Friday, December 08, 2006

Candlestick bowling

We had our first sub-artic chill today. So what better to do than to take the kids bowling? Why, take them candlestick bowling. In a past life, I was an avid and above-average ten pin bowler. But I have fond memories of visiting Boston as a kids and being taken candlestick bowling.

For the unitiated, candlestick bowling uses a ball about the size of a shot put. You get three balls each frame. And the pins are straight, rather than the pear shape of ten pin bowling.

In any case, I found a small, 15-lane bowling alley in somerville and trucked the kids over. Liam loved it. Even Kalian rolled a couple balls (with dads help). Liam came home and wanted to play bowling the rest of the night.



Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Liam's therapy...

Today was a tough day. And long. We had two big meetings related to Liam's therapy.

Liam stayed home from preschool today because he had an appointment with a speech therapist who is a renowned expert in stuttering, of "dysfluency," as it's called clinically. His stuttering has been up and down of late. But he continues to be a trooper about all of it. Still, at times he grimaces, purses his lips, and really works to get a simple sound out. While many therapists say it's typical for kids to go through periods of developmental "dysfluency," the grimacing and such things are usually considered signs of a more serious problem.

We drove about 20 minutes out to Lexington. Liam was his usual, upbeat self, excited that someone wants to play with him. The therapist played with Liam for about 45 minutes while videotaping the session. She didn't offer any conclusions at the meeting, but instead will meet with Jen and I in a couple weeks to go over her evaluation and her therapy recommendations.

In the meantime, we had Liam's "IEP" meeting with the Cambridge schools officials. The Indvidualized Educational Program is a bureaucratic way of saying "therapy program." As many of you know, about two years ago, Liam was diagnosed with sensory integration disorder and oral apraxia. In a nutshell, while Liam is smart, he has trouble processing and regulating his sensory intake and output. The result is that he had a hard time learning to speak, he remains somewhat challenged when it comes to things like running and climbing, and finds it a struggle to fit in socially because it's hard to keep up with his peers.

We'd been pretty optimistic for the past year or so with his progress. But he seems to have regressed a bit since he's been out here. His preschool is a tough environment for him because his classroom is big and loud and most of the kids are a bit older than his previous preschool in Berkeley. He reacts by withdrawing. His teachers have been great, but still...

And so he's been getting speech and occupational therapy through the Cambridge public schools. Except about 6 weeks ago his speech therapist had to take a leave of absence and they've not found a replacement yet. But they proceeded with their annual evaluation, the IEP, anyway. And no matter how positive they try to be, or how optimistic, it's a difficult thing to sit through. In essence, they run through long lists of things that Liam has a hard time doing, in often great detail.

In many cases, parents go to these meetings and find themselves fighting to get services. In our case, they concluded that Liam's challenges were so great, they increased their recommendation for the amount of therapy he is eligible for. And along with speech and occupational therapists, they assigned a third person to work with him, essentially a socialization expert to help him learn how to interact with kids.

All these folks were very well meaning, and we think they will be a tremendous help to Liam over the next six months that we are here. Still, it's hard not be discouraged when confronted with such an extensive breakdown of his issues. And it's at times like this that I miss our community of friends in the Bay Area more than ever.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Oh Mickey, you're so fine...

We had a wonderful visitor from the West Coast this past weekend. And it gave me a glimpse of how life here could be so different.

Mickey Ellinger arrived on our doorstep last Friday, fresh from a red eye from Oakland. Among the many wonderful things that happened to us after Liam was born four years ago, Mickey became an important force in our lives. For those who don't know of this magical being, Mickey has held a Friday night sleep over for the kids of various friends for many years now. During the past couple years, Liam has spent the night at Mickey's for the majority of Friday nights, bonding tightly with the handful of other kids who stay over. There are many things we miss about the Bay Area, and this ranks right up there.

So Mickey tumbled in Friday morning and Liam was ecstatic and could barely contain himself. Here he is just a few minutes after Mickey arrived:



Jen took Mickey that afternoon to see Stephen Colbert speak at Harvard. The next day, I had to do some work at Kalian's Coop. Jen and Mickey took the kids for a hike and then we met at a playspace for a birthday for one of Liam's classmates. We came back that afternoon and were all playing and I literally started to fall asleep while playing with Liam. Mickey tapped me on the shoulder and said the words that I have fantasized about everyday for the past five months: "Why don't you go take a nap and I'll play with the kids?"

So I did. I woke up when Jen came home. Thanks to Mickey, once again, we were having a big date night. The Kennedy School had its formal and Mickey was watching the kids for us. We had a big tapas dinner and then dressed in our finest went and partied at the Harvard Faculty Club. It felt very elitist and patrician and high school prom-ish all that once.

The next day, Mickey and I took the kids on the T into Boston. And boy, what a difference an extra adult makes. As I wrote before, I'm proud that I've taken the kids on so many outings. But I've avoided things like the train because it becomes so stressful handling the two kids, a stroller, etc. But it was a breeze with Mickey. We went to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Marketplace, walked over to the docks, and then wandered back to Quincy Market for lunch. I had done a similar outing on my own over the summer and it left me so traumatized that I've avoided the trains with both kids ever since. But this time, we had a ball, it was quite enjoyable.

Mickey took off that night, and we missed her immediately.

Monday, December 04, 2006


We had a little of the white stuff this morning, as predicted. For me, it was one of those wonderful parent moments. While we were all getting dressed, Liam looked out the window, got a big smile on his face, and said, "Hey, it's snowing."

Both he and Kalian couldn't wait to get outside. And in the car this morning, he couldn't stop talking about it and asking questions. It was one of those pure moments of wonder that makes you see the world through your child's eyes.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Let it snow...

The moment I told Bay Area folks back in May that we were headed to Cambridge, the first reaction I usually got was something snarky about how cold it would be. I'll admit to being a bit, well, concerned about how I'd hold up and whether I'd be wimpering like a little puppy at the first freeze.

Well, the first snow is reportedly about to commence over night. But I can't complain. The weather thus far has been glorious. How wonderful? Consider this story from Friday's Boston Globe:

"Not long before Boston officials lit the city's Christmas tree in an annual seasonal rite, the area broke a 125-year-old record for the high temperature for the date yesterday when the mercury hit 69 degrees at 1:43 p.m."

Yowza! I've been out riding the bike, carting the kids around in the bike trailer, and basking in some sublime, "crisp", New England days. All that ends tonight, I fear. But it's lasted far long than I would have expected. So I'll refrain from whining about the cold. For awhile.