Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Not sick [yet]

Maybe not so immune. Nikko woke up this morning with coughs, but he wasn't very warm. He was fine to send to school, so I did. He was still ok when he came home, except for some crustiness around his nostrils, so perhaps his nose is starting to drip a bit. It didn't get worse as the day progressed. Nikko conked out for a long nap after we took Lego for a walk around the block. Nikko slept for maybe 2.5 hours. I worried about waking him up, worried that he wouldn't be able to fall asleep at bedtime, but I think I wanted him to get some uninterrupted rest in case he was coming down with something. He's still active and alert so he can't have the fever that Audrey has had for two days. I gave her a bath tonight and I think her fever broke, or at least it went down greatly, because she's not as scorching hot as before. Thank God!

The progress report was forgotten again, but I emailed Ms. Winters and she said that it was on her desk. Nikko had OT today and they introduced the swing to him. She's trying to introduce him to more resistive strengthening activities. No doubt it's to improve his core muscles. They also sent home two plates that have a PECS picture of Please Wait taped to them. Nikko holds this when there's idle time, like while waiting before eating snack, or waiting for the bus. They said it gives his hands something to fidget with. Good idea. I'll take it along and see if it works for me. I don't know if he'll be able to wait with it while at Costco, but I'll bring it anyway. Gotta go find a birthday present for Dad. I wonder what he'll like??

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mr. Immune

Funny how Nikko eats pizza for lunch and drinks chocolate milk every day, and he's the only one who is not sick in our family. I'm just about over my cold except for a few runny noses. Denis is now suffering coughing and a chest cold. Ronin is slightly warm, and breathing is shallow, but he's not sick. Poor Audrey woke up with a fever and had it all day, along with the grumpy's, the crabby's and fussiness. She didn't get much rest today and her naps were too short. I hope she'll get rest tonight.

We didn't go anywhere today. Yesterday was also an at-home day except at the end of the day when Denis proposed that we all go for a walk with Lego. That was a nice outing as it wasn't too cold outside yet. Our neighbors were also walking their dog with their two kids, Brianna and Alex. We all got home at the same time and their kids were running circles around Ronin and Nikko. Alex was so cute because he was giving hugs to both Ronin and Nikko. Earlier in the day yesterday Mom and Dad stopped by on their way home from visiting Maxwell. When Mom came calling, Ronin came running into a big hug. Nikko also came in and was greeted enthusiastically by them. Mom requested a hug and a kiss and she got both. Nikko even gave Dad some high fives. Mom had told me later on that she was so proud of Nikko, that he seemed to turn around 100%. I was proud to hear she was pleased with his progress.

This evening, Regina came by after an evening meeting. We were getting the boys ready for bed so she shadowed us into the boys' room. Ronin was crying and wailing, probably because she was there, but Nikko was surprisingly calm at first. When he was all dressed he even did a Nikko Dance in the middle of the room. He was probably wound up because someone different was in the house, which was evidenced later when he protested when we were going to leave the room. Denis stayed in there longer, and that calmed both boys.

Tomorrow we have preschool for Nikko. I don't know if we'll go to Mom's house in the afternoon; it really depends on Audrey's condition. I hope we can, just to get the kids out of the house, but we'll really have to see.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


From what I was able to figure out this morning, Nikko must have woken up at 7a and crawled into Ronin's bed at the foot. He must have been lying on Ronin's legs, thereby waking up a very disgruntled Ronin, and causing cries and yells at 7a on a Saturday morning. We all were up. Ronin's crabbiness extended toward 10-11a when I took him and Nikko to Target to pick up a script. I made the mistake of going into the toy section with them. Ronin wanted to walk so I let him (mistake #2) and he dragged a whole construction toy set to me. $20 worth. And it got ugly. Nikko was walking, and he did amazingly fine in Target. It wasn't until we got to Costco that Nikko started getting unruly. I'm not sure why, but I think that his memories of stopping in the food court for some churros really stuck in his mind. I was completely exhausted when we came back home, mostly because of Ronin, but also because what I thought would be an enjoyable experience for the boys and myself was truly not. They may be my Velcro boys, but there are times when they don't like me either.

The afternoon passed quickly and it was nearing time to leave the house for St. Lambert's. I hesitated because Ronin's cough was worse and he just threw up his snack. His breathing was getting raspy, so I gave him an albuterol treatment and decided that if we didn't go to the San Lorenzo Ruiz celebration, something bad might happen to me. As we assembled our things to go, Nikko had fallen asleep on top of the parking garage toy, standing up. I put on his socks and carried him out to the car. Genius me, I didn't realize I had forgotten to bring his shoes until we got there. And for the first time ever, Nikko didn't take off running in Trainor Hall like he usually does. He was rather stuck at our table eating egg rolls and loving the flan in cupcake shells. It was Ronin that was running back and forth, which exacerbated his coughing and raspy breathing. He was totally winded and crazed, but still wanted to keep running. Denis had to take him outside to calm him and keep him from running into Mom's dancing routines. We got home and he got another albuterol treatment. Everybody got put to bed, finally, albeit 45 minutes late. I wonder who will wake up first tomorrow; hopefully not any of the kids!

One thing I'll mention is that I went online to look up some signs that weren't on the Signing Time DVDs. One example is the sign for Butter, which is like buttering your palm with two fingers, back and forth. It's similar to the sign for Read but the fingers are together instead of apart like a V. The Butter sign is useful for when Nikko wants bread and butter. He is actually trying to put the two signs together. At one point he signed to me that he wanted just Butter, because he had eaten the butter off the tops of the bread and wanted them re-buttered. Cool! The sign, I mean.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Not to Costco. Didn't happen yesterday, didn't happen today. I feel as if my window of time during Nikko's preschool is shorter than I'd like, and I'd be rushing back home before 11am, depending on where I go. I think Costco doesn't open until 10a, so I would really have to rush to get back by 11. Maybe next week I'll do it in the a.m. Instead, I tried to be productive by sorting through Ronin's clothes drawers. The weather is changing again and soon there has to be room for fall stuff. I am at a loss on how to organize the boys' room. But while I was working on Ronin's pants drawer, Audrey kept crawling into my business and whining. I couldn't figure out what she wanted. It was only 9:45a, too early for her 11a naptime, but Atz told me to just put her down. I did, and that's exactly what she wanted. Go figure!

When I picked up Nikko from the bus, Mrs. Beyer told me that Nikko was upset when boarding the bus and thus needed his burp cloth. He calmed down as the bus got rolling. But I wondered why he was upset so I emailed Ms. Winters to find out. She got back to me, along with answering my questions about Nikko and a picture schedule and signing:

Jean and I were just discussing the use of signs/pictures for Nikko - and think we will still use both. I would definitely try to use the sign videos because it must be something he can pick up. I think we will just give him all we can - signs, pictures and verbalization to express himself. I am still trying to figure him out and a lot of this is trial and error. We were also thinking that using pictures might be easier than signs due to his motor planning issues. When he is a little more successful with the pictures here I think we can start slowly using them at home. With the picture schedule here - I think he does understand that it means the current activity is over and now in therapy I think he knows if he gives me the bubble picture he can have bubbles. All great first steps. Let's give it some more time just using them here and then we can talk about how to use them at home. Margie and I can even come over on a Monday sometime and set you up.

Things you can do at home is hand over hand waving "hi" and "goodbye" I am also modeling head shakes for "yes" since he has such an emphatic "no" head shake. We are also going to start using a "wait" plate and I will send one home for you to use if you need it. He will hold it during boring "wait" times like waiting for snack to start - waiting in the bus line, etc. We'll see how it works.

Nikko did a great job with the big kid buddies today - we match our kids with Jr. high kids and they come play with our kids. Nikko's buddy was a very sweet 8th grader and they did great. We didn't have playground time because of the buddies and took a short walk in front of the building - Nikko got upset when we passed the busses and went back inside - I think he thought that he wasn't going to get on the bus. We went and got his backpack and bus picture and he settled down a bit but was agitated. He wanted the cloth from his bag and was calm when they left but I just talked to Mrs. Beyer when our afternoon group arrived and said he didn't really like it when they sang "happy birthday" to two of the kids on the bus. I'm sure it was too loud for him

That was so great of Ms. Winters to email me such a detailed account of her thoughts regarding the pictures, and Nikko's experiences today. I can certainly do HOH and wave HI and Good Bye with him, and I will start modeling a more pronounced YES. She's right, his No is very emphatic. This morning when I went into the boys' room to get Nikko, they were both sitting on Ronin's bed, awake. I had heard some Nikko gibberish around 6:50a and wondered if he woke Ronin up with it. Well, my question was answered. Luckily, both boys were in a good mood and there was no crying. I got them all set up for breakfast, fetched Audrey, and added her to the mix. Since Ronin had woken up so early, it was inevitable that he would fall asleep in the high chair during lunch, and that's exactly what happened. Nikko didn't seem tired after school, and I told myself that after Ronin woke up, I would throw everyone in the car and make a trek out to Costco and Jewel/Dominick's. When I decided it was diaper changing time, I started with Nikko and lay him on the floor. He looked at me thoughtfully and I guessed that maybe he was tired. I signed and said, "Sleepy" with my open hand and fingers trailing down the front of my face. Nikko shook his head No, but I repeated the sign and word a few more times and then he took his hand and trailed it across his face. He took his hand and trailed it across MY face, too. I coaxed his eyes closed [after I changed the diaper] and was able to pick him up and put him on the couch to sleep for over an hour. That also blew my Costco plans. Oh well. I'll go tomorrow morning since there's only one chicken nugget left in the bag. We went to the in-law's house for dinner and Nikko didn't eat much. For some reason we took a long time feeding the kids. We were the first at the table and ended up being the last to leave, and I don't know why. After worship the kids were chilling out in the living room and then some were getting cranky. Audrey was trying to climb into my lap again. Nikko came up to me, babbling, and put his hand up to his face and trailed it downward. SLEEPY. I reassured him that I would change diapers and we would go home, and I was amazed that he was able to tell me that he was sleepy. But he didn't fall asleep at all on the way home. I think he's definitely out like a light right now.

Tomorrow I hope to go to Costco and pick up a script from Target. In the evening we have to go to St. Lambert for the San Lorenzo Ruiz mass and reception.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

To Costco or not to Costco?

School was good again for Nikko. Looks like they are working on emotions and feelings this week. They had carrots and dressing for snack today and I was told "He licked dressing off the carrots."

Ms. Winters wrote: He's doing a lot of appropriate "no" head shakes - when he didn't want to stand, didn't want carrots..."

That's the truth! He has been doing head shakes at home for maybe a week and a half, I'd say. I don't think I saw it as pronounced as recently. Don't know why. Maybe his awareness of what he wants and doesn't want is emerging. I got to watch the other video of him @ school last night and they included the one where they take him to the potty. They sit him down because there's a kid-sized potty, but I'm at odds because at home we started that, but our potty seat has handles and they seem to get in the way. These boys want to spread those thighs across the board! Now we're standing the boys up to pee directly into the toilet, but maybe they're not drinking enough juice before bedtime. Been dry all week before bathtime!

When Nikko comes home from school, and after lunch, he's taken to lying on the floor near the cube shelves by the picture window in the living room and racing a car across the mat. He likes to take a Ferrari that makes noise and rev it back and forth. When I come down on his level on the floor, he tries to push me out of the way. I don't always give in too easily, and sometimes he's annoyed that I won't move that he'll vocally protest or move away. So many times today I'd look at him and he'd seem like he was tired, but not enough to take a nap. During Ronin's nap I took Nikko and Audrey for a walk with Lego around the block. Audrey was in the bjorn and Nikko was happy to walk next to me. When we rounded the corner near Monica's house, he could see the school playground and he started whimpering when I whisked him along the sidewalk away from the school. But I focused on walking Lego and didn't want Nikko to be absorbed in wanting to go to the school. He held my hand around the block until we got to the straightaway toward our house. Then I let him go and he happily walked ahead of us to the lightpost. Unfortunately he didn't want to go inside and he started yelling and stomping in protest. It was the promise of a cookie that made him relax a bit and follow me inside. Once his shoes were off he ran to his chair so I could make good on my promise, which I did. When 3:30p was rolling around, I lamented because I wanted to go to Costco, but could also see that Nikko was in need of a nap. And Ronin was still sleeping, and Audrey was bound for a nap at least by 4:30 latest. Ronin woke up around 3:45 and I sat everyone in the kitchen, determined to snack them and then go to the store. But Nikko started getting heavy-lidded in the chair. I signed to him Sleep and he shook his head NO. But his eyes were getting heavy and I signed Sleep. He still protested by shaking his head, but I gently stroked his nose and his eyes were giving way. I picked him up and put him on the couch where he settled for an hour nap. No Costco today, that was decided. Then I put Audrey down after snack, and I was left with Ronin to chitchat with.

I am toying with the idea of going on a grocery run while Nikko is at school. It would be easier with just two kids, but we'll see if I have the energy. I went to bed at 1:30 last night and I was SO tired this morning. After Ronin's therapy I was dying for a quick 15 minute nap until it was time to put Audrey down and pick up Nikko. I'll play it by ear. If it doesn't happen, we'll do it in the afternoon right after lunch. We're going to the in-laws for dinner, so any naps can be made on the trip down.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nikko's Video

Nikko was standing next to Ronin's bed again this morning when I came in around 7:13a, and Ronin was awake in bed too. I was trying to go in and scoop Nikko up without waking up Ronin, but that was obviously moot. Audrey woke up around 7:30a as well, so I had all three kiddos in the morning before school. I had to put Audrey back in her crib and take Ronin with me outside when Nikko's bus came. After school, I got a very good progress report back. Nikko had OT this morning and Mrs. I said that he did a 3 part obstacle course independently. He's participating in his sensory diet activites well, and he working on drawing O's around stickers and drawing faces. I used to wonder what the heck a sensory diet was, and then I read about how it's just a series of activities tailored to each child that lets them work on whatever he has sensory issues with. He has poor muscle tone so they probably work on exercises to build his core muscles, and if he were intolerant of loud noises then they might work with sounds to see what he can handle or how to cope. On the back of the report Margie wrote me a note:

I did a sorting activity with Nikko - I started w/red & green bowls & chips. After 4 reps with modeling he could do it 100%. We moved to 3 and he was at least 75%. I switched to colored bears to see if he would tranfer - he was tooo cute. He had to kiss & hug little bear before he put into a bowl. Wow!

Awww, really? That was so nice of Margie to tell me that. And the best part of today was that in the afternoon Kathy Winters emailed me a bunch of video they took on Friday (Nikko was wearing his green Westbrook shirt) of Nikko in various activities that morning. We discussed this on Thursday at the Back To School night, and the very next day it looks like Kathy went ahead and started filming. How AWESOME a teacher is that? I was able to see Nikko be very attentative and participative. The first video was of Nikko on a scooter. They lay him on his tummy and he was supposed to use his arms and legs to propel himself forward, thereby strengthening those core muscles. Brilliant! In another clip, Nikko was sitting in a green cube chair during circle time. He seems to not mind being led around the classroom, and they are using a picture schedule to let him know what comes next. They also have pictures of actions on a big key ring and they flip to a picture of someone standing or sitting or doing whatever action they want him to do, for reinforcement. Nikko had a wandering eye in his chair, but it contained him while Kathy was conducting some action in the front of the class. Nikko is the only one sitting in a cube chair, but that's because he probably can't sit still nearly as well as he has to. I saw him raise and lower his arms appropriately as everyone else was doing. Other video had Nikko at snack time, where he was savoring a rice cake, taking too long of course. Then there was some free play and he opted for the Lego table. Kathy directed him to the kitchen area, where he investigated some cupboards but ended up doing what she called the "Nikko Dance" which was not quite spinning, but some kind of off-balance shrugging and body jerk movements that do look like a dance of sorts. Nikko was able to move a velcroed picture from the outside of his schedule to the inside; I also saw them washing hands in the bathroom. He had foam soap on his hands, which he rubbed together but kept investigating the foam at a slow pace. One other thing I noticed in the videos is that Nikko yawned twice. I wonder if he yawns every day in class? I'm going to email them back and mention a few things, but overall it was so awesome to check out this video of Nikko in action during school. He seems really calm and agreeable, almost willing to participate but just a little confused about everything around him. There are a lot of sounds that seem to confuse him, as if he doesn't quite know who is telling him what to do and he often needs to be led by the hand instead of told from across the room to go to his chair. Nikko also worked 1:1 with Ms. Winters on speech therapy. I know she's very in-your-face and seems very determined to work with Nikko to get him to talk. I am SO grateful for that. So is Nikko very different at home than he is at school? Not really. I see many of the same characteristics at school; it's just that at school there's much more going on around him that probably stimulates his senses vs. being at home in the living room with the TV in the background. I haven't seen his aggressive side at school, and that's probably a good thing.

Nikko didn't nap today, unfortunately, even though I tried to set up an environment so he could. During Ronin's nap I took Audrey, Nikko and Lego out for Lego's pee-break. Nikko seemed to enjoy walking down the sidewalk with Lego right next to him, even though he did walk ahead of us at times. Nikko didn't resist when it was time to go inside either, which was good for me. But throughout the day Nikko seems to have a little edge on him, getting frustrated with Ronin in his way and then falling to the ground in protest. Nikko also started throwing some blocks out of his way and protesting while laying on the mat some time after lunch, and I wondered what was bugging him. Maybe he was tired and couldn't fall asleep, but it was kind of violent enough to have Ronin ask, "Nikko? Nikko?"

Tomorrow I don't have any place on the agenda to go. I'd like to work on cleaning up things around the house more. I haven't been up to cleaning while I had the cold, but I better tackle something. I don't know if a Costco trip is in order, but perhaps we'll venture out just so the kids get out. I've been trying to keep nap schedules going, which is why I've been tied to the house, but it's also important for Ronin to get out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Imitating, and waiting for Dr. Keen

Day two of my cold. I really didn't feel like doing much today, unfortunately.

When Nikko has a really defiant tantrum, he tends to fling himself to the floor. Lately, he's been on the floor a lot, whenever he gets mad about something. I think Ronin was bothering him today to the point that he ended up on the floor, covering his face with his burp cloth, and possibly even crying. I'm hoping this is a phase that will pass. One good thing I've noted today is that Nikko is picking up on some direct imitation of gestures lately, such as Cheese and Pizza, and I even caught him imitating me crashing to the floor during a roughhousing game.

On Oct. 2nd Nikko has an appointment with Dr. Keen, a developmental behaviorist/pediatrician with Marianjoy Hospital in Wheaton. A friend on Facebook who was a resident with her referred me, and we've been waiting six months or so to get to this point. I'm not looking for another diagnosis, but I think I am looking for someone to see what we've been doing with Nikko and to tell me what I should do next. It's a scary thought because it seems that each ped has his/her own opinion on how to approach autism, and may push whichever agenda is the one that they support. At Arlington Peds, they don't believe in the GFCF diet or the supplements route. At St. Alexian, they didn't offer the diet as an option either, but said to wait until preschool to see how it will go. Dr. Keck said not to start any other therapies. When I voiced that I feared we might lose ground or progress between the end of EI and preschool, she said she didn't think there'd be much loss. As our appointment approaches in a few weeks, the more I feel that it's a good thing we go. Only today did I put into words that I wish some doctor would tell me what to do next. This evening I went to that parent support group for special needs kids in District 57. It was five ladies plus me, and most of us had kids with autism, but mine was the youngest. It's scary to hear how Nikko could possibly be in their situations in a few years, with social skill troubles and handwriting challenges. One lady mentioned a program called Have Dreams in Park Ridge, and it sounds like something I could possibly involve Nikko. It looks like an hour or two, two days a week, teaching social interaction and skills to autistic kids. I may call them to check it out. But back to this appointment, I was waffling at first about going, since Nikko will miss a day of preschool and it is Picture Day. But there is a make-up Picture Day in the beginning of November, and since we've waited so long for this appointment I shouldn't cancel it. I'd like to hear from this person if she thinks Nikko would be a candidate for a DAN! doctor, or if we should start pursuing ABA therapy. I'm at a loss right now because when I try to get Nikko to sign for something, he make shake his head in an emphatic NO. Even worse is when I try to get him to say a word, he shakes his head and yells in protest. In the past, I've tried this prompting and have battled with him for more than 30 minutes. Then he gave up instead of trying, so the motivation died. How was that supposed to be a lesson? I want to ask Dr. Keen about that. My point is that we'll go to Marianjoy, but I've got to ask smarter questions about Nikko than I have in the past.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bedroom rehaul

Saturday ended up being a busy day at home. I took apart the crib and then reassembled it in the 2nd bedroom. Then I put together the IKEA bed; Denis helped me drill a few holes, and then it was finished. The racing car bed was moved. Finally, the moment of truth arrived when I put Audrey into the crib for bedtime. She laid her head down on the burb cloth, pacifier in mouth, and relaxed. She was great! Audrey slept through the night, and if she lost her paci I didn't hear her complain.

The boys were a different story, mainly Ronin. Whereas Nikko seemed to accept the new location of his racing car bed, and lay almost contentedly except for one bout where he got up and I ushered him back into bed, Ronin was not happy about the changes that were taking place. He didn't want to lay in his new bed despite the Lightning McQueen blanket and his cars in hand. I had to stay with him until he fell asleep. They both had some early morning waking, around 5a, but Denis was nearby to stay with them. Tonight, I still had to stay with Ronin until he fell asleep, while Nikko was out like a light because he didn't nap all day. I am really hoping neither kid will cry in the middle of the night or the early morning, because I've caught a cold and have that cloudy-headed sick feeling. I need some rest and didn't get any today because I met up with the Girls for lunch. Can't miss that GNO, since I don't have many to attend! I expect that either boy will wake up tomorrow and protest the closed door, will probably cry until I come get them, and will wake up Audrey in the process. So let's hope that the morning will not come too early!

Before dinnertime, I was asking Nikko what he wanted to eat, and I asked if he wanted More Pizza. He was smiling when I said that, so I signed it for him a number of times. He imitated my Eat sign, and he even attempted a rough zigzag when I signed Pizza. That was a great effort! And during dinner he knows how to sign Cheese so when I give Audrey some cheese, Nikko is not far behind in asking. Sometimes he deftly signs Cracker to me and looks at me to see if I will give in. Sometimes I will, but if it's not time for cracker then I'll redirect him so we don't get into a big blowout.

Tomorrow there's no school, and I hope I feel better so I can tackle the myriad of little things that need attention like the laundry that's been sitting on the couch waiting to be folded for two days, the living room toys that NEED to be straightened up, the kid clothes that need organizing now that Denis switched the drawers to the appropriate rooms, and there's MY room that needs organizing. All dependent on whether I have the energy to tackle it tomorrow.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Filming Nikko

Today I dressed up Nikko in his green Westbrook t-shirt for Spirit Day (every Friday) and no onesie. I think he thought it felt a little weird, but he didn't protest. When he got home, his progress report was good. In Speech with Ms. Winters, they worked on requesting things using pictures. They used bubbles and unfortunately had an accident on his shorts. I noticed this when he stepped off the bus in denim shorts, which was his emergency supply. Ms. Winters also noted that they started working on videotaping him (and probably other classmates) today. This was something we discussed last night, videotaping how Nikko does during class and sending it home via CD. She said I would be amazed at how he is in school. The CD may come home some time next week so that's something I'm anxious to view.

After lunch, and during Ronin's naptime, Nikko was getting sleepy so I encouraged him to lie down on the couch and snooze. Thankfully, that's exactly what he did, for an hour. After all the kids got snacked, I took them outside to play, then put everyone in the stroller and headed to Fairview School. It was a more successful play trip than the other day. At one point, Ronin was stomping his Croc foot in the dry dirt. Nikko was nearby and started imitating him. Needless to say, both boys had grimy feet to wipe up when they came home, added with Ronin's grimy hands because he was picking up wood chips and dirt and gleefully spreading it wherever he could. We happened upon Manolo, Brianna and Alex at their house and stopped briefly to chat. Alex was asking me tons of questions about the kids and he noticed Nikko's green t-shirt. Alex is 5 years old and in kindergarten. Brianna is 7 years old and in 2nd grade. They had a soccer ball out and Ronin started kicking it. The great thing was that he also started dribbling the ball and looked really comfortable doing it down the front lawn! Nikko was watching but didn't participate. Manolo's kids still went up to Nikko and said hello, even if Nikko didn't respond in kind. I had to get the kids eating because we were going to IKEA tonight to get Ronin a bed, and we were running out of time. I hate being rushed, and I had to check out the bedding because IKEA's stuff is so personalized to IKEA that I can't use any other sheets on their mattresses. Boooo. We succeeded in getting something for Ronin and now I wonder if Nikko wouldn't be more suited toward the new bed. I wonder if Ronin will want the racing car bed and if Nikko will want the IKEA bed. Something tells me that Nikko will want to keep his car bed, but we'll see what happens. I hope we can get it together by bedtime tomorrow, but lots has to happen at the same time. I have to take apart the crib, move it to the middle room, then put it back together. The racing car bed needs to come out and be positioned by the window. Ronin's bed needs to be put together. The rocking chair needs to move to the room. Yeah, lots to do, so little time, and 3 little kids underfoot.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Better than a progress report - - a live [impromptu] meeting

Nikko seems content to board the bus and ride to school. He also seems content when he's on the way home, sitting next to Fiona. He gets the aisle seat so I don't have to lean over Fiona to unbuckle Nikko and pick him up. He's also within arm's reach of Mrs. Beyer, should the need arise. The progress report from school didn't have any extra comments but showed a positive day at school. This week was titled All About Me. I hope I filled out all the necessary papers that Nikko needed to be able to tell them something about Nikko. I have been having some nice little chats with the twins' mom after the bus leaves our driveway. We talked about potty training earlier in the week, and today we discussed Halloween costumes and their use of the English language vs. Polish (and she speaks French too). She asked if I was going to the Back To School night meeting tonight and I said I would. I offered her a ride, but she didn't need one, and I forgot that I wanted to run to Costco after the meeting to get diapers anyway.

The afternoon was routine, lunchtime and cleanup afterward, then putting Ronin down for his nap at 2pm. I also put Audrey in our room with the lights on, then went to get Lego for a pee break. I took Nikko outside with me and we trotted up the block and back. He must have enjoyed being on this short walk outdoors because he was giggling and babbling up the sidewalk. I think he enjoyed walking near Lego because he tried to peer into Lego's face, something that Ronin would do a few times today as well. We had to go back inside because of the babies but instead of putting Lego downstairs I felt bad that he wouldn't be able to enjoy the sunshine and cool breezes so I linked his leash onto the swingset and left him outside. I think he was confused because he didn't sleep for a long time. I hope he enjoyed it outside. See? I'm not totally cruel to Lego.

Denis came home early because I had to go to the meeting tonight, but I still managed to get the kids outside to play after snacktime. Audrey sat in a walker while the boys duked it out over the tricycle again, then chased Denis around the driveway, and ultimately ended up on the swingset. Nikko is enjoying sitting on the regular swing seat and swinging himself just a little. But when I come over to him, he doesn't seem to mind if I push him on the swing. I don't push him too high at all, and he can always put his feet back on the ground if it's too challenging for him. Just the fact that he is freely sitting on a swing and then swinging back and forth is huge. Shelly would be so proud. I should email her and Gloria about Nikko's progress. Note to self.

I scampered off to the Back To School Night meeting and got there on time. I sat in the familiar classroom and regrettably didn't make any small talk with the other parents. We were on a tight schedule anyway, where Ms. Winters and Mrs. McCarthy had to squeeze in a bunch of information in 25 minutes. Mrs. McCarthy was talking about the day-to-day activites and schedule they followed. She started talking about trips to the toilet and then she said, "We like to keep it as simple as possible. Please, no onesies or overalls or anything complicated. We like to promote their independence so keeping them dressed simply is the best way." My jaw dropped because Nikko has been in onesies since he was born. We have kept him in onesies because he had begun to fish around in his diaper, or itch if he could reach in, and it was not something I wanted to happen especially if there was poo involved. A onesie keeps everything in. But after hearing that, I was floored that I didn't know he should be wearing a regular t-shirt. It makes sense; onesies are cumbersome in a bathroom, and having him dress and undress himself like a regular boy would promote independence. I knew I would speak to someone after the meeting, and indeed I went up to Mrs. Damerjian and Mrs. Napolean, the teacher aides and bathroom gurus, and apologized for the onesies on Nikko. They told me it was no big deal, that I wasn't the only one with kids in onesies. Still, if they will start putting him on the potty, he'd better be easy to dress. They told me that Nikko doesn't resist going to the bathroom. They simply tell him it's time to go, and he holds their hand or just knows where to go. "Nikko also likes music, the songs they sing in class. And he LOVES to paint." These were great things I was hearing about Nikko and exactly what I was seeking.

The speech was over, the parents were going to the library for the PTA meeting, but I wasn't intending on going. I knew I was taking a chance at overstaying my visit, but I wanted to at least inquire on Nikko's progress. Mrs. McCarthy and Ms. Winters saw me approach them and they both proclaimed that Nikko was doing great. Sure, he had a big meltdown on day one, but since then he has been attentive, quiet, but also folowing the schedule. He sits at every station when told. Mrs. McCarthy told me that when he comes in, his blanket goes right into the backpack and it stays there. At first he was unsure about that, but now he doesn't even put up a fight. I wondered if I should phase that out in the mornings, and they told me not to worry about it, not to take away the blankie (really, a burp cloth) because it's a lovey to him. It comforts him on the bus, I think, so we'll keep it for now. She stepped away when Ms. Winters got into more detail to show me the picture schedule she uses with Nikko. She's told me that Nikko is babbling a lot, more than before; he's not making choices with the pictures yet, but they still use it as reinforcement. Ms. Winters is hopefull about his speech, mirroring what he's saying and trying to get him to make a sound for a word every time they have therapy. He doesn't like it, but she still tries. I told her he doesn't like doing it at home either. She also told me that while I wrote down what a crasher/banger he is and that he stims, he has not crashed or stimmed at school since he got there. He probably does it at home to help him relieve the stress of the morning. I was so happy to hear that, and everything else. I was so grateful that they took a few minutes to give me a detailed update on Nikko's progress, even though this wasn't the parent-teacher conference and that they had been there for a long time the entire day. I had to hug Ms. Winters. :) His progress at school, even though it's only been two weeks (or 8 days in preschool land), sounds so awesome. There are opportunities for socialization, he's getting speech therapy, as well as OT, he's learning a routine and how to transition, learning songs and rules, and refining fine motor skills too. Their snack time is fruits and vegetables, so MAYBE that will help introduce him to some greens. Ha. There is also a support group called PEPS, Parent Education Parent Support, that meets once a month It's for District 57. I will see if I can possibly make their meetings, because being connected with this group could be very good for me. We got the kids to bed late (before 9:30 but after 9:10) because Audrey had her bath late, because I ran to Costco and Jewel after my own special meeting.

Tomorrow is an off day, not going to the in-laws for dinner, but maybe we will go to IKEA and get Ronin a bed. If not tomorrow, then Saturday. If this goes ahead, then big changes are in store this weekend.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No progress report

A smooth morning overall with Nikko going to school. Coming home was also good; I put Audrey down for her nap and Ronin sat outside with me. Nikko had no problems on the bus and even grinned when he saw me at the bus stop. Unfortunately, the teachers forgot to put a progress report in his backpack so I don't know what they did today, but tomorrow is the Back to School night that I plan to attend. It's a half hour where they go over what's being taught in the classroom. Denis is coming home to feed the kids while I go. Should only be for a half hour, and should I choose to stay for the PTA meeting it would be another half hour. We'll see.

Nikko wasn't in the greatest of moods today. No outbursts, but he was trying to pass a really big #2 all day. Poor little guy. Finally I took the kids to the part @ Fairview School and hoped they would run around and have fun. Initially they did, but Nikko was soon hunched over the stroller and having his big movement. No more slides or swings for him. I decided to haul us back home to change diapers. Other than his silence throughout the pain and his grunting, Nikko's been jargoning quite a bit. I wonder how to push a word out of him (no pun intended). Even Audrey's begun to make audible sounds like Mama, and as I fed her peaches tonight, remarking how sticky she was, I swear I heard her mimic the word Sticky. Back to meals, Nikko ate pizza today without fighting me, and signed for Cookie only twice today. I really should give him one, maybe tomorrow. I think I'll ask the teachers tomorrow to show me what Nikko's picture schedule looks like, so I can mimic it at home. I also think I'm going to start pouring over the autism books I have again, to find activities to help develop the fine motor skills. At school they're using scissors and stuff, and I don't think he's very coordinated with markers even. Probably because I don't want it to end up on my couch, as it has in the past.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Cheese

Nikko had been clingy to me for most of the weekend, so I dreaded boarding the bus this morning. But he was very accommodating as I put him in the seat and strapped him in, and didn't shed a single tear. He was a good boy on the way home, too, according to Mrs. Beyer. As I unbuckled Nikko, the blonde girl behind him said, "Nikko has a cute brother." I thanked her, and realized she was talking about Ronin, who was sitting on the driveway next to the lamppost, guarding my phone and sunglasses and not moving as I instructed. Nikko's progress report had changed in format but I could still see what activities they did at school, and the OT wrote that he had a hard time separating from his burp cloth but he still worked with a big therapy ball, jumped on a trampoline, and then worked at a table with buttons and pounding plastic tees into styrofoam. Mandarin oranges were the snack today. I wonder if he ate them?

After lunch, I decided to haul the kids to Target to make a return. I chose the Target up north on Lake Cook Road because there was a Cars water bottle I wanted to find. When we got there, I had to wake Nikko up from a short nap and strap everyone into another cart contraption for two toddlers. Nikko ended up not liking it and making it known. The water bottle wasn't even there. Grrr. On the way home, Ronin and Audrey fell asleep, just as I had hoped, so I rewarded Nikko's silence with some McD's fries. At home I let everyone play outside to get their ya-yas out, but the boys were fighting over the jump rope so I was about to haul everyone inside when I told them to go play on the slide. Thankfully Ronin trotted over there, so I was able to bring us all to the swingset. It was a cute picture, actually, with Audrey in the infant swing, Nikko sitting on the regular swing, and Ronin and me on the rocking horse swing.

Oh, by the way, Lego is back home. He's in the basement right now, in his crate, until we can figure out what the permanent situation will be. Lego's not washed of all the possum blood so I wouldn't touch him and won't let the kids touch him either.

During dinner I was giving Audrey some cheese slices torn up when Nikko hopped up on a chair next to me and showed interest. I gave him a bite and he didn't refuse it. I asked if he wanted More Cheese, and showed him the sign. He's familiar with it, but probably never used it before. He then copied me and signed Cheese. It was rubbing your two open palms together, and he did it but was a little sloppy at the end. I praised him for signing Cheese and gave him some. He did it one more time. I think that's awesome! Reminds me of the time when he signed More Bread, as if he remembered the word and didn't skip a beat. Does this mean that he really does recognize my words and can put a sign to them? What's really hard is when he's distracted or not concentrating on a task. I gotta learn the sign for chicken nuggets. I'm debating whether or not to get more Signing Time DVDs because I do think they are helping him and/or making an impression. This method of Sight/Sound/Action seems to be a common, positive way of teaching. Wonder if the Rosetta Stone series does this. The rest of the night was ok, but Nikko was putting his fingers to his ears by bedtime. I wonder if something is bothering his ears. I noticed earlier today that they are absolutely full of ear wax. I want to clean them out, but I seriously doubt he will let me poke around in his ear.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A calm Nikko day, mostly.

Saturday, no school today for Nikko. I wonder if he missed his friends and teachers. In the late morning I decided to give the boys a haircut. I had to put Audrey down for her nap because there's no way she would sit still with hair shavings on the floor. Ronin was manageable in front of the laptop watching Tokyo Mater on YouTube, but Nikko didn't want to sit still in a chair and was moving his cars along the edge of the table. I had to use clippers on a moving target. I know the right side of his head looks fine, but not sure about the left because I didn't get to see the left that often. After lunch, Nikko managed to fall asleep, Ronin was put down for a nap, and I left Audrey with Denis so I could go get Ronin's Flovent at Target. I only stayed an hour and didn't go to the grocery because I felt that Nikko would probably wake up in a bad mood. That's exactly what happened. I was able to calm him down by going to the kitchen with him to get a cookie. It was snack time for the kids so I rounded them all up and fed them. Afterward, we took a trip to Costco for more chicken nuggets and rice milk. We would have tried to go to Jewel but Nikko was having a meltdown at Costco. I thought he wanted to stop and have a churro at the cafeteria because he paused near the tables and got angry when we didn't stop. I picked him up and carried him outside despite his protests, just like I did last week on the nature trail. He did calm down, and then didn't want me to put him down again. When we got home, we hung outside with the kids a while, then came inside and spent a little time downstairs before sending everyone up for dinner.

I've been asking Nikko to sign for things and he won't freely sign More. He was doing something with his fingers that mimicked the Twinkle Twinkle Little Star song we sing at night, but I was confused why he was using it in the kitchen. Later I heard Denis prompting him to say Give Me, which involves opening and closing your hand, and figured this might be what he was trying to say earlier today. He sure knows Cookie very well. Ha ha ha!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


This morning I was getting Nikko's backpack with him and we stood in the foyer/kitchen putting on his shoes when I looked at his face and he looked like he was going to cry. But he didn't. I took Ronin along with us outside and instructed him to sit down by the lamppost to guard my phone and my sunglasses and to NOT MOVE. Guess what? He didn't. I think that the fact that he can see me, that Nikko sits at the front and that I don't disappear from his sight helps him to stay put while I buckle Nikko in. Nikko just looked at me as the bus pulled away and there were no tears. I had put the green Westbrook shirt over his onesie because Fridays are supposed to be Spirit Day where you wear the school colors. I took a gamble that he might be hot. When he came back, I got on to release him and his hair was wet. It was either because they had playground at the end of the day and he ran around, or he was hot on the bus [because of the shirt]. As I unbuckled him, a little blonde girl in the next seat craned her neck up and over the seat to say, "Good bye, Nikko!" Good bye, Nikko!" I turned him around so he could look at her and she chirped farewell again. I was happy to see that maybe he had a little friend after all. In his backpack was a weekly newsletter, a reminder that next week is a parent meeting, and a set of pictures in a clear plastic sleeve of all his classmates and the teachers for him to practice names. There are 13 kids including himself in the class. 8 are supposed to be neurotypical (normal), and 5 are special needs kids. Nikko had lunch and then fell asleep on the couch, which is always a good sign to me. I stretched out the afternoon with Ronin napping as well. It was an On week to go to the in-laws for dinner so I had us leave early so we could get there early and run around in the driveway since the weather was great. We did just that.

Today, Nikko and Ronin have been getting into some battles. They take turns being at fault. Nikko will want the car or truck that Ronin has, and Ronin will impose himself on Nikko. I have to pry them apart at times and redirect, because Time Outs are not working. When I tried in the past to put Ronin in a Time Out, he would sit there, not look at me, and just keep screaming. I hate having to turn his face up to mine so he will see me, so I gather he just doesn't get Time Out. That's fine. Nikko's been signing for crackers and cookies to me, but I don't give him unless he signs More and if it's an appropriate time. Sometimes it's not, and he'll throw himself on the floor in a tantrum if I don't redirect him to a vitamin or other distraction. Tomorrow we don't have any grandiose plans, but I do hope I can cut the boys' hair.

Friday, September 11, 2009

4th Day, NO TEARS!

Nikko did not cry when I put him on the bus. He looked at me and I waved enthusiastically at him when the bus pulled away, but he didn't cry at all. And Monica told me he didn't cry on the way home either. When he saw me over the bus seat he had a small smile until I freed him. I read his progress report with joy:

Speech - Nikko is doing great all day. He sits for everything. We worked on imitation today during speech & vocal play & using picture choices. he is doing great!

Wow! He sits for everything? That is totally new. He was always giving Shelly a hard time, and when cornered by the mirror in our living room he was struggling toward the last few therapy sessions. I wonder if he is liking his new morning environment. Oh yeah, I think I have to dress him up in his Westbrook T-Shirt on Fridays. Or in something green. Green and white are the school colors, if I'm not mistaken. I hope I remember this tomorrow!

While Nikko was at school, Peter came to the house for Ronin's speech therapy. He told me to keep pushing the three word phrases. No problem. Audrey was a handful and is continuing to be a handful as she becomes more mobile and into everything. After lunch today I thought we were going to hang out with Eric, but he had plans so I went to plan B. I packed up the kids and took them to the Treehouse play area at Northbrook Court Mall. It's enclosed, which is the best thing for me. We lucked out because the tree wasn't that crowded, and then there was a mini concert going on at The Land of Nod nearby. A lady told me that Ralph's World was having a concert. I never heard of him and she said, "Oh, he sells out Ravinia!" I just looked him up on Google and he's some guy that sings in rhymes. Not my age group yet. That cleared out the tree for at least a half hour, except for some little girl who was neighing like a horse trying to get my attention and running around with the boys, who loved the tree. Unfortunately, Audrey was at the bottom of the slide and while I had my head turned the little girl proceeded to slide down and let her patent-heeled shoe step down on Audrey's fingers. Audrey screamed and cried and the girl ran away until I calmed her down a bit. GRRRRR. Nikko had fun in the tree and explored it a bit. He would go down the slide and look to see if I was looking. I gave the kids snack after 45 minutes of fun and then we went home to hang out in the backyard for a bit. Of course, the boys made it into the sandbox so I had to give them baths when it was time to go inside. I don't know why Nikko got into a funky mood because he started going after Ronin's Chick Hicks car and kept trying to take it away. Then Nikko rushed to me and kept signing Cookie, which I refused because dinner was a half hour away. Nikko threw a temper tantrum and then while I was putting in the Cars DVD to calm him down, I turned around and blood was pouring out of his left nostril. It was on the rubber mats and I pretty much lost my cool trying to hold onto Nikko so he wouldn't run anywhere in case he was badly hurt, putting Audrey out of the center of the room so she wouldn't crawl into the blood, trying to get paper towels and Windex to clean the blood, and getting Chick Hicks back to Ronin. Forget the DVD, it wasn't happening. I tried really hard to stay calm, but working around blood and crawling babies was testing my mettle. I ran into the kitchen and gave Nikko a cookie to shut him up, which actually put him in his chair so he stayed in one place. Things calmed down a bit later, and throughout dinner I was just mentally exhausted from the intensity of the last half hour. I tried to chill out in the living room with the boys and do some hugging and tickle games. We finally got back to a normal vibe.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

3rd day. Routine setting in?

Nikko was rather clingy to me about 15 minutes prior to going outside. And he started to cry when I took him to get his backpack and started putting it on. Today the twins from down the block and their mom met us at our driveway because Monica the bus driver (Mrs. Beyer) said it would help consolidate her stops. No problem on my part, but I gotta learn the mom's name. She's Polish and I just couldn't catch the pronunciation the first few times. They got on the bus in front of us and then I helped Nikko, who was still crying, up the stairs. I put his backpack on the seat and lifted Nikko up onto the chair (the harness was already open and waiting for him). I buckled him in and tightened it, gave him his burp cloth and backpack in his lap, kissed his forehead and said good bye. I got off the bus and waved to him in the first window. He was still crying. And the Polish mom still wasn't off the bus. Apparently she was having some problems with tightening the straps so Monica had to help her a bit. During these few minutes I watched Nikko's tears subside slowly, then he started looking up and around him, and then when Polish mom got off the bus Nikko had stopped crying but was just looking at me. I waved bye again, and the bus pulled away. Later on, Monica told me that Nikko stopped crying on the bus and both trips were good for him. When I came onto the bus later he was still in his spot, but that little blonde girl (Fiona) was next to him. Monica forgot, and said she'd move Fiona so I wouldn't have to reach over her. I don't care, as long as Nikko gets the window seat.

After lunch, I found Nikko had fallen asleep on his spot on the couch. I guess school was good for him today. The progress report didn't have any extra remarks about his day, which I rather liked but understand that not every day is going to have extra stuff. I took the kids to mom's house today since Eric is in town until Friday. Also, my brother Pat and his wife Anna had their baby boy today, Maxwell Van Alog. We won't visit them in the hospital because the kids aren't allowed in the room anyway, so we'll visit them when they come home and we get the OK. At mom's house I made the mistake of putting the Cars DVD in. The boys were glued to the TV instead of playing around or doing anything else. Good for me, to get them out of my hair, but overall not good because they could do that at home. My bad. I fed them dinner there and then we made it home. Eric might hang out with us in the afternoon, and if he does then I will plan on doing something outside of the house. Don't know what just yet, but I don't want to be cooped up when there is someone else willing and able to hang with the boys. Maybe we'll do Northbrook Court, if not Woodfield Mall.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2nd Day of preschool

Nikko seemed to be in good spirits this morning when I put on his backpack and took him outside to wait for the bus. Luckily, Denis was still home and sat with Audrey and Ronin on the front step. The bus pulled up and I ushered Nikko up the stairs. We stood right at the first seat and Nikko started to wail. I put his backpack down, pulled down the harness door, and picked up Nikko to strap him in. He didn't fight me, thank goodness, but continued to cry. I put his backpack on his lap so he could hold the yellow turtle tag on the zipper, kissed his forehead and said good bye. Mrs. Beyer wished us luck and I jumped off the bus, waving bye to Nikko who was looking out the window at me and still crying. There was no phone call this time, so I could only assume that Nikko didn't escape again. Two and a half hours later I was coaxing Ronin to watch for the bus by the window and watch Cars on TV. He refused and ran to the door, trying to go outside with me. I can't have him outside with me because even if I told him to wait for me on the front step, he might run after me, try to get on the bus or run into the street. So, at the kitchen screen door he stood and wailed until I came back with Nikko. On the bus, Nikko looked at me from the window and seemed pretty calm. Mrs. Beyer said he did well this time, just cried on the way to school. No Houdini. I got to read the report [I don't think I'll post every daily report, but since this is the beginning of the school year I will because I think it's significant]:

Nikko will get 1:1 OT on Tuesdays first thing. He was crying a little coming to school but quickly re-grouped and participated in mat activities & then worked at the table doing finger coordination activities. Nikko followed the whole schedule today. He sat in a cube chair for group time. Sat at centers, tried applesauce for snack and played legos for a while (his safe spot) and then moved to play cars with 2 other kiddos! We are using a picture schedule with him.

I was so happy to see that he re-grouped and participated. Sitting in a cube chair for group time? Who made him do that? I was never able to get him to sit still during play group unless he was looking in a mirror. Is it possible that he is sitting still during the morning group time? I hope so! I will tell you one thing that I noticed of him today: he was jargoning A LOT. I'm not sure what he was saying, and I'm pretty sure I didn't hear any false words slip by, but his babbling was clearer, louder and more conversational even though it was mostly to himself. He must have been super hungry at lunch because he ate lots of chicken nuggets, had cereal and milk, and some crackers to boot. He also fell asleep on the couch next to me around 2pm, so maybe going to school will wear him out a bit. I took the kids to Costco later in the afternoon and they behaved for the most part. I was circling around and around the Jewel parking lot looking for a cart that had a toddler attachment, but couldn't find one. There was one in the loading dock and I approached it but saw some mysteriously tied bags in the cart and seat and I fled not wanting to find out what was in the bags. I gave up on going to Jewel and took the kids home to play outside for a bit. I gave the boys a cookie each since they were rather patient with me while I went round the parking lot.

Indoor day

Today was a homebody day since Ronin was still coughing and needing albuterol treatments and Audrey had a little temperature. Unfortunately, when Nikko went to bed Denis told me he was a bit congested. I'm worried that tomorrow he will be worse, but we'll have to see when he wakes up. He has school tomorrow and I can't send him to school sick, but how about with a drippy nose?

Nikko was running around the living room today when according to Denis he tripped and hit his head on a woven basket on the floor (Crate & Barrel). It hurt him and he came to me crying. I tried to soothe him and eventually he calmed down and went back to wandering, but sometimes put a finger up to his ear. When I first looked at it, the area was just a bit red. But I looked later again and there was some blood in his ear. Upon further resisted investigation, I saw that blood wasn't pouring down the ear canal, that it looked like a cut along the rim of his ear canal. If blood was gushing out, we'd have to go to the doctor, but since it seemed minor I decided we'd just wait and see. So far it's ok, but I hope that banging his head into something won't have a drastically negative effect on him. Maybe the opposite will happen and he'll be cured. :) He gave me tons of eye contact today, and tried signing things upon request although his sign for More is two fists bumping together instead of fingerpoints tapping. Grrr.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A packed weekend

Was it only yesterday morning that we went to that Nature Trail? Wow, feels like we've packed so much into this weekend already. On Saturday morning we packed the kids up and headed to the River Trail Nature Center in Northbrook/borderline Glenview. Our intent was to walk a trail for a bit, then have lunch. We walked into the Nature Center and it was the nicest center I have ever been in. In one room they had a big natural tank of turtles, live snakes behind glass habitats, skins of local animals, and a beehive room with a slab of honeycomb with bees encased in glass (THANK GOODNESS). Another alcove had binoculars available to view the bird houses outdoors. In an adjacent room was a big activity room, good for meetings, but also very kid-friendly with a "Fox Den" climbing apparatus with underground matted area to read in a cavelike setting, a reading area with lots of colorful books, a little fenced rug that was a fishpond, and a play table with little trees and woodland animals. There were more things, but I can't remember all the details. I think I'd take the kids back there again; it's a great place where they can run freely, in fact. Nikko got hooked on a fishing pole that was for magnetic fish. Unfortunately it was also the beginning of his demise because when it was time to go he didn't want to give it up. I had to say bye bye pole, put it back and drag him outside. Denis and I both grabbed an arm and he went Noodleman on us. I think we both pulled his arms too hard because outside he was crying and screaming and holding his arm as if it were hurt. I immediately felt bad and frustrated because he wouldn't relent, wanted to go back inside for the fishing pole, wouldn't let me touch his arm, and was making so much noise I'm sure the people fishing by the lake were annoyed. Not much calmed him down, sadly. I was determined that we would still continue trying to walk up the trail a bit, even though his continued crying was disturbing to me. I didn't want to bail. So, gave Audrey in the bjorn to Denis and picked up Nikko so we could do a little walking. It was a gorgeous weather day and Nikko weighs close to 40 pounds so I was soon regretting carrying him as he wriggled and squirmed while screaming at me, but for some reason I was determined to calm him down so I kept walking and trying to soothe him. I gave him his juice bottle and he didn't drink it right away. I put him down twice to see if he'd walk and he refused, opting for me to carry him while he still cried. On the third down I had to wipe Ronin's nose, and this time Nikko finally started drinking his juice and started walking quietly. I was relieved that the spell had been broken, but disturbed that it took so long to calm him down. I know that hauling him into the forest in a death grip probably wasn't very calming, but when I put him down in the parking lot he kept trying to run back to the nature center. The walk turned out ok, not long because it was lunch time. Food wasn't allowed in the park, a bummer, so we went to a neighboring park, found a picnic table in the shade and had a lovely lunch. We headed home and chilled out, but went back out again after an early dinner to check out the antique car show in downtown Mount Prospect. Nikko behaved pretty well, but Ronin was both excited and antsy. We came home and the kids played in the backyard one more time before going to bed. Chinny came over and Denis and I were able to celebrate our 6 year anniversary by going to dinner at La Tasca in Arlington Heights for some Spanish tapas, then visited his friend Reggie at Reggie's club Dream. We're old fogies so we didn't last that long, went home by 1:30 in fact.

Today we headed out to Poplar Creek in Hoffman Estates for Tito Ramon's surprise 65th birthday party. All our cousins were there. Nikko was extremely hungry, eating some leftover pizza and all the fries and chicken fingers served to him on his plate. He was also very behaved, as opposed to Ronin who wanted to sit, run, stand, you name it. Audrey was also very fussy; her nose was dripping this morning and things just went downhill after that. When everyone gathered around to sing Happy Birthday, my fears were confirmed when I saw Nikko clamp his hands over his ears and start protesting. I guess I need to read up on those sensory issues regarding hypersensitivity to loud noises. I've honestly skipped over those sections in the past because Nikko never reacted like he does now. I wonder if he gets retested for hearing if he will score differently. After the party we headed home and were supposed to go to a housewarming/birthday party at the Owsley's, but Ronin was coughing up a storm and Audrey had a little temperature. She was also acting incredibly crabby and I didn't think she'd last very long anywhere else. I had to call and cancel our appearance, regretfully. We stayed home the rest of the night. Ronin's coughing triggered a throw-up session and his breathing prompted me to administer some albuterol from his nebulizer. I'm going to check on him next. Audrey went down early, but I fear she'll wake up more than once in the middle of the night, crying and/or uncomfortable. She can't breathe well, which makes sucking on a pacifier very difficult.

We have no formal plans tomorrow, so I hope to use the time to do some overall cleanup. I hope the kids will let me.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

First Day of Preschool

I was very nervous about getting Nikko ready to go to preschool today. Denis, Audrey, Nikko and me waited for the bus, which arrived a little after 8:15a. I ushered Nikko onto the bus while greeting Mrs. Monica Beyer the bus driver, saw the third seat on the left was empty, pulled down the harness seat, scooped Nikko up and buckled him in. I put his backpack next to him and stepped away; he wasn't looking at me, but was looking down at his harness. I stepped off the bus and caught his gaze in the window. He looked at me with a quick instant of confusion and I could almost hear him start to whine in protest, but the bus pulled away. It continued on its route and I didn't know how it went until Ms. Winters called me at 8:50 with an update. She said that Nikko was a little Houdini and got out of his harness, but by the time she got to him on the bus he had calmed down and he was ok right now. I was glad she called with an update but was worried about him and incredulous about the bus ride. I'd have to ask Mrs. Beyer about that. While Nikko was gone I was in the living room with the other two kids trying to do a toy purge and straighten up, but it looks like I didn't get much done. Around 11:05 I went outside again and waited for Nikko's bus with the others. When it rolled up, I greeted Mrs. Beyer and asked how he did. She talked to me while I got on. I spotted Nikko sitting right in the front seat next to a little blond girl. He was quiet and wasn't acting out. I leaned over the girl and unbuckled him and Mrs. Beyer said she'd move his seat again so I wouldn't have to lean over anyone, and that she kept him up front so she could keep an eye on him. This morning, Nikko got upset on the bus and managed to wriggle himself out of his harness. She told me he was standing up in his seat so she had to stop the bus. She couldn't sit with him, but got another mom at a stop to sit with him until they got to the school. Later, on the ride home, he did much better and behaved. She said that the school was going to get him a different harness. I wonder how that will turn out? Nikko seemed fine to us, maybe a little quieter than usual, but later in the day he perked up. I wonder what was going on in his head when he got to school, and even when he got home and saw all of us. I'm thinking that he probably was scared when going to school because he didn't know where he would end up. But now that he had a full session and got to play, maybe he'll figure out that the bus goes to school [a happy place] and then takes him home [another happy place]. I went through his backpack and got his daily report. Ms. Winters wrote at the bottom: Nikko had a good 1st day! Mad/sad for the 1st half of the day - he wore himself out, had snack, played legos & playground! Margie & Kathy. The report was a pictorial which reflected the PECs pictures on the classroom board in a modified sense. There was a box for bathroom, which was empty, but I checked Nikko and saw that they had changed his diaper. I'll bet Nikko found comfort in the Lego table that he played with yesterday, and he probably enjoyed the playground. Well, we'll have to do this all again on Tuesday. I didn't cry when Nikko left, didn't have time to cry. But felt bad when I got the full report from Mrs. Beyer, and hope he won't have a hard time on Tuesday on the bus. Hope he won't slip out of his harness again. :(

Denis' birthday was today, so to celebrate that as well as Nikko's first day at preschool we went to Red Robin for lunch at Woodfield Mall. Denis had looked up the menu the night before so it actually made ordering easier. The tower of onion rings did us in, though, because they were so tasty and there was so much of it! The kids did well, thanks to french fries. After eating we walked around JC Penny's and then to the Looney Tunes play area to run off the food. We got home, chilled out for a bit, and then after dinner we headed to Jewel to get Denis a cake for his birthday. The kids got to bed later than usual, but the overall feeling was a good one.

Behaviorally, Nikko kept to himself for the rest of the day, except at the play area where he was all too happy to run back and forth on the carpet and do some climbing, too. I've been noticing at home that he has been refusing to sign More when I ask him if he wants more of something. I know he does, because he will sign Please, but I want him to continue to ask for More. When he refuses to comply, he has been hitting himself in the ears, or swiping at his ears for some reason. I don't want him to do that. That's a behavior I really don't want him to do in public; it's too close to looking like Rain Man. But I also don't want him to stop behaving the way we'd like him to, so I keep prompting him to sign More, and then do Hand Over Hand so that he'll see what I wanted from him. He's also been doing something I'm not too keen about. If he is starting to get mad about something, he has been huffing emphatically and following it with a swipe to the air. I saw him do it the other day and wondered if he was imitating how I act when I am totally frustrated with Ronin and get mad at myself, grumbling to myself and banging cabinet doors shut or pounding the counter. I really hope he's not copying me, and if he is then I'd better nip my own behavior in the bud somehow!!!
Tomorrow we plan to do some trail walking, and in the evening we are going out after the kids are in bed. Sunday is also busy, with a 65th bday party to attend as well as the Owsely's party. Monday looks open.....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Garden Walk

This morning Atz & Allie came over to stay with Ronin and Audrey while Denis, Nikko and I went to the Westbrook School for their Garden Walk. Nikko seemed curious and excited as we walked up to the school; he wore his Thomas backpack and while he feet were shuffling on the pavement he seemed excited.We had a sheet of paper that indicated what stations we should check out and would get a sticker after meeting said person. We ended up in Room 211 where Nikko will have his morning session with Mrs. McCarthy and Ms. Winters (the speech therapist that seemed to like Nikko very much and who I hope becomes Nikko's Guardian Angel. We walked around the room after talking with Ms. Winters about the basics, and then Nikko was welcomed to the sand table by one of the aides. I didn't see it but Denis modeled for Nikko how to pour sand into a bucket, and that's exactly what Nikko did. Honestly, I haven't seen him take a shovel of sand and pour it purposefully into a bucket until this morning, so seeing him do it was great. He didn't seem to notice that we had walked away from him to look at other things. After a good 15 minutes I decided we should transition him onto something else so we said bye bye to the sand table and directed him to the toy area. He saw a lego-type block table and was intrigued by some kind of plastic robotic arm on it. Denis tried to build with him and Nikko seemed interested in it. Ms. McCarthy tried to take Nikko's picture and probably had one good picture out of many. Ms. Winters joined us at some point near the end. I glanced around and saw that most of the parents had left by now, save but two or so students. Nikko sneezed and we geshuntited him. He then razzed his lips and everyone laughed. Nikko must have thought it felt funny so he did it again, and everyone laughed again. He looked around slightly, pleased that he got a reaction so he did it again, and everyone laughed again. He smiled as if he "got" it, and I felt really happy that all that just transpired. It was time to go, finally, so we went to the main office to finish up the Garden Walk stops. Nikko was happy and ran down the halls a little bit, so I had to calm him so that he wouldn't get too excited. He was antsy in the main office because it was crowded in there. It made me worry a bit because he has such a short attention span that I wonder if he'll be able to attend to class. The aides had told me that they have a very strict routine and that Nikko will learn it and eventually follow it. We came home and everything was fine. Audrey was down for a nap, and Ronin was getting his diaper changed.

After lunch the afternoon was slow because Ronin had to nap and Audrey didn't go down right away either. I hesitated to put her down until past 4 and realized that I should just put her down at 3:30, which was 4 hours since she woke up from her last nap. She didn't seem sleepy at 2:30, so maybe 4 hours is a good stretch to be awake. While she napped, I took the boys outside to get their ya-yas out since they were chasing each other around the living room and being rambunctious boys. Outside we had a few moments of physical activity joined by Denis, running up and down the driveway, me chasing them and tickling them on the front lawn. Nikko ended up digging in the dirt with a stick while Ronin ran around me as I drew the town of Radiator Springs with sidewalk chalk. I managed to get the boys into the backyard and play on the slide because Manolo was mowing the lawn next door and I wanted to distract the boys from the hot lawn mower. I got them to go up and down the slide for a bit, until Denis had to leave for martial arts class. Audrey woke up anyway and it was time to go in and give baths. Dinner, TV, Audrey's bath, then bedtimes followed. I may have to put Audrey down even earlier than 8:30p, in order to get the boys in bed by 9p, because it took me 30 minutes to go brush teeth, change diapers, read stories, pray and bedtime... and this is without their regularly timed bath! Luckily I bathed them before dinner, but that's not always going to be the case. Perhaps I'm going to have to start their bedtime by 8:15 instead, if I have to put them to bed by myself. If Denis helps and gives the boys baths, I can be putting Audrey to bed while they get started. I think stories and songs take over ten minutes. Hmmm....

Tomorrow is Nikko's first official day of preschool, where I put him on the bus, buckle him in, and let him go all by himself. I'm nervous for him. I wonder if I will cry.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Mack Truck

Later in the day I took the kids to Target, alone. I drove into the parking lot and scanned the perimeter for a shopping cart that had the attached two-toddler seater. I saw a few, actually, so I knew the gods were smiling down on me. The boys thought the contraption was first. After we got inside and were in the baby aisle Ronin started shrieking to be put down. I let them both free and tried to keep them in my peripheral vision. It got a little harrowing in the baby clothes section. I saw a little [Polish?] girl standing nearby, eyeing Ronin apprehensively. He looked at her bravely, then took a stomp toward her, causing her to startle and take a step back. I told Ronin to be nice and to leave her alone. I think he was kind of taunting her at first, but then he smiled and ran away from her. Nikko was running around and looked at her too, and also ran away from her. She probably thought my boys were so irritating. In the toy aisle, Ronin was going ga-ga over some racing cars, then I pointed out the Disney Cars section and he was awed. Ronin and Nikko looked at a Cars Mack Truck. Ronin's attention wandered to other toys, but Nikko seemed to really want the Mack Truck and he carried the box, signing More. I let him have it. Ronin also wanted a Mack, but he changed his mind four times between Mack and other cars. He finally settled on a $4 Matchbox racing car (thank goodness! The bigger version of it was $24!) which I told him was his, and that Mack Truck was Nikko's, and not to change his mind later that he wanted Mack all along. I let Nikko have Mack because he showed a real interest in it above all other toys and he was so good today. Of course, when we got home and settled for dinner Ronin was screaming for Mack, and post-dinner was a huge battle across the board. I'm exhausted from the emotions sucked out of me. Denis was working late so I put all the kids to bed. It took me 45 minutes to bath, book, song, and pray the kids to bed, and it was still 9:30p. My goal is 9p, so I have to start baths earlier in the future. Nikko needs at least 10 hours of sleep for school. Tomorrow is the Garden Walk, where the parents and kids go to school to meet the teachers and check out the facilities. Atz and Allie are coming to sit with Ronin and Audrey for two hours. And then Friday is Nikko's first day of preschool. I am getting nervous thinking about his bus ride and beyond.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

McD's playdate and Bread

We survived the playdate @ the playland in the Mc Donald's on Higgins and Oakton. It was great seeing my friend Rhonda, who also has three kids that are close in age. Aidan is turning 4 on Sunday; Vivian turns 3 in January, on the same day that Elliot turns 2. They have piercing blue eyes, the youngest two are blond, and Aidan is supposed to be very unruly. He bullied Ronin a little bit for his Chick Hicks car, and Rhonda put him in time out twice, Vivian once. But overall it was nice to see our kids run alongside each other. Audrey wasn't running, of course. She slept on the way in, then ended up in the high chair munching on a graham cracker, and crawled at the end. Nikko tolerated his new company, let the kids crawl around him when he held up traffic in the playland stairwell. He tended to run back and forth between the stairwell and me, only stimming slightly that I could tell. Initially he explored a little interactive plastic house, but I expected more running from him, which he did. We got home later and chilled out for a few hours before going to mom's house for Chinny's birthday dinner. I put Ronin down for a nap in his crib and Nikko crashed out in the middle of the living room for about two hours. Since Audrey had slept on the way home, she wasn't close to napping so I took her into the kitchen and gave her a snack. The boys woke up later and joined us. I noticed this the other day but forgot to write it down, but today I asked Nikko what he wanted to eat and he signed More Bread. Later he signed Bread Please. I was amazed that Nikko remembered the sign for bread. We haven't used that sign in months! I praised him loudly for it and put some butter on his bread. I'm glad to see Nikko moving about. He seems to be recovered from whatever mysterious phase he was going through, not talking much and acting lethargic for those two days. He's jargoning again. Perhaps I should give the boys haircuts again tomorrow. I know that I want to make another trip to Target, to see if they have the fleece footed pajamas out, but I think that's a seasonal item that I'm not likely to see. Today Audrey showed me that she can take liquid from the sippy cup, so I'm thinking about getting more sippy cups from Gerber that are for her alone vs. Ronin's cup. Back to mom's house, Nikko wasn't really playing with any cars, just wandering back and forth between rooms. Denis was with us so he was able to help feed Nikko some nuggets as well as pizza, while I fed Ronin and Audrey some pancit. When everyone started singing happy birthday to Chinny, the room was really loud and I saw Nikko put his hands over his ears and start to protest. We sang the song twice, and the second time he put his hands over his ears again, jumped off Denis' lap and protested to the noise loudly. I really hope Nikko is not developing a sensitivity to loud noises. That would stink! If this is the case, I had better start reading up on all that hypersensitivity to noise. I usually skipped that part in the books because I didn't think it applied to my Nikko.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A short update

Today was exhausting and we didn't even go anywhere significant except to play outside in the backyard. I think hauling the kids to multiple public places took a lot of energy from me, including the mental preparation. My temper with Ronin was very short today, and even when I tell myself to be calm in his screaming face and clawing hands, my anxious bubble just kept going haywire. Nikko was at a calm state throughout the day, but I wanted to get him playing outside. But when we got outside, they both ended up in the sandbox. Nikko lay on his tummy for most of it, too. He didn't nap today, so perhaps he was tired, but I wouldn't let him sleep in the sandbox. I saw earwigs in there. YUCK! Tomorrow we have an early playdate at a McDonald's playland with Rhonda and her three kiddos. I'll be packing our bags early and hoping we can manage. It's also Chinny's birthday tomorrow so we'll go there for an early dinner, I hope.