Friday, January 29, 2010

Leave it to Xander

My parents have been vacationing for 2 weeks every winter in Cuba for a long time now. Longer than Xander has been alive, in fact. When Liam was born two years ago, they were vacationing in Cuba. And they always come here for a few days before going, then stay a week or so with us on their way back. We can count on it like the ebb and flow of the seasons.

I've teased them that there are many places in the world and they out to think about branching out.

But tonight it was Xander who made the point much more effectively than any of us. He was chatting at the dinner table and said, "Some day, we can go and visit Nanny and Grandpa at their Cuba."

Ray and I laughed so hard that I had to call my Mom later and tell her about it. She laughed too. She says, "Just one more year." Uh huh. Where have I heard that before? I wouldn't bet the bank on that one.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Betwixt and Between

I have so many things on my mind. Yesterday's post and the responses from it have opened the floodgates. Also, there is work commentary in here too. However, the big thought I have been chewing on for a while has come together into a form I can start to poke at with words, so I am going to have a stab at it.

I feel like this stage in my life is a stage of being "between".

I neither work a regular job, nor am I a stay-at-home mom. Both are good options, but I have chosen to keep a foot in each world. It's a straddling act that causes much stress. And yet, I would not change this for the world. But I don't feel like there are many people to talk to. Most of my friends are in one world or the other. I am in between.

My children are no longer babies, but they are also not big kids. They are between, which makes our issues and our struggles ones that straddle both realms. We're not alone here, thankfully, but we are between.

My husband and I are firmly...on the fence about having another child. There are so many advantages to being done now. I have no desire to be pregnant and no desire to repeat PPD. Still, there are times I miss a sweet little baby to hold and think that maybe we should try this one more time. Yup, between again.

Lately, Ray and I have been discussing religion. We were both firmly in the Christian camp for a long time. It's our heritage. We baptized our boys Anglican. We've been part of a church community. And yet we are struggling with it. I used to think that saying you were agnostic meant you just could not decide for yourself. And yet, I find that it is more about being able to reason it out both ways. In the end, we find we have a foot in both camps and are thinking about these issues a lot. We are between worlds. Again, I don't fit with the Christians, but also do not fall with those who believe there is nothing either. In time, I will figure out where I belong (and I always expected that this journey would be one my boys would have to have for themselves eventually too), but for now I am between.

I know there are other betweens in my life, but these are the biggest ones. The ones that come back to me again and again. The ones Ray and I talk about and regularly pull at the threads of thought attached to them. It's a process, so being between isn't a bad thing...just part of my journey.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Simple Things...

I've followed my friend Lisa's trail back to Christina at Soul Aperture: the simple things. Christina has challenged us to blog about the simple things that bring joy to our lives. When you link up at her blog, and for everyone who participates, her family will donate $1 to Doctors Without Borders. How could I refuse this challenge, as sweet as it is.

Here are my simple things...

a partially read book and time to wallow in it; small, quiet moments in the car to work out world problems with my husband; the pitter patter of feet in the morning; soft, sweet hugs and sloppy boy kisses; first words and unexpected words; deep understanding and heartfelt sympathy from the small people in my life; holding hands; running; swimming; wind in my hair; deep, warm baths

the smell of my kid's hair after a bath; story time; giggles; tears and then arms lifted high for me; lit up little eyes when I walk in the room

time with my mom; making my parents laugh when I apologize for things I did, now that I see it from the other side

more sleep

and yet, the quiet cuddles in the middle of the night when there is no sleep

help from my friends and family; growing understanding; time for thought and people to work thoughts out with; the internet, because old friends are easier to be with there and new friends can be found


picnicking in the park; running through sprinklers; little boys wrestling then hugging each other then wrestling again

the look of amazement on my older son's face the first time he held his brother



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Writer's Block

I have some sleep under my belt, so you'd think that I wouldn't have a problem with this, but I do. And it is not just for my personal blog. Nope. It's all encompassing right now. I just cannot focus and write to save myself. I hate when this happens.

It took me 2 days to write about 450 words for a professional blog I do. I get paid for this, which you'd think would be motivating in and of itself. And they'll pay me to do several a week. At this rate, I might make enough for my car insurance by May.

Worse yet, my primary client wants me to write a bunch of "how to" type stuff. Basically, for thinks like Facebook and Twitter and that sort of thing. About 1000 words each. I looked at it and salivated. This is good stuff in my world. And yet...nada, zip, zilch.

Plus, on Monday I start a technical writing job (it's about 2 weeks long and looks like fun). So I have a few days to pry my brain from my nether regions, so I can do a good job.

You'd think that now that I am sleeping a bit more, my brain would be overflowing.

Not so much.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Night and then Day

Last night was our fourth night after implementing the sleep reorg. I want to have some crafty way of denoting that, like after ovulation you write 6dpo and time before Christ is BC. I need that. Perhaps BSO and PSO (for before sleep org and post sleep org)? So we are 4PSO. And having thought of that, I do wonder if the newly found sleep is addling my brain. I am just not used to it!

Each night gets a bit better. Two nights ago Liam cried a bit, but was back to sleep in under 10 minutes, with Ray shushing on the hall side of the door. After 3 nights on the floor for me, it was his turn. Lucky guy still got to sleep in our bed that night. Now, that said, before anyone starts cursing out men or thinking my husband got off easy on this, be aware that when Liam was getting up at night, it was Ray who would get up with him for hours on end. I am all but useless for hours on end with no real purpose in the middle of the night. I could do the sleep reorg because I knew why and what I was doing. And also, Tracey kept me on the straight and narrow over instant messaging.

Last night there was nary a peep from the wee man. He woke at 7 am on the dot and let out a feeble "I'm here you know" cry. (Not to work on teaching him to say "I'm awake!" instead of doing the crying thing. Still, it's not the "someone is stabbing me with a hot fork" cry, so I will take even that change.)

We already feel much better around here. And the house is showing it. I cannot believe how far behind I am on everything though. Sleeplessness sucks. And it sucks everything out of a person.

This morning we woke up to rain. It's not cold, so the kids were dressed without their snowpants and Liam got a puddle suit over his boots, coat, mitts, and hat. He was so cute that I laughed and took a couple of pictures.

That's the first time I have said, "Okay smile!" and he did for me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream...

Last night was our second night of reorganizing sleep for Liam. I want to use the typical term of "sleep training", but really I wonder who is being trained? Is it Liam being trained to stay in his bed? Are we being trained to not respond to his every whim? It's going to take me a while to puzzle that one out.

It is working though. The first night Liam and I were awake for 4 very long hours. Yesterday we were both a mess. Last night I hoped for a break through. I expected it to be a couple of hours though.

It wasn't.

He was awake a grand total of about 30 minutes. Split into two wakings, which occurred in under an hour. I woke up with him at 2:25 am and was sleeping soundly again before 3:10 am. I woke up just before 7 am for something for Xander, and Liam stayed asleep until just before 8 am. It feels like a tiny miracle.

My body feels like it belongs to a whole other person. I am still tired, but it is not the extreme tired and the mind fuzz that has infected our days and nights for ages. There is an edge of alertness to it. I am beginning to think about projects to do and places to go. I feel like I could be productive. And I am dreaming about the potential for my life once we are consistently sleeping through the night (and not on an air mattress in the tiny hallway outside his bedroom).

However, I am still nervously waiting for the other shoe to drop. It cannot possibly be this easy. Surely Liam will have one (or two) last stabs at this sleeplessness. Surely. But when? I have no idea which end of the spectrum to expect tonight.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Counting Chickens

I'm sitting here, counting my chickens before they are hatched. Really, it is more like counting what I am going to do with my renewed energy once Liam learns to sleep properly. For oh, that day is a-coming.

Last week I did a little blog on how to know if you are sleep deprived. It was during a moment of laugh before you cry madness and I was so tired from the previous night I am still amazed that I could access my blogging password in the fuzz that passes for my brain these days.

That was then. We are sleep training now. Liam will give it up and figure this out. (It being the insane night hours he keeps.) And I have a not-so-secret tactic up my sleeve: I've got a coach backing me up. The Sleep Doula is talking me through this via telephone, email and since I am so antiquated that I do not text, a chat client. Awesome! She's been telling me when we are making progress. It's been nice to have that confirmation, though I have so much more confidence after our chat the other day.

And there is progress. He's not just screaming endlessly at me. He goes in fits and spurts. Quiet, then more yelling. The yelling is less heated too. It's like he spends the quiet time trying to figure out if he ought to be yelling about this or give up and sleep. I think he will eventually give up and sleep.

It's a good thing that I don't do this as a profession though, because I would be 500 lbs in 6 months. I am tired and I would like to eat something. Lots of somethings, really.

Which brings me to my counting of chickens...when Liam sleeps, I am going to get myself nice and rested again (can it be? is it possible?) and I am going to start with some of the following:

1. Finally get back into running properly. I think that part of the reason I keep reinjuring myself when running is the lack of proper sleep. How can the body heal and rest if there is no real rest?
2. Eat properly. Yeah, see the comment about wanting to eat in the middle of the night. I do. And I probably will tonight, but when I am rested I can put the effort I want to put into eating properly.
3. With proper rest, I bet I can lose that last 15 lbs from having Liam. Then I have intentions of kicking a bit more weight to the curb. I know I can do this, but it is really hard to do it when you can't follow an exercise regime and you are just too tired to cook anymore. I read somewhere recently that sleeping even an hour or two less a night can impede weight loss efforts. I wanted to write back, "No kidding, huh. Which brainiac figured that one out?" I can barely manage (and am failing at it some weeks) to keep the laundry, dishes, and meals done, so exercise and proper eating...not so much.
4. Speaking of housework, boy do I look forward to not feeling overwhelmed by my tiny house. I want to give it a pat and tell it that it will feel better soon too.
5. Try to make business decisions and provide work quotes when you are propping your eyelids open with matchsticks. I dare you. I can't wait for that to get easier too.
6. I write and edit. The last few weeks have been brutal for sleep and worse for business. I can't wait for the fog to lift.

I have other, less lofty goals too, but for now I am just dreaming about them while talking to my 22 month old kid through the door.'s okay to go to sleep, little man. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Information You Get in the Middle of the Night

Last night Liam's crying and being sick woke up Xander. So Xander went to sleep in our bed. Except he wouldn't sleep. This was before I knew Liam was sick, so I was a bit annoyed to have a crying toddler and a 4 year old nattering at me.

But I am amazed at the information Xander doled out. Why oh why could he have not told me about his day at school at 3 pm, when I asked him about it. I got a whole lot of "Not much." and "Oh, I forget."

Seriously, this child is four, not fourteen. I expect this from a fourteen year old, but from my uber-chatty four year old, not so much.

However, in the middle of trying to do sleep training, I got full details on a new journal they are doing at school, including why they are doing it and what he has put in it.

I ask you: is this what an aneurysm feels like?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


When I lived in Korea, I was addicted to the old show Lost in Space. We watched it every night, without fail. And cracked up. It was just so serious and as it was a bit of a moment out of television time, we laughed.

Tonight, I have the words "Danger Will Robinson, danger!" Rattling around in my head. Somehow with the words, "Abort, abort." I am not sure that the second set ever went with the first set on the actual show, but in my brain tonight, they are linked.

Tonight was our first night of sleep training. I am all prepared. I have drinks and entertainment on hand. A borrowed air mattress. And I tried to sleep. However, I was awakened early. Liam coughed and sputtered a bit, then woke up and was crying. I dutifully sat outside his bedroom door and talked to him. He settled and cried and settled some more. It was about an hour of this. Then there was something not right. A sound. Something. I don't know. But I checked him out at that moment. And there was puke.

I was warned there could be puke. Lots of kids make themselves throw up when they are upset. The only thing is that Liam has been tested for hours on other sleep methods and has cried many tears and yelled many things that I can only assume would be obscene if he could manage the words. Not once has he puked. In fact, other than when he was a tiny infant and had lots of throwing up from his allergies, he has never thrown up before. And I don't count baby allergy barf in the same category. So I wondered. Intuition told me he was ill. But we didn't know and he seemed okay after a quick clean up, so we went on.

About 45 minutes later (forgive me if my time is off, but I am tired and a little bit turned around), he quietly began coughing. And then a bit of a choking sound. I hopped up and went in, just in time to see him lean over the edge of the crib and projectile vomit. He was not upset. No crying. Nothing. And he'd been laying quietly for long enough that I thought maybe he was sleeping.

Yup, my baby has his first stomach flu. Poor kid.

So, we abort the sleep training mission for a night or two. Although, I think I may still bunk out on the air mattress for a while and make sure he is okay. Sometimes it helps to have Mommy close by, because sometimes the moment of danger doesn't come with a crazed robot saying "Danger Will Robinson, danger." Although it would be darn funny if they did.

Thumbs Up for Sleep Plans

It's funny to say this, because my plan is that I will probably not sleep tonight. Given that I am falling-off-my-feet tired right now, that doesn't sound like a smart plan. However, I am going for long-term gain here.

I've talked to The Sleep Doula and she was *wonderful*. For the first time in ages I didn't feel pressured or judged about Liam's sleep. I understand that the things we have done have contributed/created this mess. And although I would be happy to sacrifice a chicken on my front steps if it would result in Liam sleeping the night, I have doubts that it would work. But this wonderful lady not only listened to what we have done in the past, but was able to tell us where we went wrong in the past and how to tweak it this time.

I'm not going to tell you what we are doing. Although I can tell you that our preparation includes setting up an air mattress for me in the hallway, getting a nap in this evening, and setting myself up for success.

We will succeed. Liam will sleep.

But tonight...tonight he is going to be pissed off about this. He's going to be confused that I am changing the things he knows to be true and creating a new sleeping paradigm. But he is a kid and he will adjust. And sleep.

Oh blessed sleep.

When there is sleep, the world spins just a little bit better.

We had sleep last night. Not because of any miraculous sleep cure, but because I decided that I had had enough of the massive night time screaming and was going to do what it took to have a peaceful night. The inside of my head was reverberating with night time tantrums.

I know, I know....I need to not cave. But if you lived with months of this, I guarantee you would find your line too. Mine was last night.

Yes, Liam slept most of the night with us. Yes, my neck and back are not thrilled. Yes, I would prefer it the other way. But....we ALL slept last night. And my eyes don't burn. I feel ready to tackle the world today.

And it is a good thing. We have a tapping this morning at speech therapy. I wonder if Liam will let us tape him? He was not thrilled at all the last time. In fact, he would not take off his coat. Ha!

This afternoon, Ray and I have a telephone conference with The Sleep Doula. We are there. It is just no longer possible to slog through this alone. Books and well-meaning advice have gotten us nowhere. (Plus, we are down to people who say, "just let him cry it out" -- uh, yeah, we have and he can go over 4 hours! Which is just ridiculous! --- and those who say "give him a spanking" -- yeah, because THAT has been shown to promote sleep, moron -- and my all time favourite, "just give him a shot of whiskey" -- I have no words for this one.) I am tired of being tired. I am tired of people thinking that they know what it is like to be sleep deprived with a child who is 2 weeks old or 3 months or 6 months.... I am talking about 22 long, long months here people. And he doesn't just wake up, want a little comfort, and roll over and go back to sleep. Nu uh...he's up for 2+ hours (our top is 4 hours) in the night. Several times a night. I could cry thinking about it. And last, but not least, I am tired of people looking at me with something that mixes pity with astonishment with judgment over my ability to parent when I admit that my child does not sleep. I have another child. He was not easy, but he slept 7 to 7 for ages and ages. I'm thinking that the problem is not so much ME.

Okay, okay...some of it is me, of course, but some of it is just the combination.

And to all of you out there who are judging: I hope you get a Liam baby in your future. Just so you GET IT. (Yeah, I know. I need to be a bigger person. But after all of this, on this one issue: I am not. And I can live with it.)

So we are consulting The Sleep Doula. I will let you know how it goes. I've got to admit that I have a huge fear that this is not going to work. Then where will I be? Urghh. I can't think like that.

I was mighty impressed though, when I stumbled upon a blogger who has used this service. And it seems to be working. Cross your fingers. This kid was dancing it up all night long, so many Liam has hope yet.

Well, wish us luck on our day. We're chatting it up and solving some problems here at the ranch.

Monday, January 18, 2010

More Words

Liam has been what I sometimes think of as "hard of words" (think about hard of hearing and go from there). Last Wednesday, I had a bit of a mental breakdown about all of the work we've put into it, but the lack of words back. He had 17 words last Wednesday.

That day, I said out loud, "I just need some sign that this is working. Some bit of progress."

Yeah, well...ask and thou shalt receive, right? As of this moment, he has 32 words. Seriously. Almost double. In fact, I fully expect by the time this Wednesday night comes, we shall have double the number of words. In a week!

But tonight's highlight comes courtesy of his daycare provider. To give a little background, she regularly sings with the kids. One of the regulars is a song we call Sleeping Bunnies. (We only sing the first verse.) The actions to this one are simple: the kids lay down and cover their faces as if they are sleeping, until the second part of the song, where they jump up and hop up and down. Xander loved this song. Liam is not much of one for singing and dancing though. In fact, K says that he often sits just outside the circle of kids and watches.

Anyway, tonight he had a bowl of pasta for dinner. When we got to the bottom of the bowl, he pointed to Peter Rabbit. "Bunny! Bunny!" I said. He pointed, grunted, agreed, and went on. We offered him more pasta, which he also scarfed back. When he got to the end of the second bowl, I said, "Hey, we got down to the bunny again." Liam grinned...and laid his head on the table.

Ray and I were puzzled. He popped his face up and grinned at us, so at first we thought he was playing Peek-a-Boo. But it didn't feel right. He giggled and put his head down again.

And then it dawned on me and I remembered the Sleeping Bunnies song. We started singing that and it was obvious to all of us that this was what he was after.

It's not a word said, but that's one heck of a connection!

This post is brought to you by the sign for sleep and the words "hello", "zoom", and "sock pop".

The Excitement of Editing

I know some of you are laughing and thinking that the title of this post is an oxymoron. It may be for you, but for me there is real excitement in editing.

I've been working with an online friend on her resume and letter of intent for a Master's program. She's been having a hard time putting down how she feels and then integrating the intellectual reasons for doing this degree. It's been a long, hard struggle for her. One that is painful for her friends to watch, because we know she wants this and know that she will do a great job, but we cannot help her to get to the other side of this struggle.

But with a little editing I can. I did not write either piece. In fact, at one point, I had to tell her that before I could edit, she had to go back and rewrite it. I've always thought I could edit anything, so this was a learning experience for me. (And hard to do.) But she took it back, and rewrote it into something absolutely stunning. Truly, I was blown away.

All I did was fine-tune it all. I asked questions, pointed out places to expand, and finally did a little polishing at the end. But being there for her and watching her have her break through moments after struggling...that is excitement! Seeing her implement my suggestions and take it a step further, to make it all her own...sheer beauty!

I've had moments of doubt about my own career lately. Or at least the path I am on right now. There is a lot of struggle and times where you work alone in this field. Sometimes it makes me wonder if what I do actually matters. But this woman's struggle and her triumph have inspired me. And lit the fire of my own enthusiasm for what I do at the same time. What I do matters and I get to watch something beautiful develop in the process.

So today, I challenge you, my friends and readers, to find something that inspires you too. For me it will be to write. To edit with joy. And to find a little inspiration along the way.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The One Where I Love Ray More

We've had a couple rough weeks of sleep here. Liam has never been the best sleeper as it is, but he was really sick last week. This week he is well, but is up for 2-4 hours in the middle of the night. To say we are all tired is an extreme understatement. I'm about at the end of my rope and have been fighting off last week's flu myself.

Last night Ray was up for the whole 4 hours with Liam. And he sent Xander in to sleep with me, so that we would get some sleep.

After several hours, I heard Ray say to Liam, "Okay, Liam, I know you can't sleep. Let's have a little blast from the past, dude, and go watch Good Eats together."

My heart about exploded out of my chest hearing that. Ray was so gentle, sweet and kind. Liam's lack of sleep has had us all on edge, cranky, and exhausted, but in the middle of all that Ray reached inside himself and found compassion for our littlest one. I hear they watched two episodes of Good Eats together and Liam was out cold.

We think he is having a reaction to the inhaler that the doctor put him on for the croup last week. That same inhaler makes Xander spin, so it is no wonder. Ray watched Liam settle down over and over again and just plain be unable to settle into sleep. Wired. We are taking him off the inhaler in hopes that he goes back to his regular sleeping pattern.

Wish us luck.

But for now, I am letting my expanded feelings for this wonderful man in our lives carry me through my sleepy day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

You Might Be Sleep Deprived If...

  1. Your eyes feel like they are bleeding.
  2. You dropped an egg and a piece of bread on the floor while making breakfast.
  3. You cannot remember the exact time of night you were up, how long the intermittent wakings were, and when you finally got back to sleep.
  4. You spend more time in your pajamas than dressed, because you hope there is a chance of going back to bed.
  5. You are ticked off at your older child for getting up at his regular time, because you are so tired from being up in the night.
  6. You consider hiring a sleep doula.
  7. You consider selling the child who doesn't sleep.
  8. You have body parts that ache from sleeping curled around the child who doesn't sleep.
  9. You cannot remember the last wake up call that didn't come with a blood-curdling scream.
  10. You have several basic household chores started, but you cannot seem to get it together enough to finish them.
  11. You have plans for household projects but have been unable to execute them (note the fireplace that has been 14 months in progress).
  12. You think an injury requiring a night or two in the hospital may be a saving grace.
  13. You consider an investment in earplugs a good one.
  14. You try to find words in the middle of talking, but search your brain for them and cannot come up with them.
  15. You've tried every single sleep training method out there and they've begun to run together.
  16. You know your kids spend too much time watching television and not enough time outside, but you just cannot get yourself together enough to take them out.
  17. You think you might be a hazard on the road.
  18. You are afraid to go to sleep, because it's just going to end badly anyway.
  19. You consider benedryl and melatonin as sleep options.
  20. You write a list about signs of sleep deprivation.

Soothing My Soul

A few days ago my friend Heidi over at Slightly Cosmopolitan was asking what other people do to soothe their souls and refresh themselves. I've been thinking about this more and more, as I need a little regeneration myself.

The answer that comes back to me again and again is stories. Generally this is done through reading, but sometimes I can immerse myself into a good movie or a television series. Television on DVD has been a huge boon for me in this area. But still, my tried and true method is a good book. Sometimes the book is a trashy romance or something like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. Amusing, but light. I found that when I was just plain tired, but need to read, these are the books I turn to. I don't have to think much, but reading them allows me a little mental space to let go of the world and my cares.

Other times, when I am not so tired, but still need that mental space, I can read deeper books. And I do! I especially love Guy Gavriel Kay for these moments. I also love some of John Irvings' works (be picky here, his first few books are not great and the last couple didn't really do it for me either). And the last lot that I read that I loved were from P.C. and Kristen Cast, a series called The House of Night. I cannot recommend one single book, because the books that soothe me and speak to me depend on the time in my life and what I am open to.

When I stray from reading and story in general, my bigger soul soothing moments come from running and spending time with my friends talking.

Heidi, I hope that this helps. They may not be your solutions, but now you have a brief glimpse into mine.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Speach Developments

Liam is 22 months and a bit now. At this age, his older brother was speaking in full sentences and having in depth conversations with us. It seems that since that point he's only expanded his (incredibly massive) vocabulary and refined verb tense usage. Really. That's Xander. But Liam hardly talks at all. There's no happy medium: I have one I cannot get to be quiet and one that I cannot get to talk. Don't talk to be about normal ranges, because I don't have it here.

At 15 months, Liam had no words at all and was screaming in sheer frustration. So I called and got him put on the list for a speech evaluation.

Yes, many people told me that "it will all work out" and "I know a kid who didn't speak until he was three, but then spoke in full sentences and never shut up after that". I know of people like that. I know that there are many cases like that, truly. But the fact of the matter is that any kid who is late to talk has a 50/50 chance. Of late talkers, half are what the speech world calls "late bloomers". They catch on and talk just fine, in time, without intervention. The other half just do NOT.

The trick is that you cannot know which end your kid will end up in. My brother was sent to preschool at 4 to learn to speak, and he had no end of trouble with school. (This also follows, as the kids in the 50% who don't learn on their own are at an astronomical risk for difficulties in school.) Plus, I am a proactive person. Best, I thought, to have him on the list and not need it than to decide later that we do need it and then have to wait.

Turns out that at the time I put Liam on the speech list, it was 9 months until he would get services. At Christmas, they told us it is now 12 months. Astounding. Speech therapy is underfunded and overburdened...obviously.

So he got on the list and had his initial evaluation 4 months later. Not bad. It was determined that he was normal in every way, except expressive speech. These are the easiest kids to "fix", but there is still another 5 months to wait until we can see a therapist. To make up for the gap (he'll be re-evaluated in April and potentially get services then), we have been placed in a program that teaches us the basics of teaching speech. It's called Target Word.

We've been doing Target Word since the end of November. When we started, Liam had 3 words. He now has 17. I counted this morning (I keep a current list). It sounds like Target Word has been successful, right?

I'm not sure. For one thing, I feel like this seminar course is not exactly equipping me to teach speech. I mean, the speech therapists do four years or more of schooling to do this, right? Ray and I get 5 in class sessions and 2 video taping/critiquing sessions (the first one we didn't get to video tape, because Liam had a fit over just going there and taking off his coat, so we didn't manage to get the video going). Don't get me wrong: they have a lot of suggestions and give clear instructions, but I rarely feel like I am doing it right.

Plus, I wonder how many of these words he really understands. Sure, he has said it to us, but is it repetition? Does he understand it? Do I count words he has said once or in one context? I feel lost. And I feel like I am sitting here and waiting for some magical breakthrough that never comes.

Plus, how much of this expanded vocabulary is due to the tactics of Target Word and how much is really just time? I wonder.

And this morning I had a breakdown after the class. (In private, with Ray. Not in the class and with the instructor, mind you.) I told him all of these doubts. He said he thought it was working and had no idea I had doubts. I kind of begged the universe out loud for some sign that this kid was getting something out of this effort.

Because most of all...I just want to be able to talk to my child and have him tell me what is going on in his head too!

Tonight, before dinner, Liam had a bowl of chips. He was sick last week and refused to eat, so our doctor recommended encouraging his eating and increasing his salt intake with chips. A little unorthodox, sure, but he loved them immediately, and unlike the still untouched Pedialyte, it worked. So he kept coming back and wanting more. Pointing to them and holding out his bowl.

Okay, little man, let's work on a word you've used before, but seem to have dumped and use these Target Word tactics.

So I got down with the bag and said, "More chips! More!" as I gave him small portions of chips and made him come back again and again. "More!" Finally, he seemed done, and marched off. Bowl in hand. Not one word uttered.

And was back 3 minutes later, holding out his bowl, pointing to the chips, and finally...."MORE!"

He did it 3 times, before I put them away and caused a temper tantrum. (Dinner was only15 minutes away.)

After dinner, we sat and read (I am not joking) 12 books.

I taught him signs for doggy and flying, since he was interested.
Another opportunity to use another Target Word tactic: instead of charging through, when there are words that you've used over and over again, just pause and wait. Count to five if you have to. As long as they are interested, just pause. It'll probably get to the uncomfortable silence point, so this takes effort and control. I did it. Twice.

And got "woof" and "balloon".

I am still not 100% sure that these methods are working. I still feel woefully inadequate with this task (hey, I didn't have to work to get Xander to talk: I just talked to him and he responded). But they are obviously not hurting.

I'm trying my best, my dear Liam. I'm trying to slow things down and get you involved in conversation. I am trying to pause and give you the room. I am just trying...

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Day Late...

You know the saying "a day late and a dollar short"? It's a bit more than a day and it is not exactly what I would have had last month, but I am getting some time off now.

Turns out that the work anticipated by my primary client is not needed right now. So I have a small fraction of the work I thought I had. Which means I am essentially on holidays! After the long hours and grueling pace I worked all through December and into the beginning of last week, I will take it!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Christmas Eve

With the big editing job I was obsessed with over the holidays now out of the way, I am slowly starting to catch up with other parts of my life. I've not uploaded pictures from Christmas yet, so here is a peak at our Christmas Eve...

Reading on the steps on Christmas Eve day:
Then came bath time:

Followed by goofing off in pajamas and then preparing Santa's cookies and milk:

I don't have pictures this year of calling Nanny and Grandpa and wishing them a Merry Christmas, as is our tradition, because my father's cell phone wasn't getting messages or calls. I also neglected to take photos of the annual Christmas s

Once the kids were sleeping, Mom and Dad got to work, building the main gift:

Check out those cute tool belts!
And yes, Santa did eat the milk and cookies.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Just Like Mommy and Daddy

When I was a child, I read so much and to the detriment of my sleep that my parents went through a phase where they would put duct tape over my light switch to ensure that I was not getting up in the middle of the night, turning on the light, and reading for hours when everyone else was sleeping. It didn't stop me from reading, it just made me more creative. I developed a fear of the dark, acquired a night light, and read from that. I also discovered flashlights.

Ray's childhood bedroom was next to the family kitchen and his door was always open a crack. That crack let a small beam of light fall on his bed. He used to read by that beam.

Tonight, Xander proved he is the apple that did not fall very far from either parental tree!

Ray was in his office on the main floor and heard a pat, pat, pat upstairs. Moments later, another pat, pat, pat. Feet were going back and forth across the upstairs hall. Curious, he went to investigate...and caught Xander in the middle of crossing the hall.

When questioned, it was apparent that Xander wanted to have a better story, but could think of nothing but the truth: "I was reading!"

(When Ray told me this part of the story, I laughed until I cried. Part of me is very proud of him, but don't tell him that!)

Apparently, wee mister Xander couldn't sleep. We'd settled on one story tonight, because we were out visiting and it was late. Ray had chosen one story, but I had pulled two from the bookshelf before I realized what was going on. We left my two stories on the blanket box in our room, and read the one Ray had. Xander wanted the other two stories too and since he wasn't tired enough to sleep, he pattered over to our room, got them, and sat in his bed....reading them by the light of his nightlight! Then had pattered back to our room to see if he was in the clear for returning them. And was caught on his way back to his bed to get the books to take back.

Truth be told, I am still laughing a little bit.

That's my boy!

Saturday, January 02, 2010


So far, 2010 is not that much different than 2009. I am mired in an editing project that I originally thought would take about 5-6 business days. Never mind how many I am on now, I am tired and cranky, and feeling done with it. It is not done with me yet though.

The kids are going a little shack whacky. Liam has turned into Hurricane Liam. He's climbed into the front window, dumped a 1/2 glass of water on the floor just to see what happens, climbed Xander's bed, tried to play with the blinds (the cord is secured to the wall, so no hazard there), found part of a gingerbread cookie on the counter (ask yourself how he got up there), and.... yeah, hard to edit in that atmosphere.

Xander is just plain grumpy. He's been acting a bit mean towards his brother, just to stir things up. I think he's tired.

Ray is definitely tired. I stayed up and edited until 1:30 am, and for unknown reasons, Ray stayed up too.

But now the three of them have gone to torment 2010 mall shoppers, so I have a bit of peace. Maybe 2 hours, if I am really lucky. Potentially with a couple hours of nap time for the tiny people after that. Sounds like editing time for me.

If you have wishes to send my way, wish that this project is done quickly for me. I'd like to play a little now and think more about my resolutions.