Monday, April 28, 2008

Routine

We're back in our routine again. It's so sweet! Everyone is finally fully recovered from that stomach virus. It took Clare a couple days to get her energy level back, but the overnight hospital stay was what did the trick of setting her on the right road.

Last week was Clare's spring break from school, so come this Monday morning, she was a little hesitant about going. I am sure there were multiple factors involved - just having been so sick and in the hospital (not a pleasant experience for Clare at all), not having school for a week, and her regular teacher was not outside to walk her in, but one of the aides. Clare was very reluctant to leave me, but I just bit my lip, kissed her good-bye, and walked off. I hate the walking off part. I feel as if I am abandoning her sometimes, especially when she is not enthusiastic about going in the school. Once I was farther away from Clare, I turned around and watched her walk in with Miss Karin. She had a good, if tiring day, and slept most of the afternoon!

Tuesday was more of the same. Jamie is on school break this week (one of the downfalls of having the kids in school in two different towns - different vacation weeks!), so we had a full car for pick-up and drop-off. Clare was more eager to go to school, and after dropping her off, the boys and I spent the morning at Barnes & Noble, one of our favorite activities. Our local B&N has a train table, a great children's section, and a Starbucks. Favorites all around! However, during the morning, I received the dreaded phone call from the school. I always have my cell phone turned on whenever Clare is in school (and I am not one of those "addicted-to-my-phone" people), but I honestly did not expect a call. Clare fell and hit her lip on a cabinet. She was bleeding, but the teacher said she was with the school nurse and diligently keeping an ice pack on her split lip. When I picked her up from school, she showed me her "boo boo" lip and seemed okay about the whole thing. Her teacher informed me that Clare was the most accident-prone child she has ever had! Great! (Of the three and a half weeks Clare has been in school, I know of two times she has fallen and cut her lip - who knows how many times she has actually fallen with no blood!) I told her it was probably due to the fact that Clare was low tone with loose joints, has trouble centering herself and regaining her balance, and has trouble visually scanning her environment while walking. Add that she is on aspirin and bleeds easily, it's a wonder Clare does not fall and injure herself more!

Today is Clare's day off from school, so we had finally had a nice lazy morning with nowhere to go! We attempted the playground, but our beautiful spring weather turned into a chilly and windy 40-degree day, so both Clare and Simon hated that idea. (I had to drag Jamie off the playground after 40 minutes - we were freezing!) Then the afternoon was spent at the endocrinologist's office and having blood work done (and we saw Laura and Michaela there - they are both such brave ladies!). Not my number one choice for an afternoon activity, but there is something comforting about being back in our routine, doctor's appointments and all!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Batter Up!


S~ So as Teresa mentioned in an earlier post, we have officially entered the organized sports stage of life and, with that, I have officially become a "coach." Which I kind of chuckle at considering that, those of you who know me, I'm not what you would call a sports guy. Anyway, today was opening day for our Little League group, and it was a ton of fun. I am really enjoying this because it is something that Jamie and I can do together. I had no idea what opening day was going to be like except that we were going to be playing our first game and that we had to be there by 8 am. After a long restless night at the hospital (see previous post), the early morning was going to be the toughest part.

We got there with a large Dunkin Donuts Toasted Almond Coffee in hand and immediately handed out the jerseys and hats. Once everyone was ready, we were brought to one of the bigger fields to line up. They were going to have us all run out team by team. Jamie thought this was pretty cool, especially because we were the first team to go out (although he was a little disappointed because he thought we were going to be playing on the local pro-minor league baseball field). All the teams ran out onto the field according to age of the players, so the major league players were last. As these 12- and 13-years olds were coming out, I could hear Jamie and his teammates make comments like, "We have to play those kids??," "How come they are so much bigger than us??" One of the coaches was in the service so when he ran out in full fatigues, all Jamie said was, "Oh man, they have a soldier!" The other coach and I had to reassure the kids that we were not playing all the teams, just the t-ballers.

After the opening ceremony, it was Game Time! Jamie did great. What I noticed was his attention to the game. He was always in the ready position and focused on what was going on. Also, he was a social butterfly. At one point, he was covering second base, and, I tell you, that was the place to be! Every kid who was on second got an instant friend to talk to. It was like every kid was Jamie's best friend, and these were kids on the other team that Jamie never met before. He was also great with cheering on his own teammates. When we were up to bat, you could hear Jamie rooting everyone on until it was his turn. It was a really great day!

It Got Us Again

Those blasted wee little germies landed Clare in the hospital overnight last night. The boys started to recover from the virus and were up and about and eating and drinking again, but Clare just could not get over the hump. By yesterday morning, we could tell she was getting dehydrated fairly quickly, but resisted our efforts to take in fluids. After a visit with the pediatrician, it was decided that the best course was to admit her into the hospital overnight for fluids. As much as I hate doing this to Clare, we knew it was for the best. Dehydration is a slippery slope with Clare because of the condition of her blood vessels, and it was a slope she was rapidly sliding down.

Aaahhhh... the hospital. The nursing staff was awesome and made sure we were comfortable and left us fairly alone, but there is still the trauma of putting in the IV (probably our worst experience yet with this because from the moment I laid Clare down on the bed, she turned into a little wildcat - rearing off the bed, trying to bite me, screaming bloody murder) and the whole mind-numbing fatigue of being in the hospital. Last night, as we were shuffling kids around, arranging for my mom to come up in the morning to help out with Simon (since it was opening day of t-ball and Jamie and Shawn had to be at the field from 7:30-11:00am), and generally trying to make some sense out of the chaos, I kept wondering if we made the right decision. Maybe Clare would have been fine by that evening. Maybe after a good night's sleep, she would have perked up and drank something for us. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But then I keep reminding myself that dehydration is not something we want to fool around with. Chances are that Clare would have been absolutely fine. But who wants to take that chance?

So we endured our short trip to the hospital. Clare received fluids overnight, did get a good night's rest (I wish I could say the same for Shawn, who stayed overnight with her!), and woke up this morning feeling so much better. She asked to eat, ate more than she normally does in the morning, and we were able to be discharged by 10am. Her bicarb levels were still low and some of her other levels were high (meaning she was still not fully hydrated), but since Clare's temperament and energy level had done a 180 overnight, the doctor felt comfortable sending us home. In retrospect, I think we made the right decision despite the hassle and exhaustion. I feel that Clare was just at a point where she did not have the strength or energy to recover on her own from the virus. She needed a little extra help. Now we have our smiling little girl back (who is busy upstairs mock-battling with her older brother with the balloons he picked out for her).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Oy!

The title sums it all up. What a day! After Shawn and I battled a stomach virus the last two days, the kids all succumbed today. They fought the good fight, but alas, were no match against the wee little germies (imagine that in a Scottish accent). We won't go into all the gritty details, but imagine doing piles of laundry, scrubbing stains out of the bedroom carpet (don't even go there), and a weak, exhausted, running on 4-hours of sleep mommy (not to mention the tired daddy who had to get some work done today after skipping out the last couple of days).

My positive outlook is that I've had lots of time today to snuggle on the bed with Jamie and watch "Toy Story," snuggle on the couch with Clare and read lots of Elmo books, and snuggle in the glider with Simon rocking him to sleep.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Signs

Yes, I am a dorky believer in signs. I am one of those optimistic people who truly believe that everything happens for a reason. We may never know the reason of certain things while we live on earth, but God's plan will unfold once we are with Him. Someone once explained it to me like this, and I thought it was a beautiful and easy-to-grasp concept. God's plan for our lives is like a gorgeous embroidered quilt. However, we can only see the back of the quilt. The colors are stunning, we can see some glimpses of what the overall design is, but mostly we see a lot of knots, crisscrossed threads, and general chaos. However, once we are with God, the quilt is flipped over and we finally see God's ultimate, perfect design. It was always there and it's the same quilt, we are just looking from a different side.

My uncle Steve was recently in Vienna, Austria. While there, he toured a local church. In an alcove were two female statues. The tour guide explained who the two saints were - St. Clare and St. Therese. Steve was struck that Clare's two patron saints (her full name is Clare Therese) were together in this one alcove. He snapped some photos to share with us. It's little signs like these that remind me that God is watching out for our Clare. And that our family watches out for us, too. Thank you, Uncle Steve, for thinking of us and taking the photos!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Showcase

Innocence


I hope you always find unbridled joy in life.
I hope you never grow too big to climb into my lap for snuggles.
I hope you always wake each morning eager to see what the day brings.
I hope you never feel that you are insignificant or worthless.
I hope you always spread your infectious charm to those around you.
I hope you never stop coming up to me and asking, "Hug me?"
I hope you always know how much you are wanted, treasured, and loved.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Spring Fever

It's so cliche, but we really have spring fever over here. It's been (knock on wood) a little over a week since our last snowfall. The snow is almost completely gone from our front and back yard, and, yesterday, Jamie and I raked up the last of the leaves and uncovered our sprouting daffodils. We've spent the last three evenings grilling, taking walks, and getting Jamie started on riding his bike without training wheels. Jamie is signed up for baseball at the end of the month, and he is thrilled to practice catching and throwing with Shawn in the evenings now. I am a little wary of this new phase we are entering - Organized Sports. I have always felt very strongly about sports (or any other activity) not running our lives. Jamie is only 5 years old, but it's amazing what is out there for kids these days. And the amount of time and commitment involved. A friend was telling me about her daughter wanting to do cheerleading and, in one month, it is almost every single night. And her daughter is only 5 years old! Even Jamie's baseball is going to be one night and one weekend afternoon per week. To me, that is the max I will allow on one activity. I am cautious about entering the stage of being a "baseball mom."

Clare is into her second week of preschool now. She has done remarkably well. I am thankful my kids are fairly adaptable children. Clare is eager to see her teacher in the morning and walks in with Miss Pam without a fuss. She is always happy to see me or Shawn when we pick her up, but her teacher reports that she is enjoying herself. My one concern is that when I picked her up yesterday, she was exhausted. It was her day of OT and PT, so that may have contributed to her fatigue. But her face was ashen, and she just looked terrible. Normally, we go right home from school, do lunch, and have a nap. But Simon had a doctor's appointment (yup, another eye infection and fluid in his ears - no ear infection yet), so we were still out and about. By the time we got home, Clare was a wreck. We're obviously going to keep an eye on it for now.

Additional note - So, of course, I started writing this post mid-week and life takes over. Now it is Sunday evening and I am finally getting around to finishing it. Baseball is officially starting this week, and both Jamie and Shawn are super-excited. Our yard is finally snow-free. Clare LOVES to play outside. It is a new experience for her, and she is thrilled to walk around the yard, pull moss off our stone wall, draw on my car with sidewalk chalk, and repeatedly go up and down the ramp to the shed. I talked with her teacher on Thursday about Clare's extreme fatigue after school on Tuesday. Her teacher will make note of it as well, talk to the PT, and see how Clare does this coming Tuesday. Simon's eye is back to normal, and we avoided another ear infection.

We spent the afternoon at the beach today. It was extremely windy right down by the water. Jamie, Shawn, and Simon walked along the ocean's edge, while Clare finished her nap in the car. Once she awoke, we joined them. Clare hated the wind! Her new sentence that she now says about a thousand times a day is, "Me no like it." (Her language skills have exploded, but we'll save that for another day!) As I carried Clare back from the ocean to the nearby playground, the wind was whipping wildly around us. She yelled the whole way, "Me no like it! Me no like it!" I did feel bad for Clare because she really does not like the wind, but she was also making me laugh so hard! We ended our afternoon frolicking on the playground then home to pizza and wings. I love our lazy weekend days.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

American Idol Rewind


video

Randy: Awright Dog, Listen Up...(Applause, Applause)..Awright.Dude Listen up...That was HOT! The Clare Bear was burning it up up there, Yeah Dog you Rock!

Paula: Clare, let me start by saying you are beautiful and you look great up there. Clare what I love about you is that you are a free spirit and know exactly who you are. You really feel the music and deliver it in so many different colors. You are already a SUPERSTAR!

Simon: (To Paula)Are you done? (Pause) Clare you know I am a big fan, at first I thought this was a bit Kareoke, a little Elmo dance partyish, but then even I got caught up in it and your performance and realized that you are a superstar, you can sell millions of records and that song choice was spot on! (Applause). If I had one criticism, it would be to lose the band!

Day Two

Today was Clare's second day of preschool. It was her first day with the full class, so I was a little nervous how she would do. She had such great one-on-one time with her teachers on Tuesday that I hoped she wasn't lost in the crowd today.

When Clare woke up this morning, I told her we would go downstairs and play. She asked, "Kelly?" (who was Clare's PT up until last week). I told her no Kelly, but that she would go to school today and see Miss Pam and Miss Karin. Clare smiled and said, "Hello, Payton." This is the little boy who is the only other one in her classroom on Tuesdays. I couldn't believe that she remembered his name! And connected him with school. That was encouraging.

When we pulled up to the school, Clare walked out with her teacher. I received more big smiles and "Mama" from Clare. Her teacher relayed that Clare had another super day. They had gym class today, and she said Clare did very well with the other kids. This is one of our big concerns - Clare cannot run or jump and can get thrown off balance by kids running past her (the whole visual tracking piece that Clare needs to work on). We want her to be involved in her entire school day, but we also want her to be safe. So I was pleased to hear that Clare was able to hold her own. She also ate a blueberry granola bar and drank a small cup of chocolate milk for snack. Then asked for more! That was the most shocking bit of news. Two things that Clare has never eaten (and not for lack of offering). I am sure the teacher thought I was a little silly because I kept saying, "Really? She actually drank the milk? She ate the granola bar?" I just couldn't believe it. Food is one of our biggest battles at home. To hear that Clare did something new food-wise at school is amazing.

So we have survived Day Two as well. I promise not to detail every day of Clare's schooling! I know it's still a little too early to tell, but the transition is going so well thus far. I even enjoyed myself today with Clare at school. Jamie has been asking daily about going to the playground. Since there is still snow on the ground in our backyard, I was unsure of the playground conditions. I promised him that we would check out the playground one day while Clare was at school. That way, I did not have the added challenge of making sure Clare was safe on the playground regardless of whether it was covered in snow and ice. We have not been on the playground since fall, so I want Clare's first experience to be in optimal conditions. We met friends at the playground nearby. It was very windy, but Jamie and his buddy played for over an hour, Simon was content bundled into his stroller with a snack, and I could actually relax and visit with my friend. All in all, a good day.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

First Day of Preschool

We all survived! Actually, Clare did incredible on her first day of preschool. As we truly knew in our hearts that she would. As Shawn posted earlier, we all brought her to the door, gave hugs and kisses, then Clare trustingly walked off with Miss Karin, one of her classroom aides. That was almost as hard as handing Clare over to the doctors before one of her caths. We've been talking with Clare daily about going to school, but I am not sure how much she actually gets what it is all about. When Miss Karin held out her hand to Clare, Clare took it without question and walked away with her. She waved good-bye and blew a kiss, but then did not look back. Which is how I want it. I don't want to think of Clare crying, miserable, scared to go to school. But it does make my heart ache a little that she was so trusting and willing to go with someone she only met the day before for 20 minutes. That's the nature of her personality.

Yes, I did start crying as we were walking back to the cars. I knew she would do well, but it was more the fact that she was actually old enough to be going to school that made my eyes tear up. We've been talking about this day since she first started with Early Intervention, but it was always something in the distant future. Now it is really here, and we have entered into a new phase of life with Clare. I quickly wiped my tears away, though, since I had Jamie and Simon with me. It was swim class day, so that was a good distraction while Clare was in school.

Although we do not get to see Clare in her classroom since drop-off and pick-up are outside the school building (thus why there are no photos of Clare in her classroom), we were able to talk about her day after school with Miss Karin. Tuesday is the "low" day in their classroom. Only the kids that need to go four days a week go to school on Tuesdays. In Clare's classroom, it is only her and one other boy. Clare's OT peeked in on her during the day (since Easter Seals shares the building with the developmental preschool) and reported to us that Clare was sitting in her chair working on a puzzle. She was following directions, paying attention, and doing really well. She also said that Clare enjoyed being with the other child in the classroom. I am glad Clare's first day was a quiet one at school (normally there are 13 children total in the classroom). It gave Clare a chance to warm up to the schedule of the day and the rhythm of the classroom and gave the teachers the opportunity to spend a lot of one-on-one time with Clare and get to know her. Miss Karin said they are going to start slow with Clare, but were able to get her to sit at the table for 10 minutes concentrating on a task. She did say that Clare repeatedly questioned "up? up?" to get out of her seat, but did listen when she was told not yet. Clare also had some OT and speech today. They end the school day with a reading of Brown Bear (by Eric Carle). This is one of Clare's favorite series of books, so I was not surprised when Miss Karin said that Clare found storytime very soothing.

When we all trooped back to the school to pick Clare up, she was waiting for us outside with the teacher. Clare was happy to see us ("Mama!" and big hugs), but we could tell she also had had a good time at school. She was exhausted, though, and went right to sleep after lunch (she normally puts up a stink about taking a nap - "No nap! No nap!"). Her next school day is Thursday, so our new weekly routine has begun! Below is a video of Clare walking in with Miss Karin. What a big girl!

video

45 Minutes and Counting...

S~Okay it has only been 45 minutes since we dropped Clare off at school, but it is driving me crazy. Teresa cried as we were leaving, and I cried in the car...it shouldn't be this tough! We have spent so much time and invested so much with our little girl that it is so scary to hand over all that responsibility to a complete stranger.

Anyway, enough of my insecurities. Clare took it great. After a hug and a kiss to all of us, she grabbed the teacher's hand and off she went. After I walked the rest of the family to the car, I was walking back to my car and I stopped at the door to her school, which was still open. I saw Clare inside taking off her backpack and jacket. I watched for a few minutes to make sure she was okay. She finally noticed me and gave a little start towards me which I had to make her stop by motioning her to stay. She stopped and gave a little wave with just her fingers. I blew her a kiss which she returned and then I left. I will remember that image of her standing there like a big girl for the rest of my life.