Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Early Bedtimes in our Home

We do early bedtimes in our house.  Like really early.

It isn't entirely voluntary on my part.

I was an Early Bird, waking up at five when I was a kid to lay with a flash light and read) and our kids seem to have inherited my love of being up when the sun is up and going to sleep when it goes to sleep.  Or earlier.

Maggie and Patch go to bed sometime between 5:30 and 6:30.

I've tried to keep them up later.  Maggie will curl up on the floor in the living room and fall asleep.  I will spend our entire visit to California trying to get her to stay awake beyond 3 pm if last year was any indication.

Last night I tried to keep Patrick up later so we could have quality time together while Sadie and Paul were at karate (Maggie had already crashed).

A little before 6:30 he went to the stairs and opened the baby gate (it wasn't closed because he doesn't go upstairs by himself and trudged up the stairs by himself).  I followed him up to see what he was doing and he went into the bathroom, grabbed his tooth brush, touched it to the end of the toothpaste and then walked over to his room and tried to climb over the baby gate to get into his bed.

I gave up and got him ready for bed and he was out before Paul and Sadie got home from their lesson.

Sadie stays up until 8 most nights, sometimes a little later, sometimes a little earlier.  But that means she has a solid two hours of time with me each night after the babies have gone to bed.

Over the years I've tried a few times to push back their bedtimes.  I wouldn't mind it if they stayed up later and slept past 6:30.

But one thing has happened each time we've done it.  They stay up later and wake up at the exact same time and were extremely cranky all day long.

So I take the early bedtime for our early risers.  And it works for us.

I'm not sure it could be replicated any more than I failed to replicate having kids who go to bed at eight (or later).

Although I wouldn't mind if a certain seven month old would fall in line with his brother and sisters and go to sleep a tiny bit earlier.  James seems pretty sure that we throw parties in the house every night after he goes to sleep and these days he's determined not to miss them.  Even if it means staying up late into the night!









Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

I wasn't sure exactly what we were going to do today but I suggested we go on a walk as a family and our walk ended at a local cemetery, where we talked a bit with the kids about what Memorial Day is and why there were so many little flags dotting the hills that we were walking up and down.


Sadie, of course, was especially fond of this particular headstone that belonged to a soldier who fought in the Civil War (although this wasn't the section for the soldiers killed in battle), since he shared the name of our first baby boy.


This one, which was so tiny and plain also caught my eye:


Our path took us past some of the larger memorials:


And I had to snap a picture of the R.E. Olds' mausoleum:


We stopped to look at the plaques on a Army Medal of Valor winner:


And read the story on the side, especially noting that he'd written a paper suggesting that typhoid was caused my contaminated water:


Then we trudged up a steep hill (at least steep for Paul who was pushing the triple stroller), stopping by a section for firefighters:


I wondered at the story behind this headstone:


And finally we made it to the top of the hill:


Sadie surprised me, as she gazed around and said "They sacrificed so much... so very much."




And then it was time to walk home where we had lunch and Patch insisted on wearing his snow boots with his bathing suit (in the pool):


I hope you had a blessed Memorial Day and thank you to all those who've lost love ones fighting for our nation and for all the sacrifices you have made.

Floods, Mice and Finally Getting the Basement in Working Order

The last few days have been a jumble of busyness.  

I'm finally getting the basement back under control for the first time in two years. 

For those of you who haven't been around that long, the basement was one of my favorite parts of the house when we moved in and a little over two years ago I had it perfectly organized.  Then heavy spring rains caused a creek to run through it from one side to the other.  I hurriedly moved everything into the laundry room... and a short while later the sewer backed up, flooding that room too.  

I cleaned and started to regroup.  It was almost done when it happened a second time (first floods and then sewer).  I bleached the floors and disinfected. 

Then there was the ice storm and an army of mice invaded our house and every time I touched a box to move it a mouse jumped out and I was kind of done with the basement.  Or maybe that came before the second flooding.  

It's kind of a jumble of mice and water everywhere in my mind.

Kittyfish moved in and took care of the mice.  I haven't seen a mouse that's alive in our home in ages.  
But I'll admit I was still kind of hesitant to actually touch any of the boxes down in the basement.  Jumping mice will do that to a person I guess.  And around that time we found out I was pregnant with James and then we had a tiny baby and that pretty much brings us to the present.  

In the past two weeks I put on gloves and went down there and found it wasn't actually all that bad.  I've washed things and donated bags of stuff (bags and bags and bags) and thrown out mountains of things nobody needs, all with Kitty prowling around hoping a mouse will dare show its face (no mice... but I have seen five centipedes...).  

And the basement is finally started to become a pleasant place to be again.  

Kitty isn't thrilled with my work.  I think he liked the box jungle.

And the best part of all of this (or one of the best parts) is that this year I caught the sewer backing up when it was still a foot below the floor, before it flooded anything.  And that pretty much had me bouncing around the house for a week thrilled that I'd noticed it before it caused any damage.  

Now to finish up my spring cleaning just as summer arrives!  
James is not impressed with my work these past few weeks.

Friday, May 22, 2015

7 Quick Takes: Awesome Updates Edition



-1-

Mae walked up to me yesterday morning holding a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  She paused and looked at me very seriously making sure she had my attention before taking me hand, touching my index finger to her sandwich and saying "I have... sandwich."  


-2-

I almost thought I imagined it (I had never, ever heard her say "I have" before).  A pronoun, a verb and a noun were all there and while we may have been missing an article I was still pretty thrilled.  

About an hour into her ABA therapy session her therapist excitedly told me that she was speaking a lot and that she was speaking in sentences.

Just like that. 

Of course it really isn't just like that.  It's after thousands of hours of therapy and work on Mae's part that just like that she's "suddenly" starting to strings those words together into sentences shortly before her fifth birthday... but all that hard work somehow makes it even more amazing.  



-3-

This afternoon her OT came out and told me they'd had an awesome session (which is really good because Thursdays are hard since the office is so busy in the afternoons and it tends to overwhelm her, which is another way of saying she gets really wild and just wants to play).  She said that Maggie spoke pretty much the whole time and that she spent a good portion of therapy singing Happy Birthday.  

So the sentences are carrying over into her other therapies and to a small extent into everyday life.  



-4-

Did I mention that I cut her hair?

I did.  It was of spur of the moment.  I washed it in the sink, because we're going through a terrific fear of washing our hair in the bathtub phase (and I'd rather avoid a general fear of the bath tub) and then brushed it out and decided that it was time for a trim.

I managed to cut it in about six quick snips hoping that it would be somewhat even.

Let's just call it layered.

And if there's one thing I can be confident in it's that all of Mae's therapists will tell me they thought it was professionally done rather than asking me if she got a hold of the scissors herself, because they're awesome like that.



-5-

On Wednesday there was a knock at the door in the afternoon and I peeked out the window to see a therapist standing there.  I hurriedly welcomed her in and announced to Patch that it was time for therapy.
It took me a few minutes to realize why the Physical Therapist was looking at me strangely when I said those words, and I quickly grabbed James up off his blanket where he was napping to try to convince him that it was time to do a little work.  It was his therapy session I'd forgotten about, not Patch's.  

I'm pretty sure that even with my super calendar and promise to myself to be vigilant about keeping track of all the appointments, I begin to lose track sometime after we hit the three dozen mark and as we approach four dozen appointments in a month things start slipping through the cracks.  

At least we haven't actually missed anything.  I've only forgotten about people coming to our house.  It's a good thing most of the sessions are in home.  



-6-

James was not on board with PT at all.  He screamed almost the entire time.

So his therapist went over his plan for the summer with me and showed me exercises to do with him.  
He rolls over a lot some days and then seems to totally forget how to roll on other days, but he's still only pushing up to his arm pits and his core muscles are still super floppy (despite mastering looking like a baby airplane).

On of his exercises is to sit on an exercise ball while I move it slightly from side to side.  

Last night he was a great sport about the ball for about five minutes.  When he started to get tired and fussy I tried to take him off of it and he hollered like I'd taken his favorite toy away and then hollered when I put him back on it to see if he wanted to do a few more rounds of balancing.  Apparently he already has a love hate relationship with the exercise ball.



-7-

And in other news Patchy somehow got passed all the restrictions I put on Amazon to keep him from buying more episodes of Bubble Guppies and Team Umizoomi and bought another Bubble Guppies collection. 

So I guess someone is just going to have to be cut off from playing with the Kindle Fire until they stop charging things on Mommy's account.  At least he's finally fully recovered from whatever virus it was, so I won't need to use it to distract him from how uncomfortable he was any longer.  

I have no idea how he does it.  I just know that he is quick and apparently better with electronics than his mom.



For more 7 Quick Takes head over to This Ain't the Lyceum.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Photos are Here

The pictures that we had taken at our parish for the directory arrived (if you're on Facebook you may have already seen them) and really, they came out better than I possibly could have hoped for.  No one is crying.  Everyone is looking at the camera.  

The photographer said that it took all of his skill to snap this one and it truly did.  Paul pointed out that Patch looks remarkably happy for a child who was screaming hysterically approximately three seconds before this picture was taken.  

He would holler to get down and then the photographer would lift up a bear puppet and he would laugh hysterically.  

James, however, did not trust the puppet and was incredibly serious in every single picture.  He doesn't quite have his Grumpy Baby face on, but it's close.  He was pretty sure that the bear was actually eating Daddy's nose and he was not amused.  

Maggie wanted to get as close to me as she possibly could and decided she absolutely needed to be resting her head on my shoulder, which I love.  

I also love that Sadie lost her first top tooth shortly before these were taken!  

And so here's the first professionally taken family photo we've ever had:  

A picture of a picture
Maybe we'll have to try this again some time before too many years go by!  It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Biggest Words

She also loves these two
toy centipedes and made me look up
the names of centipede parts yesterday
because apparently "leg" and "head" weren't
scientific enough for her.
Maggie has started crying when Paul leaves for work.

Two days ago he walked out the back door and she burst into tears standing in the kitchen doorway.  It took me a few minutes to realize that I could make out what she was saying:

"Goobyiluvooogoobyiluvooogoodbyiluvooo" between sobbing breaths became "Goodbye.  I love you.  Goodbye.  I love you.  Goodbye.  I love you." as she managed to slow her words down a bit.

I turned from where I was trying to get James to sleep and said "Baby he just went to work. He's coming back.  He'll be home after work.  He always comes home."

It took about three seconds for the words to sink in.  She stopped crying almost instantly.  Then a little smile spread across her face before she went back to playing.

"Goodbye.  I love you."

She tells James she loves him several times over almost every day.  It's good to James.

And it's so sweet to hear those words that we once wondered if she would ever say.

"Happy."  Is my other favorite.  Sometimes she runs up to me, smiles and says "Happy.  Happy!" in her sweet little sing song voice before going back to playing.  

Happiness and love.

What more could I ask for!

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Pea Covered Baby and His Doting Big Sister

Around a month ago I was sitting holding James when he spit up a tiny bit.  It was so small, and his back was facing me, so I didn't even notice.

Mae was across the room playing and she looked up, saw the tiny bit of spit up on his chin and raced across the room to us.  I had no idea what had happened until she grabbed my shirt and carefully used it to clean off his face, before giving me a look that clearly said "Wow Mom, that shirt's pretty gross, you should probably change."

So I shouldn't have been surprised yesterday when I had Paul hold James so that I could give him a little food (he is unquestionably not like Patch and loves eating already).  His trunk is still really floppy, so even with Paul holding him he was starting to slip down after a few seconds, so feeding him on my own is almost impossible... but he enjoys it and grabs for food when I'm eating it and so even though he isn't sitting up I'm giving it a go.

Within a few minutes of beginning to eat his little face was covered with peas.



He'd been eating for a little while before Maggie glanced over and saw that her "Baby 'Ames" had something on his face.

She headed straight for the table with a purposeful stride and grabbed a container of wipes, carefully opened it, walked over to James and started scrubbing his face, arms and hands.

Once he was spotless she stepped back to let me give him another bite and then, when she saw a tiny bit of peas dribbling off his lip grabbed another wipe (with a hint of exasperation) and cleaned his face a second time.

My guess is that one of the first fine motor skills that James masters will be learning how to get food neatly into his mouth, so that he can have a little less help from his dotting big sister.




Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Unstoppable Patch and His Team Umizoomi Obsession

Our house has been hit hard with some sort of virus.  The girls had it for the last couple weeks and then Patch came down with a fever four days ago.  Last to fall James who was burning up last night.  Sometime in the middle of the night Patch woke up sobbing and so I ended up cuddled between our two little guys waiting for fevers to break.

When I see this picture I think "how on Earth was James in the 25th percentile at his weigh in at 4 months.
Look at the chub.  I'm pretty sure his little waist is way, way bigger than his brother's.  In fact,
he probably almost weighs the same as Patch now.  At the very least he's gaining on him.
Patch had been so miserable and sick that I've been letting him have extra time on the Kindle.  When he went to bed he took it with him so that he could watch Bubble Guppies and Team Umizoomi to his heart's content.

Long after he went to bed I checked my email and saw two notifications from Amazon.

Now perhaps I should preface this by saying that a few hours earlier I'd been patting myself on the back over the fact that it seemed that Patch was finally locked out of buying new Team Umizoomi movies on my account.

I'd long since disabled One Click, and made sure that no passwords were remembered anywhere. I'd even talked to a representative about it on the phone and she congratulated me on figuring it out after he bought a season of Paw Pals (which he's never seen...).

After that it was a while before he got his little mitts on the Kindle again... but he was so sad and tearful I would have done just about anything to cheer him up and handing over the Kindle so cheers him up.

Hours after he went to bed I found two emails saying that he'd bought Team Umizoomi: Meet Shark Car (oh that is so, so Patch) and an episode from season 3.  I was able to quickly refund the single episode, but when I went to try to do the same with the Meet Shark Car I found that he had apparently already watched most of it.

This morning when he woke up and had taken ibuprofen and was feeling well enough to cheer up a bit I looked at him and said "Patch, what happened last night with Team Umizoomi?"

He looked at me and said in his sweetest voice (with a guilty little smile on his face):  "Oopsie!"

Later in the day he continued his explanation by telling me:  "Zoomi!  Uh oh!  Oh no!"


I did figure out where I'd made my mistake (you can turn off One Click, but you have to turn it back on to turn off One Click on all devices) and he is now completely locked out of purchasing new episodes of his favorite shows.

I think.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Great Casein Debacle of '15

I've been muddling through a tough couple of months.  Maggie is usually such a happy kid, and she's made some major accomplishments in the last few weeks, but she also hasn't quite been herself.

She's been less attentive and more in her own world, more prone to meltdowns (going from maybe one a week to three a day) and more likely to lash out at me or collapse on the ground, banging her head hard against the floor as she falls.  She sleeps more, and needs 13 hours a day, but sleeps less well and has seemed exhausted much of the time in the morning.

Worst of all my usually cuddly girl has hardly wanted to cuddle at all.

For two months I've wracked my mind trying to figure out what had changed, praying that this unhappiness wasn't the new normal and feeling like, for every gain we had a dozen days that were extremely hard.  And I'd watch and watch and try to figure out if she'd had gluten or casein because all these problems have popped up in the past when she's had even a tiny bit of cross contamination.

Yesterday I was speaking with a new(ish) therapist who's been with her for a couple months.

Now in the interest of total disclosure in this post I should probably mention that I had noted that many of these problems seemed to begin at roughly the same time as the introduction of a new therapy... but I'd been with her in the sessions before Paul started his new job and now I wait with the other kids in a room next to the room she's working in, where I can hear her happy voice but can't see what's actually going on.

I won't specifically name the therapy here, but let's just say it's a very mainstream therapy that tons of kids get, on the spectrum and off, that she'd be getting in school if she was in school, and it's one we fought long and hard for that she seriously needs.  So it felt insane to be actually considering pulling her out of a therapy that I'd fought for her to get into for over a year.  It had to be something else, I kept telling myself.

Yesterday after her session her therapist and I were talking about tools she was going to give me to work with Mae on while we're away this summer.  She told me that Mae really likes applesauce (which I'd okayed), marshmallows (which I'd okayed), and... M & M's.

I'm pretty sure time slowed down at the mention of M & M's.  I listened as she continued to talk and took a deep breath and managed to force my voice to sound steady and pleasant when I said:  "Oh, about the M & M's.  Make sure not to ever give her those again.  She can't have casein."

Now this is in her files and charts and is told to every therapist who works with her (which is why we discussed the other foods at an earlier date).  She wears a bracelet that proclaims that she cannot have wheat or dairy.  And it's also pretty standard for a lot of the kids getting therapy around here.

She replied that it was only "a little bit" and I nodded and didn't have a meltdown of my own right there in the center.  I won't go into how much self control that required, but let's just say it was not a little.

On the one hand I'm now hopeful that in a couple weeks we'll see some major improvements in how she's feeling, sleeping and just in her general happiness.

In the past it's taken about 2 weeks for her health to improve after she's had gluten and casein (in the last two years this has happened about a half dozen times and every time the behaviors have started it's later been discovered that she's been exposed to something she shouldn't be... once it was playing with play dough...).

So we'll be muscling through the coming days and focusing on that light at the end of the tunnel.

This morning we went to the local Autism Acceptance 5K.  We didn't end up walking far, because Patch was having a tough day, but Mae is still proudly wearing her shirt and a medal that one of the young men working at the race gave the kids.  And she ran up and down the pathway singing "run, run, run, run!"

Hopefully today's the first day on her road to feeling better again, and it got off to a good start.  And hopefully this is the last time we have this problem... at least for a very long while.

Friday, May 15, 2015

7 Quick Takes Friday: In Which My Quick Takes are Actually Quick for Once

-1-

One of Maggie's therapists told me that on Tuesday she has said "M-A-G-G-I-E... Maggie!"  

She can identify the words Maggie, Mommy and Sadie, but she's been a little frustrated that when she tries to write the letters they don't look very much like her therapists' letters.  

Today at OT she got a chance to write on the mirror with special mirror markers.  One of the first things she did was say and write "M" several times.  

Then she said repeatedly spelled out her name rather proudly.  The g's were like one long curly cue and while it's not quite legible, 

I loved that she carefully wrote each attempt at a letter as she said it out loud.

-2-

The other exciting moment came when she took the marker and drew a circle.  As she continued to draw she said "Eye, eye, ear, ear, nose, smile.  Girl!"  We noticed that as she drew the first figure she looked at her mermaid.  When she drew her second she kept glancing over at the OT intern that started working with her this week.  Then she turned and looked behind her at me as she drew one of her mermaids.  

Here was her master piece:


-3-

Speaking of OT, I did something a little crazy and agreed to bring all four kids (with Paul and one of our OTs) on the upcoming Children's Miracle Network Telethon in our city.  

Every time I think of what it's likely to be like the phrase "herding cats" come to mind.  

So if you want to see the general chaos that is all four of my children in one space at one time you can (if you get WILX... I'm not sure if there's a way to watch on the website... and hopefully they don't do anything worthy of going viral...)"

-4-

Upon closer examination I'm pretty sure that Maggie drew James (who she refers to as "Mermaid Baby" 90% of the time and "Ames" the other 10%) sitting in my lap:


Either that or she's letting me know in stick figure form that I haven't quite lost the baby weight.

-5-

Sadie's gearing up for her big dance recital.  She knows the entire dance by heart and can hardly wait to wear her costume on stage for the first time!  


-6-

Patch's self made goal for the week has been to teach himself how to roller skate.  

It has involved quite a few spills and tears, but he's getting the hang of it. He really wants to keep up with his big sisters:

-7-

This picture was snapped when three out of four children were asleep and Sadie and I were enjoying the quiet!    


For more Quick Takes head over and visit Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum!