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Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Much Needed Break

The kids standing in front of the cheetahs.

Last week was Semester Exam week here.  My kids spent the last 2 weeks working hard on exam reviews and studying for the exams.  My husband and I worked hard on quizzing them for their exams and making sure they were well-rested and well-fed.  At the end of the week, the school system kindly rewarded us with a 4-day weekend.

Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday, and Tuesday was a non-student day.  So the kids and I had a 4-day weekend (Dad had to work both days, unfortunately).  I tend to use these days off from school to make appointments for the kids that would normally require taking them out of school.  This way, they don’t miss school work and there’s no make-up work to worry about.  So we had a doctor appointment on Monday and a dentist appointment on Tuesday.  I now have to make follow-up appointments for more tests and more labs and more work.  Nothing life-threatening, but just more to add to our busy lives and busy schedules.

Thankfully, this time I also made time for some rest and recreation.  We planned a visit to Busch Gardens here in Tampa Bay with some friends.  If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it.  They have some of the best roller coasters I’ve ever been on!  And I’ve been on a lot of roller coasters!  They also have some wonderful shows and animal exhibits.  And the food is excellent (but pricey).

We only got to spend about 4 hours there yesterday.  But the weather could not have been more beautiful.  And the company could not have been more pleasant and entertaining.  And the rides were fun.  And the crowds were small.  And our pace was slowed.  And the air was fresh and we breathed deep (well, except near the elephants and rhinos).  It was a very nice break from all the hectic rush/work/plan/schedule/study/quiz/drive routine we always seem to be in.  And it was much needed.


Oodles of Schnoodles

We love our two dogs.  They’re definitely members of our family.  They’re snuggly, cuddly, warm little balls of furry love.  My daughter wraps them up in blankets and dresses them up in doll clothes.  My son rough-houses with them and gets them to “speak” to him.  When it’s cold outside, they like to pile on my lap and keep me warm.  And they’re excelllent lizard, snake, frog, and baby bunny hunters – often to my dismay!

Our dogs are a Schnauzer-Poodle mix.  Schnoodles.  Sandy Belle and Marley Boppe.  Or when it’s storming outside they’re Scaredy McScaredy-Cat and Cluck-Cluck Chicken-Butt.

My husband had a Schnoodle when we were dating in high school.  He was the sweetest dog I had ever known.  And they don’t shed.  So when we were looking for a new dog, we decided we wanted a Schnoodle.

Way back when we were in high school, Schnoodles were mutts who were given away for free.  Now, they’re overpriced “Designer Dogs”.  Fortunately, we found a very nice woman who lived on a small farm and bred her Schnauzer once a year with her friend’s mini-Poodle, and she charged a very small fee for the puppies.

We got Marley Boppe first.  She was the calmest, sweetest little furry puppy.

We loved her so much that we wanted another one.  And we wanted Marley Boppe to have someone to play with and to keep her company when we weren’t home (much the same reason parents decide to have a second baby!).  So the following year, we went back to get Sandy Belle.  That means that technically they’re sisters even though they’re from different litters.

I love our little fluffy balls of furry love.  These are the absolute best dogs I’ve ever known.  If I could, I’d have oodles of them.  Oodles of Schnoodles!

Poop Checkin’

As you read in my last post, I am a pediatric OT.  I currently have my own private practice.  I go into the homes of the children I work with and do therapy there.  One of the best parts of working with a child in their own home with their family is that I get to see exactly how they perform real-life tasks (vs. the simulated task I would get to see in a clinic).  Sometimes the unexpected pops up.  Last week, poop seemed to be a running theme.  I’ll tell you about one incident and my recommendation to this mom in the hopes that it might help some other mommas out there.

During my treatment session with one little 5-year-old boy, he announced, “I gotta go POOP!” and ran to the bathroom.  I went to alert his mother that he was in the bathroom and she came to stand outside the door with me, waiting to help him “finish the job” when he indicated he was done.

While we were waiting, she mentioned that this is an issue for him at home and school.  He either refuses to wipe when he’s done, or he wipes ineffectively which leads to unwelcome issues (rash, odor, dirty clothes).  She asked me for suggestions.

First, I suggested she have the flushable wet wipes available for the child.  Then I suggested she install an inexpensive wardrobe mirror in the bathroom, maybe on the back of the door.  Then, when her son is finished pooping, have him back up to the mirror, bend over, and check for cleanliness.  Yes, I’m serious.  And yes, I realize this might result in a dirty mirror sometimes.  So clean it.

If a wardrobe mirror wouldn’t work, you could use a large hand-held type mirror.  When the child is finished pooping, place the hand-held mirror on the floor and have the child straddle it to check for cleanliness.

Most kids do not want a dirty bottom.  And most kids are curious about their bodies.  Not only will you not have to fight them to check for cleanliness, you might actually have to fight them to stop inspecting their little booty!

And you will DEFINITELY get a good laugh in the bathroom!

I am an OT

I am an OT.  Occupational Therapist.  To be more specific, I have been a pediatric Occupational Therapist for over 16 years.  And no, I don’t help kids find jobs.

The American Occupational Therapy Association describes the role of an Occupational Therapist as someone who “helps people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).”  That means we OTs use activities to help people achieve their goals and participate in the activities that are important to their lives.  In contrast, Physical Therapists largely use exercises to help people improve skills to achieve goals.

Because I work with children, the activites that are most important in their lives relate to learning to become independent, playing, and requirements at school.  And children inherently learn through play.  So my job is to “play” with children all day!  At least that’s what it would look like to most observers.

In reality, all of the play I am involved in is therapeutic.  When we have “Tackle Time” and I individually “tackle” a child’s body parts while naming them, I might be working on sensory processing, muscle tone, eye contact, and body parts awareness/ identification.  When I’m helping a child play dress-up with a stuffed bear, we might really be working on following directions, motor planning, resistance grip, fine motor manipulation, and tactile desensitization.  When we’re drawing a house on the chalkboard, we could be working on crossing midline, visual-motor integration, wrist extension, and tripod grip, all while maintaining an erect posture.

I know we’re working on these skills.  But the child thinks we’re just playing.  And because it’s just play, they’re more eager to participate.  When they actively participate (vs. passively being involved in movement), progress is made.

As with any profession, there are some parts that you don’t enjoy.  I jokingly say I treat the kids for free, but I get paid for every word I write.  There’s a lot of documentation involved.  And I struggle with dealing with insurance companies, but consider them a necessary evil so that the parents of my patients can access the therapy their child needs.

But the kids are worth it.  And all of this play is fun.  I get to giggle and roar and make funny noises and run and climb and swing and draw and color and play make-believe and give/receive high-fives to my little friends at “work”.  And I get to help parents help their most precious gifts.  All because I’m an OT, and it’s a pretty good gig!

A Great Idea

Sometimes I have to pat myself on the back for the genuis ideas I come up with as a mom.  This is one of those times.  Don’t worry, I’m not vain.  These genius ideas are few and far between, and I usually steal someone else’s idea and modify it to make it work for my situation.

Not this time.  This one’s aaaaaaaalllllll mine.

When my kids were babies, we noticed how much “stuff” came with them.  The diaper bag, the car seats, the baby carriers, the strollers, the Pack-n-Plays, etc.  Well, now that they’re teenagers, they still come with a lot of “stuff” except that it’s smaller, more expensive, and more dangerous.  It’s the cell phone, the laptop, the Gameboy, the Wii, the iPad, the iPod, etc.

We fought off the encroaching electronics much longer than most of their peers’ parents.  We made our kids totally uncool for as long as we could.  But eventually we caved.  It was hard to say no to a child who had saved his or her own money for over a year to be able to purchase their own $500 gadget.  (But we DID teach them about bargain shopping and “opportunity cost” since we are Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University graduates.)

So once the gadgets entered our house, we spent a lot of time trying to keep one step ahead of the teenage ability to readily grasp this new technology, while also encouraging them to look up from a screen once in a while and see the world around them.  Or at least see the furniture in front of them.  It’s been hard.  And I find myself chasing down these pocket-sized gadgets to check up on what’s being received, sent, uploaded, downloaded, Skyped, Facebooked, Facetimed, etc.  EXHAUSTING!

Last night I came up with an idea:  The Electronics Basket.  ALL of the portable electronics go in this basket when the owner of said electronics is home.  The cell phone?  In the basket.  The iPad?  In the basket.  The iPod?  Well, you get the idea.  So no more searching for these electronics for me.  If I want to monitor what’s going on, I can go straight to The Electronics Basket and pick an item.

And the owner of the item has free access to get an item from The Electronics Basket whenever they want to use it (assuming no restrictions have been set), but it MUST be returned when they are finished.  Since the basket is placed in our office and visible from most of the house, I can monitor when the kids are getting onto and off of their electronics.

Here’s the unexpected icing on the cake:  it appears that the kids are spending LESS time on their electronics and more time with their family!  They watched a TV show with us the other night.  They helped me work on a jigsaw puzzle on and off for a few hours.  They built and maintained a fire in the fireplace.  They’ve read books.

We’ve only had The Electronics Basket for a few days.  But it was a great idea.