Monday, August 31, 2009

Protesting at the zoo

This morning we packed up the kids and headed to the Brookfield Zoo. Vunge was going to meet us there with her kids and Soren, and she gave us extra tickets that would expire on the 31st. When we got to the zoo, the kids seemed ok with being loaded into the double stroller and the umbrella stroller. We walked in and stopped to take a picture with a huge animatronic dinosaur, but for some reason Nikko was not happy to be stopping. We thought maybe he needed to run around, so we found a little area that was family friendly that required us to park our strollers. The boys seemed to like the outdoor area, which was meant for a petting zoo, but when Ronin started playing in the dirt excavating site we decided to explore the indoors. Nikko wasn't happy with the plan and tried repeatedly to pull me outside. He protested pretty much the entire excursion, didn't even like the lemurs that we watched being fed. Once he got into the stroller he was still very combative. We met up with Vunge and went to another kid-friendly area which was made up of farm animals, but Nikko didn't want to leave the stroller. He pretty much wanted the stroller to stay in motion, but even when we wheeled it around he was balking. I was so incredibly confused and felt bad that Nikko seemed to be so frustrated. I couldn't figure it out and was starting to have a bad time myself. Ronin was also acting up, and in the petting zoo he managed to fling himself to the ground and get geese poop on his leg. It smelled absolutely rank and I gagged later on when changing his diaper. Nikko seemed to calm down a bit later as we walked toward our lunch area. It's possible that he was crabby because he was hungry, but we all suffered for it. After lunch all the kids went to play in a kids' playground and Nikko was himself again. He didn't even protest when we had to leave. All the kids fell asleep on the way home.

But once we got home it was for a quick juice refill, a gift wrap, then off to the Creen's house for Riley's birthday party. Luckily they were running late as well! We got to eat at the same time, and Nikko seemed curious about his surroundings. He didn't cling to me as I had expected he would. But as the afternoon wore on, I dreaded the cake time. He, of course, wanted some cake and Denis gave him some, but he threw a big fit when one piece was finished. Denis ended up sharing another piece, but I told him to announce that it was the last piece, then no more cake, etc. Nikko listened, but was still whiny until the cake was put away. We came home and I was exhausted from a whirlwind two days of activities. I was beat up emotionally because handling Nikko's mood swings was so challenging, and then Ronin's whining and crying didn't help make things easier. I wonder if Nikko senses that preschool starts at the end of this week...

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Block Party

Our morning was usual but I had to rally the troops around the 11th hour to get us going to Mom's house for her Fatima prayer shindig. We got there by 1p and proceeded into the basement/daycare area. Ronin was off playing with trains but Nikko was very clingy to me. He didn't warm up for a while, for some reason. And while his mood is kinda dragging, he was virtually silent for the earlier part of the afternoon. Lunch was busy because there were so many people milling about. I had just changed all three diapers when Mom asked me if I wanted to take home leftovers. Nikko was practically glued to my side so when I went into the sun room and stated using the foil, I thought Nikko was either nearby or downstairs. It wasn't until I truly noticed that he hadn't been around me that I looked up and asked aloud where he was. Someone mentioned that he was outside getting wet by the pond. Uh oh. I went outside and sure enough he was playing with a car in the water, his pant leg and his sleeve soaked. Dad stood nearby plus another person who just remarked that Nikko was having fun, but I put on my Mom cap and hauled him away from the pond. He was kicking and screaming because he wanted to play with the water. I determined that it was truly time to go. Unfortunately it was a big scene with Nikko as I changed him to some dry clothes and tried to assemble our food + Denis and the kids. We made it packed into the car. Denis drove separately so I just took off once the kids were buckled in. I sobbed a bit while clenching the steering wheel, embarrassed by the scene of me hauling Nikko into the kitchen while he wailed so loudly with everyone leaving through the kitchen, and because I felt so bad that Nikko was crying just because he wanted to continue playing and I couldn't let him. I felt pretty powerless, but knew that I had to be firm about not letting Nikko play in the fish pond. It's not a bathtub.

Everyone fell asleep on the way home. I had to park 1/2 a block away because this afternoon was our annual Block Party. I put the kids in the double and hauled us to the house, pausing to say Hi to the Polish mom with twins that I met on the practice bus day. I told her we'd be out soon. Denis came home too, and then there was a big fire truck in the street just to present to us at our block party. The boys thought it was pretty cool. I took pictures like crazy. Afterwards, we took the boys into the air bouncer. That's where our neighborhood girls, Brianna and Alissa, took over Ronin and entertained him the whole time. Nikko hung around us, but was also excited to see other kids like the twins on their big wheel bikes. He did some running around, ate his cold pizza, and then just hung around near Denis a bit. I wish I could have engaged him more, but I had Audrey in tow and she was getting super cranky because she was tired. We took the kids in for baths and bed. Unfortunately, both boys were cranky to Denis, who was also tired, so bath time was very ugly. I was glad when the boys got to their beds, and was tired myself. I have to prepare for another busy day, starting with a zoo outing w/the Hannums, then Riley's birthday party in the afternoon.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The bottom of the slump

This morning when I came into Nikko's room he flipped over and I saw he was awake, but he wasn't talking. This is highly unusual for him because I can hear him babbling by himself in the mornings when he is awake. I heard not a peep until I came in and greeted him. I looked him over and he was fine, and he managed to blurt out some garbly sounds that sounded normal. His demeanor was listless. He sat at the kitchen table with half-lidded eyes as if he woke up too early. He drank some chocolate milk, ate half the Eggo cinnamon toast w/syrup I fed to him, then sprawled under the table as if to sleep. I got him up and when Ronin was finished I herded the kids into the living room. Nikko lay on the couch and moved to the floor pillow and back. I came to check on him around 10:30a and saw that he had thrown up on the cushion near the armrest. Yuck! I cleaned it up, soaking the area with Carpet Resolve, then changed Nikko's clothes. He didn't have a fever at all, and I hoped he didn't have a stomach bug. Nikko crawled to the floor pillow and basically passed out for an hour. My poor little boy. The nap helped him. He came to the kitchen right before I was going to wake him up for lunch. He nibbled slightly on a chicken nugget, but started eating the slice of cheese pizza I put before him, then ate two more slices. Yea! In the afternoon he seemed to improve slightly. He played with some cars a little bit, lay on the couch and the floor a lot, and walked around. I tried to ease into some tickle games and that seemed to work better in the later afternoon. Denis came home from work and Nikko was acting a bit better, slightly grumpy this time. We went to the in-laws for dinner and Nikko was the most quiet we had ever seen. His appetite was back because he ate his nuggets and even ate some of the eggplant parmesan Lola made. I think it looked really appetizing, and the sauce and cheese tasted good. I am not a fan of eggplant but the taste was masked in the tomato sauce so it tasted like a regular lasagna to me with a hint of stringy-ness. Denis wouldn't touch it. I took home some leftovers since Nikko showed an interest in it. Nikko still clung close to me all evening and it wasn't until Maya and Rex were getting ready to leave that Nikko, Ronin and Maya started a chasing game in the living room that seemed to liven his spirits. No collisions so that's a good sign. I read in a book that I should make a learning opportunity out of every experience with Nikko so that he'll always be engaged, but on a day like today where he threw up and obviously wasn't feeling good, I didn't want to make sitting on the couch a school lesson. I tried to read him a book and his attention definitely wandered off. I'll have to keep practicing at it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

In a slump

Earlier today, Nikko was running around in the living room again and tripped. He fell and hit his mouth on the floor again, this time on the hardwood. I saw that he had a small cut behind his upper lip, but not nearly as deep as the previous cut. It bled a little bit, but I wonder if that soured his appetite for the rest of the day because he didn't eat much at lunch or dinner. He ate a small piece of pizza at lunch, but had no seconds. Dinner was a total bust where he nibbled on one ear of his Mickey Mouse nugget and abandoned the rest. I hope he'll be better at eating tomorrow. His demeanor today was also very off, wasn't interested in interacting and sought me out just to sit in my lap. Ronin had speech therapy and it went all right. Ronin's still very much into Cars and he didn't want to be without McQueen. Pete was still able to get some words out of him. Audrey kept trying to crawl right in the middle of everything, and Nikko kept to himself. After therapy, Audrey went down for a nap and Ronin wanted to watch Roary the Race Car. Lunchtime crept around and Ronin fell asleep in the high chair. When that happens, he doesn't need a 2pm nap. That also means I should take the opportunity to take the kids somewhere. But it was a rainy day so playing outside was out for me. Also, Audrey is at the crawling stage so going to the ball pit wouldn't be fun for her. I wracked my brains trying to think of a place I could manage them by myself but I had no place to go (Kohl Children's Museum would have been a madhouse during a rainy day, and I would totally lose both boys in there - Nikko to the water room, and Ronin would be everywhere while Audrey suffered in the Bjorn trying to go play. Not fair for everyone. Unless someone on the staff wanted to babysit my kids! LOL! Since we really didn't need to go to Costco, I decided to take the kids to Target with the primary objective of getting a Cars toy for Nikko or Ronin, and snacking the kids in their cafeteria. I took the long way so that 2 out of the 3 could take a nap, which they did. I went to the Target on Higgins. But their cafeteria was so small, connected to a Starbucks so it was like a cafe. I should have went to the one on Rand, which was bigger. OH WELL, at least Nikko and Audrey got to nap. I snacked them in the cafe. I gave Nikko a cookie, which he seemed eager to have at first. But he started looking around and then abandoned the cookie. He got up and wandered to a girl at the next table who was eating Doritos and a dip. He paused to look up at her, and I whisked him back. I went to the counter to get him some munchies and I got a bag of Cheetos instead since he's had that before. But when I opened it and put it before him, he inspected it, nibbled a minute piece, then decided he didn't like Cheetos OR the cookie. This boy snarfed an entire bag of Cheetos while en route to the Dolphin Place on our Jacksonville Beach trip. Who was this kid next to me? I packed us up and off to the toy section we went, in the double stroller and I made Ronin walk a bit. He managed to look cute to other shoppers, toddling along with his sippy cup and awkward steps. When he saw the toys, the trucks, and then the Cars section, he got crazed. Ronin wanted everything. He especially wanted the 4-pack of Cars I got for us, with another McQueen, The King, Chick Hicks and a random race car. He was crazed about getting Chick Hicks. I wouldn't let him open the box until we got home and Ronin was pissed beyond belief. Nikko, on the other hand, was so quiet from Target to home, through dinner and then afterward when we all went with Denis to get the Civic. Even in the basement before we left, Nikko didn't run around. He crawled through a hoop or two, but ended up in my lap. I really hope he feels better tomorrow. Maybe going to Lola's house will energize him when he sees his cousins.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Global Developmental Delays

Hmmm...Nikko was not in his greatest form today. We just got back from dropping off the Civic to get the interior cleaned, Nikko fell asleep for about 20 minutes in the carseat, and now he's mopey. I wonder if it will take him a long time to fall back to sleep tonight. He's also a tad crabby. Denis and I tried to do the parachute with him (using a big blanket) but he just lay on a pillow on the floor and wasn't interactive at all. He seemed tired and sleepy during bedtime stories, and we nixed the songs altogether. I hope he's ok tomorrow. It was a rainy, gloomy day today spent indoors and at home. Nikko spent most of his time playing at the table near the picture window, racing some cars back and forth across the tabletop (I don't believe it was totally stimming; he didn't have his eyes glued to the wheels or anything, kind of moved his whole body along the edge of the table so he wasn't sitting still) and also fiddling with cars and a car carrier attached to a big rig. At one point he brought the rig and carrier to me for help in getting a car into it, but the car was DJ, a blue car with "wings" that were wider than the carrier so it wouldn't fit. I gave him another car as a substitute. I also broke out a big container of Mr. Potato Head parts that I got from Costco. It came w/a Mr., a Mrs., and two spud juniors. Ronin and Audrey were interested, but Nikko showed only mild interest at first. Later I brought Mrs. Potato Head to him and he gave a high five upon request. I played the Your Baby Can Read DVD to the kids in the earlier part of the morning but they lost interest. And of course I played the Cars DVD. Nikko didn't pay much attention to the movie when we first watched it, but today he seemed to be interested in the whole thing. I may have to get another Lightning McQueen metal car because he keeps swiping Ronin's car. I generally don't like getting duplicate toys because that's just more toys to clutter up the living room, but McQueen is becoming the source of much stress on a daily basis.

Something else I've been ruminating over for just the past day... Gail recommended a book on on brain functioning in autistic kids as well as ADHD and developmental delays. It got me thinking about the neurological aspects of autism. Just the other day I realized that while Nikko had a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, it also said he had Global Developmental Delays. I started looking that up online and my heart sank when I read about that being developmental delays on an allover scope, including social, communicative, daily tasks, feeding, basically you name it. One site included some kind of intellectual deficiency in its definition and I started to wonder if that meant Nikko has some mental retardation. Another site said that Global Developmental Delays are static, meaning that they do not get worse. Um, that sounds like a good thing, but still sounds daunting and bad. Means they can get better, right? The sites I skimmed about developmental delays in general cited problems in the brain at or before birth. It made me wonder why Nikko has never had an MRI done to his brain and would that reveal anything? Would it show an area that is lacking or injured, right or left brain, and therefore give some direction as to the type of things he should be working on? This book that Gail referred to me is also brain-based, and possibly goes in this direction. What appealed to me is that there are brain-based things you can do AT HOME, without the diets and vitamins and shots, so that's why I took an interest in the book. The MRI is something I must remember to ask Dr. Keene when we meet her on 10/2. Indeed, if autism is a neurological disorder (also cited as a social disorder), then perhaps studying the brain will help me. Gail also asked me if I had ever heard of Brain Balance, which I think is some academy up in Deerfield that helps kids w/autism. I saw an ad in Chicago Parent once, but didn't pursue it further. I might have to revisit this.

Mom's house & swimming

The morning was short because I planned to take the kids to mom's house around lunchtime. Nikko was acting like normal so I knew that his lip was on the road to healing. It's filled with white stuff so that's gotta be a good thing (unless it's "weeping", according to Atz. Then it's pus and not a good thing. Eeeeeeew). I gave the kids a light snack around 11a, put Audrey down for a nap and then started packing things up to leave. Also packed stuff we'd need later for our last swimming adventure of the season, when Denis comes home early from work. It's a good thing I did this early because, just to jump ahead a little, the traffic coming home was challenging so when I got home I was able to just grab the swim stuff, towels, and refill juice bottles. Anyway, we got to mom's house and had lunch in the sunroom. Nikko found an interest in the water spray can that Dad was using on his indoor orchids. It looks like a large cylinder with a pump handle for the water pressure and a little hand-held hose for controlled spraying. I'm kind of glad Nikko didn't figure out how to spray the water because we'd all have been drenched if he knew. Mom looked at Nikko's lip and said he was going to be fine. Dad said the same thing, then he left for work. We didn't stay very long because I had to get us home for swimming and Mom hadn't slept yet from working the night before. I just wanted to go there for lunch to see Dad before he goes to work, to let Mom check out Nikko's lip, and for lola bonding time since I didn't come over the day before. When I was loading the kids into the Pilot, I was piling the bags into the front seat and putting Audrey into her carseat when I heard Mom saying, "Nikko, come give mom a hug!" She was standing in the middle of the front lawn with her arms wide open. He refused her a few times, running along the sidewalk and running up to me in case I disappeared somewhere. But when I turned after snapping Audrey's car seat into the base, I heard Mom calling for a hug again, saw Nikko running toward her and whining loudly, but still running straight into her hug. Mom and I both smiled and thought that was pretty cool, that he was protesting but still allowed Mom to let her hug him. AW. It reminds me of how Mom said to me that she was DETERMINED to make Ronin like her, back in the day when he was much younger and seemed to hate everybody. Mom worked really hard to win Ronin's approval and she did win. Mom is one of Ronin's favorite people, even though he gets moody at first. I wonder if Mom would have the same kind of patience with Nikko, to get him to acknowledge and appreciate her. It looked like it today! She doesn't give up, unlike me who might throw in the towel just a few seconds earlier if I'd lost hope. Perhaps the key is not to lose hope.

We went to the pool with Denis around 5:15p and the kids loved it. They are fishes in the water. Ronin saw another boy wearing Cars swim trunks, then started running toward the boy, pointing. We had to hold him back. He did this with a Cars beach towel as well. Meanwhile, Nikko was happily gliding along the floor of the zero depth pool, sometimes swimming next to us, and giving nice, normal laughs of joy that didn't look like he was laughing at an inside joke. After the pool, when changing the kids, I was relieved that Nikko didn't start rummaging through the bags looking for fruit snacks. He has a good memory and might have recalled that I hauled out the FS last time during the adult swim break to keep the boys out of the pool. I saw him eyeing the backpack, but he didn't make a move so I was safe. Dinner was ok, but Nikko is just eating chicken nuggets again. Not eating mac cheese or even the oven fries I baked. I wonder if I should really do what the books say, put out food in front of Nikko and if he eats it, great. If he doesn't eat it, then either leave it or put the food away after mealtime is done, and leave him hungry for the next meal. The problem with the hunger thing is that he will start to drag me to the cabinets for cookies or crackers. When he drags me, he is unrelenting and things get ugly when I don't comply. Am I supposed to ignore his attempts to communicate with me that he's hungry (and not eating what I put in front of him), no matter the cost to his temperament or my sanity? Um, yeah, I think that's the feeling I get. :( So when am I going to do this? I. Don't. Know.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Well, no words today and for good reason...

This morning I was vacuuming in the living room. The kids were playing around, their usual a.m. Nikko was lying tummy down on the couch near the armrest, watching TV. He can easily crawl/leap over the armrest, and has been crashing into the couch and walls for the past three days. I'm not sure how but he was scooting off the couch, lost his balance and his chin hit the striped ottoman at the base of the couch. The vacuum was off, and I heard a slight CRUNCH on impact. Then Nikko started to cry/scream. I worried that maybe he knocked one of his upper teeth out, so I tried to wobble them but they were stable. Then the blood started welling around his bottom teeth. I saw a dark mound on the inner lip and ran him into the kitchen for a paper towel. Audrey was underfoot and started crying to add to the mix. When I looked at the lip after soaking up some blood, I saw a small gash in the soft part of the inner lip and it was bleeding a lot. I tried to put an icepack on it but Nikko wouldn't have it. I started moaning that we might have to go to the ER, so I called Atz. She said she'd come over for the babies and that I should call the pediatrician for instructions. While I did, Nikko was crying really hard but I held him close. Audrey continued to follow us, wailing. I found a pacifier for her and tried to plug her up. When I got the ped office, they gave me to the nurse who could barely hear me because two kids were screaming. I had to release Nikko and grab Audrey, shoved the paci in her mouth and put her in the pack n' play in our bedroom. Time for her morning nap, slightly early. She protested, but in the end she caved in. Meanwhile Nikko had scampered to the Thomas chairs in front of the mirrored corner and had his burp cloth in his mouth. The bleeding had stopped. I couldn't really tell how long the gash was, and muttered that it looked like 2 cm. "Is it 2mm or 2cm? Because 2 cm equals an inch," the nurse asked calmly. I wasn't really feeling calm, and said I didn't have a ruler on me but could try to estimate it. I also got flustered because she threw some math at me right in the middle of things. (I was really pissed right then because while she was probably supposed to be calm in every situation, she sounded annoying and condescending to me, even though she most likely was not trying to be.) Luckily the little Black & Decker tool box I just gave to Nikko two days ago was sitting nearby and it had a ruler on the handle, so I could see that 2mm was more appropriate. Then I was shocked to hear that 2mm doesn't require a suture. I didn't mean to sound haughty, but I did ask the nurse, "Can you please tell me then what does apply for a suture?" "We're looking at an inch or even half an inch." Nikko's gash was not half an inch, which, when I looked at the ruler, had never seemed so big a length until today, lucky for us. The nurse rambled on about how Nikko should be ok soon, give him tylenol for the pain, don't let him drink citrusy liquids or anything that might irritate the wound, and don't put any neosporin on it. She sounded like she was reading from a book, so I said, "Yeah, sure, ok, thanks a lot. All right. Good bye." And I hung up, mad that I couldn't bring Nikko anywhere to see anybody, and that I was supposed to do nothing while he was laying on the floor in pain, crying, and in a little bit of shock. I comforted him as best I could, hugging him and letting him put that burb cloth to his lips. I tried ice again, I tried a wet, cold washcloth, but he wouldn't let me. He let me give him some chocolate milk, which might have helped soothe his lip. Then I sat down on the kitchen stool and heaved sobs because I felt so bad for Nikko, because Audrey had been crying too, and that I couldn't seem to make anything better. I tried not to let him see the tears in my eyes, so I straightened up and regained my composure. I put in the Cars DVD and that calmed Nikko while making Ronin extra happy.

For the rest of the day, Nikko kept touching his mouth, probably poking at the wound with his tongue, wrapping his lips inward around his teeth. Lucky for us, the tooth didn't go all the way through, but the area under his lip was turning purple, probably some trauma from what was hurting behind it. Nikko fell asleep later on when Denis came home, around 3:30, so I was able to run to Costco for some much needed stuff. When I came back, Nikko was awake so I gave him a bowl of ice cream since the nurse mentioned giving him popsicles to help soothe the lip. OK, I don't hate her. But I didn't even get a follow-up phone call regarding Nikko's status. Booo! After all the kids were awake and semi-snacked, Denis took the boys outside first to help wash the Civic. When Audrey and I made it outside, I saw that the boys abandoned their fence dirt-playing ways and were totally into the sudsy bucket. Nikko was in good spirits, and loved the sprinkler hose attachment. It was quite a cleanup for the boys, but then they didn't need a bath before bedtime. I am really surprised that with all the crashing Nikko has been doing for the past three days, which has been accompanied by his hysterical laughter, he hasn't hurt himself more than the gash today. I am thanking my lucky stars for that. And thanking the angel on his shoulder for making the gash smaller than a half inch.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Day Out With Thomas / Yum Pizza!

Today we went to the Illinois Railway Museum to experience A Day Out With Thomas, in Union, IL. It wasn't totally smooth, but it was enjoyable overall. This morning we tried to do what we could to leave on time (9:15) but on the way to the Creens for a [shifted] 9:45 meetup we had to turn around because I forgot Audrey's bottle. We lost about 8 minutes. When we got to the Creens, Denis realized he forgot his wallet. Another turnaround. Needless to say, we didn't quite meet our departure goals. The kids were in good spirits because we put in the Cars DVD. Nikko's eyes were fastened to the screen, and only when Denis accidentally turned it off did both boys protest loudly. Geez.

We used the triple stroller for this adventure. I used a beach towel to put under Nikko because the front seat of the stroller wasn't designed for a 38 pound boy and the seat was slumped inward. I had gotten some dogtags printed for Nikko and Ronin ( with contact info should they get separated from us, so I tagged Nikko. He didn't mind or even care about it on his belt loop. We met up with Pat, Anna, Jovy (who loves Thomas stuff), and the Creen family to enjoy the day. It was really busy/crowded and I let Nikko run around while we waited for the others to enjoy climbing onto some train cars, but it was a little unnerving watching him walk against the flow of traffic or pivot haphazardly in front of strangers. There was one instant where he took off for about 20 feet, but he did turn around when I called to him and stayed still. It was when we were waiting to get onto the Thomas train that Nikko was antsy and trying to free himself from my hand. He didn't go anywhere, but I wished that I had put the harness on him so that I wouldn't have to use a steely, sweaty grip on his hand. He didn't seem to mind me leading him by the hand earlier when we walked between some rail cars. I'm sure both boys were tired of being dragged around by the hand and the arm, so it was no wonder that Ronin had a big meltdown when we rode the trolley. But back to the Thomas train, this was in the earlier part of our visit so both boys were curious and behaved. Nikko was extremely quiet as he looked out the window, no jargoning either. Denis helped Nikko get a Thomas tattoo, and Nikko also didn't mind sporting it. We had lunch after the train ride and then went on the trolley after. I was wearing Audrey in the bjorn carrier the whole time so that we could easily get on and off trains as needed. Throughout the day, Nikko didn't seem to mind riding in the front seat of the stroller and rarely tried to get out of it. When we decided to go and walked toward the car, Ronin fell fast asleep (as did Audrey on the trolley) and later, Nikko fell asleep on the ride home.

During lunch, Nikko was sharing cheese pizza with Denis. Denis remarked to Nikko, "Good pizza, hmmm? Yummm pizza!" Nikko sounded like he mumbled something, but then Gail and Patrick looked at me and smiled. "Uh, what?" I asked.

"Didn't you hear him?" Gail asked. "He said Yum, Pizza."
"HE DID?" I asked. "He said Yum Pizza? For real? I totally didn't hear that! I can't believe I missed it!
Anna also agreed that Nikko said Pizza, Denis said he said something that sounded like Yum Pizza. In theory I didn't miss it, I just didn't hear it right. I can believe that this could happen; I read about it in one of the autism books that a mother brought her nonverbal son to a doctor and during the session the son said something like, "I like trains." The doctor pointed it out to the mother and the mother totally did not hear the words even though she was sitting right next to her son. I think I am used to hearing the jargoning and the real words probably squeaked in somehow. If so, that is so awesome for Nikko!!!

By the end of the night, Nikko had entered his giggly-laughing stage again. He was acting this way during our song time before prayers, and a little bird is making me worry that the chicken nuggets are doing it to him. Could it possibly be a chemical or wheat or gluten in the nuggets? I have NO idea. Or is this a phase that will just pass? I'll wait and see, but I don't want to wait too long. Anyway, I'm thrilled about the words, and I'm going to listen hard for new ones. Yea!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Laughing and laughing and laughing

I'll start with the end of the day. Nikko got to bed late (around 10p) and by 11:20p I could still hear him in his room, laughing. I think he trailed off after another ten minutes, but this was a very late night for him. He took a late nap today, between 5:30-6:30, so maybe that set him back. But I don't think so, because this evening we took the kids to Woodfield Mall so that Denis could check out a Bachrach suit while the kids (first ate, then) played in the Looney Tunes play area. The place was seriously crowded. There were kids of all different heights so I feared putting Audrey on the floor for long in case someone trampled her. Ronin held his own, climbing all over the characters, and Nikko mainly ran back and forth along a carpeted pathway. He climbed a little bit, but mostly weaved between parents and kids. No collisions for him today. Denis and I saw a little boy collide with another and got knocked to the ground. The boy sat crying while the other ran away. I think the boy got clipped by someone else running by. Then, a little skinny curly-haired girl ran by, stopped, cranked her arm back and whacked the boy on the head. I saw this and was shocked, wondered if the girl was a sister, wondered where the boy's mom was. Then the girl whacked the boy again! I was holding Audrey and told Denis that the poor boy was getting beat, and I shifted nervously because no mom was coming to his rescue. The girl wasn't finished. She flexed her arms, took a step back and drop-kicked the boy in the midsection. Denis and I both said, "Ooooo!" like when we watch UFC fighter get clocked with a money punch that brings him down. She stepped back to do it again and I started walking toward the boy to try and save him from the girl's punishment. She went ahead and kicked him again, and was reeling back to continue when the girl's mom finally ran to her just as I got to the scene. Mom made the girl apologize, asked the boy where his mom was and didn't get a clear answer, so she then hauled her daughter to the entrance to sit in a time-out. I stood nearby looking around for a mom missing a son, but there was none. The boy sat for a few seconds, recovered, then gingerly walked away and started climbing on something else. He would live. But when we were packing our kids into our stroller, I saw the boy standing near his mom and dad, with a sibling in a double stroller. I came up to her and said that her boy was crying earlier, and that a little girl was beating on him, so she might want to check over her boy. The mom thanked me, and I think she asked the boy in Polish if he was ok. The boy said something to her about his ribs, but otherwise was ok. Denis and I were just incredulous that such a beatdown happened right by us, and that the little girl was relentless! That was a long recount of a situation that didn't even involve Nikko, but I wanted to share it because it fascinated us at the time.

Before the mall, the day was kind of mundane. We watched Cars 1.5 times thanks to Ronin. During lunch, Nikko started some kind of uncontrollable laughing. If you didn't know about Nikko, you would have thought someone had told him a hilarious joke and he was happy about the punchline, dancing around and laughing on and on about it so hard that he started crashing into the walls. What a hilarious joke it must have been! But the un-funny thing about it is that there wasn't a joke, Nikko was laughing at nothing we knew about, and was literally throwing himself onto the ground and into the walls and into the couch and into chairs laughing. He seemed to be dancing around the kitchen in a drunken stupor and falling while cackling. It actually scared me a little bit to see him like this, and I stopped him a few times to eat a bite or just to hold him still because he looked ridiculous. He was also so wild that I worried he would fall on something that would injure him since he's been klutzy. Finally, I worried that (thanks to the lady from the ball pit yesterday, who I still have to contact) maybe his decrease in mac cheese and overall increase in eating chicken nuggets again affected him on a bio-level and he might be reacting to the breading or something in the chicken. I have no idea why he was laughing at nothing. Atz and I used to joke that maybe an angel on his shoulder told him a joke. I have no idea if I should be concerned about this, inquire on a board, or ignore it. If he truly injures himself, then it's a total red flag. Maybe that wreckless spinning just made him feel good and he kept laughing in spite of it? Maybe, but he has also laughed just while sitting on the sofa with no movement. Can't explain it. Another thing is that he kept asking for cookies from the cabinet. I refused him in the morning and right after lunch, but during snack time I initially diverted him with raisins, but eventually gave the boys two cookies each and cut them off from any more. The last thing for tonight is that something happened during our song time before prayers. We were singing Wheels on the Bus and doing the motions. When we got to the last verse where the Parents on the Bus Say I Love You, I was watching Nikko watching Denis. Denis was rubbing his eyes and wasn't doing the motions while singing. Nikko was watching him rub his eyes, then Nikko looked down at his hands with a little frown on his lips. When Denis finished singing, Nikko took his hands and signed More, then made the motion of widening his arms to form a heart, like what we do in the song. He did this twice. Denis was confused, but I could see that Nikko knew Denis didn't do the right motions to the song and wanted him to do it over again. I was impressed with Nikko's motions and praised him when the song was finished.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rec Plex ball pit

Nikko's been kinda klutzy today. He was running back and forth in the kitchen quite fast and hard, and of course he tripped up and fell head first into the door. There was a little indent near the corner of his eye and I tried the ice pack but was rebuffed immediately. It must have hurt. Nikko was also leaping onto the couch via the square ottoman and scraped his shin. Ow. Ronin had speech today with Pete and he did all right. Ronin's on this Cars kick where he's carrying Lightning McQueen (or "a Queen! a Queen!") and Tow Mater (or "Thow MAYtrrrr!") all over the place. It was hard to get him away from the Cars and focus on something else, but Pete said he was able to work with it. Didn't really look like it to me, but oh well. Nikko kept to himself a lot, so I had to go over to him and give him hugs and see if he was all right by himself. Audrey kept trying to get into Ronin's cars. After therapy, I put Audrey down for a nap and then decided to take the boys outside to play before lunch. Nikko was content to run up and down the driveway at his own pace, but Ronin was putting McQueen into the dirt, raking the dirt with his fingers, and sitting in the dirt which I'd say was borderline mud. It unnerved me that he was getting so dirty. I gotta take a breather about the boys getting dirty, because I let it really upset me. We got inside, I got them lunch, and then really wondered what I could do with the kids in the afternoon. I didn't want to bring them to the grocery, even though we really need to get some stuff. I was wracking my brain trying to think of an enclosed area where there wasn't too much chaos that I could safely watch the kids while they played. Woodfield Mall has a nice kid area but it gets too crowded and chaotic. The Elk Grove Park District had brief toddler hours (10a-2p!). Then I remembered the kid area/ball pit at the Rec Plex in Mount Prospect. That's where we ended up, for $1 per boy. On the website it stated that it was for kids at least 3 yrs and less than 46" tall, so I was prepared to cover the boys' ages because I wanted Ronin to play in the pit. The ball pit was pretty big with other climbing features and a big slide you had to access by climbing up a mesh grid. The boys were content to just be in the pit and it was fun because it was like swimming in water. There was a lady there with two kids, one older boy and the other was a little girl. I was watching the boy and caught him doing a little flap with his hands. The motion I saw reminded me of Nikko and I had a feeling the boy had some development issues. The girl was normal, however. The mom, who sat nearby, asked me how old the boys were. "Nikko is 4 and Ronin is 3," I lied. She looked incredulously at Ronin and remarked how he didn't look very big, while her daughter Helen was 2.5. "Oh, he's had lots of food allergies, you know, and it affected his growth." The conversation turned to Nikko because I told her he was autistic.

"Are you sure?" she asked me.

"Am I sure about what?" I was confused.

"That he's autistic. He's so young, you know."

"Um, yeah, pretty sure. He was diagnosed, by two different hospitals."

She replied, "Maybe it's just a speech delay. You know so many people are mislabelling autism nowadays, but the ones that are in treatment and go on a diet can recover, and it's like 99% of them recover. That's what happened to my son, he had a speech delay and now he's totally recovered. [If he's recovered, then I'm a monkey's uncle. I could tell that there was something not right about him, and I didn't even talk to him.] So that means you're not giving him dairy and wheat?"

I must have looked wary as I said, "No, I haven't altered his diet. Did you do the diet to your son?"

"Oh no, we didn't do that. You know I could give you the name of a friend of mine who is the President of the Autism Illinois group or something like that. She can put you in the right direction and she does the biomedical stuff because she had a child who was autistic..."

And as we kept the conversation going I actually fessed up that the boys' ages were really younger, that Nikko was 3 and Ronin was 2. She looked confused and I told her I was kinda worried that she was one of those moms who would tell me that Ronin can't be here because he's 2, and to get out of the ball pit, and I really just wanted him to stay and play. Liz (that was her name) was a nice lady and eventually wrote down her contact info for me, which I'll email her tomorrow, but after hearing that the president went the biomedical route it made me wary. I still don't know if I want to do that to Nikko. Would altering his diet change his behavior? That's the million dollar question. Liz aside, the boys had a great time in the pit (while Audrey stayed in her car seat, but got fussy toward the end) and I think we'll do this again in the near future. Nikko was very happy sitting among the balls. He didn't want to come out. After the pit, I lured them back to the stroller with the promise of some snack, which I gave to them in the empty food court. We got home, I put Audrey in the kitchen because she fell asleep, and I let the boys run rampant again. I played a tickle game with them on the front lawn, but when Audrey started waking up it was time to go inside.

At bedtime, Denis was reading the prayer book with Nikko in his lap. "Nikko, where's the birthday cake?" Denis asked. And for the first time, Nikko pointed to the cake. We praised him for that, and he smiled like a cat with his milk.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bus run!

I had Nikko harnessed and ready at 8am for the bus. We went out to the driveway; Denis, Audrey and Ronin joined us, happy to be outside so early in the morning. I adjusted the harness the night before so that I wouldn't have to spend time fiddling with it while trying to zip Nikko into it. He pulled at it a bit, but I patted his chest and tried to distract him. Eventually he ignored it and was running up and down the sidewalk like there was nothing on him. Down the block I saw the polish lady with her two twins waiting at the corner. A school bus came and picked them up. To my surprise, the bus pulled up to our house and opened its doors. I thought we were getting the short bus, but I recognized the driver from her web picture and we scurried on. There were about 10-15 kids on already with their parents and we grabbed a seat over the tire mid-back. Nikko was curious but also tense as he sat on my lap. I looked around and couldn't find any seat belts or loops to strap Nikko in, and so I wondered if we were on the wrong bus to begin with. I stayed quiet, figuring that my questions would get answered soon. Sure enough, I found out that our bus is one of three new ones in the fleet and that the first few seats had five-point harnesses built in behind a velcro flap, so the harness we currently had was not necessary. That's great news because it is so bulky! I would try those seats on the way home. Our bus came around 8:15 or so, but I'll keep going out around 8-ish just until I can learn her timing. It will take some time to strap Nikko in, which I'll have to do every time he boards the bus, but hopefully it will be a quick buckle-in and good bye. I think he will absolutely freak out on the first day of school, so I hope the teacher aides that will receive him will be kind to him (I'm sure they will!). We got to the school and joined everyone on the grassy front where the principal, Vince the Transportation Manager, and a host of other people were giving speeches. I learned most of the info I need from our bus driver, Mrs. Monica Beyer. We were greeted by the OT lady, as well as Mrs. McCarthy, who remembered Nikko's name. I learned that if Nikko were sick or couldn't go to preschool one day, I should call the school to let them know, and then post a red square (supplied by them) in the window so the driver knows to pass our house by. We boarded the bus again and I ushered Nikko to one of the seats closer to the front. I pulled down a square and saw the harness. I put Nikko up on that square and buckled him in. He started to moan and whine as I fiddled with the tightening tab, and then he started crying once I was finished. Since we weren't moving yet Mrs. Beyer told me I didn't have to put him in it today, so I unbuckled it and he scrambled into my lap. As we headed back, we started dropping off kids by the first one on the route. I slowly tried to push Nikko off my lap one leg at a time until he was finally seated on the actual seat but my arm was securely around his shoulders. Nikko peered out the window curiously and looked up at me once. We got home and bounded inside, happy to finish our bus run!

It was only a half hour until DT so not much happened except a diaper change. Bo arrived and Denis took Ronin downstairs to watch Cars. I put Audrey down for a nap. Nikko had our undivided attention. The first half of the session went ok. He worked with Mr. Potato Head and did some fish puzzle. But after the rainbow toy came out, Nikko started melting down until he was all-out struggling to get away from us. Bo was confused and I had to rationalize that perhaps he was anxious because he had no control over things all morning. I was holding his hand for most of the bus run, wouldn't let him run off, and he was experiencing the bus ride, saw so many kids and teachers, and could have been overwhelmed. Needless to say, the end of DT was not good. We said good bye to Bo. :(

I lunched the kids and by 2pm Ronin was ready for a nap. Nikko fell asleep on the couch at the same time. Audrey, however, was not due for a nap for at least another half-hour so I had to stay up with her. I didn't get a nap. I wanted to take the kids outside but the later half of the afternoon was filled with showers so we stayed inside. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain most of the day as well, and Mom's busy this week for her Saturday function, so I gotta figure out what we can do. The basement is an option, but it's not at full functional capacity. Maybe I'll try venturing out to a store, but that's a big goal.

Preparing for the practice bus run

In about seven hours is the practice bus run for Nikko's preschool. I'm allowed to go with him. We'll ride the bus, get off, have a quick speech, get back on and go home. Should take about an hour tops. Then we'll have our session with Bo at 10:30. She couldn't make it today so it was moved to tomorrow. I told Chinny not to come because I'll try to handle Ronin on the side with the DVD player. I'll also try to put Audrey down for a nap either before Bo comes or at least 15 minutes into the session.

Nikko didn't seem very all right from the getgo today. He was whining while I dressed Ronin, as if Nikko was trying to go to the bathroom. He also didn't seem to walk well, as if he were hurting in the groin because he tiptoed when he walked. I couldn't see any problems in his diaper so early in the morning. Around 11am after I put down Audrey I decided to take the boys outside to run around a bit. Ronin was excited and ruled the tricycle, but Nikko didn't seem to want to run around much. He also rode the tricycle and I had to wrestle it away from Ronin because Nikko rides it so infrequently lately. I wrote on the driveway with sidewalk chalk and the boys liked sitting in the middle of the runway I drew. It also made them extremely dirty. It was lunchtime next. Ronin fell asleep in the high chair, Nikko ate some mac cheese and a nugget, and then Audrey joined us with a bottle. Because Ronin napped, I was able to get us ready to go to Costco and we got out of the house around 3pm. The trip went quickly, except for Ronin whining for some cookies. Luckily I had some on hand and was able to ration it between them. When we got home I took another opportunity to let the boys play outside for a little bit. It was mild but humid outside so we didn't last long before I hauled everyone inside to wash hands. I'm trying to get us on a schedule that's geared toward preschool, so I didn't want the kids to snack a whole lot before a 6:30p dinner. They were getting cranky around 6:20 but I was able to stretch it until Ronin started going ballistic when he saw some fried rice and hot dog. Nikko didn't eat that, but stuck to the mac cheese and ate two nuggets. Audrey didn't like the jarred food I offered her, but somehow was able to inhale all the fried rice I fed her. Fancy that. I didn't know if I was going to be able to keep Nikko awake until at least 8:30 for his bath. Around 7:45 I noticed he was sitting on the couch starting to lag, so I started giving the kids tickles and that woke him up. Denis came home from Muay Thai class and was with the boys while I got Audrey ready for bed. I announced it was time to give her kisses good night and hugs. I knelt down and told Nikko, "Nikko, kiss Audrey good night!" In the past he would lean in toward me when he heard that phrase, but I specifically told him to kiss Audrey and he looked right at her and kissed her cheek. AW! I made him do it again for good measure, and a hug was a lean-in. Nikko was really tired during the storytime, nodded off and was fighting sleep. I'll set my alarm for 6:55a tomorrow, go change Nikko at 7a, get his milk ready and him seated for breakfast by 7:15 (banana and Cheerios), also tend to the other kids (Denis will be here in the morning to watch the babies while I go with Nikko, but I'm going to try to get everyone ready as usual to see how long it takes me), do a final diaper check or change around 7:45, then harness Nikko up around 8a and bring him outside to wait for the bus. *crossing my fingers that all goes well!*

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hula hoops

Our day was pretty calm until we had to leave for the peds office. Nikko started doing some crashing; he would run from the couch, stomping his feet hard, straight to Ronin's high chair in the kitchen. He'd turn around, poise himself in the doorway, then run stomping back and dive into the couch. Totally got sweaty this way. He was doing this after dinner as well. Perhaps it's a result of not getting any time outside to run around. He also didn't have a good appetite for lunch. Maybe the 3 sippy cups of chocolate milk filled him up way too much? His visit to the ped was good. I whipped out the DVD player and put in Cars so both boys would watch. Nikko was still getting restless so I gave him a lollipop and that immediately calmed him down. Ronin wanted one, too, but I wouldn't give him one until after his hepatitis A shot. Nikko is 38" tall, and weighs 38 pounds. 50th percentile in height, but 95th percentile in weight. Yep, not like I didn't already know he was a heavy kid!

Before bath time, Denis got the boys running around downstairs. One thing he's been doing for two days is taking two hula hoops and holding them vertically so the boys will walk/hop/run through them. Today he started holding them in variable positions: further apart, slightly unaligned, and then a few inches above the ground. "This has got to be good for his motor planning, eh?" he asked me, and I couldn't agree more. It's probably quite excellent for his motor planning skills, since Nikko has to think about how to walk through the hoops, then make adjustments so he's balanced, especially if they are off the ground. It's a brilliant idea, also on the pinnacle of an obstacle course.

Monday, August 17, 2009

No Lego...yet...and back to Nikko

Circumstances worked strangely in my favor today. We were waiting for the Creens to come by around 11a to drop off Lego when I checked a missed call and it was Gail. I called her to hear that they wanted to keep Lego a while longer. I was shocked. Her reasoning was that Lego seemed to blend in nicely with their family thus far; she took Lego off his incontinence drugs and he immediately perked up and was social, looking for affection whereas before he slept all day and didn't want anything to do with anyone; Grizzly and Lego seemed to like each other's company; Riley was attached to Lego. It's definitely a load off my mind not to have Lego around while Audrey is crawling all over the place, but I really do hope that Gail and her family are ok with having another dog around the house. I trust that if Gail really couldn't handle having another dependent, she would tell me and we'd make the arrangements to get him back. Denis misses having Lego around, but also acknowledged that he is extra work for him right now. I told Gail we'd revisit the domestic situation again in a few months, perhaps after Audrey is walking. So we are dog-free for a while longer.

Back to Nikko. He has a physical exam at the peds tomorrow. Ronin is also scheduled for his two year appointment. I have to bring a form that allows OT services during school hours. I'm going to have to start pushing back our bedtimes to accommodate Nikko getting ready for the bus. I'll have to wake up a little before 7a to get Nikko dressed, at the table by 7:15a, give him breakfast and tend to Audrey who will probably be waking up, possibly Ronin too, then final diaper change if needed by 7:45a, and ready for bus pickup by 8am. We'll have to see how things go for the first two weeks of school to find out exactly what time the bus will come for Nikko at the door. I guess this is my routine for the next 21 years, huh? :O Nikko has been doing ok lately. More eye contact with me, more easygoingness with me in terms of following directions around the house. When I ask him to kiss me or Audrey, he leans in and purses his lips. Aw! He took the swiffer mop the other day and pretended to mop the floor. During lunch he's been taking a leftover paper towel on the table and wiping around his plate. Don't know if he sees mac cheese mess left over or if it's a few drops of juice, but he's wiping up something. During the day, I notice that Nikko has been opening up books and leaving them on the sofa. He'll return to a book, flip some pages, look at the pictures thoughtfully, then leave. Today I noticed that he sat at the table near the picture window and played with the Thomas trains and Cranky the Crane a little bit. But for the past few days he's been taking the plastic cutting knives from the play food and running around with them, prancing in front of the mirror with them, and just having them on hand. Sometimes he sits down in front of the plastic food bin and cuts a few veggies in half. He doesn't serve them on plates, but the cutting seems purposeful. I have a small tea pot and two teacups for a little tea party, but I should play tea party a bit more so he can use those cups. I just jotted down that I should get a Mr. Potato Head since he's familiar with the ones Bo uses. Speaking of Bo, Tuesday is the last day of Developmental Therapy we have with her. :(

Friday, August 14, 2009

My rant re: Lego

Today is a rant that has nothing to do about Nikko, unfortunately. Our day was a home day, but I managed to get the boys outside while Audrey napped. Nikko sat down in the middle of the driveway, looking down toward the street, and then would run back and forth while verbalizing. No exploring today, and just a little bit of sidewalk chalk for him.

I've been upset the past two days because I don't have any control over the situation regarding Lego, our dog. He is coming back to us on Saturday. The lady who was caring for him since January (Denis' coworker's mom) moved into an assisted living for physical rehab and can no longer care for Lego. The Creens are generous enough to be taking care of him in the interim, but Gail and I both know it's not a forever thing by any means. I should be grateful that we have been dog-free for 7 months, but my stomach is turning when I think about what lies ahead. Lego is currently on medication for his incontinence, so that's probably a good thing - less leakage. But that doesn't mean NO leakage. Audrey is an avid crawler right now, going everywhere and putting everything in her mouth. I shudder when I picture her crawling on our kitchen floor with Lego around, but that's exactly what it's going to be from now on. She's going to have dried (or worse, wet) dog pee or spit on her hands, and those hands will go right into her mouth. The food from the kids' high chairs will be scattered on the floor and Lego will eagerly swoop in to lick it up. Not quite a "clean" floor by my standards, just a dog-spit-smeared one that the kids will have on the bottoms of their feet which will walk all over the living room. Great.

It may be hard to believe, but I am not a dog hater. I AM NOT A DOG HATER. I just don't like owning a dog, especially when I have babies around. I am also not a germophobe; my house is too dusty and crumby for that. But the thought of the dog pee, spit and whatever else gets dragged in to transfer to the kids makes me so uneasy. If Audrey were already walking, and not putting her hands on the floor, it would be the least thing to make me feel better about the situation. But she's not going to start walking until November, at the rate she's going. My boys aren't old enough to walk the dog by themselves at all. And if I have to take Lego out for a pee break in the middle of the day, I'd have to leave all the kids in the house (unless we were already playing outside) and they'd all be crying and screaming until I got back inside. It's not worth it to me to have them be like that, quite honestly. I could try only taking him out when one or two of the kids are taking a nap, but sometimes they are so unpredictable. Like trying to go to the store; takes me an hour to get the food bag and diaper bag prepped, the kids changed and dressed (remember, there are three of them and none of them are potty trained or know how to fully dress themselves yet), shoes on and final checks before going out the door.

Basically, I am screwed. Everything will fall onto me to be responsible for his care since I'm home with everyone during the day. He's too old and has old dog problems, no one will want to adopt him. Denis reminded me that we had a commitment to him when we adopted him. I [begrudgingly] agreed, but didn't know at the time that we would have three children in three years. I know that I'm just going to have to suck it up and accept our situation, change my attitude and move forward. I'll stock up on baby wipes, wash the floor every night (like I'm not already doing that!!!) and find a way to keep the dog bowls out of reach so the kids don't start dipping their hands into them. I'm stretching really far here to try to accommodate this situation. But if Lego ever, EVER bites any of these kids in the face or disfigures them in any way, whether or not because they provoked him, then he is OUT of this house on that day. I won't tolerate it. It's a safety issue, that's that.

OK, rant over. Tomorrow's the last dog-free day so I'll walk around barefoot and shuffling.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some small accomplishments

Perhaps Nikko's late night last night caused him to sleep in a bit, but we all woke up around 9am! VERY late for us (Denis went to work around 6:30). Nikko even got tired around 11am and took a nap, which threw off lunch. Our timing today was all off. Still, we managed to make it to mom's house by almost 4, stayed until 6, just to have snack and hang out for a little bit. The boys were behaved and Audrey was crawling everywhere.

At home, Nikko didn't seem very lively today. It's probably because he was tired from the day before. But he was still animated enough to flip pages of books and jump around in front of the mirrors. At night, down in the basement with Denis and the rest of us, he was practicing jumping over a cylindrical toy he placed on the floor. He would stand in front of it, jump with two feet off the ground and land right behind it. Denis said he looked like he was doing one of those Olympic jumps into a sand box. It says a lot to me that his coordination and balance is getting really good. Another noteworthy action today is that Nikko was trying very hard to put on his Crocs when I mentioned it was time to go outside. I think his Crocs just fit him so it's harder to scootch his toes upward, whereas Ronin's are a bit bigger for him. Finally, on two occasions today I was giving kisses and told Nikko to kiss Audrey. And he did, with a purposeful lean-in toward her cheek. I praised him for each one. Yea!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bo's thoughts on Cookie

I was stressing a little bit this morning because Chinny is in San Francisco this week visiting Eric. I forgot that she'd be gone all week, so I would have 3 kids to worry about during Nikko's Developmental Therapy today. Fortunately, I put Audrey down for a 10:30am nap and I had only Ronin left to keep busy. I put the Cars DVD in the portable player, set it up by the window, and he was entranced for 30 minutes before he touched a button that made things FF so he came to bother us. I wasn't sure how the session would go because Nikko didn't want to put together the first animal wooden puzzle. When we started singing cleanup, however, he helped put all the pieces back into the bag, then signed that he wanted More. We took that to mean More toys. Bo got another toy, a peg board with colored pegs that he was supposed to line up by color. During this, I asked Bo about her son, when he started talking and if she did anything to help him learn, since she indicated to me that he had developmental delays (but not autism). She said he started talking on his own, but it took a while. I then started telling her about my cookie scenario with Nikko the other day, how he cried and fought for it, and in the end he gave up after all those tears, and still didn't get the cookie. I felt bad that it happened. Bo must have felt bad for Nikko and told me that she would have given him the cookie in the end, knowing that that is exactly what you're not supposed to do, because she didn't think it was worth it for him to be crying and crying so hard for just a cookie. I told her I was trying to get him to say Cookie, and he shook his head NO as if he understood what I wanted but didn't want to say it. Bo said, "How would you like it if someone tried to make you do something you didn't want to do?" I said I'd be mad, and then she also said, "If Nikko is trying to communicate with you by using signs, or pulling you toward what he wants, you should accept his attempts to communicate." Bo's words made me think that perhaps I pushed him too hard... then I told her that I thought that if I didn't try to challenge him, he wouldn't improve. Bo looked at me and shook her head, and I began to think that perhaps my reasons for pushing him were because I am anxious that he still has no words before he starts preschool. Maybe I'm pushing him for my own reasons, so that he can talk, and maybe he's still not ready to talk yet. Reading that book (I still think it's a good book so far) just set a fire under me to try to get him talking. I think I'd better take it slower, however, by encouraging the signs, modeling the words, and perhaps going back to using the pictures more. The rest of the session went well. Nikko worked on a Mr. Potato Head, and when he put the arms in he started giving him high fives, just like how Bo was giving Nikko high fives. We tried to feed Mr. Potato Head some pizza, then Nikko saw the tea cup and gave him some tea. That was so cool! Later on, Nikko's interest waned, but the session was finished so I let him go. We have ONE session left with Bo. I am dreading the end of therapy all over again. :(

After lunch, it took me a long time but I finally got everyone ready to go to Costco. I debated around 1:30p because Audrey was finishing a bottle, it was a half hour before Ronin's scheduled nap time, but if I put Ronin down then both Audrey and Nikko would be awake and making noise. It would also set me back when I really needed to go to Costco, especially for formula. I chose to pack up the kids in the car with the intention that at least Ronin would sleep for an hour. Which is exactly what happened. Costco was ok, but when we got home and I was unloading stuff, Ronin was out of my sight so I called out for him. I think he got scared that he was alone because he came racing to me from the backyard, screaming, and then kept screaming even though all I wanted was to be able to see him while I unloaded the car. I got everyone inside and snacking. Denis came home early to take us to the pool, but unfortunately it wasn't hot outside. It was in the lower 70's, which I normally love, but it truly wasn't pool weather. We chilled out in the living room instead and Nikko climbed on top of me as I lay on the floor. He flipped over facing the ceiling, and then he fell asleep like that while on top of me. The poor kid didn't nap all day. While he napped Denis told me to go to the grocery because I expressed the need, and I went, even to get a break from Ronin. Our evening was late because when I got home, all the kids were outside because they wouldn't sit still for dinner for Denis. Apparently they were all protesting and calling for Mommy. Doh. Nikko and the kids were put to bed, but even as late at 10:45 I could still hear Nikko talking to himself. Don't know what time he fell asleep.

Monday, August 10, 2009

No cookie for Nikko

I don't know if it was a bad thing or a good thing, but today sometime after lunch, Nikko wanted an Oreo cookie. I decided to try holding the cookie to my face, saying "Cookie", and waiting for him to attempt to say it. Sounds easy, just like in the book, but it SO wasn't easy. Nikko saw that I was holding out on the cookie, and probably understood that I wanted him to say it. He shook his head NO violently, as if telling me that I wasn't going to get him to say anything. I was patient and calmly kept modeling "Cookie." Nikko was furious. He tantrumed. He cried, screamed, threw himself into the wall, threw himself onto the floor many times, tried to pry the cookie from my fingers. Mad, angry, frustrated. Audrey sat in her high chair looking on, silent. I think Nikko tantrumed for 10, maybe 15 minutes. It was a looooooong time. In the end he ran into the living room a few times in a fury, ran back to me, then ultimately ran to Denis, grabbed a burp cloth sitting on the sofa, and didn't come back. I think he tired himself out so much that he fell asleep sitting up on the couch. I felt so bad, but during the tantrum I knew that I couldn't give him the cookie now, it was the point of no return and giving in would defeat everything I was doing. So, no cookie for Nikko. :( We didn't revisit this for the rest of the day. I am dreading doing it again tomorrow.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday school and pool

Denis decided this morning that he wanted for us to try to make it to Sabbath school in Hinsdale. After the kids were dressed I was scrambling trying to find something to wear. They came into our room and I told the boys they looked so cute in their khakis and collared shirts. I looked at Nikko, who stood in the doorway, and he was neither happy nor sad, just standing there. He looked like a cute, big boy, but for some reason I felt enormous sadness because he was not talking or saying any words. I am still reading that Overcoming Autism book and am on the chapter about speech. It's telling me to get him to talk by encouraging him with something that he is really motivated about, either a toy or food. This is probably where FS could come into play. I'll write more about this tomorrow, but I am coming to the conclusion that Nikko is not going to just start talking on his own, as we sit here waiting for him to start talking. I am going to seriously have to work with him harder so that he will learn how to talk. I do this with Ronin, and he catches on because he's NT (neurotypical aka normal toddler). Nikko is going to take more work, that's all.

The craft portion of Sabbath school didn't start right away. I guess church was running late. The boys wandered in a big rec room, peeking their heads into the craft room. When the people running the activities finally came in and kids congregated, we sat down at a table and started working with crayons and butterfly printouts. Someone had made Nikko a paper airplane to entertain himself, but he also found a popsicle stick with pipe cleaners wrapped around it very interesting. Nikko enjoyed the open space and did some running around, but it was getting crowded as the service ended so we had to go. My MIL wants us to stay for the potluck, but we didn't today. A lady asked me why we don't stay and I honestly told her that it was too hard to take care of my three kids, it would be easier if we go. And it is hard, even though you might think with people there who know us it would be easier. Nikko runs around a lot, doesn't sit still, and would start bumping into people around the tables. Not everyone thinks it's cute when a little boy runs into your legs or bumps you accidentally from behind [into your behind]. Another problem area is that Ronin is allergic to dairy, egg and peanuts, and with the abundance of food at the potluck I would not be able to police every bit of food that comes in his path. Someone could give him a treat, he could pick something off another's plate, or the floor. Milk is like acid to him, so anything buttery would not be good for him. Finally, while Audrey is easy to feed with the bottle, she is harder to feed without a high chair. Needless to say we didn't stay. We had lunch at Portillo's where the boys were in high chairs, Audrey had her bottle, we did diaper changes, I ordered Ronin a plain baked potato, and Nikko had chocolate milk with his pasta.

We came home for a short while and then headed back out to meet the Creens at Meadows Park for a romp in the zero-depth pool. The boys had a fun time, and Audrey was even more mobile than before. She enjoyed crawling in the shallow water, but kept heading toward deeper pastures. She was harder to watch after than Ronin was! Nikko was very self-sufficient, gliding on his belly in the water like an alligator. He would come up to me at times and look me in the face, smile, and then go on his merry way. He still very much enjoys going to the pool and so we'll probably continue his swim classes with his dad in the fall.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Alog family dinner

I was busy during most of the day trying to clean and straighten things up before the evening. We were hosting family dinner for the Alog side to celebrate Nikko and Ronin's birthdays. If the weather was good, we'd play outside. If bad, we'd stay indoors. It was drizzling all day. I had to write a to do list to stay on course, including clearing Space Bags into Nikko's closet, cleaning the kitchen sink, wiping down the stove, and dusting the tv speaker stands in the living room. I didn't put cleaning up the bathroom on the list, but that was a necessity. I was able to accomplish things late at night, but also when one or all of the kids were napping. Even Nikko fell asleep this afternoon for almost an hour. When family members arrived around 5:30, the kids were excited and bopped around them. Nikko did some light crashing, but I think he also enjoyed having different people around him in the living room. He's been giving me some good eye contact lately, really putting his face into mine. For some reason, he wanted me to be in the living room nearby during all the chaos because he kept coming into the kitchen and pulling me into the living room. He pulled so hard that he actually hurt my shoulder in the socket.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ronin's birthday

Ronin's 2nd birthday was today. He seemed happy, not as whiny as usual but that doesn't mean he didn't whine at all today. We spent the afternoon at Mom's house. Nikko must have eaten 4 or 5 egg rolls, which were rather tasty, so I didn't expect much of an appetite from him. Despite his full belly, he still had room for icing from the strawberry torte cake, and even for the chocolate frosting on the dairy/egg/peanut free cake I made for Ronin. The day was good, except for the part when Ronin, while playing with a coffee half&half container, squeezed it in his hands and it exploded, half of it onto his face. I heard mom and Atz groan about it, then immediately wet a napkin to wipe off his face. The splotching was already present after a few seconds, and as we hunted for some cortisone the splotches got redder and slightly rashed. We finally found some cortisone and I slathered it onto his chin, cheeks and forehead, but Ronin was already uncomfortable from the itchiness and he wasn't a happy camper until he got to sleep it off on the way home.

I started reading another book today titled Overcoming Autism; Finding the Answers, Strategies, and Hope That Can Transform A Child's Life. Yes, another autism book, but the reviews were good and from reading the introduction I'm looking forward to reading this further. It sounds like a situation I can relate to.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cries, cries

I felt like it was another one of those hurry up and wait kind of days. I'm not sure why but the kiddies are waking up slightly later than usual. At least Audrey is; I'm not entirely sure what time Nikko wakes up for the past few days because he doesn't cry out. He lays in bed and jargons to himself in a low to medium voice. This has offset Audrey's naptime a bit. Her 10:30-10:45 naptime has been pushed almost to 11:45, which means a later nap = later waking up. This delays her lunchtime bottle and thus if we are going out anywhere it's also later. That's why our mall outing was delayed, that's why today's store outing was delayed too. After Audrey had her bottle I hurried to get diapers changed so we could get out the door to Costco. Nikko started asking me for something. I worried that it was ice cream, or vitamins, and I felt really rushed so I was snapping at him and raising my voice. Chinny noticed and told me to calm down. I was exasperated because the boys kept asking for things like crackers and cookies and I didn't want to give in because it was far from snack time. I was also embarrassed and ashamed that Chinny had to tell me that Nikko was getting more upset because I was talking so loudly. She's right, and I should have calmed down. It's worse when someone else points out things that you already know, probably acknowledged but haven't done anything about. I have looked up anger management and calming techniques online, and I've documented about the anxious bubble, but I still get agitated, and I do raise my voice. I've got to control this vicious cycle!

Our trip to Costco would have been great since the boys fell asleep but for some reason Audrey chose this day to not like being in her car seat and to not like her pacifier at all. She cried and screamed on the way to the store, was quiet while I carried her in the Bjorn, and continued her rage on the way home. No diaper problems, no pinched skin, so I have NO idea why she acted this way. Perhaps it's just one of those times she didn't want to be in the car seat. I didn't make it to Whole Foods either. And Nikko was getting upset and crying, too. I figured out that it was probably because Audrey was upset, making lots of noise so that he couldn't watch the DVD properly, and possibly empathizing with her angst. Luckily, Ronin did not chime in, but he attempted to be dramatic with some whining that was totally fake. When we got home later, things calmed down and proceeded to be an uneventful night. Wednesday is Ronin's birthday so I plan to go to Mom's house at lunch. We'll possibly go to the pool in the evening when Denis comes home.