Thursday, May 31, 2012

Last Day of School

This morning was Amelia's last day of school for the year!  

She really loves going to school.  Sometimes she even asks to go on non-school days!  I have a feeling that she will really miss going twice a week this summer.  Hopefully she likes it this much once next fall rolls around!

Tonight, in honor of the "official" start to summer, Amelia had a special bath!  

A glow-in-the-dark bath!  This is something that we have done a few times in the past.  I pick up some glow sticks (usually from the dollar section at work) and throw them in the bath with her.  Lights off, of course.  She thinks it is pretty neat and it mixes things up for us a bit at night!  

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kitty Attack

We had our first major kitty attack tonight.  I was in the bathroom when the incident occurred.  All I know is that I heard a shriek followed by crying.  Loud and intense crying.

Little man got his first, major injury from one of the cats.

I found him next to the couch and Ludo was under the couch.  Here is what I am thinking happened - I think that Joe was headed to Ludo (as he always is - slow poke "chases" the cats around every chance he gets), Ludo was sleeping, got startled and instinctively scratched him.  It bled an awful lot.  More than I would have thought it would.  

I never had Ludo (foreground) declawed when he was younger.  I rescued him when he was almost a year old and I didn't have any reason to have his claws removed.  I certainly never thought I'd have two kids by age 26.  I figured Ludo would be a mellow, older cat by the time I had kids to worry about!

I suppose we will have to keep a closer eye on both kids and cats from here on out! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

We had an incredibly low-key weekend.  We did nothing big and exciting.  We didn't go anywhere.  We visited a few people Sunday but other than that we stayed home!

Saturday I got home from work mid-afternoon and we just hung out at home and played with the kids.  Joe wowed us all with his "walking" skills:

After the kids went to bed Jason and I watched the movie Super 8 with our friend, Leigh.  

Sunday we had lunch with friends at their home.  Amelia had fun running through the sprinkler they set up for her.

Joe was content to play with a bowl that originally held water for their dogs.

When we left there we headed to my parent's house to hang with Auntie Kim.  (Nana and Papa are out of town - for the Indianapolis 500.)  We set up the play pool my mom found at Goodwill for $5.  

The set-up on this thing was not fun but eventually Jason had it all ready to go.  

Amelia had a lot of fun with it!  

After dinner (tacos) we had and kitty-cat cupcakes.  I think someone enjoyed hers...

Monday after I got home from work we hung out in the parking lot with some of our neighbors who were planting gardens.  There is a small strip of land between where we park and the property fence and each unit can plant whatever they like in the soil in front of their cars.  I don't think we will plant anything this year but it is good to know for next year!  

We had never really socialized with the neighbors in the eight months that we have lived here until yesterday.  Amelia had some fun playing with a couple neighbor kids and their "toy" of choice was mud.

She had so much fun in that mud!  Pretty sure those pants are history but I guess that's the price you pay for a good time sometimes.  

We rounded out the weekend with incredibly mismatched pajamas last night.  And Pinocchio.

 That was pretty much our weekend.  Nothing too thrilling or noteworthy and that's ok!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Rain, Rain, Go Away

In honor of the rainy day we are having I thought I'd share Amelia's rendition of "Rain, Rain, Go Away."

One day we told her it was raining and she just busted this song out. We had no idea she even knew it! She must learned it at school is all we can figure :)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Feeding Consultation

This morning I spent two hours on the phone with specialists at the Fraser Center.  By far the most important part of the morning was when I spoke to someone regarding feeding and mealtime.

Amelia is a picky eater.  I've heard people tell me, "if she's hungry, she'll eat" more than once.  It always upsets me because I (and Jason) know her better than anyone and I realized early on that that wasn't necessarily true with her.  In fact, it was one of the first things that I brought up this morning and I shared that I didn't feel that it was the case with her.  The therapist I was speaking with couldn't have agreed more - some kids will not eat, even if they are hungry.  

Children that have a sensory issue often will not eat if they are "hung up" on something.  Amelia is a very visual child - especially when it comes to eating.  Example?  If you give her a piece of cheese and it is not whole, she will not eat it because it is "broken."  If something is visually off to her, she will not eat.  Even if she is hungry.  You cannot make her eat it.  

With all that being said, here are some things that we will be working on with her:

  • Offering smaller portions.  Children with sensory problems, especially visual ones, can often feel overwhelmed at the sight of too much food - even if it is a familiar and accepted food.   
  • Offer our meal in small portions alongside her chosen meal.  If we are having tacos and she would like Macaroni and Cheese, we will make her the macaroni and offer her some taco fixins' on the side.  I imagine her divided plate will be very useful in doing this!  
  • When offering new foods, do so with zero expectation.  By not putting pressure on her to eat the foreign foods the idea is that she will get used to seeing certain things on her plate and one day she will probably just try it on her own.  *All we can do is try with this one.  It is clear that the pressuring her to eat new things does not work!  In fact, all it accomplishes is her leaving the table upset and not eating a thing.
  • Setting the table.  We plan to teach her to set the table for everyone who is eating.  Why?  To put a stop to this:

November 2011

One of Jason's biggest issues with mealtime is the fact that she brings every piece of her flatware to the table.  (I've sort of let it go at this point.)  We've tried hiding some of it but she knows it is gone.  We've tried giving her just one fork and one spoon but she needs it all.  We are going to teach her that each plate gets one fork and one spoon and then we are done.  They think she needs it all there because to her the drawer being empty signifies "done."  We need to teach her a new "done."  
  • Bridging.  In order to get her used to new flavors we will blend it with things she likes.  One suggestion today was marinara sauce.  She will sometimes eat it but often won't.  It was suggested that we blend it with ricotta cheese to turn it more pink.  We know she loves cheese so having the cheesy flavor will likely make her enjoy the "pink" sauce.  Over time we would reduce how much ricotta was mixed in until she was just eating straight marinara.  Another example of bridging would be in changing one element of an accepted food.  An example would be pasta.  We know she loves pasta so try different colored pasta.  I have actually done this.  I got her orange  farfalle vegetable pasta (tomatoes and carrots) because I wanted to get some more nutrients into her.  She refused it because it was orange.  Once she had an interest in butterflies we revisited this pasta and now she loves to eat "orange butterflies" for dinner.  In this example I changed the color of the pasta but I also related it to an interest of hers which I was told to continue doing whenever possible!
  • Small utensils for small tastes.  Offer her teeny, tiny tastes of new foods on toothpicks.  If she tries it, great!  We're opening the door to trying new things - even if it is just a microscopic taste.  The important thing is that she let her guard down and tried it.  That's what we want.
  • Juice.  I was informed that juice can sometimes trigger hunger in people.  She compared it to soda drinkers tending to snack more often - the sugar makes them hungry.  By offering a small amount of juice thirty minutes before mealtime we may be able to remind her body that she is hungry.
  • Limiting milk intake.  This is something that we have been doing for quite some time now.  Amelia loves, loves, loves her milk.  She would drink it all day, sun up to sun down, if we let her.  Now we give her some at each mealtime whether she eats or not.  She also gets a cup between meals as well as one at bedtime.  She was filling up on so much milk that she was not hungry at all - ever.  Her speech therapist actually was the one that suggested we do this and it has worked great!  Plus, her overnights don't leak nearly as often anymore ;)
  • Food groups.  It was suggested that we try to get her to eat her way through the food groups weekly vs. daily.  At this point she is nowhere near getting a meat, dairy, vegetable, fruit and grain each meal or even each day.  The weekly goal seems much more attainable to me and as we work on building her menu this will come more easily - I hope.
As you can see, we have a lot to work on!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Our Weekend

I'll start with this past Thursday evening...which was the special service's ice cream social for Amelia's school!  We got there and all she could even think of doing was playing so that's what we did.

She loves to play on the small beach at the "rainbow park" and look for seashells (snail shells, really.)  Once the infant swing freed up Joe got to have his fun!

After a bit Amelia decided that she wanted ice cream after all.  They had all the toppings one could think of.  The topping bowls covered two, maybe three (I can't remember), picnic tables.  She chose sprinkles and Valentine's hearts.

Friday we had the first 90+ degree day of the year.  It felt like summer, not spring!  I didn't like the idea of sitting at home all cooped up but I also could not fathom walking to the park which I was sure Amelia would ask to do.  So I called my family to see if there were home and we ended up going there to play with the water table, kiddy pool and sprinkler.  

It was Joe's first time "swimming" and he loved it!  He just sat there and splashed around.

I love that is says "tons of fun" - it is so fitting of him!

Eventually he fell over and at that point he had had enough.  So Amelia got Auntie Kim to drag over her Little Tykes slide and she had fun with her "water slide."

Saturday we hung around home and watched the Preakness Stakes.  Once again, our picks did not win!  We may have to jump on the bandwagon and root for "I'll Have Another" to win the Belmont.  We'll see.  We had a movie night with our friend, Leigh, and it seemed fitting that we watch Secretariat.  She and Jason watched Haywire afterwards - I fell asleep about two minutes into it!  What can I say, I get up early and I get tired!

This afternoon Jason and I had our first date in, well, a long time.  Auntie Kim babysat the kids.  We went to dinner at a fairly new place in town, caught a movie and stopped by the Dairy Queen on our way home.  

 We saw What to Expect When You're Expecting and it was pretty funny!  

Today was the start of my first week of only working five days.  I had today off and also have tomorrow off.  So far I am really liking this two days off a week thing and it is only day one!

ASD: 101 Workshop

This past Thursday afternoon, Jason, my dad and I attended an Autism Spectrum Disorders 101 workshop at Fraser Center.  This workshop was recommended to us at our pre-assessment appointment back in March.  The class is meant to give families and caregivers a better understanding of the characteristics of ASD, the diagnostic process and to introduce some of the intervention opportunities that are available.  

Something that I found very interesting was the difference between a medical and an educational diagnosis.  In order for the school to evaluate a child they have to have a 25% delay in at least two areas.  With a medical diagnosis there are no qualifiers that need to be met for evaluation- just the suspicions of doctors and family.  The example she gave to us was a young student is labeled ADD/ADHD and ten years later they are diagnosed with Asperger's.  Because they were not delayed in enough areas while in school their Asperger's went undiagnosed.  

One thing that we talked about a lot was scheduling.  Schedules organize the world and reduce anxiety.  From dinner time to bedtime I have Amelia on a loose schedule.  What it entails is: eating dinner, watching Netflix and/or playing with Joe while mama picks up the kitchen, reading a book/playing something with mama and Joe, bath (sometimes with Joe), diaper-lotion-pajamas in mama's room, pick out a movie while mama gets "two cows" (white and chocolate milk, mixed) and then getting settled into bed to watch the chosen movie.  If I deviate from this "schedule" it can get ugly.  It took me a long time to figure out that bath seems to be the key to a smooth night.  To me, it seems that her bath triggers her to realize it is time to calm down and relax.  The nights that bath doesn't happen, she is often up until eleven, even midnight.

There are many ways to help with scheduling involving the use of visual tools.  We were introduced to several that we liked and are hoping to incorporate some into our daily lives at some point.  We are waiting to schedule a visuals consultation with someone through Fraser (read - mama just needs to call her back...) and there is also a workshop that we can attend.  By doing these they can help us tailor some of the models to work with us, and Amelia, best.  More to come on that!

Let the small things go and focus on the important things

This is something the teacher said more than once and something that I have been trying hard to remember - long before we took this workshop.  I have always been an ordered person.   I like things neat and in their place.  Clutter drives me nuts!  With children that changes - obviously!  

This mantra needs to carry into all parts of our lives though - not just in regards to having a clean, neat house.  If Amelia won't eat what the family is eating is it really the end of the world?  No.  She wants to wear her Dora Halloween shirt in May?  Why not.  We need to focus on the big picture.  Traditional parenting is essentially out the window.  We've been encouraged to find what works for us and stick to it.  

Here is what we know works for us - keeping frustration levels low - in all of us.  We have a child who is unable to effectively communicate with us very often.  Either she lacks the vocabulary needed or we are unable to understand what it is she is trying to say.  Frustration levels around here elevate at a ridiculous rate some days.  So if she wants macaroni for dinner and we are having tacos?  She can have the macaroni.  We will still offer our meal with hers but if she only eats the macaroni, that's ok.  She ate.  There is no sense in driving up everyone's frustration levels over something like macaroni vs. tacos.  When frustration levels are elevated communication suffers and since we already have a hard enough time communicating we don't need to make it worse over the "little things."  *We have a consultation regarding food and meal time scheduled through Fraser.

I have heard from some people that they think we are too "soft" as parents or that we "give in" to her too easily.  Here's the thing - we are doing what works for us.  If we play "tough love" with her she does not learn anything.  We do not accomplish anything.  All that happens is everyone is frustrated and upset and there is crying and yelling.  In fact, the one time I tried to be "tough" with her at bedtime it resulted in her getting progressively more upset to the point that she threw up.  Yep.  Eleven o'clock at night and she threw up which meant a quick bath and bedding change.  I had been up 21 hours at that point and had to be up in 4 more hours for work.  Sorry, that does not work for us.

We learned a lot at this workshop.  A lot more than I wrote about here.  At times it is overwhelming but there is not a whole lot we can do except educate ourselves and continue to practice patience.  

While we were at this workshop, Nana (and later Auntie Kim joined) babysat the kids!  Amelia and her read The Cat in the Hat several times it sounds like:

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Midweek Randoms

Just some random things from the past few days :)

  • Between Monday and Tuesday I did TEN loads of laundry.  The funny thing?  Jason still has 2-3 loads worth of clothes left to wash.   

  • I made my second batch of homemade baby food for Joe yesterday afternoon - green beans.  Just this week he has finally started to willingly eat "solids."  

  • Amelia had her first mani/pedi courtesy of Auntie Kim.  We took her to Wal-Mart and she selected orange and purple polish. 

  • I found a park that has Joe-sized swings and both kids like using them!

  • We had our front door painted yesterday morning and Amelia just loved watching.  She is really excited about her "mean" (green) door!

  • Joe sits up like a pro!  We're talking half hour time periods that he is sitting up.  Looking around and playing.  He is getting too big too fast!

  •  Joe is snuggling more than ever right now.  It is often not the most convenient use of my time but it is the most important use of it.  If little man needs a snuggle, I am happy to oblige - usually ;) 

  • Amelia is still eager to help with household chores.  She's getting good at helping take the trash out.  I let her take the bathroom trash and she is now able to throw it hard and high enough that it makes it into the dumpster!  She loves it and is so proud to be helping.

  • Joe has been taking some naps in his bed!!!  Finally, he is using the crib and not the car seat or swing.  The trick?  Put him in there with a few toys when he starts to get cranky and he'll play until he falls asleep.  

  • As of this week I will no longer be working 6 days a week!  My boss has worked it out so that I can get in my 40 hours in the standard 5 days - hallelujah!  In order to do this I voluntarily left the ad set-up team which goes through the store and puts up the sale signs for the week.  I have been doing it virtually every Sunday since I started two years ago so come next week it will be a little strange to sleep in and be home all day!

  • My sister offered to babysit so Jason and I have a date afternoon/evening planned for Sunday.  We are in desperate need of some parental time to re-connect.  Working opposite shifts really can start to take it's toll on a couple.  This is part of why I felt the need to leave the ad set-up team and find a way to get down to 5 days of work a week.  Now we will both have one full day off together with the kids.  

  • Amelia took a nap this afternoon.  A very, very rare occurrence in this house.  I am so happy she did though because she was beyond ornery this afternoon and her nap got us back on track for a good evening.

  • We have been playing blocks a ton lately.  Amelia made a "big bah-bow" today, which is a "big flower."

It's been quite the week so far and it is only half over!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

This Mother's Day started out nice and early with work at 4 a.m.  I was off by 8:15 and headed home to start the day with the family.  

We spent the morning getting ready to head out to see our families.  My mom, sister and I had a pedicure appointment for 12:30.  We got one last Mother's Day and enjoyed it so we decided to do it again!  It was nice and relaxing having my feet massaged and letting them soak!  

After pedicures we all went over to Jason's sister's house for a grill out.  We had hot dogs and brats.  This was the first time both sides of the family had gotten together so that was special.  

Amelia with our hostess, Auntie Liz

We managed to get a fairly decent family picture!  

Before bed that night I wasn't quite so lucky getting a picture with the kids...

Yep, that's us!  At first I was upset it wasn't the "perfect" picture I always hope to get.  Then I realized it didn't matter!  This picture, as well as several of the others Jason took, captured the moment - which is all a camera is made to do.

All in all it wasn't a super exciting day but I did get a few wonderful gifts.  

Handprint tile Amelia made at school :)

Shirt from my kids :)
A "Joseph" bead/charm/pendant (?) to add to my necklace I received my first Mother's Day

I feel very lucky to have the family that I have :)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bandage Boss

Tonight was MA (medical assistant) for a day at my sister's school.  Once a quarter family and friends are invited to see what their student has been learning and also to have them practice/show you what they're learning.  One of the new things Kim has learned since last MA day is bandaging.  

Amelia is all about band-aids.  She can find an "owie" for every band-aid in a box if we let her!  She was a little confused about the bandaging but Kim's teacher let her pick a colored wrap and she was sold.  She chose red. 

While Kim was showing us how a finger is bandaged Amelia hopped right in with her red wrap and wrapped Kim's forearm.  

Once she finished that arm she moved onto the next.

Even Joe got his little arm wrapped.

Well, his was his elbow - per orders from the bandage boss.

MA day was cut a bit short this quarter because one of the students fainted so all we really did this time was bandaging.  My mom and I also did paraffin waxes on our hands since last quarter there was a long line because we got there towards the end.  Amelia took several wheelchair rides too.  So I guess we did do more than just bandaging :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jumping and Bouncing

Tonight my sister and I took the kids to a nearby jump zone for special needs night! They have inflatable slides, an obstacle course, a bounce house and several Little Tykes houses/castles etc for the kids.  

This was Amelia's second time going and she did more and was more adventurous this time around! I'd like to think that it was because mama was there ;) At first she did exactly what she did last time - she holed up in a little house. 

Last time the log cabin was her hideout.

She likes to jump on the bed so after Auntie going down the slide didn't entice her I sat on the edge of a slide and bounced. Auntie sat on the edge of the entrance to the obstacle course, with Joe, and bounced. That was all it took. Amelia came over and bounced too!

After doing that for awhile I moved over to the bounce house they had. I told Kim to bring her over in a minute and I would be in the bounce house, bouncing. Luckily I found a Dora ball in there and I used that as "bait" to lead her into the bounce house. It worked like a charm and she had a blast!

She bounced in there a ton and then she stared jumping up and letting herself "fall" which she thought was hilarious. On our way out she finally showed some interest in the baseball set-up they had: 

You placed a ball above the tee and air blew it up so you hit it while it was suspended in mid-air. She thought that was pretty neat but the bat was a touch to big for her!

 Joe was so good. He just came along for the ride with us and did it with minimal whining! He even went down the big slide with Auntie in one of our attempts to show Amelia it was fun! 

It took around one hour for us to get Amelia warmed up to things but I'm glad we stuck it out because she had so much fun!  One nice thing about special needs night was that we were one of two families there.  The place was pretty loud in general from all the machines keeping stuff inflated so I think it helped that there weren't a ton of kids running around.  

We had a feeling that this night would be more successful than open jump because it would likely be less crowded - which turned out to be true!  We have a Groupon for this place that was good for three visits so we are going to save the final visit for next month's special needs night! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Easy Kid's Craft Display

Does your refrigerator look like this? 

If you have a little one in school it just might! Amelia goes to school two mornings a week for an hour and a half for a pre-k speech class. Part of their morning is doing a craft or two that relates to the sounds they are working on. I put all of her projects on our refrigerator and she is so proud of them. She shows them to us and tells us "coooooo" which is "school." 

We started to run out of room for her masterpieces so I started brainstorming. I had seen online somewhere (no idea where, of course) how someone used an old picture frame, removed the glass, hung picture wire across the frame and clipped a craft or two to the wire and displayed them in the frame. I thought that was a neat idea but I put my own twist on it. 

Neat, huh? All I needed to complete this was picture wire (I bought 50 feet because that was all they had but clearly we only used a fraction of that), command hooks of some sort and clips. I chose binder clips. 

We hung two lengths of picture wire, with loops made at each end, between three hooks.

I love the result! Now it is easier to enjoy her art projects and the bare wall in the kitchen has some decoration on it! Most importantly, the refrigerator is much less cluttered which makes the kitchen feel less cluttered! 


What are some other fun ways to display kid's artwork and crafts?