Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Kiddos, Part 2

Simon has one month left of his first year of preschool. On the whole, it has been a good year, and he has enjoyed going to school. After much deliberation, we made the difficult choice to not reutrn to the same preschool next year. The beloved 4-year old teacher is leaving after so many years at the school, and she was really the incentive behind my willingness to stick it out for another year (it's a bit of a drive). We toured a Christian preschool closer to home that some of our friends' children attend and have decided to make the switch. Simon seems to accept this decision without any complaint. Although he likes preschool, he has not made any "best" friends there and does not seem particularly attached to the school. I am sad to say goodbye forever to the school becasue Jamie did have such a great experience at this school, yet at the same time, I am not sad to say goodbye to the drive and the craziness it adds to our schedule. I am all about simplicity (especially with a new baby on the way!).

Violet has had a rough six weeks with illness. We were all sick with a cold at the end of February. However, Simon, Violet, and I could not shake the cough and congestion. Both Simon and Violet ended up with ear infections, and I came down with bronchitis. By the time I brought Violet in, her ears were so infected (as in pus bubbles ready to pop! ewwww... gross!), that the goop was coming out of her eyes because there was nowhere else to go. So the doctor started Violet on a course of augmentum before things got worse. Unfortunately, we now know that Violet shares her dad's and older brother's amoxicillin allergy. She ended up in hives from head to toe. As soon as I saw them, I knew instantly what they were from (having dealt with the same thing with Jamie when he was two). Since Violet was on day eight of the antibiotic when she broke out in hives, the doctor felt it was okay to not prescribe a different antibiotic, but absolutely stop the augmentum. Two days later, Violet's hives became worse, her breathing was slightly labored, and her face was starting to swell, so it was off to ER. She still had a double ear infection, so after some monitoring and oral steroids in the ER, we were sent home with prescriptions for more steroids, bendaryl, pepcid (apparently an antihistamine as well) and zithromax (another antibiotic). A week later, we followed up with the pediatrician again. Violet STILL had a double ear infection. And she still had the horrible rash from the allergic reaction. I think she was more miserable from the rash than the ear infection. She needed benadryl at night to go to sleep because she was scratching herself until she bled. Not to mention that antibiotics cause diarrhea, so now I was pumping her full of probiotics as well, and we had to add a medicated diaper cream to the mix. So now Violet was put on omnicef, a third antibiotic. Unfortunately for Violet once again, there is some cross-sensitivity and 10% of people allergic to amoxicillin/penicillin are also allergic to the class of drugs that omnicef is in. Violet's reaction was not as severe to the omnicef, but her rash worsened. She completed her course of medication, suffered through the rash, slept on lots of benadryl, and I think we're in the clear now! Everyone has been healthy for a couple weeks now. (Oh, I better not have just ruined anything!)

We are all looking forward to spring, Easter, Simon's birthday, and Jamie's First Communion!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Kiddos, Part 1

There are times when I feel guilty about just updating about Clare. Yes, the title of the blog is Clare's Journey and the ups and downs associated with Williams syndrome is a big part of our life, but the blog is really more about our family and whatever else is on my mind, so I always feel the mom-pressure of dividing the blog attention evenly. So here goes!

Winter indoor soccer is a wrap, and now we have moved on to spring travel soccer. I love that Jamie has found a sport he truly loves and is skilled at, yet it is always an adjustment to everyone's schedule to have soccer three times a week. His first practice was last night, and, since Shawn is away this week, it was a late night getting everyone into bed, so we all paid for it today! (Extra grumpies all around.) In school, Jamie is busy doing the school play again this year. I am not sure how thrilled Jamie is that they are performing Cinderella this year (he is one of the mice), but he enjoys doing the play, and I hope he continues loving the theater like his parents do. Shawn and I talk hopefully that, in the future, we can be involved in a community theatre together. It definitely brings back memories of our college days!

Spring allergies are having an impact on Jamie and his migraines. Even though he still receives monthly allergy shots, when the allergens start to emerge full-force, Jamie still reacts to it. Last weekend, we knew allergy season had officially started because Jamie fell asleep before dinner on Saturday evening, and, on Sunday, I went into his bedroom in the mid-afternoon to find him sound asleep on his floor! So I knew his allergies were knocking him out. We added a daily dose of Zyrtec to his schedule to get him through the next couple of weeks. I hate seeing him suffer like this. I never feel like it's "fair" that an eight-year old struggles to just get out of bed some mornings. In my mind, he should bounce out of bed full of energy every day. Save the struggle for when he's old like his mom!

Clare is done with all her educational testing between the Boston WS Clinic, visit with Dr. Mervis, and her three-year evaluation in the school district. We have a meeting with her school next week to discuss the results, amend her IEP a bit, and maybe chat about next year. Clare will have her official IEP meeting in June where we will formalize the plans for next year. She continues to love kindergarten and is making progress. Recognizing letters, counting, the concept of rhyme, letter sounds, and forming letters and shape is still slow, but I don't want to inundate her with constantly making her "work" on her letters. There was a period a couple months ago when Clare did not want to go to school. She would cry when we worked on the alphabet and even referred to herself as "stupid." The psychologist in Boston picked up on her frustration in this area as well, so we have backed off at home. Dr. Mervis recommended the Handwriting Without Tears program, which we have not started yet, but I also wanted to explore options for Clare that were fun. Not just sitting at the table and drilling it into her. Which led us to hippotherapy, another suggestion from Dr. Mervis and one we have considered on and off over the past few years.

Clare started hippotherapy three weeks ago and is using it as a form of occupational therapy. Stating that Clare loves riding the horse is a huge understatement. She tells me often that she misses Nori (the horse she rides), and I have to wait until lunchtime the day of hippotherapy to let her know that we are going or it's nonstop asking when are we leaving. While riding, Clare works on skills such as dressing, hand-eye coordination, drawing and writing, some vision therapy, and general core stability and trunk strengthening. It is a workout for Clare. I don't think she could ride for longer than the 30-minute session, but she loves every second of it and is always sad to say goodbye to Nori. The OT has recommended we also take Clare to see an opthamologist who runs a vision therapy specialty practice (coincidentally the same opthamologist that Clare's early intervention OT recommended when she was about a year old). Clare does have some tracking and visual scanning issues, which the OT has really been able to see when Clare is riding (her eyes lose focus when the horse turns a corner - almost like the eye muscles cannot keep up). The OT warned that this can lead to some problems with scanning when Clare learns how to read. I feel that just as we are starting to get something under control, something else pops up! But, then again, this is also a problem we have heard about throughout the years, so perhaps we should have done something earlier about it.

Sometimes I get caught up in the frustration of the educational process and forget to take note of what Clare is doing in her everyday life. When I think about it, she really has accomplished so much over the past few months. She rides her tricycle nonstop now without any help. She is like a little speed demon on it. She does not seem to mind that other kids her age are riding bikes. She enjoys the freedom and independence of being able to get on and off the trike by herself and go. Another small victory (but also huge) is that she is independent 95% of the time in the bathroom now. This is such a success because, again, it is another assertion of her independence and self-help skills. She no longer regularly announces that she has to go - she just goes. Shawn installed a bar on the wall for her so she can get on and off the toilet by herself. The only thing I help her with is buttoning her button if she is wearing jeans! She can undress herself now. She still needs help getting dressed (it's hard to maintain balance while pulling pants on - I have trouble with it!), but can pull her socks on now and often can put her shoes on, too. When I get discouraged, I remember where Clare was six months ago and can definitely see the progress!

Hello, Spring!

I think spring is here. I know the rain is here. And travel soccer, growing tulips, window washing, ballet recitals, play practices, and I am in my third trimester!

I hit the 30-week mark last week in my pregnancy. Shawn and I decided not to find out the sex of the baby for the first time. We figured Baby #5 was a good time to do something different! With two boys and two girls already, we refer to this baby as our "tiebreaker." We have finally settled on our names (I think?). I really should not complain about my pregnancy because I am a low-risk preggo mama to begin with, but I have definitely entered the stage of infinite heartburn, back pain, swollen ankles (thank goodness flip-flop weather is around the corner), and insomnia. I am pretty sure the remaining 10-12 weeks will fly by, though, since the long drag of winter is over.

Two weeks ago, I attended a Moms' Day Away hosted by Faith and Family, a magazine and blog dedicated to Catholic living. I have been a fan and subscriber of the magazine for years and reader of some of the blogger moms for just as long. It was such a treat to not only get ten continuous hours away from the nitty-gritty of being the mom but to spend the time with two friends, meet some of the women who have inspired and strengthened my vocation as a mother over the years, and enjoy a day of prayer, reflection, laughter, and food I did not prepare or cook. That one day focused on my motherhood reinforced for me that this is where I belong. Even on these nights when I am exhausted from three days of solo parenting, battled three of my four children to get into bed (who are more exhausted than I am, and I realize this is the source of their turning into little hellions), and feel like my chest is on fire from heartburn and my back hurts so bad I wish a pregnant woman could take ibuprofen or vicodin, I am still exactly where God wants me to be. I hold onto those thoughts, feelings, and reflections and thank God that I am so blessed to know where I am supposed to be in life. That I am not "lost" or "searching." I still have lots of work to do on my vocation as a Catholic wife and mother, but I know I am going in the right direction.

So I wanted to update on all the children, but it's time to end.... the heartburn sends me over the edge most nights. I never get heartburn in every day life, just in my third-trimester pregnancy life. Nothing soothes it really. The only "cure" is to go to bed and, when I awake, enjoy my six heartburn-free hours before it rears its fiery head again after lunch. Although a bowl of cereal does take some of the sting away. Which is where I am headed.