Friday, July 29, 2016

Laughing With My Girl

The other week we were on vacation at the beach. We have a timeshare place we stay for one week every summer, although we've had to stay at different units over the last couple of years due to the timing of the vacation and the fact that we now have two dogs and need to bring them with us. So, it was a place that was new to us, but still nice. This one had two bedrooms on the middle floor, one with a queen bed for Londo and me, and the other had two twin beds for the kids. There was a downstairs bedroom where my parents stayed (we own the timeshare with them).

One late afternoon, we had come back from a day out doing something (beach or boardwalk or shopping) and were relaxing a bit. For some reason, I got the song "Too Bad You're Crazy" stuck in my head--heck, the reason was probably that someone said "you're crazy" and that is enough to get a song with those word in my head. I started signing it (changing the words "crazy as hell" to "crazy as well"), but the Pumpkin was like, "That's a mean song."

There was a lot going on, so I didn't really get to say much about it at the time. But a little while later, the Pumpkin and I were upstairs in my bedroom. I was lying on my back on the bed and was telling her that the song was still stuck in my head. She thinks its funny, how I get song stuck in my head that go on and on like a loop. I started explaining to her that the song was really supposed to be funny, not mean exactly.

Well, she flopped down on the bed on her stomach and wiggled her way up to be next to me in a very funny way. We started laughing.

She said again that the song sounded mean to her. I told her that it was a bit, but it really was supposed to be funny, especially considering where the song was from (a movie). I added, "I mean, it even has a kazoo playing in it!" She gave me a skeptical look, so I started searching for it on my phone. I found it and played it for her, singing along with it. We laughed pretty hard when the kazoo started playing.

She saw the picture from the movie that was put on the YouTube version of the song I linked to above (the movie was April Fool's Day). I explained to her it was from a movie that was a scary movie and that the silly-sounding song at the end helped lighten the mood of the movie. I told her how it came on as the credits were rolling, and how surprised I was at the silliness of the song after being scared by the movie, which had a really crazy person as the bad guy.

I wasn't quite sure she understood what I mean, and then it occurred to me to explain it was kind of like Holly Quinn! The way Holly Quinn is CRAZY but also rather silly. How the song is kind of like something the Joker would sing, especially at the end when the singer says "I'm a little bit crazy myself." She totally understood at that point, and we listened to the song again and laughed.

There was something about that moment, something about me and my 9-year-old daughter laying on top of the bed, laughing every few sentences. Everyone else (Londo, the Pookie and my parents) were all downstairs. I was sharing something silly from my teenage years with my daughter, and we were just giggling together. There was nothing especially hysterical in what we talked about, it was just this and that, generally focused around a song I always thought was amusing.

But I want to remember that moment. The Pumpkin and I hanging out together, laughing over really nothing, just having a good time being together and being silly. It reminds me of hanging out with girlfriends and laughing for long periods of time over things you can't really explain later. Having those kinds of moments with my kids makes all the difficulties worth while.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Camps

For the last three years, I've signed the kids up for a variety of camps to cover the work days over the summer. We've tried different types of day camps, including art, drama, sports and STEM. I thought we'd try out all different kinds so we could see what the kids like--turns out my kids like ALL types of camps!

The first year, we did a drama camp, a couple of art camps and a general sports/play camp. The Pumpkin tried a soccer camp one week, but it did not really engage her (either because of her age or interest--maybe both). The Pumpkin really enjoyed the drama camp and the art camp, which was no surprise given how much she's always loved drama and arts and crafts. The Pookie struggled a bit with the drama camp, even though his age-group was half art and half drama, and he had a hard time with the all-day art camp (the other art camp was just a half day). I think his issues were due to a combination of his young age (5 years old at the time) and the sensory issues he has. I ended up picking him up early every day from the all-day art camp, and the drama camp let him work by himself on the art parts of the camp even if others had moved on to drama portion. They both LOVED the general sports/play camp, which is just like playing all sorts of games all day long! In fact, when we were coming up to a week I didn't have anything planned and I asked if they want to do one of the camps again, they wanted to go to the all day sports/play camp again. So I signed them up for it again, and they still loved it. They came home happy and exhausted. It was great!

The second year, the kids did the drama camp, an arts camp and the general sports/play camp again. Since the youngest (the Pookie) was now old enough for the STEM camps offered in my area, we added two of those: an invention camp and a science camp. The first week, they did the drama camp, which the Pumpkin LOVED but the Pookie did not. Now that the Pookie was 6, he was grouped with the Pumpkin's age group, and that class was large and did mostly drama. They'd start with art in the morning, which would go fine, but then the whole class transitioned into the big group to work on the play--and this was really hard for the Pookie. He does not do great with transitions, especially ones that involve joining big groups and can seem chaotic. This and similar transitions at that camp were very difficult for him, and by the afternoon he was tired and it was all just too much. He would slip out the door of the big room, not listen to the camp counselors or other people who worked there when they told him to go back, he'd throw fits when he felt forced to do something he didn't want, he tried to leave the building a few times. He could generally manage until afternoon snack time, and then they called me the first two days to pick him up and after that, we worked it out that I (or my mom) would just pick him up then. At the end of the camp day, I would come back for the Pumpkin, who was thriving in the artsy/drama world.

The next week, they had Camp Invention. This was the first year they were going, and we were just coming off a rough week for the Pookie. I was concerned about how he would handle it, but I called the headquarters and talked with them, and the first day of camp I talked with the director onsite, and they all made me feel comfortable about  how they could help him through. The adults at the camp were teachers during the school year, so they were quite used to handling kids of all types and were very confident that they could work with him. And boy, were they right. I can't express how impressed I was with that camp! They kids had a blast taking things apart, building new things, coming up with inventions and figuring out and describing how their inventions would work. They had science labs and made up their own mazes. It was AWESOME! And the director had really good ways of getting the Pookie through transitions and different ways to help him calm down when he was getting overstimulated. It was an absolutely wonderful week, and they kids immediately said they wanted to do it again! Unfortunately, it's only offered once a summer, but I promised them we'd sign them up for Camp Invention the next year.

Of course they went to the sports/play camp again that summer. In fact, they went three weeks to that camp over the summer. One of those weeks, the Pookie wanted to try soccer camp, which is offered at the same place. We signed him up for half days at the soccer camps, and then in the afternoons he went to the sports/play camp. The Pookie also did a half day at the art camp where we had to pick him up early the previous year. My mom picked him up after the morning camp and watched him at her house, while the Pumpkin did two half-day camps that made up a full day. The Pookie took the same class he had the previous year, which was a class where they build with Legos and draw. I had given him the option of taking a half day or staying the full day, and he picked half day. He wasn't sure he could do a full day at the camp, and I'm really glad he did just the morning camps, as I think it showed him he could handle the camp and be successful there. The Pumpkin took the Lego robotics camp and pottery camp, which she really enjoyed. In fact, they both really enjoyed those camps! The last camp they had was a science camp, which focused on the science of being spies! It was fun and interesting.

In addition to the actual camps, we also take the kids down to my inlaws' house every summer (and winter) for at least a week. My inlaws live in the mountains, in a rural area which is very much The Country. The kids get to play in the woods, hang out with their grandparents, aunt and uncles, and their cousin. They live about 5-6 hours away, so we don't get to see them as much as we'd like. That's why the week in the summer down there at "Camp Country" is so important to us. Last year, Londo couldn't go down and I couldn't take off from work, so instead I used their internet connection and worked down there for the week the kids were there. That way, the in laws could spend all day with the kids, but I was still the rule-enforcer about dinner and bedtime. It worked out great.

We are also lucky enough to live about 3 hours from the beach and have a timeshare at a place by the ocean. Not only that, but my parent recently bought a house in another town right by the ocean. If I could, I would live right on the beach. I grew up going to the beach every summer at my grandparents house, and I'm very excited that I can raise my kids with the same opportunity. The first summer of the camps, the timeshare week was before school was out, so we took the kids out of school for that. I had just switched jobs, so I didn't have a chance to take another whole week off. Instead, we went down for weekends to my parents' beach house. Last year, I make a point of saving my work vacation hours up so I could take the kids/family to the beach for two weeks (one week at the timeshare and later in the summer a week at my parents' house). Londo is not as much of a beach person as I am, and he couldn't come for the whole weeks both times, but he came down for about one and a half weeks. We all had a great time every time!

This summer has already started, but I'll save the report till the end of the summer. We are having a great time so far, and everyone is happy. I'm really proud of myself because I was able to plan out the whole summer early. With two summers already under my belt, and color-coded spreadsheets to track the camps (and costs), I knew how much we had to save to cover the summer and what camps I was for sure signing them up for--where they definitely wanted to go back and what they wanted to expand on or try out this year. The Pookie did great in his year of 1st grade, so I had more confidence about his ability to handle full days of camp. And because I knew what we were going to do early, I got the early-bird discounts for all the camps! Also, I was able to plan out our times at the beach and at the inlaws. I'm feeling pretty good about handling this summer break thing! Hopefully, I'll feel the same way by the end of the summer!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Go Outside and Play!

Since having kids, I've heard a lot of people joke about how their parents used to send them outside to play, maybe telling them not to come home until dark. The world seems to have changed, we all lament. Kids have play dates, instead of just going down the street to play with other neighborhood kids. Kids stay inside and play video games or watch TV instead of biking and running around the block. Back in our day, our parents told us to go outside and find something to do!

I don't disagree with any of that, but I remember it a little differently. I remember begging my parents to let me go out and play. We had a swing set and a jungle gym in our back yard. My best friend lived behind me, a quick jump over a low fence with a big rock right at the spot we'd climb over. We had tall trees for climbing and little traffic on the streets around my block. The park with a creek and the pool were right down the street, and more friends were a couple streets over. I always wanted to be outside playing with my friends. My parents didn't need to send me out! There was so much to do outside that I wanted to stay out all day!

I really like the neighborhood we live in now. There are lots of other kids and a nice pool. The playgrounds, however, are only okay. There are some of those plastic contraptions with something to climb up and in and a slide. Even when my kids were toddlers, they got bored on the small playground rather quickly. To get to the swings, we have to walk across the entire neighborhood, which my kids can't do on their own at this point. The neighborhoods just aren't the same these days.
During the years when my kids were babies/toddlers/pre-schoolers, we would go out front to do sidewalk chalk and bubbles, and maybe a few of the kids close by would join, but it was only occasionally and had to be constantly monitored. The next few years, the kids were learning to ride bikes and scooters and the like, but my kids are not ones to clamor to do it on their own and head off around the block by themselves. So it was always a lot of effort on our part to go out and help them and be with them. It's always a good time, but it's more limited time since there are so few free hours we adults seem to have.

Now that my kids are a bit older, they are making friends in the neighborhood and wanting to do things with the other kids. But what are they to do with the other kids?

Well, we happen to have a very large backyard--one of the largest in any of the houses in this neighborhood (or in the nearby neighborhoods). We have plans to build a deck and re-do some of the landscaping at some point, but not for a while. The kitchen windows look right out into the backyard,

We've tried sending the kids out back to play soccer or whatever else, but it never lasts very long. The kitchen windows look right out into the backyard, so I can watch them from inside while making dinner or doing the dishes, so I would like to send them out back more.
So after much research, I have found what I think will be the solution! I found this monkey bars/swing/slide playset! I have read that it goes up to age 12, so we still have a few years that we can get good use out of it--not to mention that I'm pretty sure I will love it and I'm WAY over 12!

It is being delivered today, and we plan to set it up this weekend! I showed the kids before I bought it to make sure they thought they'd really use it, and at first my daughter was hesitant about the monkey bars, since she says she can't really do them. She also asked if I would push her on the swing, since she's not very good at pumping herself. And I'm thinking "Oh, my! We are DEFINITELY getting this now! I can't have kids who can't climb and swing on things!" Those were my staples in play when I was growing up, and I realize it is likely because I had the equipment in my own backyard and went out on it all the time. To her credit, after thinking about it she said she really did want the playset so that she could practice the monkey bars and get better at them. I added she should do that with the swing, too, and she agreed.

I want my kids to be able to go out back and have something right there to play on, something right in our yard so they can't say they are bored and come right back in. I want to give my kids the ability to develop their coordination and sense of adventure! Give them something that will help them grow and try new things and develop their athletic abilities. I want something their friends in the neighborhood want to come over and play with. I want them to have a fun backyard, like I did growing up. I want them to beg to go outside and play, even if I have to cook dinner or do other household stuff.

And I want the ability to watch them play on a summer evening while I sit on the (adult) glider and drink a glass of wine. Maybe I'll swing on some monkey bars, too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Being a Bus Stop Parent

I love the bus stop.

I remember before my kids were in the public elementary school, I would drive through the neighborhood in the mornings and see all the kids and parents gathered at corner, waiting for the bus. I would think to myself that it was so nice to see all those neighborhood kids together and the parents talking to each other. That must be how you really get to know the other parents in the neighborhood, I realized.

And I was right!

When we first moved into the neighborhood, I was pregnant with the Pumpkin. Once moved in, we had the first baby... then the second... and our world condensed. Our focus at first was simply on surviving those baby and toddler years! Once the youngest was a toddler, we slowly started looking around. We would go outside to play with chalk or bubbles, and we'd wave and chat with neighbors. The kids would draw and blow bubbles with the kids who lived in the houses right around us. But it was irregular and short.

Once the kids started elementary school, I walked them up to the bus stop every morning. I would see the same parents and kids on the way there. We started chatting regularly, walking together. I even learned which kids went with which parents. And my kids started making real friends in the neighborhood.

Now, after the bus picks up the kids, I often stick around a few extra minutes to chat with other parents. I feel like we keep each other informed of what is going on. Oh, tomorrow the 1st graders need to remember their projects! Today the 3rd graders are doing testing in the afternoon? Tonight is the concert for the 4th and 5th grader chorus? Be careful when you cross that road with the kids, because people speed right through the intersection and almost hit one of the girls!

And I like that I get to know the kids, too. At Halloween, I walked around the neighborhood and really knew the kids who joined up with mine to trick or treat or just to chat. I see the kids at school and realize that the girl in the Pumpkin's after-school activity lives around the corner. The girl two houses down has become my daughter's best friend, and I am able to chat with her parents about what is going on.

I grew up in a very neighborly neighborhood, and I really wanted to raise my kids in similar type of neighborhood. The regular trips to the bus stop have been a wonderful way for me to feel the sense of community around me. We have a wonderful school, and it's great to get to know the kids and their parents better, especially when they live right around the corner. And now that it is becoming summer, we will again run into these kids and parents at the neighborhood pool. Because of the bus stop, my kids will have neighborhood friends to play with and I'll be able to chat with the other parents I've been getting to know, and the feeling of community will continue.

Friday, June 3, 2016

And a Diagnosis for the Boy

Before the Pumpkin got her diagnosis of ADHD, we had a slightly different evaluation done for the Pookie. The Pookie was evaluated to see if he has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). He does indeed have sensory issues, but it is not quite at the disorder level.

There were signs of sensory issues since he was a baby, and especially as a toddler.

He always needed strong input to his sense of touch. As a toddler, he didn't just run up and hug me, but instead would throw his whole body into me, full force. Every time. He can't just brush up against something, but bangs into things and people. There is no counting how many times I've had to remind him to "be gentle with Mommy" not because he is trying to hurt me (or anyone), but simply because soft touches don't really compute to him.

He always held his hands over his ears and freak out when there were loud noises, especially sudden ones. This could be difficult to deal with, like in public bathrooms with automated flushers! (I learned to keep a post-it note in my purse to put over the automated sensor while he used the potty, then I'd send him out of the stall before removing the post-it and letting it flush.) There was the jazz-for-kids concert I took them too, where he covered his ears and needed to move to the way back, while I hoped that he/we weren't offending the musicians. And of course the Marvel Universe Live! show we were all so excited about seeing, and within the first 5 minutes of bombs and gun blasts and lights flashing, Londo had to take him out of the entire building. Not just the auditorium, but the entire building! When he needed to go potty, Londo convinced him to go back to the building to use the potty there, but Londo told me that his entire body go more and more tense as they got closer (Londo was carrying him and felt it very clearly).

The lights at the Marvel show were an issue in addition to the noise. Sudden bright lights? Freaks him out. And just in general when there is a lot going on, he is overwhelmed. All those years of tough drop offs are partially to do with his getting overwhelmed when he would walk into a classroom. Too much all at once, especially if a bunch of kids try to run up and greet him. Sensory overload.

And then there is the picky eating. Have I mentioned the picky eating? Huh. I don't think I have. Apparently there is a name for kids who are more than just picky eaters--resistant eaters (it really is a thing). And that is what he is. We have struggled for years with his resistance to try anything new or different, and the handful of things he does eat has dwindled, since he gets tired of foods and/or doesn't like them any more. And no one better dare say to me (again!) that if he's hungry enough, he will eat what we server. Turns out? He won't. He'll just get hungrier and crankier, and I have to deal with that on top of everything else! We've tried a few different approaches and seem to be making progress over the years. It's a taste issue, smell issue (he actually doesn't have a good sense of smell), texture issue and a mouth/tongue mechanics issue.

When anyone says "Smell that!" The Pookie's response is "I can't smell." Not that he can't smell that thing, but he means in general he doesn't really smell things. I don't have a great sense of smell, but I certainly can smell things. He has difficulty either smelling or processing the smells or maybe both. Even when he sticks his nose directly into a flower, he just kind of shrugs like he doesn't really notice the smell.

So that covers the senses, right? Did you know there are a few more? There is also:
- Vestibular - the sense for movement and balance in relation to gravity. This sense tells your brain if you are right-side up, upside down or moving left, right, forward, backward, etc.
- Proprioception - the sense of where your body parts are. This sense is used all the time when you are moving, for example I can walk up stairs without watching my feet because of this sense letting my brain know where my foot is.
- Interoception - the sense for what's going inside your body, such as when you are hungry and when you need to go to the bathroom.

Every one of those senses have all an issue for the Pookie to some degree. They have not been an issue to the degree where he is unable to function in almost all circumstances. But he was having issues in daycare and pre-school, which is when we figured out there is something going on with him.

In daycare, he was just sometimes "difficult" or overwhelmed. But in pre-school, we specifically put him in a pre-school that had a teacher who understood that 4-year-old boys would act like 4-year-old boys! They are active! They like to bump into each other! But by the middle of that year, the teacher pulled me aside and said perhaps there was something more going on. Then things got better... for a while... then they got bad again in the spring. And she pulled me aside again and said she was worried about kindergarten. She recommended that we look into this and try to figure out what was going on with him. When I mentioned we were worried about him being labeled (like with ADHD), she pointed out that if we didn't get him a label, the schools would--and we likely wouldn't be happy with that label (such as bad kid, problem child, etc.).

After getting Londo's buy-in, I went to our pediatrician. While we talked, the Pookie played on the fire engine-shaped examination table, making constant noise and being constantly in motion. The pediatrician asked me, "Is he usually like this?" I looked at the Pookie and said yes, he was. The pediatrician suggested that we get him evaluated for sensory processing disorder, and she gave me some names. (If I haven't mentioned it before, I love our pediatrician!)

There were questionnaires and an evaluation appointment. He has sensory issues, but not quite at the disorder level. We did occupational therapy (OT) for a while, and we learned a lot about sensory diets and ways to calm him down when he was overwhelmed and exercises to help his coordination and crossing the midline and all sorts of things! We bought him special shirts that squeeze his body and fidget toys to help him distract his body so he can focus on learning.

He had an amazing kindergarten teacher, who worked with him and us and the school to put in place a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) to provide goals for him and a path to reach those goals, including tools and accommodations. The teacher and the school met with us and discussed and implemented ideas to help him not get so overwhelmed and to calm down if he got too upset.

He is now in 1st grade, and doing great! Early in the school year, we talked with his 1st grade teacher about his issues and what he might need (fidgets, gum, noise-canceling headphones, a rocking chair for morning meeting/circle time). His teacher uses tools he has seen be successful with kids in his previous classes, and he has also given us ideas for helping the Pookie at home. All in all, the Pookie doing really well with his behavior and in school in general!

He is an amazing, creative kid. He is so interesting and interested in all sorts of things. He is energetic and thoughtful. The sensory issues we can work through. After all, he totally gets it from me! So I understand, and we all work together to get where we need to be in life. Everyone has something, right? Sensory issues? We can deal with that.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Still Fidgeting, But Now With Diagnosis

It came as no surprise to me or Londo when we got the diagnosis that the Pumpkin has ADHD. There have been YEARS of high activity, constant motion and fidgeting, impulsiveness, inability to focus, inability to organize, forgetfulness of tasks and trouble keeping her attention on tasks. I had suspected it for a long, long time. I'm not saying all fidgety babies will have ADHD, but my daughter was fidgety and had other signs and does indeed have ADHD.

Not only at home have we seen these issues, but also in daycare and every year of school. In the daycares, the teachers would pulling me aside many times saying how the Pumpkin wouldn't sit down and participate in circle time. I remember thinking that not all kids can sit that long. But then I'd stay and observe, and she'd be the only one not sitting, moving around, finding other things to get into to the entire time the other kids sat in circle time. And then there were her issues with nap time. Nap time? What is that? Oh that time period when my daughter has to stay put for over an hour in a darkened room with nothing to do? Yeah, that generally did not go well.

In kindergarten at the Montessori school, I had to go in to meet with the teacher and the director to discuss the Pumpkin's behavior issues. She is spirited, I'd think, and high energy! Aren't there a lot of kids like this? Well, just like the fidgeting as a baby, some kids are just more high energy than others. And the Pumpkin is a lot more. The Pumpkin needed some special treatment (now I've learned the official word is "accommodations") to get her through the day. The teacher explained she did some research on the internet and found some things she was going to try. Ways to keep her on task, a place for her to take a break and calm down, things like that. She mentioned that she found these ideas on a site about kids with ADHD, but she was careful to add that she wasn't saying the Pumpkin had ADHD and that she wasn't suggesting a diagnosis. Just that they had some good ideas for the Pumpkin.

At the time, I was scared of those four letters. When I was growing up, those letters were just starting to be used, and they meant something was wrong with that kid! I didn't understand what it really meant, and I was scared that my child had something wrong and would be labeled.

We got through kindergarten, and the teacher was great working with the Pumpkin. But now I was also starting to research tips for dealing with high-energy kids, which led me to websites about ADHD. I started reading and learning about it. My eyes were opening, and I was starting to understand what ADHD really means and how my daughter had all the symptoms. Londo still wasn't ready to label her with anything, and I agreed. But boy, those sites helped me understand that she wasn't trying to be difficult or make things harder than they needed to be--her brain works differently from mine and others. For many things, she needs help and guidance, not parents getting mad and yelling.

A few weeks into 1st grade, I got an email from the Pumpkin's teacher asking me to come in and talk about some issues she was having. When I sat down with the 1st grade teacher, she explained to me that the Pumpkin was having issues sitting for long periods, focusing on her work, being easily distracted. As every teacher (or even every adult!) who has had the Pumpkin would say, she is very smart! But... she sure did have a lot of energy! And she wasn't finishing her work. She was distracting other kids. Etc., etc., etc. I explained that I was pretty sure she had ADHD, but that we were not ready to get it diagnosed. The teacher was understanding, and we discussed things she could do in the classroom to help the Pumpkin stay focused and get her work done. She was a fabulous teacher, and we worked with her throughout the year to make sure the Pumpkin had a good year.

And 2nd grade, pretty much repeat the paragraph above... email a few weeks in... meeting with teacher... not ready for a diagnosis... I let the 2nd grade teacher know what seemed to work and not work or stopped working for the Pumpkin in 1st grade. At the parent-teacher conference in November, the report was overall good, but she was still having some problems with focusing and finishing her work. Londo and I talked with the teacher about whether or not these issues were interfering with her learning. She said not at that time. But as the year progressed, the Pumpkin was finishing less and less work in class. She would bring it home, and we'd make her finish the school work with her homework. It was excruciating!

In late spring of her 2nd grade year, the teacher emailed again, saying that the issues were now interfering with her learning. The teacher and we parents tried different incentives, but it was still a struggle for her. Londo and I final agreed that it was time to get her diagnosed.

I remember the day I had my eureka moment about myself, when I realized I have Seasonal Affective Disorder. My entire life felt like it made sense. Just having a name for what had been going on for YEARS made me feel better. I was able to look it up and find ways to deal with it.

I wanted that for the Pumpkin.

I met with our pediatrician, basically saying "You know how we have all suspected she has ADHD? We'd like it official now." The pediatrician, who has been the Pumpkin's pediatrician literally since birth, nodded knowingly and gave me names of people who do evaluations.

That spring into summer, we set up all the appointments for the in-depth evaluations. Her 2nd grade teacher, Londo and I filled in numerous questionnaires about the Pumpkin. She went into the appointments and was tested for ADHD, learning disabilities, IQ, and some other things.

Near the end of the summer, Londo and I met with the woman who conducted the evaluations. She reviewed the final report with us. There was nothing surprising in it to Londo and myself. The Pumpkin is extremely smart, very creative and interesting, and great at verbally communicating. There was no doubt at all that she has ADHD. She did not have any learning disabilities. And she also has a diagnosis for general anxiety. Yes, yes, yes and yes. Londo and I just nodded and looked at each other knowingly.

It helped to have the official diagnosis going into 3rd grade. Our school is really fantastic about how they handle different types of kids and all of their needs. We put in place a 504 plan, which documents the accommodations the Pumpkin needs in order to function in class at the same level as her peers. Having the diagnosis and the 504 plan in place means that what she needs is recorded in official documents so that every year each new teacher will know what she needs. The email from a new teacher a few weeks into a school year won't be needed, because we already have information on record and I will reach out to the teachers ahead of time letting know the teachers know about the diagnosis, that she has the 504 plan and that we will support anything the teacher needs.

Now, a year after starting her evaluation, Londo and I are both very knowledgeable about ADHD. Her brain works differently than (most of) her classmates, and that's okay. As we've talked about with her, there are lots of amazing people in the world who have ADHD (her favorite example I gave was Iron Man, because come on! Tony Stark definitely has ADHD!). Having the letters makes no difference in who she is as a person nor her behavior. She is going to be herself, and we love her for it.

This kid has amazing energy and is interesting and is fun and funny and has so many wonderful qualities. She is still very fidgety, but that is just part of the awesome package that is my vivacious, interesting and awesome daughter. This child is going places in life, and we'll help support her getting there.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I Blink, and Years Have Gone By

So. Here I am again. It's been about two years since I last posted anything, and I am still muddling through this parenthood thing.

I miss writing. I miss recording my kids' lives. I miss writing out the issues we're going through so that I can better make sense of things. I miss thinking about the stuff that happens in terms of stories. So, I'm going to try to start back up.

The Pumpkin is at the end of 3rd grade, the Pookie is finishing up 1st grade. They are amazing, smart, healthy and (I can honestly say) happy children. We have our issues... who doesn't? But I would like to work through these issues and even share these issues with others as we figure stuff out.

Even though I often miss blogging, the thing that gave me a kick in the pants to start again is getting the weekly update from my daughter's class--in reading, they are learning about how autobiographies, journals and blogs communicate information. I read that and thought about how much I wish I was still blogging. Why not make that wish come true? I have the power to do it! And hopefully, I will again regularly record my experiences and their activities.