Monday, November 29, 2010

mass fun

Yesterday during mass, at the moment of elevation of the host no less, Jack announces rather loudly, "I smell a fart!" You have to know Jack to appreciate this. He wasn't giggling or being bad or anything. He just constantly comments on what's around him, very matter of factly, and that's what he had to say, right then. Kain proceeds to fall apart because, 1. Jack said "fart", and that is a really, really funny word and you can't possibly stay in control of yourself if someone says it, and 2. Kain was likely the one who actually dealt it, judging from his bright red face and embarassed expression. Maria is visiting her grandparents, so she wasn't there to help, and all of this happened while John was already in the back with another small child, I don't even remember which one now as both Henry and Tess were generally fussy and both had to be taken out at different points. It was quite a mass, even for us.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A belated Happy Thanksgiving, and more pictures

Did you have a nice Thanksgiving? We met with my family, and while there was a smidge of the usual dysFUNction thrown in, overall it went nicely. My children behaved and took the holiday-ness in stride, so that always makes for a good day, hehe.

Here's some pictures from Jack's 6th birthday. It was a busy day! We went out to lunch at his favorite pizza place/playland place, and then to the insect festival at our state university. The entomology students put this on every year, but this is the first time we've gone.

Jack really liked it and talked about meeting these giant bugs all day.

Jack's presents...this wagon, and mostly legos in the boxes...I got some pictures of him unwrapping too, but he was standing up and only half-dressed (as usual), and well...they need to be edited a bit!

It's a Lego cake! Shut up! It's beautiful!

Happy Birthday sweet Jack-man! You are such a gentle, happy boy, you have such a great sense of humor, and you just melt my heart when you smile.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Advent OCD

Jennie posted about how she bought extra Advent candles so that she can replace them anew each Sunday and all her candles would be the same length all of Advent. While I admire her own particular hang up, I have my own Advent candles have to burn down in equal rations. I mark my candles (secretly, with a toothpick), dividing them up so that the first candle will be 1/4th of the way down by the second Sunday of Advent, then half gone by the 3rd Sunday, then 3/4 gone by the 4th Sunday, etc. I do the same with the other candles, adjusting as to when they will be lit.

I've always been bothered with the extra candle leftover though, and all leftover candles really. Some brilliant commenter on Jennie's site said she uses up partially burned candles during Lent. Eureka! I love it! Such penance! I picture my home full of mismatched, unlovely candles, the picture of Lenten thrift.

Any of your own OCD habits to share?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

more pictures- late September/early October

A very ripe banana... a very good first food.

Our Letter B tea...cinnamon-sugar bagels

And berry punch. The big green box in the way contains Maria's lifelong collection of colored pencils.

Little snacks from the feast of the Guardian Angels.

H/T to Lacy at Catholic Icing. for this one!

Our church holds a pumpkin painting lunch every year.

Henry only watches the action from his car seat...

..but he has seasonal booties at least.

Jack detests getting his hands into the paint.


...not so much..

Tess's finished blue/grey masterpiece.


Kain's...I'm pretty sure that's someone with some kind of inflicted injury...

Maria's tasteful stripes...very tasteful, in fact. We very recently baked a "dinner in a pumpkin" stew inside this one!

Monday, November 22, 2010

alone in a crowd

I've been stewing over this post for quite a while. I hesitate to write it because, first, it's one of those things that is probably going to come out all wrong, and second, I don't always feel this way...

But I will just go ahead and say it. This life,,,this stay-at-home mom of little kids, homeschooling life that I love...this is a lonely life. I don't always feel lonely. Most of the time I would say I am too busy to really even think about it, and that I really would feel hard-pressed to find the time to nurture a close friendship right now anyway, that that kind of relationship with other adults was for a time in my past life, and probably will be for another time in the future, but it's not for now. I don't have time for long phone chats and lunches out. I don't even have time to shave. But still. Sometimes I miss it. Sometimes the loneliness of it all is crushing. Do I sound like a total dip?

John is my best friend. We talk, often. But, I am an extrovert married to an introvert. He just doesn't have the same need to connect as I do, not in the same way anyway. When life is stressful, I need to talk more and he needs to talk less. It's a less than ideal situation at times.

I belong to homeschool groups. When I go to activities, I spend all my time chasing my kids while they chase theirs. I have never been able to regularly attend mom's nights out and planning meetings and those sorts of things because I always have nursing babies and toddlers and a husband that works weird hours. I have a babysitting teenager who already babysits too much to depend on for such trifling things. I am blessed to be close to my mom and I talk to her daily...a link to the world outside my living room and very often the only adult conversation I have for days at a time. But I miss having regular contact with friends, I miss laughing over drinks and appetizers, I miss drinking too much coffee over a long heart to heart, I miss having lunch with people that I don't have to feed. I've filled the gap with online groups and forums, but now I barely have time to keep my inbox empty. I wake up with children in my bed, and go to sleep with children in my bed. I nurse babies in my sleep. I take showers with little heads peeping around the curtain and voices calling up the stairs. I'm never, ever alone. I'm so busy and I'm so surrounded by other people that I feel like crawling into a cave at times, and so who can be lonely in the middle of all of this crazy, people-filled chaos?

Oh, I'm not always lonely, not even close. Most days I'm just fine, really and truly. I'm happy, and I don't regret my choices, and I truly love spending every day with my children. I was a working mom, and it sucked. I know I'm blessed, enormously blessed, to be here surrounded by these sweet faces.

But some days...some days are different, you know? Some days I'm overwhelmed and stressed out and in tears much of the day over this and that, and my husband is absorbed in his own stuff and just doesn't get it, and I'm wishing then that I had someone to call, someone to say, "hey, I need to vent, let's meet for coffee", and then I regret all those almost-friendships I didn't take the time to nurture.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eureka! Pictures!

I found my camera! Huzzah!

I made such a display of emotion when I found it that I embarrassed Maria...she was on the phone with a friend. Can't be helped though. I was really starting to worry that it was gone for good. Sure enough though, I found it when we were cleaning. I was crawling around, digging out all the goodies that had traveled under the couch during the week, and found my camera under there. I have no idea why it was there.

Oh my goodness, so much to catch up on, so's so tedious to upload and such, and my little kids are already awake and flocking, so how about just a few at a time....

going back as far as September!! Here's a blueberry cheesecake for the nativity of the Blessed Virgin...see how the sauce is kinda brown looking? There was cinnamon in it. But it was good! We set 10 candles in it and lit one at a time as we said a decade of the rosary. Then the kids sang happy birthday and blew them all out.

Jack working on his letter formation during our "A" unit.

We have letter boxes with little doodads beginning with the letter "A", and he lays them all out and names them.

Does it look like we're working on a bed? Because we are! We have taken to working at least some of the time on the open futon in the school room. It has high ends and is up against a wall, so by laying a couple of pillows on the one open end we effectively have a giant play yard for Henry. I will often sit there with Henry and another child to do some work.

It works least until he starts crawling!

Illustrating a Bible narration....notice that terrible pencil grip! It's so hard to get him to put pencil to paper at all though that I'm not frustrating him by correcting his grip at this point. His therapist will work on that and give me some tips soon I'm sure.

Baseball pics...

Tess and Henry waiting out the hot game day.

Baseball cookies after the first game.

and also cross cookies for the feast of the Holy Cross. We had a cookie hunt. Most of the cookies looked like this....

Except for the true cross, wrapped in plastic wrap, that looked like this....

The kids hunted for cookie crosses, a la St. Helena and the search for the true cross, and Jack found the "true cross". Then we decorated the rest too, because, you know, you have to be "fair".

A cake for the feast of the Seven Sorrows of Mary. Maria decorated it and put the swords in all straight up and down, which wasn't quite what I was going for, hehe...

We eat a lot of crap, huh? Such is the burden of being Catholic. We bear it bravely. To be fair, a cake divided between all of us is not so much per person, and we take at least two tea times to finish it. Sometimes I send leftovers to work with John. And the cookies were actually one batch of sugar cookie dough that I divided up to use for both the baseball cookies and the cross cookies. And some months are just heavy in feast days too...and some months I'm more motivated to celebrate every durned thing. And we make up for it during Lent. There, feel better? I know I do...

Ok, here's Henry at 5 months...asleep...

and awake!

And Tess with her very first pigtails. :)It is a source of heated debate what to do with her hair. The bangs are way long now and she looks like a sheep dog. I am not sure whether to cave and cut them again or suffer through growing them out.

Excuse all the junk at the top of the stairs. We have been in transition working on this living room for ages. But! Trumpets please! John finished cutting up carpet for me last week, and Maria and I moved stuff around and cleaned area rugs and everything is all put back together again, yay!
More tomorrow!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

and the last bit of updating....

We have our bird feeder loaded up and hanging outside our kitchen window. It's a great place for it. It's busy there, both the feeder and our kitchen. The birds are always shy at first but they soon learn to ignore us and I smile every time I see them there...lots of robins right now, chickadees, a purple finch, a few sparrows...we have a pair of cardinals that I love to see every year. So far I have seen the female, but I haven't seen her mate. This is unusual because they are always together.

So, let's up is Tessie. She's 2 1/2 now. We took a crack at potty training before our new school year started and it failed miserably. Oh, she could do it. She knows when she needs to go. When we tried potty training, I bought some pretty panties to put on her and told her to keep them dry. So when she needed to go, she would take them off and pee on the floor! The idea of sitting on the potty seriously freaked her out though. So, we just backed off and put the diapers back on her. We're reading potty books and watching potty movies and talking about using the potty, but that's it. I think we'll try again over Christmas break.

Tess was such an easy, sweet baby. She is definitely a firecracker now though! But still, she's not a terror or anything. She's just two. She's very sweet and funny, really just a lot of fun to have around. She's always been a big Daddy's girl, but the last few weeks she seems to have suddenly realized that we have a new baby around, so now she's all about Momma. I'm not sure why things changed...maybe because Henry is older and seems more like an actual person to her? But she's a bit insecure right now. She's my little shadow, often right behind me imitating whatever I'm doing. So I'm spending extra time with her and making sure we get plenty of snuggle time and hoping she will learn that she is still my sweet baby girl. In spite of it all, she seems to love Henry and is always very sweet to him, snuggling him up to her and saying, "My sweetie, my sweetie", :).

Tess reminds me a lot of Maria at that age. She loves music and loves to dance. She is watching the Wiggles right now and dancing along in front of the screen. She also likes Signing Time and has learned quite a few signs already. She loves going to story time at the library. She loves books and will often collect a stack of them and then sit down and thumb through them, "reading" to herself. One of her favorite things to do is to go outside and play in the yard, so I try to do that a couple of times a day. Often I will send Maria outside for the morning outside time (much to Maria's irritation) and then I'll go out in the afternoon. Kain loves to go outside and is always up for playing with anyone, but he's not quite ready to be responsible for Tess in the yard...too distractable. Maybe when she's a little bit older.

The quirkiest thing about Tess right now is her stashing. She has these little hoards all over the house. She collects random little bits of things from all over and hides them in a cabinet or corner, or in her purse. She's quite obsessed with her purse and spends a lot of time filling it up with treasures, emptying it out and laying out the contents carefully, then gathering it all back up again. There was a little meme going around recently in which you were supposed to empty your purse or diaper bag and take a picture of the contents. I'm so messy that this would probably be very funny, but I had actually just cleaned out my diaper bag and so there wasn't anything unusual in it at that particular time. Instead I emptied Tessie's purse and took a picture of was hysterical! And now my camera's missing....sniff...

Ok,,,,last but certainly not least, Mr. Henry! Gosh, I wish I could post some pictures!! Maybe the camera will turn up in our weekend cleaning. Anyway, Henry is almost seven months old now. He's already got four big ole teeth! He cut his first tooth at four months, much earlier than any of the others! He's so much fun...he jabbers and play with toys and scootches all over the floor. He's always very happy and rarely cries. He loves all the other kids and watches them play, and you can tell he can't wait to get down there and join in. He's still very long...we recently had his six month check up and he was in the 95th percentile for length! But only the 40th or so for weight...long and a bit skinny. You wouldn't know it to see him fully dressed because he's got big fat cheeks, but he is a bit thin further down, at least compared to the rest of my chunky monkeys. But it's not a concern...he's gaining well enough and nursing very well, and he actually is eating baby food,,,my first baby to do so. The others never really got past the sampling stage with the baby food, but he really likes it so far. He's got next to no hair and looks rather like Elmer Fudd...hehe....big round face and head, no hair....

Here you go...a picture of Henry...heehee...

The doctor said that his muscle tone is still noticeably low, but not terrible, and he's meeting all of his milestones. She said she would refer us for a PT evaluation but that she was comfortable waiting if we wanted to wait. I tell you, it was Jack all over again! I mean, at every well child visit they would say that exact same thing! Not for PT, but for speech therapy. But really, what's the point in a PT evaluation if he's meeting his milestones? He sits up, he rolls easily, he's scootching...I don't know, I just don't see the point right now. But I've been in a bit of a panic over it ever since, because how I wish I had taken them up on having Jack evaluated earlier. And so if it is still an issue at his nine month check up, I think I will take her up on it. After all, what can an evaluation hurt? If they say, "Nope, he's perfectly fine", well then, that would be nice to hear for a change, huh? And if he does need some therapy, better to start early.

We are still in liver limbo with Henry. They attempted to recheck his liver enzymes last week but the phlebotomist couldn't get any blood after two sticks so we are going back to try again next week. Every time they check his enzymes are better...but they are not down to normal yet. Every disorder they have tested him for has come back negative. He still shows no other signs of any liver inflammation, no jaundice, nothing like that. So, we are still praying that his enzymes will return to normal and this will all be done with.

Ok, I've got to run. It's getting so late! We are meeting with Kain's cub scout pack to design a float for the Christmas parade. John is working, so I've got to take him. Hope it's not too cold out there!

Friday, November 19, 2010

update, part 2, no pics

My camera is still missing. I'm really bummed. I'm starting to wonder if it's not lost in the big world somewhere. I don't remember the last time I used it. I know we had it on Halloween, but it's been around the house since then. Surely it's around here somewhere....

Anyway, I'll carry bravely on.....updates....

Jack- Jack turned six years old in October! He is doing really well. He's improved in so many ways. He can communicate so much better, he can answer questions decently most of the time and has such a goofy sense of humor. He's very smart and loves silly word puns, that kind of humor, and it's so fun to make a little crack about something and see if he gets it. He usually does. He doesn't really like going to therapy much anymore. I think he loves his therapists, but it's hard work now and he'd just rather stay home and play. We had this conversation recently....

Jack, in his slow and careful way of speaking-"Therapy is harder than it looks."
Me- "What is hard for you to do?"
Jack- "Double meanings are hard."
Me- "You mean like 'butterflies in your stomach'? Is that a double meaning?"
Jack, smiling- "No, that's an idiom! Butterflies in your stomach...does that mean that you are nervous, or that you had butterflies for lunch?" (giggling now because he knows the answer)
Me- "Ok, so what's a double meaning?"
Jack- "Earth is a double meaning."
Me- "What does earth mean?"
Jack- "Is earth our planet that we live on, or our the dirt in the yard?"

He still reads all the time and especially still loves the DK Eyewitness books. I recently took him for his 6 year well child visit and he prattled on and on (as he does when he's nervous) about Pluto and windy Neptune and Jupiter's moons. He's blowing through the kindergarten work in most areas, but he struggles a lot with the Bible narrations. His speech therapist is helping with this, doing sequencing cards and story predictions and that sort of thing with him. He's very distractable and often the hardest part is just getting him to sit still and listen to the story! This is one of the saddest issues for me, and other than the eye contact issue is one of the ways I *know* Jack has declined into autism. From the time he was a toddler, Jack *loved* being read to. He would bring me books all day long and would sit and listen happily for as long as I was willing to read. I remember stopping my work in the kitchen and sitting down on the kitchen floor to read him a story. Now it is very difficult most of the time to get him to pay attention to a read aloud. If I can get him to sit still next to me at all, he usually chatters to himself about some unrelated topic the whole time. Every once in a while I find a book that grabs him. We read "Make Way for Ducklings" during our "B is for Birds" study and he was utterly charmed and sat through that long book several times. But usually it is very difficult to keep his attention.

He also still struggles with writing and will for some time. He has been receiving occupational therapy and can very, very slowly and carefully write a handful of capital letters. That's big progress! But still,,,his skills in this area are probably on about the level of your average three year old. We have been practicing with a Magnadoodle board because that surface is much easier for him to write on than paper.

Other than the four hours a week of speech and OT, we haven't made much progress in pursuing other treatments. Attempts to broaden his dietary horizon so that we can try the gluten/casein free diet have failed miserably. If anything, he continues to get more picky and his growth curve has dropped off dramatically. He used to be around the 60th percentile and now his height is around the 25th percentile. This was especially obvious when I broke out cold weather clothes....he is wearing the same sized pants as last year! His calorie intake is fine, he's not underweight, but he eats such a limited diet, more limited than ever. He basically lives on string cheese, milk, crackers, apples, bananas, and grapes. Sometimes he will eat some fish sticks, chicken nuggets, or hot dogs. I know these are not very healthy, but it is the closest thing to meat that he will eat and I buy the healthiest versions of these that I can find. He eats no real meat, eggs, no beans, not even peanut butter anymore. He'll eat junk and McDonald's and ice cream and such, but of course I don't want him eating a bunch of that! He does take a multivitamin. Mostly I'm worried about his protein intake. Oh, he gets plenty of actual grams of protein I guess from all the milk and cheese. But different forms of protein supply different amino acids, and he gets pretty much all of his protein from milk products. The pediatrician recommended putting him on Pediasure once a day, so my new morning job is to get the shake down him while keeping it away from Tess...she's more than happy to help him drink it if she can!

One issue that keeps popping up with Jack is safety. This is common, I guess, with special needs kids. They get older and better able to outsmart child-proofing measures, but they still lack any judgement at all. Our most recent issue has been that when Jack wants to go outside he will open the play room window and just go on out. See, we have child-proofed the doors and he still can't figure out how to get those open. He doesn't like to ask us if he can go out because we might say no, or at the very least we will slow him down by making him put on socks and shoes (or pants,,,he often has cast those off), so he finds it faster just to open the window and climb out. That particular window overlooks the deck, so it's not high up or anything. The locks don't stop him. We haven't been able to find any latch or lock that fits our window or devise anything that he can't figure out. Because it's now so cold and dark so early, and because lack of pants or daylight doesn't phase him any, John has duck-taped the window shut from the outside. It is quite the white trash addition to the house, let me tell you. Still, it's not quite so trashy as finding your nearly naked 6 year old on the trampoline when it's 45 degress outside. We are still looking for better alternatives to the duck tape though.

In many ways, Jack seems more autistic as he gets older, even as he makes great improvements in many areas. The differences between him and other kids just are more apparent the older he gets, especially in the area of "oddities"...little mannerisms and behaviors that he exhibits...crying with any correction that you make, hitting himself in the head when he's upset, laughing inappropriately, repetitive speech. I find myself worrying a lot about his future. He has very poor social abilities as far as interacting with other children, and unlike Kain, he doesn't care. He has no interest in other children at all, at least outside of our home. He does play with Kain and his siblings quite well. One of his therapists has recommended calling the school district for additional speech therapy. They do it in small groups and she thinks this would be good for him, so I will check into that after Thanksgiving. I would love to find a social skills group for him but haven't been able to find one so far. It's frustrating.

Anyway...I think I will stop here and continue with Tess and Henry updates next time. Again I've developed keyboard diarrhea and this post is quite long enough!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

an update, and pictures, part 1 of 2

So, since it's been a while, how about a person by person update...I'll just pop in some favorite pictures that we've taken during my, erm, sabbatical...
(*updated to MIA. Recent pictures unavailable. SIGH. I've put in some pictures from last summer's trip to The Magic House,just for funsies.) (They are pretty much just of the little people though since the big two were off on their own.)

Let's start from the top, shall we? Oldest to youngest?

John switched jobs recently. It was all very well coordinated and painless really. He had been working full time at a local hospital for years and PRN at an inpatient hospice. Well, he basically just switched those around. Now he's working full time at the hospice and PRN at the hospital. It's been a good change of pace for him and I think he's happy. The new job is closer to home and he tends to not get out as late in general, so I'm happy. He's running along with his ham radio hobby and just built his first antennae. I don't really get the ham radio thing myself, but I'm glad he has a hobby and maybe the kids will get involved in it with him sometime down the road.

Me...I'm next. What can I say? I homeschool, I nurse babies, I change lots (and lots) of diapers, I fold laundry and plan meals, pretty much what I was doing when I left off a couple of months ago! It's sweet and contentment-filled some days...overwhelming and angst-filled on other days. We are moving veeeerrryyyy slowly down that Alphabet Path. We have just finished up letter B! I refuse to get agitated about this because this was always supposed to be supplementary and fun. I'm going to try to move through C and D a little quicker, but with the holidays promises. For November and All Saints we are working our way through set #2 of Holy Traders. Two years ago we did set #1. Last year we didn't do any. I don't remember why, except that I was early pregnant with Henry and probably barely dragging myself through the day. Every day we read a card and I give Kain and Maria that card for their album. There's 25 cards in a pack, so it takes us all of November (at least) to get through a pack. I'm also working on some Advent plans. We will be doing Holy Hereos Advent Adventures for the first time, and that combined with read-alouds from our Advent books will probably be enough.

Maria- Please gather around for a shocking announcement.

Maria turned 14 in September.

I know, I know. It surprised me too. What can you do? What is so odd to me is that I remember being 14 *really, really* well. It's all a little surreal having a daughter this age. It's like being in some kind of flashback sequence at times, like, "Oh yeah, I remember going through life painstakingly avoiding drawing attention to myself because I was certain everyone was watching and critiquing every move I made. And aren't you glad you don't have to live in that mindset anymore?" So at 14 Maria is sweet (most all the time) and responsible (pretty much) and absolutely gorgeous beyond all reason, which is a giant cross for John and I to bear, let me tell you. There's nothing quite like moving through life to the point when you are in the mall and the men are checking out your DAUGHTER. Last year it seemed to be just the creepy types that were doing this, but now it's even the average-seeming guys. The difference is in the face of the one doing the looking. I look up to find the creepy guys still leering. The other guys don't seem to realize that they are looking until they see *me* looking at *them* looking at my *underage, still-young-enough-to-have dolls-in-her-bedroom-child*, and then they look *guilty and embarrassed*. At least they have the grace to look embarrassed. But the embarassment gives them away. If they were looking at her thinking "Oh, what a charming child!", they would not look embarassed, correct? Anyway. Ahem. This was about Maria, not my own neuroses, right?

Maria has grown a lot in her school work since last year. We are working hard on her writing and spelling issues and there is good progress there. But I don't see a lot of post high school education for this one. We are starting to talk about such things, and she doesn't really know what she wants to do after she graduates, but we all know that she does not like school. At all. None of it. She says she wants to work with animals, and she wants to get married and have children, and she wants to collect stuff to supply her constant stream of art projects.

She's got an Irish dance competition coming up on Saturday, and she's entering the art competition there for the first time. She's made a bodhran, or Irish drum, from a hat box. I'll post pictures of that after this weekend. It came out well, and she's hoping to place well with it. I don't think she'll have a problem placing, there won't be much competition for one thing, but I hope she does well too. It would mean a lot to her.

She's also very involved in everything going on at church. She's started our parish's two-year confirmation prep program, as well as attending the regular junior-high classes, and she's singing in the Life Teen band. She's always been very extroverted and busy, this one.

Ok, next up is Kain- Kain has joined Cub Scouts this year. He's a first year Webelo, and if you don't know what that means don't feel bad. Neither did I. Scouts is a culture all it's own, that's for sure, and we are catching up fast. It's a family affair, and he and John have been spending more time together as a result. I think good things will come of that. Anyway, Webelo is an acronym that stands for "We'll Be Loyal Scouts". It's fourth and fifth grade boys making the transition from cub scouts to boy scouts.

Kain and Jack both played Miracle League baseball this fall. That was a blast. The boys loved it, and it was so nice to see them feel successful at something. Just a very positive and fun experience. They will be starting up again in the spring.

We are realizing as Kain gets older that his delays are more profound than we thought. We knew there were speech and motor issues in the beginning, and he's finished therapy for those. And there's the bipolar/ADHD diagnoses and all that goes with them. But he's also just been very slow to develop in certain ways that are hard to pinpoint. There's just things that he doesn't *get* that he should by now it seems. It's hard to describe. All I can really give are examples, which are always just kind of a snapshot and don't really show the whole picture of what he's like. He's overall very, very immature, and because of this he never makes friends his own age. He doesn't fit in with kids his own age, they think he's weird, and he always ends up with kids that are 7 or 8 years old. It's good at least that homeschooling allows for this, since everything we go to has kids of all ages. Other things....the Miracle League thing. This is a special needs baseball league. Many of the children playing are profoundly wheelchairs and such...or having significant cognitive issues, like Jack. Kain's issues are more subtle, and I probably wouldn't have ever thought to put him in something like this except that Jack was playing anyway. When I registered him, I wondered how he would take it, if he would ask why I had signed him up to play on this kind of team, or why so many of the kids were in wheelchairs, etc. He never said a word. Never questioned it at all. A "normal" 10 year old would, don't you think?

There are other examples...he has an exceedingly poor memory, more than just the ADHD "spaciness", and a very poor concept of time. Just lots of little niggling things that I want explained. If it's one thing I've learned with Jack, it's to trust myself when I think something is not right, even if I can't pinpoint it very well. Having more labels attached may not seem helpful, but we are enrolling in Mother of Divine Grace next year and getting a special ed. consultant for him. Having a current evaluation will be helpful in communicating what he needs.

We are going to have him re-evaluated. When he first moved here, we had this intensive all day long evaluation done. At the time he was *so* unbelievably hyperactive. He literally could not even stay in a chair for more than a few minutes at a time. We would walk down a hallway and he would run into walls. On purpose. He was a mess in every way, and I think more subtle delays would have been difficult to see. So I think we need another look.

He has his own strengths, of course. He likes to read, and he loves history. Outside of the more tedious subjects like math and grammar, he does enjoy school. He is surprisingly sweet and gentle with the younger kids, though he and Maria fight like insane people. He biggest strength is his willingness to try. He is always willing to listen and take advice and at least try to do better. He *wants* to do better. That doesn't always translate into *doing better*, but the desire is there, and that's half the battle I guess.

I am always concerned about him in social situations like Boy Scouts because he has such a difficult time. He's very immature and his social skills are pretty poor, especially when he's nervous. He's shy and self-conscious, which ironically translates into acting out and being goofy and drawing attention to himself. He doesn't give a very good impression of himself, to say the least. Recently we went up to the scoutmaster of the big boy scouts after mass to buy tickets to an upcoming spaghetti dinner fundraiser. I told the scoutmaster that Kain was in Webelos, and he said something to Kain about joining the den there at our church when he was old enough. Kain made some really odd, weird comment, I don't even remember what it was now, and I saw the man's face harden and close. He comes across and rude and sarcastic because he doesn't know what to say to people, so he usually tries to be funny, but it's not funny. It's just rude and sarcastic. So I've decided we need to actively practice how to meet people and say appropriate things.

I'm going to drop off here and make this a two part post I think. It's already crazy-long, and I still have three more kids to go! It's getting late into the morning and I've got to get our day going. And hopefully by then my camera will have turned up!