Sunday, May 31, 2009

Eat More Please

Today was going along just like a regular day with no therapies. All the kids woke up late, strangely. It wasn't until lunch, or post-lunch, that something noteworthy happened. Nikko had not finished his nuggets and mac and cheese, so I didn't want to give him anything else. I think his craving for mac and cheese has waned just as fast as it came in. I'm also going to stop giving it to him because it may be coincidence, but for the three days that I've given it to him has hasn't been acting as "crisp" as usual. I wonder if I remove it, will I notice a difference? Anyway, I gave Ronin some crackers and Nikko wanted some, too. I resisted at first, but he signed More so I gave him some. When he finished, he was looking at me like he wanted more. When I resisted again, he signed very clearly: Eat More Please. How could I not give him what he asked for?? I said to him, "Nikko, you're breaking my heart here!" I've wondered if he was getting the concept of the sign Eat or if he was just imitating the DVD, but I was surprised to see him use it sitting at the dinner table. Very appropriate. I'd put that as a yes, he understands what he watched in my book!

I didn't want to waste the day like yesterday where the naps were so uneven that we didn't get to play outside so I made it a point to make sure we'd leave. My goal was to go to Costco and to the Container Store. We managed to do that. Nikko fell asleep in the car after Costco, which was lucky for me so that he was knocked out the entire shopping trip. I used the double, put Audrey in the car seat, and held Ronin on the handlebars the way I do it on Mondays and Thursdays. When we were inside the store, I let Ronin free but kept tabs on him. He was cute running slightly amok, but nearby. I had to reign him in a few times plus called out his name many times, but overall he was a good kid in the store.

At home I let the boys run loose until dinner. I bought a small inflatable pool for Audrey to sit in while the boys ran around so she wouldn't have to be confined to the car seat each time. I'll get it on the grass eventually. We came in and I started dinner. It was really late, but that's the sacrifice I made so that they could play outside. I started them on nuggets but wanted them to eat cheese quesadillas. I made some with Monterey Jack for Nikko, who liked them, and I made some with a vegan cheese for Ronin. He ate some as well. Success! Late dinner meant late baths and bed, but they all ended up in bed. Nikko is resisting being left alone in the room again. I don't know what sparked this, and wonder when he will stop. His resistance was big, but he did get over it quicker than I thought. Tomorrow we have a housewarming party and a birthday party to attend in the afternoon so I have to pack as if we're going on vacation. We'll probably experience leaking, and running out of juice.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Busy Thursday

I survived the day. It wasn't too bad but there was a lot going on. Nikko was awake before 8 so I went to tend to him before the other kids. Breakfast went by ok. At 10:30ish Peter came for Ronin's speech session. We were in the living room so that Ronin could get used to Peter, and we ended up working in Nikko's corner so Ronin could stay focused. Peter could see that Ronin was able to repeat things and made sounds, so I'm sure he's happy to work with him. Peter suggested putting objects up to my mouth so that Ronin can see my mouth when I pronounce things. That was one part of our home program for Ronin. Other things he jotted down were to repeat words often, use emotion when saying words, use books/flashcards, songs/rhymes, continue with sign language (Footnote: Peter said that while he is an advocate for sign language, he wouldn't recommend we show Ronin more than 10 signs. He said that Ronin may start to just sign and not speak. I heard Peter say that, but I don't understand why that's the case when everywhere else is touting that using the spoken word along with the sign is an enforcer. I'll have to ask Peter about that one again.), get a hearing evaluation through Early Intervention, an use simple single words when communicating with Ronin. I also wonder, regarding the sign language, why it's ok for Nikko to learn it while it will be a detriment to Ronin. Peter did say that sign language is helpful in bridging the gap of communication, so maybe he means that while Ronin CAN speak but would choose not to if he could sign, Nikko CANNOT speak and therefore using signs can help him if the words are not coming out but he wants to communicate what he needs. Does that make sense to me??

There was a short window between speech and DT for Nikko, and Bo arrived early. Good thing I didn't start lunch yet. Good thing Audrey had a longer than usual nap. Nikko's session with Bo wasn't stellar. Ronin was in and out of our circle, and that can't be helped for the next three weeks. Nikko wasn't very cooperative with the puzzles, pegs, stacking cups or books. He was fighting me to get out of the circle again, and Bo put the ball/mallet toy in front of him to whack at it and get some frustration out. Sadly, I don't think Nikko got anything out of his session today. I told Bo I wondered what I could do with Nikko so that he would be better prepared for therapy. She told me she was often disappointed in her own performance, but that I shouldn't get obsessed about it. Nikko has some bad days and some good days. She also blamed it on the blah weather and told me I should note whether or not his mood changes are affected by the weather. Honestly, I have no idea. After she left I got lunch for all the kiddies and then attempted to get our bags in order so we could run out to OT. We were running a tad late, but then Nikko had a bathroom-worthy poop and I had to wash him up and change his outfit before leaving. Poor little guy was falling asleep when we almost reached the clinic and I had to wake him up when we got there. He didn't fall asleep again all day, but I think he needs some more sleep. I'll try to coax a nap from him tomorrow afternoon if possible. At OT, Nikko had a better session. Shelly had her obstacle course that he navigated along with Ronin. She took the swing platform out and Nikko also rode on it for a while. She was pushing him in different directions and was disappointed to hear my report that the swinging she did last week didn't have any calming effects on Nikko. It didn't cause him to crash less or to be calmer in the day or two afterward. We proceeded to use scented Play Doh, which Ronin seemed to like more that Nikko. Instead, Nikko seemed determined to take the red mini table we were using and stack it against other mini tables to walk on top of. We did that at an earlier session so he probably remembered how they were used. We didn't want him to do that. Convincing him to work on another activity was hard. He seemed to like painting with the foam soap on the mirror. So did Ronin. When it was time to go home and I sang the Socks and Shoes song, he was very good about getting into the stroller. As we were leaving, there was a lot of commotion with kids and people behind me in the main hallway. When I got to the Pilot, I realized that in the Expedition two spots away from me was the lady (and her brood) who sold me the triple stroller. I almost wanted to go say hi, but she seemed busy trying to get everyone into the car (six toddlers). Some guy was with her, too. I wondered what she was doing at Clearbrook and what services she might be getting, but it didn't matter really and I got us packed up and off to Costco. We got some provisions (Chicken nuggets, Veggie straws, the important stuff) and when I was in the checkout line, my good old friend Jennifer Ruhe (Jenni-fuh!) called me out and we got to chat for a few minutes. She invited me out, to get away for a bit, and I really hope I can swing it if it's not on a Friday we visit the in-laws. She was so awesome because she helped me unload the groceries into the Pilot and was super cool to the boys. Ronin didn't even cry at the sight of her. That's progress.

When we got home I let the boys play outside and took Audrey out of the car seat to burp her. I put her in the umbrella stroller to watch the boys. I had an idea, went inside and got out the sidewalk chalk. The boys scribbled for a little bit. Ronin liked it and got dirtier than Nikko. Nikko tried it but preferred to look on while holding an outdoor mop. I drew a car, airplane, Elmo, tree and a bird. It was fun, but the chalk goes fast. No worries, we have a lot of chalk! When it was time to clean everyone up I hauled the boys inside and had to take off all the chalky clothes, do some diaper changes, and then find a moment to relax before dinner. I gave Ronin some rice with adobo sauce and MAN he's a messy eater! Nikko has a habit of eating his mac cheese and wiping his fingers all over his shirt, and some of his pants. Lately he's also been sipping from his cup sideways so juice comes out of the corners of his mouth and spills on his shirt, too. I'm not loving the cleanup. Thank goodness the bath and bed routine was simple. The aftermath has taken me a while, but I've also been chatting on Facebook with both Fran and Lea so that kept me at the laptop longer. Cyndi the Social Services person called to say she wasn't coming by tomorrow and maybe we'll do a makeup session or meet next week because she's on vacation this weekend. Our day just freed up, but since I didn't straighten up the living room tonight I will try to make that my mission tomorrow. It looks like a disaster right now. I had no motivation to clean it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Not much Nikko today

Nikko didn't really seem like himself today. He was more withdrawn, until the end of the night when he started doing some big-time crashing during Blues Clues. I wonder if it was because he seemed to need to poop all day. Before lunch and afterward he watched TV but not with much interest. He almost fell asleep for a nap on the floor while I sat there with Audrey, but I ruined it when I picked him up and tried to relocate him to the couch. He didn't go back to sleep all day. I have to learn my lesson here already, that if he falls asleep on the floor, leave him alone or he will wake up for good! I had more frustrations with Ronin today, but Nikko had a few flashes where I wasn't cool with what he was doing. He was twirling in the draperies on top of the table in the picture window. Ronin was doing the same thing and I got nervous that either of them could take a tumble. I finally had to wrap the inner curtains around the drapery rod so neither of them could reach the drapes. Another time I was frustrated with Nikko was when he started flinging some little stuffed animals into the air. I was watchful but got upset when he repeatedly flung them toward the TV and they fell behind. I really got an angry voice going. While I was cleaning up the animals he saw one on the floor and handed it to me. I felt bad instantly. We went down to the basement after naptime to play for a bit. It's been awhile since I took them downstairs, but unfortunately we didn't stay long because I could smell that Nikko had a poo. I couldn't find the wipes downstairs so I had to cut off our play and order us all upstairs again. I don't like to wait a long time for the kids to meander in poopy diapers because the ugly consequence is a rashy butt. In regards to signing, he was definitely copying the sign for Eat. I didn't reward him with food, unfortunately, because we were in the living room. Gloria suggested that I give him food when he signs Eat, but geography puts a damper on those plans. If I reward him with something like a gummy fruit snack, he may associate that only with the snack. Guess I have to just drill it during mealtimes. One sign I definitely saw him copy (but might not retain. We'll have to practice it) was Flower. It was clumsy but obvious to me. Ronin the show-off came over and prominently put his fingers on one side of his nose to the other side, the sign for Flower. Two other things I saw from Nikko today had to do with sibling tolerance. He was being lazy on the floor near an ottoman and Ronin came along to climb up onto the ottoman by standing on Nikko's back. Nikko didn't seem to notice or care that Ronin was there, but Ronin started bouncing on Nikko's back so I told him to get off. Second, Audrey was sitting on the floor playing with the things in her basket as usual. I saw Nikko walk by her and lightly drum his fingers on the top of her head, then continue walking. She didn't notice, but I did.

I am dreading the next two and a half weeks because the Folks and Chinny are in the Philippines. I will have no one around to take Ronin during Nikko's therapies. It is so hard to have a successful therapy session with Ronin crawling through the therapists' bags to get to their toys. I'll get a week back and then Denis will be gone for a little over a week in Georgia. I am going to take Nikko with me to visit him on that weekend, but during the week I think I am going to be depressed because I'll have to put the kids to bed by myself. I wonder if Nikko will go to bed before Ronin will, or if I will have to put Ronin down before Nikko. Tomorrow Ronin will have his first speech therapy lesson with Peter Lyon, who was Nikko's original speech guy. I wonder if Nikko will be a deterred during Ronin's session. Ronin's regular times will be Mondays at 11:30a. We are going to have to get home after playgroup to meet up with Peter by then.

Mom's House

This morning's Speech wasn't the greatest. Nikko didn't seem into it today. He attempted some puzzles and fishing game using a stick with velcro, but he didn't even try to clean up the toys unless it was hand over hand. In fact, Nikko got very angry when Gloria took the fishing pole away. I had to restrain him from leaving the circle and was surprised that he was stronger than usual. It took me using all my strength for more than a few minutes to hold him back. He didn't have a lot of eye contact either. Nikko slightly babbled during the drawing with the magna doodle, but he was just a really difficult camper today. The first activity Gloria took out was pictures on flashcards and an accompanying object. She had a picture of a bus, cow, pig and shoes, and she brought a mini bus, wooden cow, plastic pig, and little shoes. I liked this idea because it goes along with recognizing that the picture is not the real object, it just looks like it. Nikko didn't want to play along today, however, so I think the lesson was lost on him, even though Gloria said he looked at the bus quite a bit. This could be because it was a horizontal stim.

After therapy was lunch, then Chinny left and I packed the kids into the Pilot so we could go to mom's house. The folks and Chinny are leaving on Wednesday morning to go to the Philippines for two and a half weeks. I am going to have a challenging time not having Chinny around during the week to hold Ronin back during Nikko's therapies. We are going to have to do the best we can. It's too bad because these last few sessions are critical to me. They are the final ones before Nikko turns three in July and I want him to get the most out of these sessions, not have unsuccessful ones. I just put mirror tiles on the wall in the therapy corner we use, tiles I got from Ikea yesterday, so I hope they will inspire Nikko to look and learn. Ronin likes them. They both keep hooking their fingers on the edges as if they want to pull them off the walls and I have to keep looking on to make sure they don't.

Nikko started carrying around the Signing Time DVD cover everywhere and brought it to mom's house, too. I kept the CD in a carrying case so it didn't fall out or get scratched. They watched the DVD quite a bit over there. Mom said that she saw Nikko signing Car, but I didn't get to see it. I'll keep watching to see. It would be great if he really did that. Luisa showed up with her kids, too. It's kind of an obligatory thing to go see the folks before they embark on a trip to the Philippines. I almost didn't go, but after a while I figured that the kids could use the socialization and I like seeing my folks. Nikko and Ronin liked the change in scenery because we hung out in the sunroom for a change. I'm glad I went, even though at the very end Audrey had the mother of all meltdowns and was screaming at ear-piercing decibels. Thanks to Atz who had the motherly patience to hold Audrey while I got all our stuff together, and mom and Chinny and Dad for helping me get the boys ready and outta there! At bedtime, Nikko seemed like he would lay in bed after prayers but when Denis headed to the door Nikko bounded up and started crying out in protest. That didn't stop Denis from leaving and we heard Nikko cry it up a little bit, but settled back down to bed. We don't have anything planned for tomorrow so I'll try to get us playing in the basement at some point, or it will be another Signing Time afternoon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Banana first, then chocolate milk

Today was similar to yesterday in that we didn't venture out somewhere until after Ronin and Audrey's naps and snack time. Having a nap between 2-3p smack in the middle of the afternoon kind of kills those midday plans. We went to Ikea to look at the toddler bed selection, potential for Ronin. Nikko did pretty well in the cart. He had just woken up from a nap, but wasn't cranky. He didn't want Denis to put his hands on the cart handles for some reason. Later I had to entice Nikko's mood with fruit snacks, but overall he did well. It was Ronin that became the terror in Ikea. He wanted out of the cart many times, tried to climb into the car-shaped carts that belonged to other shoppers, and actually did climb into one that was currently being occupied by another Japanese toddler. Imagine Ronin trying to cart-jack a car cart at Ikea and take a hostage! Ronin wanted to wander, and didn't go too much out of sight, but he was making quite a ruckus. Regarding beds, our purpose, our two choices came down to a bare bones toddler bed with rail, or a lower bunk bed that has a reversed-loft feel, mattress area at the bottom and bed at the top. The only caveat with the bunk is that we will have to teach either boy to climb a short ladder. Either boy can fall out of the bed if they are not careful. It's not as high as a regular bunk bed. Our plan is to put the racing car bed and a toddler bed in the nursery for Nikko and Ronin, and Audrey gets the crib. Will the boys get used to each other if they sleep in the same room? Will they sleep? Will they beat each other up at night?

This morning I had the third power struggle in two days with Nikko. This time it was banana slice first, then chocolate milk. When we started, I felt adamant that he follow what I said because the other two mealtimes that we started a power struggle, I gave in and I didn't feel good about either time. He might really have not liked the chicken nuggets in the other meals, perhaps he needs a break from them. But this morning he had two slices before he started flat-out refusing just as I brought him chocolate milk. Unfortunately, this struggle took almost 30 minutes. I didn't want to give in on this one because there was nothing wrong with the banana slice. I even said he could have just ONE slice, instead of finishing what's on his plate. He threw huge tantrums. I didn't give in. Toward the end he ran off his chair and went to Denis, but Denis wasn't going to undo my work and didn't give in either. Denis had made some oatmeal and Nikko was curious about it. I told Denis not to give him any if Nikko asked for it. Nikko looked at Denis' bowl, then returned to his chair, and ate the banana slice I offered him as if nothing had happened. I praised him loudly, gave him the chocolate milk, and then proceeded to give him the rest of the bananas on his plate with no arguments. WHY did that happen? Did he walk away from the table and forget what had just transpired? Or did he walk away to get away from the problem for a second and realized that he just wasn't going to get the chocolate milk unless he gave in to me? I don't want this to happen tomorrow. He has been defiant for two days and I don't know what upset the balance of things. This is also happening at bedtime, where he is not settling down to sleep easily.

Throughout the day I had put in the Signing Time DVD 1, and he is enjoying it. He's not signing anything different other than Eat, so I am keeping an eye on him to see if new signs emerge. I am also at a better spot where I can show him some pictures. He is responding well to a picture of him eating, and a picture of him on his tricycle got his attention.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Park Outing Fun

Sorry I missed a day. It wasn't terribly eventful except that in the later afternoon we visited Sean and Daisy's new baby, Alessandro. Denis went paintballing with cousins and friends. Unfortunately the earlier part of the day was the most stressful, with me yelling my head off mostly at Ronin and some minor frustrations with Nikko. Pat and Anna and Jovy came to get their bicycles from our garage and they hung out a little bit in our living room. Pat brought over two metal window well grates and they work very nicely instead of the plastic ones. When they left, the boys were clamoring to go outside so I let them. I put up the baby gate next to the front door. When I opened the garage, Nikko and Ronin immediately made a beeline for the newer double stroller. I took them for a stroll around the driveway, but lunchtime was coming upon us (I couldn't leave for a walk because Audrey was sleeping) so I had to herd the boys inside. It was a fairly beautiful day outside and they did NOT want to come inside. That was probably the beginning of the yelling for me. I wanted them to spend more time outside but it wasn't going to be possible with just me. Later in the day when we were at Sean's house Nikko had fallen asleep in the car and was still crashed out on my lap and on the couch over there. We drove there with Mom in tow because she wanted to pay them a visit.

Today was a very normal day for us. I noticed that Nikko was playing more purposefully with the gear toys I bought the other day. I was surprised that he fell asleep with me on the floor during the kids' naptime. After naps we went to Costco (we split up: Denis and Ronin, Nikko and Audrey with me) and Denis and Ronin went to Home Depot. I had to pick up pictures which contained some PECS pictures. We had some extra time so I took Nikko to the food court and sat with him while he ate a churro. After the stores, we went to a park near St. Paul Lutheran Church off Central and Owen. I had been there once before with Nikko. Both boys loved it, crawled over the multiple jungle gyms and enjoyed running freely. Ronin seemed to gravitate toward groups of people as evidenced by him running toward a field of frisbee-playing guys as well as toward crowds at the jungle gym. Nikko ventured toward any wobbly bridges and also liked climbing up and down a shortened cubed staircase. He tried the slides a few times but wasn't hooked on them. When we had to leave he totally avoided me and tried to run away from me. I gave Denis some fruit snacks to lure Nikko away. We got home to have dinner. Nikko and I had another power struggle over a piece of pizza and chicken nuggets, but unfortunately I gave in after watching a very awful tantrum including table pounding and head-splitting screaming. I don't think I should have given in, but after a while it was getting ugly and I wondered how important it was to me that he ate a piece of chicken nugget to get a piece of pizza. It wasn't that important, especially if he didn't like the nugget. So I stopped. The rest of the evening went smoothly for the most part. I noticed after dinner that Ronin had put Denis' shoes on the floor and tried to slide his feet into them. He abandoned his efforts and soon thereafter Nikko came by. He also tried to put his feet into the shoes, but was standing over the shoes backwards so his feet weren't able to slip into the shoes. I gave him points for trying, however.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A calm Nikko day

Denis was off again today (Memorial Day Weekend) so we took advantage of another person being around and got the kids to play outside before lunch. The weather was cooler than yesterday. I loved it, but it wasn't quite shorts weather for the kids. Since the cars were in the driveway I moved the baby gate all the way to the front door and I really liked the space we had. The boys ran around, Nikko played with his tricycle and Ronin wanted rides in the umbrella stroller. I took out the more updated double stroller because the boys began fighting for rides. Surprisingly, Nikko sat in the back where the sit and stand platform was. He didn't use the platform, but held onto the harness and didn't seem to mind sitting backward. Ronin loved sitting in the front and having his view unobscured. We were all strolling around the driveway for a few turns, then Denis decided to do work inside and I took the boys for a walk around two blocks. They both were content and didn't try to squirm out of the stroller. I spotted a dandelion along the way and gave it to Nikko. When we got back, there wasn't as much as a fight as there usually is when it's time to go inside. Ronin was a little wriggly, but Nikko seemed to go along with the plan. After lunch we had naptimes going on. I put in the Signing Time DVD for Nikko. There are 3 of them and he was used to the first one. I put in the 3rd one, which had the same beginning, but used Everyday Signs (hot, cold, ice cream, banana, cookie, girl, boy to name a few). He didn't seem to mind it, but I think I'll go back to the 1st DVD so he can keep on learning the other original signs (more, eat, baby, car, airplane, flower). Nikko actually fell asleep on the couch armrest while watching TV, so I wonder what made him so tired. By 5pm we were running late to get out the door to go to the in-laws' house. Denis' mom had fallen down the stairs two days ago and wasn't up to par for cooking the Friday dinner for everyone but we still wanted to go visit her. Denis had plans to cook lentil soup and I brought chicken nuggets for the boys. She was in pain but was on pain meds, had hurt her elbow and her left hip but didn't break any bones. Nikko didn't finish his nuggets and was eager to jump ahead and scarf down veggie straws. When he saw Vunge's homemade cookies he was practically starving. Even though we cut Nikko off after he went ahead and grabbed my cookie off my plate, Kenny slipped him some cookie remnants on the side. I didn't blame him, nor did I stop him because I didn't mind that Nikko and Kenny were having some interaction. In essence, they were bonding and if cookies were the way to do it, I supported it. When it was time to go home, Nikko was ultra clingy to me. I think he got scared a little bit when my FIL tried to tickle Nikko; he laughed at first, but looked around and didn't see me so he freaked out. I thought he would be skittish until we walked out the door but at the end I told him to go kiss his Lola and he walked over to her and kissed her. I told him to go kiss his Lolo and while he was whimpering protests he still walked over to him and prominently kissed him too. I was surprised and thrilled that he did that. I really hope he meant it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Observing Preschool

Another interesting day, all about Nikko, and I was on the go go go. Early this morning (early for me, 8am-ish) I went to Westbrook School to observe the morning class that Nikko will (probably) get into for preschool. I parked and watched the carpool line and was fascinated by the orchestra of drop-offs. Perhaps other preschools/kindergartens do this and it sounds like the boring norm, but it's totally foreign to me so I was impressed. One line was for cars and the other was for buses. At 8:30 at least 7 or 8 teachers came out to herd the kids out of waiting cars or in lines from the buses and into the school. The teachers all seemed to be in good moods, welcoming the kids and waving to parents. It seemed like the teachers knew all the kids' names. After the cars and kids cleared out I went in and reported to the front office. I met up with Kathy Winters, the Speech Therapist but also Important Teacher, and she took me to the classroom where I went two days ago for Nikko's first meeting. She talked me through everything and left no question unanswered. The kids were curious about me but attention spans are very short. The teacher at the front, Mrs. McCarthy, was leading the opening with songs, finding the morning helper, stretching, and prompting action from the kids. The kids sat on circles that were detachable from the carpet. The circles were decorated with bugs or animals. Cute. The time flew by, and it felt like they had so much going on in the two-hour time span of preschool. This is the schedule they followed, as posted on the board using PECS pictures, I noted, and my comments on each:

OPENING - The kids came in (I missed that part) and had some play time before circle time started. A little boy was doing show and tell, and called on kids in the class to guess what was in the box (a Cars racing car). A helper of the day was picked and she assisted the teacher in the weather report. They also read a few books. Miss Winters gave me a quick tour of the facility and said that there were two, possibly three morning classes that Nikko could be part of. It wasn't guaranteed that he'd be in the one in the room that we were in. I hope that he does get that room and that group of teachers because I think they were stellar. There were also two teacher aides that helped out, setting up table time activities, snack time, and I found out later that they are the potty gurus who help take kids to the bathroom. One big thing I noticed was that the teacher was using basic sign language when she was talking about activities. She talked and signed things like cold, hot, rain, play, yes, and other basics I've seen on our DVDs.

TABLE TIME - The kids split up into two groups and via timer were directed to different activities. One group sat using scissors to cut out the rays of a sun. The other group sat and had to guess which objects being tossed into a bin of water would sink or float.

GROUP LANGUAGE - Miss Winters headed up this portion since she's the speech teacher. She was reading aloud from a big book and signing at the same time. During this activity I chatted with Miss McCarthy about other procedures, such as the buses and going to the bathroom. She showed me the bathroom in the back of the room and said the kids are encouraged to sit on it at least once a day during play time. If they did something in their diaper there was a changing table and one of the aides would change the kid. She said that the aides were the experts at taking the kids to the bathroom. The kids also had to keep a few changes of clothes at school, for accidents.

SNACK - The kids sat with place mats and had apple juice and graham crackers. Then, at the ding of a bell, it was....

PLAY TIME - During play time the therapists would call out a particular child and either take him/her to a corner of the room to work on speech or developmental stuff, or if it was OT they would go to the OT room where they had a swing and mats and other stuff similar to what Shelly does for Nikko. The aides also ushered the kids one at a time through the bathroom to use the potty.


I left during playtime because the rest seemed self-explanatory. I was also happy to hear that if we choose to send Nikko via bus, the bus comes right to our house. We don't have to go to the corner of the street. This is a relief because I have been planning how to get the kids in either the triple or the double each morning. What kind of looks sad are the harnesses that the special needs kids have to wear. Reminiscent of Hannibal Lector, they are chest harnesses that zipper in the back and have a strap under the crotch. It's for their safety, I know, but for a minute I wished that Nikko wouldn't have to wear it, that he could mainstream like the other kids. But then I shelved that idea because the reality is that Nikko wouldn't be safe if he weren't harnessed in on a bus. Mainstreaming can come later, but right now Nikko needs to be in preschool. In fact, I could hardly wrap my mind around what I saw: a bunch of kids, typical kids mixed in with atypical, being social and working/playing together. They were behaved for the most part, and polite when they could. Miss Winters reminded me that it is May, not September, it's the end of the year so all these kids have been used to the routine and in school for a while so I'm not seeing any meltdowns. I'm sure I'll get prepped prior to preschool, but I have to get Nikko a backpack, keep showing him the Signing Time DVDs, get a wooden step stool for the bathroom (that's a given, so that Ronin can use it, too) and to keep pushing the picture therapy and/or weave PECS pictures into our day. The concept of pictures as a representation of a real thing is still foreign to Nikko, but I need to push that. I wonder if using people picture will be a better idea to grasp.

After preschool I zipped to Target to get some containers for the brick blocks, and made it back home to find that Bo the DT was already there. Denis took Ronin downstairs and I sat with Nikko and Bo. He wasn't very cooperative today and I don't know why. He didn't engage fully in the puzzles or with Elmo or with the dishes or the duck puppet. After Bo left we went downstairs for a brief runaround with Ronin and then it was lunchtime. After lunch, Denis stayed with Audrey and Ronin, while Nikko and I went to OT. Ronin had fallen asleep in his highchair so that screwed up his nap schedule for the day. Nikko had a very good OT session. Shelly worked with him on the swing, swinging him even more vigorously than the last time. She wanted to increase his input and told me to watch if he crashed less in the next day or so. He also played with this rubber tubing, hanging it around his neck like a necklace. He was playing with it, stretching it over his head and around his arms. Shelly liked his exploratory play. I wondered how I was going to get him to transition away from it because he seemed extremely attached to it. I took out some gummy fruit snacks and showed one to Nikko. He dropped the tubing like it was on fire. That was an easy transition. After OT I took Nikko to Lakeshore Learning to hunt down some cool stuff I saw Gloria had. LL is like Constructive Playthings except that the store is a little nicer and the items are pricier. I looked for deals, as I had found some gems at CP, but I really didn't find a deal at LL. I did find a generic Magna Doodle and the Box of Chocolates shapes that Gloria had. There was a matching shapes game that looked useful and some kind of building connection set that had some circles that looked like cogs and wheels. Finally, I picked up two toy airplanes so the boys wouldn't fight over them.

Dinner was a fiasco because Ronin was crabby and tired and fell asleep in the high chair at 7:30p. Nikko had previously fallen asleep at 7p so I had to wake him up to eat, he didn't want to wake up so he was crabby. Audrey was as crabby as Ronin and she fell asleep eating her bottle at 7p. Disaster! Can't say Nikko finished his food. After dinner, the boys played with my cogs toy. Nikko especially seemed interested in it and spent a good amount of time building up, fitting cogs into little peg holes, and being proud of his final creations. I'd say it was a good choice to buy just for the productivity I saw in what he did. All bath and bedtimes were late. The weather's been hot around here, so it's hot indoors as well. Tomorrow should be cooler, I hope!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Signing EAT?

It was mostly a stay-at-home day. I wished we could have used the wading pools but they aren't clean yet. I felt like I was changing diapers between every activity. It also felt like our destined trip to Costco wasn't going to happen until way after the kids woke up from their naps. I had to snack them, too, so Costco wasn't until 5pm. When we got back I let the kids stay in the driveway. Nikko spent most of the time on the tricycle. He's not using the pedals to move, he's just using his own feet and he has figured out that he has to take short steps or he'll scrape his shins on the pedals. During lunch, Nikko scarfed down half the package of mac cheese I made for him, and at dinner he ate just as much. He even picked up his plate (with nuggets still on it), turned it perpendicular to the floor and licked the cheese sauce off it. The funny thing about Nikko is that he might love it today, but may ignore it tomorrow. Today I used Scooby Doo shaped mac cheese (not because I like SD. I'm not really a fan, it was on sale) but tomorrow I have the classic elbow macaroni and I wonder if he'll refuse it because it's different. He did that once and I had a lot of mac cheese left over. One other thing of significance today is that I put in the Signing Time DVD again, just to see if it would soak in. Ronin was very receptive to it and was imitating what he saw. It took two passes for Nikko to start finding it amusing. I heard him giggling at some animated cat and saw him smiling at random scenes. I don't know if he's mesmerized by Rachel the narrator or if the music is enchanting, but he started throwing mini-fits when I turned it off or tried to switch it to Sprout. Guess we'll take this DVD and the Hi-5s to Georgia, if we go. Before dinner, I saw Nikko imitating the sign for Eat. He put his fingers to his lips. He was also putting his fingers in his mouth entirely, but I watched him closely and I saw the definite sign for Eat. He even moved his mouth slightly, like Ronin does, when he imitates the action of eating. I praised Nikko for signing. Now I've got to encourage him to use it appropriately. It's great that he imitated something he saw on TV. Months ago he would never do that! Seeing all these little kids on this DVD do signs must be entertaining, and I think he'll try to imitate them, but I have to help him put meaning to the signs.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pre-preschool Meeting and a looooong day

This morning, Denis took care of changing Nikko while I went to tend to Ronin. For the first time, probably ever, when Nikko was finished changing he went straight to the kitchen, sat down and was chomping on Cheerios. I was changing Ronin and wondered when Nikko would come walking in, making noise, but he didn't come in at all. I was very surprised that he wasn't seeking me out. Maybe he was too hungry to think about it. We joined him at the table and he was his regular self. He noticed my pen and pad of paper nearby so he leaned over, took the pen and tried to write on the pad. I had to click the pen open and let him take a few strokes.

Gloria came over for speech. (As I sit here writing I almost forgot that we had speech today... it must have been a loooooong day) Nikko was by my side like glue until I was finally seated in the corner. He had a good session. He interacted with Gloria, fit puzzle pieces together, sometimes with prompting. She said his attention span was adequate and his vocalization appeared to be more meaningful. He signed please, made the gesture for More when using the doodle board, made a choice between two objects by looking at it. He also did a good job with cleanup proceedings. He doesn't do this all the time, but I hope he'll get used to it. I told Gloria that I use verbal cues for him to start closing out an activity or between transitions.

After speech we had lunch and then Ronin was nap-bound. I got Nikko ready to go out, and Chinny was entertaining Audrey. Nikko and I went to the Westbrook School for the first of three meetings we're going to have to determine his preschool eligibility. Paperwork. Signatures. Kathy Winters is a speech therapist who was also a District 57 representative, very, very nice lady. Our meeting wasn't long, I met a slew of other women who will be evaluating Nikko on June 5th. After the meeting Kathy suggested the playground in the back of the school. It was a gorgeous day and since we ended early I took Nikko to the playground. He loved the jungle gym there. There was a tall slide that he ventured on, but didn't anticipate how steep it was at the top. When he went down, he gasped a little bit, but I held his back so he ended upright at the bottom. He looked like a luge rider coming down the pipeline. Nikko didn't go on that slide again. There was a wobbly bridge that he was tentative about at first. He took a step on it and backed away. But he kept trying, and I even took him over it and walked quickly so he couldn't hesitate. After that, he became brave and started running over it. Finally he started jumping up and down on the bridge so I knew that he conquered it. We were both baking in the sun and wrangling him from the jungle gym was tricky, despite my warnings that we had to go and bye bye playground. Juice enticed him a little bit, but it was still hard to do. We left to go to Bosch, where Tita Marina worked, and dropped off my nursing stool for Daisy. I also gave her a bag of things for Alessandro: diapers and some blue Carter's clothes. Tita Marina was so excited to see us that she handed me a bag of cookies and said it was from the cafeteria. Nikko's eyes perked up so I gave him part of a peanut butter cookie. I should have known it was the perfect thing to quiet him down and regret not bringing something like it to the playground. Note to self: bring a stash of goodies with me at ALL times for this very thing. Maybe I should get some fruit snacks in a pouch. Cookies might melt. I have to find a fruit snack that is Ronin-friendly, too. We came back home and any chaos that preceded our jaunt was gone. Chinny had things under control; Ronin was having snack in the high chair; Audrey was having a bottle in her chair. Cool! Nikko had swim class with Denis later in the evening, his last swim class this semester. The rest of the evening was uneventful. I'm sure Nikko fell asleep fast because he didn't nap today, even though I thought he was going to falter before swim class. The window of opportunity closed so he remained awake. Tomorrow we don't have anything specific on the agenda. It's supposed to be even hotter than today. I just need to make a Costco run to get more chicken nuggets. I wish I could pull out the pool for the boys but I know that ours is filthy and needs to be cleaned or at least wiped down before use. I don't have anyone to watch Audrey while I do this. The boys might be entertained by a sprinkler while I cleaned the pool, if only I knew where it was. Geez! Maybe Denis can help me find these things this weekend. It's Memorial Day weekend coming up, almost forgot. Denis has quite a few days off, but will spend all day Saturday playing paintball. I wonder what I can do with my children that day. Hmmmmmm....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Goal: Easier Transitions

I was shooting to get us out the door by 9a, but at that time I was announcing final diaper changes. I finished changing all three chilluns by 9:10a according to the living room clock. I was in the process of putting on socks and shoes, then loading up the kids, and when I was backing out the driveway I looked at the clock. 9:27a. Arrrggghh!!! I have got to get us out the door even earlier next time! Next Monday there's no playgroup because it's Memorial Day Weekend. The following Monday 6/1 is playgroup, 6/8 is playgroup but I'll have to bring Ronin into the room because Chinny is still in the Phil, 6/15 no playgroup because Shirley is in the Dells. That sounds about right, I'll have to reconfirm her schedule. Nikko did all right in playgroup, but he didn't want to be in circle time at all. I spent most of it wrangling him. Later on I asked Shirley what she prefers I do, reign him in or let him go. She said I should let him go but I should stay in the circle and participate, and after a few weeks we'll start reigning him in again. Nikko went into a cupboard and found some blue drumsticks that he used to drum a drum briefly but started wandering around with them, probably in a stim way. I think he just likes to hold something in his hand because he wasn't looking at the sticks and running them back and forth like he used to. I worried that transitioning him off the sticks would be hard, but we tried it anyway. Shirley got a bin and put some of his sticks in it, then invited him to put one away, and then encouraged him to put the last one in the bin. Surprisingly, he complied. I think it helped that I also used key phrases like, "Last call for sticks" and "Bye bye sticks" and "No more sticks". We had to do this with a red spoon he found in the bean bin. I told him to say bye bye to the spoon and put it in the bin, which he did, and then he helped me put the lid on the bean bin. I am watching how Nikko gets over transitions. The goal is that he won't throw a tantrum whenever we take away something of his, and if he does tantrum, how can we soothe him or how long will it take for him to bounce back? Craft time wasn't so hot, we drove a car through some paint and made tracks on paper, but he just wanted snack time. Of course he did well during snack time! He also loved the parachute, and then it was time to go. Meanwhile, Audrey was enjoying observing everything and threw some smiles at the volunteers in the room. I had dropped Ronin off at the daycare and at first he cried and didn't want me to leave. When I came back to pick him up, he was happy but didn't want to leave. Typical.

Since Ronin was in a pretty good mood today, I decided that we should pay mom a visit. After lunch, I packed the kids in the car and went to Skokie for a few hours. Everyone seemed to do well, but I forgot that they had some red Swedish fish that Nikko liked. I had to make them disappear after a few. I talked to mom a bit more about the weekend that Denis will be in Atlanta and asked me to come visit with Audrey. The boys would stay with mom. Mom suggested that we leave Ronin and Audrey and that I take Nikko instead. It wasn't that she was scared of him, but for a few other reasons. Nikko's pretty attached to me, but there's a parental bond that is very strong and she fears it will be hurt if we leave him for a few days. Nikko is also not as easy to please as Ronin, doesn't interact as much and wouldn't enjoy the same things. Nikko would probably be so angry and hurt if we left him, whereas Audrey wouldn't know the difference at this stage. I do agree. I would love to take Nikko with me because I want him to experience things, like the airport. I want him to enjoy traveling somewhere. How can he have imaginary play if he doesn't experience things to pretend? I think he would enjoy the trip, and it won't be for very long anyway. Mom said that Audrey would be easy to take care of, which is the opposite of my initial thought. I thought she would be the most difficult, but in actuality it would probably be Nikko. I don't think anyone knows how to soothe him well except me. Ronin would be happy if Mom plunks him in front of the fishpond. Nikko, not so easy. I'm all for this idea. Now we just have to make sure our plans will move forward, I'll have to get him a seat on the plane with one of Eric's tickets... and I have to talk to Eric about how those tickets work anyway. I have no idea.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kisses on my nose

It wasn't an eventful day in terms of activities, just a few little things. The Creens came by to give us some baby girl stuff that was intended for Goodwill but would come to use by Audrey if I wanted. I was very grateful! They came while Ronin was napping so Denis, Nikko, Audrey and I were in the driveway chatting for a bit with the Creens. Nikko was happy to be outside, holding a branch and running circles around their Suburban SUV. And right before dinner, while Denis was cleaning up the lawn in the backyard, the kids and I kept him company. Ronin looked like such a big little helper as he tried to use the adult-sized shovel to flatten a pile of leaves. Meanwhile, Nikko held another branch and ran back and forth between the cars, looking up at the sky from time to time.

Earlier in the day we were all in the living room while Audrey napped in the bedroom. I lay down on the floor to catch a snooze during Hi-5 (which allots me 23 minutes when it's On Demand). When I woke up, Nikko's face was right on top of my face and I felt his dry, cracked lips on my nose. He was leaning in and kissing my nose, the way he kisses me good night at bedtime. In fact, he tried kissing my nose pretty much all throughout lunch and a few times during the evening. When he would lean in, I'd let him, but I'd also try to kiss his nose back and he'd giggle. These displays of affection are very dear to me because he'd never do that before. The only bad part to this day was while I was washing Audrey up for the evening. The boys kept coming in and out of the bathroom, so Denis closed the door, keeping them out. The cries and screams of bloody murder were ringing under the door. Nikko was stomping and thrashing about, wailing because he was so upset that he didn't have access to me. Ronin chimed in too at first, but later decided it wasn't worth the fuel it was taking to protest. Nikko was incredibly flushed from his outburst. When I opened the door and proceeded to take care of Audrey, the moment was over.

Tomorrow we have playgroup and I hope that things go as smoothly as they did last week. I plan to leave early, however, so that we are not late to daycare for Ronin.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mount Prospect Garage Sale

Maybe I'm biased but I really like the haircuts I gave the boys. They look so cute. I gotta try to keep them short often. This morning was routine until after breakfast. Anxious about my back problems and stupid weight retention, I decided to try one of the exercise programs on the Comcast On Demand selection. It was some kind of flirty dance move 10 minute aerobic workout. I thought having a kiddie audience would be fun with an upbeat tempo and repetitive movements on TV. Well, I tried to bop around a bit (Ronin started jumping like a little frog) but Nikko decided that he didn't want me to be mobile and wanted me to pick him up. I tried to distract him and turn him around to watch the screen but he was determined to get into my lap. I had to abandon my attempts at exercise. I wonder if Nikko was just feeling like Velcro Man or if he really didn't want me to be moving around. That's something I'm going to have to repeat. The morning progressed and unfortunately Audrey decided that she didn't want to nap at her regular nap time. It screwed me up because she opted to be cranky and stay awake until past noon. Lunchtime was smooth with the boys, despite Nikko not eating many chicken nuggets. During the morning he had dragged me to the cabinet for a vitamin and I have been giving him one and telling him THAT'S IT, NO MORE, ALL GONE. For two days I haven't received any resistance to my emphasis on limiting vitamins, so maybe he's learning that when I say those words, it means exactly what it means.

Denis came home from martial arts class and then I was allowed to leave the house and explore the city-wide Mount Prospect Garage Sale. I had printed maps the night before and marked a few houses that had some outdoor toys or toddler items of interest. I didn't have a lot of time to wander and wanted to make sure I had a plan. Before leaving my neighborhood I had the good fortune of meeting up down the block with Adam Mock, his wife, two kids and in-law. He had read that I was going to the Garage Sale on my Facebook status and he decided to venture up here (from Montgomery. Illinois, not Alabama. Sounds like Egypt to me!) because he grew up north of Kensington and Wolf Rd. After we walked a few houses they went to lunch and I went on my merry way. I found the following items:
1.) Colored kid gym mat, the SAME one currently in my living room except this one is in mint condition and cost only $6!!!!
2.) Little Tikes lawn mower that blows bubbles (I hear) - $2
3.) A set of flash cards that are picture dominoes - $2
4.) Two brown leather ottomans - $6

When I came back, Denis, Audrey and Nikko were snoozing on each other on the couch while Ronin was in the picture window. Nikko woke up 30 minutes later and joined us for snack. I've been giving them these Garden Veggie Straws from Costco. Nikko only eats the yellow ones because they look like French fries. Ronin doesn't care what color they are. After snacks, we took the kids outside to play in the backyard/driveway even though it was a bit chilly outside. The boys didn't fight over the coupe car as much. They tried the slide again, but spent a lot of time near Denis as he swept up yard debris on the driveway. Nikko found a branch with a few leaf clusters and he was waving it around in the air, poking the yard garbage can with it, and dragging it on the ground. I wonder if the leaves had a flag-like quality to it. After we came inside it was dinner, which was very late for us, and so everything else got delayed after that. Bedtime was around 10:20pm. Laaaaaate!

One interesting thing Nikko did at dinner was he put his hands in front of him and opened and closed them. At first I praised him and said he looked like he was doing the motions from Blues Clues. I started singing the song and copying him and he looked amused. But in hindsight, he could have been doing the same motion for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I'm not sure anymore. Other things that Nikko did today were to give me lots of good eye contact, literally putting his face up to my face for some reason. He also lined up a lot of things today, brick blocks, cars, and even some pull toys with long strings. He attached them to a drum with a drumstick attached by a string. He can line up his cars on the table by the window, walk across the room and start crashing into the sofa but looking across the room at his handiwork from the corner of his eye. I guess I'd call that a long-distance stim. Again, I'm eager to crack open the Greenspan book and read more. I'm on a section about imaginative play and it's giving pointers how to encourage this kind of play with a special needs kid. The big problem with special needs kids and pretend play is the realization of symbols. Pretend play is symbolic play. If a kid is pretending that a bucket of rocks is a bucket of candy, the rocks are symbolizing candy in the kid's mind. A special needs kid will have processing problems and may be unable to hold the image of an object [candy] in his mind. There is also a problem forming a link between emotion and behavior and ultimately between emotion and symbols. "The basic unit of communication - the connection between emotion, behavior, and symbol - is missing." (Cited from Greenspan, 1998). Like I said, it's an interesting section and I'm eager to get through it so I can start applying this kind of play with Nikko.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Another brick block day

It was an indoor day today. Cyndi showed up to chitchat. We started in the kitchen and move to the living room after the kids were finished with breakfast. I told her about lots of the things I have been blogging about, especially the Botanic Gardens incident. She felt really bad for me. Cyndi reminded me to possibly use a harness on Nikko. I have one somewhere in my room, but never thought I'd have to use it in the near future. I should dig it up. I don't want to use it just going to the grocery. If I'm with someone and we designate who watches whom, this shouldn't be a problem. But the fact that we have 3 kids makes the designation a bit lopsided, I realize. :/ After Cyndi left, Nikko was indeed clingy. He has been for quite some time. Cyndi makes me nervous about it because she warns that preschool will be a problem for him. He is transitioning better between things so if we keep working on that, perhaps incorporate a transitioning song, maybe it will ease his fears. The brick blocks became the center of things again today. Nikko did a better job of building up, and I made an expressway with a few tunnels for cars. I've got to find some storage for the blocks, however, because they litter the floor haphazardly. Gotta be a better way to contain them. Nikko managed to take a short nap today, but it happened around 6:15pm. We were just watching TV and he was nodding off behind me. The rest of the evening was fine, Nikko was doing some crashing in the kitchen against the wall near his booster chair.

His eye contact with me has been pretty good lately. He's also becoming very aware of what mood I'm in. When I get upset, he gets upset. Before he used to not care at all. He and I are still clashing on power struggles regarding food, but he is learning that if he wants a vitamin or crackers, I make him eat a chicken nugget first. Remember that battle we had about that a few weeks ago? Since then, when I tell him to eat a nugget FIRST, and THEN he gets whatever it is, he has been compliant. I unearthed my Greenspan book on floortime play, and have an interest to continue reading it to see if I can find some more ways to help Nikko along. I forgot why I put it down, but I'm glad I picked it up again.

Brick Blocks a hit

I missed yesterday's posting, sorry. It was a rainy day, quite blah, but the best part was when I saw the UPS truck whizz by after dropping off a package for me. It was the set of Imaginarium Brick Blocks I ordered. They were flat in the box and needed some simple tuck assembly. It's a 45-piece set and I think I chose the correct type because these seem quite durable. They can withstand Nikko's weight, but probably not Audrey's spit because most all cardboard will get soggy when wet. Ronin and Nikko fought over some of the bricks, but Nikko mostly laid them out in a path like the yellow brick road and both boys trotted over the brick pathway. There was a little building "up" but the bricks mostly served as paver bricks. The other event on Wednesday was the duo haircuts I gave. I knew I could do it because I've done it in the past, but for some reason I was nervous to execute the hair cutting. I gave Nikko a lollipop and he let me do whatever I wanted to his head. Ronin was not as convinced even though I gave him juice and Veggie stix (pseudo-potato chips/fries) from Costco, and put them both in front of Thomas on the laptop. In any event I finished the haircuts in about 30 minutes.

Today the boys continued to play with the brick blocks, but there was a little more building "up" going on later in the evening. I built a sturdy base for a tower and Nikko felt comfortable adding on to it. I think he just needed a little push to start building up. Backing up, however, we had DT at noon. Chinny came to take Ronin into the basement, and we had a very good therapy session with Bo. She was very happy that Nikko was in a good mood because he gave her lots of eye contact and jargoned quite a bit during our activities. She brought Mr. Potato Head, her peg board, some puzzles, and even played a hand-slapping game. It started out with doing hi-fives, and then Bo instructed me to take his hands and help him slap hers first as hi-fives, then alternate the hands from left to right. Nikko seemed intrigued by this. Bo said he was watching each hand very intently. It was definitely something new, and I will show Denis so that he can play hand slapping games with us. Bo also suggested that with the picture therapy, because Nikko isn't distinguishing pictures as a representation of the real thing, I should try to offer him pictures that are in different categories i.e. crackers vs. toy car. Shelly later suggests to me that I could offer Nikko between two pictures, but make sure the real thing is not in the room. That way he can see the pictures and possibly choose one, then I go and get it. That's different from what I currently do, where we are already in the kitchen when I offer him a picture of crackers. I know, it sounds so simple and almost DUH, but it makes sense when someone else suggests it.

After therapy I tried to continue Nikko's lunch. Immediately after Bo left, Nikko became Ultra Velcro Man again. I don't know what's triggering it, if it's different people coming in and out of our house or what, but it's aggravating. I had Chinny help me get the kids into the Pilot and while that was happening Nikko was having a massive meltdown because I was not in the Pilot at the same time. He was thrashing and kicking his legs wildly against the front seat and against the inside of the Pilot door. I was hurrying, but also came over to try to reassure him. No amount of placating him was working, and he didn't stop until I was in the driver's seat. GEEZ. He got maybe a 20 minute nap in the car and we made it to OT with Shelly. Nikko had a good session overall. He ventured over to the swing first thing and stood in it. Then he raced off through the obstacle course. He got into some little building toys as well, but his interactions were very good. Shelly brought out another swing that looked like a pommel horse without the pommels, and somehow Nikko ended up swinging on it with first Shelly and then myself. Meanwhile, Audrey was practicing sitting up nearby, even tried rolling over with some of Shelly's help. Too bad she's only 6.5 months old; if we stayed longer than end of July, Shelly could probably get her walking as she did with Ronin. After OT, we came home and I let the boys run around the driveway with Chinny. They were fighting over the Little Tikes red/yellow car. We came in later and I gave them snacks as I attempted to cook spaghetti. Chinny left for class, dinner started, Denis came home. The rest of the evening was ok with Nikko and Denis building with the blocks while I gave Ronin his bath. Tomorrow we'll get a visit from Cyndi and I will try to make a Costco run to get more Veggie stix and some WetJet floor mop refills.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I had to miss Nikko's Speech Therapy session this morning because I went to see an Orthopedist to get a cortisone shot in my lower back to alleviate the inflammation caused by swelling, dehydrated discs. The drugs worked/are working, however, and my back feels better than it has in a looooong time. It's not perfect, there's still pain but it's 10 times better than before.

Denis stayed home this morning to take care of the kids and be around for ST. I read the notes and Nikko didn't do very well. He wasn't focused and didn't imitate. It's understandable, but disappointing.

After the epidural (3 natural pregnancies and I get my first epidural after all the kids are born!) I stopped by Home Depot to see if they carried kid-sized mirrors. I'm still searching for a mirror to put in the living room for Nikko, something acrylic but not one that will make you look distorted from afar. I'm considering a real one but they are heavy so there are safety issues. I also stopped by Atz's house for a second since it's on the way home, and then as I made my way down Central Ave. I swung into St. Emily's to sign up to become members. The receptionist Barb was really nice, and told me all the info I needed to know to get Audrey baptized. She said that if I attended a class within the last 3 years then I didn't have to go to their class. Score!

When I got home, the boys seemed happy to see me. We continued our short morning and it was soon time for lunch. Ronin was really antsy, probably very hungry. So was Audrey. But for some reason I didn't get all anxious and crazed like I have been every single day. Instead I took everything in stride and kept very calm as I got the kiddies their lunch. I didn't yell once. Amazing. It occurred to me that I was in a good mood because I had the morning off from the kids and was able to attend to them nicely later because I felt recharged. I felt good about going to the clinic to get something done for myself (pain meds for my back), I felt good about accomplishing going to St. Emily's and signing us up, which was something I have been meaning to do for months, and the weather was gorgeous today: blue skies, sunshine and cool breezes. I told that to Denis when lunch was winding down, that I wish he would allot me a free morning once a week, or once a few weeks, or even once a month because I felt refreshed and in a good mood, it helped me not yell at the kids, and I even missed them a little bit while I was gone. I felt renewed energy to play with them when I came back. It was a different feeling from coming home after a GNO.

When Audrey and Ronin went down for their naps, I took the opportunity to take Nikko to the school playground since Denis was at home. We went for only a half hour since Audrey's naps have become shorter. Nikko held my hand as we walked/trotted to the park. He was very excited to go, and once we got there he raced for the jungle gym. He didn't stay on the slide as long as he had in the past. Instead, he walked through the wood chips to a retaining wall guided by a wooden fence and walked the edge of it. I walked alongside him and held out my hand which he took a few times but soon gained the courage to let go. He walked the wall back and forth a few times before I realized he could be stimming from it. He also noticed the white cloud lines in the blue sky caused by airplanes that few by. Now those were stim lines that I couldn't possibly erase; he'd have to wait until the clouds dissipated away. To break his wall stim I picked up a dandelion and showed it to him. His attention immediately focused on the dandelion as he explored it. Soon we had to go and he showed some slight protest but walked alongside me anyway. I stopped to give Nikko another big dandelion and that helped transition him away from the park, although he turned to look back at it twice and each time I gave a big wave to the park and said, "Bye bye, park!" At home he carried the dandelions around for another hour or so. Luckily he didn't try to eat them. They finally ended up on the living room floor, spent. The rest of the afternoon was kinda lazy. Nikko fell asleep for a half hour before he went to swim class. After swim class he seemed very clingy to me again. Wonder why. Tomorrow we don't have any therapies. It's supposed to be 77 and rainy, so I don't think we'll play outside. I don't know if I'll attempt to go anywhere. But I will attempt to give them haircuts.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A positive playgroup

I was cursing to myself as we pulled out of the driveway. I thought we were doing ok on time but I managed to squeak us out the door by 9:23am and it does NOT take 7 minutes to get to the clinic. I left a message at the daycare to say I'd be a little late, which we were. I heard that Ronin cried at the beginning, but he got better and was following the other little boys around today. There was an outspoken boy named Kenneth there who I hope didn't bully Ronin much. Ronin actually swiped a potato chip out of Kenneth's bag when I was writing a check, but I didn't see any adverse reaction to it.

We arrived at the playgroup and I got Nikko to play with some blocks before it was circle time. Audrey was parked in her car seat near the closeted wall and she was very, very good the entire time (except at the end when naptime crankiness was creeping up). I sat with Nikko in front of the mirror for circle time and for once he managed to stay there for the entire circle time (was it 10 minutes?). The mirror helped because he enjoyed looking at himself and peered at his surroundings via mirror. He smiled, put his hands up during the Wiggles song, and even clapped his hands to the music when I was beating on his chest. I gave him long strokes on his arms, pulling him back when he wanted to wander but turning his focus to the mirror so that he wouldn't run away until it was time. When Shirley gave him a choice of hard hat or cowboy hat I was certain he wouldn't participate but he took the cowboy hat and put it on my head. In return I put it on his head and it didn't stay long there. After circle time was playtime and he got involved with an airplane and a little of the bean box. He was getting antsy for snack time but we had to do a craft first. We sat with everyone else to paint a butterfly but then Nikko got hooked on a paintbrush. Finally circle time came and he got Cheetos to munch. One of the little boys, Michael, was aging out so his parents brought some sugar cookies frosted with sprinkles. Nikko ate each sprinkle and wouldn't let go of the lump of cookie left in his hands until we were back home at lunch. We left after parachute and good bye song time, then went to pick up Ronin. I debated whether or not to go to Costco right after playgroup but decided to go home and feed the brood first, let them get through nap time, and make our Costco outing part of the late afternoon. Probably was a good choice to delay the outing. Lunch was executed on time, but Ronin was really acting out during lunch, being very impatient with me. I ended up having a screaming match and shredding my voice. I sat on a stool in the kitchen, sobbing and wondering why I let myself get worked up to be so impatient. A voice told me that I probably had pent-up stress from yesterday, to take a deep breath and hit the reset button. I don't need a Staples EASY button, I need one of life's RESET buttons. Hmmmm. Sounds like a good status.....
**pause to update Facebook**

After my meltdown, the afternoon progressed and after naps & a brief snack time I packed up the kids to go to Costco. We managed. When we got back I had the boys run around the driveway for a bit before heading indoors. The rest of the night was fine, Nikko didn't crash more than usual. He is really getting fond of looking at himself in mirrors. I have to see if they sell kid-friendly mirrors at Home Depot or Menards. Buying one online means shelling out more than a few bucks, I'm finding.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day @ the Gardens

Let's just say that I don't feel like I deserve a good mommy rating today on Mother's Day. Why? Because I almost lost my precious Nikko at the Chicago Botanic Gardens today, that's why. Because I didn't have anything special planned for my three lovely babies today other than trying to go to the Gardens, and when we were there it was stress upon stress. Because I wanted to have some part of the day to be memorable but it ended up with me getting irritated that I couldn't enjoy the Penepacker dinner because Nikko was Velcro Man, Audrey was fussy and Ronin -- well, he actually wasn't as bad as he normally is, but he had moments of whining. Many of today's actions were very typical of a regular day: mealtimes, diaper changes and more diaper changes. I will have to wait until the kids are older to get them to do stuff for me, or make me breakable clay pots or popsicle stick figures in school, or to do the housework so I don't have to. I don't see that happening for a loooooong time. I tried so hard to have a positive attitude today, but I ended up feeling sorry for myself as I dumped a big kid load of laundry into the washer tonight.

Denis had sent me multi-colored roses on Friday for Mother's Day, which I arranged in a pale green vase. Some are blooming and some are not, but overall they are quite lovely. They don't look as nice on the table that is cluttered with pictures of a banana, cereal, crackers and vitamins. I've started trying out the picture therapy with Nikko, but it's very hard to sustain his attention. Like I said yesterday, the concept of a picture vs. the real thing is hard to overcome. But I'll keep on trying. As I go through them I have to write down any pictures I'm missing or need.

Today started out ok, but I tried to pace ourselves as we finished lunch and tried to get out the door to go to the Botanic Gardens. I felt like we left late, but everyone (except Pat/Anna/Jovy) was running late. The traffic near the Gardens was terrible and it took us an hour from our house to the gates. We inched along Lake Cook road over the expressway. When we arrived, we put the troops into the triple stroller. Overall, it worked out for us but I need to rig Nikko's front seat somehow so it doesn't keep drooping. Perhaps it wasn't meant for such a big boy, but since we have it I'll have to figure out how to make it more stable. Since we have playgroup tomorrow, I'm going to have to switch out back to the double stroller because I'll have Audrey in her car seat and I can't put that into the triple. I've got a lot to get together for tomorrow. :(
Once we got to the Gardens and ended up rendezvousing with everyone, Mom was so generous to get our family tickets to see a train exhibit. The boys loved it, I must say. Ronin was entranced with the trains and ran back and forth to be on a level with them. Nikko did the same. There were many intricate replicas of places as well, such as Hollywood, New York, and even Wrigley Field. The trains were quite spectacular. But I felt guilty that we went to it while everyone else walked along doing something else, so we left and tried to meet up with them in the Tulip Garden. Everyone was so helpful to us by keeping an eye on Nikko or Ronin when they were out of the stroller. Denis was also trying to keep up with Nikko, who was running full steam everywhere he could. Chinny was a blessing for sticking to Ronin in the Tulip Garden. Both boys wanted to get into the water somehow, of course. It was in the Fruit and Vegetable Gardens where I had a stressful time finding a place to do diaper changes. The bathrooms were way too small and there was no real privacy anywhere. The day was sunny, but the cold winds picked up when the sun went for cover. Alas, I had to change Nikko standing up outside against a building. Later, Ronin got lucky as there was a family restroom in another building. But I couldn't wait for Nikko's diaper anymore and had to take a chance. I was getting stressed out because it was getting cold for Audrey, the boys wanted to run everywhere and I just wanted to get the diaper changes out of the way, and Denis wasn't feeling up to par because of his allergies.

I was by the triple stroller fixing Audrey's bottle when I looked over at Denis and the others with Ronin. But I didn't see Nikko. I asked where he was and I got blank stares. I immediately bolted and scanned the crowds. I heard Anna shouting for Nikko too and I started to feel a wave of panic rise up. There were a LOT of people around us quite suddenly. I looked to the right and saw a flash of Nikko's blue fleece, then I took off. Anna saw him too and was running with her stroller calling after Nikko. I caught up to her and told her, "Don't run, Anna." I tapped her shoulder and I ran faster. Um, Anna is five months pregnant running with a stroller that could possibly tip and fall!! Her instincts were right on par, I applaud her. (THANK YOU, Anna, I love you for reacting today!) But her safety was important to me, too. Nikko had wandered/run 3/4 of the way down a bridge leading to the next island. When I called to him he turned, saw me, smiled and ran back toward me as if challenging me to catch him. I did, and crushed him tight. I was glad that Nikko was back into the fold. It wouldn't be until later on that I ruminated over our day and the realization that Nikko could have been taken, lost, or even worse went into the water and drowned would haunt me. Even now as I write I am holding back the sobs over what could have happened. Everyone was helpful to me in the Gardens, I thank my family for all their support, but I didn't have my eye on Nikko for a while and he wasn't assigned to one person. I can't expect anyone else to be responsible for Nikko, so I should have been more careful, especially because he has no words, can't communicate much of anything, and is still just a 2 year old.

Well, we left the Gardens eventually and headed to the Penepackers for dinner. I felt I could relax just a little bit because the boys were familiar with her house. Unfortunately, they didn't stay downstairs as much as I would have liked. Nikko suddenly turned into Velcro Man and stuck by my side. He wanted to just sit in my lap and I didn't want to just sit still. The evening got more stressful because I longed for the family conversation (and Dennis' fillet!) and I wasn't going to get it because the kids were hanging on me. Mom ate fast and came to get Audrey, which freed me up a bit to eat and give Nikko some attention. Denis helped with changing diapers and holding Audrey, too, but I was weary of the pulling and tugging and whining and crying, so by the end of dinner I started to pack us up to go home. It was very late for the kids among other things and I felt a ton of bricks on my shoulders at the end of this Mother's Day.

Tomorrow we have play group at 9:30am. I hope I will be able to get us out the door on time. I hope the kids will wake up at a reasonable time. I hope Ronin won't throw up in daycare again. As an aside, Nikko's been putting a finger in his mouth lately. I don't know why. I thought maybe he had some steak stuck in the back of his teeth, but I did notice him doing this yesterday. It just seems more pronounced today.