Beauty in the Mess,  Ezra,  Family,  Little Brother,  Motherhood

Beauty in the Mess ~ Edition 05.10.15 {and a very long general life update}

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The last six weeks have been full…in the best of ways. I was very scared when Ezra graduated from inpatient therapy that the transition for our family would be overwhelming. But it hasn’t been. It’s been okay. It really has.

The first week was the hardest, I think. For me, mostly. I had to adjust to one hour less to myself per day, which may not seem like a lot, but it really is. Because it also meant one hour MORE I had to find things to occupy Ezra’s attention and time and help him manage his emotions. But we quickly settled into our new routine. Which looks something like this:

We all wake up between 5:00 and 6:00 and hit the chaotic ground running. There’s coffee to be made, breakfast to be eaten, a lunch to pack, and medication to be administered. I’m really not a fan of this time, but I muddle through. As soon as Ezra cooperates by eating his breakfast, getting dressed, and brushing his teeth – he gets active time. Which means either doing directed gross motor activities with me inside (like jumping on the trampoline or doing yoga) or going outside to play, weather permitting.

I love how Ezra seems to instinctively know what he needs (after months of occupational therapy and more directed gross motor play in inpatient therapy and with my help). Now, he will run, bash his trucks into things, even make his own obstacle courses – all with very little input from me:

05.10 26 before school obstacle course

While he’s busy playing, I generally have about 15 minutes to breathe, recover from the morning chaos, and get ready for the day myself.

05.10 27 early morning

Then, if all goes well and the weather is nice, we walk to school. We talk about our shadows, look for robins, collect rocks, find worms, and try to maintain a decent pace.

05.10 07 shadows while walking

As far as school, I think Ezra’s doing okay. We still get a lot of negative reports home – mostly involving defiance to teachers, noncompliance with timeouts, and aggression with peers – but the teachers handle it. They don’t call me to come “fix” things.

Ezra seems pretty positive about the changes. He has noted that “my teachers talk firmly to me” and “my teachers make me do hard things, like sit in my seat.” But otherwise, most days he just says that he had “a good day” and that’s that. He’s also developed a fun relationship with a peer who is just…made to be Ezra’s friend. They get in a lot of trouble…together…but love each other and call each other best friends. One day they got in trouble for wrestling on the playground – but they were both having a fabulous time doing so. And apparently they tell each other hilarious jokes – like Ezra explained, “He’ll ask me what my name is, and I’ll spit, and he will laugh.” They will also shake booties at each other and laugh hilariously. We’ve already had one playdate because…well…they are besties! While his mom and I know that certain of the aforementioned behaviors are definitely discouraged at school, we still laugh over them (and the notes the teachers send home sometimes) and enjoy the camaraderie of being the moms of our little {hilarious} troublemakers.

After school, we walk home (if it’s not too hot and I’m not too tired from the day). The walk home is harder because it comes on the heels of naptime at school and Ezra will often complain or try to sit down. I’ve taken to bringing juice with me and scheduling “stops” along the way home to sit and rest.

05.10 20 another walk from school

This time we got caught in an unexpected rain shower:

05.10 10 caught in the rain

After school, Ezra is ready for guided interaction and brain stimulation. Some days (especially now that it’s nicer) I can just tell him to “go play outside” and he does very well. But a few times a week at least we sit down at the kitchen table and do “activities” (aka homeschooling) together – which I make sure to have organized and thought-out at the beginning of the week.

There’s coloring (his least favorite):

(I colored the background, he colored the ice cream)

05.10 22 coloring

05.10 05 coloring feelings faces

Tracing (another thing he lacks fondness for):

05.10 23 writing letters

Painting (here we are working on our pincer grasp):

05.10 18 fine motor pincher activity

Reading and spelling:

05.10 16 spelling activity

And playdough!

05.10 11 playdough mats

We also play with sticker books, breeze through preschool activity worksheets (as many as 30-40 in one sitting!), cutting, and puzzles. Ezra’s focus during this time continues to amaze me!!

The hardest thing is that this usually only lasts us about an hour, leaving us with another 3 hours or so before Dad comes home and dinner is ready. So we try to fill in that time with playing outside and “earned” TV time (a new behavioral motivation system we are trying that seems to be working pretty well).

05.10 01 Outdoorfun

Ezra, playing outside in his “camping tent”

05.10 19 camping tent

Russ has been working longer hours to earn up “credit time” which he can take off when it’s time for Little Brother to make his appearance, so our evenings continue to be challenging.

Once a week we have occupational therapy. We had two sessions at our home (which was wonderfully convenient), but an opening opened up at the therapy clinic (a 50 minute drive away) and we decided to take it. Ezra is more focused in an environment where he’s not used to having such free reign, and the therapy clinic is just AMAZING. Room after room after room of equipment and activities to help Ezra work on all of his skills.

05.10 25 sensory play occupational therapy

We have started seeing a new family therapist twice a month who has been really great at working with us already. We sit down as a family and all get a chance to talk about the struggles we are facing. He is teaching Ezra more coping skills and letting Ezra teach us how to use them. He is also very focused on Russ and I maintaining self-care and emotional composure as well as communicating more effectively and parenting more cohesively. This has truly been the missing piece in both Ezra’s and Russell’s therapy. The relationship and interactions between them has always been challenging, which is in turn exhausting for me. So getting this help has been a God-send.

05.10 08 feelings faces

As the mornings and evenings are very busy for me and I have to do a lot of managing, redirecting, and peacemaking (not to mention cooking and housework)–the hours I have alone while Ezra is at school are incredibly precious and I try to use them wisely. My self-care is incredibly important to me, so I do a lot of resting and watching TV, exercise, sleeping (on a rare occasion), personal therapy, an occasional coffee or lunch date with a friend, errands, prenatal appointments, and household projects that are harder to do when Ezra is around.

I’ve also been very introspective and very focused on preparing for Little Brother’s upcoming arrival, – which has included listening to some fabulous birth podcasts, research, journalling, guided imagery relaxation, and more.

Weekends are, by far, the hardest. Ezra being out of the weekday routine causes a lot more meltdowns and fits. And there are just so many more hours to fill, which inevitably means more TV time – which isn’t always a good thing.

We usually only go to church on Sunday mornings (for many reasons), and spend our Saturdays and Sunday afternoons and evenings going out to parks, doing more activities at home, or going to the Y.

05.10 02 hot in april

Ezra having fun with popcorn and bounce houses at the Children’s Good News Spectacular. He did incredibly well in spite of all of the stimulation:

05.10 06 good news festival

A Sunday walk at the nearby gardens:

05.10 29 cute boy

So that’s been our lives these days.

Now onto some more beauty in the mess:

Beauty, in having a “sick” child (who was running a high fever) but still running at 200% as usual. He was thrilled to be able to run to the store in pajamas:

05.10 03 sick boy

Beauty, in telling him to get dressed, and instead having him clean his whole room on his own!

05.10 04 he cleaned his room

Beauty, in buying a CD on eBay and noticing it was going to ship from the town you used to live in – only to receive it and find a personal note from an old friend, who just so happened to be the seller!

05.10 12 chance ebay sale

Beauty, in this face. I have no recollection of why this photo was taken, but I just love it!

05.10 13 smiling boy

Beauty, in getting a new vacuum to replace the one that bit the dust during that unfortunate packing peanut incident…

05.10 14 new vacuum

Beauty, in realizing you have a mini-me. Because when you give him his new Spider-Man toothbrush, the first thing he does is grab your phone and take a picture of it!

05.10 15 new toothbrush

Beauty, in attending a pregnancy expo and having this be the first table you see. There’s also beauty in not disclosing how many of these I ate. #nevereatandtell

05.10 17 glutenfree cupcakes

Beauty, in having your husband tell you to pick him up at 4, only to arrive and have him telling you he needs another 30 minutes to finish up – then walking over to your favorite downtown pizza store and eating some gluten-free, tomato-free pizza on the street downtown.

05.10 21 pizza in downtown

There is beauty in seeing some of my writing in-print in a local magazine. This article was published online last Memorial Day then updated and republished again this year.

05.10 24 in print

And there is beauty in Mother’s Day – in spite of childREN who won’t sleep during the night (this time it was Little Brother awake all night long!), 4-year-olds who wake up at 5:30AM, coffee pots that clog, aeropress coffee that gets spilled, and general irritability that I can’t have even one day off…

There’s this…

05.10 28 mothers day card

A quick trip to Target and then sneaking off to a local park to drink a latte in peace:

05.10 30 Mothers Day

And celebrating the two beautiful beings who made me a mother:

05.10 31 Mothers Day

05.10 33 Mothers Day

05.10 34 Mothers Day

05.10 32 Mothers Days

Happy Mother’s Day! May you find beauty in your mess too.

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