Sunday, November 19, 2017

God Has This

As I was painting away again today, I was thinking of all the things I should and need to blog about. There's the laundry room that Perry has been working so hard on for the last several weeks/months, and then there is my bathroom/bedroom project I've been dragging out. Most recently, aside from house projects, we had HD's birthday party. How is he already 9?! I say that every year. I know. But I'm already halfway through raising him. I will not cry. I will not cry...

I've also had a lot on my mind lately. We're hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year, and it will be my first time hosting this holiday. Excitedly nervous. I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing and going to do with work. Working the night shift has a lot of perks, but it also has a lot cons too, so I'm trying to sort through all that. I have some unresolved and resurfaced past trauma I'm trying to work through alone and it's caused a little bit of a strain on my communication and connection with Perry. HD finished up OT earlier this week so I've got insurance on the brain, as we're STILL trying to figure out if all his sessions will be covered. Talk about expensive. I've just got a lot going on in my head and then I'm tired on top of it all.

I got into my car tonight to head to work and I was thinking about how long it had been since we had been to church. Ever since I started working over night, we stopped going because by the time I got home at 7:30, I needed sleep, and 45 minutes wasn't enough to cut it. Powering through lead to me falling asleep during service and having HD elbow me with a stern reprimand so everyone could hear. There's no winning. I want to go, but work... I left for work with God on the brain. I just felt unsettled as I backed out.

I have a led foot when it comes to driving. I'll admit that. I reigned it in when I pulled out onto the main road and came to a stop light where a Sheriff was waiting for the light to change. I followed him down the road several miles and onto the interstate where he kept me going the speed limit for several exits. Had I left for work only 30 seconds sooner, I wouldn't have had to wait at the stop light and I wouldn't have been driving at a slower pace for several miles. I would have missed the whole thing.

I had a little bit of a late start getting off to work, because crawling out of bed at 10pm is so hard when there is a 7 year old snuggling next to you. It is so so hard people. Even with my late start, I was going to make it on time. I watched the clock carefully. And then it happened.

Just one mile before my exit, I witnessed a car side swipe into a semi-truck on the interstate going 75 mph. At least I think that's what happened. Maybe they both just got too close to the centerline. I don't know. My heart sank and my throat was in my stomach. Because it was dark out, I couldn't see much. The sparks from the metal on the car grinding against the metal on the truck seem to last forever and then the car was up off the ground with the passenger side lifted high. I don't believe it flipped. Somehow the car managed to stay upright after slamming back down on the payment before running off the road.

I pulled off to the shoulder immediately as I tried to avoid the glass and bits shattered all over and called 911. I wanted to jump out of my car and run to help but I had no idea what I was going to be getting myself into. By the time I got off the phone, the semi- driver, who had pulled over 100-yards down the road, was at my vehicle and rushing over to the car.

I was hesitant to cross the road to get to the car. What if the person was seriously injured? I am not trained in anything medical related and would have no idea what to do. I can't imagine I'd have fainted at the sight of blood, but there's always that possibility. I was relieved when I spotted the semi- driver and the car driver walking towards me. No blood, no gore. Just a shaken young guy. While the semi- driver went to put up his triangles, I had the young guy warm up in my car, thankful he was uninjured and my car was semi-clean. I just wanted to take him home.

If I would have left any sooner,  I would have missed it but I believe God put me there at the perfect time. No one else stopped. That young guy would have been freezing by the time the police arrived, and they only arrived as soon as they did because I called. The semi-driver was hyper-focused on getting off the road and making sure the other vehicle was okay. I have been in a horrific accident before and while I don't remember anything after hitting my head on the ceiling of the car, I was told there was a lady that sat with me for quite sometime while the ambulances were on their way. Now it was my turn to play that role.

I hope I made him feel less anxious in that moment. That everything was going to be okay. Looking back, I wish I could have done more. I wish I wasn't on my way to work so I could have just taken him to his aunt's house where he was headed. I gave him the blanket out of the back of my car after he was questioned by the officer and left standing outside to freeze. And then I hugged him. Not any of that side-hug business, but really just hugged him and held him tight. It broke my heart to hear him start crying as the adrenaline started to wear off. By that point the officer decided to take the rest of the investigation off the interstate and down to the gas station. He took my info and sent me on my way, but I just wanted to stay with young Brycen.

Often as I'm driving, I think to myself, what would I do if I witnessed an accident? Would I run to help? Keep driving? I guess I'm a moral support kind of person. But I wish I would have helped more. Called 911 as I was going to the vehicle but it was dark out and I needed my phone to be my flashlight before I navigated the dark unknown.  I wish I would have at least given my phone number to him so I could help more if he needed anything. His world was turned upside down and I just wish I could have helped more.

I can't recall any specific moments right now, but I know this wasn't the first time I had an unsettling feeling about something that later just proved God was there the whole time saying, "I've got this and I've got you." I know Thanksgiving will be fine and I'll be able to put my past back into my past. Our medical insurance will get figured out and my genetic testing in January will be fine and if it isn't, I'll still be fine because God has this worked out already.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Autumn Festivities

I always dread Halloween. For one, I don't like masked people. Mascots are a huge no for me, so naturally, Halloween is not a favorite of mine. Secondly, I don't like having to stress about what the kids are going to dress up as.

This year however, Halloween has come and went without much stress to be had. Miss Gail didn't care what she was going to be, and ended up dressing up as something different at every opportunity she had. HD was the easy one. He wanted to be a StormTrooper. There was no amount of convincing him otherwise. Because I wasn't buying a costume or putting together a costume for Miss Gail, I felt I could justify buying him his beloved StormTrooper costume.

JP on the other hand, came with a problem we might never know what caused. He was all in to be a cop and utilize HD's costume from last year. When it came time to put it on, there were so many tears. From what I gathered, he could see his chest when he put the top on, not realizing he had to wear clothes under his costume. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get him to put a shirt on under it, to no avail. When we eventually managed to leave the house for our first event, he reluctantly wore his dark blue cop pants, a long sleeved black shirt, and HD's batman mask from a couple years back. Of course the rest of the batman costume was no where to be found. He wonders why I wanted him to try his costume on a few days prior...

When we did make it out of the house to go to the school's Trunk or Treat, I had two very eager, but calm children and one not-so-happy batman. We weren't planning on going to the event, but the kids realized half an hour before it started there was going to be candy there. By the time we actually got to the school, there was only half an hour left, and most of the candy had been given out already. Regardless, they acted like they had never been trick-or-treating before. When we walked up to the parking lot, I literally had to push them up to the first car. Nerves anyone?
Things to note about this picture: This is Miss Gail's back-up princess dress. We got the first one soaking wet while do facials that afternoon. Her shirt is on backwards, but she insists it isn't. We would have been smiling but we had just seen Moana and the boys told her it wasn't the real one. She wanted to meet her but I heard her speaking Spanish, so I'm not sure how that interaction would have went. HD is convinced Storm Troopers never take their helmets off. Even to eat.

 The next morning HD, Miss Gail, and I walked down to the preschool for their Autumn Party. I love how Miss Gail walked around holding up her pant legs! JP stayed home because "I don't need more candy." I think he was still grumbling from the night before.
 We couldn't have had a more perfect day last Saturday. It was gorgeous out! HD wore his mask for most of the walk, and walked just like a Storm Trooper.
 We were one of the first ones to arrive, and again, their nerves were through the roof. The gym had about 10 games set-up and they wanted nothing to do with them. They would have rather I let them stand in the middle of the gym than play any of the games. I did manage to drag them around the gym to try out all the games before heading outside to the bouncey house and other activities.
 I think their favorite game was the cake walk. They would walk around on number while music played and stop on a number when the music stopped playing. If your number was drawn, you'd get a prize from the dessert table. Miss Gail chose a plate of cookies and cupcakes, where as HD chose a large piece of carrot cake. "It's my choice mom."
I love autumn so much. I love how leaves can bring so much joy! And just look at all the colors! Such a beautiful walk home!
 Finally we made it to Halloween where we had a Storm Trooper, a fully dressed and happy Batman, and his sidekick Robin. Batman insisted he get a picture with just his sidekick. He is so sweet to her. I love the relationship they have. Melts my heart!
When it was go-time, the kids sprinted across the street to Al's house. They stood outside for a little bit while my sister and I watched Al sprint through the house to the kitchen to get candy. After going next door to the other neighbor's home, Miss Gail declared, "This is the best day ever!" We made the loop, finishing at "the scary house" before returning home to empty their buckets. On our way up the drive to the house, Robin and I turned around to see a gingerbread man walking creepily up the road towards us. I have no idea where it came from but I wanted nothing to do with it so I shooed the kids up to the door. Once they knocked, the ladies on the other side started scratching at the door. All three kids were frozen. And then the ghost behind them started to play and swooped down toward them. I'm sure they were ready to turn around. After the fact they decided it was the best house ever! 
 Perry had just got back from work as we dumped out our buckets so he came out with us as we walked down to a few more houses before calling it a night around 7:30, afterall I had to get to bed so I could get a little rest before work.
The one thing I enjoy about working the night shift is the extra snuggles I get from my kids. Usually 2 of the 4 nights I go to bed around 6, I have a child join me around 7:30. In this case, it was my little princess-ninja-turtle-Robin who curled up into bed with me. I recall rolling over away from her, only to have her attempt to be the big spoon, as she draped her arm over me. I never want to her grow up!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Lutheran World Relief Quilts + Sewing Lessons

We've lived here for about 8 months now and have yet to have people occupy the house to the west of us. The couple who owned it when we moved to the area were the original owners and were now in their 90s. Because of the stairs and the maintenance needed on the house, they moved to a senior living development.

I happened to be out walking around with Ms. Gail when their estate sale was going on in March. Another of my neighbors happen to be doing the same thing so we met by chance not knowing if either of us were residents of the area or sale go-ers. One thing led to another and we were talking about how excited Ms. Gail was to start preschool school this fall but I hadn't decided where I would take her. She referred me to her church just at the bottom of hill, which was a Lutheran church similar to the preschool she and the boys attended in Missoula.

Fast forward several months and Ms. Gail is now attending (and loving!) preschool there. I dropped her off last Friday and was telling her teacher how much fun she had on her first day when she mentioned the old ladies next door just loved listening to the little kids as they quilted. Of course my ears perked up, quilting? Tell me more!

Every Wednesday ladies from the church meet just down the hall (and share a partitioned wall with the preschool room) to create quilts to donate to those in need. My heart was way excited to hear this because I've been wanting to get back to sewing/quilting again but have become so frustrated with my children at home not leaving my sewing stuff alone that it's not worth the fight right now to work on anything. Wednesday's aren't the ideal day for me to hang around after dropping Ms. Gail off at school due to my work schedule but I've decided I'm going to do my best to make it work - even if I am a zombie.

This past week I dropped Ms. Gail off and wandered down the hall to see what "Old Lady Quilting" is all about. Take a stab at the first three people I met. Linda, Betty, and Doris - my mom's name, mother-in-law's name, and then my grandma's name - ironic? I was low key hoping there was a Carol to be met as that would have been my other grandma's name. Linda toured me around and showed off the storage room filled with the blankets they made as well as the ones in progress, along with all the fabric, sheets, and batting which had been donated.

I wasn't sure what to expect going into it, but I was pleasantly surprised. Everyone had their own job. There is a lady who comes in specifically to cut up fabric that is donated. There was a lady hand sewing scraps of batting together, another set of ladies sorting through and arranging fabric scraps to make quilt tops. (Most of the ladies sew the tops together at home and then bring them in for the rest of the process.) One larger group of ladies worked on tying the quilts together and then the quilts were brought over to my table where I worked with my neighbor (who I met in the spring and then forgot about and re-met) pinning the binding on so Doris could sew it all together. Doris is the oldest one in the group, coming in at about 92 years old and is the only one who sews there at the church.
Currently they have about 70 quilts ready to be shipped out in October. Coming up in the next couple weeks, they will take all the quilts they have completed and put them on the backs of the pews for the entire congregation to see and then box them up and ship them out the following week. They send out shipments twice a year, each time sending between 60-70 quilts.
 All the little old ladies were more than welcoming. It'll take me some time to recall all their names though. By the end of the three hours, I decided it was every thing I expected it to be, not knowing what exactly I expected it to be. Honestly I really enjoyed all the chitter-chatter amongst them. "Oh I just love your jean top! Did you do the embroidery on it?" "Oh thank you! Sharon did this for me a while ago. Isn't it lovely?!" "Oh yes! It's just beautiful!" And you better believe there was a coffee break complete with pound cake right at 10:30a. Not a minute before. It was the best!

I told Ms. Gail about my little adventure next door to her classroom and she was SO SURPRISED when I told her I never went home and that I was listening to them the whole time. For whatever reason, I decided that now would be a good time to start teaching her how to sew as well.

Lesson one did not disappoint! All I had her do was "sew" on the blue line. "Oh mom! Were you saving this machine just for me? I mean I saw you sewing on your machine once and thought that was just great, but now we can have mom and daughter sewing dates!!" She was probably more excited about sewing than she was about getting a cat, which says a lot considering her love of cats.

I'm pretty sure I found myself a new babysitter! Hahaha! Wiggle-wobble wiggle-wobble... She's hooked!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

House Updates: Fire Place is Done!

Remember when I blogged all the time? That was so long ago but now that I have several more projects done around the house, I have a *little* more free time for some leisurely typing. Honestly though, most of my free time is spent cat-napping. I am almost done with my fire place project and I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out!
One of the selling points for this house was the fire place. Both Perry and I really wanted a fire place in our new home (as well as a master bathroom!) but it was considered an extra perk if we found one we liked with one. We scored on this place because it not only has a fire place in the living room, but also has one in the basement (and we scored a sweet master bathroom too!) and we used it to the max this past winter and spring. 

I put off painting the fire place for so long because I had no idea what color to paint it. I love all the grey shades but wasn't sure what shade to paint the fire place since I managed to pick out colors for the living room and hallways that are actually more in the brown scheme of greys. Greige I guess? And then the carpet is more of a grey-grey so I was stumped. I finally opted for the same white as the ceiling, knowing I'd have to touch it up every so often.
 My first project for the fire place was painting the front of it. I don't know why I dislike gold so much. Maybe it just clashed so much with the off white color of the fire place. All I knew was that it needed to go. I wasn't sure what kind of paint to use, so I ended up using a high temperature paint from Home Depot. If I recall correctly the only color choice was black. Luckily that's what I was after.
  Just painting that part black made the dirty off-white color of the stones more bearable. I love how it turned out. If I didn't spend so much time taping off the brick, the rest of the fire place would have been painted a lot sooner. Instead I waited several months to tackle the rest of it.
 I didn't realize how dirty looking the fire place was until I painted it white. It's not a white-white, but has the littlest hint of grey in it. Spun Wool. I'm trying to simplify the color scheme in our house so using the left over paint from the ceiling not only prevented an extra trip to the store for a ton more paint samples and agony over the color again, but it also made painting the ceiling border a breeze.
Before decorating the mantle again, I painted it black to match the front piece. I also spent an extra few minutes spray painting the log holder knowing full well it would get nice and scratched up come fall season when it's constantly being restocked with logs. Overall I'm really liking how clean and fresh it looks now that the majority of the painting is done. I still have a little trim work to do but I happy to be able to cross this project off my list. I kind of want to repaint the downstairs one now but I also kind of need to work on our master bathroom first. It's in the "I hate wallpaper removal stage" and looks terrible with half the wall paper off.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Cannon Beach + Haystack Rock

Hey you guuuyysss!
The last couple weeks have been a little chaotic around my house as we adjust to having a new roommate as well as school starting back up again. I'm still trying to figure out a good sleeping plan that works with the family but also allows me get enough sleep. I've been a little on edge trying to balance working at night four nights a weeks while still being present with the family. Such a juggling act!

I've been working now for about a month and it's going as good as the night shift can. It goes without say that I was relieved and excited to hear Perry had Labor Day off work because typically that would mean more sleep for me! Instead of sleeping the day away though, I brought up the idea to him about potentially spending the day at the beach. I later asked HD what he wanted to do on his day off school and he thought going to the ocean would be fun. Just like that a trip to the beach was planned for day when temperatures were supposed to reach 100* at home and a pleasant 80* on the beach.

On our first to the coast we went to Astoria and then wandered south a little to Fort Stevens State Park. Loved it! So peaceful! This time we drove southwest to Cannon Beach. Such a cute little town! I wish I had the whole day to wander the town and peek into all the little shops. In case you didn't know though, Cannon Beach is known for its landmark, Haystack Rock. Who recognizes Haystack Rock from one of my favorite movies, "The Goonies"? Hey you guuuyyyysss!
*These pictures were take by HD. He missed the entire back drop in the first set he took. In the second set, he really got into his photographer roll by waving his hand in the direction he wanted us to move. Go this way! No no too far, go back this way! Come closer! *thumbs up* It was really hard to keep my composure while watching his adorableness.*
We strolled the beach for a while and enjoyed watching the kids chase the waves. I imagine the beach is usually pretty busy in the summer, but extra busy this time with it being Labor Day. It was almost high tide when we left beach in search of food. Turns out we had strolled nearly a mile...
After much wandering, we stumbled upon a quaint little cafe to stuff our faces called the Season Cafe. They mostly served cold deli sandwiches and hot panini sandwiches but we all left full. I even stepped out of my normal "Ham + Cheese Sandwich" routine and opted for a BLT instead, since I hadn't had one in so so long. Yumm!
Immmediately when we finished up, we raced over to Bruce's Candy Kitchen to pick up some taffy before heading home. While we were there we were able to watch them spin the taffy on their machine. Fresh taffy is my favorite! I may have picked up a large bag of taffy to bring home... The boys also picked out a bag of PopRocks to eat.
I had napped for about half an hour or so on the way to the coast so by the time we were ready to leave around 2pm, I was exhausted. I stayed awake as long as possible but inevitably fell in and out of sleep on the trip home. You know how restful sleeping in a car is...

Aside from my exhaustion, it was nice to be able to get away for an afternoon and just enjoy ourselves. I do have to admit I was slightly irritated that I thought I left my phone at home. I brought my Canon Rebel but some things are easier to do with my phone, like take a video. Luckily I had something to capture our day. HD found my phone as we piled out of the car when we got home. Go figure. It probably fell of my lap during my morning snooze.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Our Sensory Processing Symptoms

During our time in Vancouver, I have learned so much more about the sensory processing struggles HD faces on a daily basis. Everyone is aware of our five senses - taste, touch, hearing, sight, and smell, but there are three more senses the rest of the world is a little less knowledgeable about - vestibular, proprioception, and interoception. When our bodies get too much or too little of a sense, our behavior seems to mirror it. In learning about HD, I've also learned quite a bit about myself too!

Let me take just a moment to catch you up to speed about those three other, less spoken about, senses. 

Our vestibular system helps us to understand what our bodies are doing when related to movement, gravity, and balance. This system makes us aware that we are laying down or sitting up, in an elevator moving up or down, and allows us to walk on, say, a log. Our proprioceptive sense allows us to know where our body parts are and how to plan our movements. We can clap our hands together with our eyes closed, and we know how much force to use when pressing keys on a keyboard, or writing on paper because of this sense. Our interoceptive system is the one that tells us we're hungry, we need to go to the bathroom, our heart is racing, etc. 

When these eight senses are working together correctly, we have an "optimum state of arousal" but when our sensory processes aren't in balance, our bodies can have a sensory overload or low arousal. HD is what the OT world considers a seeker. For HD when he becomes "unregulated" or in a heighten state of arousal, he is often looking for more proprioceptive input - this is when he can be found throwing himself on ground, jumping off the bed onto the mattress, wrestling with his brother, pushing/shoving, etc. (It's also when his listening ears turn completely off.)

Sensory processing disorders appear differently in every person. Some kids can be deemed picky eaters when they have a limited number of foods they'll eat, other kids have a rough time with loud sounds or noisy areas, and some are very particular with their clothes and how they feel on their bodies. Kids who may have over-responsive vestibular systems may cause them to not like swings, slides or merry-go-rounds or may appear clumsy, and other kids with under-responsive vestibular systems might really enjoy being tossed the air, or appear to always be on-the-go or be able to spin in circles for ever and not feel dizzy. (These don't even scratch the surface! If you want more examples, check out this list.)

Usually sensory processing disorders (SPD) are diagnosed along with either autism or ADHD. It's not normally a diagnoses in of itself, but professionals in the OT world are advocating for it to be a stand-alone diagnosis. HD doesn't have autism, and because he hasn't been diagnosed with ADHD, it's been hard to get any extra help for him. Remember his doctor? He's a boy, he'll grow out of it. He's not going to grow out of it - we're just going to teach him how to live with it in an acceptable way. Right now that means going to occupational therapy once a week for an hour. We also have a ton a of tools to use during school!

As I said earlier, HD would be considered a seeker, meaning he under-registers his senses. Using the check list above from, this is a list of the struggles HD has, often on a daily basis.

Hyposensitivity to Touch (Under-Registers)
*may be self-abusive; pinching, biting, or banging his own head (HD used to frequently hit himself in the head, laughing hysterically, over and over)
*frequently hurts other children or pets while playing
*thoroughly enjoys and seeks out messy play

Hyposensitivity to Movement
*in constant motion, can't seem to sit still
*craves fast, spinning, and/or intense movement experiences
*could spin for hours and never appear to be dizzy
*loves the fast, intense, and/or scary rides at amusement parks
always jumping on furniture, trampolines, spinning in a swivel chair, or getting into upside down positions
* is a "thrill-seeker"; dangerous at times
*always running, jumping, hopping etc. instead of walking
*likes sudden or quick movements, such as, going over a big bump in the car or on a bike

Proprioception Seeking Behaviors 
*seeks out jumping, bumping, and crashing activities
* bites or sucks on fingers and/or frequently cracks his/her knuckles
*loves to be tightly wrapped in many or weighted blankets, especially at bedtime
*enjoys bear hugs
*excessive banging on/with toys and objects
* loves "roughhousing" and tackling/wrestling games
*frequently falls on floor intentionally
*would jump on a trampoline for hours on end
*chews on pens, straws, shirt sleeves etc.
*frequently hits, bumps or pushes other children

Hyposensitivity to Sound 
*appears to "make noise for noise's sake" (This one drives me CRAZY!)
*loves excessively loud music or TV
* seems to have difficulty understanding or remembering what was said
*needs directions repeated often, or will say, "What?" frequently

Hyposensitivity to Visual Input
*has difficulty telling the difference between similar printed letters or figures; i.e., p & q, b & d, + and x, or square and rectangle
*has difficulty locating items among other items; i.e., papers on a desk, clothes in a drawer, items on a grocery shelf, or toys in a bin/toy box
*often loses his/her place while reading or doing math problems

Auditory-Language Dysfunction
*difficulty reading, especially out loud
*if not understood, has difficulty re-phrasing; may get frustrated, angry, and give up
*often talks out of turn or "off topic"
*difficulty putting ideas into words (written or verbal) (Writing his thoughts is a huge struggle at school right now. I've been wondering if he might have dysgraphia which deals with writing, unlike dyslexia deals with reading.)
*looks at others to/for reassurance before answering

While HD under-registers most of his senses, it is possible to over-register one sense and under-register another and be both hyposensitive and hypersensitive. I have learned I am very hypersensitive to sounds. Here's what I can check off on the list:
* distracted by sounds not normally noticed by others; i.e., humming of lights or refrigerators, fans, heaters, or clocks ticking (I'm sitting here listening to Perry's Grandfather clock ticking and it annoys me to no end. He wonders why I don't like him to wind it...)
* frequently asks people to be quiet; i.e., stop making noise, talking, or singing (Sorry kids, it's not you, it's me.)
* may refuse to go to movie theaters, parades, skating rinks, musical concerts etc. (Movie theatres kill me. So much sound!)
* may decide whether they like certain people by the sound of their voice (Not proud, but guilty...)

This particular sensitivity of mine makes parenting a kid who likes to make sound because he can, just a little challenging. But seriously, you should hear some of the sounds HD makes. We went to the zoo and he whipped out his monkey call, and people legit thought it was the monkey. I also have no need to carry an air horn around because HD can nail the air horn sound. Impressively annoying. I have to give him props but... We also had a couple bells show up at our house and I'm seriously considering hiding them because just one ding is too many for me. It sends me into a rage. Make it stop, make it stop right now!

What about you guys, do you have any sensory problems? It's more common than you think! 

Friday, August 4, 2017

OT in Vancouver + Zone Regulation

The first few weeks after the move were a whirlwind between unpacking and getting the kids registered for school and then having snow days on top of it all. It was chaos around here.

One thing I super love about their new school is the amount of papers sent home with them about activities in the area. They bring home information on swimming lessons, dance programs, soccer league, basketball sign-ups, day-camps, etc. It is so helpful, especially being brand new to the area and not knowing what all is available and where to go to sign them up for the extra things. One of the papers sent home was a flyer for flag football, which HD really really really wanted to do. We agreed to sign him up, but to do so, he needed a sports physical. That gave me some motivation to get him into the doctor so we could begin the process of finding another occupational therapy place.

By the end of January, HD and JP were signed up for flag football, and HD had a referral sent off for more OT. A few short weeks later, our insurance had approved a place which had an opening for OT so I jumped on it. Then came the stack of papers to fill out and questionnaires to answers. (It's seems never ending!)

As therapy was winding down in Missoula, I was given a handout on implementing a sensory diet for HD but we never discussed it in full as we had other more pressing issues to tend to. On one of the questionnaires I filled out in Vancouver, I had noted several auditory things I had been seeing with HD in the last several weeks/months. Such things included him *always* making noise, simply because he could. He loves loves loves to listen to his music loud - like I can hear his headphones blaring in the front of the car when he sits in the back. He frequently forgets what has just been said too. His OT took note and asked me at the end of his first session if he usually has a blank stare about him, like you're talking through him, to which I lit up YES! ALL THE TIME! Turns out these auditory things that I noted are just a piece of his SPD, specifically an auditory processing disorder where he is under-responsive to sounds.
HD has been enjoying playing in the big gym at OT. (I had to fight the urge to climb into one of the trapezes - they look so comfortable!) In this activity, he was not knowingly, working on perseverance, listening to directions, and following rules. She had his several Star Wars guys around the gym and he couldn't touch the floor but had to find them all. Some gave him special powers, like being able to touch the ground for three seconds at a time. He was really frustrated at the end because he couldn't find them all, but he was able to push through with some help.

Color Zones of Regulation - ThingLink
In our first few weeks at OT, we picked up where we left off when it comes to our emotions. Being able to name our emotions is huge so we've been spending a lot of time at home naming how we're currently feeling, myself included, and then giving an example of what we can do to get out of the zone we are currently in. For example, I might say, "You know, I'm feeling like I'm in the blue zone right now because I'm tired. I think I'm going to take a quick walk around the block to wake up so I can get back into the green zone." Ms. Gail has became an "emotions queen" and is quick to point out who is in what zone at what time. Usually when I ask HD what zone he's in, he would be in the yellow zone because he'd be bouncing around out of control, and just overall being reckless. When he gets into this zone, it can be quite a challenge to get him out of it, especially if we are in a public place -like the other day at the dentist. Or several weeks ago when I took the kids to have dinner at a restaurant with grandma and he couldn't sit in his seat to save his life. I literally wanted to curl up into a ball and ugly cry. 

At home we do have several tactics we use to get him back in to the green zone. I let him take out his energy on building himself a "break spot" which is a fort in a quiet spot of the house, even though it usually causes quite the mess. The dark is really calming for him. But I can't just put him in a closet and be like, calm down dude. He has to want to do it. I recently made a weighted blanket for him, and let him pick out the fabric, and he often uses it at bedtime to help calm his body. We even pull it out in the daytime when we're relaxing and watching tv. HD also loves listening to music so having him wear his mp3 player around the store helps to keep him in check.

He's been getting SO GOOD at being able to label what zone he's in, and then successfully get himself back down to the optimal green zone. I'm going to go on a long tangent and try to paint a picture of my afternoon for you. Last month I took the kids to the library, by myself and it's not something I particularly enjoy doing but we had some books that were due that day so we had to suck it up and go after school. Honestly just getting from the parking lot to the entrance is a struggle for me. With all of them. We can't seem to walk. EVER. We go over expectations (which was recommended by HD's OT) before we get out of the car - typical things like, we need to use our walking feet and quiet voices, stay together, etc. I'm not asking the world of them. But out of the car and onto the sidewalk we go, and the foot race begins. Before we're even half way there, all three have ran ahead and I'm speed walking behind with a stack of books.

When I catch up to them, they are in the revolving door running it around, while people are attempting to enter and exit it. Once they've all cleared the circular door, they make a beeline to the second floor where the kids book are, until I whisper-shout at them to come back down and return their books. Now they're arguing over who gets to put what books in the slot. With enough patience, we make it to the second floor and head over to the chapter book section to find HD and JP a few new books to read. I've already lost Ms. Gail. Whatever. HD now wanders off (no, he probably ran off after I told him to settle down) as I'm helping JP to locate his Magic Tree House books. Found Ms. Gail pulling chapter books off the shelves and struggling to put them back. Lost JP while helping her, all the while keeping my eyes peeled for the third kid who hasn't been spotted for 10 minutes. Let's wander over to the story book section and hopefully find HD and a few cat books for Ms. Gail. Found the cat books, found JP again, and I can hear Ms. Gail now a few rows down exclaiming about the princess book she found. Oh and look who we have here...HD wanders over to us, like he hasn't been lost for the last fifteen minutes. "Oh I was just playing on the computers over there." You know, with the headphones cranked up, completely zoning in on "You said to go calm down..." Ideas before actions dude. Tell me where you're going. Now JP has wandered off again, but they seem to have a sixth sense and know when mom is leaving so all three unite with me as I'm checking out books, just in time to argue over who gets to place the books on the scanner and who's typing in the code... 

We've been at the library for all of twenty minutes and it's not time to go home yet so I reluctantly take them to a park downtown that we hadn't explored yet. I'm already on edge over all the running at the library and the whining, but the weather is soo nice out so I suck it up and pay $2 for parking and we (the kids) sprint to the park. I sat on the bench and watched them play for a while and could see HD getting back into the yellow zone. He yellow zoned at the library, but used the computer to help him calm down get back to the green zone. Since we're at the park, I don't so much care what he does, as long as he's nice to the other kids around him, and doesn't start throwing sand around. He carried on about his ways as I pushed Ms. Gail in the swing and kept eyes on JP. Out of nowhere, I watched HD stop playng and start wandering off like a zombie so I took Ms. Gail out of the swing and had her go play while I followed HD, as some distance behind. By the time I caught up to him, he had got himself cozy in a patch of grass that was shaded by several trees. I joined him on the ground and we looked up at the trees and the clouds together for a few minutes. "What are you doing over here?" "Oh I just needed a little break." And now I'm trying not to cry. Just when I'm really starting to wonder if OT is even helping him, he pulls this number on me and he's back in green zone playing nicely. (I'm ending my story there, before I get worked up again thinking about how I thought I lost JP when tending to HD. The struggle is real.)

OT is paying off. We might go broke trying to pay for it, but it's working. My wild child is starting to self regulate that my dear friends is priceless! I'm going to go get a tissue now. My baby is growing up!