Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bittersweet Holidays

As I alluded in my last post, we have been working for the last 6 months with a little fellow in Colorado who has grown very dear to us. We were in the process of adopting him, and had gotten to the point where the Colorado child services had our bank account number to wire funds for the adoption. They asked what airport to they would need to fly him into, and we had put clothes in the dresser we had picked out for this little guy. We even bought him a special night light because we knew he was afraid of the dark.

Suddenly right before Thanksgiving, we were told the adoption was not going to go through. No good reasons, no let down, just NO, and then there was no further contact between anyone on the adoption team from Colorado. We had just come back from a visit where we had held him in our arms. Three days later they said no, and then he disappeared.

We are working our way through the shock and grief, while surrounded by holiday festivities. It's a complicated time with oscillating feelings of loss and hope that maybe they just need to have some internal meetings and we will still hear something.

There are so many things we don't understand. Please keep us in your prayers during this time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Break On Through to the Other Side

In the spirit of The Doors song, we have broken through to the other side of normal this year with such enthusiasm and shock that my head is spinning. We zoomed right from Abnormal to Regular.

Indeed, everyone who bandied about the "A" word earlier has retracted, and now we are working on just the regular stuff of having an 8 year old boy. And it is bewildering to me to go from the squeeze of "he needs treatment and drugs" to "Are you afraid to let him get a B on his science project." "Why are you helicopter parenting him?"

I mean, of COURSE he can get a B on his science project. Or an F. Who the F cares? Compared to people thinking he would not be able to survive in standard classroom, the grades are just silly to me.

But I need to adjust my thinking from "How do I convince people that he's normal?" to "What would a regular 8 year old need from his parents?"  It's a welcome, welcome change.

Stand down, Mom. It's going to be OK.

And as I say this, there's a little fellow in Colorado who's going to need some of my attention very soon. On to our next adventure!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Just the Essentials"

This week Hamslice was experimenting with "Moving to Coleman's House," where he wanted to go live with our neighbor for a week or so.

My very determined little boy packed a cooler (the one with a handle and wheels) as a suitcase and headed down the driveway. He stopped halfway down and turned around to get an item that he felt he he couldn't leave without. One more stop during the next trek down the driveway for a second essential, and then he gave up and went inside to play Legos.

Hambone and I forgot all about it until today, when I saw the cooler on the porch and went to put it away.

I was very curious what his "essentials" were, so I looked inside. What I found floored me. Really to the core.

I found a bottle of water and a Bible.

God bless, Hamslice.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Getting Some Hobbies

As a pure intellectual, Hamslice so far has poo-pooed all normal hobbies such as Legos, toys in general, hanging out and relaxing, using the toilet, and eating. He thrives on liking nothing and making sure we all know about it.

Last week he watched Home on the Range, which has a 2.5 minute Yodel in it. And doggone it if he doesn't love yodeling. Every time we get in the car, he sets the DVD to play the yodel scene. Over. and Over. Again. I can now sing along note for note with the yodel, which I am secretly a little proud of.

We also went to the Renaissance Festival last weekend and he really wanted a wizard cloak, wand and wizard hat. We skeptically bought them, figuring this would last 10 minutes like everything else, but he has been wearing the wizard gear for a full week now.

He tried to bring it all to school, but I suggested that school is a wizard-free zone. He said, "by that reasoning, then I am no longer allowed in school because I AM A WIZARD!"

And here is our dark wizard being photobombed by a giant in a sleeveless shirt.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Same S*** Different Grade

We made it through two days of third grade with happiness at the end of the day and good feelings going into the next day.  Yesterday I got a teacher conference request.

Hamslice has decided he's bored in home room, so in class he cut his own bangs with his classroom scissors, and then he cut a hole in his shirt. Apparently he then proceeded to be uncooperative for the rest of the day.


I spoke with him yesterday about it and told him that I can't change his behavior, only he can. And I asked him what kind of behavior he *could* use instead, and he rattled off correct behavior by rote. I asked if he was going to start using that behavior instead, and he said "no."

Here we go again, folks.

Monday, August 17, 2015

One Last Week of Freedom

Remember how I mentioned that Hamslice wanted to go to camp Puh'Tok in my last entry? He did indeed go for two weeks, but he immediately remembered why he didn't like the camp. It was a little bit of pulling teeth, but he made it with only one incident. I'm very proud of him.

We then tried this social skills camp, which was VERY good. I highly recommend it although it is a lot of hard work for the kids. Hamslice came home grumpy every day, but did make a lot of social skills connections that we see Hamslice using with his friends even a week later. 

Next week school begins, and I am nervous as always. He has had a couple of playdates with classmates that didn't go particularly well, but I also know he is not in the same class with the kids who were particularly obnoxious to him last year.

So THIS week we are just chillin' and relaxing, trying to give Hamslice his best possible start to the school year. We ALSO have little Hamspread coming to visit for half of a week. We are very excited to get to know Hamspread, and look forward to his visit very much.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Progress!

So... the swim team lasted about half of the season, destined to fail after a few practices being cancelled for lightening and one very dreary swim meet in 68 degrees and drizzle. Hamslice continued to swim, but the pressure of the team was probably a little too much for him this year. We will try again next year.

Here's the good news: Hamslice has been in camps all summer with ONLY ONE PHONE CALL FOR BEHAVIOR! He has had 1 week of Minecraft, 1 week of Astronomy, and 1 week of Video Game Programming camp. I realized this yesterday and my jaw almost hit the floor. It's some kind of a record for sure.

He ASKED to go to Camp Puh-Tok which is a less structured, more socially oriented camp, which really surprised me. There is a lot about him  that seems normal about him this summer (or "Neural Typical" for all you special needs moms out there).

This summer we went camping as a family to two different camping areas, he has met horses, we have hiked in the woods and fields around the house...lots of sensory experiences. He's starting to understand that there are big things to fear and freak out about, but that most of them are not that big.

We are heading down the chute toward 3rd grade. There are lots of things afoot that could make this challenging, but I am optimistic!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

First Swim Meet!

I thought it was time that Hamslice join a team of some kind, after his outright shunning of soccer, nature explorers, gym class, and all other social clubs.

I settled on swimming because Hey... you always need to know how to swim.

We have had Hamslice in the "learn to swim" program for about a year, and he was getting pretty good. I then probably skipped a couple of steps by putting him right into a "fun/competitive" swimming program. The goal is fun, but it is a bit competitive.

Hamslice has risen to the occasion beautifully. In real life he can't swim 25 yards without stopping, but put him in a race, and here you go - 25 (ish) yards right off the bat.

After the swim meet, Hamslice then proceeded to learn how to jump off the diving board, swim to the bottom of the pool, and run/jump off the side of the pool in ONE DAY. So... something is working...

Here is a video of Hamslice's first competitive swim:


Thursday, June 04, 2015

DAS BOOT - 2 years in photos

Okay everyone, I have finally created a photo book out of all of the pictures we took of the house during construction. I am surprised all over again how big of a deal this was. Upon reviewing this book, it seems that Shutterfly has scrambled up my pictures in the "view full screen" version to keep this from being actually that interesting, but you can at least see some of the messy piles of debris during the demo process.
Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015


Dare I say it...I think we are going to be all right.

Since my last post, Hamslice has blossomed into a really great kid. He has finally figured out the benefits to being well behaved, and is motivated to be BETTER than the kids around him. Gone is his idea that the funnest thing is to be the worst kid in the class.

The turning point was in April (ish) after he threw a particularly ripe tantrum about how his Egg Mc Muffin was put together with the ham lopsided. We had to turn the car around and go home, which underscored our eventual discussion about how he is now too old to have any more tantrums, and that he needed to find another way.

And he HAS.

No more tantrums at all. Let me say that again... AT ALL. It feels so good to be able to say that about him. NO MORE TANTRUMS AT ALL. YAHOOOOO

Plus, he has been working with a writing tutor who has done amazing things with his handwriting. We are no longer worrying that we will need to create an IEP or 504 plan. He is solidly in the pack of his classmates, and I think he's going to make it.

I'll drink to that!

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Coasting (for now)

So Hamslice's little spurt of maturity turned out to be a pretty big set of connections made all at once, and his behavior has been a lot better. It seems like the issue this year could have been one of several things:
  1. Maybe the teachers spend the first half of the year complaining about everyone's kids in order to push the parents and students to achieve as much as possible
  2. Maybe Hamslice was immature at the beginning of the year, moreso than the others, but just needed time. 
  3. Maybe everyone is crazy except for Hambone, Hamslice and Me. 
At any rate, we are really enjoying this little vacation from constant criticism. Today Hamslice and I drew pictures and told jokes. I can't remember really the last time we did that -- I've been spending so much energy assessing and comparing to syndromes and spectrums that we've missed each other a bit.

In our play time, I have noticed that his thoughts are disorganized, so we will work on that together as a normal mom and a normal kid.  If everybody will just stop yelling at us, great things could happen.

Today we are happy.

Friday, March 13, 2015

of course it's not that easy.

So it seemed like we were making great progress with the headphones  until we went to our teacher conference.  Hamslice's teachers said that they saw no difference from the headphones or medication. They said get rid of the headphones and try more drugs. And of course they said this right in front of Hamslice.

Now he won't wear his headphones and says they don't work anyway. He can't unhear his teachers' comments.

I have discontinued  the drugs because they were making him sick.

But, on the bright side, in their very next breath the teachers said he has been maturing and that seems to be fixing a lot of his issues.

So... were they freaking out and demanding  drugs just because he was immature? Why do drugs have to be the answer to everything?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Cautious Optimism

Sooooooo, could it be that the answer is a $150 pair of head phones? We started using them on Friday and THAT AFTERNOON we got a nice note on one of Hamslice's assignments. We tried them Sunday at church school and got a GLOWING review of his attention and behavior. (This from the same people who told us he needed to go into the Special Ed classroom the week before.)

Is it Misophonia? Hyperacusis? Could it be this easy?

Hamslice has admitted that the head phones help him "a lot" and he voluntarily takes them to school. He is eager to behave correctly with them so they don't get taken away. These are signs to me that they are important and helpful. So far this is the best result for him.

Today is day 2 in school with them, I am eager to hear how it goes (no pun intended). I have set an appointment for Thursday to review all of this with his teachers.

Fingers crossed everybody!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

So... the problem is not ADHD

We have had our little Hamslice on medication for more than two weeks and it has not been effective. His teachers have actually said that his behavior is worse ON the medication than au naturale. Here's what it looks like:
  1.  Hamslice takes a pill
  2.  20 minutes later he is lying on the floor with overwhelming fatigue
  3.  He is ornery all day because the fatigue doesn't ease up until the med wears off. 

His pediatrician says this is not a normal reaction to the meds, and he prescribed a second stimulant brand. Same result. And an interesting side note is this: his concentration is not any better on medication.

Our friends and family who are now as out of ideas as we are have helpfully recommended the "dye free food diet" and "gluten free living" to us. How are they supposed to know that was our first line of defense when all of this descended on us two years ago? Oh, and they forgot lactose free living, we tried that too. Oh, and probiotics. And chewing gum. And mint. And Vitamin D supplements. and Occupational therapy with skin brushing. And swinging. And trampoline exercises. And a rigorous fitness plan. And talk therapy. And bite plates. And sensory stimulation using velcro and various textured ribbons.

My gut says that Hamslice may have some of the same problems I had in early school years, where my hearing was a huge problem for me. I would spend hours in class being tortured by the sound of the other students eating white bread and cheese and apples and blinking and chewing gum. Other days the sound of my own heartbeat would be so loud in my head that I couldn't concentrate. My peers were such a cause of agony that I didn't want to be around them. The teacher's voice sounded like a bass drum in my ears.

It hit home for me over Presidents' Day when I took Hamslice to see the Sponge Bob Square Pants movie with his friend J. After the movie we went to lunch at Chick Fil-A and they sat side by side. J was perky and excited by the movie, Hamslice looked like he had been punched in the face fifty times. The movie was bright and VERY loud.


Next step is to try noise cancelling headphones to see if we can ease up the sound and give him a little peace in the classroom. His teachers are now magically more compliant than they were two weeks ago, so we are able to try some new things.

Stay tuned...

Monday, February 09, 2015

Behavior Update

So those of you who really know us are aware that along with all of the hilarity of Hamslice comes the behavior issue as well. Here's how it has been playing out this year...

Right away in the school year his teachers really came down on us about behavior, but it was a 360 degree "your kid is bad" approach, which served only to make us defensive. We spent a good deal of time arguing with the administration that no, indeed he is not totally bad and can you be more specific in his badness so we can address something measurable.

They asked us to go to his pediatrician and get ADHD medication. So I had them fill out the paperwork to get a prescription, and they went completely OVERBOARD and marked him as SEVERE in all categories. This made me really mad. 

This went on until Christmas Break. When Hamslice returned from break, his teachers sent home notes thanking us for his much improved behavior, and we were able to remove all of his behavior accommodations. However, because we had all been sick over the break, we didn't actually PUT him on medication, so now their credibility was shot with me.

Fast forward two months and I have been hearing from Hamslice that he is unhappy and that he wishes he could just control his behavior a little more so he would be more successful in class. We discussed this with his therapist and she mentioned that we could medicate just to control his emotional impulsiveness (aka tendency toward acting like a baby and falling to pieces at every little thing) which sounds like a good plan to us.

We spoke also with a few of our trusted friends who suggested that we test run a stimulant by giving Hamslice coffee and seeing if that does anything.

This weekend we gave him a mocha coffee and for three beautiful hours he acted his age. Hambone and I were able to take a deep breath and relax for just these hours. After the coffee wore off, we were back to business as usual.

I believe we have an answer. We talk to the pediatrician on Thursday to get started.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sing it, Hamslice

We have entered the era of butt jokes, where everything somehow devolves to a joke about buns, butts, or but cracks. It's a pretty hilarious time that my 2nd grade self has been waiting for for years.

Knock knock
Who's there
Dog who
Dog butt.

This morning Hamslice was singing to himself, which means he uses his Vienna Boys Choir voice (which is a real treat that he only shares with himself) to sing an adaptation of the song "tight pants".

"Everybody's talkin' 'bout my butt cheeks, my butt cheeks, I've got my but cheeks on..."

Rock on, Hamslice.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Domestic Jester

As many of you know, we've been fighting the flu over most of Christmas vacation this year. First me, then Hambone, then Hamslice, then me again. The net result is a disorienting feeling of floating through days as the house descends to shambles.

Enter today, when I woke up with the stark realization that the Cub Scouts were coming over for their meeting tonight. I surveyed over a month of cleaning to that has not been done, a bored 7-year old, and 15 construction workers building a bathroom in the basement.

Oh, and I needed to bake a snack for tonight and buy craft supplies.

So I battened down the hatches and cleaned, organized, shopped and baked my buns off until about 2:30, when I realized to my amazement that the house was "decent" and I had 20 cute cupcakes made with confetti and snowmen on top.

I was working very hard at patting myself on the back, when I though "Hey, let's fit some fun into this day!" So I asked Hamslice if he wanted to go to Red Zone. Of course he did. However, laser tag was totally overcrowded and we wound up dragging an overwhelmed Hamslice out of there by an ankle and a wrist as he screamed and writhed about how something or another was unfair. He made himself so upset that he threw up right in the middle of the lobby.

We arrived home to "talk it out" and do some hugging with just enough time to get the table set for cub scouts.

At that moment I realized that the dog had eaten 13 of our 20 cupcakes while we were gone.

Cue the Calliope music.