Thursday, May 30, 2013

Yessssssss!!! He's getting tubes!!!!!!

Kay, I promised to talk to you about Gage's fluctuating hearing loss.
(At the Blue and Gold Banquet in March)
Late last summer, Gage started talking.  He was two.  He said probably four words or so.  I thought, "Well, he's been slow to start talking, but that happens to a lot of people."  And lots of people have told me stories to the effect of, "My brother didn't say one word until he was three.  And then he started speaking in full sentences!"  (You need to say the previous quote with a southern accent.  It's just funnier that way.  Try it.  See?  Some things are funnier said with a southern accent.  I'm just sayin'.)

So I chalked up his slow start to that.  I had also heard that, if your child is really into his gross motor skills, he's not as likely to work as hard on his speech.  And Gage is the Gross Motor Skills King.  The GMSK.  The kid throws, climbs, runs, jumps, etc. all day long.
(Easter Morning)
Then his speech disappeared.  He didn't say anything.  Not even the four words he was saying.  I wouldn't hear a peep from him for weeks at a time. 

I think I was in denial.  I didn't want to see that there was a problem.  Plus, at the time we were going through all this testing and form-filling-out for Micah to see if he could qualify for school district help with his mood disorder/anxiety.  (Which he didn't, by the way.  They don't have funding to get help for preschoolers with mental disorders.  Only physical.)  So my plate was full.  Ben had just gotten home, and quite honestly, that was a big adjustment for all of us.  Life was crazy.  So I put off this stuff with Gage.  Duh.
(With Micah's preschool class at the fire station, spraying the hose.)
Soon after Ben came home, he said, "Karlenn, I don't think Gage can hear."

"What are you talking about?  He follows directions."

"Yeah, I guess, but do you notice that sometimes he doesn't turn to you when you say his name?"

"Hmmm.  Well, I don't know.  I just figured he was ignoring me."

We were at the dinner table, and Gage was next to Ben and looking away from Ben, out the window.  To test his theory, Ben yelled, "Gage!"

Gage didn't turn toward him.

Ben tried again.  "Gage!"

Still no response.


Gage finally turned toward Ben, started crying, and threw a french fry at him.

I was like, "See?  He can hear.  He was just ignoring you."

More denial on my part.
I would say that joke about being Queen of da Nile, but that joke is as old as the hills and twice as dusty.
(Does this picture need explaining?  Nope.)

But that really bothered me, that Gage wasn't responding to his name and that he wasn't talking.  The A-word started worming its way into my brain.  No, not that A-word.  A different A-word.  Autism.  A gal who works with Gage in the nursery asked another gal in the nursery, who is my good friend, "Do you think Gage is autistic??"  My tender-hearted sister, Beads, when she came out for a visit in February, started crying when she first interacted with Gage.  "He doesn't speak, Kar.  What if he has autism??"

That's when I started to get worried.

(This is probably my favorite picture of all time.)

So I called the Good Ole' Infant/Toddler Program.  They're my besties.  We go a LONG way back.  Sadie for speech.  Micah for developmental delay.  And now Gage.  Three out of four kids.  Yessssss.

I'm starting to wonder if there's something wrong with the combo of Ben's and my genes that we make kids with problems...

(He looks like a greaser, with his sleeves all rolled up like that.  Now he just needs to tuck a cigarette pack into his sleeve, and he's good to go.  If you've never read The Outsiders, that joke might be lost on you...)

But seriously, I love the Infant/Toddler Program.  They're government funded.  And they have helped our family so much.  Sadie can speak because of them.  The therapists that worked with Micah figured out why he was failing to thrive, and the therapy he was provided helped him to no longer be developmentally delayed.  The program has meant the world to me.

So the program came and did all this testing and it was decided that Gage needed help with his speech.  So a speech therapist started coming.  And Gage LOVES her.  I love her.  She is a total doll.  We see her once per week.  I usually have to come up with an engaging, fun activity for Micah to do while the therapist is here, because he wants to play with them and doesn't want to get left out.  Yesterday while she was here, Mike and I made cookies. 
(I love when he squinches his eyes up like that.  Yes, I just made up that word.  Squinches.)

We got Gage's hearing tested with a speech pathologist, and he failed.  So the therapist and I were both like, "He may need tubes."  Then I took him to a pediatrician, who examined Gage and said, "There's tons of fluids in there, but no infection."

That's what's been so hard about this whole process - until two days ago, Gage has never, ever had an ear infection.
(At a local dairy for another field trip with Micah's preschool)
So the pediatrician referred us to an ENT.  The ENT was like, "I don't trust the speech pathologist's test.  It's not advanced enough.  I want Gage to go to an audiologist to take a more in-depth test."

So we went to the audiologist.  (Can you hear the money being shuffled out of our wallets at this point?  Imagine that sound. Because that's what happens when you have crappy insurance.  $100 for every doctor visit.  Until you reach your $3000-per-person deductible.  Which you don't ever reach.)

And Gage passed the audiologist's test with flying colors.


(Running through the sprinklers.  He refused to do so without a shirt on.)

What I've learned from all of these therapists and case workers is that sometimes, fluid fluctuates.  It comes and goes.  Every hour.  Or every day.  Or every week.  Some days, Gage is responding to his name and using his words.  Some days, nothing.  So the one day we took him to the audiologist, there was no fluid. He heard fine.

So the ENT said he wouldn't put tubes in Gage's ears.


So for the past two months, the speech therapist has been teaching me sign language to help my child communicate with me.  A lady from the school for the deaf comes once a month and tests his hearing.  He failed his most recent test. 

(Gage loves to dip things in veggie dip and then just lick the dip off.  He does that over and over again.  There is no ingesting of actual vegetables going on there.)

And my Incredible Hulk Anger started bubbling inside of me.  I was just frustrated that the doctor wouldn't trust my opinion about what we're dealing with.  Or the speech therapist's opinion.  Or the pediatrician's opinion.  Or the lady from the school from the deaf (who is herself hard of hearing) - her opinion.  I know that getting tubes in a kid's ears is surgery, but it's very minor.  And lots of kids have it done.  My sister sometimes does pediatric anesthesiology, and she says that they'll put 30 sets of tubes in kids per day.  It takes 15 minutes.  The kids are running around playing that night.  It's very, very minor.

So I decided to assemble a mass of evidence for the ENT.  I had the therapist write him a letter.  I had the lady from the school from the deaf give him her most recent test, which Gage had failed.  And then when Gage got his ear infection Monday, I was like, Yessss!  (Isn't that sad?)  More evidence!  And I had that doctor send her notes to the ENT.  Then I set my appointment.

It was this morning.  Before I left, I did this thing that a psychiatrist I worked for always told his patients who are a little too timid to do:  Picture yourself as a woman you know of who is powerful.  You are Hillary Clinton.  You are Oprah.  You are Martha Stewart.  You are Joan of Arc.  You are Queen Elizabeth.  You are whoever you see as a powerful woman.  You are in her body.  You are going to this doctor's appointment with your head held high and your agenda on your brain.  You will make him see reason.  So I did that, flexed my biceps a few times, did an Incredible Hulk yell, and went.

And after much discussion, the ENT finally said yes to tubes.  Gage gets them on June 12th.  Another piece of good news - he got accepted into a special preschool that will help him with his communication skills.  It's free for two entire years.  They pick him up from my front door and drop him off at my front door.  It's going to be so good for him.  Especially if he can hear by that time.

So we're on the road to getting my little man caught up.  And I'm sooooo thrilled.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I am the Incredible Hulk.

I am currently at my job.  The janitorial stuff is done, and the shredding is done, so why am I still here?

I'm hiding from my children.

I just...need a break.  And Ben is there with them, so I'm just hanging out and enjoying the solitude and the silence.  And letting him deal with them for awhile.

So I started this post back at the end of March, and then life just got really busy.  A few days previously, I had posted about how it was interesting that each of my kids has had special challenges/issues.  Nothing too horrific.  Dylan's ADHD.  And, apparently, a tendency toward the dramatic.  (Do most almost-10-year-olds act this way??  It's ludicrous.)  Sadie's speech issues.  (She "graduated" from speech therapy, but she still lisps quite a bit.  It's cute right now, but I'm not sure if it will still be cute when she's, like, 15.)  Micah's apparent mood disorder/anxiety.  Gage's speech and hearing issues (more on that later, I promise).  I never really realized that having kids would be challenging.  I guess my mom just made it look really easy. :)  I adore my kids and don't regret even for a second having any of them, but they are....spirited....and can really drain me.

So yeah.  My kids have issues.  But I have issues, too.  I've been on anti-depressants since the end of college (student teaching pushed me over the edge and made me a little cray-cray; anyone who has done student teaching will attest to its intensity), and honestly, they've been a lifesaver.  They make me feel like me.  A lot of people have misconceptions about antidepressants. They don't make you a zombie.  They just make you, you.  Instead of a really angry, mean, mad person. 

That's how my depression manifests itself.  I don't cry a lot or mope or look out windows like they show on commercials for anti-depressants.  I yell.  Scream.  Swear.  I was watching The Avengers with Ben and Dylan for the first time this weekend (Yeah, yeah, yeah, it took me this long to watch it.  I'm busy, people), and when Bruce Banner says, "That's my secret.  I'm angry all the time," I thought, that's me.  I'm the Incredible Hulk.

And when I'm in that state, it's like I'm watching myself doing these crazy things and I'm like, "Karlenn, what is your PROBLEM?  Simmer down.  It's really no big deal."  It's almost an out-of-body experience.

Honestly, I think I've had depression most of my life.  Looking back...yeah.  I needed help looooong before college.  Do I hate that I have to take pills to be normal?  Yeah.  But I've made my peace with it. It's just like having thyroid disease or type 1 diabetes. It's physiological.  It's my reality.

Anywho, I've been on the same dose of anti-depressants forever and it's worked really well for me for several years.  I still have ups and downs, but they're not extreme caverns that I have to climb up.  They're almost like rolling hills.  I'm still sad.  I'm still happy.  But with my pills, I'm good.

Until I got this dang hysterectomy.

Now, I may not be a smart woman, but I know that they left my ovaries in.  And I know that, because my ovaries are in there, my hormones shouldn't be wacking out.

But I think they are.

I'm back to Incredible Hulk status.  And I hate it.  One night, after I explosively yelled at Dylan and then felt extremely guilty and went downstairs and wept in my bed, in the dark, Ben very lovingly and tentatively said, "Kar, I feel like you're really struggling emotionally.  Is there anything I can do to help?"  That's when I knew it was time to do something.

So I went to my gynie and asked her.  She was puzzled and said, "You shouldn't be having any hormone issues..."  She suggested I add an additional, small dose of a different anti-depressant that I take in the morning.  I like it because it gives me energy and because it makes me not crave carbs (which is AWESOME, because carbs are my weakness), but I don't feel like it's doing the trick.  Ben says he can tell a difference.  But I still feel like I'm boiling inside all the time.

And another thing - my face.  I've been experiencing acne the likes of which I haven't seen since I was 21.

Have I TOLD you about when I was 21?  Let's quickly paint a picture.  My permanent retainer broke, unbeknownst to me, and my teeth started moving all around. I actually started to get buck teeth.  I had to get braces ALL OVER AGAIN.  My bed in my apartment had bed bugs in it.  Which was really cool.  And I had this horrible, horrible bout with acne.  I remember popping 8 or so pimples in my chin area at least three times a day.  I left them alone if they were just red, but this was, like, getting rid of pus.  I wasn't about to go out in public with pustules on my face.  Really, it was a public service that I was performing. 

I didn't want to go outside of my apartment.  I didn't want to go to class.  I was so mortified. 

And I had a roommate who was a cute cougarette (I went to BYU), and she had about fifteen million boys in love with her and coming over to see her...

And here I was.  Buck teeth with braces.  Pussy pimples all over my chin.  It was awful...


Anyways, I ended up going on accutane, which was the best thing I have ever done for myself.  I still get pimples every now and then, but as far as that horrible, pus-filled, scarring, painful undergrounder pimpley stuff, it's gone.  Accutane really kind of cures you of that stuff.

Until now.

I'm back to where I was when I was 21.  Except this time, I'm not skinny.  So now I'm chubby, plus I have acne, plus I'm the Incredible Hulk. 

It's a special time.

We have a lot of medical bills right now, especially since Micah cut his head open (more on that later, as well) and because we've had to take Gage to audiologists and ENTs several times the past few months.  So my vanity and psychotic anger have to wait for awhile until we can afford to go check things out.  But I want to see someone about my hormones.  I don't know who you go to for stuff like that.  An endocrinologist?  If any of you knows, ditez-moi, s'il vous plait.

Until then, I'll keep my popping needle handy.  And take lots of breaks from my kids.  For their safety.

"You'll make me angry.  You don't want to see me when I'm angry!!!"

He got his wish.

I haven't dyed my hair since....maybe the beginning of my marriage?  I definitely had to stop when I started having kids.  Having kids kind of decimates all money you might have had for fun things.  And you know, I really liked my hair color.  It wasn't mousy - it had lots of highlights and lowlights naturally, so I embraced my color and was really good with it.

I started getting some grey hairs a couple of years ago.  They've been slow in taking over, and they still are definitely in the minority, but there were some really prevalent grey hairs framing my face, and it was bugging me.  So I decided to finally start dyeing my hair.  Just to cover the greys. And I wanted to just buy some at the store.  I can't afford to have it done in a salon.

I told Ben of my decision, and he's like, "You should do something really crazy and different! should totally go red!"

"Oh jeez, I don't know, Ben.  I haven't dyed my hair in a really long time...maybe I should kind of ease into it.  Do something really close to my normal hair color."

"Alright, whatever.  But I still think you'd make a hot redhead."

"Nah.  I'll go and pick out a color sometime next week - hold my hair up to it and match it to what my color already is.  I like my color.  I like being a brunette."

Ben went grocery shopping last Wednesday, and he brought this home as a surprise for me:
I was like, "Dude, that is REALLY red." 

"But it would look so goooood on you."

"I really don't think it will, since it's, like, HOT PINK."

I texted a pic of it to my sis, Lex, and she said that it was, like, Fifth Element red.  I chuckled. 

I freakin' love that movie.

But I don't like Lilu's hair color.

Despite Ben's pleadings, I went with him to return it this weekend.  The lady at Wal-Mart was like, "And the reason for the return??"

"Um, because I don't want to have hot pink hair," I said, glancing darkly at Ben.

She laughed.  And refunded our money.

So then I went to the hair color aisle, and after much holding out of my short hair against the colors on the box and the resulting crossed eyes/headache from doing that, I picked out a color as close to my own natural color as I could - Dark Golden Brown.  A perfect match.

Ben helped me to dye my hair yesterday (he's a funny man - he was REALLY EXCITED to help me).  After I rinsed it, styled it, etc., here was the result:

Um, apparently, I am a redhead now.
This is my "I forgot to put on lip gloss, so I look like a vampire, and I'm uncomfortable posing for the camera anyways, and I'm even more uncomfortable now, because I did not intend to be Lilu from Fifth Element" pose:
 Poor Gage is really sick.  He has an ear infection and pink eye.  Good times for him:
Anyways, I was soooo surprised that my hair turned out this way, obviously.  The box in no way, shape, or form indicated that I would have hot pink hair when I was done.  I was going to continue being a dark golden brown kind of a girl.  But I'm not that upset.  Hair dye doesn't last forever.  This I know.

And Ben is terribly happy with it.  Somehow, he always ends up getting his way.  It's the magic of being a youngest child, I guess. :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Necklace Art

 Yeee!  Look what Ben made me!!
A necklace holder!!!  My friends, Megs and Kathleen, have things similar to this, and I've been wanting one for ages.  Because allllll of these necklaces were tangled up in this tiny thing:
Digging them out and untangling them for wear was a nightmare.  I still have rings and pins and stuff in those drawers.  It's way too cute to get rid of. :)

Ben picked out the fabric for the background - it's hard to see, but it's a light grey with modern-looking circles on it:
 It goes well with our bedding:
 When you look close, there are light grey, brown, purple, and tan shapes in our bedding:
So I think the fabric backing for my necklace holder looks really good.  Honestly, it just looks like a really cool, functional piece of art. 

I'm in love with it.  And I'm in love with Ben. :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

I'm married to the unabomber.

My mom and dad went to Salt Lake for a few days this week and asked us to baby-sit Boatfeet (a.k.a. Molly.  I call her Boatfeet.).  We happily obliged, because she's so freakin' cute:
A little neurotic, but cute.  As I've gotten to know her more over the past few days, I've learned some things about her:
1.  She likes to eat other dogs' poop.
2.  She poops with one hind leg up.
3.  She is scared of Micah.
4.  She likes Sadie and me.
5.  She's not sure how she feels about Gage.
6.  She likes to hump my arm at night.
7.  She likes to sleep with Ben and me.
8.  She prefers to be held over your shoulder and patted on her back, like a baby that you're burping.
9.  She got a haircut and is really embarrassed about it. 
10.  She ADORES Ben.  Ben left to go grocery shopping the other night, and she cried the whole time.  When he came home, she was so happy she almost wriggled out of her body.

This morning, Ben wore a zip-up hooded thing and put on his sunglasses and said, "Hey, Kar, look.  I'm the unabomber!"  I chuckled and took a picture:

When Molly saw Ben in his unabomber getup, she fa-reaked OUT.  She started barking and backing away.

And Ben, being Ben, of course milked it for all it was worth.  He crouched down very slowly and silently, face still.  She barked louder and harder.  Then he started crawling slowly toward her.  Still with the stony face.  Still with the sunglasses and hood.  She kept barking and backing up into the living room. 

Then he stood up, took off his hood, and took off his sunglasses and said, "Molly, it's just me!"  And she recognized him and ran to him for a hug before he left.

Silly girl. 

And silly man. :)  Love him.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"Flowers are the earth laughing."

I loooove that quote.  I just saw it in a Stampin' Up catalog, and I was like, What beautiful figurative language!! Ralph Waldo Emerson said it.

Another quote I love is from that wonderfully famous woman, My Mom:  "Flowers make life worth living."  So, so true.

I just wanted to show you all of the pictures I've been taking of my spring flowers.  They've been so much fun.  But first, let me show you my birthday debacle:

Ugh.  I really wanted something I could put in front of my dryer vent - I have garden area around there, but nothing can grow right there, obviously.  So I saw this birdbath and was like, oh my gosh, perfect.  And it kind of matches the paint on our trim and front door and stuff.  So I bought it and got it in the car, and on the way home, the tray fell off the stand thing.  I thought, Jeez, I'm totally taking this back.  But the way it fell off - the paint from the tray was still on the tray, and if you positioned it just right back on the stand and used clear glue, you would never tell the difference.  Ben has any kind of adhesive you could ever ask for, so I asked him when he got home if he could use something to re-attach the tray to the stand.  He said, "Oh yeah, I'll use Liquid Nails!"  Cool, I thought.

Not cool.  Not cool.  I learned that Liquid Nails does NOT dry clear.  It dries white.  And so now my birdbath looks like crap.  Like bird crap, actually...

And no birds have come to bathe in it, which also makes me very sad.

Moving on.

Last fall, I asked Ben when he went to the grocery store (I make him do the shopping.  He is more easy on himself with the budget than he is on me.  So I make him go so we can get more of what we need.  Kar is usin' the ole' noggin.) to get me some daffodil bulbs.  He did way better than that.  He got, like, five different kinds of bulbs!!  So, so fun.  These little guys came up:
I don't remember the name of them, but they bloomed and re-bloomed a few times, which I really appreciate.  They're not like my dumb crocuses, which bloomed once (and only three of them bloomed for me this year) and were done.  Blah.  I think I'm throwing my crocus bulbs away.  Or maybe I need new crocus bulbs each year???  Anywho, these guys were so teeny that I think you need to buy lots and lots of them to make a good impact in your bed.

My beautiful dwarf irises:
They only bloom once too, dang it.  I actually need to go out there and divide them up today.  Every couple of years I have to do that so they don't take over the whole world.  I especially love these dwarf irises because I got the starts from my grandpa.  If you want any dwarf iris starts, give me a call.

My tulips were spectacular again this year:
Here's a better shot of how colorful and fun they were:
Love those.

I have always, always, always wanted some hyacinths, and I finally got to plant them last fall.  They did not disappoint:
 The nice thing about hyacinths is that their blooms last a good three weeks.  I like that a LOT.

My new daffodil bulbs performed really well:
But I didn't get one bloom from my old daffodil bulbs.  I'm wondering if those need to be completely replaced every year, too.  Gardening is such a learning process.

These were by far my favorite, favorite bulbs that came up - grape hyacinths:
They were soooo showey, and again, their blooms lasted forever.  Three to four weeks.  They made me really happy.

With some of my birthday money, I also finally invested into some creeping phlox:

They're not creeping yet, and they're not very spectacular-looking yet, but next spring, they will be show-stoppers.  I remember once visiting a friend, and she had some hot pink phlox blooming in her front yard, and I go, "What are those???" I've wanted some ever since.  They spread up to 18 inches in diameter.  I put them in the perfect place.  They're done blooming until next spring, but I'm really excited to see how they do.

My bleeding hearts are blooming:
Oh, how I love them.  One of my white bleeding hearts didn't make it through the winter.  Let us take a moment of silence in memory of her.

I might go get another one with my birthday money.  And some potting soil.  It's sad that I'm using birthday money to buy dirt.  But I have GOT to amend that soil in my backyard.  It's driving me nuts and making my forsythia very angry.  She only gave me a few yellow blooms this spring.  Not even worth taking a picture of.  She needs some major help.

These pansies crack me up - they were supposed to be annuals, but surprise!  They come up every year.  And I'm okay with that.  But they only re-came up in one bed, when I had planted them in two beds.  Really weird.
 We got telstars again for Mother's Day at church:
I'm excited to show you my older telstars in front when they bloom.  There are so many blooms on them when they're a few years old that you can't even see the green.  They're nice and round and bushy and gorgeous.

I wish I knew the name of these dudes:
Again, they came from bulbs.  They're nice and tall.  Probably three feet tall or so.  Ben calls them Truffula Trees.  Micah calls them Bangs.  I don't know why.  He has the weirdest words for things. He calls church shoes, "Bops."  No idea why.

My candy tufts (Micah calls them "Candy Tuffs") are one of my favorite spring bloomers.  Love these things.
 See?  So many blooms that you can't even see the green.  I like that.  They're soooooooooo pretty.
So anywaysssssss, that's what's been going on in Kar's Garden.  Micah is quite the little gardener himself.  My mom got him some seeds and his own little gardening tools for his birthday, so I have a feeling we'll be out there planting those suckers today.  He actually snuck outside and planted some this morning while I was feeding and dressing Gage.  He totally put them in the wrong spot, so we'll have to dig them up and put them where they're supposed to go.  They're vines, and he planted them, like, in the front of a flower bed.  So we'll relocate those toward our porch railing so they have something to cling to.  He's a silly boy.  :)  And he seriously might have a future as a botanist or a landscape architect.  The kid has a green thumb.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Happy Birfcake, Everyone!

Haha!  Sadie used to say that on her birthdays.  She would wish everyone around her a Happy Birfcake.  I loved that.

Soooooo, I turned 36 last month.  We flew home from our trip to Belize on my birthday, which I mentioned previously.  That night, I really didn't want to cook (and we had no food left, because our kids eat us out of house and home), so we went to Red Robin, just as a little family.

The following Friday, I threw myself a birthday party.  That's right.  I like to celebrate my birthdays, even though it's sad that I'm getting older and older.  I want to be surrounded by family and sing and eat cake and have a nice time.  So I arranged it myself.  My darling friend, Kathleen, volunteered to make a cake for me, and dang, it was so good.
 Pete suggested that everyone sing Happy Birthday like robots.  It was funny. :)
I was singing, "Happy Birthday to ME, Happy Birthday to ME..."  Micah and Ivy thought that was hilarious:
My bro-in-law, Chris, got me this awesome card with a chicken who dances to "I like to move it, move it," every time you open the card.  Gage was enthralled with it and carried it around with him for days afterward:
My friend Megs was taking pictures, and she asked Nat and I to pose.  I love these pictures.  We're so spazzy.

 Then we made what Nat's family calls "Duckface."

 Haha!  Nat is way better at that than I am.

Anyways, it was a great birthday.  I got lots of wonderful presents, but more importantly, I was surrounded by the people I love.
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