Sunday, March 28, 2010

Projection and prevention at the Dentist

I've never had a cavity in my life. I've always been proud of that and mostly, because I hate the thought of being drilled in the teeth. Every trip to the dentist was fun because they'd poke around clean a bit and send me off on my way, reminding me to floss more often.

Then when I was pregnant with Logan, I developed some serious tooth pain. I went in to get checked out, sure that I had a cavity from being sick all day long for months on end, wearing the enamel on my teeth. Without taking x-rays because of the growing baby Logan, I was told I had six cavities. SIX. Scared to death, I never went back to have them filled after Logan was born.

Then, before getting pregnant with Carter, I thought it would be wise to get my teeth checked out again and take care of any problems before going into pregnancy again. At a new dentist, they took x-rays and said that I did not, in fact, have six cavities, but only two. I needed to schedule an appointment to come back. I got the bill and almost fell over. I never went back because I'd have to take out a loan if I had to pay that much.

Years went by, kids grew and my teeth were pain-free. Although I had that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that the longer I let these cavities sit, the more likely I'd need a root canal. Yikes. So, taking the recommendation of a friend, I called her dentist to get checked out.

The office was great, the staff was friendly. And you know what? I DON'T HAVE A SINGLE CAVITY. Right. I went from six, to two, to ZERO. I think tears welled up in my eyes when my hygienist said I was cavity-free.

Those years of living in dental fear prevented me from taking my own kids to the dentist. Afraid that we'd be lied to or trapped in some kind of dental con, I procrastinated on making Logan an appointment. It only exacerbated the already existing Mother Guilt that comes with the job.

After my wonderful appointment where my teeth were taken care of rather than my wallet, I felt that fear subside and made Logan his first dental appointment. He went to one of the big pediatric practices here in town and felt safe having a back-up plan. If they said he had any cavities, then I'd take him to my dentist for a second opinion.

The pediatric practice is huge and so much fun for the kids. There are video games and climbing structures. It's like a McDonald's play land inside a dental office. They are very efficient and you often times don't have a moment to sit before they are ready for your appointment. Almost to a fault.

Logan checked out great. No cavities and very healthy teeth. Although he needs better brushing on his upper front teeth. The dentist also said that Logan will probably need braces in the future and advised me to start saving now. They run about $5,000 (holy crap). Then? He dropped a bomb. Logan has a special dental case....

He has an extra permanent tooth.

Called a 'Supernumerary' tooth, it's growing on the top front (proximal #G). He's going to have to have it removed when he's about six years old. Poor kid. Apparently they don't see too many of these and it made for an interesting clinical day for the dentist.

Other than that little discovery, our visit was fun and stress-free. I hate that I've run into some shady dentists that have tried to drill unnecessarily, risking my health for their padded bank accounts and that creating that fear jeopardized the dental health of my kids. But, all is good now. No cavities, just an extra tooth.

Friday, March 19, 2010


For months we've discussed the issue of cat allergies at home. Bill is allergic to Kitty and seemed to be getting worse. Sneezing, runny nose, boxes of Kleenex in handy places. His allergies were getting so bad that it interfered with party invitations at people's homes that had cats. We would go only to have Bill become anti-social and in misery from sinus problems. If we go to a party and there's a cat, we end up leaving in a short amount of time, always the first people to leave the party.

Logan's allergies have also been getting worse, mostly his eczema. Kitty has been sleeping in his room at night and Logan's legs have been horrible. The other day when I went to wash his sheets, I noticed splotches of blood from him scratching his legs all night long. Then, after an afternoon of driving his Power Wheels car around, he pet a neighborhood cat and huge welts formed on his forehead. I had to accept that Kitty needed a new home.

In this months-long process, a good friend of mine offered to adopt Kitty. This was the best option for us. I knew Kitty would be in a fabulous home, plus, we'd be able to see her again when we visit. I couldn't have asked for a better solution.

I broke the news to Logan the other night, explaining that Kitty was going to live at his friend's house because he and Dad were allergic to her. "Forever?" he asked. "Yes, forever." I explained. He understood completely and asked if we'd be able to visit. No tears, no concern. He felt good about Kitty living at his friend's house.

Last night I packed up all of her things - food, litter box, and extra litter. I got her into her carrier and drove her to her new home. We stood by the kitchen, opened the crate and let her out. She seemed a bit freaked out (because she hates car rides) but felt comfortable enough to jump out and start exploring. Of course, I cried on my friend's shoulder while in a long hug, which resulted in us both crying.

Kitty is such a cute cuddle cat, loving to be pet and full of affection. She would sneak into our room at night to sleep next to me like a little live teddy bear. When I was pregnant, she would do her "squishy dance" on my stomach, giving me kitty massages on my sore sternum. As allergies became a bigger problem, I wouldn't be able to pet her as much because then Bill wouldn't be able to touch me.

I love cats and I will always love cats. I love them more than dogs, for sure. I will miss having her around the house, but I know this is for the best. So, now we are cat-less.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Parent-Teacher conference

Last week Logan had his second parent-teacher conference. In his classroom, there is a large round table with his three teachers sitting on one side with a stack of student files and on the other side there are a couple of chairs for the parents. As a parent, this is always an intimidating situation, filled with doubt and subtle hints of guilt, wondering if I've done my job as a mom to a preschooler.

His Spring Progress review was handed over, with bill sitting next to me and the boys at the next table over coloring. Each skill is rated with a NY (not yet), P (Progressing or sometimes) or an R (Ready or consistent).

For Autonomy/Social Skills, Work Habits, he scored a few "P's": sits among children remaining in own space, moves cooperatively from one activity to another, cleans up toys and materials.

This all sounded so familiar since he's like this at home, too. His teachers emphasized how Logan does not like to clean up and tends to dig his heals in when he decides he doesn't want to do something.

For Oral Language, he scored only one "P": Uses present and past verb tense.

I was relieved and almost shocked that his speech development was on track. This is totally my own mommy-guilt from when he was behind on his speech development before. Since then, I seem to be overly concerned that he's getting back to where he needs to be. I know exactly what he's saying, but still get concerned if I have to act as interpreter when he's talking to other adults (and sometimes kids). But, his Dr and his teachers aren't concerned in the least and say he's making great improvements.

For Children's Literature, he scored "P's on: retelling a story that has been read aloud including characters with a beginning and an ending, attends and listens to illustrated picture books, "reads"/tells a story using a picture book.

I thought these were interesting because he does this all the time at home, even if he tends to be restless. He's always reading to me or to Carter. But, maybe not a whole story.

On Emerging Literacy Skills, he scored one "P": colors a simple drawing staying within the lines.

This boy has never enjoyed art or coloring, and I've never pushed him to stay within the lines (other than on his tracing skills workbook). I'm not surprised at this result at all.

Mathematical Reasoning/Number Sense scores had "P's" on: continues a simple pattern, illustrates the concept of 'put together' and 'take away' with sets of 1-4 objects, names a circle, square and triangle.

We don't work on math skills much at home other than counting, so I suppose it's time to start thinking about math! However, he does know his shapes and I have no idea why he's confused about a square - which is the only shape he didn't name for them.

Orientation in Time and Space resulted in the first "NY" score: uses a schedule of daily activities represented in images to describe order of events during the day.

This. Is. My. Day. "what are we doing today? Where are we going? When are we eating? Is it lunchtime yet? Can I have a snack?" This is constant, no matter what I tell him or how I try to explain it.

In Scientific Reasoning, he scored a "P" on: names body parts.

Really? This is a surprise to me!

Music and Visual Arts scores were: "P" on imitates clapping sequence up to 3, cuts a straight line and "NY" on indicates the number of sounds heard up to 4 and draws simple stick figure.

Since I don't force him to do arts and crafts stuff, I wasn't aware of the fact that we didn't know how to draw a stick figure. We've been practicing much more and he hates it, but i still don't push.

In the comments section, his teachers wrote, "Logan enjoys learning and playing with the other children. He shares his ideas easily. We are looking forward to having Logan in class next year. Thank you for sharing him with us!"

His teachers assured me that Logan isn't behind or lacking in skill. His "P" and "NY" grades are developmental rates we shouldn't be concerned over. He's dong very well, has a lot of friends and is apparently quite popular.

It's a strange feeling to watch your kids grow up into their own person, and being responsible for their learning and development. There are so many highs and lows and constant wondering if you are doing enough as a parent. It's never perfect, but I think Logan's doing just fine.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Scheduling silence

Wow. Who knew that silence was such a precious commodity? My days are filled with chaos. I love the pace of being that busy, although I do need a pajama day every weekend. However, the noise associated with a lifestyle like this is irritating beyond imagination. Don't they use noise as torture? Whoever "they" are. I can see how it would work to break a person to their limits.





Then add in some background noise of cartoons on the TV, the keyboard being left on in the playroom and my email notifications coming through my phone every 10 seconds. Imagine this noise going on for 12 hours straight - from 7am to 7pm until bedtime.

It's no wonder I have limited patience and headaches.

I try to schedule silence for all of us during the day. Today? It only lasted 18 minutes. 18 minutes of blissful silence, peace and serenity. I guess it's better than nothing. But I need more of it.

I'm actually very good at scheduling "me" time. I'm out of the house, doing my thing separate from family and kids, creating a sense of self and accomplishment many times a week. But, there is still an imbalance. I'm so GO, GO, GO that I never schedule a STOP. No meetings, no emails, no talking, no music, no stimulation. I need a moment of nothing.

I'm terrible at yoga (which would be perfect for a situation like this) because I can't focus worth a damn. My mind never stops. But, now that spring is approaching with warm, sunny weather where we can enjoy the outdoors again, I'm thinking that it's time to take advantage of the biking system here in town - alone.

I'm trying to figure out where to put that in my very tight schedule. I might have to do it in the morning. Maybe a little silence and sunrise would do my mind some good.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Logan's 4 year check-up

He's a tall, skinny kid now. No longer a baby or a toddler, but a big grown preschooler. We sat in the living room together while Carter was napping, taking his "tests". I asked him questions, like "What do you do when you are tired?" and "Tell me things about your ball". We played catch to see if he caught the ball with both hands, watched to see how he threw a ball overhand and hopped on one foot. We put a puzzle together, that was only supposed to be six pieces, but we didn't have puzzles that small. He put a large puzzle together by himself just fine. He copied letters that I wrote on a piece of paper and determined which shapes were the smallest. He told me his first and last name, his age, his address and my phone number.

He passed the 48 month Ages & Stages questionnaire with flying colors.

At his appointment, he measured 42.75 inches in height (90%) and weighed 39.4 pounds (75%). They checked his BMI (15.1% 25), his vision (20/40) and his hearing (he passed).

This was the first appointment where he was actively involved, where Dr. B asked him a slew of questions directly. She asked him about school, where he slept at home, what kinds of healthy foods he ate and checked his spine for scoliosis. The topic of vaccinations never came up, because at this point, she knows better.

My only concern for Logan was his ever problematic eczema. His legs are horrible, with red, scratched raw sores. His hips, butt, torso and arms are less so, but still uncomfortable for him. It seems as though we've tried everything - different lotions and creams, bleach baths, and baking soda soaks. Dr. B suggested that he wear a double layer of pajamas - the under layer wet and the top layer dry, to help trap in moisture. Logan was and is still not going for this, concerned that he's going to be cold at night (he's smart, because it does sound uncomfortable). We are going to try out some probiotics before we go down the steroid road.

Our long, lanky boy is healthy and strong, growing right on track (despite his continued finickiness at the dinner table). He still drives me insane with back talk, attitude and tantrums, but I guess that's how it still goes with preschoolers (it's no wonder why I have gray hair). His second preschool parent-teacher conference is later this week and I can't wait for that!