Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Just FYI... this post serves as a daily journal for me documenting Jayce's behavior on a new medication. If you don't have a child with ADHD or autism, this will probably be very long and boring to you.

We made the decision yesterday (April 13th) to stop Jayce 's Zoloft prescription and try Prozac instead. There is no doubt in our minds that he most certainly needs an SSRI,  but we have to play around with them for a bit until we find the right medicine and dose.

Day one: he came home from school in a decent mood but things quickly changed as soon as he was reminded that he needs to practice piano and eat a snack before any electronic devices. He is now currently yelling on the couch because he doesn't have enough time to eat before his lesson. ( he does). The rain let up during his piano lesson and he was scared to death of seeing a bee on the way home.

Day two: He had a little opposition to practicing the piano and eating a snack before going upstairs to my computer, but nowhere near the shouting or yelling of the day before. The weather has been rainy all day long, so no bees to worry about. 

Day 3: He was fine until about 5:30. He had allergy shots and then to taco bell for a snack. He came home and practiced piano and did his homework without complaint. But then he went upstairs to play on my computer and he flipped out when an unfamiliar error message popped up. I could hear him yelling all the way across the house. All it took to fix it was restarting my computer but he was not calm enough to think through possible solutions.

Day 4: This afternoon wasn't so bad. There was only one issue with the computer again (another simple solution that required him just asking for help) that set him off. It wasn't as bad, or as long, as the day before.

Day 5: This day was Saturday, which is always hard on Jayce, unless he's staying the weekend at Grandma's house. Any request was met with attitude. I always give him 5 minute warnings when he needs to transition to another activity (getting dressed, eating lunch, leaving the house, etc). Transition is hard for Jayce, especially if he's engrossed in a video game or a project he's working on. Any time Brian even went up stairs, I immediately heard yelling from Jayce. By bedtime, Jayce couldn't calm down. He told me he was going to have a bad day in the morning, too, because he was so upset. (Thankfully, that didn't happen). Days like this are hard to watch because nothing makes Jayce happy. Everything sets him off and he can't calm down. He's miserable :(

Day 6: Today was Sunday. Jayce actually had a pretty good day. But I realized why... absolutely nothing was required of him all day long. He stayed in his pajamas, he didn't accompany us to the grocery store, and he basically played video games all day. His fits came much later in the evening. He freaked out over dinner (chicken), he put too much jelly on his sandwich and was actually crying about it, Jaina was helping him with a project and she stepped away and Jayce had a tantrum because she couldn't help him any more. Then all of a sudden it was bedtime. Even though I gave Jayce plenty of warning that bedtime was approaching, his project was not finished and he could not handle it. He also spilled juice on his pajamas, which did not help things. He's now reading in bed, 30 minutes past bedtime, but he's determined to get his nightly reading in.

Day 7: It was back to school and back to a normal routine for Jayce. I never have to worry about him at school (unless he skips his ADHD meds by accident, lol) but its after school that Jayce has trouble dealing with. In his own words, he's told me, "Mom, I use up all my patience during school and just don't have any when I get home." Since I'm a stay-at-home mom of three and feel the same way at 5:00 PM, I totally get that :P Except Jayce can't drink a glass of wine :P

Monday didn't end up being ordinary. As soon as Jayce's class was dismissed, it started raining. And not just any kind of rain.... no, our area was in a severe thunderstorm warning. One of Jayce's biggest fears is thunderstorms. Its been present since before we've even started ABA therapy. I remember during some summer sessions, the therapist would not be able to continue for the day because Jayce would be stuck on the couch freaking out because of a possible storm. Or, he'd be hiding in the bathroom. We tried social stories and he also worked on this fear with his psychologist Miss Suzie. Nothing seemed to help. It was just a fact that he feared any kind of weather. We encouraged his learning about tornadoes and hurricanes thinking that knowledge is power.... but, that didn't help either. And now Jayce can tell you exactly how high the winds need to be before its considered a category 5 :)

On the way home, it started hailing. I've never driven through hail. I had no idea how loud it was when it hits your car. Jayce's school is far out in the country so I was driving home on a curvy two lane road (which was flooded in some areas) surrounded by farm land with no place to pull over. The rain was coming down so hard that I had almost zero visibility. I think I was going maybe 20 miles per hour at this point.

I'm not going to lie... forget about Jayce for a second. *I* was freaked out! I was gripping the steering wheel tightly at 10 and 2 and my knuckles were certainly white.

Jayce, on the other hand, was handling it well. He expressed that he did not like this storm, hail was loud, and he was scared, but he did not freak out. This is huge for Jayce, absolutely huge! Normally he would have been yelling and crying and distracting me and I would have been yelling at him to be quiet so I could drive and not kill us all in a car accident. (Yeah, these moments are real parenting fails, aren't they?).

We got home in once piece. I was very happy we could stay at home until the storm passed since Jaina had Honor Choir practice until 5 PM that day.

I got a text from her 5 minutes later. "MOM! The power went out at our school and I'm scared! Chorus was cancelled and you have to pick me up NOW!"

Again, I was pleasantly surprised at Jayce's ease with changing plans. Typically he'd balk at such a request from me and demand that he stay home or that Jaina find another ride. But he went out to the van in the garage right away. I can't say Jocelyn was happy about it at all. "But why do we have to get Jaina? She can just stay at school." I doubt Jocelyn would feel that way if it was she that was stuck at school :)

We arrived at the Middle School at 3:05. And then didn't move an inch for 20 whole minutes. Not only were they dismissing the girls from the gym one at a time, but there was also a car stalled in the girls' lane. The boys lane moved much faster since the boys were in the lobby and could look out the glass windows and see when their ride had arrived.

During our time stuck in the carpool lane, it hailed on us three times. And each time, the hail got bigger in size. Crazy scenarios were racing through my mind. What on earth would I do if the hail cracked our wind shield??? We were stuck in a line of traffic. There was no where to go. No shelter with an overhang near by. Thankfully, we got Jaina by 4:05 and headed home. We had to go around a fallen tree in our road and also drive through a flooded entrance to our neighborhood.

(Picture and text courtesy of Jaina)

By 5:45, the danger had passed and we were treated to beautiful blue skies and sunshine. We all headed out to Boiling Springs Ale House to eat dinner for kids' night. 

Okay, so obviously that Mickey Mouse was not a licensed Disney character. He also played dance club music, not Disney tunes, so the experience was quite odd. Jocelyn absolutely loved it. 

Jayce used to love Boiling Springs Ale House, declaring it his "Favorite restaurant besides Applebee's and Taco Bell!" but soon said he didn't like the macaroni and cheese or the wings. I encouraged him to try the burger sliders tonight. He said they were awful. I didn't believe him until I took a bite. Ugh, they were the worst thing I had ever tasted. I told him he was fine to just eat the fries. 

When I put Jayce to bed that night, I told him I was proud of him for his good behavior all day and his lack of tantrums. "Oh yeah... I didn't yell at all today!" he realized. He went to bed tired and happy.

Day 8: I went in Jayce's bedroom to wake him up and I immediately knew something was wrong just by the way he was laying in bed. "Jayce, were you awake at all last night? How did you sleep?" He admitted that he woke up at 3 AM and didn't fall back asleep. I chalked it up to a fluke.

Tuesdays are busy for Jayce. He has gifted class at school and cyber cubs (technology club) after school. Then home for a quick snack and off to piano lessons. During the Fall and Winter, Jayce walks himself across the street to our neighbor's house for his lessons. During the Spring and Summer, someone has to walk with him to protect him from the possibility of bees, yellow jackets, or hornets coming near him. And since Tuesday was absolutely gorgeous, I definitely saw some yellow jackets buzzing around. Jayce walked right by them without notice. (Normally even the shadow of an insect flying is enough to send him into a panic). When he was done with piano, he was too busy telling me how good his lesson was to even notice any flying things. Jayce was in a great mood from the moment I picked him up from school to the moment he read in bed (without complaint!). 

Day 9:  Jayce woke up very groggy and I could immediately tell he did not sleep well again. He said his body was very very uncomfortable last night. We just ran out of his 1 mg tenex the other day and I can't find the bottle get the refill number. Honestly, I didn't think it did much for him anyway but he claims that was the reason he was so uncomfortable last night. He says he didn't sleep at all, but there was no evidence that he read, played video games, or got up in the middle of the night, so I'm guessing he got more sleep than he thought.

He said he wasn't tired at school pick up. He's done all his practicing and chores without complaint and is now playing video games. He did grumble a bit when Jocelyn interrupted him several times to give him a hug, but it was not the yelling or cussing fit that I would normally see.

Jayce asked me to give him a little extra melatonin tonight to see if that helps.

Day 10: Jayce reported this morning that he slept GREAT last night! I realized that he had been taking only 3 mg of melatonin instead of his regular 5 mg (they were out of 5 mg at the store) so I gave him two last night. Not sure if it was that or just that Jayce was tired, but I'll take it :)

He had a great day. We went to the Cherry Blossom Festival and had a great time as a family.

Day 11: When I went to wake up Jayce, I noticed that he had turned his fan off in the middle of the night. He said he had trouble falling asleep after that, but said over all, he slept pretty well. Its Friday, so life is good for him. Jayce LOVES Fridays :) We played some Super Mario Super Sluggers together and he's now watching My Little Pony with Jocelyn.

There was a small issue with Jocelyn later when she kept stepping on Jayce's Wii remote that was laying on the floor (connected to the classic controller which was in his hands) and he yelled at her several times. However, he had asked her several times nicely to watch out for it before he ended up getting upset because she kept doing it. I heard Jayce yelling and had to go make Jocelyn come downstairs because she wouldn't stop getting in Jayce's way.

 Day 12: Jayce stayed up super late last night since I fell asleep with Jocelyn and Brian doesn't think about putting kids to bed (Insert rolling eyes here) but he managed to sleep until after 8 this morning so he got a good 9 hours. I'd prefer my kids to get 10-12 but that almost never happens due to early wake up times.

Sometimes the problem with weekend mornings is that Jayce gets up earlier than everyone else and sneaks upstairs quietly to play Wii or watch Game Theory videos on You Tube. When I finally get up and moving and start making breakfast, Jayce has been up for a good 2 hours without eating or taking his medicine.

Overall, though, he had a pretty good day. Jaina was actually nice and played a video game with him.

Day 13: Today was rough and there was a lot of yelling on Jayce's part. In lieu of a party, Jayce picked going to a local fun park with a friend for the day. He gets along with this friend (whom he met at baseball one season) very well. They have a lot in common including baseball, minecraft, nerf guns, and other video games.

Jayce wasn't doing very well at Miniature Golf and yelled a lot. I pulled him to the side many times to try to help him calm down in front of his friends. Brian was not helping the situation by telling him how bad of a job he was doing. Believe it or not, but Jayce beat his friend by 2 strokes :P

Then there was more yelling after we got home while he played Minecraft with his friend and Jaina. Jayce was bossing everyone around and getting quite upset when they weren't doing exactly what he wanted.

There were more fits at dinner, too. A typical family conversation about what type of noodles were in Hamburger Helper (Jayce's pick) turned into a shouting match, which really was only Jayce shouting, about the difference of macaroni noodles verses other types of pasta. It was totally ridiculous. Then Jayce asked if someone would play with him after dinner before bedtime. After being yelled at all evening, none of us jumped at the chance. That, of course, upset him even more. Sigh. Sometimes you can't win for losing.

I'm not quite sure why he had such a rough day. Was it the excitement of celebrating his birthday? Was he tired from the night before? Was adding a friend into the mix the problem? Who knows?

Day 14: Today was much, much better. Back to a normal routine :) When Jayce got in the van after school, his first question was, "Did you charge my tablet while I was at school, mom?" Whoops. Total mom fail. Now, normally, this would elicit a lot of yelling at me. He had just downloaded a new game and couldn't wait to play it with Jaina. And he had asked me nicely that morning to remember to plug it in. He handled it well. He charged it right when he got home while he ate his snack and practiced the piano. When Jaina came home from school, he played a game with Jaina called "Bean boozled Challenge". More on that later :P He also agreed to make a video outside with Jaina despite the bees and hornets that I think are living in our bushes near our front door. He was vocal about not wanting to get too close to the front porch but there was no screaming or running. Success!!

There was one issue with yelling later on when Jocelyn started crying because she got hurt. He was sitting right next to her on the couch and it was way too loud for him. Later he apologized to her and said he wasn't yelling at her, but yelling because it hurt his ears.

He was super tired by 7:30 and put himself to bed with a book and was out by 8:00 PM. He slept all night with no issues and felt great the next morning.


So, overall, I think the medicine is having a positive effect on his anxiety. I've always felt like his yelling and tantrums were a result of his anxiety over things he could not control or over things that did not meet his strict idea of what should be happening.

However, his OCD is still very present. He hasn't been upset over anything, but I've observed him still fixing his cup on the table and making sure it lined up perfectly in the middle. He spent a good two minutes aligning Brian's computer chair to his perfect angle after someone bumped it during Wii play. And then there's the napkin holder that must be on the line...

Maybe we should have named him Sheldon :P

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cherry Blossom Festival 2015

Every year, our children's former elementary school hosts a Cherry Blossom Festival for the kids. It all started because of a partnership HES IB World school shared with another school in Japan. 

I've spent a few minutes quickly searching for some older Cherry Blossom pictures from previous years. Unfortunately, I am HORRIBLE about labeling my pictures on my computer. They could be tucked away in a folder marked "April 2011 Stray Dog" with 40 pictures of the Cherry Blossom Festival and 10 pictures of a stray dog that wandered in our yard. Maybe one day I'll fix all that and actually organize my pictures. Ha!! Or not. Who's got time for that?

Anyway, I did manage to find these gems....

2009 (First Grade):

Either Jayce was stuck in a stroller the entire time or we left him home with Grandma. I have zero pictures of him. That other little girl was Jaina's best friend Ashlan. I'm happy to report that we still keep in touch although they moved out of state just months after these pictures were taken.

I found just a handful of pictures from 2010 (2nd grade) and again, none of them contained Jayce. He started at Hendrix the Fall after this festival in 2010. I know we took him with us in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. I just can't find the pictures!

Jayce "graduated" from the highest grade that this elementary school contains in the Spring of 2014. So, technically, there was really no reason for us to attend Cherry Blossom this year. But why wouldn't we? We love and miss this school so much. We had a great time!

The big kids tried "sushi" for the first time. It was basically a california roll with carrots. I made sure to get their reactions on camera.

Neither kid was a fan. Jayce was much more polite about it. Granted, we've been making this kid try weird food for 8 years. He still only likes mac n' cheese, baked beans, tacos, pizza, and that's about it.

Besides the crafts and food, there was a playground, bouncy house, and rock climbing wall.

And there was gorgeous light.

And even though Jocelyn won't be attending HES until 2017, you'd better believe we'll be attending Cherry Blossom Festival 2016 :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Four Weeks

Today marks 4 weeks since my brain aneurysm surgery and I'm finally ready to try to re-write the post that didn't save or publish the last time I tried. Except, that I'm over giving a blow-by-blow account of my recovery each day I was in the hospital. Instead, I'll just use bullet points about what I've learned about having a Pipeline and Endovascular Coiling Procedure. 'Cause it was nothing like what I had read on the internet.

  • Even though the surgery is performed by entering the femoral artery in the groin area and NOT by cutting into the patient's skull, the use of stabilizing pins is necessary to keep your head immobile during the procedure.
  • These pins actually pierce your head. And since you are on three kinds of blood thinners to prevent stroke and clotting, you will bleed profusely from these holes. Hence, the need for a head bandage.
  • You will have no less than FOUR IVs in your arms. And four weeks later, the bruising will still be there. 
  • You have to be on a heart monitor with leads. This will make you feel like you are actually a computer with too many cords. Add a BP cuff and an O2 sat monitor and you see what I mean. 
  • percentages don't mean jack. I had an 8% chance of having a stroke. I had a 0.014% chance of hemorrhaging. I hemorrahaged. 
  • Explaining your back pain by comparing it to back labor only works if your nurses have actually been in labor before. 
  • If your blood pressure drops down into the 50's, you can still be conscious but its really hard to stay with it. I couldn't see but I could hear and respond to questions. 
  • My blood type is A+. Good to know!
  • If you have a blood transfusion, you have to wear a red bracelet in the hospital to make everyone aware of it. 
  • ICU isn't a fun place to spend your stay in the hospital.

  • Private rooms that allow children to visit are MUCH better :)

  • Nursing Assistants (CNA's) are now called Personal Care Technicians (PCTs). There are good ones and ones that don't seem to particularly enjoy their job. I was lucky to have an awesome one who helped me wash all the blood out of my hair. I have pictures but believe me, you don't want to see them!
  • But the best place to be, hands down, is home :)

  • And the most important thing I learned is how wonderful my friends and family are :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dancing Queen

Jaina's dancing career started way back in 2006 when she begged to learn ballet and tap. I was thrilled to sign her up and hoped that she would just love it!

Well, she had fun at any rate. I don't know that she exactly loved it. Her biggest complaint was that she had to listen to the teacher and learn the same dance moves as everyone else. "But I just want to dance the way *I* want to dance!"

However, when she found out she was going to be on stage during a recital in a fancy outfit? Well, then she was ALL for going to dance!

That is, until she realized that after the recital just meant boring old dance classes again. We tried two semesters (Fall and Spring) and decided that those were enough. Dance just wasn't Jaina's thing.

(We also tried gymnastics at age 3 and that had its own issues....)

Fast forward to 2014. Jaina wasn't progressing in her tumbling classes at the local dance studio and begged to try dance class instead.

Believe me, I was skeptical. First of all, 2006/2007 was still fresh in my mind. Then there were two failed tumbling/gymnastics attempts. And let's not even talk about cheer camp and cheerleading try-outs.

I was also worried that Jaina would be the only 12 year old in her beginning class. I mean, if you were a tween, would you want to be in a beginning class with first graders? Also, Jaina had no ballet or jazz experience to speak of. And she was asking to join the lyrical (contemporary jazz) class.

After talking with the director, we decided to let her try it. Just FYI, there is no "trying" dance. Its a commitment. There are leotards, tights, and special shoes to buy. Classes are paid for by the month. And once you have a part in the recital dance, you can't really back out.

Recitals are in four short weeks and Jaina has been working hard on learning her dance and steps and leaps. I can't wait to see what her whole class looks like when they perform. Her teacher chose "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman (which has always been one of my favorites) and I can't wait to see how they interpret that through dance.

Jaina asked me to take her picture in her recital costume the other day. Obviously I haven't been doing much photography lately due to my recovery and believe me when I say doing these few pictures in our neighbor's yard really wiped me out. It really cemented the fact that I am definitely taking a needed break from things.

My beautiful 12 year old (almost 13!) in her dance recital costume:

Even if nothing comes from her brief foray into learning dance, I'm just happy she's found something that makes her happy :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Worst Spring Break Ever

One might think I'm being a tad over dramatic with my post title. Believe me, I am not. This was hands down the worst Spring Break ever. Normally we travel to see our friends The Brittons or head down to Atlanta to visit my parents. Sometimes we stay home but find fun things to do each day.

Yeah, not this time.

Let me break down our week in a nice numbered list.

1. We were supposed to drive down to Deerfield Beach, Florida to visit my brothers, sisters-in-law, nephews and my new baby niece Zoe. We were also going to visit my favorite aunt, uncle, and cousins that live down that way. Its been 4 years since I've been to South Florida and its been almost 8 years since the kids had been.

2. But we didn't go. Because I still feel like crap. I wake up with a throbbing headache that goes all the way down my neck and into my left ear. Moving makes it hurt. The only thing I'm good for is popping way too much aspirin, advil, and tylenol (still trying to find the magic potion that will make my headache go away and stay away), and sitting my bum on the couch.

3. My kids were looking forward to cousins, the pool, the beach, and 80 degree weather. To say that they were a bit "put out" when we told them we weren't going was an understatement. There were many tears involved.

4. Because of how I was feeling, it meant Easter was a very low key event this year. Basically I threw a bunch of plastic eggs outside in the backyard and sent the kids out with their buckets. They found them all in 5 minutes.

5. Yet when the Monday after Easter rolled around, my kids wanted to know what they were going to DO all week. And no, helping their incapacitated mom around the house was not on their list of Fun Spring Break Activities.

6. Our Monday consisted of me going to the doctor. Found out that I still have blood in my urine and they may be kidney stones. Let me tell you how much I need kidney stones right now.

7. Monday night, my crown broke off my bottom molar. Supposedly this is a common occurrence with patients that are intubated. My husband reminded me to look on the bright side: at least I had eaten dinner first.

8. I bet you can guess what our Tuesday consisted of! Yes, an emergency dental visit.

9. On Wednesday, our A/C went out.

10. On Thursday, we were hit with the news that it was probably a $2,000 part that needed to be replaced. And that we might as well just buy a new system since ours was almost 9 years old.

11. On Friday, we had a second HVAC company come out to give us another estimate. We're looking at between $7-8,000 for a new system. This is on top of the $10,000 we owe the hospital for my brain surgery.

12. We also found out that no one could get us parts or install a new system until next week sometime. Jayce told me he could not live in a house without air conditioning and that he was going to go live with Grandma.

Jocelyn could have cared less. She played outside in the heat and didn't bat an eye when our house was the same temperture inside.

13. On Friday, the kids had been looking forward to going to Gravitopia, which is an indoor trampoline park. I ambitiously thought I'd be able to drive by then. Um... that was a big fat no. And the weather was looking pretty bad, so Grandma wasn't keen on driving 45 miles one way in the rain, either. They compromised and Grandma took them to Pump It Up for some bouncy house fun.

Yet, I am still getting comments from the Peanut Gallery that sound very disappointed about missing Gravitopia.

14. So, what did the big kids do during Spring Break? That would be a whole lot of nothing, quite a bit of fighting, too much screen time, and lots of complaining.

We need a do-over.