Friday, September 19, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday: Baby Hats, Therapy Sessions, Mermaids and a Toddler Who's Trying to Take Off in the Van

Sadie's on her third baby hat of the week.

I asked her if maybe, just maybe, I could keep her first one for James but she was pretty adamant that all of the hats that she's made so far are for babies in foster care.

She did take the time today to pick out some blue yarn to make a hat for her newest brother to wear next month though, so I guess he's not totally out of luck.

My computer's hard drive is broken and so I've been borrowing Paul's computer while mine is awaiting repairs from HP (thankfully it's still under warranty).  In the meantime I've been keeping busy with sewing and more chaplets.  These aren't up in the store yet, but I'll be working on photographing them in the next week.

Sadie picked out the beads and they ended up being some of my favorites:

Patch is working hard at being Mae's understudy in getting into just about everything.  She's absolutely his roll model.  He can climb up to get things off of the mantle now (which is just under five feet tall) and when he realizes he's been caught doing something he should be doing he shouts "Maggie!  Maggie!  Maggie!" over and over again.

They really are two peas in a pod.

Do you remember how Mae used to insist on wearing her red super girl boots around the clock?

She wore through two pairs and they were constantly on her feet.

These days there are several pairs of shoes that she'll wear, but I've noticed a trend developing.  She is all about matching.  If she's wearing an outfit that has a ballerina on it (or is a tutu) than they have to be her ballet slippers or her Dora ballet crocs.  

The greatest challenge in the "do these match" saga however, is when she's decided that she's a mermaid.  Can you see where I'm going with this?

You see, mermaids don't wear shoes.  And suggesting that our little mermaid wear shoes when we leave the house is pretty much the worst idea ever... unless they're roller skates... in which case a costume change might be upcoming... because mermaids don't roller skate either.  

When asked her name earlier this week Mae responded by saying "mermaid."

After being asked a second time she did say "Maggie!"

She is definitely still all about mermaids.

In somewhat related news, today I take Mae back to the university for therapy after her regular session.

I was excited a couple of weeks ago to get a call from one of the people who runs the autism lab in the psych department there, asking if they could borrow Maggie to train the new grad students who are starting the program, in exchange for free therapy (during the training sessions).  Basically Mae would get to go in and play while they learned from interacting with her.  Since I absolutely love the program that they're developing and because Mae has had a blast every time she's been there I was quick to say yes!  I know she's going to be so excited when she sees where we're going!

This morning the entire house got to hear Patch yelling Maggie's name at the top of his lungs because when he got into the living room she was still upstairs asleep in her room.

He didn't have to wait long for her to join him though.  About ten seconds later she was awake too...

When Patch thinks it's time for us to leave the house he runs over to me, holds up his little hand and says "hand!  Hand!"  If we are actually leaving and I take his hand and open the door he then pulls his little hand away and walks next to me giggling and insisting that he doesn't need to hold my hand.  While I watch for cars he'll sprint around to the door that all the kids get into the car through and will climb in as quickly as he can and attempt to evade Paul to get into the driver's seat where he'll try to put a seat belt on before pretending that he's driving.

Yesterday Sadie yelled from the back seat "Press the go button Patchy!  Press the go button!" and he started pressing every button he could reach in an attempt to get the car going before Paul had buckled Mae in and could put him in his seat too.

I guess our big boy thinks he's old enough to take the mini van out for a spin...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Our Rocky Paths through Introducing Solids and What I Think I've Learned

The fussiest.
With the arrival of the new baby around the corner I've had all things baby on my mind lately.  And one topic that's been on my mind in particularly is the experience that we've had with each of our babies when it came time to start introducing solids.

Our strategy for solids has slowly changed over time.  More than anything I'm curious at this point to see what will work for us this time around because so far each baby-starting-solids experience has been vastly different from the one before it.

I'll start at the beginning with Sadie.

Sadie was a baby with tummy troubles from the start.  With 20/20 hind site I'm fairly certain that she had food allergies from the very beginning... but I'd never had a baby before and had no idea that what she was experiencing might not be normal.  I mentioned to the doctor that she spit up dozens of times a day, that she was miserable if we put her down, that her skin was dry and itchy even if we put lotion on her over and over again throughout the day and he sort of waved it all off as typical baby stuff, because she was huge and her weight steadily kept her in the 95th percentile throughout her first two years.

Still, she acted like she was starving constantly.  Anything she spit up on was ruined forever and ever (something that hasn't happened with our two non-refluxy babies...).  She nursed 10 times more than her brother and sister would when they came along, but she was never full (probably because of all the spitting up).  When she was about four months old she started to try to grab food off the table and shove it into her mouth.  I could only assume that at over 20lbs she was starving and thought that my milk just wasn't enough.

I talked to the doctor and he suggested we start rice cereal at four months.  We did and then added in veggies, carefully adding in one a week to identify any allergies once she hit the six month mark.

The food didn't really change anything though.  She was still fussy with super dry skin and woke hourly (that isn't an exaggeration) to nurse for the first eighteen months of her life.

It was exhausting.  When people ask me if having three has been harder than one I always shake my head no.  Nothing has ever been harder than the first exhausting, sleep deprived year and a half of parenthood.

Then Maggie came along.  Sadie had just started mostly sleeping through the night.

Maggie was an entirely different baby.  In the hospital she slept four hour stretches from the day she was born.  I found myself fretting to the on call pediatrician that something was wrong because she slept so much and wasn't disturbed by anything.  I do wonder now if this had to do with her low sensory registration, but that's really a topic for another post.  

Maggie followed in her sister's footsteps in being in the 95th percentile from the start.  She didn't have reflux or any signs of allergies.  She slept and nursed like a champ.

When she was six months old she showed that she was interested in food and we started with rice cereal, quickly adding in pureed veggies and then fruit like we'd done with Sadie.  Everything went smoothly.  She loved food and could spend two hours slowly eating bowl after bowl of whatever we were having for dinner.

When Patch arrived I figured that we would just do what we had always done.  We'd try to make it to the six month mark before we started solids.

But early on Patch went from a quiet happy baby who slept well, to a screaming reflux-y baby with rashes over his face and body.  This time I didn't think "dry skin" and excuse the reflux as just being part of being a baby (especially now that I knew what reflux looked like and realized that was what Sadie very likely had).  Something was wrong. I just knew it.

At that point I had more experience as a mom and had learned to trust my gut.  And so I pushed and pushed and ignored the doctors who rolled their eyes at me and said "you're a first time mom, aren't you?" when I insisted that something was not right.  Finally I had a referral to an allergist who didn't think that I was insane and who very quickly announced that Patch was in fact allergic to all things dairy and who gave me a plan of attack for dealing with the allergy.

Within days we had our happy baby back.

Six months of age rolled around and Patch didn't want anything to do with baby food.  I tried to spoon it into his mouth but he was adamant that it was disgusting.  "Baby's gag" people told me.  "It's natural."  But it didn't feel natural spooning food into a mouth of a baby that clearly didn't want anything to do with it.

Around this time I began to learn about baby led weaning and since forcing Patch to eat food that he didn't want to eat as he attempted to throw things off the table and lock his little mouth shut to avoid the spoon didn't seem all that appealing to me, we decided to give it a try.

He'd sit at the table with us during meals, happily babbling away, and I would put little pieces of soft food (that came from whatever we were eating) on his tray, trying everything from avocado to sweet potatoes, and would watch eagerly to see if he would try them.  I wasn't worried about allergies at that point because he'd been extensively tested and we already knew what he was allergic to.

Without fail he would immediately throw every single scrap of food on the floor.

Time passed.  At around the twelve month mark I started to worry a little.  The PA at the clinic I go to shook her head and lectured me on having a kid that would "nurse til he was ten," but Patch's pediatrician didn't seem worried at all.

So we kept offering him food and he kept refusing and I began to wonder if he would ever eat solids. And then one day he did.  He was a tall, lanky thirteen months old, who had been exclusively nursed his entire life, when he suddenly decided that food was the best thing he'd ever tasted and began eating everything we put in front of him.  He was suddenly voracious.  He was always up for seconds.

And now as an almost two year old, he still eats just about whatever you put in front of him and let's us know when he wants more.

As we go into this the fourth time around I have a new strategy.  I'm going to watch this baby and see what works for him.  I don't plan on going the rice cereal/pureed route this time, but if baby #4 is interested in food when he's six months old I'll start offering little soft, mushy pieces of whatever we're having and see how he does.  And if this baby acts like he's starving at six months and is all about purees, we'll reevaluate.

And of course this time I'll be on the lookout for allergies from the start.  We're batting 0 in the allergy free department these days and when I asked Patch's allergist what the chances were that this baby wouldn't have allergies he laughed and pointed out how well we've managed the allergies that we have.  At least we already have an allergist's number programed into my phone (fun fact: the other day I counted the numbers in my phone and realized that of around 54 numbers, something like 27 belonged to doctors and therapists... which likely explains the hectic state of my schedule, which now involves a day where I say something to Paul each month like: "okay, it looks like we have 26 therapy sessions and 8 doctors appointments this month... just so you know going in..." with weekly updates each Sunday to let him know how many appointments have changed or been added in).

Overall, I think the main rule I've learned, as with co-sleeping and crib sleeping and so many other parenting topics that can be contentious, is to be flexible and open to rolling with the punches when this little guy arrives, because holding fast to a decision that I made before I meet the newest member of our little family face to face can at times do more harm than good!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sadie's First Knit Hat

I'm very proud of Sadie's very first attempt at (loom) knitting a hat.  She's on a hat making quest and pretty much asks if she can knit every hour or so.  Yesterday she finished her first hat, which is part of a service project that her AHG troop is doing this year and will be going to a baby in foster care.

Last night when I left for the baptism prep class she was sitting on the couch in her pjs, busy working on her second hat.  The first one I helped set up on the loom and helped tie off.  The second one she set up herself and was off and going before I could put on boots and get out the door.

I have a feeling that her latest passion is going to put a major dent in my yarn stash (and I'm actually pretty excited about that because I have way too much yarn!).  And so, here's a picture of her very first hat! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Hiccups and Headbutts

Will Sadie lose her record as biggest baby?
Here's my totally boring "am-I-in-labor...yes?  no?  maybe?" update that's pretty much stream of consciousness as I bump-watch (navel gaze?) and count down the weeks until we meet this not-so-little-guy.

The not-so-tiny person who's head is squarely wedged directly under my ribs has the hiccups right now.  I'm fairly certain he has the most rapid fire hiccups of any of my children so far, averaging a hiccup every five seconds or so.  I don't know how anyone can hiccup so quickly.

Tonight I attended the required baptismal prep class at our parish.  It's the first one I've ever had to take (baptism #5 and I finally didn't manage to avoid it).  The baby and I argued the entire time.

The argument went something like this.  He would head butt my stomach/lungs and then I would try to lightly press down on the area next to my ribs to maybe encourage him to find a slightly more comfortable spot and he would deliver a good hard kick to my hip to let me know that encouraging him to move was not an acceptable suggestion.

I can never decide if I prefer the baby to be breach of transverse.  Patch spent almost the whole third trimester transverse, with  short periods spent flipped breach.

Will Mae be bumped from 2nd to 3rd place?
I'm pretty sure I complained every 30 seconds about being kicked repeatedly in the side.

This baby is spending some time transverse but usually prefers to try to fit his head under my ribs.  And all I can think about is how much I would like this baby to not be under/inside my rib cage for ten seconds.

I think the truth is probably that there isn't a comfortable position towards the end of the third trimester, but I always live in denial that there actually is and that if the baby could just find it life would be perfect (or at least much, much more comfortable).

Also, it would help if the baby wasn't 25 lbs (okay, so that's probably an exaggeration... but if we're going by what he feels like.... 25 lbs it is).  Maybe I should find the website I used last time so that people can guess weight.  What will it be this time?  Will Paul finally get his over 10 lb baby (I'm secretly convinced that that's what he's hoping for)?

If I had to make one guess it would be
that I do think Patch will remain
our littlest baby so far as long as
this little guy stays put!
Right now the main problem I'm having with all of this moving/head butting/ kicking is that each little move causes a wow-am-I-in-labor? contraction, so that I spent a fair portion of our day fairly certain we were going to be headed to labor and delivery tonight.

Thankfully I think it's just a matter of more irritable uterus contractions that hopefully aren't doing anything that will send us to L&D before October.

I actually do think we're going to make it to October.  I think I tend to forget how much I tend to feel like I'm in labor before actually being in labor.

Of course I also will probably think "this is it" about 50 times before than if this little guy keeps this up!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Crossing the Midline: The Day that Drastically Changed our Reading Lessons

I'm sitting next to Sadie right now and I've spent the last fifteen minutes watching her work through a reading lesson on her own.  She's reading brand new words phonetically (and easily) and I have to say that in this moment I've never been more grateful for that little paper that told me a few weeks ago that she was scoring in the definite problem range on vestibular disfunction, because if that hadn't happened we very might still be struggling word by word, while she grew increasingly frustrated.

At the time I wondered if she just wan't ready to read.  We put away learning to read last year, because she was so frustrated and I let her do math to her heart's content.  I'd read that some children don't read until they're a little older and that forcing it before she was ready would just result in tears, so I decided to try it again after a few months had passed.

This year she seemed slightly more ready to try reading, but it was still obviously her least favorite part of our school day.

Then the vestibular disfunction results came back.  Vestibular disfunction affects her balance and inner ear.  It affects the way her body registers movement.

After mentioning the results of the test in a Facebook group I'm in, another mom who's kids struggle with vestibular issues mentioned that vestibular dysfunction can affect reading because kids who have vestibular dysfunction often have a hard time crossing their midline and this includes crossing their midline for reading.

I've become familiar with problems crossing the midline with Mae in the last year, but I'd never thought of how it might be an issue as she got older.  Mae doesn't like to reach across her body.  If something is on her right side she'll grab it with her right hand.  If it's on her left side she'll grab it with her left hand.  And if you ask her to grab something on her left side with her right hand she's likely to launch her body sideways to try to avoid reaching across her body to do it (although we have seen definite improvements in this area).

I thought back to the day's lesson with Sadie.  Her lesson started on the right page of her book.  She had read it easily.  Then she turned her page to do the second half of the lesson without moving the book.  The page was slightly off to her left.  And reading turned into a nightmare.  She was suddenly tearful and frustrated.  At the time I thought the lesson had just gotten more difficult as she went along.  But suddenly I wondered.

That night I watched her read on a Kindle.  She easily read every word in front of her... and the words were much harder than the words in her daily lesson.

The next day I made sure the book was right in front of her.  She easily read the lesson.  We turned the page and I slid the book over.  The  words continued to come easily.

It's such a little thing that makes a huge difference.  I'm still watching her read to herself right now.  She's easily spent 20 minutes reading, instead of breaking into tears after 5 minutes.  Her confidence is growing.  She isn't dreading reading any longer.

Many people wonder why a diagnosis can be important, why I didn't let Sadie just muscle through her reading difficulties and figure it out on her own.  She's a bright kid.  Eventually she might have figured it out on her own.

The answer  for me is that by removing this tiny barrier, by moving her book an inch to the side, I've taken a child who was growing to dread reading, who was as likely to burst into tears at the suggestion of reading a book herself, into a kid that's excited to crack open her reading book.  And that was made possible by listening to the little voice that said something wasn't quite right and looking for answers and solutions to to help her overcome the challenges she was facing.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Another Pregnancy Update and the dangers of couch jumping...

Laying down inevitably results
in a scene that looks something like this...
running towards me full speed.
I've been trying to think of a way to write this post without sounding to whiny... and anyone who wants to skip words like "twisted pelvis" and "irritable uterus" can feel free to skip this particular "what's up with the pregnancy" post, but if you're brave or curious (or bored) feel free to continue on.

A couple of days ago during a particularly contraction-y afternoon I tried to lay down on the couch.  The biggest problem with this plan was that my laying down pretty much gave the signal for the two littlest members of our family to sprint across the living room and begin climbing all over the irresistible Mommy Jungle Gym that they'd just discovered.  Patch seemed to think it was particularly exciting to run from about ten feet away and bounce into my stomach, which would instantly cause a contraction (because with an "irritable uterus," which is possibly the most appropriate term I've ever heard, everything causes a contraction).

So my attention was on the littlest trouble maker of the bunch at the moment when his very excited older sister started jumping on the couch behind me and happened to land with both knees planted directly into the center of my back.

Okay, so here's a fun fact for most of you who don't know me in real life.  In college I paid for my affinity for full contact sports with a ruptured L5-S1.  It wasn't a fun time.  It was pretty painful for a solid three years, with four epidurals, tons of physical therapy, and an ordered surgery refused by my insurance that ultimately led to the loss of that same insurance because I hadn't had the surgery that they had refused a year earlier.

In one way I have felt very, very blessed during my previous pregnancies because the spinal orthopedic surgeon that was my doctor during those years was very clear that pregnancy would be very, very painful and difficult and for each of my pregnancies up until this one, that hasn't been the case.

In August for the first time, that started to change when I stopped suddenly when chasing after (and catching) a certain child who was sprinting into a parking lot while we were in California.  I instantly knew that that misstep had been a major mistake.

After a month with the pain steadily persisting in my lower back and pelvis, my doctor referred me to the university's ortheopathic manipulative medicine office.  The appointment was today.

So the timing of the blow to my back, which instantly resulted in swelling and pain shooting all the way down to my ankle was kind of perfect.

I'll admit, I was kind of terrified going in.  I thought I'd ruptured another disk.  The slicing stabbing horribleness felt awfully similar to my last injury.

After spending an hour in the doctor's office this morning I am cautiously optimistic.  She said that she thinks the nerve pain is likely a result of my nerves reacting to a smaller injury in the same way they reacted to the old rupture, but she doesn't think that another disk has herniated (yay for that!).

She also said that my pelvis was tilted all the way forward and was actually also twisted in two different directions and attached really, really tightly to the muscle on the right side, which she thinks is causing the tearing pain around my c-section scar.  And lastly my tail bone was apparently positioned in the opposite direction it's supposed to be in.

That along with the baby being really, really low (she thought he'd already dropped, although I don't think he has because I think he's still breach at the moment) is creating a less than comfortable last month of pregnancy (homestretch though!  I can totally deal with this for a month if I focus on that light at the end of the tunnel).

And on a very, very happy note, she does think the pain should resolve itself after the baby makes his appearance and she also thinks that adjustments before and after that point should make a huge difference in fixing the problems that are going on.

In kind of related news, Paul is betting that we have a September baby (the due date is October 18th), although my bet is still that we'll make it to at least 39 weeks like we have with the other three.

Now to get some sleep and to hope that this little guy decides to stay put for at least one more month!  Tomorrow's another OB appointment, and hopefully I'll get an idea of the date of the surgery at that appointment!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Top Baby Picks after Moving Many Times...

Over the years as we've moved across the country with our growing family I've given a lot of though to exactly what we "need" for a new baby.  I've also been giving it more thought because I'd been asked a few times to come up with a registry for anything we need with this baby (which isn't much) but which contains a few needs (our car seats are finally starting to expire) and a few dream items like the back carrier since our second hand one finally gave out (So for those who asked, here it is!).

When I was pregnant with Sadie I bought just about every baby thing that my eyes landed upon.  If there was a book/magazine telling me that I needed something for our rapidly growing little bunny, I was easily convinced.  

What that basically means is that if there's a baby product out there (or at least a type of baby product) I've likely debated whether or not it was necessary over the four moves we've made in the last four and a half years.  And, because the size of our various homes has varied over the years I've also found that not much has made the cut as we've gone from place to place.  

Even things that are useful have slowly been pruned back as I've realized that we don't actually really need a baby high chair all that much (we found a wooden restaurant style high chair that was perfect for that day when Patch finally decided he wanted to eat food at 13 months old...), and we've found that we haven't gotten much use out of gadgets designed to rock, swing or jiggle our babies. I've also found I don't use nursing pillows all that much, our bottles went unused, and so far our pump has mostly collected dust.  

So here is my list of what I've come to consider necessities with our babies.  I could survive without the list below, but they're my favorites for making life easier!

I'd also throw in a dozen baby sleepers because I've found that the most little babies with sensitive skin we have the more likely I am to keep them in sleepers to protect their delicate little baby skin (that's pretty specific though and can be filed under things having two babies with eczema has taught me).  

The Moby Wrap

(or carrier of your choice) 

Baby carriers are big around here.  Patch spent the majority of the first six months of his life living in the Moby Wrap.  It allowed me to have my hands free to do everything else that I needed to do and it kept him up high where certain toddlers who really, really wanted to carry him/ride him when he was in tummy time couldn't get a hold of him.  I have a feeling the new baby is likely to spend his first six months in the Moby Wrap too.

If there is one thing I've learned talking to other moms about baby carriers is that there's no one right answer for the "best" baby carrier.  Some people love the Moby, like I do.  Others absolutely hate it.  I've found the Moby and Ergo work great for us, but I've never had much success with slings (which other moms love!).  So if one carrier doesn't work for you don't beat yourself up and try something else!  There are a lot of great carriers out there and if you find the one that fits it can make your days much, much easier!

I'll admit it.  I'm not all that big on car seat brand loyalty.  I think there are a lot of great car seats out there.  We loved our Britax, which finally hit it's six year old birthday last year.  We also love our Gracos.  The only draw back at the moment on the Gracos is their width and the fact that I'm finding that even in our giant mini van, three car seats won't fit across the back when two are Graco My Rides.  

These days as our van fills with booster seats and car seats I find myself thinking more and more about space.  And that's why I'm leaning more and more towards the recommendation I've heard so many of my friends give to try the Diono Radian.  It's a name that I've heard suggested over and over and I'm cautiously optimistic that it might actually fit across the back of our car.  

When I told Paul that I was including a bassinet he gave a number of suggestions of things he thought were more important (in case your interested his advice included an area rug).  I countered that in addition to the Moby our bassinet pretty much insured Patch's survival to toddlerhood.  

You see, we do tend to co-sleep (depending on the baby... our strategy is actually more of a "play it by ear" sleep plan since we've had kids that were up all night until we started cosleeping and we've had kids that just wouldn't sleep with anyone else in the bed {Mae} but slept like a champ from the night I put her in there her crib onward).  

As a result my bassinet suggestion tends to be for the days.  I actually kept my bassinet pushed out of the way in the kitchen and when I was cooking or sewing (mine has wheels so I would wheel it over into the room I was sewing in) I'd put the baby in the bassinet so they were nearby but out of the way of the cooking and potential spattering that could happen.  

Paul added the suggestion that a crib would work too, but I've actually found that all of our babies have slept more soundly in their bassinets when they're tiny (I've wondered if it's because the sides are closer in and they don't feel like they're in as wide open a space), which is why I'm a bassinet fan for naps when they're small... and also because it's easier to move a bassinet from room to room.  

If you ask Sadie what a baby "needs" she will give you two answers.  A Binkie and a Swaddle.  Which is kind of funny to me because out of all of our babies, Sadie was the only one who hated being swaddled.  But swaddling pretty much saved my sanity with Patch (he would only sleep when swaddled when he was put down) and so I'm a huge fan.  And she is too... since apparently she noticed that a swaddled Patch is a quiet Patch when he was tiny (although he never had the chance to have a Binkie since Mae swiped every Binkie that came close to his mouth).  

As a one car family I'm a big fan of walking since usually I'm not the one with the car.  I'm also a big fan of the BOB stroller.  We've had two and while for the first time in six years we now have a BOB free garage (which is another great thing about BOBs... they have a great resale value... we bought one used in Florida and when we upgraded to a new stroller actually made money selling it for the same price similar strollers were selling in our area), they're still my favorite stroller.  We used ours on the beach when Sadie was one month old (and in the car seat attachment) and pushed her for miles and miles on dirt trails when we lived in California and I've yet to find a comparable stroller that is as easy to push or as long lasting.

Those (along with diapers, this time we're planning a cloth/disposable combo) are my favorite baby items that over the years have made the journey from place to place!  Do you have a favorite baby item that has felt like a lifesaver when you've had a new little one?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Mae and Eye Contact and the Post I Couldn't Have Imagined Writing A Year Ago

Quite suddenly in the last couple of months, Mae's play skills have been growing by leaps and bounds.  It's amazing to watch... and a little exhausting for her favorite playmate, who also happens to be her big sister.

You see, if Mae is imagining that she is a mermaid than she will go and get Sadie's mermaid costume and follow Sadie around begging her sister to wear it until Sadie finally agrees (repeating "mermaid, mermaid" and holding the costume as close to her sister as she possibly can).

If Mae is a roller skating ballerina she'll find her sister's roller skates and do the exact same thing, tearfully if her sister isn't in a roller skating sort of mood.  Thankfully Sadie is a wonderful sport (and likes playing with Mae) and so most of the time she's quick to join in.

Today after we got home from Mass they spent a solid three hours roller skating together, holding hands most of the time.  At one point Sadie was looking in the opposite direction and I saw Mae looking intently at her face trying to catch her eye.  When Sadie didn't look at her Mae finally reached up and touched her hair so that her sister would look down and make eye contact with her.

It was amazing to see.  It also wasn't entirely surprising because along with the sudden burst in imaginative play has come a huge development on the eye contact front.

Mae has gone from making very little eye contact to looking up at me when I come in the room and locking on to my gaze.  I'll say "nice looking" and talk with her, but as often as not I find myself looking away first because the child suddenly seems to have the ability to communicate amazingly with her eyes and she seems more and more eager to use it (and less and less eager to look away!) and not all that eager to look away!

Who would have thought that the little girl who wouldn't look up when most people spoke to her, would suddenly be a good contestant for a staring contest?

I've also noticed she's been making eye contact with complete strangers (like the usher who said hi to her at Mass today) and while others may not realize what a big deal that is, it is a big deal to me.

I've never actually asked her to make eye contact with me, but I found myself beginning to say "nice looking" like her therapists do when she looks at whatever they're doing (Sadie says it too).  And now she's looking more and more!

And the best part?  When she looks up into someone's eyes it's almost always accompanied by a sweetly happy smile.  It doesn't seem forced.  In fact, when her eyes do meet mine it feels far more natural than I could have imagined was possible during the early days after her diagnosis.

I'm not sure I can capture just how much she seems to communicate with her eyes.  Last night after writing all the previous paragraphs I went downstairs when Paul got home from work and he's definitely noticed it too.  She doesn't have as many words as the average four year old, and they don't come easily to her, but between the words that she has, her expressive eyes, her drawings and her little fluttering signs, she's finding more and more ways to communicate with the world around her and reach out to let us know what's on her mind!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sadie and a Hail Mary

For the last week Sadie has been counting down the days to this morning.  We had a meeting for a new club/activity/organization that she's joined and after going to the open house and talking with some of the girls involved in it we were both really excited that she was going to be able to be involved.

This morning we loaded up the car and left Paul with the babies and headed out of the house.  Sadie looked at me and said "I should have brought my winter jacket" as she felt the not-really-cold-at-all air (she may be in for quite the awakening when it actually gets below 60...) as we piled into the car and headed north.

We were a few minutes early, so we helped one of the girls unload a troop leaders car, and then I sat down to knit while Sadie fluttered around the room giggling and talking with the other girls as they arrived.

We stood for the pledge and said the declaration of faith (I'd checked it carefully before registering online and had made sure it was something we could say, although I was fairly certain there wouldn't be a problem since we have other Catholic friends involved in the same organization in other states) and then we settled in for the faith presentation.

If you'd asked me beforehand what I was expecting I would have guessed something light and fluffy and not particularly contentious.  After all, this girls' group doesn't have a particular denomination.

The topic came up and was prayer and I found myself holding my breath.   The first question asked was "what is prayer?" and Sadie's little hand immediately shot up and she answered enthusiastically "Prayer is pleasing to God" (her answer kind of surprised me because while prayer is something that we do, it's not something I remember us really going into all the much in our religion course, or in our conversations).  Her answer obviously wasn't what they were looking for, and the conversation continued innocently.  Prayer is a conversation with God.  Prayer is worship.  Prayer can express repentance.

Then the conversation turned.  What are the wrong ways to pray?  It's wrong to pray to statues.  It's wrong to pray to "dead people."  And then (to roughly quote from memory): "And do you know how we know that it's wrong to pray to dead people?  Because they can't hear you.  And do you know how we know they can't hear you?  Because they're in heaven and in heaven everyone was happy and if they could hear our prayers here they'd be in tears."

Mangling and misunderstanding intercessory prayer at it's best.

I felt the color drain from my face as my eyes searched for Sadie at the front of the room... Sadie who will tell anyone who will listen that her favorite subject is religion.  Sadie who's ability to memorize just about anything she hears means that it's not unusual for her to quote from the catechism sections that are in her religion workbook.  A part of me was silently willing her not to be listening, while at the same time thinking of the explanation I was going to have to give in the car on the way home about misconceptions about Catholicism and how some people think we pray to statues (we don't) and I was also thinking about cracking open the can of worms about exactly what intercessory prayer is and how we're asking the saints to pray to God for our intentions.

But she was quiet in her seat across the giant room and I started to relax.  "Let's pray before we have our snack" told me that the subject had passed and I began to think about how the meetings might turn into a great opportunity to talk about what we do believe.

Then I heard her little voice ringing from the front of the room.  She wasn't talking loudly, but the acoustics were very good and her small prayer carried all the way to where I was sitting in the back as she prayed: "Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee."  The troop leader began to pray over her.  I winced, because let's face it, I'm pretty shy in real life and this is exactly the kind of attention I would generally avoid.  "Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen."

So... that happened.  

The thing is, if you know Sadie, you know that she's pretty innocent.  Watching her it seemed (and knowing her) it really seemed to be a spontaneous prayer that just bubbled out at the words "let's pray" rather than a response to what had been being discussed.

Afterwards I talked to her about what they'd talked about and she really didn't seem to make a connection between the idea of asking for the intercession of the saints and the "praying to dead people" that was derided at the meeting.

So, we're planning on sticking with this new activity (and in even more exciting news, her new ballet class starts this week too!), although I'm hoping it's not quite as wonderful an opportunity for discussion on what we actually believe on the way home, every single week.  I'm hoping next week is a little bit more "Jesus loves you" and a little bit less what-everybody-else-is-doing-wrong.

Friday, September 5, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday: Whining, My Greatest Fear and More Chaplets!

Patch has reached that lovely phase of toddler-hood where the moment he realizes that Mommy is within earshot, he becomes a thousand times more whiny. He could be playing nicely and giggling but the second he hears my voice his voice goes up a few octaves and the complaining about whatever it is he can think of to complain about starts.

Today the whining included the words "a cup of" being repeated over and over again while handing me his sippy cup (which he'd just emptied in about thirty seconds).  Then it was because he was finally allowed to watch a movie today and his oldest sister leaned in front of him and came between him and Dora for approximately .25 seconds, which resulted in a solid 25 minutes of lamenting (and reenacting) the drama of those missed moments of the cartoon.

Even at his whiniest he's pretty amusing... and I'm hoping that his rapidly expanding vocabulary helps us speed through this phase in a relatively short amount of time.  

We saw the house and filled out the application and now I'm desperately hoping that we're approved.  It's smaller than what we're in now, but that just makes it seem like a great time to get rid of like, half our belongings.  I'm so ready to have a garage sale to help with the move and then have one of the local charities that always puts fliers in the mail box about how they'll pick stuff up come by to take everything else.

I think being in the super nesting (although not able to do much about it) phase helps at this point and is destroying any lingering pack rat tendencies that I've been picking away at over the years.

One of the thing that has me the most excited about this move is that there's a swimming pool and I would actually have the opportunity to teach my kids to swim.  While I was lifeguarding, teaching swimming also happened to be my job for eight years (I was a Red Cross instructor) and it's really worried me that none of our kids can swim well.

They were taking lessons with a local rec district but I wasn't really impressed with the program after watching four sessions and was less impressed when a certain instructor picked up one of our kids and shook her... so we haven't renewed the lessons since then (and if you're one of our local friends I can totally tell you where not to go).

So the idea of having a swimming pool nearby and being able to take the kids over one by one and work with them when Paul is home is very, very appealing!

Of course the fact that there's a pool nearby, even a pool with a very high metal fence, stresses me out immensely too.

A while back our priest told us during a homily to think of our #1 fear.  Mine wasn't hard to come up with.  My greatest fear is easily the thought of Mae wandering and drowning.  It's probably because I follow so many various autism organizations on facebook so I see missing children reports frequently, and all to often those reports end in drowning (I know I read somewhere else a statistic that said 90% of wandering deaths involve drowning).  And the fact that Mae is absolutely drawn to water like a moth to a flame doesn't help that fear in the least.

When we went to the fish hatchery and there were giant fish in the pond she started to throw herself in.  Standing next to a huge river she'll immediately sit down and start taking off her shoes.  When we go to the lake she'll spend the whole time trying to head out deeper and deeper, giggling all the while.

So teaching her to swim is a high priority.  Not having access to a pool has been a major drawback and having one so close to our house would definitely help with that!

Paul has been working six days a week and is still applying for jobs all over the place in hopes of finding at the very least a second part time job.  His current job is working out really well, but we never know if he's being called in for three hours of eight hours (it depends on the crowd each night), which means we never know how many hours will be on each time card.  Continued prayers that something great turns up would be hugely appreciated!

And that is a factor in all my late night crafting.  Two days ago I tried to picture the perfect rosary for a little girl, based on what I thought Sadie would like.  I came up with this:

My other projects that finally got photographed last night are up in the shop too!

I have so many finished that it's going to take weeks to get everything photographed!  And most of the other's I have left to photograph are more traditional in appearance!  When I found these beads I had so much fun with them but they definitely aren't everyone's taste!

In other news the mermaid tails are in the final phases of testing and should be up in Mae Bae's store soon, along with some other sensory geared things I've come up with!  Maggie is the best product tester I have, so after having her find the weaknesses in the tails and correcting them and having her try them out again I'm really starting to get an idea of what will last and where the seams need to be super reinforced!  It's taken longer than I expected, but they are on they're way!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!