Saturday, December 24, 2011

Winterfest!

On December 13th Caitlin's gymnastics studio had its annual Winterfest. Winterfest is when all the kids perform their routines that they've been working so very hard on for the last few months. Caitlin's is below. She was so proud of herself for working hard and getting her routine right! She was so proud that Daddy worked from home that day so he could go! I was so proud of her for tucking her chin under before doing her tumbling! It was a good day, enjoyed by all!


video

Monday, December 19, 2011

Glasses!

Somebody got glasses!!!

Doesn't she look thrilled?

Tomorrow we're getting a haircut!



Thursday, December 08, 2011

What It's Like

Yesterday I spend a lot of time on the couch. A lot of time holding my boy. A lot of time wiping away tears and talking in a soothing voice. Why? Because he's a sensitive child.

I'm sure there's some sort of official diagnosis of a highly sensitive child and I'm sure that Brandon wouldn't fit in. Any sort of clinical terminology would included being sensitive to clothing, textures, or temperature. Or having anxiety or fits. Brandon isn't like that at all. He's an introvert, but he loves to socialize as long as it's on his terms. Maybe highly emotional, at least about himself, is a better explanation. He's got the highly emotional brain, and it lacks its own "calm down" mechanism.

We usually play at the school for half an hour or so after it gets out. It's cold here right now, but the school is right in the sun. It's fun for the kids, and gets out a lot of energy. With these cold days getting darker earlier, getting out the extra is a necessity! At some point after school yesterday there was an altercation at the tether ball pole between Brandon and J, on of our neighbors. Neither one of them fully understands the rules of the game, and both were playing their own version, causing distress and misunderstandings. After we got home we noticed that part of the snow fort in our front yard had fallen down. The boys had worked hard on this all weekend. Whether it was knocked down or melted I don't know. The sun was intense yesterday, so I'm guessing it just melted on its own. But it didn't matter to Brandon, the cascade of tears started. It never got better, either. Caitlin went over to our next door neighbor's house for a while, and Brandon couldn't get a grip.

The rest of the afternoon and early evening were like this. There were tears over homework, tears over the fort, tears over tether ball, tears over not wanting to do the extra credit project (which we're not doing), and tears over his AWANA memorization homework. He opened up about school work and home work, and there were tears over the fact that he feels like he can't keep up. There were tears over friends. When J came over (at 5:10!) to play, there were tears that he was here and tears that he left. Brandon wasn't kind when J came over, so I'm not surprised he left! Every time I turned around yesterday something was wrong.

There are so many tears! Over every little thing! I'm glad Brandon opens up to me and will tell me what's wrong. But I hate the fact that he has to get all worked up over it all. We could never let him "cry it out" as a baby because he'd get himself so worked up. It's no different now. Once the cascade starts, it's up to me or Brian to calm him down. To quell the rising storm. And nothing we say is ever right. When Brandon was little, around 1, I realized I couldn't go to the park every day. Or have a friend over. We needed to be alone several days out of the week. I tried very hard not to schedule something more than every other day, with a maximum schedule of 2 days on, 1 day off (at home). He is still that same child and I operate in a similar way, but now he has to go to school every day. And he has homework. Toss AWANA and/or after school sports in there, and the mix become volatile sometimes.

Brandon's emotional meltdowns don't happen every day. Sometimes they don't happen for weeks! We see emotions almost daily, but the last week and half has been hard. As the parent, I can usually see the signs. I see his tired face after school. I can hear the emotional distress in his voice. I hear the crying when something has gone wrong. If I don't get to him soon enough, the build up begins to tear him down. And it doesn't stop. Once he gets over emotional, anything and everything can set him off. He needs time alone, but doesn't really know how to ask for it. When I suggest it, he thinks I'm punishing him. Occasionally I find him up in his room reading, and that's just find with me. He craves routine, and when routines change he gets emotional. People and outside activities drain him, but he can't put words to those feelings. I tell him he doesn't have to go out and play, and I mean it. I'm lucky that this usually only happens at home, and I'm lucky it's not every day. But it's exhausting.

I limit his after-school activities to AWANA on Wednesday nights and usually one after school sport each semester so as not to overwhelm him. The end of the day and the end of week are both tiring for him. His teachers have talked about how smart and helpful he is in class, and that he's a model student. Then he cries over his homework. He's in the TAG (talented and gifted) program at school, but I recently pulled him out of the writing part of it because the TAG advisor thought it was a bit emotionally exhausting for him. His emotional state can be such a roller coaster sometimes! Brandon is always super helpful when we're around younger children and loves babies. He has this high-pitched maternal voice that he uses when talking with children under 2. It's very cute! He loves cats, but is skeptical about dogs. He fell in love with my sister's dogs during their visit over Thanksgiving, which surprised even him! He cried for days after the dogs left. The world wears him out. He loves being alone, or with just his family. We're lucky our child still finds us fun!

It's an emotional roller coaster. The ups and downs. Happy and sad. Joy and tears. Turning down activities and groups. Getting up earlier or leaving early so as not to rush him. Dealing with the funny looks because we aren't going to join you. Explaining to him what's going one, or when and why our routine is changing to avoid the storm that can arise when he isn't prepared. Always trying to be one step ahead with food, a plan B, something to say to calm the upcoming melt down. I understand this, but more than that, I'm the one who deals with most of his emotional outbursts. They're habitual and consistent, but not daily. I'm looking forward to our upcoming two week break, and the fact that we're not traveling for Christmas. I love him dearly, but I need a break, too. This is what it's like.

**One a lighter note, he was thrilled later on in the evening that he's successfully said his AWANA verse. It was long, and he'd gotten all worked up about not being able to memorize it. He was pretty happy on the way home, and bed time was easy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Snow Dayz!

It's been cold here, with lows just below zero, and highs ranging from 10 to 35. Doesn't seem to matter, though, as the kids bundle up and head out to play! It snowed twice last week, and the cold temps have kept that snow around for a while. I hear it's suppose to get up to 40 on Saturday! Woo hoo! It might melt the snow, but I'm okay with that. I love having a real winter!




Brandon and his beloved snow fort. All the neighborhood kids helped build it.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Thankful for a Garage

Woke up to 4 or 5 inches of snow this morning. I knew it was coming, but yet it seems strange. Probably because it was 60 degrees yesterday! Our neighbor takes her son and Brandon to school in the mornings, and we got down there just as they had started clearing the snow of their cars. It's days like this that make me glad we park in the garage. I'm glad that Brian and I have managed to pare down our things, and install shelves and hooks in the garage, all in order to park two cars there. It's a tight squeeze, and we still have way too much stuff, but both cars fit! If I worked a little harder at it, I'm sure I could get rid of more. Between icy cold and snow in the winter, and hail storms in the summer, garage parking is a must in the Colorado suburbs!