Friday, November 27, 2009

Talk About the Weather

For some people, the weather makes good small talk. We've heard jokes and seen cartoons about talking about the weather at parties and gatherings. Like a farmer, though, my weather talk is often a complete conversation.

I have multiple sclerosis. When I visit the weather channel's site for Weather and Your Health and go to the Aches and Pains page, the health conditions section lists my disease. Weather can have a huge effect on my feelings of health and well-being, on my pain levels, and on my fatique. So to me, weather is not just small talk.

When it's too hot, I can easily get overheated. In fact, heat sensitivity is one of the most frequent symptoms of multiple sclerosis. Conversely, when it's too cold my body hurts. Much like those with arthritis or fibromyalgia, changes in the weather and the barometric pressure affect me, as does humidity. There are days I have to modify my activity, and I "blame it on the rain."

Fortunately, it's a pretty day today, and warmer than yesterday. It's late November, but it's nice to be outside enjoying Tyler on his Papa's new ATV. I'm enjoying the weather today.

Shall we talk about the weather?

Monday, November 23, 2009

He Graduated from Obedience School-Shouldn't He OBEY?

Our sweet little pug puppy turned a year old last weekend.

Three days later was our final beginning obedience class--and graduation. (On a side note, our older pug/terrier mix graduated from obedience class after just turning one year old as well, and since he was no longer a "terrier terror puppy" we saw an amazing difference in his behavior.)

Our sweet pug had a few "challenges" during the graduation. The biggest "challenge" was his total lack of desire to obey the DOWN command. HoneyBear had to get pretty forceful.

Once he figured out it was serious, though, he accepted it. He wasn't happy about it. His little double-curled tail dropped to the floor, no longer curling. But he stayed DOWN.

He even obeyed the DOWN and stay command later with no problems.

Our "baby" graduated--complete with goofy cap and "Pomp and Circumstance"!

So why did he repeat our typical Monday morning routine of barking like crazy at the sounds of the trash truck, the recycling truck, and all other assorted noised, without paying the least bit of attention to "no!" or "Rolly-Polly, No BARK!" or any other variations of the same? He graduated from obedience school; why won't he OBEY?!?

For some reason, this (repeated) situation reminded me of something I was told as we were preparing for our son's baptism last December. He had accepted Christ (on his own, I might add!) a few months prior, but it was important to us that Nana and Papa be at the baptism service, so we waited. It turned out to be the Sunday before Christmas, which was pretty special. It was also a Lord's Supper service, so that Tyler was baptized and partook of the Lord's Supper in the same service. It was very special (even if what we mainly remember is his feet coming up out of the baptismal...)

Just before the baptism, a friend approached me. Her son had been baptized a few months before, and she had some good advice.

Don't expect him to behave perfectly just because he accepted Christ and showed that through baptism.

Wow. She was right. I guess I expected him to be completely changed. Yes, he was a new creature, but he was also still a sinner--and a little boy.

Just like graduating from obedience school doesn't mean our puppy will be completely obedient, Tyler's salvation and baptism does not mean he'll be perfect either. It just means he has Jesus to intercede for him and he has forgiveness for those sins. Which is still pretty miraculous.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Say You're Sorry

We experienced one of those moments this week that made for a great "teaching time." Unfortunately, it didn't work out as well as I might have liked.

Friday was "pajama day" for the boys, as it was the last day of school before a week of Thanksgiving break. They had some adorable pajamas (which color coordinated with their backpacks--I was very impressed, since I wasn't involved in the purchase), so of course I made sure to get some pictures. Our impromptu photo shoot was pretty typical for the boys--they started out pretty silly.

First just Tyler was silly.

Then Shawn joined in the fun.

Asking them to be serious doesn't always get the desired result.

But eventually comes a great moment!

Once we finished our pictures, it was (past) time to get to school. Unfortunately, Shawn got in a bit of a hurry. In the rush to get to the vehicle he ran over Tyler and knocked him to the ground. It was time for an apology from Shawn.

I know we can't be the only family struggling with apologies, but Shawn seems to struggle more than most kids. Of course his SPD (sensory processing disorder) means he is less aware of his body, so he does tend to have greater need for apologizing, but the apologies aren't typically very effective. In this situation, knocking Tyler over brought on a "sorry dance." Shawn jumped around Tyler on the ground singing "sorry, sorry, sorry sorry..." in a little tune of his own. Obviously, this "sorry" didn't mean what we as parents might wish it to mean!

It was time to try something new. After ensuring Tyler was okay, I shared with Shawn our new plan for apologies.

Me: "Shawn, when you need to apologize for something, first say the person's name. Then say 'I'm sorry for...' and say what you did. Finish by saying 'I'll try not to do it again' and really mean that!"

Shawn's first attempt: "Tyler, I'm sorry........what am I supposed to say?"

Me: "Say 'Tyler I'm sorry for...' and whatever you did. Then say 'I'll try not to do it again.'"

Shawn: "Tyler, I'm sorry for...whatever you did!"

He did finally make it through an apology, and I made it through his apology without laughing.. We'll have to see how this works in the future!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Taking it for Granted

I grew up in Arkansas. I marched in contests in War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, where the Arkansas Razorbacks play 1 or 2 football games each year. I very distinctly remember watching the Razorback Basketball team in 1990 go to the Final Four. I was a Razorback.

Then I went to school at the University of Arkansas. I marched in the Razorback Marching Band. I played in the Hogwild Band for basketball and even played at a home watch party during the Basketball National Championship game in 1994. I was really a Razorback.

My husband was born in Alabama, but moved to Arkansas as a toddler. He grew up in Northwest Arkansas. His uncle was a Razorback cheerleader. He was a Razorback.

He started college at a small Christian school in Missouri, but transferred to the UA. He walked on to the Razorback football team. He played with some guys that are NFL players now. He was most definitely a RAZORBACK!

Now, I keep up with the teams. I wear my Razorback apparel proudly. I bemoan the game day traffic, but love being a part of the atmosphere. We've decorated our den in Razorback gear and taught our kids the fight song and how to call the Hogs. We're a Razorback family.

We don't choose to purchase season tickets, but do love to go to games. We very much enjoyed going to a game this weekend. I loved seeing the marching band pregame show and remembering when I was a part of the U of A on the field.

I remembered being a part of the Big A on the field, while HoneyBear remembered running through the Big A (though ironically he and I were never actually on the field at the same time!).

While sitting in the stands and hearing some people around us talk about what a big deal it was for them to make it to Northwest Arkansas for this game, I considered how easy it is to take even football teams for granted. Picking up tickets a few days before the game? No problem! Being at a nationally televised game? We've done that countless times--and been on the field, too. Cheering from the stands at a game that determined bowl-eligibility for a team? Pretty cool, but no big deal. Being a part of a great football conference, such as the SEC? Well, of course--that's why we moved from the Southwestern Conference!

What else in our area do we take for granted? Being able to easily access a local church with wonderful programs for our kids? Yep, I expect that. Having lots of options for when and how I worship? Of course! Being in a community that has great Christian radio stations? Pretty cool, but no big deal.

Oops. I guess there's more than being a Razorback that's easy to take for granted here. And I'm so thankful for it!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My Karate Kids

The boys have a new sport! They’ve both played soccer, Tyler has played basketball and also continues with golf, and this fall Shawn played football. Now they’re both learning katas and earning belts. That’s right—they’re taking karate. Shawn had taken some in preschool, with the teachers coming to the school, and earned his yellow belt. He's basically starting over now, since it had been several months and is a different environment (though he’s proud to be wearing that yellow belt.)

Tyler has only taken classes for three weeks, but is proud to have worked very hard and earned three stripes. They have to have three stripes in order to test for the next level of belt. Today was the testing, and Tyler rocked!

He is so proud of that yellow belt. Now the boys are at the same belt level, so they can work together. Watch out, world, here they come!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

From the hand to the mouth

It’s official--Shawn has been diagnosed with sensory processing disorder (SPD), a neurological disorder that makes in difficult for his brain to process stimulation through the senses. He has several unique (at least to us) symptoms that made us concerned that something was wrong. For one thing, he touches EVERYTHING. When walking through a store, he doesn't look with his eyes, he feels with his fingers.

He also chews. A lot. Those fingers that have just touched everything are typically in his mouth, which is not real good for him during flu season. His teacher is out of markers--he's chewed the caps off all of them. This summer he finally was able to stop sucking his thumb all the time (though he still does some), but now it's fingers and objects instead of thumb. Here he is during circle time with hands in mouth.

After starting some research into "oral fixation" as a guess for his situation, I found references to SPD or SID-sensory integration disorder. I made an appointment with a pediatrician, who wholeheartedly recommended occupational therapy testing (within only a few minutes of seeing Spark in the office--it was an enlightening visit!)

He loved the sensory testing process at the OT office, especially the trampoline and ball pit. I found the process fascinating, because some things we did not particularly consider a part of this disorder became obvious during the testing.

Our next step is scheduling the OT visits for sensory therapy. We'll get started after the first of the year. Fortunately, he sees it as fun--he can't wait!

Can I have a massage with some aromatherapy for my part of his sensory therapy?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Project Esther's House

Tyler, Shawn and I participated in a special program last night with our church children's choirs. Called Project Esther's House, it focused on an orphanage we're supporting in Malawi called Esther's House. The program included the preschool/kindergarten choir, the children's choir, and our youth outreach and dance team.

Shawn's group started the program. I was waiting in the wings with 1st and 2nd graders, so I didn't get to see it, but HoneyBear had the video and still cameras going. Apparently Spark spent most of his time turned away from the audience.

Once he got turned around, he enjoyed the clapping. (As always, pictures of him often show a blur when everything else is "normal.")The children's choir group came onstage next. Tyler did a great job!
The event turned out really well. Even though I felt ready to drop after it was over, it was hard not to consider the workers at the orphanage and all they have to endure. We are definitely blessed!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My MS Life Moves Forward

For the last several years I’ve been focused on my “MS life.” The acronym “MS” seemed to be dominating my life.
  • I have multiple sclerosis (MS). Living with and dealing with MS takes a great deal of time and energy, and my physical health has been a huge focus for our family, often to the exclusion of all else.
  • I work with Microsoft (MS). I am a certified Microsoft Office User Specialist (MOUS). I have been a Microsoft trainer for almost a decade.
  • I work in a middle school (ms). As a curriculum technology specialist, I focused on middle school topics and needs.
Some of my "MS life" seems to be moving forward now. I still have MS (multiple sclerosis). This is not a disease that can be cured. I also have to be pretty careful, because when other illnesses hit it’s a total knock out to my body (the strong disease-modifying drug I take by IV once a month is an immune-suppressant, so my body is not as resistant to other illnesses. Even my usual allergies are harder to deal with due to their affects on my body). HOWEVER, the medicine I take is a miracle drug for my body, and allows me to walk without a wheelchair or cane. I don’t even need quite as much rest as I once did, except during situations with other illnesses. SO…we will never be rid of the disease MS, but we are at a point where it does not dominate all aspects of our family life.

I still work with Microsoft, and prefer a Windows PC over Apple. Even though my first use of a computer was an Apple II, I’m deflinitely an MS girl. HOWEVER, hubby and I are addicted to our iPhones. I'm also working with MacBooks at work, including Final Cut Pro. What an exciting new challenge!

The biggest change regarding my MS life is an upcoming change in my work assignment. I’m excited to be moving to a new school location–a junior high! The change allows me to be at one school full-time (for the past 3 years I’ve split my schedule between a middle school and an elementary). It allows me to be very close to our house at the junior high my boys will attend in not too many more years (uggh–can't think about that right now…). It gives me some new and exciting challenges with multimedia (yes, including some Apple components). Plus, it still lets me focus a lot on training and professional development. The transition makes me nervous (I’ll be covering THREE schools for the next few months, while most on my team just have one!), but the change is exciting! SO…I’ll still be a part of “middle level,” since many states and districts consider middle school and junior high together, but for our district I’ll no longer be a middle school (ms) technology specialist, but will be moving forward to junior high (I’ve graduated–yay!).

As my MS life moves forward, I’m excited to re-focus my “new” time in my life and see where we go from here!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bring on the NEW!

It is November. It is the middle of the school year. Apparently, it’s also the perfect time for bringing on the NEW! A new sport, a new diagnosis, and a new blog—hold on tight, 'cause here we go!

UPDATE 1/4/10: I've brought over the posts from my old blog. There weren't many posts, but I thought it would be good to have them here. Any posts prior to  November of 2009 were originally hosted elsewhere.