Movin' and Shakin'

Happy summer everyone!

At the Milwaukie Library this week.
Caleb's been out of school for about two weeks now, and Ethan's early intervention preschool is on a four week summer hiatus.  So far, the boys' summer has been fun and relaxing, just as it should be!  The school year was full of getting Caleb up at 6:30 and out to the bus stop at 7:10 every morning and a lot of running from A to B to A with Ethan.  

Now that summer's here, I'm really enjoying not having to watch the clock and hurry the boys so much. 

At the moment, the only thing that the boys have on their schedule is taekwondo (TKD) classes 2-3 afternoons a week, and Ethan's speech therapy and occupational therapy Tuesday and Thursday mornings. 

While I'm trying to make the kid's schedule light and hectic free, my schedule seems anything but and it's getting crazier by the day. 

Take the taekwondo classes for instance. As the boys have taken taekwondo, I've found that I'm also enjoying it, and have started staying for the adult classes after the boys are done.  Making that work three days a week is a bit of a challenge.   

Stretching exercises at TKD.
The boys and I typically drive over to TKD in the van for Caleb's 430 class.  Once we get there, I try to keep Ethan occupied until it's time for his class at 530.  Ethan's class runs from 530 to 615, during which I'm trailing Ethan, trying to help him and help keep him focused--or pulling him off the mat for a break when he's not interested in whatever the class is doing.
Sarah rides her bike from her office over to the dojang (~12 miles), and usually gets there around 545.  After Ethan's class is over, she takes both boys home in the van, while I take my class from 615  to 730. Then I ride Sarah's bike home.   

It's a bit of a logistical production.  But it seems to work. For now. 

Earlier this month, we took a quick trip to southern Oregon
to attend the H.S. graduation of an MPS friend.
On the way, the kids' got their first
look at Crater Lake. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, there was still quite a bit of snow
on the ground!

When the boys and I aren't out and about, and not at TKD, I've been working to configure Ethan's Proloquo2go adaptive speech device. We were working with the school system on a formal assessment of a number of different devices, but the process would have stretched into  early fall or mid-fall before Ethan actually got a final device.  From what we could see, the proloquo/ipad combination looked like a good fit for us, and we already had it in hand. So we called a halt to the formal assessment about a month ago. Since then, I've been customizing it for Ethan, which is a very time consuming process. I probably had 40 hours sunk in it already, when they released a major update two weeks ago and I had to start over again. Since then, I've put another 40+ hours into it and may have 30-60 more hours to go. But I want it to be pretty well set before we give it to him, so we don't have to confuse him with a lot of changes after the fact. 

Before I had to restart the Proloquo work, I was spending one day each week on my job search. But I've come to the opinion, that my former career (college study abroad) was no longer going to work. So, I've decided that I need to go back to school. Earlier this week, I started my first class, one of two math prerequisites, before I go for a B.S. in computer science. So for the next 6 weeks, I'll be at TKD on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4-730, and the math classes on Tuesday and Thursday from 6-920. 

(Yes, I know that schedule is crazy and is about to get crazier. I'm sure we won't be able to juggle my classes and TKD forever, but we'll see how long we can keep the balls in the air.)

Once we get the proloquo customized, I'll restart my job search, but it's anyone's guess what I'll end up doing until my degree is done.  There are maybe 25 professional level study abroad jobs in the Portland metro area.  The jobs are getting more scarce, and the competition for them more intense, as the Oregon university budgets get tighter. 

Ethan is doing great. He is making progress with his speech therapist. We're hearing a lot of new sounds, but not a lot of new vocabulary. Cognitively, we're seeing progress. The other day, Sarah saw him successfully playing an iPad puzzle that he didn't understand before. In mid-July, we're going back to the ENT to see if he still has fluid behind his ears, in which case we'll likely do his second set of tubes. He saw the ophthalmologist recently. She said, it looks like he may be pretty farsighted, but he was pretty uncooperative with the exam. So in late July or early August, he'll have a sedation either for tubes and a vision check, or an ABR hearing check and a vision check. We can't do the tubes and the hearing check at the same time.  So, it'll be two out of three.

In May, we took a day trip to Camp Korey, east of
Seattle.  Korey is one of the Paul Newman Foundation
Hole in the Wall camps for  children with serious
and life-threatening medical conditions.

The original Carnation dairy farm is nestled
in a valley in the middle of the Cascade Mountains.
When Carnation was bought by Nestle, they
turned it into an corporate retreat center.

As you can see it's a beautiful setting
and the facilities are top notch. 
Medically, the only thing that's been nagging us recently, is Ethan's skin.  The dry eczema rash of winter has quickly turned into the clogged pores prickly heat rash of summer. It seems like Ethan's skin is going to be an issue four seasons of the year. After seeing the local dermatologist, and trying a couple of skin cleaners and lotions, it seems the best option is to mix a light skin lotion with a few drops of topical steroid and apply.  Sarah and I hate to have to keep using the steroid, but we haven't found anything else that comes close to working.  Most non-medical lotions seem to make it worse.

The summer session for Ethan's early intervention classes runs July 10 to August 10.  So for that period, he'll be in speech and occupational therapy Tuesday and Thursday mornings and in the EI preschool Wednesdays and Fridays.  That means Caleb and I are going to have to come up with some fun and creative activities to occupy ourselves while Ethan's engaged.  Lemme see, where did I put those squirt guns and baseball mitts?

And last but not least, Ethan's fourth birthday is coming up on July 15. Happy birthday, Ethan!  It's been a hell of a journey for all of us, but most especially for you.  Thanks for staying strong!  We love you!


Erica J. Thiel said…
Todd, would pure aloe vera from a aloe plant help with Ethan's skin issues? I dont know is just the one thing that popped in to mind as I know it can do wodners for dry skin.
Happy almost Borthday Ethan!!! (And kudos to your awesome big brother for just being an awesome big brother!)

Marian McDonald said…
Hi Todd, Sarah, Caleb and Ethan! Another wonderful update for those of us who think of you often and keep you in our thoughts and prayers from afar! I smile when I read about your hectic schedule -- yay that is is all about TKD and other typical young family schedules. Ethan is almost 4? Wow, it seems like yesterday..... Have a great time with the squirt guns, baseball mitts, TKD, etc. Hugs! Marian