Friday, July 15, 2011

Potatoes = Joy

I rocked dinner tonight. Engagement chicken and the best scalloped potatoes ever. Oh my lord have mercy, they were good. Colin Shaffer, current president of "The Coalition to Avoid All Food that Our Mothers Slave Over", ate every bite off his plate. It was that good. I also rocked more calories than I should eat in a whole day, but let's focus on the positive. I have three words for you: jarlsberg, asiago and mozzarella. Oh, yes.

Now that I have gloated about the glory of creamy goodness, let's talk Colin. We are staring down a big weekend for this kiddo! He is going to his first ever "school friend" birthday party tomorrow morning, my parents are coming in town, then his family birthday celebration is on Sunday, complete with everyone from Tyler! Colin is beside himself over it. He is officially four years old next Wednesday. Prepare yourself for the gigantic "how is my baby four years old" post coming soon. His best buddies Ryan, Hayden and Jack all have their birthday within a couple of weeks of Colin's, so we decided to throw them all a huge pirate themed bash on the beach in Galveston. We are taking a family trip there in early August with nine other families....all of our best friends! Colin has been talking about his pirate party since March, so the countdown is totally on. We decided to throw a small family party for him at home on Sunday to celebrate here and he is so excited! We ordered a space cake per his specific instructions (Mom, we have to save all the pirate stuff for the beach!) and a ton of balloons from Party City. Today we got burgers, hot dogs and chicken for the grill and the whole thing is shaping up to be a blast. After we eat and open presents, we are going to take Colin and his cousins to one of the best pools ever. It should be a great day!

For posterity's sake, it should also be noted that Colin went off on a new tangent today that came out of nowhere. He began asking me what people did before clothes were invented. He asked me who discovered the material to make clothes. He asked me what people wore before material was invented. He asked me what children did before television was invented. He spent a long time today playing completely naked in order to "pretend that I am a kid before clothes were invented". He always blows me away. I have absolutely no idea where this line of questioning came from...I can't recall a book or recent show that would have initiated it. I do know that he is a brilliant boy and I am proud to call him mine!

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Diagnosis Recap...

Colin is going to be four years old in a little over a week. I don't know how this is possible, yet here we are. My sweet boy has been through a whole lot this year and he is doing absolutely amazing. I have written several times during the years about Colin and his "quirks", but I never had any answers. I read everything I could get my hands on and last summer at this exact time, I started trying to get real help. I have always known that Colin was different than kids his age and it was time that I found someone to help me. We started with the pedi, and from there were referred to an occupational therapy group and a neuropsychologist. The wait times were insane. We didn't get into the OT group until January (7 month wait) and the neuro took until April! I took solace in the fact that we were clearly going to the best places if they were so booked up and just waited. We learned so much about Colin and the main thing that I took from everything is that we have stepped in to help him so much earlier than most kids and that is going to help him beyond measure.

First of all, he is brilliant. He was given the Wechsler test for IQ and his score was 127. The highest score possible is 130. He is considered "exceptionally able/gifted" and tested in the "superior" range in the vast majority of the testing. The doctor told us that the number would be even higher were it not for his ADHD issues. I have known all along that he was taking in too much information for his age and being totally overwhelmed with all the input he is receiving. When he was two, he was pointing out light fixtures in restaurants that resembled the ones in our home and noticing that our brand of dishwasher is the same one in a friends house. Around his second birthday, he was talking in full complex sentences with all the words in the right place and the right tense. He spoke like an adult. His teachers last year were very involved with the testing and they wrote letters about Colin to the doctor. They spoke about how he notices everything and has trouble getting past something, like a shoelace being untied or a hair ribbon out of place. He has an almost OCD way of needing things fixed that are not "right". He is also extremely nervous when placed in any new situation, whether it be a new child, teacher or even a change in schedule or routine. Transitions are very hard on Colin. Which brings me to the next diagnosis, PDD.

We were explained that Pervasive Developmental Disorder is not Aspergers, but an a-typical presentation that looks a lot like it sometimes. He cannot get the label of Aspergers because he does not have the eye contact/social component that is required for the dx. (Which is wonderful news!) We were told that kids with PDD usually prefer babies and adults and battle the sensory issues much more than Aspergers kids. That describes Colin perfectly. He is a brilliant, complex little man. He has trouble with some social cues and is constantly worried about how other people are feeling and if they are okay. Like if he makes eye contact with a baby and that baby doesn't smile, he will start crying and ask why the baby doesn't like him. He functions on a level that kids his age don't and that can lead to major social problems. He is currently seeing a wonderful therapist who works with him weekly on things like social skills. He was also diagnosed with ADHD and general anxiety disorder. The anxiety disorder apparently goes hand in hand with his giftedness. He has always taken in more information than he can process and it led to panic attacks. He worries about everything, from the health of his family to what will happen if we have a fire. We found out that he had a cavity this week, and the discussion that I had with him about it upset the heck out of him (despite trying hard to make it a positive and happy discussion). This morning we had breakfast out and on the way home, he burst into tears, worried about getting a cavity on the way home before we could brush our teeth. He takes everything so seriously. There is a new little boy in class that is disruptive and he upset Colin so much that he started chewing his shirt. He chewed it so much that it looked as though he had taken a shower when I picked him up. He just gets nervous and I hate that for him. He used to be scared to leave the house, which was a big reason why I started seeking help in the first place. Getting him into the car, even if he knew we were going somewhere fun, was a huge battle. Colin likes routine, he likes to know exactly what is going to happen and he likes order. He doesn't like noise that he can't control. And he loves to take care of things. :-) The ADHD problem is going to follow him forever, more than likely, although once we get the anxiety under control, that will help. He just constantly takes in too much and his mind jumps from one thing to another like lightening. If we can help him focus, there is no limit to what he can accomplish.

Colin is a new man these days. He has a whole team helping him now...his psychotherapist Sheri, his occupational therapist Cheryl and his neuropsychologist, Dr. Bengston. He goes to both therapies once a week and has come so far! Getting dressed and leaving the house are no longer the big deal they used to be. He gets upset very easily if he can't make a toy work or if something goes wrong in any way with what he is doing, but he recently learned techniques to help him calm down. Today, he built a castle that toppled over and he screamed and started to throw things. All I said was "Colin?" and he ran into his room and began taking deep breaths and blowing them out very slowly. Cheryl taught him to clasp his hands together very hard (pressure is good) and breath out very slowly when he gets overwhelmed. When I rounded the corner to his room, he was doing just that! It blew my mind that he finally made the connection and is starting to try to help himself. Sheri is teaching him how to play with other kids that are not gifted. :-) He is learning that he can't tell other kids how to do everything or what the answer is. He is learning that kids his age might not want to play the same way he does, but that is okay. He may know all about forces like gravity and friction, but he needed help learning to peddle a trike. He is just Colin.

There is so much more to say and this could go on forever. I have hesitated to write about it because it overwhelms me to attempt to cover all that we have been through. But I want to start doing it in little bits and pieces so that we can look back and see how far we have come and how amazing Colin has been since birth. I don't know if anyone watches "The Big Bang Theory" besides my family, but we often joke that we hope Colin is a "Leonard" instead of a "Sheldon". Although, if he is a Sheldon, that is just fine with me. :-)

Sunday, July 10, 2011


My husband married me 8 years ago tomorrow. That means that we have been together for ten years! I hardly remember a time without him. He seemed to be my missing link from the first moment I laid eyes on him. I was chartering private jets and Jer was a new pilot with the company my best friend worked for. I remember him walking into the East Coast Jets office door and April introducing me to him. He was wearing a brown leather bomber jacket and sunglasses. He got his trip sheet from April and walked out the door and I said, "THAT BOY IS HOT!". My steadfast rule during my years in aviation was never date a pilot...but for this one, I was willing to break my own rules. I was in love with him from the beginning. We didn't know how easy we had it then or how outrageously lucky we were to be in our situation. We were young and successful with lots of wonderful friends. We worked in private aviation and spent the majority of our lives flying in jets to all kinds of places and experiencing life. We would fly to Atlantic City at the drop of a hat to gamble all night...shuttle down to Fort Lauderdale to spend weekends at our company condo...spend the night in NYC drinking cocktails in hotel bars. We were everywhere. I lived just outside of NYC and Jer lived in PA. He would drive out to Madison, NJ almost every time he got home and sometimes would have to turn around and go right back for another trip. We were inseparable from the very start. I love that we spent those years having fun and being young and carefree. After we married, we spent about 5 more months in the northeast and then I got the charter sales manager position in Dallas. It was a dream come true for me to get back to Texas. This is my home and this is where my family is. I loved living up north, but I was honestly pretty homesick. Jeremy was supportive immediately and had no problem with moving his whole life to a brand new state for his new wife. I remember driving across the country with our poor kitty Gretchen huddled in her litter box in the back seat. I remember when we crossed the state line into Texas and I almost wept with joy. I remember seeing our awesome apartment for the first time when we pulled into downtown Dallas. I remember standing on the roof with him and realizing that the skyline of Dallas was all around us. I remember when we picked out Enzo and then proceeded to pamper him like a child for a few years. :-) I can't believe it has been so long and how far we have come. I love knowing that I am going to spend my whole life with Jeremy Shaffer!

Here are a few oldies from our early days...

This is me at our engagement party in Fort Lauderdale. We had a big celebration with lots of our friends. I had to include this shot mainly because I can't believe that my stomach used to look like that. This is how I know it really has been 8 years since this picture. ;-)
Dinner on the beach in Fort Lauderdale on the same engagement weekend.

Look how young we look! This is when we told Jer's mom and step-dad that we got engaged. It should also be noted that I went crazy around this time as asked a hairdresser in NYC to give me the Faith Hill look from her "This Kiss" video. Which was totally brilliant, what with me being 5'10, blonde and skinny...wait. WHY did that person listen to me?! I hated my short hair and was secretly so upset with myself that I cut it right before we got engaged. I almost wanted to wait for the wedding so that my hair could grow back out. Almost. ;-)

Flying with Captain Shaffer in the spring of 2003. And by flying, I mean making the co-pilot Nick move for 10 seconds, taking this picture, and then hightailing it out of there. I prefer the seats in the cabin. ;-)

Our wedding! I love this was so Viva Las Vegas. :-)

In the limo on the way to dinner! MARRIED! I can't believe this was 8 years ago.

Sitting poolside during our honeymoon in Vegas.

New York in Vegas! Lord, it was hot.

Pool party right after we got home as a married couple...

I may have to post more pictures soon...I am waiting on Jer to get home from his weekend away with friends and he knows where the rest of the old photos are. I am loving going down memory lane! I love you, huBsand! :-)
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