured me that I should stop stressing out about it because people were going to be welcoming and fun.  Still, I felt a little (ok, A LOT) like the new kid trying to sit at the popular table in the lunch room on her first day.

Except it turns out there isn’t a popular table.  As they say at PodCamp, we’re all Rockstars.

The festivities kicked off Friday night with a Meet and Greet.  In spite of getting into a minor accident on the way there and a paucity of parking, I arrived only about a half hour after it started.  I chatted with people I already knew and met a bunch of new people as well.  I felt so much more at ease about showing up to PodCamp the next morning after going to the Meet and Greet.  It was fun!

PodCamp itself was informative, interesting, funny, social, and (most of all) FUN.  I learned a lot.  I met awesome new people.  From the perspective of someone who had never been before, I can’t say enough things about how great it was.  There were sessions I wanted to be in but couldn’t (because I was attending other sessions) and I’m looking forward to watching them once the video gets posted.  Beyond that, everyone there made it a point to be friendly and helpful to one another.  If you have to be in a roomful of strangers, this is the roomful of strangers to be in.

In short, if you’ve never been to PodCamp and you want to go, DO IT.  Don’t follow my nervous nelly example and be scared.

Last, I leave you with four words: Vegan Death Metal Chef.  You learn about all kinds of things at PodCamp.

The Tantrum From Hell Explained

I have a theory about childhood development.  I only have my two children as evidence but from what I have observed with the two of them, whenever they are about to make a major developmental leap, they are impossible.  With Liam the problems always manifested themselves in his sleep and the poor sleep resulted in difficult behavior.  This was true from the time he was an infant and it’s still true today.  His last serious sleep regression coincided with learning to read.

Jamie hasn’t been as extreme as his brother, in large part because he is a better sleeper over all.  But he still has his moments and his sleep regressions (and consequent poor behavior) have also centered on major developmental milestones.  It doesn’t seem nearly as dire as it did with Liam and I can’t tell if that’s because of Jamie or because he’s our second kid and we’re less uptight.

Whatever the case, the general pattern is that if there is any rewiring in their brains going on, I’m guaranteed to have a rough time with them behavior-wise.

Guess who made a leap?

Jamie made another jump with the language today.  His therapist and I suspected it was on the horizon because in his last therapy session things were coming easier to him and he was speaking more clearly.  He seemed to be able to repeat words more quickly and more clearly than he had been doing previously. This wasn’t a major improvement but it was a noticeable one.

Before his tantrum yesterday Jamie was tetchy all day.  He was frustrated and difficult and his speech was complete gobbledegook when he chose to speak at all.  I spent most of the day trying to translate what he wanted and failing utterly.  It was like his speech had suddenly regressed. Then he had a thermonuclear meltdown at bedtime.

This morning he suddenly started talking in phrases spontaneously.  It’s happened a few times before but his usual pattern is that he can repeat what we say but rarely, if ever, does he apply what he knows how to say to anything else.  He started doing that today out of the blue.

The first time he did it, I was putting my shoes on so I could take the kids to the playground and Jamie saw me doing it.  He said “Shoe? Me?”  Shoe is a brand new word.  He said both words quite clearly – probably the clearest I’ve ever heard him speak.  Of course I told him that yes, he was going to have to put his shoes on, too.

Then, while at the playground, he was sliding down the big slide with his brother.  He got upset at one point and Liam tried to get him to go back up and slide down again with him.  Jamie replied, “No!  Mama do!”  Again, very clearly said.  Again, an entirely new phrase.

Later, Liam asked if he wanted to slide again and Jamie said, “No.  All done.”  The kid is having conversations now.  REAL conversations.

Last, I was putting him down for his nap and he had his snuggle blankie over his head.  I pulled it off so we could rock together and he popped out with “PEEK-BOO!”  Now, he’s known how to say peek-a-boo for quite some time but it was always said in reply to us when we were playing with him.  This time he plucked it from his vocabulary and used it correctly all on his own.

So there you have it.  His impression of Linda Blair was the precursor to him making a huge leap in his language abilities.  He has truly outdone his brother on this one.

Impressive. Most Impressive.

I witnessed something tonight that I have never previously seen in my life.  I watched Jamie have a ferocious tantrum.  I’ve seen kids tantrum before.  I’ve seen Jamie tantrum before.  But this was something in another league altogether.  When it was over and done with I was pretty sure we needed an old priest and a young priest.

The screaming began the second that Scot told Jamie was time to head upstairs for bath.  Jamie wanted me to take him but I had reached my limit with him by that point and Scot had volunteered to take bath and bed duty for Jamie while I took on Liam.  Jamie was having none of this.

Scot dragged him upstairs and the symphony of screaming was so loud it nearly drowned out the TV.  Jamie was screaming at high pitch and high volume but also gutturally.  They were the kind of screams that you just know hurt your throat to utter.  But he was going at it full bore, only pausing to suck in another breath so he could keep screaming.

“Liam,” I said, “we need to head upstairs right now.  You can finish watching this tomorrow.”

I grabbed the clean laundry and headed up.  I got Liam started on putting his clean clothes away and then went in to help Scot tag team Jamie.  I walked in and Jamie was kicking, screaming, and flailing on his bed while Scot tried to get his clothes off.  Scot got him down to his diaper and he FLIPPED OUT even further and tried to pluck his clothes out of the dirty laundry and make me put them back on him.

We walked out and let him scream.  I checked on Liam and his clothes and then grabbed Jamie’s and put them away.  I refused to look at Jamie.  He followed me around screaming as loud as he could.  Again, without pause except to get air.

Finally, I pinned him down and removed his diaper.  I think I have bruises from the assault of his legs.  He ran around naked and screaming for all he was worth while I tried to snatch him and put him in the bath that was running for him.  I finally got him and deposited him in the tub.

Baths are his favorite thing.  He loves them and they soothe him.  He never goes to sleep as well or as easily on nights that we skip his bath – which means we rarely skip them.  I was hoping that the bath would help.

He continued to scream.

High pitched.  Loud.  Guttural.

He flailed and splashed to express his anger.  I tried to calm him down but all he did was scream and point imperiously OUT of the tub.  He refused to calm down even in the tiniest increment.

I finally just washed him and pulled him out and he got mad at me for giving him what he wanted.

So now there’s a wet, naked, screaming, red-faced toddler standing there.  I wrapped him up in his towel and tried, futilely, to determine his problem and calm him down.  I dried him off and hung up the towel hoping that he would lead me to his desire.  Nope.

He ran around the upstairs naked and screaming.  This went on for some time.  I had to pin him to the floor to administer his night time medication.  This is unheard of.  He was screaming so hard I was afraid he was going to choke.

Finally, I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer and it was time to get him in his diaper and pj’s.  He saw what was coming and started trying to fight me off like an enraged badger.

It took the both of us to hold him down just to get the diaper on him.

Eventually we got him dressed and ready for bed.  I sat down with him to rock and he suddenly seemed to calm a bit and let me soothe him.  He was still tetchy but he had stopped screaming – at least I’m pretty sure he did because I was deaf by this point.  With the help of a small sippy of water, I was able to get him settled in bed without him launching into another rendition of the scream symphony.

I think if he his head had spun around three times while vomiting pea soup I would not have been shocked.  I now know what a full bore redheaded temper tantrum looks like and I don’t like it one tiny bit.

Adjustments

“I hate school, Mom.”

“You hate school?  What don’t you like about it?”

“Everything.  I hate homework, I hate going.  I just hate it.”

As these words came spilling out of Liam’s mouth, I could feel tears start to well up in my eyes.  Two weeks into school and he hates it.  
“Do you hate your teacher?”
“No.”
“And you like lunch and recess and gym, right?”
“Yeah, I guess,” he replied a bit reluctantly.
“So you don’t hate EVERYTHING, right? And you get to learn lots of new things.”
“I HATE learning new things!”
Aha.  It was going to be one of those conversations.  Clearly, nothing I said was going to make him feel much better because he didn’t want to feel better.  He wanted to hate school.
I sighed.  “It will get better, honey.  I promise.”
It was the best I could offer him but I felt so bad for him.  Liam loved school last year and he always looked forward to going.  He’d push me out the door to be as close to the front of drop off line as possible.  He came home bubbly and happy every day.
This year is an entirely different matter.   I know that a lot of it has to do with the schedule adjustment.  I know that first grade is The Big Leagues and very different from what he is used to.  But I also know that his teacher knows this and that she is working hard to get the kids through all these changes as smoothly as possible.  All the same, my heart hurts for him that he is experiencing these feelings at all.  
Slowly and incrementally he seems a bit more chipper about school.  He came home yesterday in a better mood and Scot took him out for ice cream last night.  Some one on one time with Dad really seemed to center him.  We’ll keep on plugging, because that’s what we do, and I’ll keep hoping that his love of learning will return soon.

Whew. We Made It.

We’re all a little worse for wear but we have survived the first full week of school.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a Friday afternoon.

Liam is happy with his new teacher and his new class.  He loves being a big bus-riding kid and eating lunch at school.  Recess is the highlight of his day so far because he gets to see all his friends from last year.  But he is Worn Out.  He’s wandering around with dark circles under his eyes that make it look like he ended up at the wrong end of a fist during Tae Kwon-Do.  The poor kid was exhausted last night.

Scot and I are little better than he is.  The new schedule is wearing on me and the week has been busy otherwise (see: vet emergency).  I probably should have stopped doing 90 miles an hour before I hit that wall in my way.  But hit it I did and tonight I am knackered.  The good news is that Curriculum Night at school was last night so tonight I can fall on my face.

Speaking of which, we love his teacher.  She’s everything you want a first grade teacher to be.  She’s clearly very excited to be in the classroom full time this year (she was a resource teacher last year).  I can’t wait to see how far she can take these kids.

And as for Jamie, well, he’s finally starting to get into the groove of things.  It seems like he had the hardest time with the changes earlier this week but is in the best shape tonight.  The inverse has been true for the rest of the family.  So, while we’re all ready to face plant, he’s got enough energy to power Tokyo.

Thank goodness it’s a holiday weekend.  We can all use the extra day of rest!