the gift of occupational therapy

Today was my boy’s last day of occupational therapy. We have spent an hour of almost every Thursday for the last year and a half with our beloved occupational therapist, Eileen. Some days Luke skipped out of there, happy as a clam after getting to play so many fun games. Other days the reality of the hard work of OT was more apparent, and I carried him to the car as he thrashed and kicked and tried to bite me. But no matter how it ended, every session was a gift.

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Luke was pretty young when I had my first hunch that something was a little off in his development. But the toddler years are crazy for every kid, in one way or another, so I pushed it to the back of my mind as much as I could. I read and re-read Raising Your Spirited Child, because that book described him so perfectly, and it was so helpful in understanding him and being able to empathize with the way his mind and body work.

Yet, at his 3-year old well check, I brought up my concerns – he had no interest in using any sort of ride-on toys/tricycles/etc, couldn’t dress himself, had no interest in using crayons, would run endlessly, was easily overstimulated, and any sort of transition was clearly the end of the world for him. Our doctor (who we loved) was very much in the camp of “there is a wide spectrum of typical development” – and so he was not concerned. And when I read over this list (of the things I actually remember, I’m sure there was more) – I agree that so much of it is all over the map for typical 3-year olds. Luke has always been extremely verbal and social, so by all appearances in that doctor’s office, he was flourishing. But it was that mama’s hunch that kept me concerned.

We took him to a free developmental screening that fall. He charmed the volunteers and just slipped through each test. We walked away with a referral for 9-month old Gracie’s speech, which I (rightfully) discarded. I was completely discouraged.

If he had been my second child so I had more of a developmental frame of reference, or maybe if I wasn’t sleep-deprived at the time, I would have pursued answers. But I tend to be pretty submissive to those I perceive as experts or authorities, and they all said he was fine. If he had gotten a full occupational evaluation, I’m positive he would have qualified for services. But we went on, and it was probably the lowest time in my parenting experience.

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At his 4-year old well check, I walked in with a complete written list of all my concerns, which had grown. They included things like not being able to ride a tricycle, still scribbling, and not able to completely dress himself. Our doctor didn’t even get through all of them before he quickly agreed that further evaluation was needed. Apparently he had fallen off the typical spectrum enough to warrant a second look. I felt a glimmer of hope, which was enough to sustain me through the next 6 months that it took to get the referral and move through the waiting list for an evaluation with a pediatric occupational therapist.

I almost cried with relief (maybe I did?) when I got the phone call in the parking lot of Fred Meyer the same day of his eval. He scored very low in visual motor integration and fine motor skills (7th and 9th percentiles, I think) along with concerns about sensory processing and proprioception. It meant that we qualified for a spot in therapy, as soon as one opened up. I was relieved that we would be getting some guidance in helping him. And I was relieved that I wasn’t crazy, and wasn’t an entirely inept parent.

Our weekly visits with Eileen have varied in content, but they’ve always been jam-packed with activities that have helped Luke build his skills, and grow more comfortable with how his body works. As a result, his skills at school have improved, he’s become more comfortable in play, and do things like completely dress himself. I am so happy that we were able to get into therapy when we did – just at the end of last year he told me, “I can zip my coat up, and Gracie [2 years old at the time] can’t do that. But she can put her socks on, and I can’t do that.” I knew he was becoming more aware of some of his challenges, so I’m glad that he’s made so much progress before entering kindergarten. And yes, he can even put on his socks now – with fine motor + sensory issues, that a big accomplishment!

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I am so, so proud of this kid. His confidence is definitely blossoming in areas it hasn’t before, and he is much more willing to practice things that are challenging. Two years ago I just felt so unsure about so many things, and now, I’m just hopeful for what is ahead. And I will be forever grateful for the gift that OT was for our family.

ten on ten: may 2017

::: 7 o’clock hour :::
I make the kids’ beds every morning as part of my tidying routine. It takes two minutes and is completely worth the bit of joy that I feel in seeing them all neat and orderly… at least for the next ten minutes.

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::: 8 o’clock hour :::
My happy little helper.

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::: 9 o’clock hour :::
Meal planning. Only 10 days late…

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::: 10 o’clock hour :::
Someone likes organizing things. Gotta admit, it warms my heart.

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::: 11 o’clock hour :::
My last mothers’ tea with Luke! Not gonna lie, I got a little teary. My sweet boy is growing up.20170510_113248

::: noon hour :::
I’m going to miss having both kids home for lunch when Luke is in kindergarten next year.

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::: 1 o’clock hour :::
Luke’s favorite way to decompress after school or other activities is to play with his beanie babies.

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::: 2 o’clock hour :::
Working in the yard and inspecting the vegetable garden.

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::: 3 o’clock hour :::
A little Spot-It in the sunshine.

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::: 5 o’clock hour :::
(because the 4 o’clock hour slipped by in a frenzy of dinner, clean up, and heading out the door)

Luke’s tee-ball game – so fun to watch these little guys play.

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saint patrick’s day 2017

I have never been huge into celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but apparently my kids are pretty into it. Ian had the day off, so we had a fun, low-key family day filled with lots of green.

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A few days ago the kids painted coffee filters green, and today they were transformed into shamrocks that adorned our windows and cupboards and walls. They HAD to be hung at 6:45am, because of course they did.

Next up were these yummy green muffins (secret green ingredient: spinach).

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Our next activity wasn’t exactly St. Patrick’s Day related – we walked down to our elementary school to register Luke for kindergarten! I gotta keep it real, it was not the highlight of the day for me. I am already apprehensive about entering into the public school system, which is completely new to me, and this initial encounter with the front office staff was less than stellar. At one point I hissed through my teeth at Ian, “you know how all of this makes me feel!” as I fought the urge to grab my kids and get out of there. I will say that the principal happened to walk by while we were there, and he was super friendly and quickly got down on Luke’s level to introduce himself, so I’m trying to cling to that bright spot. I feel a million different emotions about sending our boy off to kindergarten in a public school next year, and I’m praying that when I look back at this post in a year or two, I’ll feel quite differently.

Back to Saint Patrick’s Day.

Lunch was not noticeably green, so nothing to report there. We watched a Veggie Tales episode that tells the story of Saint Patrick, which would have been fun if not for the fact that Gracie got the theme song stuck in her head all day. She continually belted out “celery!! …ery… ery!!! Veggie Tales!” for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

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Then of course there was green play dough.

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Luke has seriously been requesting green waffles since I made it on a whim last year for St. Patrick’s Day. Today was his day: we had waffles for dinner and he reveled in the greenness of it all.

Family selfies in our green attire. Um, don’t my kids look like twins?! How is this?!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

ten on ten: march 2017

I haven’t done a ten on ten since before Gracie was born, and I’ve been wanting to get back in the habit. I love looking back and getting a glimpse into what a day looked like in some of the seasons of life I’ve been through. So I was pretty psyched when I remembered this morning that it was the 1oth – and I *almost* made it to the full ten photos, totally forgot after the ninth one!

5:45am ::: Beginning the day by resting in good words, a soft glow, and peaceful quiet.

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6:45am ::: The children invited me to play; I hid the beanie birds for them to find (the wings were marked with washi tape so that each kid knew which ones were his/hers).

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7:45am ::: A little coloring and planning for the day.

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8:45am ::: Gracie often asks to choose CDs for us to play. Excellent choice this morning.

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9:45am ::: Sorting through outgrown clothes. There are not enough sad emoticons to convey my sadness at moving out of this stage in life.

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11:45am ::: Lunch prep time.

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1:45pm ::: Snack time.

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2:45pm ::: Gracie keeping herself busy while mama does some work.

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3:45pm ::: The dishes that never end.

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