Finding out if my son is a late bloomer or has short stature

Ever since he was a toddler, Jase has always been on the smaller side. As he grew, he seemed to have found his growth curve for height in the mid to upper twenties on the standard growth percentile scale. And then about three years ago, his growth slowed down. And now at age 13, he is only in the fourth percentile for both weight and height.

To understand growth percentiles, think of it this way. If 100 thirteen-year-old boys stood in a room. 96 of them would be taller than Jase.  In other words, he is short. In fact, his 10-year-old sister is almost as tall as he is. (And yes, I know girls often grow faster at a younger age.)

Now there is a chance that Jase is just a late bloomer and one summer (or fall) he is going to grow several inches and catch up with the other boys. But since he has dropped so low in the height percentages and has not been growing the standard two inches that doctors expect kids to grow every year, Jase’s doctor suggested we get him checked out to ensure nothing else was wrong.

So, we made an appointment with a pediatric endocrinologist. Our doctor was awesome, explaining that he could be a late bloomer and how many kids have a slowdown of growth before they take off.  Both my husband and I had a few “late bloomer” traits from our own childhoods. But there were other areas to explore just to rule out any other problems. They would do a blood test to check the function of his thyroid, check hormone levels and to check for celiac disease. They also ordered a bone age test to evaluate how fast or slow his bones were maturing.

Jase was more worried about the blood draw than the bone test which is just an x-ray of his left hand and wrist. Jase had never had blood drawn or an x-ray before this. He did excellent with both tests. He didn’t seem worried about the result. Actually, he seemed happy that the doctor had noticed a little fuzz growing on his upper lip. (Looks like shaving will soon be in his future.)

A day later, we got the results from the bone age test. It showed his bones were measuring at 12 years six months, which is a standard deviation from his actual age of 13 years 1 month at the time of the test. Based on his test, his projected height will be 5 feet 8 inches. Of course, that is only a prediction and not a guarantee.

The blood test showed his thyroid was working just fine, and his level of growth hormone level was normal. Besides being a little low on vitamin D, everything checked out normal. Guess this leaves him being a late-bloomer!

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The family needs to improve their bowling skills

It seemed like a good idea at the time. I bought bowling passes that allow the kids and I to play up to 3 games a day (with shoe rentals) for a low summer special price.

I knew we wouldn’t be going daily but thought once a week or even every other week would work for us, and we would still get our money’s worth out of the passes.

What I forgot is that none of us are good at bowling! Me especially.

The kids get to use bumpers on their lanes, but I don’t. So, my ball went into the gutter a lot the first day.

I think my problem was that I was concentrating on too many things – not crossing the foul line, releasing the ball correctly, posture, other people watching/judging me. Ugh. It didn’t go well that first trip.

I vowed to do better on our next trip. I decided to watch a few YouTube videos for beginners. It took awhile to find one that covered what I wanted to know in ways that were easy to apply. I finally found this one.

Still it is a lot of things to remember, and I couldn’t really practice at home. But I think the video did help. On our next outing, I did great in the first frame but alas it didn’t last. There were a few good frames followed by gutter balls.

But I didn’t let it get to me. And on the next game, I did much better. And I can only hope that with more practice (and watching a few more videos) that I get better and better.

Now to get the kids onboard with improving their game. Jase wants to as he has seen several other schoolmates at the bowling alley. They all bowl better than he does. The same thing happened at his twelfth birthday party. We went to play bowling and laser tag with some of his friends. They all played better than he did. But they didn’t make fun of him. Instead they tried to give him tips on how to improve. With some more practice (and a few videos) he will surely get better too.

But it is Lexie who needs the most help. She has the habit of walking up to the foul line and then swinging the ball back and forth a few times before tossing it down the lane. If it weren’t for those bumpers, she would have only gutter balls. On one of our last visits, I did suggest she not swing the ball back and forth so much and she did get a few good releases.

OK that settles it. We are all watching the video a couple times before we go again. And hopefully by the end of the summer, we will all have improved our game.

Countdown…one month to our Alaskan cruise

Our Alaskan cruise is just a month away. Finally. This trip has been in the plans for over two years. It is hard to believe it is finally almost here.

The cruise and air fare has been paid for months. Shore excursions have been booked. I’ve spent evenings researching what you need to bring – binoculars, clothing, you name it, and I’ve read up on it. But I don’t feel any more prepared for this trip than I did before.

I think this trip is more intimidating than our last cruise (three years ago) not just because we are flying to our departure port (which limits what we can pack) but that the weather in Alaska in the summer can be so varied. One day, it might be a high of 58 but a few days later the high is in the 80s. And those are the highs. It will be cooler in the mornings/evenings and of course up on deck with the wind blowing.

And then there is the possibility of rain. It seems whenever I check the weather, it shows a chance of rain.

We live in Texas where it doesn’t rain much, and it doesn’t get cold but maybe one month a year. We don’t have gear for this. Our stores don’t carry clothes for these situations. Thankfully, there is the Internet.

Most of the advice I have heard about packing is to plan to dress in layers. And many of the sites feature suggested packing lists; however, the lists always contain things I don’t wear such as yoga pants, sweats, capris. I’ll just replace those with jeans on my list.

To help out those planning their own Alaskan cruise, I do plan to post afterwards what I took and what I wish I had or what I didn’t need.

My goal is to not over pack. But without knowing what we need that is hard. Like do you need a swim suit on an Alaskan cruise? Based on the answers online, it depends on the cruise. Some do have indoor pools or hot tubs. But packing a swim suit means I need shoes to walk to the pool/hot tub and a cover up. With packing space at a minimum, I need to decide if this is something I need to bring.

Since the kids have outgrown all their pants from last winter, I had to go buy them new ones. Thankfully, they were on clearance at the store. Then Jase needed a suit and dress shoes for “formal” nights. And Lexie needed new tennis shoes. Ugh. The thought of packing all this stuff feels overwhelming. I don’t even know how many suitcases I will need. We only took 2 for the whole family on the Caribbean cruise, but those were summer clothes and not jackets and rain coats.  (We each had our own carryon too.)

Somehow, I am sure it will work out. We will get all our necessary supplies to the cruise ship and have a wonderful time. Until then, I have four weeks to figure out how to make that happen.

I just don’t want to do anything

There are piles of clothes to wash. A dishwasher to empty.

I have blog posts to write for this month.

I haven’t even begun writing my next novel, and the last one was published months ago.

There are emails to respond to and certainly something in the house needs cleaning.

And over there is that pile of papers that have sat on the edge of my desk waiting to be filed for – I am afraid to say – months.

It isn’t like I don’t have plenty of things to keep me busy. But do I want to do any of these things?

Nope. Not a one.

Ugh. It is one of those days where I would rather curl up and read a book or waste my time surfing the Internet or binge watch a TV shows series that I have already seen. (Hmm…perhaps The Magicians.) That is assuming I can find a free TV to watch it on. (See last week’s post.)

This feeling of apathy, of disinterest, of lack of motivation is not new. Thankfully, it doesn’t hit often but oh when it does…. I feel horrible. I know there is so much to be done. But oh how I don’t want to do it.

This feeling often hits me after I have been doing something outside the house in the morning, which is my favorite time to run errands as the stores are less crowded. But going places in the morning – whether it is errands or an activity with kids – seems to kill my motivation for the rest of the day, especially when it comes to writing. In fact, I think I do my best writing in the mornings.

And now with it being summer, the kids sleep in, and we don’t get to any activities until later. Then when we return home, this feeling of apathy to do any of the many things I have to do sets in.

But it isn’t always an afternoon occurrence. Sometimes out of the blue when I have my day fully planned, it hits. And it is a struggle to get anything done because I would rather be doing nothing.

Some might say that a day or an afternoon off could do some good. And sometimes I do give in and do nothing, but I know myself. I will feel more stress about all those undone items on my to-do list. So I usually force myself to do something…anything rather than doing nothing.

Are two X Box gaming consoles better than one?

A few weeks ago, my husband confused me with his line of thinking. This confusion happens from time to time but this one really had me pondering his thought line. When did the solution to getting the kids off the Xbox One in our bedroom be to get a second Xbox One? Wouldn’t have been easier to just move the Xbox One to the downstairs TV?

Ok…let’s go back a little bit and describe the whole scenario.

We have way too many game-playing consoles as it is. Before the latest addition, we had 4 gaming consoles – 2 upstairs and 2 downstairs.

Downstairs we had an Xbox 360 and a Wii U. When we got the Wii U, we moved the old Wii game console upstairs. We probably should just get rid of the Wii as no one plays it any more. My husband also bought an Xbox One when they came out and placed it upstairs, so he could play video games in the bedroom. At the time, the kids usually played video games in the living room.

I don’t know how or when they migrated to playing upstairs. Maybe it was that the Xbox One games couldn’t be played on the Xbox 360. Or perhaps it was the comfy carpet they liked to sit on verses the downstairs couch. But I guess the reason doesn’t really matter. The fact was that they were in our bedroom a lot. We would have to kick them off the Xbox if we wanted to watch TV in our bedroom or when my husband wanted his turn at the Xbox. (Remember, he did buy the upstairs unit so HE could play video games even if he doesn’t play that often.)

So, one evening, after my husband got fed up with the kids dominating our TV, he did a little late night online shopping, which is never good. (He is dangerous when he shops online at night. Who knows what he will decide to buy but that is a topic for another blog post.) He bought an Xbox One X using the money he inherited from his grandmother.

When it came in and he told our son why he bought it, Jase said, “Why didn’t you just move the Xbox downstairs?” And I said the same thing when he told me. It is nice that Jase and I are so logical about the problem.

The new Xbox was placed downstairs and the Xbox 360 that we were rarely using was removed. So, did this fix the problem? Did it clear the kids out of our bedroom?

Nope. Not at all.

In fact, I think it made the situation worse. Now Lexie uses the Xbox in our bedroom, and Jase uses the one downstairs. And since they are playing on Xbox Live, they are playing the same game together – just in separate rooms.

Sigh. So, I still don’t have my TV or bedroom back – unless I boot the kid out of the room. It looks like it might be time to try something else. Perhaps it is time to address their video game obsession. But that is a topic for a future post. Until then, I guess I am hanging out in my home office.

Planning fun activities to keep the kids busy this summer

School has been out for the past 10 days. That means it is time to write my annual “What we are doing this summer” post. The kids are now 10 and 13. As they get older, it gets harder and harder to find things that they want to do. But if left to their own devices, they would…be on their devices or the Xbox all day. So, to give them a break from the electronics and to put an end to the bickering that always seems to crop up lately, I have come up with some things we will be doing this summer.

Water Park/Pool

I love the free option of our neighborhood pool, and we plan to go there a few times a week. I prefer to go in the morning because we often have the place to ourselves, but if we go in the afternoon, we have a better chance of running into classmates or friends. Either way the kids have fun.

We also have a season pass to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. While it is too hot to enjoy the theme park rides during the hot summer days, the water park offers a fun afternoon.

Zoo/Bowling

In addition to the season pass to Six Flags, we also have a membership to the Zoo. As the kids get older, the zoo holds a little less appeal, but we will make it there at least once this summer to see the new dinosaur exhibit. We also have a membership to a local bowling alley that allows us to come every day if we want to bowl up to three games a day. That sound like a little much but a weekly trip is in our plans.

Life Skills

Two summers ago, we went over some “life skills” which included laundry, bank/credit cards, renting vs owning, cooking, and other things to help them survive out on their own. Since, they need the practice, we will continue with having them do laundry and some additional cleaning chores. And Jase has expressed an interest in doing some more cooking lessons.

Violin/Typing/Cursive lessons

During the summer, getting Jase to practice his violin instead of playing video games can be hard but luckily, he still has his weekly tutoring sessions, and Dr. K will certainly expect him to practice between meetings.

Jase also has decided that this summer he wants to learn to touch-type. I have found a few online free programs, so we will be working on their typing skills. And lastly, I want to work on cursive writing, which we tried to work on in a previous summer break. While Lexie likes writing her name in cursive, Jase doesn’t see the point. But neither kid is good at it, and neither one can read cursive so time for more lessons.

While in the past, I have had them do school work in the summer to avoid the Summer Slide, I don’t have any concrete plans this year to have them do school work, but I figure we might get a bit in here and there.

Trips

And in between these activities, we do have two trips planned. The first is a short three-day trip to Bastrop, Texas. This is a work trip for my husband as he attends the annual city attorney’s conference. While he hears lectures, the kids and I go to the water park, ride bikes and enjoy the other amenities the resort has to offer.

And then in August we have a family Alaskan cruise planned. This trip will be more than just our family of four. My parents and brother are also coming on the trip. We have some fun excursions planned, plus the kids are just excited to be going to Alaska. I will be sure to post more about this as it gets closer.

Overall, I think I will have enough option available to keep the kids busy rather than bored…or more importantly off their electronics for some of the summer.

 

Learning to deal with tween behavior

Last month my son became a teenager, but so far it my ten-year old daughter who seems to have the teenage attitude. With her I get the exasperated “I know” or the sigh and eye roll or her palm slapped to her forehead. And I am pretty over it. It has become where I don’t even want to talk to her at times.

I’ve written before about Lexie’s quest to be different. She has always tried to find what makes her unique whether it is her atypical anatomy or her ability to do something such as draw, heal fast or whatever. Many of her “accomplishments” are more in her head than actual differences. She strives to be different or in many cases “better” than someone else.

And part of me gets that. We all like to think we are different and unique. And we are…to a point. But Lexie’s behavior is now expanding to saying everyone else is treated better than she is. She worries that no one likes her at school even though many kids greet her by name as we approach in the mornings.

She thinks that we treat her brother better than her. And our reactions to him are different. But that is because he is a different person. His attitude and his needs are not the same as hers. I will admit we sometimes sigh (or snap) when she has gotten out of bed for the third, tenth or who-knows-what number time to come tell us something unimportant or to ask a question that clearly didn’t need answering right at that moment. When her brother does the same thing (which happens far less often) we do behave different because when he does it something is usually concerning him rather than it coming across as an action to delay bedtime.

I began writing this post after a really trying afternoon when I was just fed up with Lexie and her attitude. Everything seemed to be about her when the afternoon was and should have been about her brother. (It was his birthday – in case you were wondering.)

I tried looking up some advice on the internet, but it was hard to know just what to look up. I looked up teen behavior, sibling jealousy, ADHD, and whatever else I could to think of for tips on how to better deal with Lexie because I know I am not handling her behavior as well as I could. Here is the tips and advice I picked up that I thought might help my situation.

  • Stay calm. Stop, take a deep breath (or two or three) and continue calmly.
  • Ignore her shrugs, eye-rolls or sighs as long as she is generally behaving like I’d like her to.
  • Focus on my child’s behavior. Avoid comments about your child’s personality or character. Instead of saying “You’re rude,” try something like, “I feel hurt (disrespected) when you speak to me like that.”
  • Give her praise when she communicates in a positive way.
  • Emphasize her strengths.
  • Pick my battles. Sometimes you have to let the small things go and concentrate on bigger issues.
  • Realize that her way of doing or perceiving something is not always the same way I would do or perceive the same situation.
  • Listen to her concerns and ask questions instead of insisting her view is incorrect. Help her find solutions to her concerns or just listen and empathize. Her problems and struggles will seem big to her.
  • Before offering input, ask is she wants to hear it. (Do you want to hear what I think about this?)
  • Set aside time to talk or spend time with her.
  • Try not to get exasperated by her behavior. Take her concerns seriously.
  • Remember that her ADHD may make her relationships with others more difficult. Focus on making one good friend.
  • To not show favoritism, listen openly to all sides. “Thanks for sharing. Now I want to hear your brother’s side.” This will allow her to know that I value each child’s opinion.

All of these sound good, but will I remember them next time Lexie pushes my buttons? Only time will tell. Or instead of counting to ten it might be best if I come back and read this post to remind myself of ways to better handle my pre-teen.