Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Mommy Dentist

Brushing teeth has been...well...somewhat of a challenge in my house. Which is an understatement. One of my Facebook friends put it best a few days ago--she likened holding her kids down to brush their teeth as "hog-tying". A more accurate analogy has never been used. It was literally a sweat-inducing, mommy-and-daddy-playing-the-not-it-game-provoking activity. And more often than I'd like to admit, I'd just put them to bed without doing it. Sometimes, after a long, trying day, the task seemed too daunting. Eh, they're baby teeth, I thought. I'd have another chance to do it better. Until..."The Mommy Dentist" came onto the scene.  That amazing woman single-handedly changed teeth-brushing in our house.

For the longest time, neither kid really enjoyed having their teeth brushed. Eventually, Amelia came around and was tolerant and compliant. Anderson...not so much. He would hide. He'd cry. He'd jerk away. If you could get a brush in there for 20 seconds, you were doing good. If you got half of his teeth on any given swipe, you were doing good. I worried about his oral hygiene and dreaded his last dentist appointment. By some stroke of luck (or maybe the fact that the boy loves him some milk), he had no cavities at his last check-up. Neither kid had any. The dentist did, however, suggest that we start flossing. I literally laughed in his face. He smiled understandingly but said that even starting with flossing between two teeth at first and then working our way up would be a good starting point. Okay, okay, I got it. We needed to do better. I left uncertain but with the goal of finding a way to work harder on the dental issue.

I bought electric toothbrushes. This made brushing at least a little more tolerable. He didn't hide anymore. But he still didn't really allow a good, thorough brushing. And he sure as hell wasn't about to let me come near him with floss.

Until...."The Mommy Dentist". She came on the scene about three weeks ago.  And the kids teeth have never been cleaner.

Three weeks ago, it was time to do the evening tooth-brushing.  My kids love role-playing; we act out going to the doctor, getting haircuts, going to the store, going to the library...you name it, we pretend it. I had the brilliant idea of pretending to be a dentist. I walked out of the bathroom and called Anderson's name--you know, just like the hygienists do in the waiting room at the dentist. "Anderson Jones?"--his eyes lit up. I went into full-on acting mode--high-pitched dramatic voice, over-excitement. The conversation went something like this:

"I'm the dentist! Would you like to come into my office and sit in my special chair (aka the couch)?"
"Yes!" Anderson literally jumped up onto the couch. Hmmmm.
"I'm going to lay the chair back now, so that I can look at your teeth!". I slowly leaned him back on the pillow. He smiled away.
"Now, I'm going to use my special brush to make your teeth all clean and shiny! Are you ready?"
"Yes!!!"  Really? Was it going to be that easy?

Turns out, yes it was. He let me brush his teeth as long as I wanted. Amelia watched and wanted me to be her dentist, too. I repeated the act with all the zeal of a Broadway actress; if this is what it was going to take to get a good brushing for both of them, then give me the Tony Award.

Every night since, I've been asked to be what they deemed "The Mommy Dentist". My favorite part is that, when it's Anderson's turn, and I'm getting his toothbrush ready, he calls for ME like the hygienist calls a patient in the waiting room. And he says...get this..."Mommy Rebecca Jones?" Melt. My. Heart. He knows all of my names, but that's what he calls me every single night. Love it.

A few nights ago, with a couple of weeks of good brushing under my belt, I decided I was going to introduce flossing. I intentionally had Amelia go first that night, and Anderson watched. Amelia was fabulous, and I only did her front teeth to get started. My plan worked like a charm--Anderson was literally BEGGING me to floss his teeth, too. And you know what? He was a perfect angel. It was nothing short of miraculous. If you could've seen him even three months ago, you'd swear I'd never get a piece of floss in that mouth. Now, he begs me to floss his teeth every night. Last night, they were getting in bed late, so I told them we didn't have time to floss. He actually got upset. What?? Insanity.

So, just call me Mommy Rebecca Jones, DMD-DDS. That's my new title in this house at bedtime. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Bad, The Good, and The Ugly.

And yes, I realize that the title is in the wrong order. It's intentional--in this case, the bad has to come before the good. I think I prefer it that way all the time, honestly. Wouldn't we all rather have the good follow the bad?

We have a good, bad, and ugly situation going on in the Jones house. And I want to share it with you.

The Bad:

Whether it's autism-related or being-four-years-old-related, or a combination of both, I don't know--but Anderson has had some temper issues in the past few weeks. I know...all kids of the preschool age have anger issues. However, the way in which Anderson handles it is most definitely related to ASD. When he's mad about something, he reverts to using echolalia. He often screams his own name in a teacher-voice, indicative of a time when he has been in trouble at school (not that I think his teachers yell--I know they don't. He exaggerates...). Lately, he's even been hitting a little bit. He's "spanked" Amelia (his words), which is funny because our kids very, very rarely get "spanked". He's hit me twice in the last week. It ain't pretty, people. Last night, he ran from Marty outside--it was time to come in and he wasn't interested. The meltdown following was pretty...rough. His screams are shrill and loud--think of someone who is terrified. That kind of blood-curdling scream. He does it over and over, to the point that he loses his voice.  Reasoning with him in the way that you'd reason with a typical child doesn't work, either, no matter how many times we try or how much we wish it would.  Communication with him while he's upset is pretty much impossible. Today I discovered that, for me, the best course of action is simply to completely ignore him. Let him get the screaming out (I wouldn't allow aggression, but he wasn't trying to hit during this incident). Show him that I am not interested in hearing him until he is calm. I went about my business, brushed Amelia's teeth before her nap, got her to bed. He followed me around and went from shrill screaming, to yelling, to quiet when he realized I wasn't paying any attention to him. When he was quiet, I called him over and we were able to logically talk about what happened. Of course, that absolutely doesn't mean that he's not going to melt down the next time the same situation arises, but it had to be better than trying to talk to him while he's a total wreck, or yelling back at him, or anything like that. Nevertheless, it's very stressful. Sad. Anxiety-inducing. Bad.

The Good:

Parents of "typical" kids who have ASD or other special-needs kids always talk about the guilt. The guilt of not being able to spend as much time with the typical child(ren) as the special-needs child. Guilt that special needs often trumps typical needs, out of necessity. But parents of typical children with special-needs siblings also talk about how compassionate their typicals are, how tolerant and understanding and kind. I witnessed that first-hand in my house this week, with my own daughter.  Throughout this little attitude-shift of Anderson's, she's been inquisitive, not quite understanding what is going on (but none of us do). She's a little nervous around him sometimes, especially if he seems agitated. She looks to me for reassurance, safety. This week, Amelia and I put together a puzzle. We left it sitting on their little table, while I went to get them a drink. Apparently, as soon as I left the room, Anderson grabbed the puzzle, broke it, and ran off with some of the pieces. Amelia wailed and then came and let me know exactly what happened. I found the culprit in his room, trying to hide puzzle pieces in a blanket. I told him that what he'd done wasn't nice, and that we were taking the puzzle pieces back. I rejoined Amelia at the table and we began putting the puzzle back together when Anderson came in, started echoing his classroom-trouble-situations, and then took a swing at Amelia. I caught his arm, told him that we absolutely do not hit. He was very upset. Tears, hiding his eyes. Amelia looked at me and I told her that Anderson was upset that he got into trouble, but that it was all okay.  Then, the magic. Oh, the magic that is my sweet, smart girl with a kind, good heart. She looked at Anderson, and I kid you not, this is what she said: "Anderson, I know you're mad right now, but it's not nice to tear up our puzzle. We will put it back together. Want to help?"  A social worker couldn't have done it better. She did everything right--acknowledged his feelings, told him what he did wrong, tried to redirect him. In a dream-world, he would've said yes and we'd have put the puzzle back together, lived happily ever after. It didn't go down that way; instead, it took awhile for him to get calmed down. But a few minutes and a glass of milk later, we were all good. She gets it, you all. She's learning her brother, learning how to navigate his funky show of emotions. And I can tell that she loves him. So good.

The Ugly:

I don't really have one specific thing that is the ugly. Instead, many smaller things. The fact that my waist-line hasn't decreased one single bit despite all the exercise this summer. The fact that this week has been busy and my house literally looks like a tornado hit it.  The fact that I go back to work starting next week, and our hectic school-year routine starts again. The fact that Marty's one year anniversary of acquiring ARDS is rapidly approaching (he's been calling it his "ARDS-iversary"; I don't find it funny in the least) and I'm kind of overwhelmed, reliving the whole experience. Lots of little things going on that twist and twirl and meld together to create an ugly atmosphere around here this week. I gotta check my attitude, try to enjoy my last few days here with the kids. I need an attitude adjustment. Maybe a Frappuccino would help. Or a Diet Cherry Limeade from Sonic. Yeah. I think that's what I want.

Signing off...I hear my little temper-tantrum-tornado screaming "NOO!" at the top of his lungs out in the front yard.  Good times, I tell ya. Good times.

Monday, July 22, 2013

What Pinterest DOESN'T tell you, and other stories...

I just realized yesterday that there are two weeks left before us teachers go back to work. I literally almost cried. Now I refuse to talk about it, acknowledge it, etc., so if you see me out and about, ZIP IT! Anyway, in the interest of summer coming to a close, more snippets of life in the Jones house the past few weeks:


As most people know, Pinterest is the place you turn to when you need ideas for party decorations, recipes for get-togethers, jokes about, well, anything, ideas for how to organize your classroom, etc. SIDEBAR:  I'm about to lose my mind with people using Facebook as Pinterest! I don't log onto FB to see the newest Pioneer Woman lard-smeared biscuit recipe! Imma hafta cut some people loose soon. Anyway, at the beginning of summer break, I got a bunch of ideas from Pinterest for the kids' entertainment this summer.  One of the first things I made was the famous "Pinterest sand" out of flour and baby oil.  It's pretty amazing--it smells good, it's soft, and Amelia absolutely loved playing in it. What Pinterest DOESN'T tell you is that your child will be covered from head-to-toe in a fine powdery layer of flour that resists being brushed off and instead just kind of layers on, especially if they're the least bit sweaty. They don't tell you that your kids WILL leave white powdery footprints all throughout your house if you forget to ask them to take off their shoes at the door. But perhaps the most annoying that Pinterest so kindly forgets to tell you is that, if your child plays with the sand in the driveway and spills much of it, and you don't immediately sweep it up, and it rains...it WILL form a literal crust on your driveway that you will have to scrape away with a snow shovel or similar tool. And, if you DON'T get rid of it? It will attract a wide variety of insects and other pests. Yep.  Just warning you.


As previously mentioned, my kids like to choose the smallest pieces of garbage as their toys.  Amelia hit a new all-time low with this in the last week. Her toy of choice? A clothing tag with that tiny plastic thing that attaches it to the clothing. I don't know what the technical name is for that stupid thing, but whatever it is, I want to alternately cuss out and beat the person who created them. This thing:
I have no idea what "game" she was playing with them, but when she dropped one and lost it? All hell broke loose. We have some outfits for the kids that are still a bit too big, and we went through all of the tags/plastic pieces on them to appease the hysteria. Fortunately she seems to have moved on from this. It's like sister knows when I'm REALLY about to lose it and actively chooses not to push it anymore. Smart one, that girl.


It's funny, the connection that we have to our kids. I'm not just talking about the things we have in common with them--I mean those deep connections we have, where we just know somewhere deep within our souls where they are coming from, what they're thinking and feeling, why they do what they do.  I have a different connection with each of my kids. With Anderson, one of the ways that I just "know" him is his intense love of music. He loved music from a very early age and of course nothing could've made me happier. This was his first favorite song, and he even had a favorite part. It was the part where the music goes from quiet to much louder (1:21 in, if you're interested...), and before he could even talk,  he would get this enormous smile on his face right before that part. He knew it was coming. From that point on, I could just tell what he liked in music, so I would introduce him to songs that I knew would hold his interest. As a result, he and I have shared a love of some songs. This summer, he's increased his repertoire of fabulous music, all thanks to moi. Some of his latest favorites?

Wide Awake
L.E.S. Artistes
To Kingdom Come
Helena Beat

(Don't worry--we don't watch the videos ever. :-)

It's just funny--I know what he will like in a song. I can't describe it in words, but I intentionally play music in the car, and when he likes it, he'll say, "Hey mom--what's this song?" I love it. Like LOVE it.


One afternoon, when Amelia woke up from her nap, she padded out into the living room where I was watching Sex and the City (it's on for like 2 hours in a row every day! WHAT??!). Yeah, so it's not the most appropriate for a four year old, but it's an edited version. It's all good. Anyway, one of the characters was getting married and Amelia was very curious. Here is an excerpt from our conversation:

Amelia:  "What is she doing, Mommy? Why is she wearing that dress?"
Me:  "She's getting married! When people love each other, they get married. I married Daddy."
Amelia:  "I am going to get married."
Me:  "Yes, you'll get married some day! And you can wear a pretty dress like a princess."
Amelia: "Who do I marry?"
Me:  "Most people marry their boyfriends or girlfriends. Daddy was my boyfriend."
Amelia:  "I'm gonna marry Isaiah!"

I'm pretty sure it's just about the dress. Marty was none too happy. :-)


We are hunkering down and enjoying these last few weeks of freedom summer.  Hope you enjoy yours, too.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Yep, It's Summer.

Summer is usually synonymous with "slacker" for me, and apparently my blog is no exception. No, I'm not really being a slacker, per se, but just going with the flow of our days, which leaves little computer time.

A little stream-of-consciousness style post about what's new in our world:


If you're squeamish, avert your eyes and scroll on down.  I had more allergy testing done. I was tested about two years ago, where they determined I was pretty much allergic to everything under the sun. Long story short, I couldn't keep up with the demands of getting into the office at least twice a week (with 2 year olds--not sure why I ever thought I COULD...), so I had to quit. After this past spring and a terrible allergy season, I went back. This time, I found an allergist much closer to home and made Marty sign his name in blood that he'd help me pick up the kids from school so that I could get to these weekly shots. I'm pretty sure he's tired of my allergies, too--they involve much scratching, sneezing, and complaining--so he agreed. The new allergist wanted to retest a few things--fortunately not everything--just to see how allergic I really was. They base their dosages of allergens on exactly how allergic a person is--the more allergic you are, the more diluted they have to make the vials, so that they don't put you into anaphylaxis (fun!). To test this, they scratch your skin with allergens and then measure the size of your reaction (if you have one). They literally measure the size of the freaking spot on your skin--so fun. If you're not allergic, nothing happens. If you are allergic, the spot swells, reddens, and itches like FIRE. Like fire, I tell you. And you are not allowed to scratch.  Oh sure, they come in and check on you, rub a little lotion on it, but seriously? I've never wanted to scratch worse in my life. It's a pretty miserable 10 minutes.

If you're wondering what this might look like, here's a picture of my back after the 10 minutes. You can see where they gridded everything, and what things I am allergic to/not allergic to:

Yes, I asked the nurse to take a picture. Yes, I am still in love with the gorgeous sun tattoo I got when I was 20. Only one of those statements is true.
Those aren't the worst reactions ever--but that's because he diluted them, knowing I was allergic to these things. Can you imagine how it would've looked with them not diluted? Talk about misery.  The biggest reactions you see are cat and dust, along with grass pollens. Yay. I started my shots two weeks ago. The doctor says I should see some improvement by next Spring, if I keep up two shots a week. I sure hope so.


We did two very exciting things in the past few weeks. 1) We sucked it up and took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese for the first time, and 2) We took the kids to the Bluegrass Fair near our house.  Item #2 was actually based on the success of item #1.  Chuck E. Cheese is pretty much a form of adult torture. Loud games, screaming kids, over-priced pizza that tastes like Totinos, bleeding wallets. TORTURE.  The kids loved it.  They ate well, climbed into the tunnels and slides, rode rides. We were so not sure if Anderson would get on the rides. The whole immature vestibular system thing pretty much makes all movement activities off-limits. Except...he loved them! Granted, these rides don't do much of anything. At all. But still...he got on them, smiled, loved them, asked to ride again. I was pumped.

So exciting!

One thing I can say about Marty and I as a couple is that we both share the same ridiculously immature sense of humor. We can seriously make anything fun/funny by saying or doing something stupid, by changing song lyrics to create some completely stupid song, etc. You get the idea. Anyway, within about 10 minutes of walking into the door, we knew that this was one of those times when our immaturity was needed if we were going to survive the experience.  So...he did this. I assure you I did NOT in any way talk him into this, and he was fully aware of the videoing. He doesn't care. I laughed so hard I cried. And yes...he actually rode a second time because he thought he could do better. And no...he didn't do any better.

So, since this was such a successful trip, we decided to take the kids to the Bluegrass Fair that is held annually in Masterson Station park.  I have to be honest...I love a good fair. This is a very, very small fair. It pretty much is just a midway, some food, and maybe a few things to look at. I actually love the small size--it elminates all of the walking/tiredness drama for the kids. Of course, as with all fairs, you do get the added entertainment of the "fair personalities"...ahem...but that's part of the fun. We took the kids on a cloudy Sunday afternoon, hoping to avoid major crowds and the even more fun personalities that come out late at night.  As soon as we arrived, it started raining. Not the kind of rain that drenched us, so we went on in. We took the kids to look at the rides, and they were interested--exciting! Went to buy our tickets, and OH. MY. GOD.  The cost of tickets. Wow.  Now, they did have a "ride bracelet", which you could purchase for $18.00. However, the women selling said bracelets were also measuring young riders to make sure they were right at the 36 inch height minimum for most rides.  And they weren't measuring generously.  One of my two little riders is a tiny bit shy of 36 inches...so, no ride bracelet for her. We bought individual tickets instead and hoped that some of the workers would be a little more...forgiving...of her shortcomings (HAHAHAHA!). Our first adventure was the little cars. Anderson was all about it; Amelia screamed when we suggested she ride it. She had her sights on bigger fish. So, he got on alone, and I was soooo nervous. I was afraid it would freak him out and that he'd try to escape the moving ride. But...he loved it.

I know it sounds stupid to say that a parent would be proud of a kid for getting on a crappy fair ride, but wow was I proud. So many little things he's overcome to be able to do this.

Amelia went by the "Go Big or Go Home" philosophy. She wanted her first ride to be The Caterpillar--that rickety roller coaster that is at EVERY fair, always. This video isn't of us--there is no video of us but if there were, it would be high-larious.  This is just a random video so that you get the idea:

She was adamant that she wanted to ride this. Anderson was protesting loudly and clinging to me, so Marty said he would take her. I doubted that they'd let him, with him being so tall and this ride being so...small? Rickety? I don't know. The guy running it didn't say a word. All of a sudden, though, Anderson wanted to ride it. He was climbing the rusty steps, so I had no choice but to join him. 16 tickets later, we were all jammed into the first two seats of the thing. Marty, who had the front row seat because "it has more leg room", put it best. As we were ascending the little hill, with the old, flimsy ride, he realized exactly how crappy the ride was and how all of our lives were in jeopardy.  The kids were great until our first trip down that hill. What you can't tell is how fast you go around the little curve that directly follows the hill. I'm pretty sure the dude running it was jacking with it on purpose--it felt like we were riding the brakes down the first half of the little hill, and then he hit the gas. There was definitely some g force going around that curve and the kids FREAKED.  I was cracking up, Marty and I were trying to keep it light because we had two more long trips through the course. Anderson never cried; he just whined. Amelia burst into tears as we got off. Needless to say, she was a bit more cautious of her ride choices for the rest of the day. We feed some animals, splashed in some puddles, rode more rides. They had an absolute blast. It was a great day.

I have OH so much more to share...I will post again tomorrow. Right now, Amelia is sitting next to me begging me to have a tea party and Anderson is losing his temper with a toy truck, so I'm needed elsewhere.  Off to resume my Mom role...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

24 Hours...

I thought it might be interesting, maybe even a little thought-provoking, to describe a typical 24 hours in the Jones household. Some of it is, I'm sure, pretty typical stuff that goes on in most houses with 4 year olds. And some of it--well, some of it probably never happens anywhere but this house. Like ANYWHERE. EVER.

Here is a typical day in our house. I'm choosing a summer day--a day that I'm with them the entire day.

7:00:  Anderson wakes up. He fights with Marty over some oddity with his breakfast...his granola bar is broken, not enough chocolate on his pancakes. The wailing wakes me up, so I get up, too.

7:15:  Amelia wakes up. She's either very very cheery, or very very grouchy. She demands breakfast on the couch while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.

7:30:  I sit down with my first cup of coffee. Marty continues to get ready for work. Anderson and/or Amelia continue to request different things (milk, wipes, toys) that require me to get up. By the time I get to drink coffee, it's lukewarm.  Mmmm.

7:45:  Anderson asks me to come throw Tofu and "desk him up". I freaking LOVE that term--"desk him up".  Anderson came up with it himself and it is FABULOUS.  This game involves us going into Anderson's room and throwing his Tofus (he actually has 3, but really only loves/needs the one) so that they hit the ceiling. Then, all of a sudden, he'll say "Let's desk them up!" and we rush to put the Tofus on the computer desk. The big Tofu goes on the bottom, the smaller Tofus are on top of him. They sit for a minute, and then the throwing game begins again. This game is a daily occurrence in the summer, and it makes him so dang happy that I really struggle to say no when he asks me to play.

8:15: Walk into living room to check on Amelia, who is still transfixed on the TV screen. Sister would watch TV 24/7 if we would allow it. She is still eating breakfast. She's also the slowest eater known to mankind.

8:30:  Anderson starts to beg to go outside. I put him off, saying Amelia is still eating. Various levels of whining ensue. I tell Amelia to hurry up. She takes an infinitely small bite, still staring at the TV.

8:45:  Anderson begs to go outside again. I tell him he has to wait. Repeat whining.

8:50:  Anderson asks for fruit snacks. I try to put him off. Insert more whining. I give in and tell myself that it's no worse than some of the other things he eats for breakfast. Plus, I get the kind with fruit and veggie juice in them. That makes it acceptable. Right?

8:55:  Anderson asks for Chex Mix. I tell him no because I know he will not eat it. Instead I tell him to come into the bedroom so we can get his clothes on. He runs and hides in my bed.

9:00:  Anderson asks where Tofu is. We start searching the house for him. For every 5 seconds we look, his voice level and whining increases exponentially. I call Tofu an asshole under my breath because I am certain that he hides on purpose. Dig Tofu out from under the couch.

9:15:  I finally corral Anderson into the bedroom and start to help him get his clothes on. He insists on putting his shirt on himself. I try to show him the "big hole" (aka the bottom), he jerks away and insists on doing it himself, but starts whining when he gets stuck.

9:20:  I finish getting Anderson dressed. Go into the living room. Amelia is still eating the same toaster waffle and staring at the TV. I turn the TV off and tell Amelia to come get dressed. We fight over her outfit; she throws herself down on the floor several times before we reach an agreement.

9:30:  I go get myself dressed, brush my teeth, wash my face. Throw my hair up into a ponytail.

9:30-10:50  Various outdoor activities--playing in the yard, going to the park, going for a walk, etc.