Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Whole Truth...

And nothing but the truth.

At the insistence of family and friends, I'm coming clean about my recent "accident" which was not caused during a fantastic skiing vacation in Aspen as I'd reported earlier. I'm warning you...you're going to be sorry you asked "what happened?!" This is, after all, an embarrassing tale of an unfortunate incident.

In an attempt to dash out the front door and capture photos of my daughter Tayler's surprise expression when she saw her car covered in graduation well wishes, I twisted an ankle and ended up like a pretzel on the cold, hard concrete in front of my mother-in-law's house. A visit to the ER and two X-rays later, I was given the news: broken ankles. To boot, there was another casualty in the crash landing: my Canon digital camera.

The story is unexciting, sad, and even a little pathetic as the accident happened at the beginning of our 2nd day on vacation in Seattle, AND I had to attend Tayler's graduation (the whole reason for our trip) in a wheelchair, a walking boot, a splint, and oversize pants...instead of my cute dress and peep-toe sandals. A shout out to my sister-in-law, Robin, who at least dressed up my chariot with a "Yield to the Princess" pink, glittery bumper sticker.

But every cloud has a silver lining...I enjoyed the buzz of Vicodin, Washington microbrews (I'm sure not driving anywhere soon!), and the company of loving family and friends caring for me. At the end of the day, if time and money can fix it, it's all good, right?

Back at home, my amazing colleagues hooked me up with UM's chief of orthopedic trauma who decided against surgery, following an MRI of the right ankle. He's going to leave the left ankle to heal on its own (the floating bone fragment seems nothing to worry about, so I won't). I'm off my feet and will be good as new in 6 to 12 weeks. For now, I'm spending many hours on the recliner getting acquainted with Showtime's Nurse Jackie and HBO's True Blood.

See, I told you my fib was the way to go...what a lame way to break anything, let alone something that's left me mostly dependent on others for several weeks during the hot, humid Miami summer!

However, I now know this much is true: I know who I can count on, including my devoted husband. People want to rise to the occasion, so I let them. I can follow, instead of lead. The house won't fall apart because I can't keep up with it. My son can roll with the punches and won't be forever scarred by watching me be "less than" my own version of "perfect." My patience is growing thick. Work can wait.

And this is how I roll.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Graduates

Where does the time go? Although it's not ticking at an accelerated pace, it sure feels that way as we get older. What gives? There are few things more sobering related to the passing of time than watching children grow.

I first met my daughter, Tayler, when she was 10 years old -- we were still about the same height then...at nearly 18, she towers over me at 5"9. It has been a pleasure to watch her blossom into such a beautiful, loving and dedicated young woman, now a high school graduate and college-bound in the fall.

She was lovely and beaming at her graduation in Seattle last week, and we were thrilled to share this special occasion with her and her Aunt Robin and Grandma Gwen (Tom's sister and Mom, pictured below).

We made it back to Miami in time for Lucas' early education graduation on June 11th. He's off to preK-3 in the fall. He was adorable in his cap and gown, and would have made it across the "stage" had he not spotted his parents in the front row -- watch the short video below.

One chapter ends and another begins for our graduates...making their parents proud.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Stepping Stones: Lucas at 3 1/2 Years Old

Since my last report at 36 months (3 years old), Lucas has made steady progress. He knows all his upper case letters and even some of the lower case, which we are continuing to work on. He knows that "T" is for "Tom" and "A" for "apple" as well as many other letters, and he can sing the alphabet song (albeit slowly), including signing many of the letters (which he learned from Rachel of Signing Times). We've also been working on his sight reading (although not as much in the last couple of months) and he knows "cat" and "dog" and "pig" and about another dozen words.

He can now say "Lucas" as opposed to "U-cas" -- one of the greatest improvement with his speech is his articulation. He use to say "awr" for "water" and now he says the word clearly. That's true for many other words too. He's also stepping up his 2- and 3-word phrases and beginning to use "and" and "that" and other parts of sentences. His speech therapist expects him to begin using short sentences very soon. The other thing that is happening is that Lucas is able to start telling us what happened so when we ask questions, he puts together answers with his limited speech and/or answers "yes/no" questions with fairly good accuracy. We found this out when he bit another boy's ear a couple of months ago and told us "Carter's ear" and when we asked him if he bit Carter, he fessed up with a "yeah!" Not my proudest moment for his behavior, but was sure proud he was able to communicate what had happened. He knows his friends' names, his teachers, and his family, and calls everyone by their names or his nickname for them. When you ask "What is your name? or "How old are you?" he can answer both questions.

Lucas is enjoying engaging in play with friends as well as in dramatic play. He likes to play with his animals and often wants to bring them with him. He is getting more independent, although he's also become a better listener (thank God!). He's following directions with more accuracy, including 3 and 4-step directions. We moved a few weeks ago, and Lucas is now waking up and going to his playroom and playing alone for a few minutes before yelling "Daddy" and "Mom" for us to join him.

Lucas is counting to 10 -- and now knows the concept of "one" so he'll give you "one" block (which is one of those pesky test questions). And we're starting to count things, such as toes! So, he's beginning to understand the concept of counting and not just memorizing the numbers.

Hands down, one of Lucas' biggest accomplishments since my last entry is his potty training. We put him in undies on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) and haven't looked back. Sure he has accidents, but they are becoming less frequent, especially number 2. He's had not more than a handful of accidents at school in the last few months...he's way more lax at home. He's starting to tell us if he has to go, again, especially number 2.

In the fine motor skills area, we're working on getting him to cut with scissors (although he doesn't like cutting) as well as unscrew jar lids. His OT (occupational therapist) has had us working on strengthening his trunk which will help with everything, especially once he starts handwriting which tends to be a big challenge of kids with DS. Lucas eats with both a spoon and fork, although he prefers a fork and continues to be really messy. He's getting much better about coloring/writing on paper (not walls), although he needs to be watched.

As for gross motor skills, Lucas has become a climbing machine. He loves the playground and has become very independent on the equipment. He goes up the ladder to slide down the biggest slide, without fear. He's still working on riding a tricycle, and although he's mastered the activity, we are working on building his leg muscles so he can go farther distances as well as on different terrain. He's still working on jumping in place, although he's enjoying jumping on a trampoline...his PT (physical therapist) explained jumping on a trampoline requires a different skill...who knew?

The one thing I have mixed feelings about is how much Lucas has taken to the TV. He LOVES "Madagascar" and "Madagascar 2" -- he tells you whether he wants to watch "Lion 1" or "Lion 2" -- he knows the DVDs so well he's starting to play along some of his favorite scenes, including the dancing. He loves DVD concerts/music by "Raffi" and "the Bee" (Laurie Berkner Band). He also enjoys "Buzz and Woody" of "Toy Story" and continues to be fond of "Signing Times" too (at least that's educational). Lucas was a huge fan of "American Idol" this season or as he calls it "singing". Lucas loves books and reading, although he is now equating books with sleep at night, so he sometimes fights it. His favorite books are "Move Over Rover" and "The Little Engine that Could" although he still loves "Kiss Goodnight."

We now are preparing for Lucas to transition from the Debbie School's early intervention program into Pre-K3. We will face his first IEP (individualized education plan) which is a yearly meeting of his education team -- including a placement specialist and teacher from Miami-Dade county schools, his teacher, speech therapist, and case worker at the Debbie School -- to discuss and put together his developmental goals and arrange his placement for the school year. I'm nervous because Lucas is doing so well, I know he will lose some of his services as a result (he now gets 2x week speech therapy, 1x week occupational therapy and physical therapy). I'm not sure what the county will be willing to pick up, so we need to know our rights and be well prepared for the meeting. Say a little prayer for us and stay tuned for the outcome.