Crunchy Thoughts

The thoughts are crunchier here.

October 9, 2014
by Carrie
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summer of sam

As far as summers go, Sam has had a decently eventful one, albeit in fits and spurts. Now that we are slowly lumbering into fall (it’s October yet it’s a balmy 84 degrees outside, what gives?) perhaps I can sum everything up to my satisfaction.

Last July Sam went through a series of evaluations at the Civitan Sparks Clinic in downtown Birmingham, an organization that evaluates developmental and learning disorders. We had been on the waiting list for a good year; I had almost forgotten about it. Steven and I have never really worried that Sam has some sort of earth-shattering major delay, he just kinda seems . . . Aspergerish. By the time we heard back from the clinic with a testing date, we debated canceling the whole thing. Sam is fine. He talks. He’s happy. Why worry? In the end we went through with it since, hey, year-long waiting list, dude, and we were at the top.

The evaluations were spread across two separate days, one in July and the other in August. There were meetings with every kind of specialist under the sun. At the end of both days Sam crashed in the car on the way home — he was worn out! For some of the meetings I got to watch Sam through a mirror while he wiggled around and charmed everyone. During the hearing evaluation he sat in a sound-proof room while the specialist talked to him through a set of headphones. Every time she would ask him to do something he would reply, “Okay, Mommy!”

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The hardest evaluation for Sam was the occupational therapy meeting. He became very frustrated with himself while trying to draw shapes and cut with scissors. The other test he struggled with was the hearing evaluation. Two hearing tests on both days showed some hearing loss with low tones and some pressure in his middle ears.

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The hearing test results had us back at the ENT to be re-evaluated. Unfortunately, Sam’s ENT that installed his tubes in 2011 had left the practice, so we were stuck with Lydia’s ENT, who is a good doctor but has a very clipped manner. As with Lydia’s time at the ENT, poor Sam and I ended up being stuck in a 9 x 9 waiting room with a little television that played episodes of Jessie from the Disney Channel nonstop, with no remote to be found.

For two and a half hours.

By the time the ENT came in — “Hi, I’m Dr. Hill; he definitely needs tubes; any questions?” — I had resigned to let Sam play with the up and down buttons in the examination chair, mentally daring any nurse to come in and tell us to stop.

So suddenly — tubes! And adenoids! Surgery! This was taken care of a mere week later. Since we had already done the whole tubes thing twice before, the third time didn’t feel so taxing or seem to take as long. The hardest part was trying to keep a very hungry Sam distracted and amused while we waited. A hungry four year old is much tougher to handle than a hungry one year old. By mid-morning, tubes were installed and adenoids removed so we headed home, where Sam vegged on the couch.

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After the ENT sidetrack, we were back at the Sparks Clinic a few weeks ago for all the results. All in all, Sam did very well. There’s only a few things that were of concern, and all of the ENT business took care of one of them. The next step for Sam is occupational therapy — he did not do well on that evaluation, especially with grasping and visual motor skills. We have already located a pediatric occupational therapist close by and our first visit was this Monday.

The step after that is getting evaluated with Citivan Sparks’ autism clinic, which is apparently a completely separate thing from all of this stuff we went through. The wait for that might be a year or more. Until then, we will work with the occupational therapist and just keep on keeping on. Judging by that first appointment, Sam is going to love occupational therapy. Even Lydia was a bit jealous she couldn’t jump on the trampoline and swing with Sam.

At the end of the day, none of this changes who Sam is as a person, or what we think about him. Hopefully, some of this knowledge will help us relate to him and help guide him through the rough patches. He’s still Sam — my orange-loving, wall-bouncing, girl-charming, dirt-digging, water-playing, self-contained amusement park of a boy.

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September 28, 2014
by Carrie
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that’s questionable

I often find myself remarking on the amount of questions Lydia asks me during any given day. She questions everything. So this past Monday, I wrote down every question she asked throughout the day, minus all the weird little situations (mumbling, questions while driving in the car, etc.). Here’s what I came up with.

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“Mama, do spiders like to hide in the hole in the middle of the paper towel?”

“Mama, can I play a game on Daddy’s iPad?”

“Mommy, could you download — not that. How do I get out of here?! Could you download that?”

“Why doesn’t this thing move?”

“Well, what does it read to you?”

“Can I go outside?”

“What’s that? Can you read that?”

“Now can I go outside?”

“Can I keep these bugs?”

“Is this a caterpillar?”

“What does it eat?”

“What are they? Are they kids’ shoes?”

“So that’s what you needed to know?”

“Was that fast? Like Flash?”

“What are you looking at?”

“What’s this?”

“Can I use my chopsticks?”

“What comes after orange?” Sam answers, ‘orange.’ “Orange again??”

“What is next?”

“What about some tea?”

“What?”

“I was wondering if we could go outside?”

“What is that supposed to be?”

“Do I have to write ‘Tom’ again?”

“Did I wear this on my head when I was little? Did I wear it like this? Or this?”

“Did I have that thingy when I as a baby? Or did I get it for Christmas?”

“Is that an ‘oo’ word?”

“Did I just put this near my eye?”

“Does ‘cat’ have a capital letter?”

“Is this grammar? Then science?”

“But why not science?”

“And what else? And then tomorrow science?”

“Why not science today?”

“Why don’t you like bugs?”

“Why do you laugh when I say ‘crunchy’?”

“And? And what? And that’s it?”

“‘Cause we’re going to gymnastics later?”

“Can we have a popsicle later?”

“And we’ll talk about it?”

“Mommy, could you do this color for that over there?”

“Mommy, will you help me color?”

“Does China still exist?”

“Are there a lot of people there?”

“What is China for ‘purple?'”

“Is that a boy or a girl?”

“What does this say? Is it ‘black?'”

“Your mother’s gone, right?”

“And do you miss her?”

“Do you think of her all the time?”

“Dreams are dreams? Pretty much?”

“Can I have my snack outside, pleeeeeeeease?”

“Like it?”

“Can I wear socks with sandals?”

“What is this word?”

“What is this word — it starts with a p, then e, r, s, o, n, a, l?”

“Why are those people climbing the rope?”

“Is that Sam in the gray shirt?”

“Can I go play with that boy?”

“Can I build this tomorrow?”

“Can I have tea tomorrow?”

“Can I watch something?”

“Did you say ‘wok?'”

“Why did you say ‘ring?'”

“No time for books tonight?”

“Can I wear this?”

“Can you make me fly?”

“What about Watson?”

“How did you get a boo boo?”

“What about Kevin kissy and huggy?”

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I hope she never loses her curiosity.

August 22, 2014
by Carrie
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life with a four year old

I think I hear a small voice mumble in the hallway, “I need to go potty.” It’s Sam, who is never keen on asking permission for anything except going to the bathroom, which is the one thing he would never need permission for in the first place.

“Then go potty,” I holler.

I hear his door slam shut, then nothing. He’s gone back into his room. I stick my head through the door, and he’s laying on his bed with Bear. “Do you need to go potty?” I ask. He just looks at me. “Did you ask if you could go potty?” I persist. Blank stare.

Okay. Maybe I was hearing things.

Thirty seconds later I hear Sam crying in his room. “What?” I ask, sticking my head through the door again.

Sam sobs, “I need to go potty!”

August 13, 2014
by Carrie
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i think i’ve made a huge mistake

Lydia looks up from a room completely filled with train tracks of all sorts to ask, “Can we go outside?”

“Sure, once y’all pick up all these train tracks,” I reply.

Lydia surveys the damage. “Can we go outside, then pick up the train tracks?”

“No, because y’all promised me you would pick up these train tracks once you were through with them.”

Lydia, not yet defeated, surmises, “Ummm, that might have been a mistake.”

July 15, 2014
by Carrie
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kitchen complaints, episode two

**in which my daughter perfects the art of backhanded compliments**

After we sit down to dinner, Lydia points at her applesauce, crasins, and salad.

“Mommy, I like this, this, and this. I am pleased with this.”

She looks back up at me and beams.

“This is the first time you’ve pleased me!”

June 27, 2014
by Carrie
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six year old taco

Poof! Another year gone. And suddenly Lydia is six whopping years old. I would almost swear the years are going by faster.

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Lydia is really a well-rounded kid. She’s my outgoing child, very athletic and eager to please. She is still very much a morning girl, rising with the sun. I recently invested in a new pair of blackout curtains for her room, since the sun — and Lydia — are currently rising at about 5:30 a.m.

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She’s grown a lot, too. Though officially she just gained three inches from last year, it was a really big three inches. Over the course of a few days she suddenly grew out of about every pair of pants she owned. There has been a lot of clothes shopping in our house, and I don’t think I’m done yet. Last week I noticed her gymnastics outfits are not fitting well anymore.

The biggest news of the past year is Lydia’s first year of school. Not knowing what to expect at all, I left my job to homeschool her. Everything really went better than expected. Lydia’s favorite subject right now is math, believe it or not. She enjoys finding the patterns in the numbers and how they all connect together. Her handwriting is pretty good as well. We get a lot of practice in by writing letters to friends, family members, and the people that make Cheez-Its.

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Reading is Lydia’s least favorite subject. She can do it, but it is still more work than just immersing herself in a story, so her passion for it isn’t there yet. Every kid learns differently, and I believe it will click more during this upcoming year. Perhaps soon I will be fussing at her not to read books at the dinner table.

The ‘school’ part of school did not take up much of the day at all, so the rest of the time was usually spent playing. After a month or so, we took Sam out of daycare as well, and the kids just play, play, play. They play inside, they play outside, they play at the park, they play in the grocery store despite my nagging. As a result, Sam and Lydia are probably the closest they’ve ever been — they work really well together.

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During the last year we have both lost and gained family members. We lost our sweet Hermione last fall, but gained a new house kitty in the form of Watson. Lydia loves this cat to pieces, petting and snuggling on him whenever she gets a chance. Watson still has a lot of kitten in him, and Lydia takes great offense when Watson chases her around the house even though she was chasing him not two minutes earlier. She can dish it, but she really doesn’t like to take it.

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The other new addition is a sweet little cousin in the form of Jonathan. Both kids are always glad to see ‘the baby’.

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This winter we had the first really decent snow since Lydia was an infant. Both kids were enthralled by all the fluffy white stuff — though Sam didn’t like how cold it made his hands — and we played in the snow for a few days. It was incredibly cold all last winter, though now that it’s in the 90s and steamy outside I’m having trouble remembering how miserable it was. I think we all could use a little snow right about now.

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After a long hiatus, a few trips were had this year. Lydia was finally able to experience a successful beach trip in September, then both kids went out of state for the first time when we went to visit Ken and Lisa in Louisville. Lydia can mark Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana off her list!

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Just a few weeks ago, we had a big breakthrough in the swimming department. For years, even though both kids would swim all summer, they were very averse to sticking their face in the water. Well, Lydia finally gathered her courage and suddenly we have a deep water fish! We went from it’s-not-gonna-happen to oh-my-gosh-underwater-is-so-awesome in the span of about thirty minutes.

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And so life speeds on. The kids are enjoying summer and I am in planning mode for the next year of school. I’m so excited — we’ll be doing science and history this year! I know Lydia will love science. She’s already a big animal person, loving on everyone’s dogs and always bringing me worms and insects. History is my own personal love, so maybe some of that will rub off on her.

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. . . or maybe not.

Just smile for the camera, girl.

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June 9, 2014
by Carrie
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sputnik; fourty-eight months in orbit

You know, I was all ready to write up Sam’s birthday post on his actual birthday, but I decided to wait a few days to make it fashionably late — for old time’s sake. It’s just no fun otherwise.

Sam is now a jumping, running, destructing four year old. It’s like the previous years’ Sam iterations, only more intense.

intense Sam

This boy is strong. He is a muscular little thing with maybe an ounce of fat on him. He even sports a six pack. That plus his tan and the way his swimsuits hangs off his hips, I sometimes call him Abercrombie.

happy jumping sam

Last fall there was a big change in the family dynamic when I left my job to homeschool Lydia. After a month and a few experimental test runs, we ended up taking Sam out of daycare to be home full time with us as well. Lydia was in great need if a playmate, a role Sam is usually willing to fill.

sam lives in a girls' world

Now Sam spends most of his days playing with Lydia, working with Math Bears while Lydia concentrates on her multiplication, or doing his own thing while Lydia sulks because she’s momentarily lost her playmate.

math manipulation monday

Sam still has some of his obsessions from previous years — he still likes anything orange and is always in the water — but some have dropped away to be supplanted with new loves. There is no more Yo Gabba Gabba in the house — now he is all about Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Frozen. Oh my goodness, does he love Frozen.

Another new one is car washes. How can I describe his love for car washes? It is simply on another level of obsessiveness. On his birthday we treated Sam by going through a car wash, but then he talked about that car wash for hours.

Even his birthday party was car wash themed. It was his own idea and we ran with it.

car wash birthday

running through the car wash

Overall, his temperament has been much better this year. If he has a fit over something, it is a dead giveaway that he is tired. I have learned that you never wake up a sleeping Sam, even if said Sam is still asleep at 9:00 a.m. This indicates he was probably up in his bedroom until 10 p.m. the night before.

sleeping sam

Though Sam has grown a lot over the past year, he still has not overtaken his sister, who is reeling from a growth spurt of five or so inches. He’s a couple of inches shorter than her, but the “Are they twins?” question comes more and more often.

the three of us

As the kids get older, it is getting easier to travel with them. We made another attempt at a beach vacation last fall and it was a resounding success. Sam loved digging in the sand and swimming in the pool. We are already looking forward to going back at the end of summer.

sam at the beach

We also made the trek up to Louisville to visit Ken and Lisa. Though Sam was a little scared of their dog, Melody, he enjoyed the trip. I was so afraid he was going to dive right into the Ohio River.

sam in louisville

There were two new additions to the family this year. The first came in December — a new cousin, Jonathan! Sam is very cute with him. He is always wanting to hold Jonathan or touch him. He asks his Aunt Cathy, “Can I pet the baby?”

sam and jonathan

The second addition was a new cat, Watson, who arrived in February. We lost Hermione last fall and had been catless for a few months. Sam calls Watson ‘Lotson,’ and he enjoys the cat more than the cat enjoys him.

sam and watson

It was such a busy year. There was snow,

sam in the snow

and anniversaries,

sam at the anniversary party

and holidays,

sam at christmas

and broken things.

broken blinds

it gets harder and harder to keep track of it all. The years are going by fast. I shall try to enjoy it as best I can. Except for the broken things. I could do with less of that.

sam sticking his tongue out