Monday, June 11, 2018

Another Building Block-STP

building blocks - a basic unit of which something is built. 

About 4 or 5 months ago I learned of a summer camp through a friend of mine from California. She and her family are originally from the KC area but have relocated to California. Not only do we both love our kiddos immensely BUT we both have kiddos with ADHD, and their both our oldest. She and I were exchanging experiences and really, just being there for one another when she mentioned a camp that they were looking into in KC for the summer. They were actually going to move back to KC for 7 weeks so that her son could attend. I asked a few more questions and then started looking into it myself. The camp, well, it was a summer treatment program for ADHD--one that took treatment above and beyond just medication. The best part of it all, it's put on by his own doctors within the Children's Mercy ADHD clinic and we had an upcoming appointment where I could ask lots and lots of questions. And I did. I left that appointment knowing that we needed to do whatever it took to provide Kaden with this opportunity. It was a large financial commitment and a large time commitment. It would also mean that the boys would spend the majority of the summer apart, something that neither of them would be super stoked for. However, the benefits of what this camp could offer to our family, especially for Kaden, were to great to ignore. So we would figure it out and we started the enrollment process & then we waited. For what seemed like FOREVER!

On March 22nd we got our welcome letter and I cried as I read through it. For the first time in a while a feeling of hope was starting to stir. And it's not like we ever lost hope, this just brought another level of hope our way. I went home that evening, sat both boys down and explained how the summer would look for our family. Both boys had the fear of missing out -- how could they not, but we talked about how this is something that we really needed to do for our family. That this was ONE summer & that there will be time at the beginning of summer and at the end of summer for lots of fun together. I'm not sure if everyone was 100% on board BUT we didn't have a lot of push back after that.

We've been praying for God to show us a way, not THE way, just a way. A way for us to provide some building blocks for Kaden. He has the most gentle and kindest heart but sadly, his brain gets in the way more often than not and most people, don't get to see that side of him. Ever since he was little we called him light switch, lovingly, but still light switch. He was either on or he was off. When he was younger he was on more often than not but as he grew older and started dealing with a wider range emotions, it became apparent that he didn't have the same tools that everyone else had to learn and deal with these emotions in a thoughtful, productive way. So we started to ask questions of his pediatrician which led to an 18 month journey before we officially were able to diagnose him with ADHD. The journey didn't stop there, with the diagnoses came more peaks and valleys. That first 9 months after his diagnosis we went through three different medications and two of those had two different dosages and we still haven't found the right match for him but we have learned is that we gotta keep pushing for answers and fighting to set Kaden up for success. And this camp, well, it's us fighting. It's us putting Kaden's needs first. It's us trying to ensure that he has access to the tools needed to do every day life. Now, don't get me wrong, Kaden can do everyday life but it just doesn't come as easy as it does for others. He's impulsive and doesn't think decisions through. He's an emotionally intense child who puts a lot of unnecessary worry and pressure on his shoulders. It's black or white. It's success or failure. There's no in between in Kaden's mind. However, with the help of medication, Kaden has been able to slow his mind down, trick his mind if you will into allow him to think before acting. To understand that losing a game isn't the end of the world and that we may actually learn something valuable from losing. And this camp, is to help provide him with tools and resources that he can draw upon during all parts of the day, especially when his medication is not within his system. This camp or summer program if you will, will help develop his problem-solving and social skills, and help him gain the social awareness needed to enable him to get along better with other kids. It will help hone his abilities to follow through with instructions and complete tasks and will help improve his learning skills and academic performance and most importantly, at least to us, increase his self-esteem. 

But the camp isn't just for Kaden, it's for Justin and I too. We will be taught how to take what he is learning at camp and implement it into our daily lives once camp is over. They will work with us to help change unacceptable behavior at home, reduce the non-complaint and disruptive behaviors that we see. And most importantly to us, improve his relationship with us and with Logan. Again, we have a very LOVING relationship and I know he loves me, his dad and his brother but there is always room for growth when it comes to the bond between a parent and child and then between brothers.

That friend of mine that told me about the program, well, sadly they were not able to attend--reasons that are really out of anyone's control--but it does make me think about the timing of things. How I wasn't even aware of this program before speaking to her, someone that lives in California, and we even had been seeing the exact doctors that brought the program to KC. I think this was God's way of showing us a way. He placed her into my life again at that moment in time to lead me to where we are today. If not for her, we wouldn't have found this program and been able to give Kaden this opportunity. An opportunity that I am learning from so many has life changing implications. I've had a number of wonderful parents who have heard about or been a part of this program before who told us just how excited they were for us and how amazing their experience was. It's so hard trying to keep my hopes in check with all the amazing things we have heard but in the end, if he is able to just show more of his sweet and kind heart, it will be a win. Building blocks.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Tournament Time for the Aces

It was baseball tournament time- The Legends Tournament. This was the 2nd for the boys--the first was in freezing weather and now this one was basically in record highs. That wasn't slowing the boys down though. For the Aces the tournament started off on Friday night and pool play continued Saturday morning. Bracket play would be on Sunday after pool play had wrapped up.

We went into the tournament with no real expectations. There were 15 teams in our division. The boys took the field both Friday and Saturday and although we didn't have the results we would have liked to have seen, there was no denying that these boys weren't figuring it out. They played some really good defense but their bats just weren't working. Honestly, it's where we as a team have been struggling. So we went 0-2 in pool play and got seeded #13 for Sunday bracket play. 

Our first game was scheduled for 11:30 that Sunday morning and we would be taking on the #12 seeded team. Winning team advances. Losing team goes home. We knew we could play better than the day before, we just needed both sides of the ball to come together. 

Kaden started off in the pitching position & Logan was in right field. But we didn't take the field first, no we would be the visiting team from here on out so we were up to bat first. More specifically, Logan was up to bat first - and he rocked that lead off position. He didn't let the fact that he was at least, if not more, than a year younger than most all of these kids get in his head. He stepped up to that plate and the kid did what he needed to do. He didn't bat 1000 but he went 3 for 4 that first game, with his brother right on his heels. 

Aces ended up taking that first game 9-5 and the advanced to the semi-final match up.

We were playing the Bulldogs. & the boys were positioned just as they were the first game of that day. Same line-up, same positions. We were keeping our fingers crossed that we would start the game just like we had finished the last one, on fire. And they did. Logan going 2 for 4 and Kaden going 3 for 4. Logan having some amazing throw-ins from the outfield to hold runners from advancing. Kaden knocking down and throwing out a handful of batters at first with Cade's assist. 

Aces took game two of the day 21-13. They were advancing to the championship game. Boys were stoked. Coaches were stoked. Families were stoked.

Honestly, we weren't expecting to be playing in the championship, we kind of thought that we were going to be one and done. Not because the boys are giving it their all and aren't a good little team but because our competition up until this point has been tough--we've gotten zero breaks when it comes to our schedule and who we play. But that's how it goes and we are all still learning and growing.

The championship game was going to be one of those moments of growth. We were playing a team that we had already played in the regular season who rocked us. It wasn't pretty. So we kind of knew the outcome would not go in our favor but that didn't stop the boys from going out and giving it their all. There were frustrations and disappointments from some of our boys, Kaden included. He struggles with success vs. failure and not being able to see that it doesn't have to be just one or the other that there is space in the middle between the two. So he got down on himself and pulling him out of that rut is hard. And when the game was over, he and a few of his other teammates were not happy about the scoreboard -- one kid two out of the park home runs generating 7 run there alone. In the end, the Aces fell to the Silverbacks BUT they still took home 2nd place.
Once the boys realized that they got 2nd in the tournament which meant a nice wooden bat for the team and individual medals they were all smiles again.

It may have been hotter than we would have liked but the day was just as long as we had hoped it would be. Such a fun weekend watching these boys grow in so many ways -- their faces show their pride but they don't even begin to show how proud their parents are of them.

This team has created a little family over the last two seasons and it's one that we are very fortunate to be a part of. Such great kids, coaches, and families who not only want to teach the boys' baseball skills but also life skills and how to have fun doing it.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Pure Joy

We had a night off on Saturday from baseball. We had a game earlier that morning but the afternoon was spent at the pool and then we had some friends over for dinner. The evening turned out to be absolutely gorgeous so we spent it outside in the backyard. 

The boys haven't played on their swing set in months but this particular evening, we didn't get off of it until it was dark. I sat down on one of the swings and Logan came over and climbed on my lap and I asked if he had ever done a spider swing. He was like "WHAT?!" and completely intrigued.

I'm not sure if this is a small town thing or not but basically, you have your kiddo sit towards you on your lap, and you swing while facing each other. Since the boys had never done this, the smiles and giggles were off the charts ridiculous. 

110% Pure Joy.

Sadly, we don't get to see smiles like this from Kaden as much, and most certainly have a hard time capturing it so it probably comes as no surprise that this picture is one of my recent favorites. It gives such an accurate picture into WHO he is. How kind his soul is. How sweet his heart is. 

This image is why Justin and I keep pushing to get more and more answers when it comes to his ADHD. He deserves to feel like this every single day. And I know we are getting closer, I can feel it and we won't stop until this is happening more often than not.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A Visit From Grandma Sara

A little while ago we received a graduation invitation in the mail for my cousin, Anna. Mom got one too of course and called me up and asked if I would ride with her to Omaha to celebrate with the family. It was on a Saturday where we actually had very little going on--one birthday party for the boys and Justin could handle that so I said, let's do it. She came up on Friday afternoon to catch the boys' Friday night game and then on Saturday morning we took off on our adventure. 

It's a pretty straight three shot up I29. 

This actually marked the first time in YEARS where my mom and I had any real time with just the two of us. Six uninterrupted hours in the car. It was so nice to just talk and not have to worry about censoring my thoughts or worries because the boys were in the back. 

We arrived just before the party was to start and thankfully met Anna and Peggy out in the garage while everyone else was inside, they were the only ones that knew we were coming. So as we walked in a few jaws dropped and arms spread open wide. It was so great to see Aunt Pam and she told us that Grandma was in the living room watching TV so I rounded the corner and said hello, walking towards her and she looked up, said "hi" with a why-is-she-coming-towards-me-look and then she saw my mom. "Oh Sara, I didn't know you were coming" and then light bulb, "Kayla, oh my, Kayla!" We all started crying. It's been awhile since I've seen Grandma Earl, too long & my hair is much darker now so because she wasn't expecting me, she didn't realize it was me.

For the next couple of hours we caught up and more importantly celebrated the graduation girl.

And before we knew it, it was time to get back on the road. The boys were having a batting practice at 7 and we were trying to get back in time for it. As we pulled in, they were pretty much dressed and only about 20 minutes from heading out the door. We hugged, ate quickly and off they went. Mom and I just relaxed on the couch.

Sunday came and we headed off to church, celebrated the beginning of summer with our friends at the pool & then headed to another baseball game. This time though, Grandma Sara saw a win! The boys had such a great game -- it was so fun to see such big smiles on their faces.

But as big as the smiles were, there was also sadness because the end of the game meant it was time to say goodbye to Grandma Sara. Something none of us ever look forward to saying. Our time is always sweeter when she's with us. 

Friday, June 1, 2018

3.7 Inches

Logan had his 7 year well visit and turns out, he's as healthy as a horse.

My mom was in town and had relieved the babysitter from her duties for the week and then met me at his pediatrician's office. I figured he would just come in the clothes that he had one that morning but NOPE, he was already dressed in his baseball uniform. Game wasn't for another three hours but that wasn't stopping him -- even though it took twice as long to undress for his appointment.

I wasn't really expecting much for this visit, I mean, there were no shots, he's in good health -- or at least seems as though he is -- & he's a pretty self-sufficient kiddo that is typically doing what he should be doing. So I wasn't expecting much excitement.

They weighed him. 46.6 pounds--that looked good. 
The measured his height. 3'11.7' inches--that looked good.
They took his blood pressure. 98/66 -- also good.
With a BMI of 20% which is perfectly normal.

Our doctor walked in and of course commented on his sharp looking uniform and ask him a few questions about baseball and then about his chores at home. He proceeded to say he didn't really have any but would like some -- this is untrue. He has chores, he just doesn't realize it.

She asked about whether he could ride a bike and if so, does he wear a helmet every time. Does he know where to go in case of a fire. Does he drink milk. Does he eat lots of varieties of food. So on & so forth.

Then she proclaimed that Logan had grown 3.7 inches over the last year. Say WHAT?!?! No way. But yup, sure enough Lil South jumped from 25% in height to 50% in height. She mentioned that average was from 2-3 inches each year, with three being a big jump so this was a REALLY BIG JUMP.

He was pretty pumped but still felt they could have given him that extra centimeter so he could join the Four Foot Club. Honestly, I think he's right.

Here's to hoping the growing continues and he gets more use out of his brother's hand-me-downs. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

May Extras

Thank you notes for his birthday buddies.
A little birthday card for his teacher--in cursive.
New plants that the boys helped with.

Celebrating Jackson's birthday in the rain with sno-cones.

Celebrating Nathan's 6th birthday at Sky Zone.

Field Day at CCE

Last day of SJA baseball camp--he tried getting out of it each morning but LOVED everything about it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Fear vs. Courage

This past Saturday I watched Kaden overcome fear with courage. It was remarkable to watch it all play out in front of me over the course of a few hours.

You see, Uncle Adam had picked up some lumbar to build a jumping platform for the boys. We don't utilize the far side of the dock except to park the Sea-Doo and paddle boards when they are not in use. The far side only has a walkway so you can't really "hang out" over there and we've been talking about a slide or a jumping platform for a while now. Well, Uncle Adam was done talking. 

He and Craig spent the first few hours of Saturday morning constructing the plaform. Kaden eagerly awaited. As did Colton and Logan. Once the platform was built and tested by the adults of the fmaily, it was the boys' turn. Kaden climbed up to the top. He stood there. Turned right back around as he picked at his fingernails and told Colton and Logan they could go. He'd wait.

Colton jumped.

Logan jumped.

Kaden climbed back up and right back down and put his sweet little head into my chest and the tears started to flow. He so desperately wanted to jump off the new platform just like his cousin and brother but he just couldn't muster up the courage. I explained that sometimes, we just need a little extra time to assess the situation before feeling 100% comfortable. That we had all weekend and all summer to conquer that platform. He didn't want to wait all weekend, all summer. He wanted to conquer it that day.

So he climbed right back up and sat down. On the edge. He knew all it would take was one little push off and the rest would be history but he just couldn't find it in him and he made his way back down the steps. 

I asked him about his fears. He was afraid that his feet would hurt when he hit the water. He put on his water shoes. He was afraid it was too high. We talked about how he went off the high dive at Grammy's pool last summer. You could see the courage start to grow within him but he needed a break. He went back up to the house and changed out of his swimsuit. Fear was still overpowering his courage.

He came back down an hour later. In a new suit. More determined to conquer that platform.

He went up. This time with Logan beside him. Patting his back. Giving him a little pep talk. Telling him it was okay either way. Kaden listening. Picking at his fingernails while carrying on a conversation in his own head. 

He came down again. And his head immediately went back to my chest. Tears once again filled his eyes. He felt defeated. I got down to his level, which isn't far anymore since he's so tall, and told him just how proud I was of his desire and will to stick with it. That climbing those steps took so much courage and that he should be proud of himself too. A little smile came across his face and when he looked up at me, I put my hands on both sides of his face and told him that I loved him and couldn't be more proud of him. That jumping off that platform or not jumping off that platform wouldn't change how much I loved him and that I supported him either way. 

And then, I told him, that I had to go up to the house for a second and NOT to jump while I was gone, I didn't want to miss it. And he smirked as he ran towards the platform. I went up to the house, grabbed what I needed and when I got back down he was still there. I asked Becky if he had gone and she shook her head no. As I went to change the music, I heard, "Mom, watch!"

And off he went. Courage had defeated fear.

He came up to hooping and hollering from me, Grammy, Aunt Becky, Logan and Colton. More importantly, he came up with the biggest smile I had ever seen and shouted, "I'm doing it again!" 

And he did, without hesitation, at least 15 times in a row.

I never want it to go unnoticed how much of an internal struggle he had that day. He battled with himself for hours before making that leap of faith. I can't help but wonder how different this would have played out prior to being diagnosed with ADHD and starting medication. Kaden tends to be impulsive and he doesn't think much before acting but after introducing medication into his day to day world, he does stop. He analyzes the situation. He thinks before he acts and in this case, maybe a little too much BUT in the end, he won. He created enough courage within himself to push the fear aside for 5 seconds -- and that is all he needed. Five seconds where his courage outweighed his fear and he soared.

I'm proud of both the boys for conquering that platform, it wasn't easy and I know because I jumped too. However, I also know the immense struggle that Kaden overcame and how Logan sat there beside him and encouraged him -- he saw Kaden struggling too and instead of adding to his worries, he helped push those fears away right there alongside him. There aren't enough words to describe how much pride and admiration I was feeling for both of our boys in that moment. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

MDW 2018

The official start to summer for the Souths is marked by our first trip to the lake. Like last year, we decided to head down with Adam and Becky, Janet and Craig for the holiday weekend -- we were all ready for some family down time & some rest & relaxation. I took a half day off of work, picked up the kids from their first day of summer break & loaded the car. We just needed daddy--who didn't get home as quick as we would have liked BUT at as soon as he was, we loaded up & off we went.

The drive wasn't too bad--especially for a holiday weekend. We stopped at our favorite little Mexican restaurant, Tapatio, in Sedelia to let some of the traffic go on by and to allow the boys to run off some energy--by no means is it a long drive BUT it never hurts.

As soon as we arrived the boys had their swimsuits on & were in the water -- well, after finding their life jackets. If the next two days were anything like how the weekend started, we were in good shape.

Saturday morning the boys were up and ready to head down to the water at 8:30. Before the day got too crazy I made them stop to take our annual South Brothers' LOTO picture. I have this same picture of the two of them since about 2013 and is one of my favorite traditions. 

 The boys played and played and played. There was one thing that I noticed though, Kaden seemed a little hesitant when it came to things that he had done the summer prior. One example, the paddle boards. He talked all the way down about how excited he was to get them out and wanted me to get them out on Friday but I told him those would have to wait until morning. Morning rolled around and he didn't really want much to do with them. He said he was afraid he forgot how to do it. That he wasn't sure he could figure it out again---this worried me because I knew how much he was looking forward to it and I hated seeing fear win BUT after he saw Logan and Colton out on one, he was ready to give it another try too. That's all it took. He was hooked once again. 

The lake cabin has become one of my happy places. It's calm and quiet. It's quaint. But most importantly, my favorite people are always with me & although it stinks, we don't get that great of service down there so you are forced to be present which is ALWAYS a good thing. 

The boys spent time on the Maui Mat. They played basketball with a new hoop that Logan got for his birthday from our friend Nathan. They rode the Sea-Doo. The paddle boards. They fished. 

They ate crappy food like squirt cheese and crackers. They ate healthy food like salmon. And shockingly Logan LOVED them both.

They watched Black Panther, Jumanji, and Spiderman Homecoming. 

They were loving every. single. second -- until there were breakdowns from sure exhaustion -- but if you asked them what their favorite part of the weekend was, it most definitely would be the new "diving board" that Uncle Adam and Craig installed. 

It was more like a jumping platform but I guess you could totally dive off of it too, like Uncle Adam.

It doesn't look too high but looks can be deceiving. & let me tell you, it was wobbly, not because it wasn't constructed well enough but because the dock wobbles on it's own due to waves and then add being 10 feet over the water, off the side of the dock on top of that too -- makes for LOTS of wobbles. Two of the three boys walked right up and didn't turn back. One kiddo had a little bit of a harder time working up the courage it took -- more on that later.

The boys played so hard. All weekend long. When Memorial Day rolled around they just weren't sure what they wanted to do. Did they want to get in the water? Did they want to fish? Did they want to chill inside? And the indecisiveness came with trying to hold back tears so we made a plan. A family plan. We were planning to leave after lunch but after talking it over, we loaded up and headed on home. Allowing the boys to rest a little on the ride home, grab a bite to eat and then once we got home and unpacked we would hit the pool. They were in agreement. So we said our goodbyes--but not for long, this weekend kicks off a summer of lake trips.