Friday, September 26, 2014

What's Missing?!

Did I tell you that Carter had two wiggly teeth?  He did.

Now he has one wiggly tooth because one was pulled out by an eager daddy last night.  It was definitely time - we've been watching that little thing wiggle and move all week.  He got off the bus yesterday and that tooth was practically twisted around backwards.

Carter didn't even cry.  He opened his mouth so big for his daddy, he said "Ahhhh - dentist!" and Jake just tipped it forward, and it popped right out.  

Or at least that's what Jake told me.  I didn't actually witness it.  I was on the other side of the house, with fingers in my ears, trying to think about anything but teeth.

Can I tell you something about teeth? I don't even know how to say this.  I have a thing about teeth.

I have dreams about losing all my teeth.  I clench my teeth at night, to the point of being in pain, and then dream about them falling out.

I can't stand looking at loose teeth.  I don't want to see them wiggle.  I don't want to touch them.  Just, deal with it yourself, kid.  {Thankfully, this kid happens to have a dad who can handle wiggly teeth.}

So he's down to one wiggly tooth, one little gap, and some molars poking through.  

Now here's a question for you.  Carter has ground his baby teeth down to basically the root.  I'm not even exaggerating.  He came to us this way, so don't blame us for it.  But now...what happens?  His adult teeth will come in, and they will be towering over his sorry-excuse for baby teeth.  And how will he chew? Won't his enormous adult teeth be in the way and mess up his bite?

I think for the next several years, I just won't ever look in his mouth.  Ever.

Omigosh.  I can't even.

So our little kindergartener went to bed a little older last night.  A little more mature.  And mommy and daddy felt our baby boy slip away just a tiny bit more.  Big boy, for sure.  

{Side note: the other day, Carter was running around outside and when he came in, I hugged him.  And I smelled something I've never smelled before.  His head.  It smelled like a dirty, sweaty little boy.  Oh my gosh.  He's a real boy.}

One Thing I Know For Sure: Did I mention - today is picture day :) I hope his big cheesy grin shows off his new little gap!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

No Need to Worry!

I guess my last post set off some alarms.

"You were crying outside his room at 4am?! What is going ON?!"

I was crying outside his room because I was dang tired.  I'm pregnant, too.  Remember?  I was tired.  And probably a little fed up.  And what I really wanted to do was say something like "GO THE FREAK TO BED ALREADY!!!!!!!!!".

But I would never say that.  Out loud.  So I cried, instead.

This kindergarten transition has been a bit of a transition for all of us.  Carter went to school for 2.5 hours, 4 days per week, for the past two school years.  This summer, he had free reign of the house, his toys, and his yard.  He could play when he wanted to play, snack when he wanted to snack, play outside when he wanted to play outside.  Fail on my part, I know.  But I'm pregnant, remember?

{photos taken on our lazy Saturday morning}

Now, he's in school from 7:50a to 3:10p.  That, alone, is an incredible change for him.  He has a tight schedule, lots of non-preferred activities in the mix, and very little say in what his day looks like.

Wouldn't you freak out a bit, too?

His team of professionals are great.  I'm so pleased with how they're working with him.  They know this is rough for him, and they are trying to help him in all the ways they can.

At this point, it might be a while before Carter gets into his kindergarten groove.  And we're okay with that.  Do I want him to hurry up and figure things out?  Of course!  But I'm also trying to be patient with our little buddy who is going through so many changes.

Things at home have improved, greatly.  We had a beautiful weekend.  He was his best self.  It gives me hope that if he has turned a corner at home, he may be turning a corner at school in the near future.

The good news? Because there's always good news.
+Carter is excited to go to school in the morning and is no longer saying "Nooo school"
+Carter is sleeping better at night.  We are all very happy campers.
+He's been working so hard on his speech at home.  We push him, and he always impresses.  His latest big word? "Mmmelda-ssiiin".  Meldasin.  Get it?  Medicine.
+He's finally eating all his lunch at school, so I at least know he's not going through the afternoon with a growling tummy.
+When I get Carter off the van in the afternoon, he is so excited to see me.  Two years of Early Childhood, and he never seemed to give a darn.  He does, now.  "Mom!! Home!! MOM!!".

I can't take credit for this photo.
It was taken by a little kindergartener.  
So.  This is where we are.  Eleventh day of school, and we'll get there.  See?  No need to worry.  Things are good, and getting better every day.

One Thing I Know For Sure: It'll be okay!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Hi, Dentist!"

Carter strongly dislikes doctors.  It could be from some trauma from his past.  It could be just something he dislikes.  We may never know why, but the fact remains.

On the day of an appointment  - I wear extra deodorant and plan a Starbucks trip for myself afterwards.

It's ugly, guys.

The ENT, the pediatrician, the optometrist, and the dentist.  Ohhhh, the dentist.

The good thing about screaming his lungs out at the dentist is that his mouth has to be open it might as well have noise coming out of it.

We had a dentist appointment on Monday.  It was an early release day, so I spent the afternoon pumping him up.

"Carter! Today we go to the dentist!"
"You will be so brave!"
"You can say 'hi, dentist'!"
"You open your mouth nice and say 'ahhhh'!"
"First dentist, then we'll visit dad!"

This always seems like it will work, until we get into the exam room and he has to climb into the chair. The movement of the chair seems to trigger some anxiety, and then the rest of the visit goes downhill from there.

My mommy instincts told me that having the chair in place before we even walk in the room might help a little bit.  Maybe instead of screaming bloody-murder, he would just cry a little.  Thankfully, our dentist is awesome and agreed to move it into place before Carter's appointment.

Let me set the scene - we get out of the car, and Carter is excited.  Like he always is.  He's saying "Brave! Dentist! DAD!" and all kinds of adorable things.  And my mommy heart is beating so fast, hoping that we can conquer this dentist thing.

We walk in the office and Carter is so happy to be there.  The receptionist says 'hi' to Carter, and he responds with "Hiiiii, Dentist!".  We laugh at this sweet little boy, and take our seats.  The dentist comes out, walks us back, and Carter climbs right into the chair.

"Hiiii, Dentist! Brave!"

So far, so good.

The dentist got busy, hoping to get the majority of his work done before the fit started.

"Carter, can you open your mouth for me?"

"Hiiii, Dentist"

Every few minutes, he would try to say "Dentist - Dad" while the dentist was working.  He was telling the dentist that first he had to do the whole dentist thing, and then he could visit his dad.  He hasn't quite figured out the fine art of talking while the dentist is working in his mouth, so he used his hands a lot :)  Needless to say, it was pretty cute.

Before I knew it, we were done.  Carter had an exam, a cleaning, and a fluoride treatment.

He didn't even shed a tear.

Six months ago, I had to wrestle him in the chair and when we left, I cried great big tears for our scared little boy.

Monday, he didn't even need me in the room and when we left, I cried great big tears for our brave big boy.

I'm not going to lie, the first days of school have been rough on our Kindergartener.  One particularly difficult night, around 4am, I cried outside his room, praying he would go back to sleep.

Sometimes, I don't know how to be his mommy.  He's so complex.  He's such a mystery.

And then we have a moment like our dentist appointment on Monday, and I realize that I was handpicked to be his mommy.  I don't know why I was picked, but I was.  All I can do is the best that I know how.  Sometimes it will have me crying outside his bedroom door at 4am, and sometimes I'll be throwing a party because he made it through a dentist appointment.

Somedays I'll be hoping he grows up, and other days I'll be begging him to stay small and squishy.  Somedays I'll have no idea what I'm doing, and I'll feel like I'm completely winging this parenthood thing.  Other days, I'll feel equipped and prepared and full of wisdom and strength.

This is being a mommy.


Here is our little buddy, after his dentist appointment when we went to visit his daddy.

{No - he doesn't ride with his seatbelt behind him. 
We had just parked, which is his signal to whip that thing off and climb out as fast as he can.}

He's pretty cute, isn't he?

So glad he's ours.  So glad we're his.  So glad to be learning this little mystery, day by day.  It's like opening a new gift every morning.

One Thing I Know For Sure: "BRAVE!".  Carter and Mama, both.

+Kindergarten Note: Things are improving quickly!  Kindergarten is a big change for him, and we are thankful that his team at school is so willing to try new things in order to help him best! His sleep is finally becoming more regular, which makes everyone happy :)

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Little Kindybeaner.

Well, we did it.

We dropped our little kindergartener off at school.  He didn't even look back.  As soon as we pulled up - we heard ecstatic shouts of "School!! School slide!!" from the back seat.

Can you tell he was ready?

I'm not going to lie.  It's been a long summer.  I had so many plans for him - beaches, projects, goals to meet, parks, picnics, water parks.

But, thanks to the teeny-tiny, yet somehow exhausting baby in my belly, 99.7% of those things did not happen.

Talk about mommy guilt.

So - off to school we go.  Carter smiling from ear-to-ear, and Mama smiling almost as much (but, of course, trying to act sad so the other kindergarten moms don't think I'm heartless).  

We line up with his class, his aide takes his hand, and I couldn't feel more at peace.  Carter is in a perfect place.  His team of professionals are amazing.  His teachers have welcomed him with open arms and open hearts.  He has a place in the classroom - mixed right in with his peers.  Right where he belongs.

A few days ago, I got an email from his teachers.  They said something that cut me so deep.

"We are so excited to have Carter in our class!" - and they mean it.

He is included.  He is appreciated for his strengths.  He is a valuable member of their classroom family.

Dropping off my kindergartener didn't draw a single tear from my eyes - but typing this does.  Our little guy.  Included and valued.  What more could we possibly ask for?

Do you know how many people fight for this?  Do you know how many mamas around the country are shedding tears today, because they so desperately want someone in their school to see the value in their special child?!

We are so, so grateful.


After dropping Carter off, I headed to the book room to do some alphabetizing.  I knew that getting involved in Carter's school would be easiest if I started right away, instead of waiting until 'next year' or 'later on'.

First day in kindergarten, and I'm alphabetizing books :)

Sidenote: alphabetizing is hard.  It's not a function my brain is used to.  I sang the alphabet 48 times, just to make sure that R came before S.

Around 9:15 is when the real fun began.

Did I mention that Carter's teachers are incredible?  Okay.  Well, they are.  I mentioned to them early in the summer that I'd like to create a book to have them read to the class during the first few weeks, and that I'd like to send one home with each student.

They said I should come in and read it to everyone on the first day.  So I did.

This book was nothing extraordinary - I just filled it with things that Carter could do, just like his classmates, with lots of pictures of Carter being a typical kid.

"Carter loves to jump in puddles.  Do you?"
"Carter loves to eat ice cream.  Do you?
"Carter loves to make treats with his mom. Do you?"

The response was delightful.  "Ohhh! I like to do that!" and "Hey - I do that too!".  Yes, little ones.  You do so many things just like Carter.

You really are more alike than different.

I couldn't help but think about my dear friend, Mae, who told me a long time ago that from the moment I became Carter's mommy, I also became a teacher.  She told me that forever & ever, I would be a teacher.  A teacher to his friends, a teacher to our community, a teacher to the lady in the check out ahead of us, a teacher to his teachers.  I didn't know what she meant until today.

Aha.  I am a teacher. Our little ones (and lots of big ones, too) need to be taught how to include Carter. They need to be taught how to value Carter.  And if I don't teach them, who will?


I gave my sweet baby a kiss, and left for the day.  My first day of freedom.

It was a hard day.

Not really.

What?!  I already told you, we were both ready for this day.

Did I miss him?  Yes.  Like crazy.  Did I wonder what he was doing?  Every single minute.  But the break was good, and when he came home I was able to hug him with new & fresh arms, that missed his tugging and climbing so much today.

Our cherished little kindergartener had a treat from his Mimi AND his NaNa after school today, just in case he forgot while he was at school that he's a spoiled rotten only-grandchild.  Well, at least for the next 6 months.

It's amazing how much I have to share with you when I don't have a busy bee running around here.  I think I might be rambling now.

Let's wrap this up.  To kindergarten.  New beginnings, new growth, new friends, new freedoms.

So incredibly grateful.

One Thing I Know For Sure: Ready to rock kindergarten.

"A Little More About Carter" Notes:
I made this booklet using Word.  You can too, you just need to play with it.  Mine is printed 2-up on a 8.5x11 copy paper, front & back.  You'll save yourself many headaches and bad-words if you just do them one sided, trust me.  My wording on the inside is SUPER simple - my hope was that some kids might be able to read it themselves.  It was highly repetitive (I love to.....! Do you? - over & over).  I made a large copy and had it bound - that is what I read to the class today.  It was made heavy-duty, and will be kept in their little classroom library for the kids to revisit throughout the year.

I got the title for my book from this blog post.  She will send you a template for the booklets if you ask nice.  I didn't use her template or any of her wording.  Just her title.  Because it's so much cuter than "All About Carter" :)

And to my friend, Carin - thanks for all the awesome ideas you've given me about how to introduce our kiddos to their classmates & families.  You are an incredible 'teacher' - one who I aspire to be like!  Your passion is what sparked my idea for this book.  I thought of you so much today.

And now you're all wondering who Carin is, right?  Go here.  Just do it.  Go and read and CRY YOUR EYES OUT LIKE A BABY.

Rambling.  Done.  Bye!

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