I originally started this blog a few years ago to chronicle Noah's daily struggles with autism. It was a dark time in my life - a time when I felt that things would never get better. It was a time when I felt that all my hopes and dreams for my son and for our family had died. In my efforts to help Noah recover from autism, I began a journey that inadvertently led me to rediscover myself. I learned how to laugh again. How to dream again. How to live again. How to love again.

Autism Schmaustism. He's still our son.

This is a blog celebrating our family. Our kids. Our life.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Quick Update on Naveen

Just wanted to let everyone know that Naveen came home from the hospital late Saturday night.  He was diagnosed as having an ESBL strain of Klebsiella Pneumoniae.  It's a super bug and only responds to a few antibiotics. Fortunately, it's responding to the two that Naveen is currently taking.

He'll be on IV antibiotics until Dec 5 and I'm administering them every 8 hours. Let's see... does anyone really think I'm competent and organized enough to handle that?? I flushed his IV with blood thinner the first go around and forgot to clamp his IV shut, but he made it through in one piece. I've got it down pat now, although I feel completely and utterly sleep deprived. I'm usually in bed by 9, but have to stay up until 11 for his night dose and then get up at 5.15 am for his morning dose. And I'm such a light sleeper that I wake up every time Eli goes to the bathroom at 3 on the dot and can never go back to sleep.  The kids will tell you that I'm just a little cranky lately. 4 hours of sleep is detrimental not only to my health, but everyone's around me!

He's doing so much better now. Feels better. Acts better. The kicking and screaming upon waking is GONE. He was just miserable these last 5 weeks since his surgery.  I actually forgot how active he is when he's feeling well. He is 0-60 in a heartbeat. That boy... I tell ya... he keeps me on my toes!

Speaking of toes, this is what Naveen did when I asked him to go put his shoes on yesterday.


He's taken a liking to the box of rubber gloves that the home health agency sent us.  Isn't he cute??!! (I keep telling myself that over and over again as I clean up glasses of water that he's dumped on the floor, clean clothes that are dumped on the floor, books that are dumped on the floor... do you see a theme here?)

If you're the praying type, please keep Naveen in your prayers. His nephrologist is pretty sure this bacteria will come back and says it will damage his kidneys more and more each time it occurs. He sent Naveen home with a peripheral IV instead of a pic line because he wanted those veins to remain untouched in case his kidneys get damaged enough to need dialysis in the future.

Well, I had to make this quick because I'm about to help Noah make some chocolate chip banana bread. He's found a new hobby.. .baking!  This is a picture of the bread that Noah made yesterday (from a bread machine, but not a packet)...


I really do need to do a huge update on Noah. I'm way overdue. Part of it is because I don't know where to begin and part of it is because I'll have to admit that I've done jack all in regards to homeschooling this year. I like to blame it on the fact that it's hard to homeschool when you have a very active 3 year old in the home, but I know people who have 10 kids and still manage to get it all done. For the record, I am not one of those people!!  Wish I was, but the reality is that I'm a very poor manager of time.  And a queen of excuses. Did I tell y'all that I have an honorary PhD in Excuseology? It's a real degree, I swear!

But, anyway, hopefully I'll get a Noah update on here soon.  In the meantime, we've got some cooking to do!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Naveen's First Thanksgiving

I think whether you're pregnant or in the midst of an adoption, you can't help but mark each holiday in terms of what will happen "next year".   "Next Christmas, she'll  be here." or "Next Easter he'll be here."  A year ago, as we were gathered with our family at my aunt's house, I was telling anyone who would listen, "Next Thanksgving, Naveen will be here!" and I imagined him sitting in my lap, all dressed in orange and brown (my favorite colors on my Indian babies), tasting pumpkin pie for the first time, and holding hands while we said grace.  Never in a million years did I imagine that he'd be spending his first Thanksgiving in the hospital.

He's doing fine. It's nothing too serious. He just caught some sort of a bacterial super bug that can only be treated with IV antibiotics. We should, hopefully, go home on Saturday or Sunday, with an IV in and a home nurse will stop by to give him his antibiotics for the next week or so.

This hospital stay is completely different than our stay last month. He's not on pain meds this time around, so he's completely lucid and he does NOT want to be here. No amount of Barney, bribing with Pringles, or watching the Disney channel will change his mind. He wants to go home! And in a way, I should be really glad about that. He has a home to go to. He has a family to go to. This sweet little boy wants to go home. Now!

Today, I'm going to be thankful that I'm able to be here with Naveen. I think about all of his hospital stays in India and I'm so thankful that he now has a Momma that he can hold onto and lean on and scream at that he " wants to go home. Now!" And this Momma is so thankful her little boy is home this year.

And as I look over at him, all huddled against me on the pull out couch, running a hot wheel up and down my arm, and asking to play a game.... I can't help but think to myself that this might actually be my best Thanksgiving ever.

And that we can't wait to go home.

Now!

May you all have a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Getting Back on Track

Update - Oh my word! Never underestimate the power of 3 hours of homework a night to completely upset your whole schedule.  Soooo many things not getting done this week. We are REALLY struggling with Eli's learning issues and his homework. Everything makes sense now that we know what's going on and we're desperately trying to find a way to help him learn. I am really praying about homeschooling right now. Those who know me fear for me.. and my kids! haha. Our family dynamics are not the best for homeschooling. Each child would do good on their own, but all together.. all day long?  But I am spending several hours a day reteaching what they're learning in school AND I spend ALL my time trying to figure out ways to teach them in the way that they learn mess. It's a jumbled mess right now. Ideally, I'd like them in school so I can devote some time to Noah and Naveen, who don't get much attention when the other two come home from school. But at this point, they may end up failing and being held back next year. Decisions... Decision... Decisions...


Back when I was working, I had my daily routine down pat.  I'd get to work and make my one and only cup of coffee for the day and I'd hang around the microwave talking to my coworkers about what happened on last night's episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Party of Five (am I dating myself here??) and then head to my office. Once there, I'd check my email and my voice mail and my inbox. I knew exactly what work needed to be done for the day, what meetings I had scheduled, what phone conferences I had to participate in. And, sure, sometimes things didn't go as planned. Sometimes, I'd have to meet with students or an angry parent, but life, for the most part, was running pretty smoothly.

That's something that hasn't been happening in the 9 years that I've been home. My one cup of coffee has increased to five or six. I stay in my sweats until 3pm, and basically feel that life is one big free fall and I'm walking in circles without really accomplishing anything.

I do my best when I have a schedule and a plan, and, lately, I feel that so much is being thrown at me that I'm in danger of just sitting on the couch all day and wondering how it got to be 5 o'clock so soon. So, today, at least, I've decided to make a schedule for the week. Not minute by minute or even hour by hour... just a list of things that need to get done, written out in one place, with no pressure to get it all accomplished today or even tomorrow. But having that list will help me see everything that needs attention and, hopefully, will help me prioritize things a bit better this week These are not the only things that need to be done, but things I need to pay special attention to...

Appointments

Urologist - DONE!

Nephrologist  - DONE!

Chiropractor - DONE!

Brain Gym - DONE!

Occupational Therapy 2x  -DONE!

Noah's Stroller Fitting

Piano for Nandi - DONE!

Pediatrician for Naveen's UTI  - DONE!

Blood work for Naveen

Classmates Birthday Party (Nandi)

Around the House

Clean Bathrooms

Sweep 4x

15 minute kitchen clean-up before bed

Laundry - every day

Dust

Organize Laundry Room

Organize Nandi's clothes. Go through hand-me-downs and pass on the ones that are too small and box up the ones to grow into  - DONE!

The Kids

Work on the 5's multiplication tables with Eli  -DONE! (And ongoing.. huge drama!!)

Math homework with Nandi - DONE!

Spelling words for Nandi and Eli  on M,T,W, Th  - DONE! (Test is Thursday instead of Friday)

Try Lavender essential oil with Eli for anxiety  - DONE! (Forgot about his sensory issues involving smell. Oops! Must come up with something else...)

Finish the 3rd Percy Jackson book with Noah and start on A Wrinkle in Time   DONE!

Read to Naveen before bed each night

Play Zingo with Noah and Naveen 2x

Do puzzles with Naveen 5x

Do Noah's neurodevelopment exercises 5x (and have Mozart playing in the background while doing so and clove/orange/lemon essential oil mixture in the diffuser)

Read next Story of the World chapter to Noah

Finish Howliday Inn on CD during trips to appointment  DONE! Next up, A Celery Stalks at Midnight. (All Bunnicula books)

Do math with Noah at least 1x (Math is my weakness.. doing it at least once will be an improvement!)

Let Noah and Naveen play with the bean tubs at least 2x and shaving cream 2x

Make fingerpaint

Go for a walk with Naveen and Noah 2x by ourselves and 2x with Daddy

Give Elderberry extract to Nandi and Noah

Clip nails for all 4 kids - DONE!

For Me

Make green juice (head of romaine, 4 cups of spinach, kale, one cucumber, handful of parsley, slice of ginger, and tsp of cayenne pepper) 3 x

Drink apple cider/honey tea (2tsp of Bragg's Apple Cider + 2 tsp of honey in 8oz of water) 5x

Errands/Misc Things to Do

Drop off copy of learning disability testing to school  - DONE!

Make bone broth

Teach Nandi how to make Congo Squares (not healthy at all, but her favorite dessert and handy to eat in the car this week)

Write a Thank You note  DONE!

Complete Naveen's 1st CARA report and mail off to Holt

Send birthday present to niece Ffion in England  DONE!

Buy birthday present for Nandi's friend

Pick up raw milk from local Mennonite Farm  - DONE!

Research

GAPS diet

Diane Craft (for learning disabilities)

Pocket camera for Nandi's Christmas

Making homemade cough syrup (currently looking at this onion/honey mixture - Nandi is our Cough Queen)



We have such a busy week this week that I'm not even sure we can get it all done, but writing it all out makes it seem much less intimidating and makes my head seem much less cluttered!

I wanted to thank everyone for the kind comments on my last post. You know.. the one where I had a mental breakdown on my blog?? Thanks for the sweet words and suggestions (Heather, you rock!!).  And to Anonymous, who suggested that maybe "Gotcha Day" was offensive to my kids... I didn't take offense at all to your suggestion... and please don't worry... I didn't think you were rude at all. Thanks for the input. Because I'm an over researcher, I'd heard about this before and we sit down each "Gotcha Day" and talk about it with the kids. Right now, they're totally fine with the term because it's the day we "got them", but we'll change it if/when they want. The important thing is to make sure the kids feel comfortable... and to celebrate the day that we all became a family.

I'm off to print off my to-do list and get busy! Have a good week!












Saturday, November 10, 2012

It's Time to Turn That Frown Upside Down

It's time for another Gratitude post.

What, you say? Another one? Did we just have one of those?

Yes. Yes, we did. But things are crazy and I'm feeling overwhelmed and so I need a bit of perspective.

Again.


About ten years ago, I remember my mom was feeling pulled in all directions. My granny, my granddad, and my great aunt were sick and my mom was the primary caregiver for all of them. She lived thirty minutes from them, but would drive to see them everyday. Shop for them, take them to their doctor's appointments, do their laundry... and still make it home by 5.00 o'clock and have supper waiting for my dad when he got off work. Just two years earlier, she'd undergone chemo for breast cancer and was still living in fear that it would return.  Sim and I were in the final stages of Noah's adoption, and my brother and his wife lived 3 hours away. She felt stressed, pulled, and all alone.

That's kind of how I'm feeling right now.  Just pulled in a thousand different directions and not sure which things to give priority to and which things can wait and which things I can give minimal attention to while keeping the guilt beast away.

We received test results on Thursday for one of our kids. Actually, they weren't that bad.  A few months ago, I blogged that we suspected that this particular child was showing signs of mental illness. I didn't post what we were suspecting, but seeing that he doesn't have it, I guess I can go ahead and talk about it.  Over the summer, we were pretty positive that this child was showing signs of early onset bipolar. The depression, the anger, and how it all cycled just screamed bipolar to us.  It turns out that his psychologist didn't see that at all. In fact, this child was diagnosed with ADHD, anxiety, and depression, along with a Mathematics Disorder and Disorder of Written Expression.

I should be glad right?

But, in fact, I feel completely overwhelmed. I feel like I have 70,000 languages to learn, when I already speak 50,000.  Because I have an all or nothing/bull dog mentality, coupled with my intense love for research, I feel that now I have to learn everything about dysgraphia and dyslexia and dyscalculia. I have to learn what it is and how it effects people and how to help my child learn despite this.  I have to learn about education law and Texas education law and IEP's and ARD's and my child's rights. I'm going to have to fight the school, stay on top of the school, and do hours of afterschooling.  I have to learn about ADHD and anxiety and depression. I have to learn about alternative treatments and medication and how ADHD meds can increase anxiety and anxiety meds can increase depression and how much more of this can increase before I just completely lose it?

I worry about Nandi and how to guard her heart and help build her self-esteem. I posted a question about this on Facebook last week and received the most incredible answers, but now  I feel that I have all these books to read, and things to do, and while I'm trying to figure it all out, I feel that I'm screwing her up in the process.

I panic over Noah, who has decided to start eating sand, and pouring contact lens solution all over his head, and rub toothpaste all over his body and the mirrors, while emptying the hand soap all over the floor. I feel guilty because I'm not feeding him what he should be eating, and I need to learn to make bone broth soup and fermented vegetables and maybe he would do better if I could get him to try raw milk, but he's been off milk for so long that he doesn't like the taste. And maybe if we could afford to buy organic, his skin wouldn't be the way it is and, good gravy, how am I ever going to get him potty-trained?

And speaking of potty-training, will Naveen ever get potty-trained again? And will he ever sleep in his bed? Why can't he say his own name? And will I ever be able to put him down or will his bottom become surgically implanted on my hip? And even though kindergarten is 1 1/2 years away, I can't see him going. He is the most insecure child I've ever met and he is still so afraid that I'm going to leave him.

I need to reread The Connected Child and I need to finish my book on Reading Disorders in Children and am I ever going to finish that book that I started 2 months ago on Saint Augustine for Noah? Will Noah ever talk? Why do speech therapists charge so much money and why do we live far away from one? And why does my 9 year old still fist his pencils like a 2 year old and why does my 3 year old throw fits every single morning?

How do I guard my children's hearts and let them know how wonderful they are? How can we spend one on one time with them when Sim leaves when they wake up and comes home right before they go to sleep? And how do other parents do it? How do parents with 15 kids keep adopting? How do they afford it? Who pays for all those diapers? And they homeschool, too? And they make nutritious meals and their kids actually eat it? And there's no TV in the house? Oh my word, how, how, how, does everyone do it?

I spend so much time worrying, that I'm actually not even accomplishing anything at all. So, I've decided to put finger to keyboard and realize that if I look hard enough... and I don't even have to look that hard... that I can see blessings in all of this...

1. My young child has learning disabilities and anxiety and depression and ADHD.

Okay, we can live with that. Considering that I have a friend dealing with autism and schizophrenia in her household, we're doing okay. There's medication for everything my child has and we can work on diet and a behavior plan... and above all else... at least we finally have answers. We know what we're dealing with, we know now why this child is the way he is, and we can move on from there.  So.. yes. Answers. We wanted them. We got them. Let's tackle this thing!

2. I don't know how to do everything for my daughter.

I don't have time to read a ton of books, but I do have time.  Today, we made lunch together and she helped Sim out in the garden. Right now, she's gone to Lowe's with him to buy a plant. And Sim plans on teaching her photography, so they can share the same hobby together. What is that people say? How do you spell love? T-I-M-E.   We can do that. We don't have a lot of money. But we can always find a way to make time.

3. I don't know how to pay for everything that needs to be done and already has been done. Noah needs speech therapy. Nandi needs an evaluation for learning disabilities and ADHD. The bills for Naveen's surgery are coming in and all four kids need to go to the dentist, while 2 need to see the dermatologist and one has to start seeing a child psychiatrist for possible meds.  Three are going to Brain Gym next week, Naveen sees his Urologist and Nephrologist on Tuesday, and . Noah goes to his chiropracter Tuesday afternoon and then gets evaluated for a new stroller on Friday.  I have to drive to Dallas four times next week and gas is increasing.

The good news is that three appointments are all on the same day, so that cuts down on gas. I can also head to Whole Foods on one of those Dallas trips and buy some Lavender essential oil and see if that helps with Eli's anxiety.  We don't have to get a new stroller for Noah just yet, so if insurance won't cover it, then at least we'll know how much we have to save for and buy it another time. Our Brain Gym teacher only charges $12.50 per child, which is unheard of, and I bought some food on sale this week that I can take with us on these Dallas trips so we don't have to drive through somewhere. And our Neuro-Chiropracter, who I thought we were going to have to stop seeing when he stopped taking our insurance, is still letting us see him and did not increase the fee. That's good, right?

4. I don't know why Naveen is so clingy....

But I am grateful that we learned from Nandi on what not to do and we're really doing everything we can to make sure that he firmly attaches to us. It may seem strange and not right to people on the outside, but I can't think of anything more detrimental to Naveen right now than putting him in his own bed or putting him in Pre-K. He is so emotionally fragile and although I worry that he might be getting spoiled, my mother's instinct tells me that we're doing the right thing. And one thing I've learned in 10 years of being a parent is that I really do need to listen to that instinct more often.

5. I feel that I'm being pulled in 50 different directions and I don't know where to start.

I just need to take a deep breath and continue to do what I'm doing and add things where I can...

I can't do everything at once, but  I can hug Nandi more and tell her how special she is and do one on one things with her. I can let her help me in the kitchen more often and play more board games with her. And when I have free-time, I can read up on one of those books that everyone's suggested to me.

I can continue to give Naveen 10 second hugs throughout the day and sit and read to him on the couch. He can continue to sleep with us, while we slowly try to transition to him to his own bed. I can set the timer to remind myself to take him to the bathroom, and do the same for Noah, too.  And I can continue to let Naveen do the things he loves to do... help me around the house and just be by my side.

I can continue to read to Noah, put coconut oil on his skin, and do his daily therapies with him. I can work more on therapies I generally hate because they're messy... shaving cream, tubs of bean, and finger paints.  I can make a goal of taking him on his bike at least a few times a week, and just spend more time with him.

I can't afford speech therapy right now, but  I can work with him on bubbles and brushing his teeth, and blowing cottonballs across the table and maybe making sounds. I can make sure he gets his fish oil and vitamins and maybe once a week learn a new recipe that might help. First up... bone broth!

I can make sure that I work on deep breathing techniques with Eli and see if Lavender oil calms him down. I can work on setting a bit of money aside of each week until we can buy Times Tales to help with his multiplication tables and maybe read one article a night on right brain learning and how to help children with learning disabilities.  I can work on making life not seem so overwhelming and work on breaking down instructions or chores into small steps.

I can't do everything, but I can do SOMETHING.

Okay, so this didn't really turn out into a gratitudes post... I'm not really sure what it turned into. But all I know is that I started it out by feeling anxious and overwhelmed, and now I feel that I have a clearer sense of what needs to be done and what can be done at the moment. We still have tons to work on. Tons more to do, but I think we'll make it if I just approach it the same way I would if I had to eat an elephant... one small bite at a time.

I'm off to go take that first bite. Hopefully I'll be back soon to let you all know how it tasted!

Monday, November 05, 2012

6 Month Gotcha! And Pictures

6 months!! Can you believe it?? I'm not kidding when I say that I sat down at the table Saturday morning and spent a good 30 minutes staring into oblivion while mulling over the fact that November 4th was Naveen's 6 month Gotcha Day.

6 months!! Where'd the time go?

So much has happened and things are just so crazy busy that I don't get a chance to blog much anymore. I have great intentions of being a super consistent blogger, but the fact that I have commitment issues, plus the fact that feeling pressured to write everyday stresses me out, means that I end up constructing a ton of blog posts in my head, but rarely type them out onto the computer.

So, here's a quick bullet list of what's been going on, followed by pictures!


  • Naveen had surgery on October 12 to repair his right kidney. Knock on wood, we think it worked! We go back next Tuesday to his see both his urologist and nephrologist for a follow-up.
  • Naveen's completely regressed in almost all areas since the surgery. He's no longer potty-trained (hello expensive pullups!), is still sleeping in our bed, while Sim occupies the couch, has practically zero appetite, and is very clingy
  • Prior to the surgery, though, he was coming around and starting to feel more comfortable around Sim and our family
  • Still turns his head away from strangers who try to talk to him when we're out in public. He subscribes to the philosophy that if he can't see you, then you don't exist!
  • Has become a master at manipulating the iPad and our Roku.
  • Thinks he's the same age as Nandi and Eli and LOVES to rough house
  • Has calmed down loads and is no longer pulling books off the shelf, flooding the kitchen, or emptying tubes of toothpaste in his hair
  • LOVES to help me fold laundry, empty the dishwasher, and put clothes into the dryer (can I clone him??)
  • Loves Barney. Way too much.
  • Is speaking in 4-5 word sentences, although his articulation is still iffy.
  • REFUSES to say his name. Won't say Naveen or Aashish. Seriously, what's with that?
  • LOVES shoes. The boy is a shoe-a-holic. I think he spent way too many years wearing pink Hello Kitty ones in the orphanage. He's a little fashion horse, too.
  • Doesn't play with toys and prefers real things... like brooms and cups and rubberbands.
  • Can put my hair into a ponytail! And loves to brush my hair.
  • Cries for at least 30 minutes first thing every morning. Okay, cries is an understatement. This boy SCREAMS and kicks and flails first thing every morning. But after that, he calms down and is good as gold for the rest of the day.
  • Loves to dance. Prefers rap music (blech) and is very opinionated about what he wants to listen to in the car. But I'm also opinionated about what I want to listen to in the car, so he's learning to get over it.
  • Is pretty much the biggest blessing in the world and I'm serious when I say that not a day goes by when I don't think how lucky I am to be his mommy. I just feel unbelievably blessed.
In other news...

  • I've met with the school twice about N & E. Both are in tutoring, but the school refused to do learning disability testing on either one of them.
  • Report cards came out last week and one is failing math and the other is failing reading
  • We did private learning disability testing, plus some psychological testing for one child and will get the results on Thursday
  • Contemplating on having reading testing done on the other child. ($750 smackeroos!!)
  • Hospital bills, birthdays, Christmas coming up, and lots of testing... I think Dave Ramsey is going to kick us to the curb.
  • I am one room away from having the house CLEAN and organized. AND.. it's stayed this way for a week. That is certainly cause to celebrate.
  • We're two chapters away from finishing the 3rd Percy Jackson books with Noah. He doesn't want to finish the series right because he says they're not interesting. Say what??
  • Noah's skin is breaking out again and he's having more meltdowns. I worry about him.
I know there's a lot more, but I can't think off the top of my head right now. Noah's crying in the other room, so I need to post these pictures and get off here. Hopefully I won't take so long to post next time...