Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trouble with FIRST/THEN

There were no therapies on tap today. Things didn't get too interesting until lunchtime, when I got into a battle of wills with Nikko. He had eaten some of his chicken nuggets but didn't finish them. He wanted some Saltine crackers, same as Ronin, so I told him first to eat a chicken nugget and then I'll give him a cracker. That's where the power struggle began. I'm not sure how long we went back and forth, neither of us would give in. I tried to talk slowly, patiently, saying FIRST chicken, THEN cracker. I pleaded. I tickled. I said sternly. This must have gone on for at least 10-15 minutes, and after a while I felt that I couldn't just give in and give him crackers just to end things. I felt that once I started this, I had to keep demanding him to eat chicken or I would have lost the lesson. I really, REALLY wanted to give him crackers, but he had to eat a chicken nugget or part of it. And finally, I won. I was able to shove it gently into his mouth out of how many tens of times, and this time he took it. I immediately praised him and gave him a handful of crackers, gave him hugs and kisses, and I almost cried because it was so exhaustive. All this time, Ronin quietly (and wisely) sat in the high chair eating his nuggets and just being still. Audrey fussed sometimes in her chair drinking milk, but at lunch they were not an issue.

Later in the afternoon, while Ronin and Audrey napped, another HVAC guy came to evaluate the furnace situation. Nikko was curious and ran around. I tried to snack him with grapes. Later, I even roughhoused with Nikko because I didn't want him to be bored in the living room with me. Unfortunately, the opposite effect happened and he started running hard between kitchen and couch, crashing really hard. I don't know why. I put in the Signing Time DVD before dinner and wondered if the boys would watch it. Interestingly enough, they both watched it at variable times. Ronin started imitating some signs, like Car and Dog. I was happy when Airplane came around and they both started pointing to the sky.

Dinnertime rolled around and I think I didn't time Audrey's early evening nap very well because she napped for 1.5 hours this afternoon and I thought that was a lot. She tends to need to catnap before dinner for at least 20 minutes, and this is around 6:30. Pretty late. I wanted to feed her solids before the boys had dinner, but Ronin came into the kitchen looking to eat early as well. I didn't have everything ready for anyone when I wanted it, so Audrey sat in the high chair crying while Ronin tugged and pulled and whined at my feet, trying to get stuff on the countertop, opening cabinets when I reprimanded him. I got really frustrated with Ronin for demanding his food when it wasn't ready. No amount of explaining was going to stop him. Meanwhile, Audrey was howling away and that anxious bubble came rising to the top. I was so agitated that I was yelling my head off at Ronin. This also upset Audrey and she cried louder. Even Nikko, who was in the living room and wisely staying out of the way, became upset with my loud shouting and started whining himself. I got mad at myself for getting out of control again and I started sobbing. Denis called around this time and caught me when Audrey was screaming right before she got her bottle. Thankfully, he brought dinner home and I felt better.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Average Speech Day (without the speech)

This morning was speech therapy. Chinny woke up late so she'd arrive late. We had to start the session with Ronin crawling over everything, wanting to be in the middle of our circle, wanting to be the only one sitting in my lap. Luckily, Audrey was sitting next to me gnawing on teething rings and stuffed whatnot, but she got cranky at the end of it. Meanwhile, Nikko was being Noodleman, but managed to engage slightly with Gloria. She brought play food and dishes, a kiddie toaster that popped bread, some farm block toys, her circular animal stringing toy, and Mr. Potato Head. Her report states that Nikko's attention was scattered but he has shown an increase in interaction skills. He gave hi-fives and also shook his head "no" appropriately when he didn't want something to be a certain way. Gloria said that things look good with Nikko, but doesn't deny that he has a long way to go. After therapy we got to lunch, and I pretty much had to run out the door with Audrey to drop her off at Atz's house and go to the chiro. Chinny told me later that Ronin got over my absence more easily than Nikko did, but Nikko finally calmed down and ate his lunch. He was also curious when Chinny baked the Rhodes bread (dinner rolls) and demanded some when she took them out to check the middle of the pan. He had to wait, of course, but when I came home later he was running around with some of it in his hands so he must have complied. It was a Hi-5 afternoon, really, and it seemed to just go by rather quickly. I had gone to the grocery after chiro (he suggested that next time we'll consult with an orthopedist if the traction didn't work on my back this week --it's not-- and we'll probably go the route of a cortisone shot.) and had to unload when I came home. Chinny left early, and I really can't remember doing much significant in the living room in the later half of the day except be in front of the TV. Diaper changes took time, I'm sure. Nikko had swim class with Denis and he came back looking fine and smelling like chlorine. He ate his dinner and then after dinner we sat in the living room while I caught up on American Idol. I didn't mean to watch the whole thing on the DVR but there were only 5 contestants. It set bedtimes back a bit, unfortunately. Nikko seemed pretty tired because he didn't go down for a nap all day again. During Idol he just wanted to sit in my lap and lounge, and I did my best to allow him that attention while I sat next to a nose-frothing Audrey. Ronin wanted my attention, too, and I gave him hugs but I also tried to divert him to Denis so that I could pay some attention to Nikko. Bathtimes and bedtime arrived. Tomorrow we have nothing on the calendar except another HVAC guy coming for an estimate. Nikko will be curious and will want to go downstairs, I'm sure. Yesterday I put on his Crocs so he could walk into the utility room, and he was excited to be in a new room that he hadn't explored, but he also started grabbing broomsticks/mops and anything that poked out. I certainly didn't want him dragging anything around that was dirty so I had to usher him out again. I think it's best to keep him out of that room. Ronin too.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Playgroup a la Shirley

The morning could have been worse. Thankfully, Audrey was behaving well and didn't have a meltdown or cry during playgroup. She was quietly observant (thank you, princesa!). I wish I could say the same about the boys. We left the house late, even though I tried my best to pace us so we wouldn't be late. I dropped Ronin off at the daycare first and then ran back to the playgroup room. They were already seated at the mirror for circle time, so I wheeled the double stroller near the door, took out Audrey and tried to sit close by. Nikko saw the cube slide and went for it. I tried to usher him toward the circle but he protested so I let him go back to the cube. I knew he wouldn't sit down without a fight and I didn't want that on the first day with Shirley. There were more parents around, so it seemed. The dad of one kid named Matthew saw that Matthew was creeping toward Nikko and the cube slide. The dad reprimanded Matthew sternly and said, "This is circle time, no playing on the slide right now. Do you want to go home?" He started counting down and Matthew returned to the circle. I felt guilty and embarassed that I was allowing Nikko to climb on the cube during circle time instead of plopping him down and forcing him to listen. I wonder if I should have done that anyway? I have restrained him before and I end up getting a good workout trying to keep him from wriggling off my lap. After circle time was play time and all the parents (except one Hispanic dad who was with his son Oscar, the only other kid in the room that did any crying or protesting today) left the room. I talked to Shirley and said that I normally didn't leave the room, but I could give it a try today. Nikko was in the bean box, holding onto a red spoon that had a carved out face, and was engrossed in stirring the beans. He didn't notice me for quite a while, so I took it as a sign to try leaving. I scooped up Audrey and the food bag and headed out the door. I walked back to the daycare and peeked through the window. I saw Ronin sitting on the lap of one of the aides, holding his rice milk, and crying. She was reading a book to a bunch of kids and was pointing out pictures to Ronin. I felt bad that he was still crying and hoped he'd calm down soon. I walked back past the playgroup room where Nikko's back was still turned away from me into the bean box. I decided to check out the Autism Resource Room. When I entered, three of the parents (one was really a grandma) sat and were chatting. There were no other chairs and the door to the person running the office was closed, but I came in and tried to interject some lighthearted comments on how I don't usually get away. They were polite, introduced themselves after I told them my name, and made nice comments on Audrey's calm demeanor. The dad, Terry, offered his seat but I said no thanks because I had to get back to check on the boys. I saw that the autism coordinator had restocked the slats in the walls with new reading materials so I started gathering a bunch. Karen, Shelly's OT coworker, saw me from another room and waved hi. It was within three minutes of that that Karen came back through the front door and told me that Nikko was having a big meltdown and that I should probably go back and check on him. I got a few more packets and came back to the room where Nikko was camped at the doorway, crying and red. When I came in he became calm but was still sobbing. Shirley told me he ran and sat in the stroller crying when he realized I was gone, and started rummaging through some of the bags but she didn't know for what. I think he was looking for a vitamin, but I had taken the food bag with me. I guess his meltdown was pretty bad, but Shirley said we should still try for me to get away, maybe for five minutes the next time, and keep working on it. After our chat, I led Nikko around to play with the toys and the bean table again. The rest of the parents came back into the room and then it was craft time. We sat at the table and Nikko thought it was snack time. When Shirley took out some paper, Nikko started wailing and tried to escape the table. That wasn't fun, trying to coax him to stay and fill in a sheep with white chalk.

Then the door opened and it was Peg and an aide from the daycare. They said that Ronin had gotten himself sick and that I should come and get him. I felt bad that Peg had to come and get me, because sometimes she seems nice (like when she's with Shelly) and sometimes when I called about Bethanne's playgroup that we were sick or couldn't make it, Peg wouldn't sound that happy about it and always said, "but you ARE going to have your other therapies, right?" And I assured her we would unless the kids were feverish. Anyway, I had to take Nikko with me to get Ronin and left Audrey in the playgroup since she was being quiet. When I walked into the daycare, an aide was holding Ronin who was wearing only a diaper and socks. He had thrown up all over his clothes and on the leg of an aide. There was someone cleaning up the mess behind the desk. I was very apologetic and regretted telling them to give Ronin his rice milk should he become upset. Apparently he cried himself so hard that he made himself throw up. I don't think it was on purpose per se, but the coughing from crying probably triggered his gag reflex. I took him back to playgroup and had a change of clothes in our backpack. Nikko was good about holding my hand as we walked down the hallway, and he scurried off to sit at the table for snack time with Shirley. He took one Cheeto and harbored it until lunchtime. We concluded playgroup with the parachute activity and then I packed up my brood and slinked home. I felt desperate that Ronin wasn't able to calm himself today, and considered asking Chinny if she would come on Monday mornings in addition to the other two days. But, that's a lot to ask of her. I spoke to Atz later and she encouraged me not to take Ronin out, and said I should put Audrey into daycare as well. I'm scared to because she is very clingly to me, just like the boys, and I worry that she'll cry up a storm and I'll be called out to take her back. I also don't want to cause a disturbance in either the playgroup or the daycare.

"Why not? If you don't, some other kid will, " said Atz. True. "And," she continued, "you have to try to continue to socialize your kids." She's right. It's just hard at this young age, and they're going to have to keep going and trying. All three of them are like velcro.

Shirley is a very nice person and seems very calming. I don't know anything about her DT background but hope that she'll be able to make a difference with Nikko. She seemed genuinely interested in his behavior, asking if he had an oral fixation to explain why he wanted the vitamin. I hope she will get used to Nikko and his nonverbal, gutteral ways. She didn't mind Audrey at all, and remarked on Ronin's big cheeks.

I got lunch going and our afternoon was about chilling out, when Denis came home early. There was an estimate for a new HVAC system going on. Nikko was trying to ask about vitamins again, but I diverted him to the Cocoa Krispies instead. Which leads me to a conversation I had today on the phone with Shelly. I posed the vitamin situation to her that I wrote about yesterday and she was kind, but firm in her advice. She told me what I already knew would be the answer but am dreading it, that I should not give in to Nikko and give him a vitamin at his request. I could made a vitamin time, using a picture, but if it's NO then it's NO and I'll have to wait out his tantrums. Shelly also told me kindly that I have to be The Rock about it. She told me that I have to be unwavering and like a Rock, steady and solid. It's funny because I have told myself that in this family I do have to be The Rock and be consistent, be the person that the kids know will help them, be there for them, love them and support them. I think I thought that even before I started blogging, just never wrote it down.

Another time that Nikko was headed toward the vitamins in the cabinet I led him back to the living room and diverted his attention to the bean bags I bought from CP. I opened the package and tossed them into a nearby bucket. It became a game that Ronin was eager to join. Much later into the night, Nikko came across the Oball Football and started tossing it over his shoulder or in an attempt to throw it forward. He seemed to enjoy this activity and it made him sweaty before bathtime. I enjoyed watching him and told Ronin not to bother Nikko when the ball fell into Ronin's path, surely to be snatched up in envy. A tired Nikko, who didn't nap all day, protested a little bit when Denis left his room after prayers and didn't stick around, but he didn't cry for very long. I think he was just too tired. Tomorrow we have speech therapy, I have a chiro appointment, and I'm going to try to squeeze in some errands to the grocery if that's possible. I haven't decided if I should leave Audrey with Chinny just yet.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Vitamins - More or NO More

I'm going to have to ask the therapists about this problem I keep having with Nikko. I have those Gummi Vites vitamins for Nikko, and tried to give him 2 a day. Well, he has them constantly on his mind and he frequently pulls me to the cabinet where we keep them, stands in front of it signing More Please, and starts wailing if I don't comply. Explaining to him that he only gets 2 a day doesn't mean anything to him. Giving him one and then warning him that he won't get another doesn't mean anything to him. Stating NO or NO MORE sends him into a temper tantrum/tirade and now he flings himself onto the floor like a belly flop near his chair and he writhes and wriggles while screaming. It's not a pretty picture. If I give in, which I have, then he gets a vitamin but I start racking up excess vitamin points in his column. If I don't give in, I have to wait out his tantrum. He'll calm down eventually, but it takes a while. It's worse when he decides he wants a vitamin and everyone is calm or someone is napping. I'd rather save the vitamins for situations that are dire or when I need to persuade him to be quiet. Or, I'd like a substitute "treat" for him that's not a cookie or sugar-laden, but it's something he'll eat. Grapes don't make the cut for this one. The vitamins shouldn't be the "treat", I realize. Perhaps I should look for some sugarless gummy bears? And if I do get some, and then Nikko comes up to me at random times during the day asking for a gummy bear, do I give it to him or try to enforce that he only gets it at certain times, which is what I'm trying to do now and not succeeding?

We didn't go anywhere today, but I did break out the new Super Grove KidKnex toy I bought the other day. At first, Nikko liked it in its entirety. I tried to mimic walking and talking and flying. But he would take off a part and then walk/run around with it. Then another. The head was gone, then the cape. Later it was an arm and a leg. By dinnertime he was running around with Grover's trunk of a body and then by bedtime it lay pitifully on the living room floor. I probably defeated what Bo the DT is trying to do with the Elmo KidKnex doll she brings over, and that's playing with it by identifying body parts and feeding it and the like. I'll resurrect Super Grover tomorrow and see if I can get Nikko to play productively. He took an interest in the pizza and pizza cutter, and while he originally stimmed off the spatula yesterday I noticed that today he didn't carry it around much at all. I think he got it out of his system. We first encountered the spatula in OT last week and Shelly hid it after a while, but even though I bought a similar pizza kit with its own spatula I didn't take it away from Nikko. Hence, he probably got it out of his system. Nikko isn't sitting consistently in his chair during mealtimes and I'm wondering if I'm going to have to start strapping him in again. I don't want to, really, because he's probably just being a restless 2 year old. But he's not finishing breakfast, and the other mealtimes are hit or miss. Tomorrow we have playgroup with Shirley, and I'm hoping we'll be able to pull off getting out the door again in a timely manner. I guess I need Audrey to wake up at 7a to get the ball rolling. I'll have to prepare the food bag tonight to avoid a morning rush.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Constructive Playthings

This morning the boys, Audrey and me went (along with Pat, Anna and Jovy) to Constructive Playthings a.k.a. U.S. Toys with the intent of buying some play food. I went online last night and made a shopping list of potential things I wanted to buy, including the food, but also some bean bags, pegs, visual schedules if any, and memory matching games. Jovy really didn't like her parents paying attention to mine and she made herself known. I'm grateful to Pat and Anna for helping me watch the kids in turn while I perused the aisles. I'm glad I had a list, too, so that I wouldn't get too distracted as was easily possible. The whole purpose of this trip was to supplement the toys I currently have with ones that Nikko would find more purposeful, such as the play food. I bought the following items: a memory game, colored bean bags, pegs and a small peg board, 4 toy plates, play food pizza (with cutter and spatula), food basket with more cutable fruits and veggies, a oball football, play food sandwiches and a KidKnex Grover that was $5 on sale from $19.99 (SCORE!). Oh yeah, and two hula hoops that were at the checkout counter. Sucker.

Afterwards, we went to my mom's house since CP was in Skokie and we had lunch. The boys and Jovy were crawling over each other in the kitchen but seemed to tolerate each other's company regardless. Audrey was in a good mood and didn't cry when my mom held her. This was not the case last night at the in-law's house where she cried in everybody's face. If you just looked at her she started crying. But today she graced us with a pleasant mood that lasted until she went to bed.

We came home for about an hour and then we packed up to go to Rosie's birthday party for Jack and Joshua. When we parked the Pilot Denis carried Nikko and the car seat while I had Ronin. Everyone was crabby from waking up from a nap (except Audrey), and Denis put Nikko on the ground to walk the rest of the way. He seemed to protest, but didn't go Noodleman on us, thank goodness. When we got inside, Nikko became pretty calm because we gave him pizza. Ronin, on the other hand, was a little monster for the first 20 minutes. There was no pleasing him, even though he was sitting in my lap. After I ate, I took Ronin downstairs where all the other kids played and let him rummage around for some cars. I knew he was curious because there were all sorts of toys on the floor. He picked a car, I picked another little vehicle as well as a dinosaur, and came upstairs. This entertained him for a bit, but it wasn't until I put him in front of the tank that held two swimming turtles that he calmed down and was mesmerized. This doesn't mean I'm going to run out and get some turtles, however. Nikko was totally into his pizza during all this and he didn't wander far from us. Later on Denis took Nikko to watch the pinata activity in the garage as well as an egg hunt, but he was more interested in playing with the push broom. We ended up staying much later than I anticipated so I made sure the boys had their dinner, gave Audrey a bottle, and then we left around 8:30pm. Late! When we got home the boys were content to play/watch TV in the living room for a little bit before bathtimes. Audrey was extremely active once I woke her up when we came home. I needed to wake her to give her a bath before bed, but she seemed so revved up that I didn't think she'd fall asleep. She did, alongside Denis, and I had to get Ronin bathed because he was having a meltdown. Nikko was the last cherub to get to bed and he was pleasant to us the entire time. After we sang songs, scurried into bed and said prayers, he sat up and kissed me good night, then leaned over and kissed Denis good night without prompting. Times like that are precious. Awwwwww.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Blueberry Muffin

Audrey woke up at 6:15a, probably because she heard Denis wake up. She didn't go back to sleep and so I took her into the bed with me...and she was wide awake. I had to get up and feed her. This is when I found out that my back was on fire. I don't know if it was sleeping flat on my back or the chronic pain I've had since Wednesday, but I didn't think I could last the weekend so I arranged an appointment to see the Good Doctor, as well as have Atz help me watch the kids.

The boys woke up early, too, probably because they heard Audrey complaining that I was too slow to get her some food. The boys were basically dressed and ready to eat in the kitchen by 7:45a. VERY EARLY for me. We didn't have any banana power struggles this morning because I decided to give Nikko microwave pancakes and syrup instead. I think Nikko liked it, but it's a Jewel brand so they were getting hard quickly. After breakfast we congregated into the living room, where later Audrey got exhausted and I put her down for a long nap. Nikko was playing with a miniature stuffed Elmo that we got from Amy & Derwin. In the past I've showed it to him and got him to feed it with a spoon. I've "walked" Elmo's feet on Nikko. And I've had Elmo give Nikko high five's. But today I saw Nikko take Elmo's hands and clap them together in applause. He did this a few times and I praised him for it.

Although the weather was gorgeous today, we didn't go outside to play because I had to get lunch and then get everyone to Atz's house so I could go see the chiropractor. It was really windy outside today, too. When I was dropping them off, there were the obvious meltdowns at the time of departure. But later Atz told me that they were downstairs and got over it. She gave Ronin a banana and they became fast friends. She gave Nikko a blueberry muffin and he inspected it curiously. He took a finger to scrape the top of it, sniffed it and licked it, but didn't ingest the whole thing. She thought it was funny and peculiar, and I can picture Nikko wondering if the muffin was edible. The boys did well, but crying, screaming Audrey did not. Sadly, I'm not surprised, and I am grateful that Atz will help me with my kiddies when I don't think I could pay another person to help me.

We went home, had a diaper change, replenished the food bag, and then headed back out with Denis to go to his parent's house for dinner. We haven't seen them in a month because the kiddies were sick two weeks ago. Nikko didn't sit in a chair, which I'm not crazy about when we go there, so it was hard to pin him down to eat his nuggets. He did want to sit in my lap while I was eating, however, so I fed him a few. Later on he got pretty sweaty running around the already-warm living room, so a bath was imminent before we left. He fell asleep on the way home, which is rare. When I think back to today I think he got a nap on the way to Atz's house, but I'm not sure. It probably wasn't long enough anyway. Tomorrow we plan on meeting up with Anna, Pat and Jovy to go to Constructive Playthings in Skokie. I have been dying to go there again to see what kind of things I can buy for the boys. I have to make a list, but I want to get play food for sure. It's a therapist's dream store, really, and I got some good deals the last time I was there. In the afternoon we have Jack and Joshua's birthday party to go to, so note to self, I'll try to find a gift for one of the boys at CP.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Not enough ME to go around

The days don't feel like the right days to me. Yesterday didn't feel like Wednesday, and today felt like it was already Friday but it wasn't. I hate that. When Nikko came into the kitchen this morning he saw a toy garden tool on the countertop so he dragged the stool over there to retrieve it. We had another power struggle during breakfast today but I stayed firm in that he had to eat some bananas first and then he could have a vitamin. This concept of FIRST/THEN seems really hard. I think maybe doing it as a visual schedule (Anna has given me a template) might be the way to go, since my words are falling on deaf ears. At OT Shelly had laminated a file folder cut vertically that had some velcro circles on it and a makeshift pocket at the bottom. Something like that might help us. But Nikko picked it up and ripped off all the pictures and put it back on a shelf. Hmmmm...

Bo came for DT and it didn't start well. Chinny was just a few minutes late but that made a little bit of a difference because we decided (since she wasn't there yet) that we should have DT at the dining room table. I attempted to buckle Nikko in his chair and he protested wildly. That's actually the first time he's done that, as if he remembered he was buckled in the chair before in front of Bo and I wasn't by his side all the time. To placate him I gave him a vitamin. Then Chinny walked through the door and we moved to the living room corner (Ronin was eating lunch, Audrey still napping). Nikko came into the corner but was focused solely on his vitamin. I had to end up taking it away and he went into a big tantrum. That set the tone for the rest of the session. He wasn't cooperative and needed to sit up instead of be a Noodleman in my lap. I can't say that he accomplished much. After she left we finished his lunch and we packed the kids into the Pilot for OT. Nikko took a 30 minute nap and unfortunately Ronin didn't nap at all. OT started out well for Nikko because Shelly varied his obstacle course again. This wasn't Ronin's day because he fell from a blue mat staircase onto the floor. I think he hit the side of his head on the floor and it caused him some pain. He was also crabby because he didn't sleep at his naptime so he was quite unruly. Meanwhile, Nikko tried the obstacle course and had great success stepping on new levels, which was good for his hips. Later Shelly took out the bean bin and we sat and practiced pouring into cups. She also took out some teacups and containers but his interest is limited. This reminds me that lately all the therapists seem to be giving Nikko play food and plates, probably trying to boost his pretend play. Jen DT had gone over clothing with dolls, and Gloria brought over a dollhouse. Cyndi brought over plates of food and the popular pizza (I gotta find that pizza somewhere). I also talked to Shelly at length about Nikko's clinginess to me. It's really turned up in the last few weeks and she thinks that it might have to do with the therapies, that they are really pushing him and asking him to do more things, so he's regressing a little more. She suggested giving him more hugs and assurance when I can. I thought I was doing that, giving him extra hugs and time, but perhaps I have to step that up even more. But HOW? Every kid in this house needs special time with me. They truly do orbit around me. Audrey needs time w/me coz she's the baby. Ronin needs time with me coz he's the "forgotten middle child". Nikko needs time with me coz he's autistic. There's not enough me to go around. Shelly also gave me a therapists' catalog because I'm looking for a kid mirror to put up somewhere in the living room. I need something wide, not skinny.

After OT we went home and Chinny helped me watch the kids run around the driveway for a little bit. It was slightly chilly, but definitely a nice day and I thought the kids needed to get out even for just a little bit. Ronin's still unsteady on his feet, as evidenced when he tripped and scraped up his fingers. Nikko found the black ChemLawn stick and was running around with it, but I noticed that he was also using it as a tool to poke at things in the driveway and in the ground. That's actually come a far way from his first OT session outside where he sat in the driveway and was just flapping his hands at the tree nubs on the ground, stimming off of branches and not using them to poke around in a productive way. His exploratory skills are emerging, for sure.

I've got lots of thoughts running in my head on things that need to be done. We've got to move Audrey out of our bedroom, but that means orchestrating moving Nikko into Ronin's room, moving the crib out and into the 2nd bedroom, and getting Ronin a toddler bed. I don't think he needs a twin bed yet because he's too small anyway. A toddler bed might be the right size. I also have to phase out their winter wardrobes and get summer rolling. The kitchen needs cleaning, the pantry needs reorganizing, the bedroom needs decluttering (I think I'm going to take all the maternity clothes out and put them in either rubbermaids or trash bags and put them in the utility room. No other place to put them!), the living room needs a toy rehaul...there's SO much to do. Pretty overwhelmed, as usual.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Six. *sigh*

A slightly better day than yesterday, still had some voice-raising going on but my attitude was a little better. This morning all the kiddies were in the kitchen with me. Only one of the two kitchen lights were on, no real reason. Nikko was standing next to my chair looking toward the window and I said to him, "Nikko, do you want to turn on the light?" I pointed to the overhead light, repeated what I said and also pointed to the switch. He seemed to understand what I said because he trotted over to his chair and climbed into the booster, stood up and flicked the switch ON. I applauded him, and he turned it off again. It makes me wonder if Nikko truly understood what I said, because I never really expected him to actually do what I asked. Usually he tunes out what I said or acts like he didn't hear it. But this time he acted the way Ronin would and obeyed my request. COOLIO. It's too bad that I ruined our feel-good moment by choosing to cut his nails next. I gave him a Gummi Vite vitamin to keep him sitting still, which I should have done at the outset instead of plead with him to allow me to cut his nails. I'm really supposed to give him two a day, but I think today he's gonna be overly healthy because I think I gave him at least four or five, mainly to placate him or keep him out of things such as Ronin's evaluation (will explain later).

Atz and Allie came over later to give us some spring jackets for the boys and to try out her in-the-ground fence posts. Bless her heart, she hammered into the ground some spikes that have holes to allow poles to be slid inside, and then I will rig my baby gates to the poles so that the boys will have boundaries and can play outside. I'll have to get Pat to hammer them into the ground more firmly.

Ronin had his Speech Evaluation today. Gloria and Jen our former DT (and later Mary Leonard our case manager) came over, asked lots of questions and then played with Ronin. They found a lot of great things about him, said he was doing excellent and had great skills for his age. They pegged his cognitive development between 21-24 months. Yea! However, while they said he was doing great, his ONLY problem was that he was not talking. Gloria pegged his verbal development at six months. SIX MONTHS! Um, that's almost as old as Audrey right now. (!!!!) But that's the reality. He doesn't have words to communicate his wants and needs, only whines and cries, but he does point really well. He also knows that a car goes vroom vroom, a train goes szhuh szhuh szhuh szhuh (his version of chugga chugga chugga chugga) and a duck goes quack quack, but he can't say train or duck. Only CAH. They recommend Speech Therapy, but believe that once he picks it up he will skyrocket and probably won't need the full year of ST. I really hope so. When everyone got here, I figured that we wouldn't have problems during the evaluation with Nikko, unlike when Nikko has therapies we have to sequester Ronin elsewhere because he gets into everyone's stuff. I thought that Nikko would be complacent and ignore everyone, not pay attention and do his own thing since he wasn't the focus today. We were all wrong because once they started playing with Ronin and hauling out their toys for Ronin to play with, Nikko marched into the middle of everyone and wanted Ronin's things. He tried to push Ronin away and started digging into the therapists' bags. Gloria said that Nikko seemed to want to be in the center of the action and it was good to see that he showed that he cared what was going on. I had to haul him into the kitchen and give him a vitamin to focus on. It helped calm him.

Later in the evening Nikko was his ever-clingy self to me. He wanted to sit in my lap a lot and look at me, and I tried my best to play with him but I had to start getting Audrey ready for bed. Nikko was like my little shadow in the bathroom because he was practically underfoot. This time I didn't mind so much and I didn't reprimand him for leaning on the tub nearby. He didn't nap all day again, so he fell asleep rather quickly tonight. Tomorrow we have DT at noon and OT at 3pm. Chinny will come over and that will be a big help. With great weather tomorrow I wonder if we'll have OT outdoors. Even if we don't, I'll try to get Chinny to help me take the kiddies outdoors. The problem is that if we go to the playground behind the clinic, so will everyone else around us. It will be manageable, I've done it once before with Brianna, and I will have to wear Audrey in the Bjorn so I can be mobile with Ronin. I'll consider it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Five. *sigh*

This wasn't the best day we could have had, but we survived it anyway. It really didn't start out well either. The not-so-bad part was that Nikko wanted to wear a green onesie I had put out, but he was already wearing a striped onesie that was fine. I like that he wanted to have a "say" in his clothing choice. I should continue to give him choices.

All the kiddies were up and I had breakfast going before Speech. Lately Nikko has been lazy about eating his cut-up bananas. They would sit on his plate and I would have to fork some into his mouth if they were ever going to disappear. On occasion he'd throw one in his mouth, but perhaps he's just getting tired of them? This morning he opted to grab the long swiffer mop and bring it to the table. I allowed that, but when he started lifting it up and putting the mop head onto the table I made him put it down on the floor. He refused me again and again. I tried to feed him while this was going on. Finally I took the swiffer away and put it into the bathroom. Imagine the screaming and tantruming that followed. I told Nikko, "First eat banana, then you can have the stick." No matter how many different ways I told him this, he continued to cry and scream. He let me feed him all the while, however, but even that was a struggle. Once the bananas were finished I went straight to the bathroom and gave him back the mop, true to my word. He was still pretty mad about it for minutes afterward. Then I get a call from Chinny that she wasn't feeling well and probably wasn't going to make it to therapy. I asked if she could still come later because I had a chiro appointment, and if she couldn't make it then please let me know right now so I could call Atz and coordinate dropping off the kids with her. Chinny said she could make it later, so I told her to get some rest and see you later. Can't say that I wasn't disappointed in that situation, because now I had to have a therapy session with both Audrey and Ronin as distractions. I tried to prep the therapy corner by putting toys for Audrey and books and rice milk for Ronin. Still, he didn't cooperate as much as I would have liked. Audrey was surprisingly calm until the very last few minutes of ST, because she was getting cranky and it was close to naptime. As for Nikko, his session was not the greatest. Gloria started out using play food and dishes, but he was hooked on the knives so we had to close up shop on that bag of toys. We did some stringing, playing with the piggy bank, some tractor/farm animal play (but had to remove the fence because he wasn't using it purposefully), and the magna doodle which didn't captivate him as much. Noodleman was back, for sure. Having Ronin running around, crawling into Gloria's bags, into our laps, fighting with Nikko over the toys, and expressing his disapproval of not being included was just the biggest distraction. Even though I was happy to see him around, and I love watching him explore things, it's just not appropriate for Ronin to be around Nikko's therapy sessions.

At the end of therapy, Gloria was writing her notes and remarking that Nikko is still coming along, but it's going to take a long time. And then she said, "I have a little boy who's turning three and he's ready, but he's not talking. Someone explain that one. As for Nikko, I hope he'll be talking before he turns 5."


OK, that set me into a mental panic. Nikko's body is not in sync with his mind yet, and that's one of the reasons it's not possible for him to talk; the comprehension is not there yet. Is it really possible that Nikko will not have any words for the next two years? I think I'm going to throw up.

After therapy I got Audrey down for a nap and then chilled out with the boys until lunchtime. Chinny showed up around then, and there was mass chaos when it was time for me to leave. She had to hold Nikko back and I had to scoop Ronin back into the kitchen so I could exit all at once. I ran off to the chiro with Audrey, who behaved throughout my traction treatment. We did a quick Costco run on the way home. I went to the one in Glenview because that's where I thought they still carried Nikko's Dino Nuggets. When I got there, I saw no Dino Nugget in sight and only saw Mickey Mouse staring back at me. I was pissed. Dino Nuggets were the only reason I went to the Costco in Glenview and made this extra trip with Audrey in the rain. The only saving grace was that while in the checkout line I saw a woman with a econo-sized box of rice milk. Our Costco doesn't carry that, so I ran to the milk aisle, did some quick calculations, and decided that it would be a good buy. We'll give it a test run and see. Oh, as a side note, people at the Glenview Costco, both inside and outside, do not seem to know how to stay in their own driving lane. Two different Lexus SUV drivers drove directly at me while I was on the right side of an aisle. I had to move (why did I have to be the one to move???) or be hit, or be put in an awkward position. And inside the store was worse... people don't seem to run their carts on the right side of the aisles; they walk on the right and the middle. I have no idea what was going on today, but it was so lopsided and crazy. GEEZ.

Back at home there were no fires to put out. Ronin is being challenging to me. Nikko seemed fine and was later on headed to swim class with Denis. We ended the day ok, but it seems like the boys went to bed later than usual because it just feels really late right now. I feel like I didn't get much done tonight after bedtimes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Is that NO or NO?

WELL, it looks like I didn't have to use the triple stroller after all. I actually nixed the idea last night while I thought about how I was going to carry Audrey around if she fell asleep in her carseat. It was also raining this morning and I had never used the triple stroller at this point, so I'd be struggling to figure things out. Stressing out about it is more like it. I took the double, and packed the kiddies in the Pilot along with everything that I planned, dropped Ronin off in the daycare, and then found out that the playgroup was cancelled because Shirley had a sick kid. I spoke to Peg about it, and wished that someone had called me before I lugged everyone out to the clinic. Grrrrrr. Well, it happens. I hope that Shirely will get in touch with me so that we don't have a miscommunication about next week's playgroup. I felt so bad for Nikko because I wanted him to run around in the playgroup setting, but we had to turn around and go home. After getting up early and getting the kiddies ready and out the door, I just didn't have enough motivation to take the kiddies to mom's house in the afternoon. I was spent! The weather was so gloomy. I got the kids into the basement for some running around, but I think they are getting bored with the layout. I'm going to have to change things up a bit down there, but have to think about what I'm going to do. Probably will have to designate some spots for toys and books so that everything isn't just laying around like it is now. Will maybe have to get some comfy chairs and/or a table for them, too. The mats take up the most room so I'll have to be picky with furniture choices. That trampoline's gotta go back to the clinic.

Another day of Nikko giving me some wonderful eye contact. But, it's eye contact on his terms. It's in the kitchen that he is really motivated by food. When I tell him to go sit down if he wants something, 9-10 times he'll scamper to his chair. Sometimes he stands there as if he didn't understand me, but after 3 -4 times he'll take off for his chair. He has begun to shake his head "NO" if he doesn't want us to sing a particular song. I wonder if this use of NO is starting to be consistent if he doesn't want something. Nikko is still whining for things and throwing tantrums if he doesn't get it, but when we are quiet and want to sing songs, he will shake NO if he doesn't want a particular song. Emerging action? Possibly. Tomorrow we have speech with Gloria. I'm also looking forward to getting more Traction in my chiro appointment. Yea!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Prepared for Monday?

It's a little after 11pm and I think I'm in denial that tomorrow will happen. It will be the first time I have to navigate the three kiddies without any help using the triple stroller. I haven't started envisioning how things will go, but I think I better get crackin'. I usually plan backwards, and I have to think about what to bring to keep Audrey happy. She's going to be in the room with me since Shirley Syfu didn't write me back to let me know her rules in the playgroup. Maybe she didn't get my email, who knows? I'm nervous again because Ronin will have to go to the daycare and he will be pretty upset when we leave. They have comforted him before, put him in a stroller with his rice milk, so I'll make sure to pack that along with some animal crackers. I have to make sure I label his bag for his allergies, too. Gotta pack a separate bag for Ronin, and then one jointly for Audrey and Nikko. THEN I have to make sure I remember to put the triple stroller in the Pilot tomorrow morning. Geez. I need to aim to leave the house by 9am to get to the daycare on time. So, final diaper changes if any should be at 8:45. Breakfast needs to be by 8am. I guess it's a good thing that Audrey has been waking up at 7am for the past few days. Bad for me coz I'm so tired, but I need to adjust, I guess. Nikko has been waking up around 8am. I'll have to push these guys around earlier.

Today was uneventful. We didn't have any plans to venture out today, so I tried to keep our routine of breakfast, play, put Audrey down for a nap, try to nap during Hi-5, lunch, then play in the basement until Ronin's naptime, then Audrey's naptime, MAYBE Nikko will nap too, snack them all after naps, play, play, then dinner, chill, bathtime and bedtime. I broke out some blocks for Nikko and tried to play with him while his sibs slept. I built upward and so did he. He built a tall tower and got frustrated when it teetered and fell. Eventually he lost interest but I was comforted that he sat in front of me and built with me. Sometimes he added on to my little thick tower. He did build some things horizontally but it was short-lived. Nikko gave me so much eye contact today. He tries to read my face a lot. He likes to stand on my chair behind me when I'm sitting in it, then peers at my face over my shoulder. Nikko still has a knack for retreating into his own world, but tickles can bring him out of it. Still very, very clingy. I had a good conversation today with Anna about using the visual schedule and about using mirrors. Shelly had given me some PEC schedules to start, but if I'm going to use actual pictures then I need a bigger schedule board, or to make one with choices. Ok, this is going to be my priority, including reading the behavioral intervention activities in Cyndi's book.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A good mood day

Nikko was relatively smiley all day with me (except when I left the room or left his side or didn't give in to his requests). He again started the day by wanting a vitamin to nibble on. I need to take a picture of the jar of vitamins so that he can have that as one of his choices to make. He pulls me to the cabinet and just stands in front of it, signing More Please or just Please. If I didn't already know what was behind the door then he would never get what he wanted. I'd like to give him a choice between vitamins or Ovaltine and wonder which one he would pick. It would probably be better to give him the vitamins as one choice and something boring as the other choice... that's probably the recommended way to do it.

One really cute thing he did today had to do with a play cell phone. For the past few days it's been all about Ronin taking the phone to his ear and mimicking us talking. Audrey would just take the phone and eat it. Today, Nikko took the phone and put it to my ear. WOW! I said hello into the phone, and put it up to his own ear, but he ran away. I thought that was really nice, and that we need to show Nikko more things that he can imitate. When Cyndi was here she brought a load of play food. I already own velcro vegetables, but perhaps we need to up the ante just a little bit and have some play dishware. That fake pizza sure goes well with little kids!

It wasn't until later in the day that we got out of the house to partake in a little bit of the warm weather. We went to Costco and Jewel and for some reason I didn't have much luck in Jewel with forgetting my preferred card, then a gallon of water was leaking on me. Luckily Audrey fell asleep instead of remained crabby. When we got home we ran the kiddies around a little bit before dinner. Nikko didn't nap all day so he was really tired around 9pm, fell asleep on the couch armrest but woke up when I put him in bed. He cried out in protest when we left the room, but I'm sure he was tired enough to fall asleep on his own.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sunshine-y Day

Nikko was terribly fussy this morning. I got the kids ready and eating breakfast, not sure when Cyndi would be coming to see us, but wanted to be prepared nonetheless. Nikko immediately wanted stuff from the cupboard so I gave him one of his two daily Gummie Vites vitamins. He can make that thing last for a looooong time. His fingers get all sticky but it keeps him quiet. Cyndi showed up around 10:30 and she and Denis and I had a nice time in the living room. She is lending me a book titled Behavioral Intervention for Young Children With Autism. It was very apropo for her to bring it today because I've recently been looking into what kind of therapies are suitable for Nikko at this stage. It looks like a very comprehensive book, and there's so much I have to delve into, so I'll have to tackle it a little at a time. There are some suggestions on do-it-yourself therapies, which is exactly what I'm searching for. I'll go through those pages soon, or make copies. If I find this book valuable I might just buy it myself on

After lunch I decided that the kids should all go outside to play. Normally we go run around the basement after lunch, but I figured that if we didn't go out now, there was no guarantee that we would get the kids out later in the afternoon after all the naps. Good choice, actually. We set up the baby gate and the kids ran around, used the tricycles, used the slide, kicked the ball around, and enjoyed the weather. But we had to get inside because it was naptime. It was so warm outside that I had to take the pullover off Nikko and the jacket off Ronin. I kept Audrey in her fleece, however, coz she's still just a baby. After naptimes, I decided to make some Ghirardelli brownies from Costco. I mixed up the batter and actually had Nikko and Ronin come over to stir it. Nikko was getting anxious, probably because he could smell the chocolate, so I gave him a spatula with batter on it. He totally relished it like an enormous lollipop. He walked around with it, sat on the couch with it, and fell asleep with it still in his hand. Ronin meanwhile was loving stirring the batter with the spoon. He started to lift the spoon higher and began to splatter so I had to remove it all from him with loud protests. After dinner, the kids ran around in the basement. Poor Ronin has to keep relinquishing his toys because Nikko is taking them from him and lining them up. I try to distract Ronin, but am wondering what the best approach is for Ronin. He doesn't understand that Nikko is autistic, and neither of them know how to share, so this is a tough spot. I'll have to read up on how to deal with siblings of autistic kids, because I don't want Ronin to feel bullied all the time, yet he should know that giving in to Nikko is sometimes a good thing. I want Ronin to learn how to pick his battles. Nikko will not always understand that Ronin's stuff is Ronin's. How to teach Nikko this? Dunno yet. Oh, I think I found a meetup group online that is centered around the northwest suburbs, a la Skokie/Park Ridge. That will be better than meeting up in Naperville, where the current meetup group is at. Nothing's wrong with the group, it's just about geography.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Outdoor planning underway

Bethanne called at 8:50am to cancel playgroup today because her son had a 103 fever. This was disappointing because it was our last playgroup with Bethanne before she goes on maternity leave. Now our playgroup will switch to Mondays with Shirley. She hasn't answered my email yet regarding bringing Audrey to her playgroup. I called the daycare and put Ronin in it for Monday, but will confirm this tomorrow. I'll just have to bring Audrey along and see if she can hack being in playgroup. I don't know if she'll be ok in the daycare, because she's now a crier at 5.5 months. After breakfast I segued into the living room and we all just chilled out in front of Sesame Street. Audrey was due for a nap, too. Before I knew it, noon rolled around. Chinny came to help out, Bo came for DT. Nikko was not very cooperative during his session. He tried to get out of our circle many times, not even wanting to sit in my lap. He did engage in whatever activity Bo put in front of him. Honestly, the time flew so fast that I'm not sure what he did. Nikko worked on the farm animal puzzle, later the magnetic fish puzzle, sorted empty cups, stacked a rainbow toy, didn't care for the peg toy, did bubbles, looked at a picture book... not really sure what else! It wasn't the best session, really. He was also distracted because I had given him some French fries prior to DT, so he was probably mad that I didn't give him more. We finished lunch after DT, and then after diaper changes I put the kids in the Pilot and headed toward the clinic, with the hopes that the kids would take a partial nap.

OT was a little more successful for Nikko. He was big on running Shelly's revamped obstacle course, but he didn't engage in the fine motor stuff enough. He didn't have the attention span to work with the foam soap and paintbrush, and didn't seem satisfied to sit in my lap. All the while I talked to Shelly about the Bus Driver newsstory as well as my concerns for Nikko overall. We talked about going over his goals again, to see what we can do to make progress before preschool. I can hardly believe that it's been over a year of therapies; at one point all the therapists were telling me we've got plenty of time to work on Nikko, and now we're three months away and we're SO running out of time. Nikko is not verbal, even though he's got the imaginary conversations going. All his progress is "emerging" but it's not there yet. Imitating is slowly developing but needs to come around, and I have to light a fire under my butt to get the PECs and other systems going again. Tomorrow I'm going to hunt for the pictures I already developed and will put some of them into play. I also think that talking with Cyndi tomorrow will help give me some direction. Finally, talking with Anna sometime soon will help because she's got a background in special needs, I believe.

After OT we went home and Chinny helped me put together the Little Tikes Cube Climber. Success! Nikko enjoyed it and repeatedly climbed into it and went down the slide. Ronin liked it, too, but felt crowded out by Nikko and whined a lot to get it all to himself. The boys enjoyed the weather and tested out the octagonal gate. Neither one noticed the gaping space between our house and the neighbor's fence. So, I still have to solve that problem. The baby gate may work temporarily, but I'd have to run to the garage and haul it out and then unfold it to string across the driveway. Pretty bulky. I'd like to possibly leave it on the side of the house instead, but it would get all dirty from the rain. Unless that's what I should just do anyway and chalk it up to being an outdoor gate? I'll give it a thought. After playing, we went inside and they snacked, probably too close to dinnertime. I dug out some farm animal lacing cutouts and Nikko immediately took to it. He wasn't working really hard to lace through the holes, although I did see different incarnations of his lacing at varying times. Bedtime came later, and so tomorrow is another day. I think it will be very sunny and possibly nicer than today, so I really hope I can take the kids outside. Denis is calling in sick, but maybe he'll want to play outside too if he gets enough rest.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A calm day

An uneventful day in that we didn't go anywhere. Mom is illin' so we didn't go to her house. Atz and Allie came over to hang out for an hour, and that was great. Her intention was so that if I needed to run errands or clean up something, she could hang with the kiddies. But sheets were in the dryer and I had just washed the lunch dishes so nothing was available to do per se. And when she comes over, I'd rather hang and chat instead of work on a project anyway. She had some great ideas for a temporary fence, so we'll keep working together on that. The rest of the day was ok, with no big meltdowns from Nikko. He almost fell asleep for a nap; I had just picked up Ronin in the nursery and Nikko crawled up onto the ottoman glider while I sat with Ronin, and then Nikko was falling asleep right on the glider. I tried to move him to the couch since he could fall right off the glider if he stirred, but he woke up completely and stayed awake the rest of the day. He has been giving me some really good eye contact, just like yesterday. He's just checking me out, not necessarily looking at me as if he wanted to have a conversation, but he's definitely meeting my gaze. Before I gave Ronin a bath I tried to do some roughhousing with Nikko by spinning him around to music and making him jump on the couch cushions. I don't think it revved up his system too much for him to settle down later, which is always the concern according to Shelly the OT. Tomorrow is our busy day so I'll have to see how much Velcro Man he'll be in the morning. By the way, Atz said that the bruise on his leg looked more like a spider bite than an actual contact bruise. The yellow bump in the middle is probably an infection from the venom. Eeeeeeewwwwww. Remind me never to let another spider go free again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bus Driver

I'm enraged. Tonight on Channel 7 there was a story about a bus driver, Yolande Knight, who left a 4-year old autistic boy on her bus while she went shopping. The Thomas Jefferson School in Niles called the parents of the boy when he didn't show up to school that morning. An hour later the boy was found alone inside the bus, which was in Glenview while the driver was shopping at a card/party store. The driver was fired. THANK GOD!

After I saw the story while I was folding clothes at almost 2am, the story lingered in my head and I stopped folding. Suddenly I thought about Nikko, how he has no words yet, and how he is going to be in preschool in the fall, and I started to heave sobs. When Nikko is on the bus to school, I will not be able to protect him. I will have to get to know that bus driver very well, especially after this story. I feel so bad because Nikko is going to be helpless. Suddenly I feel all the more urgency to get him to start talking. Maybe it was foresight or karma that I had that conversation with Gloria earlier today, or that I was speculating just this afternoon why I am stressing about Nikko's learning abilities. I even spoke with Luisa about Nikko's future and wondered aloud why I am panicking right now. I am worried about Nikko and preschool, if he will be able to function. Even more so, I am worried about his safety because he is nonverbal. In a way I'm getting mad at all the people who think Nikko will be just fine right now if he's left alone somewhere or with someone who doesn't fully understand him, or thinks he is just like all the other kids. HE ISN'T. If Nikko were on that bus there is no way he could communicate danger except to cry and scream. It breaks my heart to picture him strapped into a seat trying to break free. I am suddenly scared that someone will try to take advantage of him, especially some bastard predator. This is why I am very protective of him and can't fathom him being in the company of strangers. I don't think I'm being overly protective, at least not at this very second. How could I be? He doesn't know how to TALK. He can't communicate his needs. We are so very behind on his development!! Again, I ask, what can I do to help bridge the gap of his comprehension?? I am anxious all over again. I'm going to have to vent to Cyndi about this, I'm glad I'll see her on Friday. I've got to develop some kind of activity schedule I can do with Nikko and Ronin, since they are close developmentally, to see if I can teach them both at the same time how to function in this world. I have never felt so helpless as a mother as I do right now.


Gloria came for Speech today and told me that Ronin has an evaluation set up for next Wednesday at 3:30 with her and Jen [our former] DT. Fantastic. I wonder if Ronin will qualify as being 30% delayed. He really doesn't have many words that are discernable. Nikko, meanwhile, is still speechless, but jargons when he's happy, and tends to jargon in a sing-song voice as if he's having a conversation. Unfortunately when he's trying to communicate with me he is not trying to form words with his mouth. Instead it comes out as a shriek or a whine or a big messy blehhhhh. During speech today he was semi-cooperative and Noodleman came out a lot. However, Gloria seemed to think that he is following commands better. At first she thought he was just following commands in a routine way, but after asking him to do a few things she thinks he's understanding that he needs to be doing something requested of him. Nikko also kept looking at himself in the reflection of the dark TV screen and even waved at himself a few times. Gloria stated this was increased awareness of self. Later in the day I tried to give Nikko a choice between having Cocoa Krispies or having Saltines crackers. He had indicated to me that he wanted something on top of the fridge so I brought down both boxes. He ran to his chair and signed More Please, so I put both boxes in front of him and asked him to pick one. He repeated More Please, and wouldn't pick one. I formed his finger into a point and motioned to each box. Still, no choice. He sat there asking Please and whining and shaking his head, but I urged him to choose a box. He was getting frustrated that I wasn't giving him what he wanted, and honestly I didn't know which box he wanted because he would look long and hard equally at each box after a given time. Finally I put a little of each in separate bowls and put them before Nikko. He whined again, we were both getting frustrated but I tried to remain calm. He reached out and took the bowl of Krispies and I praised him for making a choice. I didn't feel great about how long it took for him to make a choice, but that's what we're working on, right? I tried to push things along a la Jen but I didn't want to make the choice for him.

I talked to Gloria after speech and asked her the two big questions on my mind. What can I do to help improve Nikko's comprehension? Gloria said she truly believes we are doing what we can for him right now, with therapy and me with every day, and it will just take time. Also, I said that since Nikko is so attached to me, should I be concerned about him going to preschool and should I be doing something to work on this? Gloria said I should start leaving Nikko with other people so he can get used to being without me all the time. She said that preschool is so structured that he will learn the routine, and it might take 2-3 weeks for him to not cry when I go. But he'll catch on. Later, I took Audrey with me to the chiro and left the boys with Chinny. I hoped that things would be ok when I got back, and even went to Target to run some quick errands. When I got back, Nikko ran to greet me at the door. I looked at the smears on the front of his white shirt and started to panic. As I dropped my stuff and held him at arm's length, the smell of poo wafted up to me and I hauled him directly to the bathroom for a bath. UGH. Nikko probably had a poo and got itchy after a while. That's why I still keep him in onesies, to make it harder for him to get into his diaper. Poor Ronin had to wait in his crib after waking from his nap, and Chinny had to deal with a stubborn Audrey, but Nikko had to get clean. Again, UGH.

As the night wound down and Ronin was getting a bath (which he resisted practically the entire time), Nikko was crashing in the living room while I held Audrey to sleep. He would run up to me, look directly into my eyes, smile and laugh and run away. He kept doing this, and would keep looking into my eyes until I would meet his gaze. If I wasn't looking at him he'd stand in front of me until I did. I do love how he looks at me; his eye contact with me is very good most of the time. It's just when I talk to him directly and give him a command he doesn't look at me. When I put a hand on his chin and turn his face to mine he purposely redirects his gaze and his eyeballs roll away from my look. I think one of the best times I can get him to look at me is if I tickle him. Tomorrow I might take him to Mom's house so she can look at the big bruise on his left shin. It's bigger, and there's still a bump.

Monday, April 13, 2009

PT Assessment

This morning Nikko had a physical therapist Lindsay come to assess him. It wasn't a requirement for preschool, but it will be useful to see if we can get PT for Nikko because his muscle tone is considered low. It's weird to picture that because Nikko looks so sturdy, almost stocky, and seems to have a lot of power. But his core muscles are weak, as evidenced in his inability to push a button upon request. We started in the living room. Lindsay had brought some kind of rubber steps and he quickly mastered them. She asked a lot of questions about his physical abilities. We also went downstairs to try running and climbing on the foof chairs. Overall, Lindsay said that we could help Nikko by working on his core, climbing is big, and doing exercised like the wheelbarrow are helpful. Encouraging jumping, and doing activities that incorporate balls will be good for his future. Ronin has shown me that he can kick a ball, but Nikko cannot. Lindsay noticed that playing with balls is more likely an emerging skill. So is walking up and down stairs unaided. She indicated that we might not meet the requirements for PT because she doesn't really see a 30% delay. She pegs his ball skills at 25 months (he's currently 33 months).

We didn't do much in the afternoon, but we did take the family out to a Costco/Jewel run just to get out of the house. We spent some time in the basement before dinner. Nikko was very tired at the end of the day because he didn't have a nap. I don't know why he is missing his naps for the past few days. Hopefully he'll get back to that. Tomorrow we have speech and swim class at night. I also think his appetite is increasing again because he's eating 5-7 nuggets during meals, although he's not finishing his mashed potatoes unless he's manually fed. Denis got purple grapes and Nikko seemed to enjoy them (he wouldn't eat green grapes; perhaps he thinks all grapes are purple?).

Easter. Quiet, but not.

Sorry no post yesterday. There aren't enough hours in the late evening, I hate to say. After the kiddies go to bed I have a slew of things to do, and too many other choices. The coolest thing that happened yesterday (Saturday) was that we went to pick up the Little Tikes Cube Crawler from a lady in Lisle, IL. The entire transaction seemed to go off without a hitch, although we haven't put the cube together yet. We will, though, and the kids will love it. I'm just waiting for warmer weather and I think that will happen mid-week.

Today was Easter. We ended up going to mom's house for "lunch" and hanging for just a little bit longer before heading home. I hate to say it but we didn't color Easter eggs or make Easter baskets. The reason being is that Nikko just doesn't get it right now, and it's too much of an activity for Ronin, so I decided not to do the whole mess. I also didn't take any pictures this Easter, so that's probably a bad thing. I know someone will tell me it's no big deal, that the kids will appreciate it next year, but seeing other pictures of kids and eggs is starting to make me feel guilty. And the realization that Nikko doesn't get it, and might never get it, is getting me depressed. In fact, at the end of the day Nikko was extremely whiny. It's as if he and Ronin took turns being crabby and whiny, practically without letting up between intervals. Denis and I were both tired and irritated by their whining by day's end. It's so hard because neither kid can communicate well, or with words, so they whine and push. It is very hard to stay calm when the whining is coming from all three at the same time. Even two is a lot.

Nikko is showing that he has a good memory for things. He watches when I open the kitchen cabinets. He has seen that sometimes we stash Denis' homemade cookies in one, and so he runs up to us and signs More Please. Or he'll see me open the one with the Ovaltine in it and signs More Please. Both he and Ronin take the kitchen stool and drag it up to the counters now to see what we are eating, or keeping from them. Sneaky little devils. But I am keeping two sets of eyes on Nikko because lately I have been feeling anxious about him, about his behavior.

AN ASIDE: he came home from mom's house with a bruise on top of a lump on his left shin! I have no idea when it happened or where. It seems painful because he won't let me touch it, but he's not limping. He can't tell me about it, so this also worries me.

For some reason, I have cracked open more books on ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and have been reading the blogs more often. I don't know if the whole transition into preschool thing is subliminally affecting me, but that's a possibility. I haven't switched his diet or done anything medically to him, but wonder if that is a route I should venture on. I'd rather keep him drug-free. But if that's the case, then how can I keep pushing forward, keep working his mind so that he will be able to connect? That's a question I jotted down: if autism is a neurological disorder, what can I do to help him bridge the gap? What can I do to help improve his comprehension and his speech? Or will it only develop in its own time? What specific activities can I do with Nikko? I think this is where we need a specialist or two. OK, now the red flags are waving again, I've got to move on those applications to see a behavioral therapist, or the pediactric therapist.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Triple Stroller!

I am tired of these colds! Nikko is not affected by it as badly as the rest of us are. He just has a goopy nose that he wipes on his sleeves. But today he felt just a tad warm. We didn't go outside today because it was chilly, even though it was deceptively sunny. Last night on I typed in Triple Stroller and came across a lady selling hers for $100 and she lives in Wheeling. I jumped at the opportunity and emailed her back about it, but was also worried because the posting had been up all day and since triple strollers are a hot commodity I thought it would surely be gone by now. Luckily today, she called me and said it was still available. I drove over there and was kinda blown away by their backyard. The house was not really up-t0-date, but was a big wooden two-floor house. I couldn't even tell you if it was an added-on ranch or a split level because it looked like it was two houses built on top of each other. I went to the back and was welcomed by a ton of Little Tikes outdoor climbers and swings, lots of big wheelers, and wood chips on the ground. There were also a lot of little kids around and so I honestly thought it was a daycare. The lady (Andrea) came out and I found out that they were all her kids except for one. The triple stroller was in very good condition, just not used very much. It's big, fills up the entire back of the Pilot, but I think I really scored on this one. The Baby Trend strollers go for $250 and up on ebay, so it's impossible for me to bid on them. I think it's going to make my life just a little easier during the week and when I take the kiddies to the clinic.

When I got home, Nikko's mood took a different turn. I think he didn't nap all day again so perhaps he was just overly tired but he was going bezerk upstairs. I took the kids into the basement and Denis helped to run him out, but again he was throwing some tantrums. Perhaps he was overtired or overstimulated, but it took A LOT to calm him down. I still haven't figured out what was happening to him. In any event, he fell asleep so quickly that we didn't even finish the nighttime prayers. I hope he'll be ok tomorrow.

Missing the roughhousing

I cancelled our playgroup outing this morning because Ronin and Audrey are still illin', as well as myself. I didn't want to leave a cranky-pants Ronin with Chinny because he could very well have cried the entire time we'd be gone and maybe have a relapse. As for Audrey, yesterday her nose was like a faucet and if she would continue this way at playgroup it wouldn't be an appetizing sight to the moms. Figured it wasn't fair to the other kiddies, because I wouldn't want that to happen to me. We had an easy morning that flew quickly. Bo came for DT at noon, as did Chinny to feed Ronin and take him downstairs. He cried just about the whole time, probably because he was in need of a nap. When we came into the living room, Nikko ran to the corner and started taking out the Thomas chairs to make space for us. He didn't have any escape behaviors the entire session. I don't remember every toy he played with, but I do know that his session was pretty good. He worked on an animal sounds puzzle, a peg board, an Elmo figure, and a sea puzzle. Bo was able to start and end the activities and Nikko helped clean up each toy into their prospective bags. I noticed that when he played with the Elmo, Nikko was jargoning which means he was pretty contented. After DT, I fed Nikko lunch and put Ronin down for a nap. Then we all started getting geared up to go to OT at the clinic. Chinny came along and it was the first time she met Shelly. Nikko was pretty happy to be at the clinic as he madly began crashing from the slide to the wall. He eventually took part in Shelly's obstacle course, played with foam soap and blocks (thank you, Shelly for not using shaving cream!), and Shelly even put his feet in the foam and put his feet on the mirror. Nikko is really watching himself in the mirror. He was fascinated with watching his feet. Shelly chalks it all up to body awareness. Nikko also played in the foam-lined tunnel (lined with some of that soundproof foam again, which I think made me itchy) and a collapsible tent. It must have reminded him of the parachute, which he also loves. Shelly thought Nikko did really well in OT today and I agree. When I said it was time for socks and shoes he even went straight to the stroller and sat down. One more thing Shelly told me, however, was that it was possible that Nikko has increased his crashing because he's not getting enough roughhousing. When Shelly said that, it made me realize that I have slacked on the roughhousing over the past few weeks. I haven't been as physical with Nikko lately, and I wonder how I forgot to be. Denis also needs to jumpstart roughhousing with Nikko, even though Shelly said not to do it too close to bedtime. That's really the only time Denis can do it with Nikko. I think that my impression of going into the basement almost daily was a way for Nikko to satisfy his need to be physical, and he does run around the mats and sometimes climbs over the foof chairs. But I think we'll need to step this all up, because I have noticed his crashing has definitely increased over the past few weeks and maybe he really isn't getting the input he needs from roughhousing. I feel guilty. But now that I've been made aware of it, I'll act upon it. That's all anyone can do!

The rest of the evening was calm. It was a late dinner so there was no basement venture for Nikko, who notably did not have a nap today. He was my little shadow as I got Ronin and Audrey ready for bed.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

MRI day for me

I forgot to mention that before speech yesterday the TV was off in the living room. Nikko had remembered the obstacle course I made the day before and tried to replicate it by lugging over the green ottoman, an empty rubbermaid and strategically placing the floor pillow at the end of the "runway". I also saw him looking at his reflection in the TV. He was really watching himself run back and forth, twirl and flap his arms. Gloria said it's great self-awareness. Yea!

Today I had an MRI done on my back. I had to take the kiddies to Atz's house. I started them on their lunch and then bolted out the door because I was running late. I actually had a nap in the MRI machine. Don't know how I was able to sleep over the noises it was making, but a tired, sick mom is capable of that and more, I'm sure. When I got back I found out that Ronin was crashed out on the couch sleeping (and acting lethargic. Worried that he was having a relapse, but he was probably just really tired from being ill) and Nikko was holding two poles like skis. Neither kid finished their lunch, so I fed it to them when we got home. Nikko was somewhat clingy today, but did let me get some things done at home. He is really into Hi-5 so when I put it on TV he is glued to it. He's still able to play with other things, but having the TV on in general is probably very distracting. Our neighbor Rachel and her son Alex came over to give us some of his old toys and a lot of books. The kids loved everything, and I love the fact that there are new things in the house to distract them.

I don't think I'm going to have Nikko go to playgroup tomorrow because he still has green slime coming out of his nose. Audrey's nose is also a waterfall and if I bring her and put her in the bjorn she will look like an oozing mess.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

We all have colds.

We all have colds. I think Nikko is doing the best out of us all, with a slightly runny nose. I am congested and have a headache. Ronin is runny and unhappy. Audrey is runny and isn't eating properly. Oh happy day(s).

Nikko had escape issues only in the beginning part of Speech therapy today, but otherwise he stayed in our corner and did well on the first two projects. Gloria brought a dollhouse with some Little People figurines. It was also electronically interactive. Nikko showed some interest in the dolls and liked the sounds. Then we moved to the pegs with peg board. He was interested in the peg board a lot, and later got to linking the pegs. We spent a lot of time on this. The magnetic puzzle is proving to be a stump for us; Nikko is only interested in one side of it, so Gloria will probably stop bringing it. We also played with her Mr. Potato Heads and Nikko did a good job of putting on the faces, arms, hats and legs. Gloria's notes say we should continue to give him a choice between two things. I agree. I also need to find more songs for finger plays.

Chinny was here to help out with Ronin. They are getting along nicely, although Ronin threw a mini-fit when she first appeared in the living room to take him away from the dollhouse. But once they were downstairs I didn't hear any opposition. After lunch, Mom showed up so that I could go to the chiropractor. When I came back, everyone seemed pretty calm. Nikko had taken a short nap (actually, they all did). The next big activity for him was swim class in the evening, which he went to with Denis. When they came back, I served Nikko his dinner. Denis went downstairs to do computer stuff and Nikko got up to follow him. His dinner was half-eaten so I made him go back and sit down to finish. He protested, and started going downstairs but he wouldn't go all the way unless I was going. I refused to go, because I knew he would continue eating when he came back up and that's not what I wanted him to do. I told him that if he went downstairs he would not be allowed to eat when he came back up, and he'd go hungry. Not that he understood any of that, but I sent him to his chair with a 5-4-3-2-1 and he ran to it, but protesting. Still, he stayed in his seat and finished the nuggets on his plate, so maybe he really was hungry enough to stay. The rest of the night was short because Ronin and Audrey needed to go to bed. They are more under the weather than Nikko. Nikko just followed me around while I prepared diapers and such. I felt bad that I wasn't able to interact with him more. Tomorrow we'll be at Atz's house midday because I'm hopefully getting an MRI on my back, so the kiddies will be hanging out with the cousins. And Grant.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Gross Motor Day

By 8:50am my throat already hurt from all the yelling I did, mainly because Ronin was being indecisive and Nikko wasn't eating independently. I was frustrated that no one was listening to me. Guess I should throw that "Strong Person" status out the window!! I calmed down, but getting a grip on my temper really involves backing down and some deep breathing. I shouldn't have let the boys get to me like that, especially because just fifteen minutes earlier I was entertaining them by singing Hi-5 songs. I got even madder because I could feel my voice getting louder and more impatient, and I was mad that I let their whining ruin my mood.

Our schedule was a bit offset by Audrey and her early awakening. I don't know why she was up at 7:15a but that meant she was going to get cranky earlier in the morning. Also, Ronin fell asleep in the highchair around 12:40p so that automatically pushed back his afternoon nap by an hour. In the meantime, Nikko was doing all right, not overly clingy as in many mornings past. He hasn't been as vocal lately. During the day he's content to watch TV, go hang out in the window, page through Green Eggs And Ham, and play with cars on the ramp of the parking garage. After Ronin and Audrey woke up from their naps (Nikko didn't nap all day) I set up a mini-obstacle course in the living room with two ottomans, two big rubbermaids and the square floor pillow. Both boys enjoyed it, but Nikko enjoyed climbing on it longer than Ronin. I tried to get them to jump off the ottoman onto the floor pillow using the two-foot launch, but they kept stepping off the edge with one foot. I even tried to show them how to do it, but wondered if the ottoman would cave in under my weight. I sang a frog-hopping song too, but to no avail. During dinner Nikko was getting out of his chair a lot, a behavior I am very tired of. I have begun to corrale him back into his chair, hauling him in, and ordering him to eat his nuggets. Tonight was no different, except that I announced from across the kitchen that I was going to fetch him in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 !! The first time I did that he kind of giggled as I scooped him back into his chair. The second time I did it he laughed because I pursued him, and he ran back to his chair, trying to scramble into it before I got him. I almost reprimanded him for getting up again, but I glanced at his plate and saw it was clear. I praised him loudly and told him he joked me because I thought he wasn't finished with his nuggets. He was, so it was justified for him to run around. Denis came home during dinner, and post-dinner we all were in the basement. I had Dancing With The Stars on TV because it was colorful and musical. Nikko enjoyed running around, but Ronin was moping around, very miserable from his cold. Later on, Nikko had taken the inflatable runner that Shelly had left behind with the trampoline, unfurled it into a straight line, and was running alongside as well as on top of it. Ronin joined him and they both looked like they were having fun. I wonder how Nikko figured out to do that. I thought it was just going to be a stimming thing, but I think it was more than that. What WAS a total stimming thing was Nikko standing in front of the projector screen looking directly at the light coming from the projector. I could see him mesmerized by the light. Yesterday he was angry because the movie was a low-lit one and there wasn't enough bright light pouring out from the projector. DWTS was a colorful show so there was no disappointment tonight! Finally, he was the last kid to go to sleep. End of night for him!

Monday, April 6, 2009


It was an indoor day for us. The weather got steadily colder as the afternoon wore on. I took Audrey with me to run to Target and to Jewel because Ronin was under the weather and acting really pissed off about something. I put him down for a nap first and then had to get past Nikko crying and throwing a fit as we left. Denis took him to the other room. We were gone for two hours and when we came back both boys were awake and crying in the kitchen. Nikko was howling more so than Ronin. Apparently Nikko took a nap while we were gone and woke up crying 10 minutes before we came back. Oh yeah, something is bothering Ronin other than his cold, but I can't figure it out. He keeps putting his fingers to his mouth; I've checked his teeth and his gums, and see nothing. But the only thing I think it could be is teething. In any case, he's really unbearable right now, and I feel bad because if he's in pain I can't localize it. In one of his fits, he head-butted me in the mouth and gave me cuts on my top and bottom lips. Bloody. OW.

I've been having some communication problems with Nikko lately. We are making progress overall because he is able to sign More Please if he really wants something, and still pulls and pushes me to get me to do something else. I try to give him a choice between things, but not all the time. I should improve in that area. I still feel as if he isn't listening to me. I call his name from five feet away and he acts like he didn't hear me. He understands some things when it's mealtime, but I often have to point to his chair (or haul him back by hooking him under his arms) as well as tell him to go sit down, for whatever reason. He passed his hearing test, so that's not an issue. Is it the information filtering that is the problem, then? I'm sure Gloria would tell me that he has to get his comprehension in order before he can speak. I get that. But what is it going to take to get that comprehension going? I was skimming that Help checklist that Cyndi gave me to see where Nikko started to fall behind. I noticed that it was the skillset around the 12-18 month age group that Nikko is lacking. That's probably where I will have to start, to get him to learn/master those skills. Sounds easy, right? It's totally daunting. I'm not a therapist, which is why I feel daunted. I think this is why (I'm rationalizing this as I'm typing) I need to hurry up and send in both those applications to St. Alexian and to Marianjoy Rehab to see either that behavioral therapist and/or the pediatric psychiatrist. Nikko needs more help and guidance than I am capable of giving him right now, or he needs a professional to help steer us in the right direction. I am truly afraid of what our lives will be like once he turns 3 and all his current therapies stop.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Strong People...

I just read a phrase from an autism board: "Strong people need other strong people, you just need to find them... and they're tougher to chase off." That sounds very interesting to me for some reason. When I think of myself I don't immediately think that I am strong. I think about my weakness for chocolate or strawberies & cream, or Milano Double Chocolate cookies, or a can of Coke (OK, those are all food items, so let's group that under "weakness for certain foods"). I think about how being lazy could get the best of me, if I didn't have three babies that depended on me to be on time and be there for them. I think that I am focused on making things right, or better, for my kiddies. When people don't tell me that I need a break, I don't think about it. I just keep marching forward, probably not thinking about taking care of myself, so when someone comes along and tells me that I need "Me" time, that could turn out badly for me because then I'll start thinking, yeah, I DO need "Me" time. Then I'll get resentful and anxious, then the babies' cries and screams get louder and under my skin more. But when I put on my focused, resilient mask, I am better able and determined to get things done. I guess that's what girlfriends and sisters are for, to remind me to take a break, eh? :)

Aside from the multitude of eye contact I was getting from Nikko today at variable times, there were just two things I noted worthy to record. One, Nikko has figured out that light switches in the kitchen turn the lights on and off if you flip it. He discovered the light switch above his chair at the table. And this morning he hauled the stool over to the door and leaned over to switch off the lights on the other side of the kitchen. I think that's pretty cool, honestly. The other thing I noticed is that Nikko has been crashing a lot over the past few days. A LOT. During mealtimes, he would calmly push aside his chair and then take off full speed from the wall to the door, and crash into it with his hands. Then he'd turn around and run full speed back at the wall. He narrowly passes between the table and Ronin's highchair. Once he did bang his cheekbone into the corner of the table (a rounded corner) and hurt himself long enough to stop and cry out for help, but he got over it in a few minutes and resumed crashing. On Thursday Shelly had told me to see how soon he would go back to crashing after OT. She felt that he did so much running and climbing that he probably wouldn't be crashing until Saturday. Well, he pretty much continued to crash throughout the day on Friday, and definitely today. He's not always running back and forth all over the house; it depends on the room he's in. In the kitchen he seems automatically programmed to run into the door. In the living room today he started running on top of the couch from one armrest all the way to the other. I'm sure it was fun, and perhaps he found the bouncy cushions stimulating. But it was looking stimmy to me after a while. Nikko has just picked up the cold that Audrey is soon leaving and that Ronin has full-blown. Ronin has it a little worse than the others right now because he's also sporting a little temperature. I also had to give Ronin albulterol in the nebulizer 4x today because his breathing was getting rapid and possibly labored. I hope it gets better by tomorrow. Nikko does not seem to be jealous or upset when I have to give full attention to Ronin during a nebulizer treatment. If we're in the kitchen, Nikko might sit behind me and toy around with the tubes of the nebulizer, but in the living room he may come by us and be curious, but pretty much leaves us alone.

Friday, April 3, 2009


Last night I was checking out the Autism forums that moms sometimes post on and there was a link to a test for PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder) levels. I took it for Nikko and he scored a 125, which according to the test results, is severe PDD. I googled PDD to get a better meaning of the word and I discovered that PDD and autism are often used interchangeably, but that's not really the case. PDD is the big blanket term for developmental disorders, and autism is the most recognizable of the bunch. There is also PDD-NOS (Not Otherwise Specified). This is another type of autism, where Aspergers falls on this spectrum. I wondered if Nikko would apply to any of this, and wikipedia says that PDD is often used for children under 3 or 4 who don't have a formal autism diagnosis. Some people believe that autism is not properly diagnosed when the child is younger than 3.

Cyndi came over early today and saw that both kids were being Velcro Men. We were in the kitchen for the first half and then moved to the living room for the second half. Audrey went down for a nap in the middle of it all, and Ronin was being very anti-social toward her. Cyndi gave me a checklist called the Hawaii Early Learning Profile (HELP). It shows skills/behavior, speech and motor skills milestones from birth to age three. I'm glad she gave this to me so I can see where my kids fall on this checklist and also see what Nikko can be working on. Great tool.

Today Nikko was fine, he didn't do anything extraordinary. Sorry to say. I hope to get more out of him tomorrow.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

We made it through Thursday

Nikko had a lot of activities today. We'll see how it affects him tomorrow. Shelly mentioned that after running around in OT she wonders if he will have the need to crash tonight or tomorrow, and might possibly not need to until Saturday.

I was really stressing out this morning because we all woke up later than usual. Luckily Denis had a later morning meeting and was able to help with getting Ronin dressed and some breakfast items. But Nikko was totally Velcro Man and I was trying to run around and gather items for the food bag and diaper bag with him clinging to my leg. I tried to make light of it, but I was clenching my teeth the entire time. I didn't have a helper today so I had to take all three kids with me. Amazingly we got out the door by 9:30, which didn't seem too late, but in actuality it was just a bit late. When we arrived at playgroup, Bethanne said that the triplets were sick today, which left only Jason and Nikko today. She said that Ronin could stay if I wanted him to, and while I hesitated at first I decided Why Not? I went to tell the daycare that we'd come back another day (they recognized me from before. Nice people.). Ronin had a great time, I must say, because he was free to explore everything, he got to paint with watercolors, and his mommy was right there in the same room. Nikko explored everything, too. He saw a gray bin and signed More Please for someone to open it. I knew exactly what was in that bin: colored cardboard bricks which he hadn't seen in weeks. I was very surprised that he remembered what was in the bin, and when Jim the Volunteer opened it, Nikko was indeed rewarded with the bricks. He did a little stacking but opted to just lay in the bricks. I dreaded the cleanup and expected a tantrum. We got some resistance from him, but I turned his head away and gave him big hugs while they hauled the bin into the next room. Nikko seemed to accept the transition well. He didn't stick around the circle for circle time, but he did sit at the table to paint with watercolors. He stuck his fingers into the paint and wiped them on his shirt as well as painted the picture of an Easter egg. After that was a little bean bin time, then snack time (Ronin couldn't eat the Cheetos so I gave him animal crackers and rice milk. By the way, he deftly ate some purple Play Doh as evidenced by the purple behind his front teeth. I tried to swipe his mouth clear with my finger and got bit instead.), then parachute time and it was time to go home.

I had 15 minutes to get some lunch into the kiddies and then Bo showed up. Since Chinny wasn't around to take Ronin into the basement I suggested we had his therapy session at the dinner table. He hadn't done that in so long, since working with Janelle, but I don't think that was what caused his crying and resistance. He just wanted to not be strapped into his booster chair, plus he wanted to be Velcro Man. Bo pointed out that even though he was constantly crying, every time she put an activity in front of him he worked on it, even looking focused at times. When the activity was over, he looked for me and ended up wailing. He had worked on a puzzle, peg board, book, shape sorter, and threading w/shoelace from what I recall. Elmo, too.

Bo said to me, "You must be very patient."
"Excuse me? You mean ME?"
"Yes," she replied, "to be working with Nikko and have the other two around."
"Oh, I'm not very patient at all, but on days like this I just have to be focused so that Nikko can get the most out of his therapies. But generally it is very, very hard for me to be patient!"

After DT, I thought about hanging out at home for a while, but I looked at the clock and figured that my best chances for Ronin and Nikko to take a nap would be in the car. Audrey was getting tired and would sleep regardless. So I packed the kids back in the car after doing diaper changes on all of them and headed toward the clinic for OT. Ronin fell asleep for an hour, and Nikko fell asleep for the last 30 minutes of the ride. Sufficient, I'd say.

In the clinic, Shelly had set up the obstacle course and both boys had at it. They did a lot of climbing, just a little bit with shaving cream and blocks, but mostly climbed and crawled on the mats and a big plastic slide she found. Nikko loved the slide. Shelly showed me how she lined a long tunnel with some kind of sensory foam that looked like a panel from a soundproof booth. Nikko enjoyed crawling into it and relaxed in there for a while. Shelly had remarked to me that she thought it was great that Nikko can generalize. I asked what she meant and Shelly said that Nikko seems to be able to do certain tasks in different environments, which is a good thing. For example, he is able to figure out how to climb stairs to go down a slide and can do it at different parks, not just the one by our house. This is true of other skills Nikko has, including building with blocks or drawing. Some kids can only do those things in their own home and not when they are out in public. So, that is something very fortunate for us.

Finally, after OT, I had to take the kids to Costco because we were out of chicken nuggets. Our Costco used to carry Dino Nuggets, but they switched to Mickey Mouse nuggets. Nikko accepted them, but lately was on a hiatus of MM nuggets. When I went to the Costco in Glenview they only carried Dino nuggets. I tried them on Nikko last week and he ended up gobbling them up! But now that I'm back on MM nuggets I am worried that he doesn't like them as much anymore. This would mean I'd have to go to Glenview for Dino nuggets. Man, what a picky eater I have! Two, including Ronin! We came home and we were in the living room watching Hi-5 and unwinding from our whirlwind outings. Audrey was whining for another nap so I rocked her to sleep on the couch. I ended up dozing holding her. I think Nikko came up to me twice and put his face very close to mine, smiling at me. Finally after 20 minutes or so I woke up, saw that it was nearing 7pm, and knew we should get dinner rolling. I actually felt rejuvinated after that catnap, and felt as if it were a brand new day already. Maybe I was just exhausted from running the ship on autopilot all day. In any event I think the kids benefitted from a mom that was in a good mood for the rest of the night.