Friday, February 05, 2010

No name post

I didn't know what to title this blog post...

Have so many emotions running through me lately. Had a 'bit' of spare time, so figured I'd try to do a post! Then I said, what do I blog about....there's so much.....hence why I couldn't think of a blog title.

Wish I could say that I haven't posted because things are just so great I don't have anything to post about (as a recent commenter indicated, I've always posted in the past when I was feeling down). Then again, things are a million times better than just over a year ago when we were in feeding tube and vomit hell. It really comes down to a serious lack of time. Serious. I'm up to midnight and 1am every night just trying to stay caught up.

And apologies to those that have emailed me on a personal nature and I haven't gotten back to you!

I've been sick on and off for the last 2 months, which is really a bummer, the best news is that the kids have been fairly healthy since Thanksgiving. Kaitlyn has a bit of my crud thing, but amazingly she seems to be weathering it really well. Now that I type this I realize how big a deal that is. I had the stomach flu (which Quinn and Brian got) but Quinn was over it in a day, whereas it knocked Brian and I out for 4 days.

I never did Christmas cards this year. This is the first year I've missed since I started doing Christmas cards. Sorry everyone if you were waiting for your McCarthy Christmas card. I was so stressed over the h holidays with work on top of everything else, that I just wasn't ever able to get to them.

Christmas was very hard for us this year. It became clearly evident that Kaitlyn has SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). K's therapists have always told us that she has "sensory" issues, but every book I read on the subject didn't really portray my daughter. I was trying to find Kaitlyn's strange behaviors in the books, and I saw her but never in any of the clear categories the books describe. She fit in so many different areas.

She seeks out a lot of sensory input, but is terrified of loud noises (vacuums, public toilets flushing). Thankfully she seems to be able to become de-sensitized over the loud noises. You should have seen the melt-down she had when I ran this little robotic vacuum once! Oh my! She rolls all over the floor. She can't sit still in chairs when she eats, or brushes her teeth, or when you try to fix her hair, or basically anytime (except for when she's watching TV). In busy/loud environment she goes a bit haywire and bounces all over the place. She is constantly running into things and falling down. her pain tolerance is so high nothing really bothers her. She throws things. she has fits if as she says "my hands are empty", she always has to have something in her hands. We cannot keep toys together, as there are always parts all over the house, from her carrying items. She won't leave the house unless she is holding something.

On Christmas morning Kaitlyn got into one of her moods and was totally overwhelmed by the whole experience. Now, I say this knowing that most 4 year olds get overwhelmed by the presents and all, but this was different. She hyper focused on a brown cardboard box that a gift came in and couldn't be bothered to open any gifts. She's been excited to open gifts in the past so this was a little odd.

It's been more than a month now so it's a bit hard to describe actually, but she became very withdrawn and wouldn't interact and became very upset if you tried to take her box to open a gift.

She also started having some really horrible behavior, which is totally new for her. Now it could be 4 year old behavior, but our sweet girl has never spoken back to us and this was shocking. One day (when my mom and I were shopping and Brian was watching the kids at my moms house), Kaitlyn went haywire. Brian tried to discipline her by putting her into time-out 4 different times, which obviously wasn't working. She was in one of her as I call it "overload" modes where she becomes not in control of what she's doing. Brian continued to think she was just misbehaving and needed discipline. By the time I returned, all hell had broken loose. she was swinging things and breaking Christmas Tree ornaments, she was a sobbing mess and Brian had lost it.

After that incident, I got Brian to read one of the SPD books I have and after reading agreed that discipline in those cases wasn't the appropriate thing to do, (I was sooo happy that Brian started understanding what I've been trying to say for along time.) He felt I was being lack on discipline. I've always said I can tell when she's just misbehaving and when she's not in control. They are very different.

We try putting a weighted vest on her, or a weighted frog. But she thinks this is discipline so hates wearing the vest, which is too bad as it really does help her calm down. I become a bit at a loss of what to do when she's in these moods. Especially if I'm solo and with both kids as Quinn is no easy little guy. When they are both going at it, I start sweating and trying to do everything I can to maintain the situation. It's horrible. And I'm alone a lot with Brian's work schedule.

I just got off the phone with Kaitlyn's Special Ed teacher. We spoke mainly about how Kaitlyn is learning to deal with her Sensory Seeking Issues. The teacher told me:
1. Kaitlyn never walk places, she sort of dances/prances
2. She has an extremely hard time sitting in a chair so the teachers use a "lap buddy" a weighted something (like weights in a sock, a weighted heating pad) or something like that.
3. She often rolls and seeks out sensory input, and always has to have something in her hands

But the teacher felt that in the small controlled environment of this special ed class, she was doing very well at finding ways to get the sensory input she needs. Kaitlyn is still getting services 2 days a week with special ed and goes to regular preschool 3 days a week. The issue is that as Kaitlyn turns 4 in October she's supposed to go to Kindergarten next year, which I'm not going to do.

I've kept her back a year and put her back in the 3 year old preschool class where she is doing so much better this year and does interact with her 3 year old peers (who are all turning 4 now). Remember that Kaitlyn was supposed to be 4 in January (instead of last October). She does not act like the kids that she was in class with a year before. She needs to be in the 3 year old class. I'm going to have to fight with the school district so she can continue to get the special services once she turns 4.

I do feel really fortunate, after talking to a lot of moms that Kaitlyn is getting special services at all. As SPD often isn't recognized as an issue that is covered. Kaitlyn's receives services through Pragmatic Speech needs. Although her language is great, it's in interactions with others and her inability to focus that are the issues. That my school district does see that she's has some issues that are better off being address and giving her the tools to self-cope so that by the time she is in Kindergarten she'll have a current report on what helps.

From my understanding SPD is a life-time thing. It makes me sad. YES, I'm happy she's doing so well! Everyone loves to remind me of how far she's come and what a miracle she is....and of course I feel blessed that she is thriving in so many ways...

Of course I am, but don't all want parents want healthy "normal" child? We as parents want to give them the world and I feel so bad when I see that she is so different than other children. It breaks my heart.

Her newest "issue" is that she's refusing (and having melt-downs) over wearing a jacket. Not a good issue in the winter to have! (I'm really hoping this is just a phase, as I know a lot of kids go through things like this).

Now as I said, it's not all bad, (I'm just doing a brain dump here), there are a lot of great things happening too:

Every day she is getting better at self-help skills. Like getting dressed. The last few days she's even started picking out her own clothes. I was really happy about this. Most 3 year olds have been doing this for a long time. Our little girl just takes her own sweet time.

Kaitlyn learned to write her name a few weeks ago! I posted a picture of it on Facebook. I was so excited by this! and proud!

Eating: Well, I wouldn't call Kaitlyn a great eater, but I was just away on a Real Estate Conference for a few days and I brought her back some Chocolate Golden coins. I LOVED thinking about the joy that I would bring to Kaitlyn over a food treat. Food. She LOVES sweets, and like most kids I'm sure, would easily bypass any regular food to eat cream or any other sweet.

I do remember the time (Not so long ago) that everyone used to tell me, oh just give her sweets, that will make her eat. It never worked for Kaitlyn when she was tube fed. Now, it's another story.

Kaitlyn is getting taller all the time and now weighs about 31 pounds. She's still very small for a 4 year old and wears size 3 pants around the waist, but they are way too short for her. I was a skinny kid, so I basically don't worry much about food at this point!

Just wanted to make sure you read what I just wrote: "I don't worry much about food at this point!" Can you believe it! I instituted a program in my house that she gets what is prepared for her but she doesn't have to eat it all. She can be picky and goes without eating (which is still actually REALLY hard for me to do, as she would eat a yogurt if I gave that to her and I know she can use the calories). Sometimes I break down. but I don't want to create a picky eater.

She still gags on occasion. I'm amazed that she doesn't vomit. Just the other day she had a huge gag on something, and I sat there stunned, my heart breaking for her, remembering all the buckets of vomit we used to catch. Wow, shes' come a really long way.

Quinn update:

Quinn is now 17 months old. He started walking around Thanksgiving. He still tries to stand on his tippy toes. But he wobbliness is getting better. The little guy is so funny. He laughs and giggles and smiles and can be the happiest of toddlers you've ever seen. Then a minute later he either wants food (but not what you give him) so he screams and screams like you can't believe. If he wants something and you take it away from him, watch out!

I call him "Extreme Little Man", as he's very extreme, either happy and laughing, or screaming. When he screams. oh my I just loose it. It's so hard. Especially when he wants food. My help leaves at 5pm and I'm not much of a cook. So by the time I realize he needs food, usually about 5:15, I'm just trying to come off being a Realtor instead of being a mom and now I have a screaming toddler to contend with. (and of course when he's screaming, Kaitlyn usually gets set off). SO I start scrambling to find something I can heat up NOW.

How do working moms do the food thing? I'm sort of new at it obviously with having a regularly (well very picky) toddler and a 4 year old who has only been eating for a year. How can I have nutritious food ready for them when I've worked like crazy all day and I usually haven't' had time to eat myself?

I'm totally at a loss of what to do about the food issue. Then when I get him food if he doesn't' like it, he'll scream. What do I do? I'm trying to to reinforce the fact that he gets his way if he screams, but I don't want to give him, and he's super tiny also and needs the calories. Quinn also much prefers sweets. I can never give fruit before other food, as he'll never eat the other food.

Funny to say this but I still hate feeding time. For different reasons than before, obviously, but I really hate it. I don't have time to cook. I try to do an occasional crock-pot, but I don't have time for that either. when am I supposed to do the cooking? I don't know how working moms do it. Maybe their kids don't have melt downs at 5:15 when you've just gotten off work. Maybe their phones aren't ringing as I'm trying to hold my sanity with a screaming toddler.

It's really hard.

Then after I feed them, spend some time with them, do bath time and HOPE and PRAY that Quinn is in a good mood, as some times the screaming goes through bath time into bed. (other times, he laughs and giggles and is a joy to be around). You just never know what type of mood he's in, and it is horribly difficult to deal with. Sometimes he goes immediately to sleep, other times it's crying on and off for hours. Sometimes he sleeps through the night, other times, he wakes up inconsolable (I think recently that's been from teething).

After they go to bed, I sit back at my computer at 8pm, deal with any open phone calls I need to have with clients, then start catching up on work at 9. I still usually haven't eaten dinner (hopefully i've had some left-0ver toddler food). I'm so exhausted, all I want to do is crash in front of the tv, but most nights I end up working until anywhere from 11 -1am.

Besides being a full-time Real Estate Broker I also have to try to catch up on all the other things I do to, like:
-March of Dimes Ambassador Family and Family Teams Chair (now thankfully co-chair as I found some help and delegated). The walk is coming up in April, so that's really gearing up again.
-President of Marin Womens' Council of Realtors. I have to run monthly board meetings, sit on committee meetings and preside over our monthly lunch meeting (as well as travel 5 times this year to conferences).
-Ca State WCR Technology chair (I helped redo the state chapters website) which was sorely lacking before.
-Founder and Moderator of Preemie Blog Moms (support group for micro preemies, I now have over 600 member globally!)
-Founder of Bay Area Twinless Twins (we try to meet 1x a month to support one another)
-Founder of Marinwood Moms (a local neighborhood moms group) where I plan a moms night out once a month
-Member of feeding tube support group for bay area (where I try to attend the monthly support group meetings, which was my sanity savior and are now some of my closest friends)

I have started saying no, I've resigned from my local Realtor association Technology Committee, I'm doping my best to delegate as my role of President (which I can't wait to be over just due to the work load, but I'm committed and can't resign at this point) and as much as the state chapter keeps asking me to take on more leadership roles next year I am saying NO!

Oh by the way, I just returned from Indian wells and was awarded a very prestigious award:
California State WCR Outstanding Service Award.

THAT'S why I haven't been posting lately. By the time I get urgent work things attended to, the last thing I want to do is type more and blog.

How do working moms do this?


Kristin @ The Krumwiede 6 said...

Our daughter Shelby also has SPD, and my husband also tends to think its 'my soft momness' that "makes" her like that... HUGS

Kristen said...

I understand that SPD is challenging at best at times for families. Is she in OT that is geared to work on her sensory system. There are many programs they do that can work on decreasing her auditory and tactile sensitivies as well as give suggestions for sensory diet's for every day to prevent the meltdowns. With sensory issues, it is always best to be proactive w/providing the needed sensory input versus being reactive and giving her the input she's seeking after she's already in meltdown mode. A good OT can hopefully give your family some guidance and suggestions to make the roller coaster of life a little less bumpy. :)

stacy said...

conner deals with some sensory stuff now. it's not horrible now, but i do worry about how it will affect him in the future. like you, people are always telling me how lucky i am...and i know i am but i would love to have "normal" for a change.

have you ever tried boca burgers? they only take 1 minute to microwave and in bind, they work for us...and we also do the naked chicken nuggets (grilled) from costco that are quick too. i also like trader joe's frozed mac and cheese, but that takes about 5 minutes! i never know what to make and i'm a horrible cook, so i'd be interested if anyone has any good ideas for you.

thanks for posting!

Diane said...

My twin toddlers LOVE Boca burgers. They are so quick and easy. I melt cheese on top and then cut them in to bite size pieces. I serve them with frozen broccoli or spinach bites they sell at whole foods and there's dinner in about 4 minutes.

My son goes from totally fine to starving quickly so I take their dinner out during a quiet moment in the afternoon and put it on the counter ready to be heated (something your sitter might be able to do for you). That way when the kids are hungry all I have to do is put it in the microwave and it's ready by the time I can put them in their chairs.

Good Luck!

Flo said...

Hello Liz, I really don't have any proper advice because our eating habits are so different here, and it seems that other American moms had good ideas (boca burgers, whatever they are), but I just send you tons of warm thoughts and love from another working mom far away.

Anonymous said...

I think you have two difficult children but a lot of parents do. As a working mother I know that it is not easy to come home from work to fussy kids but it is a fact of life that many moms have to work. Have you ever considered dropping all of those other "obligations" that are taking so much of your mothering time and take some pressure off of yourself?

Hang in there; things will get better. Hope you can find some relief.

Sympathetic Mom

BusyLizzyMom said...

Hang in there. Elizabeth had extreme sensory issues at 3-4 years and almost over night things began to get better. Brushing and a sensory diet seemed to work for her. She still gets into sensory trouble but stops when I scold her for rolling in the dirt/pebbles and she has even left my plant pots alone. As for the movement thing Elizabeth livesin constant motion which is mostly related to her dsytonia, a friend told me it looks like I am trying wrestle an alligator when I was bathing her, sometimes I think using a vice would help keep her still to do her hair and teeth (of course it is only a thought).
Hopefully as Kaitlyn gets older things will improve as she can begin to regulate herself.

Momma Voss said...

PB-J is a good quick fix...just FYI...for the hungry Quinn

FlorinsMom said...

The pre-dinner hour is hard. I have found some Waldorf approaches that seem to work well at that time.

If they are starving, I try to feed them a rice cake or microwaved carrots (peeled, 3 minutes cooked in a little water, cooled) while I fix dinner.

If they like water, you might try this: our the kids spend about half an hour washing any other firm or leafy vegetables we might have with dinner or be getting ready for the next day. (Beets, greens, etc.) A dishpan on a table at their height or on the floor, beach towel underneath. I try to set this up so that I can work on the other stuff while they give the veggies their bath. Some days this works great, other days... not so well. If I don't have a veggie ready for this or don't want to deal with water, I'd give them each dishpans of something dry to play with like lentils or rotini.

I've got most ideas like this from our Waldorf class. That class has an Apple Day each week, so the afternoon before that Florin washes her apple, dries and polishes it and carries it to school in a special bag that I made for it. At school the teacher collects them in a special basket. (Her younger brother is a little too hard on the apples right now though. I just use his apples for applesauce.)

I also try to make things that I know that she likes, and that are fragrant. A lot of baking apples with cinnamon, that smells so nice. Making orange juice with a manual juicer, also fragrant and fun to do.

After dinner time, we also bring some things into the bath, like orange peels or a long coil of apple skin. So we definitely encourage playing with food!

After bath, we eat bread rolls with honey and butter. Making bread dough may be something that our help could do during the day so that the dough is ready for Kaitlyn to work on rolls while you are working on dinner. I think of bread as a sensory thing. Perhaps she might like it. We make bread rolls about 3 times a week.

I have an easy recipe which takes about 15 minutes using the Kitchen Aide. A great kids book to go along with this is called, "Sun Bread."

Anonymous said...

My preemie had/has sensory integration issues (auditory and tactile). She had a terrible time with vaccuum cleaners, blenders, public toilets, even the fans that come on with some of the lights in public bathrooms. And went through an entire year at age three fighting about wearing long sleeves and jackets. That is when the neurologist recommended the OT eval, and a course of OT. We spent a very pleasant year of once a week OT, which dealt with more systemic issues that underly the sensory integration stuff (vestibular something or another, and something with balance, etc.), and by working on that, it helped her auditory and tactile issues tremendously. She was SO sad when we stopped going to OT. She still doesn't like going to the bathroom in a public restroom, but she can do it now, and although she prefers short sleeves, she understands that long sleeves are appropriate in winter and wears them quite willingly. Well worth the time and effort.

Anonymous said...

It's so great to read that Kaitlyn is eating! I'm looking forward to the day i can say the same of my 3.5 year old "25 weeker." Personally--I'd let Kaitlyn have the yogurt! But I'm not judging, just envious! :)

Anonymous said...

Can you have your nanny start the kids' dinner? Or maybe give them a small snack that won't ruin their appetites while you fix dinner? Another thing you could do is cook ahead on the weekend, but I've never had my act together enough to do that. and yeah, like one of the previous commenters said, drop some of those obligations. it sounds insane and are you getting any pleasure out of any of it?

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last post...maybe put in some time on the weekend making dinners for the week and pop them in the freezer. Then have your sitter put them in the oven before she leaves. Maybe your kids can snack on something quick and easy while dinner cooks. I also liked the idea of getting Kaitlyn involved with cooking...if she'll have it. I HATE cooking ahead, but I really appreciate it during the week. Also, do you have to be so involved in work and the extras right now? Is it something that can wait until the kids get older? With work and kids, there is no way I could have those other commitments. Its a hard balance!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last post...maybe put in some time on the weekend making dinners for the week and pop them in the freezer. Then have your sitter put them in the oven before she leaves. Maybe your kids can snack on something quick and easy while dinner cooks. I also liked the idea of getting Kaitlyn involved with cooking...if she'll have it. I HATE cooking ahead, but I really appreciate it during the week. Also, do you have to be so involved in work and the extras right now? Is it something that can wait until the kids get older? With work and kids, there is no way I could have those other commitments. Its a hard balance!

Robin said...

I am also a working mom who has a hard time saying no. I have 3 kids (2 are twins). would help you, your children, your health, and your marriage, to dramatically decrease the number of extra curricular activities you have. Choose the 2 that you are most passionate about. Seriously, I think by now you must realize you CANNOT do it. You must ask yourself WHY you are doing so much. If you start eliminating these extra activities and people give you a hard time, that is their problem, not yours.

As far as food goes: your help should be giving the kids a healthy (not too filling) snack about 1 to 2 hours before dinner. Mandatory if you don't want screaming hungry kids at dinnertime. She should also help prep for dinner so that when you come home you can whip it all together in 10 minutes. Ie, she can clean and cut vegetables and boil some water in the pot and when you get home you stick them in the pot and they are done in 10 minutes. That way, you don't have to depend on all the processed foods out there that you just stick in microwave to heat up. I truly believe your kids will learn to like healthier foods better. If your help is not capable of doing this, consider getting new help or additional help. Another food suggestion: make a list of dinners you and your family enjoy so you don't have to always think of what to make. You could all be eating the same thing now, although I hesitate to suggest that with Kaitlyn's lack of eating history. If you want easy and healthy meal ideas (I really cringe at some of the other processed food ideas), please let me know.

With all that said, being a working mom is hard and believe me it gets harder when they enter elementary school. And maybe some of what I've suggested is easier said than done. But, I do hope things get easier.


Anna said...

Suggestions from a working mom who cooks.
-simplify your life, take less committments.
- at 8pm make time to eat dinner and take a break. You will find that you will go through all the other chores faster if you do. Or better, try to eat together with your children.
-Reduce snacking and juice close to meals, or cut them altogether, you want them to have a good appetite at meals.
-I know many people follow strict routines, but I think that key to good nutrition is eating when you are hungry. So if children are hungry at 6 pm and dinner is at 6:30 pm, anticipate their dinner. If you are not home yet, instruct your babysitter to feed them. Make sure she knows what food is ok and what not.
-delegate some cooking. Show your babysitter how to cook what you want.
-If there's really nothing ready and they are getting cranky, popcorn will give them a quick fix and not reduce the appetite too much. I am taking about corn alone. No additive, no butter. You pop the corn yourself, make it a day or two before and store it in a ziplock bag
-things that are fast: canned tuna, scrambled eggs, and my favorite: bread with olive oil and salt (my child likes balsamic vinegar too). Put the oil/salt in a small plate, and let your child have fun dipping in it. Or you can put in some hummous with bread, carrots, broccoli, celery...anything you think they may eat. And guacamole, with bread with chips...they won't each much else afterwards but it's nutricious.
-cook things that can be prepared fast. Pasta that cooks in 6-7 minutes (prepare the sauce in advance, store it in the fridge). Or cook it before and store it in the fridge. Freeze cubes of broth which can be thawed in the microwave fast, and add rice or pasta (also cooked beforehand). Freeze freshly squeezed juice (like naked, etc) into cubes, add a stick and make pospsicles for dessert.
-Buy ground meat of your choice ( whole foods has orgnic veal, great for kids), make mini-hamburgers in a pan, they are ready in less than 10 minutes. -Keep at home other meats/fish cut very thin, so that it can be cooked fast. For example, sole.
-be adventurous, you may be surprised at what they eat, children change tastes very often. My oldest (4.5yrs) will eat only white rice for a week and then the next week she'll eat sashimi (seriously!)
-don't be hard on yourself, we can't do everything all the time, right?