Sunday, March 28, 2010

Progress and the Long Awaited Sigh of Relief

As most of you will recall, last November we had Jeremy tested for Autism. We were very concerned about his lack of speech and his odd behaviors (flapping his arms, poor motor skills, tantrums, etc). We took him to Dr. Bill Allen, a wonderful psychologist and expert in diagnosing toddlers with autism spectrum disorder. The appointment went really well, and it was that experience that led us to enroll him at the UT Early Learning Center, get him signed up for speech therapy, and basically lit a fire under us as parents. Just a few days ago, we finally received Dr. Allen's official diagnosis for Jeremy. He made us turn in progress reports and he spoke with Jeremy's teacher at school. In order for him to be autistic, he would have to score in the 70s in 7 different areas of his behavior/development. Jeremy did not score in the 70s in any categories!! He did have some elevated scores that Dr. Allen noted for us to keep an eye on, and his highest was a 66 in atypical behavior (the arm flapping, disengaging from activities, etc), and of course, he has a pretty serious speech disorder, but we already knew that.

This was a huge sigh of relief. While I knew that the chances he was autistic were low after our initial meeting with Dr. Allen, I still had fears knowing that an official diagnosis had not yet come. I was in Boston when we got the news. It makes us feel better on several counts, one that we know he is fine, and two that our fears were valid. We took them to the extreme, but he does present odd mannerisms and behaviors that we did not make up or project onto him. He is our little weirdo but we love him to pieces and know that despite some quirky actions, he is just fine.

In an effort to assist with his speech therapy, we recently took him to an occupational therapist for evaluation. Children with Apraxia of Speech often fall behind in motor skills since the apraxia is a motor planning disorder that can affect more than simply mouth motors. Jeremy had a great evaluation and scored exactly where a 27 month old should be. The therapist was a bit concerned that he did not score above his age in anything, but she said that concern is only because of the apraxia. She wants him to come in twice a month so that we can make sure he is not falling behind. By the way, did you know that according to this test, he should be able to cut with scissors? At 27 months old! I have never even handed him scissors before, so he totally failed that part. Oops. He also needs to work on lacing things like his shoes. Again, who knew he was supposed to be doing that already!! Overall, though, she said he was doing great and she commented on the arm flapping as something she sees in kids who are sensory seekers. It appears Jeremy will be that kid who jumps off the jungle gym and goes bungy jumping. She told us to prepare for dare devil inspired broken bones but that she did not see autism or any mental delays at all. I can handle that.

In speech, he is doing fairly well. He is jabbering all the time right now, but real words are not often part of it. He is getting his vowel sounds better, though, which is what Jennifer (speech therapist) has been working on with him. He says truck, car, and train or choo choo a lot since those things occupy most of his life right now. We are going to go to 3 days a week in mid April for the rest of the year to help him stay more focused on his speech. Jill (his teacher) has said that on speech days he tries to communicate much more in the classroom than on non-speech days, and I agree. I am glad he is making progress, but I still get a bit disheartened when I pick him up from school and the little girls who are younger than him speak in complete sentences to say goodbye to him while he can only wave at them and has never yet uttered the word "bye". But, any progress is good progress and over the last 4 months he has come so far that it seems ludicrous for me to wish for more.

Anyway, that's it for the update today. It is rainy and yucky on this Palm Sunday and I think my little man is up from his nap - I can hear little car wheels running along the walls in his room. Thanks for checking in and keeping him in your prayers as he continues to work hard. :)

Some pictures: Jeremy at the park the other day and playing with his friend William after my birthday dinner.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Funny Link

Joel saved us and babysat Jeremy all morning. He wrote a blog about it and Brian and I spit out our food while reading it. Thought I would share: Adventures in Babysitting.


I will be posting about Jeremy's latest speech progress later today, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


According to numerous polls and anyone with an iota of common sense, the best seats in all of sports are atop the Green Monster in left field of Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. This is a picture of me sitting in the coveted seats. Unfortunately, there was no game. Can't win 'em all. Oh well, still awesome.

I was in Boston for the last six days attending the ACPA (American College Personnel Association) Conference. Yes, if you are keeping count, that is my third conference in less than a month - crazy!! I have a ton of pictures, so I am going to keep my commentary to a minimum - suffice to say, it was amazing. I love the city and the conference was not too shabby either.

Right before I left, a bunch of my friends from work took me out for my birthday to a Japanese steak house. This is Joel and Bryan, both of whom have frequently appeared in this blog before.This is part of our group at our table. Both Jeremy and William loved it since they basically put on a show in front of you with your food. No tantrums, quiet, excited kid. This place is better than Chuck E. Cheese!I travelled to Boston with Kristi, my work colleague and friend at UT. I hate flying so it is good for me to have someone to talk to/distract me from vomitting. Thanks, Kristi! We almost missed our connecting flight in Cincinnati and we got to do one of those dramatic sprints through the airport like in the movies - not as fun as it looks in the movies. We did arrive, however, and Boston was gorgeous. Our hotel was sparkly - and you know how much I love all things sparkly. The second day we were there was around 70 degrees and sunny. We took advantage of "America's Walking City" and walked to Fenway Park for the aforementioned tour since the stupid season does not start for a few more days. It was a fun tour and very cheap. We got to make fun of Yankee fans and see some historic baseball stuff. Wish dad was there.This one was taken inside the press box. Very fun.Kristi and I got Jeremy some official Red Sox gear, so he is now referred to as Boston Bud.After Fenway, we walked like 2 miles to the original Cheers restaurant/bar. We had late lunch at the home of Sam, Diane, Norm, and Carla and it was quite yummy!The next day we went shopping in Fanheuil Hall and walked down to the Boston Harbor. Boston is a really beautiful old city and I decided this is the street I want to live on - if only I could remember what street it was...Nerd that I am, one of the first things I noted was the Public Library (the first public library in the country, natch), and I got excited to see they were having a Poe exhibit. How gorgeous is this library?Around this time, I got an email from Knoxville with an update on how my boys were d0ing back in Knoxville. This was the email in its entirety. No words, only a picture:My baby is at Hooters. I like that he seems way more into his lemonade than the waitress. Good boy, Boston Bud!

The next three days were full of the actual conference, blah, blah, blah, then on our final night, I met up with my old pal Alison who was an RA with me back in the day and now works at Vanderbilt. We decided to go all out at Legal Seafood for our last hurrah so Alison ordered filet and stuffed shrimp while I got stuffed lobster and Kristi got crab cakes. Then we waited. Over an hour later, we hailed the manager to politely inquire about our lost food and the next thing we knew, the chefs surrounded us with platters. My lobster was way larger than the tiny one I ordered and Kristi's crab cakes miraculously came with a side of shrimp and scallops. AND, they comped our entire meal - drinks, appetizers, entrees, desserts (like we had room for that). So, this is a picture of my free lobster from Boston. And yes, I am wearing a bib. I finally got back home after six days away this afternoon. I immediately picked up my baby from school and hugged and played with him for hours. I dressed him in his Boston gear and took him to his favorite place - the park! Squint your eyes a little and you can see into his future...pitching for the Boston Red Sox (or Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, I am not picky), Cy Young winner Jeremy Hopper! The crowd goes wild!Glad to be home at last!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Choo Chooing Across Tennessee!

On Wednesday last, Jeremy and I piled into the UT car (yay free car AND free gas card - love my job!) to head across the state of Tennessee to attend the Southern Placement Exchange in Memphis. I took some annual leave from work as well so that I could tack on a few extra days to the trip to spend time with my family.

On the way, we made a pit stop in Nashville to visit Nana and Grandaddy and Uncle Dave. Jeremy fell in love with the wooden train they had. It has always been there, but he never really cared until now. And boy did he love it. Getting him to leave it and get back in the car was quite hard. Here are some pictures that Grandaddy took:In Memphis, I interviewed 19 people for our Hall Director job at the placement exchange. I enjoy interviewing people and talking about why I love what I do. Here is a picture of my interview table in the ballroom. Luckily, orange is such an obnoxious school color that my table always stands out in a crowded room. Thanks to my mom for helping me set up.Jeremy had a blast at Nona and Pop's house. They took off work at very busy times to watch their crazy grandson while I was interviewing. They really are amazing and selfless people. Love you!

He visited Uncle Joey at Davis Kidd and played for an hour on the Thomas train set.So, naturally, Nona bought him one. He LOVES it.He played at the park twice with Aunt Dani and met her nice boyfriend, Tim.He harassed Aunt Cheri's cat Aurora, who nicely chose not to attack him as he kissed her on the face repeatedly. Jeremy and I shared a bed, which was actually kind of fun. We have never shared a bed, like ever. I really wanted him to sleep independently as a baby. So this was really fun and he is such a good cuddler. Isn't he the most adorable thing ever???
He slept through most of Nona's annual Spades Tournament, which was very helpful. Dani and I came in 3rd place with our killa card skills. Mom gets really excited about this. She sent out a 6 page rules packet a week ahead of time and decorated the house like a maniac. We had a group of 17 people playing, and she was turning people away. Seriously, soon we will need a bouncer working the door for the Velita Carr's Annual Spades Classic. VIPs only. Yes, those are hand-made table cloths, personalized score sheets, spades-shaped candy dishes. My mom is insane.Chris and Marie came in last place and won the toilet bowl trophy.Uncle Louis and Aunt Elvie won for the 2nd year in a row. Please note that in our round, Dani and I annihilated them. So, really, we won. Cheri made me a birthday cake because she is the best, and we got a family picture, something that only happens about once a year. Aren't we cute?We missed Daddy while we were gone, but before we left, Jeremy and I made sure he would not forget us. We decorated 20 little notes that we hid around the house for him. They were everywhere: rolled up in the toilet paper, on the lamp switch, in the mailbox, dishwasher, freezer, etc. It was fun. Here is Jeremy writing some of the notes before we left. He is so creative!We had a nice trip, but we are glad to be home! I leave again for my third and final conference on Friday. I feel exhaustion coming on again...

BUT before exhaustion sets in, celebrate St. Jeannie's Day! Wear your green in honor of me and send me lots of expensive presents. I am officially entering the last year of my twenties, and I am determined to do it in style!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The End of Chivalry

What would King Arthur say to today's young men? I have a sneaky suspicion it would involve more sword play than word play.

The other day I entered one of our on-campus dining facilities. It is a little area near our freshmen halls that has a little I-Hop and a little Subway. Very cute, yummy, and on my meal plan, which means free! So there I was. I was so cute, rocking my suit and curled hair and full makeup. I was so professional and amazing. I ordered my low fat sandwich and my apples and grabbed my bottle of water with a smile. Then, I turned to saunter out the door, swishing my beautifully styled hair in what can only be described as a perfect rendition of the old Pantene Pro V commercials. Then...THUD! I hit the ground and I hit the ground hard. Ouch. What? Don't I look like Gisele?

Apparently, there was some water on the floor. It was easy to notice this when my face was pressed up against it. My stylish heels slid on the water and I fell so quickly with my arms full of food and purse that I did not even break my fall. My knees made a horrid crunching sound and my face hit the wet ground with a combination squish/crack noise. Pure class.

This, however, is not the part of the story that upsets me or King Arthur. I was not injured other than a badly bruised knee and a little head bump. No, what pissed me off was the group of freshmen boys (I refuse to call them men) who were sitting about 12 inches away from me at a table keeled over with laughter. Again, fine. I understand it had to be funny. I laughed myself. However, I slid around a bit as I tried to stand up while juggling my lunch and my bag. I had to grab onto their table to help myself up. I looked at them and what did I see? All 6 of them were hiding their faces. They were looking away or putting their heads on the table, etc. It was pathetic. I politely said, "Thank you, I really appreciate your kind help and concern."

Seriously, what the heck? I recruit people to come to UT all the time with tales of our southern hospitality and great student body. And then I see this. I am not a fan. Sure, most young men today will deign to hold the door open for you and call you "ma'am", but it is pointless if they can't master the more meaningful interactions as well. What if I had been seriously injured? My ankles were swollen from my arthritis at the time, so it is not a big leap to assume I could have been hurt. Would they have even helped me up or left me lying there all day? I shouldn't have to ask for help, a white knight of the round table should come to my aid. No, I do not feel a need to be rescued by young men each time I slip. What I do need is for someone to show common decency when they witness someone struggling for assistance less than a foot in front of them. I can guarantee none of these boys would have helped an old lady carry her groceries. Makes me sad.

I can also guarantee that I will work to instill these values into my son. I cannot control what he deos when he goes off to college, but I hope I will raise a kid who does not put himself first when there are people who need help staring him in the face. He may not ever sit at the Round Table, but he sure as hell will help the old lady next door carry her groceries.

Do you remember this from the old Highlight's magazine?? Loved Goofus and Gallant!
What do you think? Is chivalry really dead or did I just happen across some particularly "Goofus"-esque boys?

Sunday, March 7, 2010


My little Jermy was sent home from school on Thursday with a bad cough and 102 degree fever. I was skeptical upon arriving at the school when I saw him smiling like crazy while whizzing down the slide. This should clue you into the severity of his illness.

I gave him children's Tylenol and some honey mixed with water for his cough. It is massively annoying that there is no cold medicine for children under 4. Fever reducer, yes. But nothing for coughs, runny noses, etc.

On our way to run an errand later that evening, I got so excited I almost ran off the road 4 times. Jeremy pointed at the big semi truck we were passing and said quite clearly "truck". He smiled huge and did it like 10 more times. I was jumping up and down while driving 70 mph on the interstate. It was so beautiful I almost cried. "Truck" clear as day, no hesitation, no gurgling before or after. Just perfect. Naturally, he has not repeated it since and I, his mother, was the only witness, but I promise it happened. So beautiful. I can't wait to tell his speech therapist tomorrow!

Anyway, he is feeling better now, and we have a great week ahead of us. It is spring break, so Jeremy's school is closed, which means he gets to hang out with mommy at work on Monday (yes, I still work during spring break - common misconception of working at UT). On Wednesday he hits the jackpot and goes on a road trip to see all four grandparents in one day! My second of three work conferences this semester is in Memphis, so we are headed to stay with Nona and Pop for a few days! Yay!

Here are some pictures of the last few days:

Relaxing on the floor after nap. I don't know why, but I find this adorable.Wearing the souvenirs I brought him from Virginia. (I forgot he was a Hopper and bought a hat for a normal sized head. How silly of me).Playing Candy Land for the first time.Being goofy.Playing cars (again).Having a tantrum in someone's yard. This is how he tantrums - he lays down on the ground and whines. It is quite funny.Here is a little video of my boy, culminating with the tantrum, because that is what I do when he is upset. I pull out the video camera and make fun of him. Parent Of The Year.

One final note: The power of the blog overwhelms me. If you are interested, check out my friend Joel's latest post. He is in a real, live "blog-fight" with our district representative over the opening of the new LGBT center on campus. Who knew one person's opinions (recorded for all to see on his little blog) could inspire such a controversy? Crazy!