Sunday, April 26, 2015

WIWS: Last Weekend in April Edition

One of the first things I said when I woke up this morning was "So how about one of us go to the 11 o'clock Mass and one of us go to the 5:30 Mass?" because I just wasn't up for a week like last week.  Paul, also likely remembering last weeks antics and probably hoping to actually receive this week, agreed immediately.  

And so I took Sadie to the eleven o'clock Mass and it was just as peacefully wonderful as I imagined it would be.  

Now for the What I Wore Sunday portion of this post (for more head over to Fine Linen and Purple).  
Today I wore one of my favorite Thred Up dresses (it's always best to wear silk when nobody is going to be spitting up or wiping their faces on my dress), with a leather jacket that belonged to my grandmother, one of my eternity veils (there's a tutorial if you ever want to make your own), and some snow boots since we were walking to Mass and I didn't want to walk in heels, there an home.  


Here's the dress minus the jacket:


It was a little windy when Paul snapped the photos for this post:


Sadie actually wore one of my pink eternity veils all through Mass.  She wore it with a jacket that used to be mine and one of her favorite dresses:


While these three stayed home with Daddy:



Moments before I took this picture she leaned over and poked an actual bumble bee with her finger.
It didn't sting her.


For more WIWS head over to FLAP!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Why I was thrilled to hear her ask "Why?"


Maggie was not happy about having to put on clothes over her bathing suit when we headed out to OT yesterday... but with the 20-something degree temp with windchill it was a necessity (she was going to get to go swimming when she got there... now I know to hide the bathing suit in her bag until we get there).

She was furious about the putting on a jacket and pants... but there was an upside to the dressing difficulties.

She asked me "why?" three times while I was getting her dressed.  As in:

Me:  "Come on, we need to put these on before we can leave!"
Maggie: "Why?!?!?!?!"
Me:  "Because it's really cold outside."
Maggie:  "Why?"
Me:  Because it's freezing and I don't want you to get cold."
Maggie:  "Why?"

Okay, so I probably didn't do the best job directly answering the "why's" but 99.99% of my energy was going towards getting her to keep the pants and jacket on when she was pretty certain that was the worst idea ever.

Her therapist told me that she said "why" during therapy yesterday but at the time she wasn't entirely sure it was intentional (although it was appropriate).  It seems that it was!

In case your wondering why this seemed like such a big deal (so that yesterday I found myself telling everyone from the psychologist who diagnosed Mae who I ran into at the autism center, to her OT and Speech therapist and ABA therapist, because yesterday couldn't have been any busier if it tried... we walked over 11 miles going from appointment to appointment), it stood out in my mind because asking if the kids use question words comes up a lot in various appointments (I'm guessing because question words are abstract and can be more difficult to express) and for Mae the answer has always been no.

So I'll just be over here savoring every single little "why?" and hopefully doing a better job answering them when I'm not failing at convincing her that in order not to freeze jackets are actually good things.

And now for a little video I took a little before 7 am yesterday when we were waiting for OT to start:

video

Friday, April 24, 2015

Six Months

James had his six month well baby check yesterday.  He had jumped back onto the growth curve in weight from the 25th percentile back up above the 95th.  And his height had stayed above the 95th percentile.  And he was his super smiley self:


As we anticipated, this happened:


So he was referred to Early On for an eval since he appears to have a gross motor delay.

And now for some James giggles:

video


And now for the six month version of Name that Baby.


I cannot believe he's already this big.  Where did the last six months go?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Patch's Favorite Picture

Yesterday Patch kept trying to take my phone and so finally I opened it to Facebook and began showing him pictures of himself when he was tiny.  

He was fascinated with the fact that the baby he was seeing wasn't "Buddy" and after pointing several times and telling me that it was, he was delighted and would laugh each time I said "No, that's you!  That's Baby Patchy!"  

When we came to this picture he looked at it for a long time and was quiet:


Then finally his face lit up and he looked at me and said:  "I shaking!  I shaking!" in an excited voice.

If you have kids who love Team Umizoomi you may know what he was talking about.

Patch is a big Team Umizoomi fan and his favorite part of Team Umizoomi is the end when they play this song and he runs around saying "I shaking!  I shaking like crazy!" and doing a little Patchy Dance:



Apparently Patch thought he was "crazy shaking" when he was a teeny tiny newborn.

And that idea made him very, very happy.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Day in Our Homeschool: 2nd Grade Edition


Our school year is a little different (in terms of position on the calendar) from most school years.

For one thing we started Sadie's kindergarten year the week after her fifth birthday.  She was adamant that she needed to start school the moment she turned five and since I'd already purchased all the books we were going to use I gave in.

That first year ran from June to April and when we finished her last day of school I planned on having a break before first grade.  It quickly became clear, however, that that wasn't going to be a good idea for us.

With Mae working with a therapist across the room, the idea of having Sadie free to flutter around the downstairs quickly became a problem.  And after she asked me why Maggie "got to do school" for the fifth time the first Monday she had off, I was ready to pull out her new school books and get started.

First grade ran from April 2014 until April 2015, which brings us to last week.

A week ago we began second grade.  It wasn't a dramatic switch from the previous year.  Sadie had finished most of her first grade books at various points during the first grade year and so, for most subjects we've been doing second grade work for a while.

Last year I wrote a post on what a day in our homeschool looked like and what we do for each of our subjects.  Today's post gives a glimpse of what we're planning on using this year.

Reading and Spelling:

During kindergarten and at the start of first grade reading lessons were often a struggle.  That is until we identified a midline crossing problem and I realized that there was a dramatic difference in how Sadie's was able to sound out words depending on where the book was positioned on the table.

Since discovering that little piece of information Sadie's made steady progress in reading.  We've continued to use The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, but we supplement it with Explode the Code 3 (which finally arrived after being back ordered for months) and Beyond the Code Book 1: Comprehension and Reasoning Skills.

For spelling we use the Spelling Workout workbooks, and she's currently on Spelling Workout Level B .

We also use Bob Books for reading practice, along with various princess themed readers that she gets now and then as a treat.

Copy Work and Memory Work:

After her reading lesson Sadie copies a poem or quote in a notebook.  Then she recites the poem that we're currently working on three times, which helps her to memorize it quite quickly.

Math:

We just moved on to Singapore Primary Mathematics Level 2A.  Singapore Math has really clicked with Sadie.

And I have to admit that one of the things that I love about this program is that it perfectly matched out pace for the school year, so I wasn't searching for something to add and buying new books midyear because we didn't zip through and finish the math program in five months.

It was just the right balance of difficulty and lesson length each day.

History:

For history we use The Story of the World.  We're still on the first book both because we got side tracked and spent extra time on the lessons that we did, reading some of the longer suggested texts, and also because this year for us the focus was really heavily on reading and overcoming the mid-line challenge, knowing that in the future (like this year!) as reading gets easier we'll be able to spend more time on subjects like history and science.

I'm hoping that as we have more time to spend on history we'll be able to finish book one and book two this year.

Science:

Our science approach, at this young age, is pretty hands on with lots of field trips.  We've already visited the botanical gardens tree times in the last month (at Sadie's suggestion) and yesterday's walk involved her asking me more questions than I could answer about photosynthesis.  There's also a nearby kids' science museum that we go to and the zoo is another key piece of our science program these days.

There are so many different books that we use in both science and history that it would take paragraphs to name them all here, but since Sadie's interest at the moment is pretty heavily garden/plant based the book that I plan on using heavily this year is Green Thumbs: A Kid's Activity Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening (Kid's Guide).

Speech:

This is the one subject that I wish I wasn't teaching myself.  Sadie needs speech services, but since our insurance doesn't cover speech that should be covered by the school district, and our school district has told us "nope, we won't take her... here call this number" (which no one picks up or calls us back from) our speech situation is still in limbo.  I have registered us a homeschool, which according to the man at the Department of Education I talked to will legally require them to provide services, but I was also told that by the time everything went through they'd be rolling it over into next year (again).

So I took matters into my own hand and after some searching discovered this book.  It's a home study speech program and I'm hoping that between this book and the time I'm spending with Patch's and Mae's speech therapists getting help learning to help those two, we'll be able to make some progress while we wait for things to be ironed out with the various districts that handle these particular resources.

Religion: 

I am planning on purchasing the second grade set of Faith and Life books.  We finished the first grade set halfway through the school year.

We're also moving on to this Bible , which is the same one I had when I was little, after reading last years children's Bible through more times than I can count.

Other Subjects:

Our city offers quite a few really reasonable programs (think $10 for three months of classes) and we've taken advantage of them this last year.  During first grade she took homeschool art and acting classes (according to Paul the acting class was hysterical to watch), and I'm hoping they're offered again in the fall.

She's also currently gearing up for her first ballet recital and once a week she attends a karate class with Paul.  Twice a month we attend her AHG meetings at a local parish where they've done everything from dance classes to sewing to cake decorating.

At the moment cooking is probably the subject that she's most interested in and she begs for a "cooking lesson" just about any time I walk into the kitchen.  We finally made a deal that we will make one recipe a week from the book she picked out at the book store (Silvana's Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed) and I have to say that after she made the first recipe (thin mint cookies) I am really, really impressed.

 The best cookies ever.

We've also discovered that Sadie is a big fan of the Dover "How to Draw" books.  Especially this one.  She basically spent the entire week we had off from school pouring over various How to Draw books and drawing flowers and princesses and castles all week long.

That's this year's plan in a nut shell!  I'm excited to see what 2015-2016 has in store for us!


Sunday, April 19, 2015

On Barely Not Crying at Mass

Oh yeah... this was supposed to be a WIWS post!
This is what I wore.
For more WIWS head over to FLAP!
We left Mass early today.

I was done.  Paul had just whispered "so what do you want to do?" and I could tell that he didn't want to leave but I whispered back "leave right now" and somehow managed not to burst into tears.  

It had been a rough half hour and I didn't have it in me to make it for another forty minutes until the doors opened up and we all tumbled back out into the sunlight.  

Maggie's been going to therapy two days a week at her therapy center.  She loves it there.  

In the mornings she waits by the door, hoping she's going to go out to play in the colorful playroom with her new best friend.  

She has a best friend.  

And this is where it gets complicated.  

For all the ups and downs we've dealt with, Mae's never been violent.  But she has a new friend and apparently her friend has "behaviors."  And Maggie thinks these "behaviors" are hilariously funny.  

So she laughs before she runs up behind me and hits me and when I tell her no she hits me again and then hits herself, hard, still laughing (as if to show me "look Mom, don't say no!  It really is fun), trying to get me to take up this new game that is apparently very, very attractive to my sensory seeking girl who has a very high threshold for proprioceptive input (in other words her joints need lots of input and she tends to think that things like getting hit by a swing and thrown ten feet should make her laugh instead of cry).  

Ignoring it isn't working.  Sternly saying no isn't working.  In fact, nothing that usually works seems to be helping at all.  Do I pull her out of those two days at the center, taking away the one friend her own age that she has?  If I wait will these behaviors continue to increase and become second nature?  Will she be a good influence on her new friend?  If I pull her out will they stop?  

Now you're probably wondering how this relates to Mass.  Or maybe you aren't, but I'll tell you anyways as I get to the point of this post in a round about way.  

Mae was having a good day at Mass.  She was sitting next to me in her stroller quietly, cuddling her mermaid doll, occasionally reaching over to squeeze my hand.  

Another mom brought a cute little toddler out of Mass and set her down on the floor.  She toddled over and looked at Mae.   Mae loves babies and toddlers.  Her face glowed when she saw the little girl looking at her.  

"Girl!" She shouted and started to squeal.  

"Yes, she's a girl."  I whispered the words.  "We need to be quiet right now, remember.  We're in Mass."  

The words didn't get in.  The squealing turned into loud, loud laughter as the little girl came closer.  Paul, who'd had his hands full with Patch, came over to try to help.  I stepped between Mae and the little girl as she walked up and tried to stand by Mae's feet and I looked over at her mother who'd glanced over and was now looking forward, apparently having decided not to act.  

After ten minutes of trying to redirect Mae, of trying to keep the little girl away from her for her own safety (Mae loves babies... Mae also doesn't know her own strength so any interactions with very small people need to be seriously monitored and managed) and trying to hush Mae's excited giggles and squeals I'd been hit may thirty times and was done.  

The little girl toddled away and tried to touch someone's empty car seat and was immediately reprimanded.  

I kind of felt like tearing my hair out.  It was very obvious that her daughter trying to stand two inches from Mae was causing huge problems for our entire family, that Mae had been sitting quietly until her daughter came up and stood right in front of her for ten minutes and nothing was done, but touch someone's car seat and she snapped into action.  

And so when I got slapped one more time I was done.  I was frustrated and tearful and James was now awake because of the commotion and done.  The little girl was still toddling to and fro and would likely be over with us again within a few moments and I just couldn't stand there for a moment longer.  

We left before the homily ended.  "It was obvious, wasn't it?  That I was trying to keep them apart?  That she should have done something?" I said to Paul as we waited for the light to change so that we could walk home.

"It was obvious."  He agreed as we crossed the street and I complimented Sadie on how well behaved she'd been.  

Later at home I began to turn the attempt at attending Mass over in my head.  

And for some reason another memory kept butting in.  

I remembered a day at Pediatric Rehab when a boy came in for his first appointment.  He was maybe eight or nine years old.  He wasn't as small as Maggie and wasn't nearly as easy (if it can be called easy) to contain.  

It was clear that it was his first day there, because his mother and father were buried under a mountain of paperwork and were checking off boxes and filling in insurance numbers, but right away, I could sense their apprehension. 

Their son seemed to be on the spectrum and they were nervous, and he was nervous, and while they checked boxes they tried to contain his movements and any time a child tottered by to look at the fish tank I could feel their stress level climb from five seats away.  

Sadie, who seems to think of herself as the personal welcoming committee of the waiting room usually flutters around talking to everyone.  She colors on the chalkboard and points out fish, gets coloring pages for other kids and hands out crayons and talks and says things like "it was lovely talking with you today" when her OT comes to find her.  Sometimes the other kids talk back and sometimes they don't and it doesn't really phase her because she's used to talking to someone who doesn't really talk back.   

"Come here," I told her a few times that day as her bubbly friendliness began to turn in their direction, because even at the distance I could tell that she was too close for their comfort and I wished that there was a secret handshake or sign, or even words that wouldn't sound as terribly awkward as they sounded in my head to let them know that in a way I understood. 

So mostly I sat frozen, wishing I could say something or do something to ease the incredible feeling of tenseness and finally not saying anything at all.  

I have a daughter with autism and I didn't know what to do to help.  

And I wondered if maybe that's how the other mother felt today.

With her squeals and sounds it becomes more clear every month that Mae isn't a typically developing almost-five-year old.  

Maybe that other mother was worried if she hurried over and snatched her daughter away that we would be offended by the movement and be upset.  There are so many articles and posts about how moms with disabilities wish you would treat their kids and maybe her common sense told her to let her little girl play with this little girl who was a little bit different (and outside of Mass I would be all for that!).

Or maybe she was just oblivious and happy that her daughter was being quiet while she was standing by our family.

Either way, we survived (if you call leaving half way through surviving).  And tomorrow I'll be making a few phone calls so that hopefully we can begin addressing this new "behavior" which I will be praying is incredibly short lived... At least so far it seems to be limited to me.  I hope it stays that way.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Day of Princesses

A few weeks ago we were invited to a little event on the children's floor of the hospital.  Miss Michigan 2014 and five other contestants were going to be visiting the kids and there would be nail painting and cookies and coloring and crowns.  Both girls were invited by their OTs, but as the day approached I almost forgot about the whole thing.

Yesterday I saw the flier during Mae's session and called in our RSVP... and then I finally told the girls about our plans to go.  Sadie was thrilled.  She immediately began talking about getting dressed up to meet "princesses."  

This morning the enthusiasm spread to Patch (who loves getting dressed up and loves saying "hi" to every woman we walk past when we're out with the stroller) and he was waiting by the door until it was time to go.  

So we loaded up the stroller and were on our way:


We were some of the first to arrive.  Sadie got her nails painted by Miss Sunrise Side:


Patch was suddenly super shy.  But that didn't stop him from gravitating towards the bowl of beads.  This picture was snapped before he added another couple dozen necklaces to his ensemble.  Then I helped him return them to the bead bowl (he kept a few of his favorites).


Sadie was thrilled to meet Miss Michigan when she arrived.  They even practiced a few ballet movements together:



James ended up being a big Miss Michigan fan:



In fact, he was pretty thrilled by all the cuddles that he got by the end of the day:

He hardly ever lets anyone hold him like that these days!


And Patch stayed pretty shy right up until the end when he finally went and sat next to one of Miss South Central Michigan.  


Even Maggie, who spent most of the time racing around taking in all the sights and sounds, slowed down long enough to sit and color with Miss Michigan and Sadie.  



And finally it was time to head home.  All of the kids had a good time and all of the ladies were so good with all of the kids!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tummy Time and Developmental Delays

I have a love hate relationship with the ASQ.

Actually that's not totally true.

It's mostly a hate-hate relationship.

I mean, logically I get why it's important.

I get why the kids' pediatricians office has us fill them out.  I know that the checklist is useful in identifying developmental problems.

But that doesn't mean I look forward to it.  Checking "not yet" over and over again gets depressing really, really fast.

It's the opposite of the twice a year therapy evaluations where we look at how far Mae has come and all the things she can do and is working to do.  It can feel like a giant list of can'ts.

Still, when James' ASQ arrived for his six month well baby check I wasn't worried.

At least I wasn't worried until I found myself scrolling along on Facebook and started to notice that all the babies that were born after he was born here doing things that he isn't even near doing.

Then I went back to the mantle and found the envelope with that Ages and Stages Questionnaire in it and ripped it open and ran my finger down the list.  Yes, yes, yes, sometimes, yes.

Then I got to gross motor skills.  Yes.  Sometimes. Not yet. Not yet. Not yet.  Not yet.

He was already having quite a bit of tummy time but suddenly James found himself in baby boot camp.

What kid, you think ten tummy time sessions in one day is enough?  Push that little chest up off the ground or roll over and we'll talk about taking a break.

After two weeks of super extra tummy times I spoke with two of our OTs, beginning the conversations with the question: "If there were a six month old that got almost all "not yets" on the ASQ do you think the doctor would hold off and see how things go, or do you think they'll order testing right away?"

After answering a few more questions on what's going on, the general consensus is that physical therapy is very likely to be ordered right away.

Thankfully we already have quite a few supports in place, so today at a Early On activity I was able to ask even more questions and when Patch has his Early On appointment next week I'll ask about setting up an eval (James also has his pediatricians' appointment next week), because he's not rolling all the way over on his own, or pushing his chest up off the floor or putting any weight on his legs (they're seriously like jelly when I try to get him to stand).

He's social and friendly and smiley and happy.  He's just also kind of floppy (enough so that I've started to think of him as "Floppy Baby" instead of "Grumpy Baby.").

I'm not worried at this point.  If there's one thing I've learned in the last year and a half it's that early intervention can be huge and we're certainly catching on that there may be red flags early this time.

So now to gear up for another week of appointments and days of Super Tummy Time for the tiniest member of the family.