Saturday, November 30, 2013

Happy Birthday Willow Midnight Seraphina Files!

Willow Midnight Seraphina Files turned 2 years old today. She came into this world gliding into a vessel of warm water. It was so peaceful, she didn't even cry. But I sure did! I screamed the hardest I have ever screamed in my life. That pain is an eternal memory. It was as if I could feel each individual fiber of my body stretching and snapping apart, one right after the other. It felt like I was on fire. She was my first "natural" birth. I wouldn't wish that pain on anyone. I wouldn't even call it pain. It was more along the lines of an eruption of torture.

Eeek, sorry.

Happy birthday Willow bug!! You are such a sparkle of pleasure, hilarious celebration & play. You have a smashing personality! You absorb the world and store it away in your treasure box, the spill over is divine. You have itchy trigger finger wisdom. All day long you are on the go, seeking adventure and enlightenment.

We had a small party for you today. I forgot to put your birthday dress on you, but your rainbow, monkey Dora shirt covered in glittery stars and your velvety lavender pants were a much better match to your personality. Gramma & Papa attended. They had spent the day with Sebastian and Judah. They took them to Home Depot to do a workshop early this morning, where the boys built small toolboxes (very cute). At your party we ate cupcakes that Daddy loaded down with icing. Mommy & Daddy took lots of pictures & made lots of videos. The boys were enormously jealous that it was your birthday. Sebastian and Judah were trying to open your presents. Judah kept hitting your cupcake with his toy and you would sternly say to him, "Judah! No!!"

I'm glad you liked your Dora bath doll. Judah loved brushing her hair. The Lalaloopsy doll was my favorite gift to you. The Minnie Mouse slippers will be fun for you & the fuzzy farm animal puzzle didn't seem to interest you at all. We'll have a party a week from today for you and Judah both.


Friday, November 29, 2013


The kids watched E.T. for the first time today. It was the first movie I ever saw in a theater - and apparently it still makes me cry!! Sebash loved the flying bikes scenes. Willow was busy doing other things, as usual, feeding her doll cheesecake and following me around. I didn't realize how much the movie had affected Judah. He was kind of in a daze when it ended. We had dinner immediately after and he would not eat. He walked up to me with tears beginning to drip from his eyes. I asked him why he was sad a few times. He looked over at the tv every time. I didn't mean for that to happen. And had totally forgotten about the penis breath comment!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Krazy Kar!!

We chowed down on chicken Kiev and cheesecake for Thanksgiving at Gramma and Papa's. The kids are still struggling with hand, mouth, foot virus. Sebastian seems to be the most recovered. Judah and Willow were crashing out 2 hours after we got there. They all ate well though. Everyone was very happy. Judah was very engaged. Sebastian sat at the head of the table and read his cardboard "I am thankful for" sign. I recorded. Willow stood in her chair eating string cheese and occasionally sitting in Gramma's lap. She dropped her spoon and told Judah to get it, and he did! All 3 of the kids were posing for pictures after dinner. That was rare!!

Scott got in some Black Friday shopping - buying necessities and gifts. We got Judah a "Krazy Kar". It should be a great sensory toy for him that they can all enjoy. We got Bash a scooter and Willow a giant Sully (one day shopping in Walmart with Daddy she wouldn't let it go and held onto it in the cart the whole time).  


Wednesday, November 27, 2013


It's hard to blog from my phone. Often the kids force us to bed early, usually by waking up and not going back down. Willow is laying in bed with me. She is suddenly peaceful here. Judah is snugly here, and Sebastian is excitement sky rocketing across the room when he is here. Mommy and Daddy's bed is a fortress they could play in forever. Ironically enough that's where they originated!

Talked with my dad on the phone today. He's leaving for KC tomorrow. He'll probably stop to see Tim, Erin and Olive and then drive on to West Plains, where he has purchased his next home. He was disappointed to hear about the IFSP, particularly because he sees Oregon as being a progressive state. I told him they have money problems, like everywhere else. When it comes to helping a little boy learn how to talk though, money shouldn't be anywhere near the vicinity of that situation!! Money problems can stop everything. They can throw us to the ground. Have you ever noticed though, that the answers, the solutions, the ways to make it a little better.. those always come from loved ones, the ones who are incapable of just walking on by. They will find a way to help you back up.

Black Friday is everywhere, slamming you in the face around every corner. Businesses take advantage, employees are forced to stay up all night.. selling blu-ray players to people at 4 in the morning. To be in it as a consumer is bizarre. Its exciting, but to find yourself in Wal-mart at 4 in the morning making what feels like a very difficult decision to fore go a shopping cart because you know that without one you may stand a chance to get through the uproar of cattle pushing their way to get closer to the teenage employee who is up at 4am in the morning waiting frightfully for the minute to hit when he must cut into the 20 layers of gigantic shrink wrap, unveiling a pile of second class blu-ray players to a salivating horde of vertebrate who are going to fight to the death to save 25 dollars. When you find yourself in that pact.. well that's the exciting part (at the time). The bizarre part is, of course, what just happened. It is something you will never truthfully share with anyone except the person you went with. Black Friday then becomes a dirty little secret. One year later though, it will feel completely worth it to enter back into the herd and fight to the death for a blender. It's some kind of really unexplainable phenomenon. Its not just nutty people who do this, its everyone, all walks of life. The only thing I can see to compare it to is addiction.

Judah's ringworm is gone. His new doctor checked him today, gave us instructions on how to care for his rash, which is halfway down his leg now. She gave us other advice to help him too. Sebastian has hand, mouth foot virus. It started about 3 days ago. He goes up and down throughout the day. I give him ibuprofen - he usually needs it twice a day. He has bumps on his hands and feet and pain in his mouth. He gets very tired and very sad that it hurts to eat. I've got to look for some medicine that could help his mouth. Judah hasn't been feeling well tonight. He was laying on the couch, he let me know (I think) that the inside of his upper lip was hurting. Gave him Tylenol. High temp and trouble sleeping too.

Judah has been following direction and vocalizing a lot. He was "scripting" Wubzy, his new favorite, and the words coming out of his mouth were sometimes crystal clear. I'm watching miracles, hearing miracles.. He is working very hard. He is getting very close to being able to dress himself completely, socks and shirt over head are the only 2 that challenge him. We haven't worked on those much though. Robin was right, if he knows I'm not going to do it for him like he is used to, then eventually he will do it. TWICE today I told him it was time to potty and he went on his own. One of those times he was kicking and screaming on the floor for a loooong time. I left to use the other bathroom and when I came back he was on the potty, calmly and quietly doing his business. The other time he also did it when I wasn't in the bathroom. We are learning!!!

Chicken Kiev and gluten-free cake for Thanksgiving tomorrow - gluten free is progressive dad, we are doing our part!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Get rested up for Black Friday. And keep it to yourself for Pete's sake!!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Inconceivable Feast of Special ed Practicum

That was the definition of the acronym IFSP this evening as we had our 2 1/2 hour meeting that will be extended into next week. They all took copies of the 5 typed pages of requests, concerns, questions and goals we brought to the table. We definitely got their attention. They said the head honcho will have to be present at the next meeting. They couldn't even offer to give us the weekly class evals we requested and the teacher said that it was difficult to write in his communication notebook everyday.. Which is usually an offering of about 3 sentences that usually don't tell us anything helpful. The testing we requested they told us could not be done for another 2-4 years because of his age. They thought 30 mins of speech therapy a month was adequate. We made strong points and didn't give in. When they used the excuse our last team always used about speech therapy being integrated into the classroom by the teacher and aides, I told them about his speech therapy session today. I told them I videotaped 5 minutes of it.. And he showed progress and motivation in just those five minutes. I told them that speech therapy isn't taking place if there is no one there who is qualified to administer it. Then I looked the speech therapist in the eye and said, "He needs THERAPY."

I'm deeply saddened that it looks like we are heading into battle. Time doesn't need to be wasted, just help him. Do your job.

At one point the autism specialist brought up funding as a reason speech therapy would be so limited. We have learned that money can never be an excuse to not administer services. We recorded the entire meeting. All the way down to the therapist telling us how much info and support she gives out to the parents. When she finished I told her that I had received ONE note from her on Judah's progress (which was less than half a sheet of paper of some written notes) and that it was because I just happened to run into her that day. We were just honest. When you ask services of people that by law they should already be doing, that are part of their job, that are listed on the company's website as services offered.. Shouldn't they apologize and hope you don't take further action... Shouldn't they just get to work??!

We talked for a bit about services offered to families - we have never been offered any in the over a year he has been there - the autism specialist mentioned a workshop coming up at Swindells. I looked at the speech therapist and said, "Is that part of the 3 session workshop I ran into you at?" I searched to find that training online, by myself. And it was a very helpful workshop. They could have been giving us info on those workshops for over a year!!

A good rule of thumb.. NEVER have an IFSP meeting on your wedding anniversary. We went to dinner at Bentleys.. Mahi Mahi and steak. We haven't done that in so long. It was nice, very nice. Love you babe - 5 years going on 60 - diamond anniversary!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Poop humor

Today Sebastian said, "I tried to get it out but is wasn't made yet!"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How Many Stars Would You Give It?

Well, now we know what "skinny jeans" for boys are. I had asked the lady before we bought them and she had not described them accurately at all. Who knew they made skinny jeans for boys?! Sebastian's little legs look like rods flying through the house, bolting off of couches and chasing after siblings. Nice jeans for the price ($4 each), but man they make his legs look funny. He's shooting up, he'll outgrow them or wear holes in the knees in no time anyway (do all boys constantly manage to do this??!), so it doesn't really matter. They are a means to keeping him clothed. But at least now I know what "skinny jeans" (appropriately named!!) for boys are. I have a flying visual.

I couponed my butt off this morning. Walgreens & Rite-aid are my couponing stores of choice. We now have laundry stain remover to last us for some time.  I was also able to score some free multi-vitamins & made money off buying a gift card to the movies. We are hoping to see Hunger Games part 2 soon. Is it any good??? How many stars would you give it?

The sweet potato chips with ridges are the bomb. Judah & I love them. And they are gluten-free! Unfortunately after we had both had a few handfuls I wasn't looking and he dumped the ENTIRE BAG on the kitchen floor. Things like this don't phase Scott & I anymore.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Adventures With the Grandkids

Today's blog, courtesy of Gramma.
Yesterday, Sebastian, Judah, and Willow spent some time with Gram and Papa. It was a great day! Sebastian and Judah went with us to Bauman's. Judah started the trip by singing and talking in the car all the way. Papa and Sebastian were joking and laughing and when I looked in the back seat, Judah was smiling and enjoying the banter as well. When we arrived, I was getting Judah out of his seat and figured I'd have a challenge getting him to leave his movie in the car but when I asked him to put it on Sebastian's empty seat, reassuring him we'd get it when we got back, he put it down and made no fuss. Inside, we enjoyed all the holiday decorations. Judah loved the lights and Christmas ornaments, and the big plastic blow up Santa that waved at him. I was a little worried that he'd want to take the decorations off the tree but he just touched them and showed his enjoyment. No fuss. He clung to Papa like glue while Sebastian and I toured the store. Outside, on the playground, there was quite a crowd of kids of all ages. Two teen boys with Down's syndrome, along with their younger brother and sister who also were special kids romped around. Judah got into the rolling tube with one of the big kids who was very sweet to him and the younger brother. He actually stayed in the tube, squeezed between the two boys and laughed as Papa rolled them along. Sebastian loves the tube but usually Judah only wants to push or chase it. He also climbed all the way up the big tire structure and got in the top level with the help of his new friends. He was so pleased.I've not seen him interact so well socially, ever. He seemed more agile, today, too. Didn't stumble but once and didn't need much assistance.
Sebastian was off to the teeter totter with Papa. Judah wanted a turn and hopped on. He and Sebastian went up and down by themselves. This is another first for Judah. He held on and laughed, even when Sebastian bounced him a little.
We did our usual going down the slides and tubes in the fort but today, Judah went down the big tube by himself several times. He climbed the wooden stairs without assistance and played hard. He would go down the tube and wait for Sebastian to follow, gently bumping into him. They had fun!
Next stop, Target. While Sebastian and Gram hunted for money jars to replace his old one, Judah and Papa walked around behind us. Judah followed Papa's directions when he asked him not to pick up some of the merchandise (toys). Normally, he gets angry but today, he just touched things and put them back when asked. Papa would say, "No, take my hand," and he'd follow along just fine. We hunted all over the store for the money jars and found them, with the help of a nice clerk, in men's clothing! Sebastian wondered why they'd put money jars there. Me, too! I looked back and Judah was getting a shoulder ride and giggling.He's been very happy all day.
Next stop, Willow's house. Willow was all ready to go with us, after her nap, for playtime at Gram and Papa's, dinner, and bath. She talked all the way over, maybe trying to keep up with Sebastian who was entertaining us with the Spanish ABC song and various jokes. At one point he called Papa, "a stick in the mud," and then asked, "what's a stick in the mud, Papa?" Ha! His Spanish is really coming along. He overhead some people in Target speaking Spanish and immediately went into this sort of code switching where he tries to speak in Spanish, making up some of the words but not all. He has the lilt and sense of how the language sounds.
At home, Sebastian and Gram did a little reading. Alexander's Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day was a hit. We also read Dia Feliz in Spanish. Sebastian wants to read but needs more practice stretching out the sounds and use of predictable text. I hope we can find some time to work on that regularly.
Judah played trains upstairs and Willow rode the Ladybug Scooter. She saw it when she came in and said with great excitement, "scooter!" Judah and Sebastian helped Papa with the usual outdoor chores and then Judah played on the train table. He started to throw the trains at one point but when Papa asked him not to do that, he paused a minute and stopped. He's crossed some milestone that I can't quite describe in his behavior. When he had to go potty he held himself, trying to tell Papa and they went to the potty and he went. He had not wet his diaper at all. I think he's starting to control himself and is wanting to potty. He did all of his usual emptying the potty, hand washing, flushing, etc. with no fuss and headed back to play.
Willow wanted to get the tea set out and Judah, instead of messing up her tea party, helped her "pour" tea and played with her. He really did well which was exciting to see.
Dinner was a hit with everyone, except maybe Willow, who wasn't too hungry, or maybe wanted to do everything herself? We tried a booster seat for her since she doesn't like the high chair anymore but Sebastian warned us, "she won't like it, Gram." He was right. I was trying to help her with her waffle and she pushed me away and said, "no!" She wanted to do it herself. She also signed for more milk. She's really got some language work going on!
Sebastian had gluten free waffles and Judah had GF nuggets and a ton of other stuff. He seemed really hungry. Willow had some cheese and waffle but wouldn't even eat applesauce. She snacked, though. Such a tiny tummy. While Sebastian finished eating, she, Judah, and Sebastian gathered around the iPad to watch the weather channel on Papa's lap. Volcanoes and tornadoes kept everyone mesmerized. A couple of other behavior things: When Papa told Judah (and Willow) not to touch the iPad, they both obeyed with no fuss. Willow, later, likes to tease me and managed to turn on the dishwasher. I keep telling her it's a "no no" and she thinks I'm pretty funny but she understands. I think she understands most everything she hears. Judah tried to turn the dishwasher on, too, and when I said, "no," he stopped. No fuss. Usually it takes a few tries and redirections to something else. Not last night.
I've discovered Willow loves her bath. Tonight she played in the water a long time with the tub toys while Sebastian got his weekly soak in the jetted tub while Judah looked on with interest but will have nothing to do with the tub. When Papa asked Judah to take his clothes off so we could get pajamas on, he did it without assistance! Willow walked up to Judah later with his toothbrush in hand, hers in the other and said, "Judah! Brush teeth!" She misses nothing!
Sebastian talked a lot today about school and his friends. He also is showing interest in photographs and wants Gram to take a lot more for him so he can fill up his photo book. I heard him ask Scott when we took him home if he would set out his bag of coins so he could fill up his money jar early in the morning. He gets up before anyone to do projects and "clean." He sang his cleaning song to us on the way home. Such a treasure.
So, it was a good day. Papa said, and I agree, "it was Judah's best day ever."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Humans CAN Fly!

Mr. Inventor was on the loose today. He made a few different sets of Pterodactyl (I just learned to spell that thanks to auto-correct) wings and attempted flying from a variety of high points throughout the house. His final attempt was in the garage, where he placed a small, medium and tall chair in a row. He ran up to the chairs and jumped up onto the smallest making his way to the tallest with his cardboard wings in place. Then he plummeted off of the highest chair crashing to the cold, hard, cement garage floor. He jumps off stuff all of the time. He was fine. Daddy was waiting to catch him and of course let him know immediately afterwards that he could never do that again and that he has to have shoes on in the garage (I didn't even know that rule). He tried hard, and he still believes he can do it, even after I idiotically gave him some much unneeded brutal honesty - "Humans cannot fly".

Sebastian also brought in all of the cardboard boxes from the garage and barricaded the hallway. We were stuck inside all day - at least he was using creative energy. I looked over from the kitchen as I was putting a gluten-free pizza in the oven for dinner & saw his head popping up over the top of the crib box. He worked hard at whatever the heck it was he was making. When Gramma was here the other day they used those boxes to build an ambulance, it was pretty cool.

Of course it was another non-school day. It was also freezing cold outside. I really wanted to get the kids out but couldn't come up with a plan! Too cold for the Discovery Center & park, too many tempting gluten foods at McDonald's to use the play area, the heartless criminal family that owns the Kids Club would charge us $50 for a punch card just to go in, I can't take them all to the store or the mall without a string of horribly stressful and sometimes unsafe events taking place. There were no options! But it turned out that we wouldn't have been able to go anywhere anyway. No, the final car has not broken down. But worse, poor Judah was in pain a lot of the day, constipated. He can't go down this road again. His ringworm also looks worse. His doctor follow-up is on Wednesday. We called to get it rescheduled for Monday but there were no openings. They will contact us if something becomes available. Poor guy. That isn't fair at all.

Sebastian & Willow think Judah's visual schedule is awesome. Sebastian has requested one for himself, which is only fair. I have to make Judah a new one anyway, might as well give Sebastian the one he already enjoys. Judah just doesn't seem to like it or understand it and likely we aren't doing it consistently enough. It's tough, our day changes so the schedule sometimes becomes inaccurate and I have to move things around. I'm sure that helps him understand it even more, jeez. I'm going to create a new schedule that involves covering up the activities once they are done rather than moving them to an "all done" line below. I would like for him to cover them up as he does them and not worry about the order, but the order is vital because that is what allows him to know what is coming up. That's why rearranging the schedule throughout the day is just confusing and probably frustrates him maybe to the point of not even wanting to try. Covering up the activities as they are done may help him understand the schedule much better.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


By 10:30am I was back to functioning.

Judah had his OT today, which went very well. The OT had him in the same chair that the speech therapist uses. It's basically like a highchair with a bigger area in the front so he can play with toys. Even though I hate the idea of this, he does well in it. He was very patient while playing, was able to wait when he really wanted to move on, focused on some of the toys for quite a while, was able to use plastic tongs well (who knew!) and did very well in the gym too. I video taped a bit from both of the 2 areas. By 45-50 minutes he is always done, ready to go, trying to get out of the room.. every single time.

Not sure if I mentioned the garage situation the other day. It broke on Tuesday. We are now forced to park the car I use with all of the car seats outside. This makes it much more difficult to get the kids in and out. I have to dress them all for winter to drop off just one of them at school. The other 2 never even leave the car. Thankfully everyone goes inside easily when we get back home. Outside is tempting! Yesterday morning I didn't have my house key and we were locked out of the house until Scott could arrive. It was freezing out! Willow and Judah sat in the front seat with me in the car. I still haven't found that damn key. I took it off when we handed over the keys to the red car, because it was on the same ring. Apparently it never made it back to my keychain. We always go in through the garage, so I hadn't needed it, until the garage broke that is.

The boys didn't have school today - teacher conferences. They will be out tomorrow too and a lot through the end of the month. This month is very appropriately referred to as "No-school-ember". 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Woke up with much less time to get ready for the meeting than I had planned. Completely didn't think about having the kids somewhat ready for Grandma. She was coming over to watch them. Ten minutes before we leave, Shelley calls to say that the speech therapist is sick. Meeting cancelled.

I was so stressed about this meeting that I could hardly sleep the night before. Later into the morning my headache got worse and turned into a migraine. I was able to get Grandma to pick up Sebastian from school. She brought him home, saw my condition and stayed to help with everything. I became a slug on the couch. Scott was somehow able to come home to relieve Grandma.

So anyway, migraine stole my day.

Scott took the boys to Lime Berry since 20% of their proceeds were going to Harritt from 5pm-10pm. He didn't want to take them all so I offered to lay with Willow until they got back.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sebastian Shines!

So we're down to one car. Today when it was time to pick up the boys from school, the garage door wouldn't open. Down to one car and I can't even use the damn thing because it is trapped in the garage.. and my boys need to be picked up in 10 minutes. That was my breaking point. This wretchedness that continues to pile up on us has got to be lit on fire.

Scott is driving a rental, a rental with no car seats. He came home and managed to manually open the garage door. Of course now it won't shut. He was able to manually close it as well. He had to take a break from work to do this, which was supposed to be a break for him to go to the DMV to report the accident since we only have a few days to do that.

Sebastian saw the rental in the driveway this morning and yells, "Daddy someone parked in our driveway!!" Scott tells him about the accident and Sebastian gets very excited. He asks Daddy if he is okay and immediately follows with, "Did the police come?? Are you going to go before a judge??" He always asks us about stuff like this so he had a very good idea of what would be happening. It hadn't even occurred to me how exciting this would be for him. He had not a worry in the world. His first question was "are you okay?" though. That was interesting. His heart outweighs all.

Judah was amazing in his speech therapy today. He has been talking & making sounds like crazy today. At the end of his therapy he grabbed the pile of business cards from the front desk and told his therapist, "thank you!!" haha. Two word phrases are beginning to pop up a lot! I'd really like to see him showing that he understands our instructions. It's difficult because we do baby him (as Robin pointed out very clearly). So he knows that if we ask him to pick something up he doesn't really have to, because Mom & Dad will do it anyway. It's been some tough love from me lately for sure. Yesterday he was repeatedly in time-out for hitting the TV. Why do we buy brand new, expensive items??! We have kids! Anyway. He brought a shower curtain ring to the kitchen yesterday morning and I asked him to take it back to the bathroom. He was very upset and refusing. I mistakenly used the word "potty" at one point during my request. He started to pull down his pants in the kitchen - that's when I realized that he probably thought I was telling him it was time to potty, and he had JUST pottied. When I took him in the bathroom and placed the curtain ring on the counter (hand over hand) and told him, "all done!" he was very surprised. So there is definitely some not understanding going on. It's just impossible to know what he does & doesn't understand.

So Judah had a remarkable day, specifically speech wise. Today I genuinely believed that he is going to talk, that he will get there. Having never gone through this before, I really have no clue what to expect.

Judah did the same activity today that he did yesterday - putting each object in the container that was marked with the same object. He got through it 1 1/2 times. His attention span was even shorter than yesterday and his skill at the activity had barely increased. On the first attempt he put one or 2 toys in the right containers and immediately pulled them out to play with them. He plays with the non-toy items as well. We are recording this activity every time we do it, which will be every day. I got some new activity ideas as I watched his speech therapy today and his classroom teacher gave me an idea on how to change the visual schedule (which he actually did some today!!!).

Willow is saying "okay" now when I ask her to do something. There is still a lot of objection but she is starting to say "okay" more and more. She also started running rather well today! As of today I believe she is running.

Sebastian finally had his second turn at being in front of the class to point at each alphabet letter with the pointer, say the letter in Spanish and have the class repeat after him. The teacher picked him. He was sooo excited to tell everyone about it! He had been waiting a long time for his second turn at doing this. He also pulled his name to have the job as bell ringer today. He was so so excited to tell us about his day, which rarely happens. I'm thrilled that he got to shine today. He is definitely a star that shines bright.

I told Shelley (Judah's teacher) that we will be recording the meeting tomorrow. She seemed completely fine with it, no concerns. They will record as well, standard protocol. Later she called me to say that the autism specialist needed to know if she needed to bring any specific info since we would be recording?

Last IFSP meeting prep tonight. Better get started!

WILLOW MILESTONE - RUNNING (will be 2 in one week & four days)
JUDAH MILESTONE - CONSISTENTLY USING 2 WORD PHRASES (will be four in one week & 6 days)


Monday, November 18, 2013

More Meeting Prep

This will hopefully be a quick post. We need to get back to work on Judah's IFSP meeting prep. Mom is coming over tomorrow to help us pull it all together. I'm really nervous. I shouldn't be, we are just telling them what he needs. I'm nervous about the feedback. None of the team members are the same as last year. I've only met two of them. Scott has met one, briefly. The team we had last year persuaded us to give him the absolute minimum, and definitely took advantage of us being so na├»ve. So coming from that makes me very nervous to go to another meeting. There's also the fact that he had such a small amount of services and now we are asking for what he really needs. So we are going from A-Z in one meeting, which needs to be done, but if they are anything like last year's team members it may be a very difficult sell. The idea is for them to work with us, not against us. I hope we can all keep that well in our minds!

It was another full speed day around here. Poor Sebastian just lost his money jar. He loved that thing so much, and had it full to the rim. It got knocked off his dresser and busted onto the wooden floor. I never knew how hard it is to pick up change off a wooden floor! There's no easy way to do it! So we all had a nice sit-down on the boys' bedroom floor and picked up change for quite a while. Judah tried to eat it and throw it, but I stopped him nearly every time. Scott didn't want him to be in there, but I think it's necessary for him to be included in everything. Every moment is an opportunity to learn. The last time I was in Rite-Aid I spotted the same money jar. They usually come out around Christmas time. It will be easy to replace. Sebastian knows that. Of course he cried a lot and had to say goodbye to his money jar before I threw all of the pieces away. That must have been really hard for him. He really didn't even get that mad at Judah for knocking it down. I was very proud of him and very sad for him too.

I used the visual schedule all day long with Judah today. I made sure to take him to the potty every 2 hours, which wasn't too difficult. He definitely understands that instruction immediately. He would study the pictures on the visual schedule at times but he never wanted to actually move the pictures, which he is supposed to do as he finishes them. It was very frustrating to me as we spent so much time on that schedule today. Repeating an activity over & over a thousand times while holding onto the belief that they will "get it" eventually is so incredibly difficult. You can't give up when it's your child. I need a mountain of patience to land at my doorstep.

For dinner.. left-over turkey, mixed vegetables and apple slices. Not one complaint from anybody. At least dinner is getting to be easier! Judah even ate a bowl of extremely liquidly squash. He usually won't touch it. He also had apple sauce, crackers and a slice of apple that I got him to touch, but not eat. He asked for more every time he wanted more. He did that consistently all day long. He also said new words consistently all day long. We looked at photos of toys Pa Rock sent for Judah to pick from and Judah said, "Look! Toy!" When he was playing with his car wash toy he said, "car wash". Two word phrases are coming around more often. And like I said, when I ask him to say a word he will try (as long as he understands what I am asking of him).

Today I set up a matching activity for Judah, labeling tubs with a photo of a toy. The idea was for him to put the toys that matched the photo into that tub. I videotaped it, noting his age so we have an idea of his progress later. I thought this would be too easy for him as I've watched him do matching colors at school with ease. He would stick the red piece on the red piece (Velcro) and the other colors the same way. He would do his 10 colors in well under a minute. It almost seemed to bore him. The activity today seemed to confuse him. He got one in the correct tub on his own but quickly took it out. We did this activity three times before he finally left to play. Either he didn't understand (which I'm thinking he didn't fully) or he didn't want to do it (that was happening as well). We'll keep working on that one. He had a Sponge Bob sucker with Willow today. It's rare to see him enjoy a sucker.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Car Accident

Some bad news today.. Scott was in a car wreck. He is okay. He called me crying, apologizing, saying he had just totalled our new car, as if that was the most important matter. The past 2 nights I've had dreams of Scott & I going through a divorce. Of course dreams feel real first thing in the morning. I awoke to Sebastian's voice this morning and immediately tried to piece together where I was, if I was at my place or Scott's. Reality finally hit and life was good again. A car wreck this afternoon affirms that even more, the impact the cars had was nowhere near the impact of the message exposed to us - remember what is important in life.

Tonight we are hard at work on preparations for Judah's meeting. The kids spent lots of time with Gramma & Papa today. Willow swept their kitchen. Sebastian rode down their stairs on a pillow. Judah said "thank you" very clearly when I told him "thank you" for handing me his dvd in it's case.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ice Hockey in the Bedroom!

Judah went to the bathroom TWICE on his own today. I'm talking walked to the bathroom and pottied. The first time was this morning when I was in the bathroom getting ready. He strolled in & went potty, on the big potty! He seems to prefer the big potty now. This evening I let him know just one time that we were going to potty and THEN we could watch the Polar Express (as he was requesting). Typically this would be a tantrum, me ripping the dvd out of his hands and a 30 minute meltdown, disruptive, walk/roll to the bathroom. I had planned on coming back to cue him again, but before I knew it he was in the bathroom and starting to pull his pants down! I walked in to be there for assistance if he needed me. Again, he used the big potty, he didn't do anything on the potty but who cares! He followed a cue just one time after me saying it and he was doing the process on his own! While in the bathroom he got on the stool before I had pushed it to the sink. I said, "Did you want a ride?" and he replies, "Yeah!!" and grabs onto the counter to balance. He completely understood me. He turned the water on by himself and turned it off when cued. He didn't try to stay and play, just got his sticker, made a kissing sound with me as I kissed his head, and strolled out of the bathroom! I was sure I was in a dream.

During music therapy Judah was sad when another kid started crying. He also made direct eye contact with others, specifically a girl he had met before. He was sitting a foot away from her, studying her face for probably 5 minutes. She did the same back to him. This was a group session. Sebastian joined. He had really been looking forward to playing the different instruments. He really enjoyed getting a turn to play the xylophone. He also liked when they put his name into a song and of course the dancing. Judah was in the middle of the group the entire time, energized & happy to the max. I sat behind him while he was on his pillow, when I was able to haul him there. Angie didn't have to physically control him but maybe a few times. This was a big group and he was the most active one there, the other kids appeared subdued compared to him. I realized quick, especially after seeing each kid's parent sitting behind them, that I definitely needed to be behind my kid. Angie's 2 adult helpers would occasionally coax Judah at times. We drove directly home afterwards, which was easy. Usually Judah & I stop at Whole Foods to eat & shop. It makes me feel like the drive is worth it. But I now I know that isn't really necessary.

When we arrived at music therapy Judah went right into the circle and took a seat on the floor next to Angie, the music therapist. He was all smiles! We played the drums first and he was very appropriately interactive, playing each drum as it was handed to him. At the end of therapy he was getting tired. He reclined back in my lap and sang the goodbye song! Usually he doesn't sing much, if any, during therapy. It was kind of loud in there and Judah was singing quietly, so I couldn't hear his words very well. I did hear him sing "Time", which is the name of the girl he knew in the group. The song involved singing each child's name during a part of the song.

Willow got in a lot of shopping time with Daddy today. All of the kids crashed out easily tonight. We put them down around 8:30. Their new bedtime is 7pm with the exception of "movie night" on Saturday. So to them it felt like they had stayed up quite a bit past their bedtime. Ahhh.. another good trick!! I'm seeing a rare occurrence of children sleeping in tomorrow!

We went to Grocery Outlet for the first time today after living here for over 5 years. If you live near one I hugely recommend that you check it out. Prices are the same or significantly lower than Wal-Mart. I don't know if they take coupons, if they do you could get killer prices all of the time! It's family owned, but they are all over the place. The main reason I went was because I quizzed my Facebook friends on where to go for the best price on Almond Milk. Much to my surprise, this place won, hands down. With the lowest Almond Milk price in town, they sell out quickly when the shipments arrive. This store also rotates inventory, so new products will be coming in! Their vitamin selection is large & extremely affordable. They currently have a good number of frozen GF meals to choose from, and at the best price in town. Even though they didn't carry everything that we usually get (brand wise), they are 5 minutes from us. That's the best part. We usually drive 30 minutes to get to Wal-Mart and Costco to shop! And spend even more time driving to the natural food stores! This takes 2 afternoons to accomplish. We are crazy!!! Grocery Outlet had some of the natural food products we buy. It will be a handy store for sure. The kids had a blast, since it was a new store and since they had huge ramps at the entrance.

Movie night was interesting. Judah sat with Daddy in the recliner. Willow sat in a box just her size, and closed the lid. I fed her snacks in her box and found out that she loves raisins. Sebastian had a list going of all the night time activities that were to take place. One of them was to put flowers on the table. Another was to decorate the table even more with bowls of fruits, vegetables, cookies and muffins. He had to make do with our selection of popcorn, raisins, pineapple, sweet potato chips, and gf tortilla chips. He also had "school" in his room today, where I was asked to draw a picture. I drew Doctor Octavius by studying a sticker on his wall. Later we played ice hockey on his floor with a chunk of ice that he popped out of a cup. He had frozen it overnight. He always has a frozen experiment going in the freezer. My hockey stick was the skinny end of our broom and his was a fat, foamy bat. He got the better end of the stick, literally. At one point he hit the ice puck so hard that it crashed into the wall directly below the window. Half of the ice chunk shattered! I was facing away from the window. I felt the ice particles spray the bottom half of my body. I thought I was feeling glass from the window showering my legs. It truly sounded like a window being shattered. They must use that as a sound effect for movies/TV. Daddy wasn't too happy about the ice hockey game, but it was really fun.. and we may do it again (when Daddy is at work).

Judah will try to say pretty much any word you ask him to now. It's so cool! Willow repeated Sebastian this morning saying, "Start the toaster oven!" It was so clear! It truly shocked me! Her enunciation seems to have taken shape overnight! She repeats whatever we say, and now she can repeat an entire sentence! This skill also seems to have happened overnight. Apparently her brain did a lot of growing last night!! I think she is saying them on her own too.. I will pay better attention to that tomorrow. She is a smart, little chatterbox at home. However, in public she studies the environment with her huge brown eyes, not saying a word.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Flying Playpen

After dinner Sebastian continued work on his flying playpen. He used a jump rope and threaded it through the netting on one of the smaller sides of the playpen. We tied a bat on the end of the rope hanging outside of the playpen to act as the propeller. He used an old set of training wheels to put on the side of the playpen that did not have wheels. Then he lifted up the back, pushed it through the living room & jumped in! It kept going about 2 feet after he jumped in. He was soooo excited about this creation. He couldn't stop talking about the flying playpen. He wants to build a ramp to use for it. He's hoping his playpen will take flight.

This morning we met with a child therapist/social worker that does play therapy with children. She opened us up to even more possibilities for Judah to progress. Her job is to play with him & figure out how he learns, keeping an open mind as to what could be occurring within him that causes him frustration and lack of development in certain areas. He is essentially a puzzle that she works to piece together as much as she can. It sounds like what could be a long, but extremely promising journey. She shared some very interesting, eye-opening stories about her experiences working with children. Some of her shared knowledge sent thoughts and ideas into my mind that could be helpful for Judah, very surprising realizations that made a lot of sense. She has been working with children up to 6 years old for 22 years. Her autism experience is not substantial but her Asperger's experience is. Asperger's of course is soon to be on the autism spectrum... just to make the spectrum even grander, who knows. She knows behavior and seems to be very tuned into children and looking at them from all kinds of perspectives. We will bring Judah with us to our next session, scheduled for Dec. 5th. He will have 3 individual sessions with her in the weeks to come after that. At that point she will write up a treatment plan and give us her professional opinion as to what she sees as the best routes for him to travel. It was a very positive experience. What she could possibly discover would be a key to lessening his frustrations, which would enlarge his opportunities to learn, which would also play out into his other therapies giving him opportunities for better progress there as well. She may discover some of his secret obstacles. Knowing these would give us tools that were tailor-made for him. For the root of his struggles to be exposed would affect every inch of his life. Talking with her was very interesting.

Tonight I made maple apple chicken, in hopes that Sebastian and Willow might like it. Sebastian of course hated it. He tells me that I have failed every time I cook, haha. I'm pretty certain he looks forward to telling me that. I thought a sweeter dish might be the answer to getting him to begin to eat healthier foods. Willow wouldn't touch it. Judah literally touched it, we turned that into a game. Doing that is a step in teaching him to try new foods. He refused to touch it at first, although he was curious (probably more as to why we were trying to get him to touch his food). Scott made it into a game and then Judah wanted to smash it, he loved it!

Sebastian said some kids at school stopped talking when he walked up to them, saying "Shhh! He's coming!" He said it felt like they were keeping a secret from him and that he was confused, not upset, just confused. He's a very sweet boy.

We picked up Judah's entire file from his school today. I'm curious to read through it. We can use it to prepare for the meeting too.

Group music therapy is tomorrow. Sebastian and Judah will both be attending. Details to come!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hope Squared

How can one person possibly cook dinner while watching 3 kids? Not only that but everyone has eaten by 630 and the kids are asleep in bed by 730. I have many, many friends who do this on a daily basis. I hope they take a break on the weekends. We sort of accomplished that routine tonight and last night accomplished it for sure. It's not carefree or relaxing by any means. Having dinners frozen to cook sounds like heaven. Scott has always been against that. He likes everything "fresh". I'm wondering if that mind frame has opened up some now. If I'm going to be the one cooking then we will end up with some frozen meals for sure. And I'm betting anything that he will be completely fine with it. Scott's after-work time with the kids seems to have drifted away a bit. Maybe it's just all an adjustment to the new routine & will get much better in the long run. I can only hope so.

Judah progress blew me away today! He was singing a lot and I could understand some words. I secretly recorded this on my phone. He also had a very happy day, that probably had something to do with what felt like a breakthrough today. I asked him to repeat one word after the next on multiple occasions today. And he did! These were sentences with me telling him word by word what to say. Astounding!!

Lots of crashing in OT today, which continued on when we got home. The OT lady says it makes him feel really good to crash into things. The kids played so hard at home today. That's probably why Willow fell asleep in under 5 minutes this evening.

Willow and I ran a few errands while the boys were in school. While returning Sebastian's puzzle wall poster to Rite-Aid I noticed the Halloween clearance bins. I don't know why I can't resist fairy wings at 75% off. I've already bought 2 pairs this year and grabbed another on clearance last year. None of my kids have ever been winged creatures for Halloween and I don't expect any of them to be next year. I just can't resist cheap fairy wings!!

Sebastian told me that one of the girls in his class said, "Sebastian Karla likes you!!" and Karla said, "I do not!" He just thought it was funny. From what I could gather from his story, I am pretty sure he had no clue what they were talking about.

Last night at dinner Scott kept trying to put a piece of food on Judah's plate. Judah said, "No" repeatedly. He didn't like it at all. Finally Judah pushes Scott's hand away from his plate and says, "Kachow!!"

The OT lady gave us lots of tips, as usual. We need to start an "all done" box. This may help with J's urge to throw things when he is done with them. She recommended having one in each room and also using it for meal time, as it can help with eating new foods. There is one food on his plate that he doesn't like at every meal. He will have to touch it when he throws it in the box. Touching it makes the food less scary and is actually a step in getting him to eat new foods. We will also be doing finger painting with foods and then offering them to eat later (not the ones we paint with, haha). Basically the steps are.. for him to tolerate a food he doesn't care for on his plate, for him to touch it in some way, for him to touch it to his lips, for him to kiss it (we model the lips stuff) and lastly for him to try a small bite. Did you ever know there were so many steps to taking a bite of food??

Robin isn't going to be available to attend our IFSP meeting if we do it on the day they have picked. We still haven't agreed to that date yet. She sent me a lengthy email of her professional opinion on what she believes we need to activate within his team. She added her thoughts on what we could do on our own that could be potentially very powerful for his development. I can't keep up with all of the opinions and advice we get from professionals. However, this was different. Her thoughts made sense, offered us much knowledge and promising ideas that would have never occurred to us. That email propelled enormous amounts of hope into me. That combined with his breakthrough today made for a pretty incredible Thursday.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

BFF Learning Opportunities

Our day has become pretty routine around here. Tonight we switched it up a bit. We had dinner at 6 and bedtime at 7. Scott and I may actually have an evening now! It never seems like even a possibility to fit everything we want to into our day. When I have a moment to do nothing I know in my head very clearly that I am forgetting to do SOMETHING. Scott also created a menu for the week.

The Social Sibs program at Portland State got back to me today. Unfortunately I was in the midst of a semi-unnerving eye appointment. It was weird. The eye doctor just seemed like he wasn't telling me something. He gave me glaucoma drops to help my pupils regulate during the night. Apparently they get very large when the lights go off. The drops should help with the "starburst" effect I see when looking at lights during the night. Driving is a strange experience. Other than that they say I'm 20/20 and that my flap is crystal clear.

See the link for SocialSibS info :  It sounds like something the boys could do. I would be THRILLED if we could get more social and communication help for Judah. I would think that working with Sebastian could be a huge help, but of course there's no way of knowing that until we do it. Sebastian is going to attend Judah's music therapy group on Saturday. He is very excited about it! That will give me a shot to see how they interact in an environment set up for Judah to learn communication and social skills.

Our team meeting is going to be November 20th. Judah's teacher said that each team member has 2 free hours of time according to their schedules. Although, she said the speech therapist will have to leave after an hour and a half, and another member had an appointment at the same time but she said it was something they could skip. None of this is "confirmation" to me. I wish she would have spoken to the team members!!

Sebastian and Judah had a lot of bff time today, doing flips on the reconstructed play pen, having a bubble bath together, laying next to each other and playing in our bed before bedtime. This is a big reason why I would have strong hope in the SocialSibS program, because they are so close and Judah is very engaged, happy and admiring of his older brother. When Judah is doing something he loves, it is the most opportune time for him to learn. It probably works that way for a lot of us!

Willow refers to her bottle of milk as a "ba ba". We were laying in bed this evening, and as she was drinking her bottle she stops to look over at me and say, "Mmmm, good ba ba". hahaha! I swear she spent as much time as Judah on the potty chair today. She is probably very trainable right now, just one more huge thing to squish into our day. It would be nice to get it done though. Right now she really enjoys it, could be a key time to take advantage of. She is following Judah's lead in going to the potty. Another bff learning interaction! Today Judah followed Sebastian's lead going potty. Sebastian was on the big potty and Judah was 1 foot across from him on the small potty. The same situation happened later, only with Willow in Judah's place. Our bathroom is stuffed full of kids, parents and a dog very often!

Last night I drew a big triangle and rectangle on a piece of computer paper and laminated it. Scott showed me how to make these shapes on the computer after that, so I made a few more sheets of shapes and laminated them as well. I did another paper with "Judah" written across it in very big letters. Today Judah traced a couple of these shapes (like he does at school). The triangle and rectangle he did very well, and pretty quickly too. His name was obviously a brand new one to him, he wanted to color it, not trace it. We did hand-over-hand on that one. We'll try the other shapes tomorrow. Willow colored one of the pages, because of course she wanted to do what Judah was doing! She loved coloring with the markers. She calls coloring, "cracker".

Judah is singing some different songs. I love how confident he is when he sings. We were a few minutes late to pick up Sebastian because Judah wanted to stay and watch the Thomas episode that had all of the songs in it. He fought me for quite a while when I was trying to get him into his car seat. You never know when that issue is going to come up and there is no easy solution that we have figured out yet.

There was a story about a boy in the news very recently. He is nonverbal, autistic and just started singing a Katy Perry song the other day! You can understand the words he is saying when he sings. The mom said he does speak when told what to say. But still, very cool story. See the link here:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More Turkeys!

Sebastian got out of bed this morning, went to the potty and then immediately began working on his turkey. I love his motivation & creativity. Either these things have really blossomed lately or I haven't been paying nearly enough attention. His motivation often comes from within, he doesn't like being told what to do for the most part - unless it's something he enjoys. When he saw Willow's turkey art in the car on the way home from school, he wanted to make more turkeys. We got home and he made three more turkeys, each on a single sheet of colored paper, tracing his hand as the bird (like Willow did). With his first turkey he drew a head on each of the fingertips. With the next one he drew heads on all but one of the fingertips, and the next one had two less fingertip heads. He told me it was a pattern. It took me a minute to figure it out. Very creative little boy!! Again, he wanted no assistance or ideas from me. I only offered to bring him his craft box this time. At this point I know if he really needs something he will ask me, but it's very likely he won't.

Sebastian also spent time organizing his room. He cleared his dresser and then rearranged items on top. He put items in boxes as his "storage". He handed me the picture cards ring after having to find it for more earlier in the day and says, "Put this where it belongs". I don't know where he gets all of these organizational skills.

Yesterday I put Vaseline on Sebastian's bottom to help with the pooping situation. Last night he told Daddy (as he was on the potty), "Daddy it's not going to hurt when I poop this time!" Daddy replies, "That's great! Why is that?" Sebastian says, "Because Mommy put gasoline on my bottom!!"

Willow, also little miss independent, went to a baby play date this morning. She talked the entire way there. From what I heard it sounded as if she didn't believe me that we were going to play, right at that moment (as soon as we dropped the boys at school). And with other babies?? No way. Once we arrived and went inside the house, she walked to the edge of the living room and stood, looking out at the crowd of mommies & babies. She did not move, just stared. Eventually I moved her. She would not do a single thing that I suggested while we were there. I was trying to encourage her to play and do art. In time she did art, but only when she chose to. I admire that a lot. She did other things too, each time completely independently. She said maybe 4 words the entire time we were there, which I basically drug out of her. When she was coloring her turkey her chair somehow fell backwards and she bonked her head on the linoleum kitchen floor. Her face going down was pure, big-eyed, "oh my god!!!" and when she landed all you heard was the chair hit the floor. She didn't peep, not a sound. The moms thought that she was just tough, which she is. I do think she would have cried had that happened at home, mainly to get snuggles. A toddler hit her while we were there. Again, no crying. Obviously we haven't been on many play dates lately. Our situation is rough. When we can actually go with only a 35% chance of disaster, we go. Otherwise schedule conflicts, illness, etc. hold us back.

Dad called today. I filled him in on the team meeting situation. Judah's school has given us a date and time that allows for one hour to have a meeting. So now it is OUR turn to be the reason for the need to reschedule. Last time we should have just done it without the OT and got it done. I had no idea it was going to take another almost 3 weeks before we would have an opportunity to have this meeting. I requested this meeting in mid-October. It is now late November and still no meeting.

Also, I ran into Judah's school speech therapist as we headed into his classroom this morning. I asked her how she did his therapy- if she took him out of the room or had a private part of the room that she used. She very confidently told me that she does his therapy as he plays in class, that she stands behind him while he plays, that she acts as his "voice"?, that she helps with snack and that she helps him do his "I want" card at snack (which he does every school day without her), that sometimes she may play with him while he's playing. It was just friggin' ridiculous. Oh and her being there observing class seems to equal therapy in her eyes as well. ??! The worst part was that she confidently believed that this was speech therapy. If I were her I don't think I would have admitted any of that to anyone! But I'd also never do that. Sooo frustrating to find that out. I wonder if they will make up for all of that lost therapy time. Typically at our meetings they tell us that he can only get his (he's up to 30) minutes a month of speech therapy and that the aides basically act as speech therapists the remainder of his school days. We really didn't think we could do anything about this. I'm really mad at myself for not looking into this harder early on.

The gluten-free family is still going strong. It's not easy. We need to get more gluten-free snacks, figure out how to be gluten-free for less money, and have a menu planned. That would make life much easier for sure.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Starburst the Turkey

Sebastian was a new child this evening. He reminded me that he needed to do his turkey project. He really enjoyed that. We found things around the house to glue onto his turkey. He required and requested minimal help from me. His creativity blew me away. I thought he wanted to color the turkey feathers with crayons, when actually he was telling me he wanted to use different colored items from around the house to glue on the feathers. His turkey has a big glass eye, an angry bird floating above it's head, a penny in it's belly, feathers filled with spices, beads, pieces of the dog toy and more, a shiny red ribbon wrapped around it's body, and a name tag cut from a candy wrapper glued to it's forehead that reads, "Starburst". It took quite a while to get Starburst decorated. Sebastian wanted to do more but half an hour past his bedtime was all we could allow.

He also ate all of his carrots at dinner, without even being told to. Typically I can get him to take one bite of vegetables, or eat a few vegetables if we give him a "surprise". I didn't offer a surprise but I did praise him repeatedly through the evening. We decided to glue some Omega fish tablets on the turkey. They are basically fish oil shaped like fish for kids. Sebastian, again without being told, popped one in his mouth and chewed it up! I have spent MUCH time trying to get him to take vitamins. He consistently refuses, sometimes takes a tiny bite, but that's it. Like I said, he turned into a new child this evening. There was still the running everywhere & screaming, but a lot of that was just out of being happy that we were all together as a family and working together as a family.

We couldn't get Willow to eat anything but Rice Chex today. Finally after dinner Scott was able to get her to eat turkey deli meat. Again, meat saves the day for her.

Gosh, Judah just continued to astonish me all day long. All of the kids were helping me bring in the porch Halloween deco. At one point Willow was outside by herself and the front door got shut, but she didn't care. I yelled, "Willow, come inside!!" Judah goes to the door and yells, "Illo!! (and then something else)" He was clearly trying to say his sister's name. I have NEVER heard that from him before. So we go out to get her. She had left her bowl of Rice Chex on the porch. As I started to chase after her I see Judah grab her bowl and dump them into his bowl, haha. They are Rice Chex fiends. He said other brand new words throughout the day. They aren't brand new to him though, they are likely words he has been saying for a long time, we can just understand them now. He seems to be repeating us even more. He's repeating movie lines during the movie and that vocalization is definitely more clear as well. Very exciting! It's the best thing ever to hear your child of almost 4 years begin to speak. Today he said something to me and I remember thinking, I've been waiting four years for you to say something like that to me. It's hard to explain that emotion. It's overwhelming and wonderful all in the same moment.

Scott & I both took turns running to JcPenney's and doing some shopping. He had $$ left over on a gift card and we were both armed with $10 off a $25 purchase coupons. Unfortunately he only found one item and they were out of his size. I went straight to the running shoes. I haven't bought running shoes for myself in close to 10 years. New Balance shoes seem to last forever, but I definitely needed a new pair, like 5 years ago, haha. I shopped the clearance racks, which were STILL expensive, but I did find a few pairs that worked. I decided on a pair of Reeboks. There was only one pair in my size, so I was stuck with pink shoes, but they were sort of cute. They were on clearance for half off. The price? Fifty bucks! I actually remembered to look online on my phone and found the same pair on amazon for $35 AND they were a color that I liked much more. Score!! I also found three pairs of jeans that I liked. Very good shopping trip.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Strep Carriers

We Skyped with cousin Olive tonight. She brought out her toys, one by one, to show Sebastian & Willow. We got to see her headphones, toy laptop and more! She has long hair with spiral curls in the back. Her parents both have straight hair so I wouldn't have expected curls on her head. She likes to wear necklaces and bracelets. Uncle Tim did some apple juggling. Sebastian was in awe.

Sleeping was hard last night. I awoke with bad pain in my throat throughout the night. I felt like I needed to swallow every single time I woke, and I knew it was going to hurt. Nothing like waking up to pain in your throat all night long. I was seriously considering going to a 24 hour Urgent Care at 3 in the morning. We may not even have 24 hour Urgent Care's, I don't know. And I don't know why it didn't occur to me until this evening that cold medicine might help, and it does, some. Sucrets cough drops work better, but they don't last long. I went to Urgent Care around noon today, with a bottle of Chloraseptic throat spray sticking out of my purse. When I saw the doctor I asked her many questions about strep, because I was certain that's what my diagnosis would be. After all, I've had it twice this year already. We talked about antibiotics. She didn't attempt to be largely persuasive in either direction, taking them or not taking them. She just explained what the consequences were for both. She let me know that there are carriers of strep. These unconsciously evil individuals don't have the symptoms of strep, but they can pass the infection on to others. Typically strep carriers have nasal problems, so be on the lookout for people carrying tissues! It's spread basically like a cold is.

Anyway, all of the strep conversation was very informative, and I knew I was going to have to go home & tell Scott that he was a strep throat carrier, but much to my surprise, it was viral. I had a very hard time believing the medical assistant who told me that.

Scott took Willow and Sebastian with him to shop at Costco today. He said it was awful. Apparently Sebastian was wildly driving the shopping cart around, running into things & people, and not listening to his dad at all. Scott came home in a very, very bad mood. The kids of course were rainbows & sunshine.

We tried gluten-free white cheddar mac 'n cheese tonight. Sebastian loved it. Willow wouldn't eat it because of how it looked. Typically she will throw mac 'n cheese down her throat like it's water. She would have loved it had she tried it. We tried a bunch of different foods for her tonight. Finally I just brought out a plate of tiny chicken pieces. Then she ate. She is a meat eater for sure.

Judah was sad when everyone left for the store. He really wanted to go, but there was no way he was parting with Mommy. After they left I dug out one of the costumes we scored at the Target Halloween clearance recently. It was Thomas the Train! He wore it around the rest of the day. He loved it. As soon as he put it on he ran to the mirror to see himself. At one point he ran to the bathroom and held the package up to the mirror, right next to his head. He was comparing himself to the little boy in the picture who was wearing the same costume. Then he looked down at his sleeves, because they were the one thing about the outfit that did not match. He's very detail oriented.

No music therapy today - Angie is out of town. We'll do the group next weekend, Sebastian may join. After that she is gone through December 9th.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Spanish Speaking Parents

Fortunately it wasn't the most eventful day today. Willow & I awoke early. I did some couponing online.

Sebastian went to a birthday party at a gymnastics center today. Scott took him. Sebastian was very excited about the gymnast who went upside-down! He's been to one other party at a gymnastics center. They are pretty awesome for kids. The kids can put all of their energy into one huge enclosed area filled with gym mats, trampolines, balance bars and more. The staff usually lead them into games or fun exercises that the entire group can do together.

Scott said there were parents who just dropped their kids and left. Are we at that age already??

The interesting thing about this birthday party was that many of the parents there spoke Spanish. Scott now believes that most of the kids in Sebastian's class have at least one parent who speaks Spanish. We thought most of them did not have the Spanish language in their immediate family. We figured the parents were putting their kids there for the same reasons we are - kids pick up language easier when they are young, culture is learned and it will be advantageous for them in the near future. But apparently these kids are on the inside track! They have the good fortune of being in the Spanish speaking environment at home and at school. This will help Sebastian as these kids may pick it up more easily and he can learn from them. Scott or myself need to take some Spanish classes. Taking the classes will be fun, finding the time and money will be strenuous. Sebastian is already passing me by. By 1st grade I won't have a clue what he is saying.

Judah is still repeating words we say and singing. Scott was trying to get him to bed tonight and Judah was just singing away, haha.

Willow is still repeating words and wants to be held by Mommy 89% of the day. The other percent she is napping.

We are trying to come up with a consequence other than time-out for Sebastian. Time-out no longer works for him. We are going to first change the time-out location. If that doesn't work we will get more creative.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Spiderman Behavior

Judah is still singing! I was able to video him on my phone this afternoon. He really doesn't care who is listening, but he never likes being recorded on video or getting his picture taken, it doesn't matter what he is doing. So I had to sneak around the corner of the play room and make a video of him while he played trains and sang.

Sebastian was in his room for a long time today sounding out words as he wrote them down. He went through an entire drawing pad and in the end got very upset because he was never able to get the sentence right. Scott & I praised him, what an amazing effort!! He was upset also because he was now out of paper. I told him I would buy him all the paper he ever needs if he continues to work on his language skills like that! Then I gave him a big stack of paper. I also made a video of him sounding out words.

Judah said a lot of new words today and was counting quite often too. He can count up to 10 but lately has been jumping around once he gets to 5 or 6. He repeated some 2 word phrases that Sebastian said today. He has been repeating lines from his current favorite movie (the Polar Express) and getting much better at them.

The new parenting method is still going okay. Still frustrating for Judah but in the end works every time. I probably spent half an hour today getting him to go potty, then go back and finish the routine (washing his hands). But he did it. It was probably such a pain in the ass for him that I suspect he will just start doing it at some point. Right now he is testing the waters to see how long I am going to be able to do this. Sebastian and Willow are getting the same type of learning. Sebastian is in time-out more times than I can count throughout the day. He has such a hard time listening. I know he wants to but he is constantly doing things that he knows he is not supposed to do, and often directly after we tell him not to do them. Maybe time-out isn't the best method for him. This morning I woke up and he had cleaned all of the living room windows and patio door with water and paper towels. He told me that he didn't use the Windex because he knew he wasn't supposed to. He does things like that without being asked and often without even telling us he did them.

Sebastian went to school as Spiderman today. This was a clearance costume I grabbed at Target recently. His size 6 Spiderman is already too short!! Thankfully I had a size 7-8 on hand. It was only $3 at Target!! Today was "Dress Up as Someone You Admire Day". They don't get to dress up for Halloween. This is basically a day to let them do so. And they schedule it far enough away from Halloween to get away with it.

My head hurts, I'm going to bed.

Oh- I also got in the Autism Speaks iPad grant application today. It's for families that can't afford iPads, so we may not qualify. But it would be very helpful for Judah if he had one, so we had to try. I wrote them some killer essays. I hope it does something! :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Small Hope for Family Dinners

Judah's progress was apparent very much today! He was making sounds much more often, trying hard to communicate and wasn't frustrated nearly as often. Robin recommended repeating his sounds directly after he says them, which I did today. I wonder if that made a huge impact or if its his natural progression that we're seeing/hearing. I also tried Robins method of parenting today, and it worked. Sebastian and Willow stopped and stared when I would not help Judah off the floor as he was screaming. I kept some distance so he couldn't grab or hit me. Eventually he got up and went straight to the bathroom, just like he has done in similar situations with her. It worked!! He left the bathroom without washing his hands (part of his potty routine). I let him know we were going back to wash hands and took the trains he was holding and playing with. Again, it didn't go over well but eventually worked. This ended with Judah giving me a huge hug and playing trains together.

530 pm and I had the kids fed! They sat down together for dinner. We can't do family dinners unless Scott starts going into work early. The kids love family dinners. They are a very healthy time for us as a family. We've GOT to figure that out. Tomorrow will work since he will telecommute, and the weekend is do-able as well. The rest of the week is a huge challenge we have yet to find a reasonable solution to.

Judah gets into the car at pick-up singing a song! He kept singing in the car for a lot of the ride home. Sebastian says, "Mom, Judah's singing..?" It was so funny, and great!! I'm pretty sure now that he is singing music from the Polar Express. I love how free he is with his singing. He is creative and care-free. He's also dancing a lot too. The kids all dance to the hot chocolate song on the Polar Express. Willow hears it and runs over to the living room, "ooh got it!" she says while she walks in place with her knees high and her arms moving. Judah spins and jumps. Sebastian jumps off the furniture, slides across the floor.. he looks like a break dancer in training. Scott & I dance too. It makes the dog go nuts.

I hit up the Walgreens Halloween clearance today and was able to get a lot of fun stuff for next year! 75% off!! Target costumes are also at 75%, I grabbed one or two for each kid the other day.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Adventures in Assessment

This morning I took Judah to Mom's work where her co-worker had planned to do an assessment on Judah. Judah was very excited to be there. He hasn't been to Grandma's work in a long time. All of the staff came around to greet us. None of them had seen Willow since she started walking! In the middle of the large waiting area, surrounded by offices and classrooms, sat Robin at a table filled with coloring books, a hat, stuffed animals, blocks, etc. I had expected us to be in a closed room. She let me know that the room she wanted to use was taken by a teacher earlier.

Robin greeted Judah. I found coffee. My mom took Willow into her office. In no time I was chasing Judah down the halls pulling him out of classes, while at the same time trying to practice the new parenting methods that Robin had taught me (especially since she was there!). Her methods are hard, but they work. When he starts in on a tantrum I am basically supposed to ignore it. I don't let him touch me. I make sure he is safe and give him time and space to get through it. Immediately upon his calming down I give him lots of rewarding hugs and kisses. Another method is to just give him a bear hug until he calms down, but that's usually if he is going to hurt himself or someone else.  This was not the optimal situation for her method.

Robin came into the picture periodically to rescue me. It took her a while as well, but we did get him back. She was able to do somewhat of an assessment on him. She told me that he very clearly said, "Let me go!" when she was holding him, haha. She rewarded him for positive behavior. When he threw a block she told him to pick it up and of course he would not. He would get upset. But eventually he picked up the block.

At one point he was log rolling across the entire waiting area, which I didn't even know he could do! He kept sticking his hands down his pants the entire time we were there. When I finally figured out that his diaper was falling off it was too late. I fixed it but 5 minutes later he is standing in front of my mom and her co-worker, pulling his diaper out of the bottom of his pant leg. They are all facing my direction but nobody notices what Judah is doing. I interrupt Robin (which is hard because she is intimidating) and run over to get Judah.

This is when it got really bad. I had to go get diapers from the car. My meter was also up so I had to fill that as well. My mom decides to give me a pile of stuff to take to the car. I run out into the rain to get all of this business done. I head back into my Mom's office to find Judah having a gigantic tantrum because I had left. I went to put his diaper on and realized I had not gotten them out of the car! My mom was not happy, "What??!!?" I ran out again, which upset Judah more. I came back this time to find him with no pants on, Robin is in the room holding him down and apparently Judah has wet his pants (a lot) which also left a puddle of urine on my mom's carpeted office floor.

Robin gave me lots of advice while I was there. I was eventually upset about Judah being such a spectacle. At the time I was just trying to make the best of the situation, but now I realize that I should have gotten him out of there much sooner. I would never wish for my mom's co-workers to find out this way. The looks were hard to deal with.

Honestly I never realized until I met Robin how much our parenting skills were not allowing Judah to have full opportunity to progress. Discipline has changed. He's even going to time-outs now. I never even knew that was possible. Repetition, repetition, repetition.. on top of that he is a smart kid. He knows what's up.

Mom wants to hire Robin to work with Judah. I don't know if she will do it but it would be an amazing help to Judah and the rest of the family if she does take it on. She used to be a speech pathologist, but let her license run out because she was fed up with how crappy insurance companies treat people who need speech therapy. She is now a professor teaching Special Ed law. She raised 3 kids, one of which was autistic. They told her it was severe and that her daughter would never progress. That daughter now lives on her own and has a job. In fact, all of her kids are hugely successful. Robin is a hard worker, as a parent and as a person. She lives on a large farm with all kinds of animals. She and her husband take care of the farm. She works full-time at the college at the same time.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Computerized Therapy Assistant

Judah's speech therapy was spotted with bits of progress today. I do wonder if he's going to go off on her at some point. She is so loud & in control that he doesn't even have a moment to be frustrated. He is progressing more there than the last place though. We really have no other options right now. So here we are, with this lady who is about as personable as insect repellent. When I walked in and apologized for being 10 minutes late, she completely ignored me. I told her that I had forgotten what road to turn on. I didn't have the GPS. She just looked at me & turned around to do something. Every time we go into therapy there is only enough seating for Judah & the therapy assistant. She prefers to do therapy without Scott or myself in the room but we won't allow it. Thus, there is never a chair for me. I have to hunt one down, by myself, every single time. I'm not a distraction to Judah. Every once in a while he looks back to make sure I am still there. I don't say a word. There is absolutely no reason for her to want to do therapy behind closed doors with my kid who can't talk. Red flag.

Like I said earlier, his session went well progress wise. He likes playing with her. Today she fell back a bit into not letting him make his own choices with the toys. If that goes back to how it was on day one I will say something. There is absolutely no need for that either. It's not good for him or helpful by any means. Every time we have been there she has had new toys for him, and cool ones at that. They are a brand new company, which means the toys are brand new as well! She gave Judah 37 minutes of therapy (I checked my phone) & then literally pushed him out of the door. He wanted to sit & bond with her for a minute without doing therapy. He was trying to show her his Thomas DVD case that he had brought solely for her to see. She comes to life during the session & Judah shows bits of progress. But as soon as her mental session timer shuts off, she shuts off with it. All this time I thought she was still mad at me for asking so many questions on the first day, which could be true, but I really doubt it at this point. She's a computerized therapy assistant disguised as a human.

Papa came to watch the kids while I took Judah to therapy. They built a cool train track.  Judah did not want to leave for therapy because Papa was here. But I snatched him up, distracted him with tickles and kid talk. That got us out of the house, but getting into his car seat was another matter. I used the same trick I used to get him into his car seat on the way to his last session (when Grandma was here & he unfortunately witnessed her taking the other 2 kids away in her car). I brought out the portable DVD player & a Thomas movie. Then I realized there was no cord. And of course it wasn't charged. I scrambled through the house looking for the cord, found it, plugged it into the car charger & it still didn't work (turns out the cord was frayed). So this didn't help matters. I toyed with the DVD player & cord on the drive there & got it working. However, on the way home the cord finally went kupootz. We must buy a new one soon.. before his next session on Thursday!

Robin, the lady we visited at the farm, is assessing Judah at her office tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to seeing how he does with her there. He did great with her at the farm, fantastic actually. Tons of progress seen in just a short visit to the farm!

Judah's classroom has different activities that the teachers & aides have made very cheaply. Today I saw a really good one. They utilize laminating a lot - it makes things durable! When Judah came in he found his cubby marked with his picture & put his things away, attempting to hang his backpack. The teacher told him where to sit & handed him markers. She brought out a laminated sheet of paper that had 3 large shapes on it. They were made out of broken lines, meant to be traced. Since the paper was laminated he could use the marker & trace the shapes to his heart's content! He did well, was very focused & even picked out the green marker, saying "green".

Tonight I went to Target to check out what was left of the Halloween clearance. I grabbed some costumes for the kids, nothing over $6. This year they wore the ones I bought on clearance there last year & loved them. Fingers crossed for next year!!! If it works out we will have 2 little boy skeletons, a Jake & the Neverlands pirate girl & a pirate mommy. Scott asked to pick his costume for next year, no word on what that will be yet. ;)


Monday, November 4, 2013

Disability DISappointment

Sebastian & I peeled, cored & sliced 10 large apples today. Willow added the sugar (what she now refers to candy as), cinnamon & water. This was all being thrown into the crock pot. It would be 4 hours before it was fully cooked. While the homemade applesauce was cooking I researched ideas on what you can do with apple slices. Apparently you can clean rust off of pots & pans by boiling apple slice in them? I didn’t do that one, but I did bake the slices in the oven for 2 hours. They were also covered in a cinnamon & sugar combination.
When the homemade apple sauce was done I was excited for the kids to try it! I knew they would LOVE it. And.. I was completely wrong. Lately they won’t eat anything I cook. Who doesn’t like homemade applesauce??! My anticipation, crushed. Sebastian & Willow did, however, like the baked apple slices. They came out tasting like sweet, apple chips!
Sebastian celebrated “Day of the Dead” at school today. His class finished the skulls they had each decorated on Halloween by taping a pencil to the bottom of them, turning them into masks. He brought home lots of skull artwork. He also made a paper skeleton with an accordion paper stomach. He came home with a skull on a small plate that looked to be made out of crystallized sugar. He had decorated it with icing, dyed pasta & hot fudge. Sebastian & Willow were both very bummed that they couldn’t eat it.
We learned today that we were found to be correct in our battle with the insurance company. There is a statute stating that Scott's type of insurance must help with Judah’s therapy. We provided them with a copy of this law. Starting in January our insurance will cover a very limited amount of therapy sessions a year, but it’s something. Scott seems to think we can’t ask them to do any more.  I’m more of a “it never hurts to try” person myself. We’ll see.
We had our disability appointment today. The only eligibility specialist currently working there has been there for 11 years. And she never stops talking. She was overflowing with information. I had to interrupt her every single time I had a question. It was extremely unfortunate for us that her mountain of information was not going to work in our favor, other than $200-$400/year to cover items that may be needed for health, safety, etc. Oh we get respite too! This is where a complete stranger that has offered to work for disability as a respite (no pay??) comes into your home where you then trust him/her in your home alone & give him/her complete responsibility of your child after having known your child for all of 4 minutes. This stranger is expected to keep your child safe. Respite will only baby-sit one kid. So the other 2 kids would go with us.  The eligibility specialist offered up this idea - we could have someone we know apply to do respite with them, get a criminal background check & then we would pick them to be our respite. Or hey, perhaps we could call them to come over & watch the kids?? Just a thought.
The disability appointment was informative & hugely disappointing. Oregon has the highest rate of diagnosed autistic children over any other state. The disability offered does not include therapy – because they don’t have the money. The developmental disability site clearly states that their family services include therapy. I made sure to bring that up. So basically there is a mountain of children in Oregon in need of substantial assistance. The rates of therapists & private schools are not reasonable by any means, they are extreme. Therapists in Portland who specialize in autism will cost you around $320 for 30 minutes to an hour.  The ones with waiting lists are all working out of hospitals, which is why their rates are so high. Finding an autism therapist outside of a hospital that is available to take patients has proven to be impossible for us. There are just too many kids that need help.
Judah seems to be doing better with the potty training. Once he is in the bathroom, he is fine & does well. Getting there is the struggle. Today he actually handed me the potty card & we went off to the bathroom! He's done this only once before. That is a clear step over the starting line.  I need to re-do his schedule in a linear view, something I learned at the meeting. I also learned that picture choices on a circle would be better, so he isn’t going from left to right & is instead seeing all of the choices more equally.
Willow continues to repeat everything. Still lots of repetitive “huh?” & “what’s that?” combined with pointing.