Sunday, May 30, 2010

A nice day

In an attempt to be more productive in the mornings, our plan was to take the kids to the Nature Center, hike a trail, have lunch and then go kite flying. We have a new rolling cooler for packing drinks and food, a lesson we learned from the last kite jaunt. We didn't leave as early as we aimed for, but still got out of the house before 10:30a. The Nature Center was pleasantly sparse of visitors so the kids had a good time romping around. I cringed when I saw Nikko running around with a rubber dragonfly because the last time we were there he got attached to something like that and leaving the facility was painful. But to my surprise, when it was time to go, he willingly dumped it into the plastic figures bin (as I announced Good Bye to all the things the kids had in their hands). I also had to surrender my Costco card and little wallet in order to make the exchange successful. We walked part way up a trail but turned around because Nikko was starting to ask for fruit snacks, which meant he was going to have a tantrum if I didn't pony up anything good. The weather was warm, it was bright and sunny, and the kids were getting hot. Time to eat! We went to the River Trails park district to eat under a shady shelter, as well as have access to their vast offering of playground equipment. Next time we try to have a picnic lunch outside, we have to bring paper plates. Note to self. 3/4 of the park had wood chips and 1/4 had sand. That was exactly where all the kids wanted to be, so they played and got grimy but were pretty happy. Audrey was so crabby earlier in the day but was busily pouring sand into a bucket with a shovel. We came home and gave the kids baths before putting them down for a nap, and it was only 2pm. Ronin and Audrey napped at the same time, for the first time, and it was over 2 hours. Nikko had me put on Monsters, Inc. and he fell asleep on the couch for an hour. I was dozing on the floor in front of the DVR when my phone woke me up, after only 30 minutes. Because the kids had such long naps, their bedtimes were delayed slightly. The last time we delayed a bedtime on purpose, we had given the kids baths earlier in the day. So when I took Nikko to brush his teeth, he was expecting to get into the tub. I steered him away from the tub and he had a big fit because I had broken the routine. This time around, I avoided the bathroom entirely and changed diapers in the living room, unfortunately giving up teeth brushing. When we herded the boys into Nikko's room for stories, he got a little upset because I don't think he wanted to go to bed, plus we didn't brush teeth and take a bath. But I pushed onward and we sat for stories, prayed and tucked in. Tomorrow is supposed to be hotter than today, which might render a trip outdoors into the kiddie pool.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Where's Mike?

Nikko's speech report: I took him for speech during most of Marrionettes [the PTA was putting on some kind of puppet show as an assembly]. Worked on requesting, naming, turn taking, vocab. We tried the end of the sow. He didn't want to stay. He said, "Go play" so we did! :)

I am sorry that Nikko and Ms. Winters didn't get to join the rest of the school for the show, but also glad that he was in very capable hands and working on things, such as speech, which are so important for him. I'll bet that he protested being in the gym with some whining and pulling back, so I wonder how Ms. Winters prompted him, if she prompted him at all, to get him to respond with Go Play. Nikko was dozing on the bus on the way home and when he woke up, he realized he had dropped the little one-eyed green monster figurine from Monsters, Inc. I looked in his backpack and it wasn't there. Nikko was crouching underneath the seats in front of him, and he actually found it. How did Nikko know that "Mike" had rolled on the floor of the bus up toward the front? I was going to give up, honestly. Nikko had ABA at 2:30, and again he was not willing to go sit at the table to begin his session. He ran upstairs and I had to usher him down again. But as opposed to last week, this time he walked up to Melisa and listened to her point out the picture schedule for today's session.

We went to my in-laws for dinner. The kids didn't have much of an appetite. Nikko was walking around the table and I figured out that he wanted to have juice in a cup. I gave him some, helping him hold it. It always reminds me that I have to keep trying to give these kids their liquids in a cup vs. a straw. During the part where they read passages/stories (worship time), my kids were loud and running around, giggling and refusing to be quiet. Then, when all the prayers were said and done, they became quiet. Of course. We left, gave the boys a quick bath (Audrey went straight to bed), the read a prayer and did lights out.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meltdown on the way to the soccer field

Nikko was dozing on the bus coming home, but since today was in the 70's his hair wasn't drenched in sweat like yesterday. I'm glad over the summer his ESY (Extended School Year) class is at Fairview, 1/2 a block away, instead of him having to take a bus. His good mood prevailed throughout the afternoon, through Audrey and Ronin's nap times. Denis came home early from a seminar, and around 5pm the kids were in the backyard, playing and fighting over the ride-on toys in the driveway. It was slightly breezy, but you could see the treetops really swaying so Denis had the idea of going to the school baseball fields to fly kites. Unfortunately there was little league baseball going on, so we continued to walk another block north toward the soccer fields at Prospect High School. Nikko was protesting loudly because he glanced at the school playground and wanted to go there. The good thing is that he didn't take off running or dash away from me to go by himself. The bad thing is that he had a full-out tantrum the entire block to the soccer fields. He'd cry and scream, pull my hand back toward the school, and I'd keep walking forward. He'd stop on the sidewalk and scream some more, then rush at me to pull me back. I had to pick him up two or three times and he squirmed so much that I had to put him back down quickly so I wouldn't get hurt. We got to the fields and some boys practicing soccer probably stared at Nikko screaming while I walked on, encouraging him to keep walking, picking him up under his arms if he sat down in protest. I guess it looked like I was dragging him sometimes, but I tried not to get mad. I have discovered that in these meltdown situations, while I put on my horse blinders to shut out onlookers, I can still look ahead peripherally in order to avoid getting hit by a car or to find the straightest route out of a place. Once we caught up to Denis & the kids, Nikko flopped on the ground all angry, but got over it when he saw the other kids sitting on a bench, and everyone going about their own business. He was back to his own self in minutes, and on the walk home he didn't even glance at the school playground. Maybe he was tired from all the walking and running on the field, or maybe he was hungry and thirsty, but I was just glad we avoided another meltdown. Nikko was fast asleep by the end of prayers and during his tuck-in time. Yea.

Wash Hands

A/C is up and running, albeit temporarily. I hope it doesn't conk out before it cools down around here, been in the upper 80's today.

This morning, Nikko ate most of his pancakes and when I asked if he wanted some cereal w/bananas he repeated what I said, which usually means that's what he wants. After breakfast, Nikko came up to me and said something like, "Wassands?" I had no clue what he was asking for, and scanned the counter for any W objects. I asked him a few times what he wanted, but when he leaned toward the package of baby wipes I finally understood that he was saying, "Wash hands?" which I usually say when the kids are done eating. It's either Wash Hands or Wipe Hands, then Push In Your Chairs. So that's exactly what we did. I was happy to see that Nikko initiated an exchange with me this time. Later in the day when he wanted to watch the Real Trains for Kids video, he only said "Trains?" and stood in front of the DVD player. His progress report today didn't have any extra notes on it, but I have to start giving more thought as to what teacher gifts I'm going to need to get.

Maria came over today to take notes for our team meeting next month. Tianna came to observe the session. I'm going over the binder to see how to interpret what she assessed:

Greeting - so so, looks like 2 prompts an 4 incorrects.
Imitates gross motor - 70%- 3p, 5c, 5i
Body parts (expressive) - 20% 4p, 3c, 7i
Blocks - 100%- all c's
Follow one-step instructions - 30% - 2p, 5c, 4i
Objects (expressive) What is this? - 100%
Matches - 50% - 3p, 5c, 4i
Color within boundaries - ? 5p, 2c, 6i
Maze (fine motor) - 10% - 2c
Emotion (receptive) - 50% - 3p, 3c, 5i
Imitate actions w/objects - 100%
Personal information - 0% 2p, 4i
Memory (games) - ? 4p, 8i
Colors - ? 4p, 1c, 6i (note: 3wks @ 90%, 1@100%, so what happened today?)
Clean up - 1c

What does that all mean? p= prompt, c= correct, i= incorrect. A higher percentage is good, and some things he was close to mastering (blocks, identifying objects, imitating actions, colors). This means we will probably have to have some new skills for Nikko to learn over the summer. I will seriously have to sit with the IEP in the next few days to go over skills for school as well as for ABA. I don't want them to ask me what I think he should learn next and then hear crickets. I have to look at a milestone list to see where else he should be right now.

Nikko had some rough days last week, but yesterday and today he's been in pretty calm moods. At mealtimes he's sitting and eating, and pushing in his chair when done. He can be resistive to my changing his diaper, but will succumb to it. Three times in a row, right as ABA was starting, Nikko darts off toward the stairs to go up. I don't know what happened to his state of compliance, but Maria had to usher him back to the basement to engage him in some gross motor play. Luckily, he didn't melt down or whine in protest. He actually had a good session, but didn't concentrate well according to Maria.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The heat, and quirkiness

Our A/C picked the worst time to not be functioning. Today was in the 90's and sunny, a typically beautiful hot, summer day... but it's not quite summer yet, and I said aloud the night before that I was not ready for the hot weather. We dealt. In the morning I had to take all the kids with me to the allergist for Audrey's skin prick test. She was mainly tested for peanuts/cashews/almonds/hazelnuts, Let's just say every nut gave her a hive. She was safe regarding seafood. I already know she handles milk and eggs well. So Audrey has a nut allergy. GREAT. I now have to keep her in mind as I read labels. And I need to expand Ronin's chicken nugget world so he can eat different things. The problem is this little dude is refusing to eat the spaghetti w/macaroni and the potstickers I made for him. He only eats rice with Denis' chicken adobo. He's a hard sell. Anyway, the minute I pulled out my wallet, Nikko was practically jumping on me to get my Costco card and the entire wallet itself. I don't know why he's developing these quirky behaviors, but I wish he'd stop. On the way home I picked up some McDonald's since the kids had to wait in the office and did rather well. It was so hot in our house that I put all the ceiling fans on full blast. It didn't do much to cool the house. It only cooled the immediate radius that the blades reached out, so walking down the hall was stifling. A serviceman was able to come during kiddo bath time, temporarily patch a freon leak, and will come back to do a better fix later this week. Ronin was irritable from the heat, Audrey was still ok, I was a complete biyatch and grumpy to boot, and Nikko seemed to take the heat in stride, even napping on the couch from the lazy heat.

Below is an excerpt from a question I'm going to post on the asd proboards:
Three major behaviors have developed and I don’t know why he’s doing them, but I can see them getting even more rigid and I wish there was something I could do to prevent what seems to be the inevitable:

1.) Nikko is determined to grab my Costco card right out of my wallet and carry it around. (Costco is the local warehouse club for those who don’t know) If I put it in my wallet and stick it in my back pocket, he’ll fish for it relentlessly. He’ll start whining and whimpering until I give it to him. Substitutes rarely work here, although I was able to get him his own Costco card from customer service. He enjoyed carrying it around for a few weeks, but then he started to prefer having MY card to hold.
2.) Last summer, Nikko wore Crocs everywhere. But throughout the school year he wore gym shoes & socks. The school preferred kids not to wear sandals, understandably so. Now that summer is back, Nikko refuses to wear the Crocs, not even for a little while, and not even indoors just to get used to them. I can see this behavior escalating, and it’s similar to a nephew of mine, who has Asperger’s, and is extremely rigid about wearing shoes ALL the time, even indoors, even to the pool (not in the pool).
3.) At bedtime, after prayers and during tuck-in, Nikko anxiously bolts out of bed to make minor adjustments to any objects surrounding the bed. He’ll drag a ride-on toy to rest right next to the bed frame. He’ll leap over to a table to adjust a plastic dinosaur lying on its side. He’ll run to move a tissue on the floor and put it next to a book.

I understand that Nikko seems to crave routine as evidenced in his positive behavior toward going to school. These behaviors seem to be another level of quirkiness that he may be acquiring. My question is how can I possibly stop these quirky behaviors from getting worse? Is it even possible? It makes me sad to see him developing these quirky behaviors that put him in this anxious, relentless state, and I wonder if there’s anything I can do to keep him from obsessing about my Costco card, or to get him to wear his Crocs when we go out, or to get him not to mind if something is out of place the way he sees his room.

One last thing: using food (in this case, fruit snacks) as a reward or reinforcer for good behavior worked TOO well for us. He became obsessed with eating fruit snacks so much that we (ABA therapists) had to stop giving him fruit snacks. This caused many, MANY long and difficult tantrums, but I’ve resolved to stay away from fruit snacks, even though by using them we can get Nikko to do whatever we want.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


On the asd board I belong to, someone posted a question: do asd children have higher body temperatures than others? Surprisingly, many moms wrote back that their sons seemed to be hot quite often. I was surprised to include a post saying Nikko could run and jump in the living room and work a huge sweat. That's what happened today, almost from the start of the morning. Later, when my brother Eric & his girlfriend Leslie came to visit us, Nikko was excited about new people in the house that he was zigging and zagging everywhere, working up another sweat so that he was glistening at the temples. I took everyone to Woodfield Mall to run in the Looney Tunes kid play area, and here Nikko worked up the ultimate sweat, looking like he just dunked his head under water. All the kids had fun jumping, running and climbing in the play area that was filled to the brim with kids. Imagine what it was like when it was time to leave... resistance! Crying! Not pretty, but still had to leave. Nikko tantrummed all the way to the parking lot. He even took a few swipes at me that I felt, but didn't have the time to reprimand properly. At home, in our driveway and while I was taking out the car seats from the Pilot, Nikko and Ronin were having a full-out battle over a toy lawnmower, right in front of Eric and Leslie. Of course, they pick ONE single toy to fight over, and in front of company. The noise never really stopped, because I was going to a GNO tonight and saying good bye was going to be rough. And it was, especially for Nikko. Still I went, had a great time with great company at Reza's in Oak Brook. Filet Mignon & Chilean Sea Bass.... YUM!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Whiny therapy

Speech report: So much talking! Louder & not so sing-song! Great with colors & pointing! Now when I ask "What do you want?" he will say "Want _____."

Nikko didn't have the easiest time during therapy today. We all went downstairs, Nikko was in a good mood jumping around, and while Melisa was getting the paperwork ready, I announced that it was time for Nikko to work and he ran upstairs. I had to carry him downstairs because he wanted to run away. It's the first time in a long time, really, so I don't know why he doesn't want to comply. Perhaps he simply didn't want to work. No dice, however. He was extremely whiny for the first half hour to 45 minutes, and I heard him do a big cry/scream at one point. But then he calmed down and it remained quiet. Melisa told me later that he was really protesting, even swatting the papers on the ground so she told him he had to pick them up and he was angrier. At one point he was going really badly so she gave him a firm hug that perhaps caught him by surprise, but he calmed to her deep pressure hug (yea! that's what I would have done!) and then he was able to continue to work from there. I really wish he didn't lose it today. On the plus side, there were no instances of shorts removal. LOL!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No shorts, again!

Nikko was sitting at the window with Audrey and Ronin at 8a when I tried to get him dressed for school. Perhaps he was enjoying their company or the view from the window, but he was protesting heavily and didn't want to listen to me. It was a struggle to get him suited up and out the door, and even outside he was still crying and angry. I calmed him down, pointing out the approaching bus and trying to be soothing. Monica later reported that by the time he got to school he was a happy camper again.

This is the second time that Nikko didn't want to wear shorts again. I was sitting on the couch after lunch, Audrey was napping and the two boys were watching Monsters, Inc. I was dozing, and somehow snapped out of it to notice Nikko was standing by his room in the hallway and just took off his shorts. I rushed to get him and change his diaper, which had a small poo in it again, and he started fussing and getting angry, refusing to wear his shorts. I tried to coax him, but then gave up and let him sit on the Thomas chair. He was looking at himself in the mirror, smiling and laughing, pretty happy that he was only wearing his shirt and a diaper. The longer I looked at him, however, the madder I was getting because I knew I couldn't let this happen. Maria would be coming later and what if he refused to wear shorts when she came? What if he started clawing at the sides of his diaper the minute he did a #2? What if he started scratching even though he just had a #1? And the longer I let him think it was ok, the harder it would be to make him put on shorts. So, I buckled down and approached him, and started putting on his shorts. He gave me a fight, squirming and screaming, and he ran away from me. Each time he tried to push down his shorts I pushed his hands away. We were pretty miserable, so I announced it was vitamin time so I could distract him from his shorts and change the mood. It worked, again. I wondered if I should post this situation on the proboards, but figured that I'd get two camp replies: either let him stay in a diaper if he wanted, or stop the behavior and force him to wear shorts but distract him. Which I did. If this goes on tomorrow, I will continue to be baffled.

Speech report: Having a good week - much more engaged in purposeful play. :)

This afternoon Maria brought along Sarah, a new line person for Monday sessions, and Tianna, a high school girl looking for service hours. I hope we didn't scare them away, because all three kids were rambunctious today.

Think like an OT

Fascinating. Ronin was napping between 2:15 and 3:45ish today. It was during that time I was trying to eat some lunch with Audrey watching TV and Nikko dashing back and forth between rooms, pausing to get a glimpse of The Wiggles. It was maybe a minute that passed by with complete silence - no peep from any of the three. And that is a bad thing in this house. Then I heard a tiny scuffle in the hallway and ran to see Nikko standing near the doorway to his bedroom. His pants were on the floor, but thankfully his diaper was still on. It wasn't destined to be, from the looks of things. I ushered an anxious Nikko to the bathroom and put him on the toilet, willingly. His diaper had some poo in it, and it was probably beginning to irritate him to the point of scratching. That's usually the case when it comes to the diaper-ripping-off scenarios. After cleaning him up and putting a new diaper on, Nikko refused to put on his pants. He was running away from me, twisting and kicking when I tried to lie him down, and whining loudly in protest. I was pretty irritated, saying that if he wouldn't continue to sit on the toilet, and he refused to wear his pants or shorts, then I'd have to watch him like a hawk because I don't trust him to go around the house in just a diaper anymore. Too many opportunities to scratch or reach in and get his hands dirty. I tolerated this for a few minutes, but then opted to force a pair of gray shorts on him. Nikko was MAD and tried to push them off, but I wouldn't let him. I kept blocking his attempts and he ran away screaming. He flopped belly down on the hardwood floor right in front of Ronin's room and was screaming and crying. I didn't want him to prematurely wake up Ronin, but that was Nikko's chosen spot and I knew better than to try to pick him up and rationalize with him at this stage. I sat on the couch and let him continue to tantrum. If he tried to push down his shorts I said his name sharply in a cold tone and he would scream all over again. I really hate that all I could do was ride out his tantrum until he calmed down. Not wanting to draw attention to what just happened, I invited Nikko to come to the kitchen and have a bowl of Chocolate Cheerios with milk. That sounded enticing so he got up and trotted to the kitchen for his snack. I've been trying to figure out WHY he didn't want to wear his pants anymore. They were the same pair he wore to school. He didn't want the shorts either, which was my alternative because maybe he was too hot for pants. It could have been a sensory thing, not wanting to wear pants or shorts because he was uncomfortable or itchy, but I didn't see him doing any odd itching before or after the diaper incident. All I know is that Nikko reached certain levels where no amount of comforting was going to help.

So why is this fascinating? Because I just read a blog from one that I follow and it was about patience.
The key line is as follows:
“So, on the days when I need an EXTRA dose of MEGA patience with her, I pretend in my mind that I'm an OT working with a belligerent stroke patient”.

I am forever searching for patience to deal with Nikko's whining and tantrums, as well as Ronin's (but for that, I've discovered the ear plugs). Don't I always talk about digging deep to China for patience? But this simple perspective makes a ton of sense. It would allow me to detatch myself emotionally from Nikko, especially when I'm ready to pitch myself over a cliff when I can't stand his reactions anymore. Another thing stated in the blog was:
"And to help me shed all of the excess emotional baggage I carry around from conversation to conversation with him, I am going to put on my imaginary OT hat and ... will approach each teachable moment as though I am a professional with a client. A client who needs me, respects me, and who is going to have a better life because of me – but who’s choices in that small moment define neither his success, nor my own."

This is why it is so hard for me to have patience. I am so emotionally connected with my kids, bound by fears of their future successes and failures. I worry that if they don't listen to me and what I'm trying to teach them, they won't get it and will grow up the wrong way. It's a heavy burden that may very well be very unrealistic, but has become hard for me to control. Some emotional distance, like the kind I displayed this afternoon by not intervening while Nikko tantrummed, will probably benefit my sanity while not devaluing my relationship with Nikko. Thanks, Cailtin Wray. :)

Nikko's speech report: Worked on body parts, & added clothes to categorization.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Nikko is hoarding things again. He is carrying around little objects wherever he goes. Today it was a DVD of Wall-E (I discovered today that it won't play in our DVD player because it's a Blue-Ray disc. We recently got a Blue-Ray disc player, but haven't connected it yet.), Bruce the Shark and his Costco card; by bedtime he was also carrying a yellow mini T-Rex and a pink plastic egg. When he gets to school, the teachers let him put his objects in the backpack and that's where they stay until it's time to go home again. Before he goes out the door, I try to whittle away at what he's carrying so nothing will fall to the school bus floor, which would upset him and cause a meltdown. I realize it's probably a comfort thing and for NT kids it's also quite normal, but it can also get out of hand.

Nikko's OT report - Sensory motor activities - then at table did dot art & took drawing & cutting samples.

I've been told that Nikko really likes to use markers for dotting pictures. I wonder if it's a sensory thing, that stamping the marker down, as opposed to drawing lines that have to stay on the paper. I've got to review his IEP to see what they've been doing regarding fine motor skills. In fact, I've got to review it, period.

The afternoon was ok. I think the movie Toy Story was on practically ALL DAY. Jenna came for Nikko's therapy, and at the end of it she said he did really well, was really talkative, and at one point of the session while she sat to write in the notebook and he was playing solo, he came and took her hand, leading her to his cars. She thought that was great. Nikko still does a lot of hand-leading. If Ronin has a toy that Nikko wants, and isn't giving it up, Nikko will come to me, lead me to Ronin and pull me to the toy. I should probably ask Nikko more directly what he wants, and help him put a label on the toy. One last thing for today: Nikko is on a banana kick. He is eating them a lot. I think he enjoys the newfound independence I'm giving him because I slice a banana in half, start the peel, and let him hold it by himself. I have to monitor this because bananas are also constipating, and although he's on generic MiraLAX, both things might do battle in his intestines.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Today Nikko was carrying around a plastic figurine of Bruce, the shark from Finding Nemo. Ronin and I were running around chanting some phrases from the movie like, "Here's Bruce-y!!” and “Dory, are you all right?” Nikko repeated some of those phrases automatically. After his bath tonight, I put him on the bed to change his diaper and he was saying, “Swim away! Swim away!” I was surprised because that wasn’t a phrase we told him to repeat. He must have recalled it from the movie itself, remembered that Bruce said that at one particular moment (it was before a submarine was hit with a torpedo). I’d like to think that Nikko’s memory is getting sharper. We have a long way to go to get him to speak independently, to have a conversation with no prompts, but I guess repeating phrases is the start. I hear him saying bits and pieces of things all the time; I think the ratio of repeating real words to his jargoning/babbling is 2:5. But it’s getting better, really.

After lunch and Audrey/Ronin naps, I took the kids to Woodfield Mall to visit a cell phone kiosk and investigate their cell phone covers and cases. Ronin was very antsy and Nikko kept getting in and out of the stroller. I left with a leather cell phone holster w/clip so I can put the cell phone inside and clip it to my pocket (or bag), or put on ear phones and put the cell phone at my waist to be truly hands-free. I didn’t like their style of cell phone covers so I’ll order one from I wanted to go to the new Whole Foods store in Schaumburg, but time was running out and I didn’t think the kids would be patient in a nice store. We headed to the Costco in Schaumburg because going to our regular one in Mount Prospect would have taken too much drive time. It still took some time in there because the layout was different from what I’m used to, and I didn’t get a chance to swing to the back of the store to get my stash of Coke. BOOOOO! Nikko kept trying to swipe my Costco card from my wallet, and ultimately he did end up with it because I didn’t want to make a huge scene. Dinner was half an hour late but bath and bedtimes were still on time. Nikko has school tomorrow, and Mouse goes back with him.

Kite Flying

Today our plan was to go to a Kite Festival at Ty Warner Park in Westmont. We took along a stuffed mouse, aptly called "Mouse", which is a school project that everyone in the class got to take home for the weekend. The mouse was in a backpack along with a spiral bound notebook, to record his adventures, along with two books to share. Nikko tolerated the mouse as I posed it in pictures alongside him, but he wasn't particularly attached to it. Ronin and Audrey took to Mouse more. The festival was not as highly attended as the one we went to at Montrose Harbor, but it was still a great opportunity for us to fly real kites in decent wind. We picked a nice patch of grass next to a fenced off kites-for-professionals area and the kids didn't stray too far from us. Nikko did some wandering along the fence but also came and plopped down on the banig (straw mat) to drink juice or eat chicken nuggets or to just play with his anklosaurus dinosaur while lying on his tummy. I had pratcially no problems with Nikko this afternoon. I even caught him singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while he sat in the front of the double stroller, chilling out and watching the park's activities. Three hours flew by and it was time to leave.

When we got home, there were diaper and outfit changes before settling in the living room on diaper watch. The kids had run out of their regular juices and I had to resort to giving them some Orange Peach Mango juice Denis had bought from Trader Joe's. They loved it and required refills. That would also mean diapers would be full within the hour. The kids relaxed and played. Nikko was sitting on a red punch balloon that he received as a goody bag gift from a classmate. It wasn't built of the sturdiest rubber but it was heftier than a standard party balloon. It lasted two days and then it finally popped under Nikko's weight. I heard the pop from the kitchen. Nikko whined and brought it to me, saying Balloon! I told Nikko, "Balloon broken. I'm sorry Nikko." He couldn't believe it and took the main piece from me. He held it up to my mouth and said, "Balloon blow up!" He meant for me to blow air into the tattered balloon, but it wasn't possible. I handed it back to him and he tried to blow air into it himself. With no success and me confiscating it to put in the garbage, Nikko ran off angrily and had to be distracted by watching a train DVD. This was the only mishap of our day. Otherwise, I was very pleased that we had perfect weather and pretty well-behaved kids today.

Regarding kite flying... you would think it was a simple thing, flying a kite. Today I had a real opportunity to fly a proper kit with good winds and I found it entertaining and challenging. I really loved it! The success of launching the kite into the air and feeling the wind push the kite higher was itself a natural high. It felt like I was trying to harness wild horses that were driven by the forces of nature. Kite flying felt very similar to fishing. Feeling that tug on the line and wrestling with the wind was challenging, and I got defeated many times. I am resolved to getting better! Denis is in charge of buying us cool kites and accessories, and I'm in charge of learning all about wind and how to fly those kites. I did pretty decently today, but I want to be able to go to these festivals, put a kite up in the air, tie it to a stake (or stroller), and move on to the next one. Lucky for us, we have all summer to try this new hobby!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

*My* meltdown

Speech report: Good pointing to pictures!

The following is a copy of something I posted today on the asd board (support group) I belong to, and modified to fit my blog:
Nikko found an empty box that might have held some Christmas candy (something Willy Wonka-ish. The content is irrelevant.) that was behind the couch. He brought it to me and said, “Candy?” I looked at it, knowing that I don’t give him candy and we didn’t have any around the house, and said, “No, Nikko, no candy. I don’t have any. How about some peaches instead?” And so the protesting, whining and screaming started. He would not be placated, kept shoving the box in my hand and flailing his arms when I said no. I ignored him and went about the kitchen but he followed me, whining the whole time. The whining grates on my nerves SO much that I resorted to putting in some ear plugs to muffle the din of the whining. I was so frustrated that Nikko, after 7 or 8 minutes of the screaming, was not giving up. Then my son Ronin, who ate some dried mangoes post-lunch, threw up on a bedroom area rug. I led everyone to the kitchen so I could clean up the rug later, but Ronin wasn’t finished and unloaded again on the kitchen floor. Nikko, a few inches away, was still screaming and prodding me. Audrey plodded near the scene but thankfully didn’t try to touch the throw-up. As I turned to grab paper towels, a plastic bag and Windex, Ronin whined that his pants were dirty, and Nikko was still relentless. I just started to cry with big, heaving sobs, wiping up the mess while wailing that Nikko would not stop screaming at me, that I had to clean up throw-up, and having a big ole teary pity party for myself. I yelled at Ronin to let me finish cleaning up the mess and then I’d handle him. Nikko saw that I had tears running down my face while crying like a baby, so he stopped screaming and just looked at me. He eventually got up, or gave up, and ran off. I went to the bedroom to clean up the other mess, and sat while the Carpet Resolve was soaking the stains, thinking that I am not supposed to lose it in front of the kids, that I’m supposed to keep it together and be the strong one, but my threshold for whining and crying must be so low that I crumbled when all cylinders were fired up, everyone around me screaming, including me.

Granted, Denis was out of town for five days, I haven’t been able to leave the kids with anyone (conflicting schedules) so I probably need a break from them, and I haven’t been going to sleep early enough because I try to do as much as I can after the kids go to bed, so I understand that I’ve reached the end of my rope and therefore broke down. I get so angry at myself for yelling at the kids, and even worse for screaming at them in my moment of weakness, feeling broken down because they won’t stop coming at me or obeying what I tell them to do (not all the time, maybe 50/50). They are really great kids, very smart, and also very young. I have to keep reminding myself that I can’t keep falling apart in front of them. Going to another room isn’t always a good option, especially with Nikko because he will follow me and bang on the door tirelessly while screaming until I let him in. On days (or weeks) like this, I feel like I SO don’t have it put together. No amount of redirecting was going to stop Nikko from wanting candy. And I wasn’t going to give in. Therefore, I had to wait out the storm, and that sucks.

Denis came home from some work training in Indianapolis right about the time Melisa came for Nikko's ABA session. Since Nikko was occupied, I told Denis that I should make a Costco/Jewel run. I had until 4p, which was only an hour, so I took off. I ran around Costco for 20 minutes, allotted 20 minutes at Jewel, and 10 minutes travel time x2. It wasn't the most relaxing trip out, first time totally away from the kids in over a week, but it was a tiny breather. I made it back just in time. I worried about running into traffic regarding the motorcade for Lee Dewyze, a local singer that is in the top three of American Idol this season, but all that action was taking place more south of us. There was also some slowgoers due to this weekend being the Mount Prospect-wide Garage Sale. Melisa said Nikko did well today, but I still read her notes later and saw that he was especially whiny as well. She told me he seemed uncomfortable, as if he needed a diaper change. There wasn't any poo when I checked, although his diaper leg band was slightly askew so I could see the elastic being uncomfortable to him. After dinner, Denis and I took the kids to the baseball fields at Fairview School to try flying some kites. There really wasn't enough wind. The kids enjoyed running in the open field, and the littler ones brought buckets and used them for holding dirt from the baseball diamond. What sealed the deal was sidewalk chalk found abandoned near the school, so they were all covered in chalk dust as well as baseball diamond dirt. Baths ensued. Nikko was tired from being awake all day, awakened around 6:15a no less. I'd be/am tired too!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Morning surprise / seepage

Ronin woke up at 4:30a calling out for me. I trotted down the hall and when I checked on him, he was still half-sleepy. Don't know what caused his outcry, but perhaps it was the storms moving through the area. I checked the basement at this time because the rain was so heavy and the lightning was aplenty, but the floor was dry. I managed to crawl back to bed. Then at 5:30a he called out again and was set on getting up. I took him to the living room to chill out and he managed to fall back asleep on the couch. Meanwhile, I heard Nikko babbling at 6a, and also heard Audrey stir, protest being in the crib, and then possibly settle down for a short while. It was around 6:45 that I decided to go get Nikko since he was still awake. He had quieted down a little after waking, but was awake since 6. When I opened the door, I saw Nikko laying on his side and not wearing his pajamas NOR his diaper. I froze, expecting the pungent smell of poo to hit my nose, but as my eyes adjusted to his dim room I saw that there was no poo. I pieced together that he had a full pee diaper, probably found it uncomfortable, then ripped it off and probably shed the rest of his clothes in the process. I had to change the sheets later as well, but I was interally thankful it wasn't a poo mess. I HATE those.

I got Nikko off to school, but noted that when I dressed him up in the living room, he didn't like having his socks put on over there. He took them off. I think he may be used to having his socks put on at the door, then putting his shoes on next. This is also off-topic, but during the baths I've been giving him this week, when it came time for the final rinse he started shrieking when I used the shower head on him. I wondered if it was because he wanted to play in the tub longer, or was it becoming a sensory thing. I used a small basin to collect the water and pour it over his head and body. He tolerated that. Back to the drop off, after the bus pulled away I went to the backyard to check the window wells. The two in the back had water in it up to the base of the window blocks. This was bad news. I went downstairs and saw the stream of water in the utility room going into the drain. The stream was coming from the foundation crack in the wall, next to the foof chairs. One got wet on the bottom. I had to find the portable sump pump in the garage, plus hose and extension cord (thanks to Denis for telling me what I needed to do) and pump those window wells of most of the water. The seepage wasn't from the windows themselves, but from a crack in the foundation behind the drywall. Emptying the window well wasn't going to be enough; we'd have to let all extra water seep through until it was basically empty. I also had to do this before Nikko came home from school. Ronin and Audrey were really good about staying in the living room and watching TV while I shuffled back and forth from inside to outside, bless their little hearts. But once Nikko came home, I wouldn't have the luxury of moving anywhere without causing a screaming fit. Ironically, the rest of the day was sunny and humid. Reminds me of when it starts to snow and people get into terrible skid accidents, only to have the snow melt later, leaving a terrible taste in the mouths of those involved in the accident.

The service man from ABT came to check out the dishwasher. He agreed with my assessment after opening the doo, and requested a replacement console be ordered to arive within 3-5 days. I can still use the dishwasher, but the lights are not completely lit. I am using it tonight.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Earplugs & archiving

Nikko woke up at 3:45a crying, for some reason. I went in and laid down next to him, went back to sleep. Ronin woke me up at 6:45a, then we all convened in the living room and then the kitchen. Ronin was playing with a car puzzle before breakfast and unfortunately, Nikko wanted it too. A fight was brewing, shrieking and whining was escalating. I could feel myself getting tensed up so I resorted to putting the earplugs in my ears. It deadened the din from the whining and I was actually able to function. Lots of resistance to eating breakfast while I tried to redirect Nikko from the concept of the puzzle. I don't know how it will transcend into school today, but I hope it doesn't. Maybe he needs to get away from us and be happier in school.

Nikko's speech report: At least once a week I take Nikko to the office to do "hi" & "bye" to each person in office - today 1 hi w/o prompting. Automatic with giving high 5 each person. Spontaneous bye.

At home, I can get Nikko to say Hi or Bye with prompting. He will repeat what I say. When I say, "Hi, Nikko," he'll say back, "Hi, Nikko." That's how I know it's not working yet, but at least he's talking.

Pretty much after lunch I rallied the troops to go to Mom's house. They are leaving for the Philippines tomorrow and I usually stop by to say good bye, let the kids see them, and give money for our relatives. Everyone was in good spirits, and I even gained a new phone that was an extra from their recent family plan purchase. I got us home by 4:30, and Jenna had just pulled up her car to the curb while I was walking the kids inside the house. Nikko had a good session according to her, and he remained in a good mood the rest of the night. Except, however, regarding a piece of lychee hard candy that he got from Mom's house. He was carrying it around like all his other possessions, and at one point he wanted me to open it but I evaded him. While he was sleeping, I went in his room and confiscated it. I hope he forgets about it tomorrow. One last thing about the phone: as I switched out my SIM card from old to new phone, I realized that I wasn't able to retrieve any of the pictures on my old phone. They didn't show up on the new phone, no matter how I searched for it. I felt bad about it, and was going to give up the pictures entirely, when I was surfing the T-Mobile website for any clues and I saw that some of my albums on the old phone were visible online. I read further and saw that I could import the pictures from the old phone onto the T-Mobile website, then drag them to Facebook, and finally I could copy off FB and put on my desktop. When I started the "archiving" process, I realized that I had over 100 pictures on the old phone. Many were from when Nikko was a baby, less than a month old. There were pics of Ronin as a happy, chubby baby. Finally, Audrey was in the more recent photos. I think I had at least one phone change, from the Razr to the flip phone. Looking at the pictures made me nostalgic, and remembering fondly how precious my babies are. Aw.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Whine and Singing

Nikko's OT report: More talking with words - labelling. Did lots of movement activities - trampoline, rolling, big ball work. Then at table worked on follow the path papers, finding bugs in putty & puzzle.

Nikko was asleep on the bus coming home. He didn't nap yesterday and wasn't completely tired at bedtime so I wonder why he was sleepy today. He has been wolfing down this concoction I make using ground turkey, whole wheat macaroni and jarred Ragu cheese sauce. Cheesy mac. But he calls it mac cheese and loves it. Nikko really has been babbling up a storm lately, mixing in things that he has heard on TV. I hear him say Sorry as well as Yellow, yellow, pink! He is still saying one and two-word requests, prompted for the Please. This is all unfortunately accompanied by shrill whining. When Nikko is sitting at the kid table, "waiting" for his food, he watches me and starts to whine. Then it builds into a longer, louder whine and my threshold for whining and crying is definitely challenged. When you are supposed to reward positive behavior, like him verbally requesting a food, you're supposed to give him immediate positive feedback like Thank You or Good Job Saying ----! But the immediate payoff is the actual food, and 10 out of 10 times it's not ready yet. Hence, whining. Today he asked me for fruit snacks twice. It has been a few days since he has tried this, and my answer was No. I don't have any, Nikko. Whining followed, but I was able to redirect him, thankfully.

I am getting into the habit of greeting Nikko with Good Morning when I walk into his room. He has repeated it back to me. I am also coming up to him and saying, "Hi Nikko! Say, Hi Mommy!" and he may take a few seconds but will say Hi Bomppy or some derivation of that. Last night after stories and before prayers, I asked Nikko if he wanted to sing. He sat in my lap facing me and we sang The Wheels on the Bus. I would sing part of a phrase and he would complete it. He wouldn't necessarily do the hand motions that accompanied the words, but he was singing back to me and that was great. Tonight the song of choice was the first stanza of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He did a really good job with it! He was prone to staring off over my shoulder or above me and slightly to the left, but he still sang the song appropriately. Way to go!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

I looked back on Mother's Day, May 10, 2009, the day I almost lost Nikko @ the Botanic Gardens. I remember it so clearly, and can hardly believe he was only 2 years old, the same age as Ronin today. My post had described how Nikko was not used to using PECS pictures yet and was a big bolter. Rereading that post reminds me that even today I still need to always cover my bases. Nikko has made many gains, as noted in my last entry, that I am not as worried of him bolting. He seems to need to know where I am at all times, unless he's engaged in a water activity.

Today was Mother's Day, 2010. The Penepackers invited us to go to the Gardens again, but I was mentally and physically exhausted from dragging the kids around with me everywhere last week. I think deep down inside I may have been harboring this fear of what happened last year, too. As evidenced from our Morton Arboretum visit, the kids are more of a handful, and if we don't have the proper coverage, we could really lose one of these kids. It was a non-eventful day, and I tried to take it for what it was and relax a little bit. The only event on the schedule was to have Mother's Day dinner at the Penepacker's house at 4pm. When we got there, Nikko had fallen asleep in the car but the other two kids were rarin' to explore. Ronin wanted to go play outside and Denis took him, but I kept Audrey inside. I woke up Nikko and made him walk into the house. He was still groggy and that put him in a very bad mood. He didn't like where he was and he was whining until I gave him a round cracker. That placated him and made him wanting more, but he still clung to my side for a while. We fed all the kids dinner before the adults ate, and by this time Nikko was finally starting to warm up to the place and go wander around downstairs. After dinner, all the kids were playing outside in the backyard. I could see Nikko from the window and he was sliding down the small toddler slide, even stood up on it before sliding down. He was having a fun time, and he was upset that we had to leave.

We don't have anything on the schedule tomorrow. My parents are leaving for the Philippines for 2.5 weeks so their week will be busy (they leave on Thursday). I hope to stop by their house on Wednesday in the early afternoon because Nikko has ABA at 4:30 on Tuesday and Wednesday. I don't think I'll bother them tomorrow.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The School Video

According to the school report, this week's topic was bugs. I am thankful that I haven't received any really graphic projects of insects. Yet. :/

At the bottom of the report, Ms. Winters wrote: I sent you a Flip Video of today's session. He did great! I received it via email. It was 20 minutes long and I was surprised that she spent that long on Nikko, when he's only at school for 2.5 hours and there are 14 kids in the class. Then again, if only 7 are special needs kids, they might not all need speech therapy. I watched the first half with Nikko next to me. Kathy was sitting on the floor in the OT room with Nikko sitting cross-legged next to her. He was categorizing pictures into three groups: Animals, Vehicles, and Food. Kathy would get his attention, hold up a picture and wait for him to identify it. If he didn't, she would say what it is and he'd repeat it, then place it on the right category. For some reason, Nikko was lifting his right pant leg to scratch his leg, but mostly he was fidgeting with the round neck collar of his shirt. No idea why. After categories, Nikko went through a book and named colors. This all took over ten minutes. I stopped the video to clean up lunch stuff and revisited it in a few hours.

During the second half of the video, Kathy told Nikko to do an action and he did it. She told him to stand up, turn around, put your hands in the air, where's your socks & shoes, touch your nose/head/hair/eyes/ears/toes. While he was doing all this, it suddenly dawned on me that he was following directions, and repeating them as well. He was not able to do ANY of these things one year ago. His cognitive abilities have grown a lot over the past school year, and even though he is highly distracted, he can DO things. He can SPEAK. It choked me up to see his progress in school. The last two things he did in the video were to identify his teachers' pictures on flash cards, and then it ended with him identifying his own family members. He doesn't quite say Mommy, yet. Instead, he pronounces it Bommy or Boppy.

This morning my in-laws came over to watch Ronin and Audrey while I ran to the dentist to have my crown put in permanently and to fill a cavity. The kids did great with their grandparents. As for the afternoon, we didn't go anywhere. Instead, I put Disney's Cars in the DVD player and the kids enjoyed it because they haven't seen it in a long time. After Audrey's bath the boys were having a big fight that I had to break up so I put her in the crib and tended to them. When I came back, I was shocked because Audrey had dug a hole in the middle of my container of Aquaphor and smeared it in her hair, as well as the bed sheets. I had to throw her in the tub again and bedtime ran late by 15 minutes. Nikko was pretty sleepy by the time I got to tucking him in, but he still attempted to sing with me. Before I left, I told Nikko to say I Love You, Mommy. His eyes were closed, he sighed sleepily, then said quietly, I love you, Mommy. I held back my tears and gave him kisses and hugs before leaving him to sleep peacefully, without me badgering him anymore. :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sly, when no one's looking...

At lunch today Nikko was sitting eat mac cheese and I put juice in front of him (sippy w/a straw). I watched him like a hawk, taking only a sip or two while eating. Ronin needed a diaper change so I took him to the living room, leaving Nikko alone for a minute. I could see Nikko's back from the living room, and he was hunched over strangely so I ran back and caught him dribbling on the table and in his bowl. I must have surprised him because he started whining and protesting when I told him NO and when I put a paper towel over his mess. I let him drink w/me holding the cup and he wanted to hold it on his own and turn his back on me. Finally I put him on a stool at the sink and gave him the opportunity to spit in the sink if he wanted. Instead he drank the rest of his juice w/o incident and seemed ok when I let him go. I don't know how much longer I will tolerate watching him drink his juice standing over the sink. Grrrrr!

After lunch I got the troops together for a trip to Costco. I put the younger ones in the cart and Nikko walked. He kept trying to get my Costco card but I evaded him and he soon accepted his own card to hold. While walking, he learned how to step up on the side of the cart and hang on for a ride. We left without incident. I took the kids home for a snack and then packed them up again to go to my friend Wendie's house. She was hosting a get-together for Rhonda (mom of the 3 kiddos from our playdates) who is deploying to Afghanistan for A YEAR. Atz told me that if something happened to her over the year and I didn't go to the get-together, I would regret it. So true. The kids behaved really well. They were unleashed with Rachel's kids and Wendie's kids in the living room. Tayden, Wendie's eldest, took to looking after Audrey, and she liked him back, too. Nikko played with a toy helicopter and actually spent some time away from my side, playing in the chaotic living room. But when I went to move the car to load up some hand downs, he noticed I was gone and went ballistic. Of course!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Juice-dribbling, and "Sorry"

I should have seen this coming over the last two days, but...

I observed Nikko drinking juice and holding it in his mouth. Right in his chair he let the juice dribble out the corners, over his chin, down his shirt and onto the table. I told him not to do that, even gave him a napkin to wipe up the mess on the table. The next day I didn't see him do it, but when he got up from his chair I saw his placemat was a puddle and some juice had pooled onto the floor. I brought him back and told him that we don't play with juice, we drink it, gave him a paper towel to help me mop up the juice, and that was it.

TODAY... I was in the kitchen and turned to see Nikko come to the table, take a sip of juice, then trot away. Then come back half a minute later, take a sip, then trot away. He did this four or so times when I decided to check on him and peeked around the corner. All the kids were sitting on some part of the couch, but what I saw was about 60% of the floor had juice on it. Nikko was running back and forth with mouthfuls of juice and depositing it on the living room floor. I stood in shock because at the time I couldn’t fathom WHY he was doing this, and how I’d have to clean up the sticky mess with paper towels and some Fantastic spray until I could wash the floor after the kids were in bed. I realize that I’m going to have to monitor even more closely how Nikko drinks, and when to give it to him and when to take it away. I also realize that he might enjoy that feeling of juice spilling out of his mouth, be it an oral thing or sensory thing, but Nikko doesn’t display many oral fixations, doesn’t chew on toys or objects, and doesn’t prefer crunchy over smooth. I hope this will be the worst of it. I don’t even know where to begin except to watch him drink and make sure he swallows his juice before leaving the table. When I saw the floor and all the juice puddles, I started to cry. A lot. I went to get paper towels and Fantastic to battle the stickiness and I just let loose the floodgates so much that Ronin started crying, too. I wailed that Nikko didn't even think anything was wrong, and I couldn't punish him because he wouldn't understand what I was punishing him for. I couldn't put him in a timeout because it was too late, and he wouldn't sit still in timeout the way he's supposed to. He'd sit there and laugh or babble, or even just try to get away. I cried as I mopped up the floor on my knees. I made my way to the hallway near the kitchen, near the kiddie table and noticed a big puddle in the middle of the hallway. Still crying, I squatted down to start wiping the puddle when *BAM* my butt hit the top of the back of Ronin's chair. It felt like I had sat down hard on a pole. I stood gripping the doorway, my tailbone on fire, and crying a whole new set of tears at my stupidity for not looking before I squatted. I made it back to my chair in front of the computer after fetching an ice pack, finding difficulty to sit, and put the ice pack on my swollen eyes and cheeks. I hear someone scuffle into the kitchen, then I heard, "Sorry." I didn't move, then heard again, "Sorry." I looked up from the ice pack and it was Nikko. He was by my side and I asked him what he wanted. "Sorry," he said a third time while reaching for the ice pack. I showed it to him, then gave him a kiss and a big hug for giving me an apology the likes I have never expected from him. Perhaps he realized that I was very, very sad, crying like a madwoman, and maybe he knew that a Sorry was in order. In any event, it WAS an event and I was happy and sad at the same time. I forgave him. It's too bad that he didn't say sorry later after dinner, when he pulled his juice-dribbling antics again but only on 1/8 of the rubber mat-covered floor, and at the foot of his chair in the kitchen. Grrr.

Other than that incident, here's his speech report: Categorization, naming, requesting. Good attention today!

He also did well in ABA today. Very chatty, which I definitely prefer over quiet.

During the day I made good on my promise to Ronin to go to the store for an ice cream toy. I had to take Ronin & Audrey with me to the eye doctor, who said my corneas were not healing very quickly so come back in two weeks and keep hydrating my eyes. We went to Meijer and they didn't have any ice cream play food. We got back in time to pick up Nikko from the bus stop, and I was determined to go to Toys R Us to find an ice cream toy set. The juice-dribbling incident was a slight setback because my eyes were so swollen from crying that I had to wait until the histamines calmed down. But we went, and I found the toy. Nikko ended up with another boxed Slinky. Good enough for me, as long as he was happy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Meltdown at Target

I took the three kids to Target to get more Resolve carpet cleaner (for our poor couch that keeps falling victim to Nikko's smear accidents) and more Shout stain remover (for the bloody noses Nikko keeps having overnight). I decided to venture into the toy section because I wanted to get Ronin a basic plastic ice cream toy set to quell his new obsession from a TV show. I found one, the Circo brand, and Ronin was thrilled carrying it around. I got a toy car for Nikko because he didn't have any toy, and Audrey got a stuffed animal. Nikko walked down some aisles and then he came running at me with a box of Hungry Hungry Hippo. We've seen this at a friend's house before and on, so I told Nikko we could get it and I put it at the bottom rack under the cart. Nikko grabbed it again and shoved it at me, meaning he wanted to open it NOW. I told him we'd open it at home and that's when the meltdown erupted. He was screaming and stomping and I tried to be calm and ignore his furious spinning. I even thought we could get a few grocery items but Nikko's high-pitched screams were getting louder and he started pushing me as well as the cart, so I decided it was time to go. I remained focused on walking to a lane and didn't look at a single person's face, but cringed just a little bit because how could you NOT hear Nikko and wonder why the kid was screaming bloody murder? I put our things on the conveyor belt and took Ronin's ice cream toy set momentarily. When they swiped it, something on the register said, "DO NOT SELL. RECALL ITEM." A manager came and told me they couldn't sell it to me. I stared at them blankly and said, "Ooooh great. You realize we're going to have another kid melting down in a few seconds, right?" And sure enough, the second Ronin realized he wasn't getting his ice cream toy back, he erupted in high-pitched screams that matched Nikko's. I smiled weakly at the fantastic display of Asian head-shaved screamers pulling at me and I wheeled toward the exit. I looked at one lady because I didn't want to run her over and it was an Asian grandma-type who stood staring at us. I stared straight forward again and walked us out. One lady in the parking lot offered her help to me, and I said thank you but they are just mad, and then she said, “I think your other boy’s got your wallet.” Sure enough, Nikko had finally pickpocketed my wallet and was rifling through it for my Costco card. We got to the Pilot and I was loading up the kids with Ronin still screaming and wailing. Nikko had calmed down now that he was in possession of his AND my Costco card. I gave Ronin Nikko’s toy car, which was Wingo from Disney’s Cars, and Ronin stopped crying. I apologized to him about the ice cream toy and it set him off again a few times. As we drove home I think he was able to rationalize me telling him that the ice cream toy was broken. When I took him out of the car seat, he said, “We’re getting new ice cream. But it’s broken. Sorry.” And that was his mantra for an hour. I do feel bad that I had to relinquish that toy. So tomorrow after lunch and before therapy I promise to take them to Meijer to get some kind of ice cream toy again.

Nikko’s school report from OT: Good session – lots of talking. Did lots of heavy work activities first – then worked on card & did puzzles. Labeled many of the animal puzzle pieces!

Jenna also noted that he was very talkative during ABA. He also had a nosebleed so they came upstairs and I had to wash his bloody hands/arms in the sink. His clothes really didn’t get messy, strangely.

Monday, May 3, 2010


During breakfast today, I stood by the dishwasher reading the newspaper when Nikko walked right up to me. I looked down at him looking up and I said, "What does Nikko want?"
"Cheerios?" he asked.
"Oh, you mean Chocolate Cheerios please?"
"Choc Cheerios? Please?"
"Sure thing!" and I gave him a handful of this new flavor of Cheerios cereal which I really like, by the way. I realized, minutes later, that this simple exchange of Nikko requesting something verbally should be seen as PROGRESS. It wasn't the first time it happened, but this was the first time I truly noticed that Nikko asked for something without repeating the choice I gave him. I asked him what he wanted, but didn't give him a verbal prompt of Cheerios. He said it on his own. And for a few days I've asked him what he wanted and he'd try to tell me something but it came out in jibberish because he either didn't know the word or was trying to pull the word from the deep corners of his memory. I was just thinking yesterday that Nikko does a lot of repeating. It's the way he is learning how to speak and how to form words. Is it officially echolalia? I don't think so, because if I offer him something he really wants vs. something he doesn't, he will repeat what he wants. For example, if I say, "Do you want vitamins or cheese slices?" Nikko will say, "Vitamins!" Later in the afternoon, we were in the living room and Nikko was in a good mood, putting his face directly into mine. I'd say, "Nikko, say Hello Mommy! Hello, Mommy! Hello, Mommy!" And he repeated, "Hello Mommy!" I pointed to Ronin and said to Nikko, "Hello, Ronin!" and Nikko repeated it. I pointed to Audrey and said to Nikko, "Hello, Audrey!" and Nikko repeated it. This only worked twice around for the kids, because when I pointed back to myself with a hello mommy, Nikko started looking beyond me so I knew I lost his focus and had to let him go. Darn it, it felt so cool to have Nikko's attention and focus, to have him engaged in our verbal activity for less than a minute, but when he checked out mentally I knew that if I forced him to say whatever I said to him, he'd start to whine and pull away, not wanting to engage.

I gave the boys haircuts today. I set them up in front of the laptop in the kitchen and put on Disney's Pixar Mater Shorts like Tokyo Mater and Rescue Mater (based on the Disney movie Cars characters) that the kids could watch on Youtube. I had Audrey down for a nap because it would be chaotic to have her on the loose while cut hair was all over the floor in piles. It was right before lunch and Ronin started whining for a lollipop, which I've given them during haircuts in the past. I told him that we'd eat lunch right after the haircut, and for once I didn't give them any oral reinforcers like lollipops or cookies. Nikko didn't complain at first and was satisfied with the laptop, but toward the end he wasn't thrilled with me buzzing around his ears and the back of his neck. Ronin was worse. He kept whining for lunch, for cookies and lollipops, for the hair in his mouth. "If you don't want hair in your mouth, close your mouth!" I told him. I was irritated with Ronin's whining and told him that he needed to let me finish because he kept stalling me with requests, and if he didn't let me finish then I would let him be ugly. Somehow we got through the haircut, and now I have two little buzz-cut boys. Angels.


There was nothing on tap today until we had to leave to meet up with Atz and her family to celebrate Tristan's 15th birthday at Fuddrucker's. The restaurant setting is always a challenge with the three kids, and seeing how Nikko will be adds another layer of the unknown. He isn't scared off by crowds of people or high-decibel noises, but sometimes he brings an upsetting moment with him into a room or is relentless about one singular thing. He was almost always at my elbow when we walked around. For dinner I picked mac and cheese for him and he went to town on the bowl. He was very well-behaved during dinner. I had packed a toy bag and then left it behind on the kitchen counter, but luckily there were 25 cent gumball machines that had silly toys instead of candy so we took a few turns and got some play food and a little rubber monkey. The first food to come tumbling out of the machine was a mini sandwich. The second food was a box of french fries. The third was a hamburger, which Ronin quickly adopted. Nikko claimed the french fries and there was peace for now. After dinner, the kids got restless so we let them stretch their legs nearby. Nikko started doing some dashing back and forth from one end of our long table to the other. He would actually run a long way, curve around a table, and then pause... he could hear me call his name, the sharp "Ni-KKO!!" and then turn back to run toward me again. As long as he could see me from afar, he felt safe enough to venture just as far. It was the start of the bedtime routine when we got home so little else happened after that. Tomorrow we have no school and no therapies since Melisa will be switching her session to Fridays. I plan to buzz the boys' hair again since Nikko is working himself up into a sweat just by dancing and cajoling in front of the living room mirror.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Denis has recently become obsessed with kites. For years he has had a tiny, little box kite that he meant to fly with his nephew Odin. That event never materialized and now, with children of his own, and windier days ahead, the concept of going kite flying has become paramount. Today was Mayor Daley's Kite Festival held along the waterfront. We packed everyone in the car and headed toward Montrose Harbor in Chicago. The traffic along the way was absolutely horrible. Highways are plagued with construction and the weekend, coupled with beautiful weather, ambulances & squad cars winding through one-lane streets, and a Cubs game made getting toward the lake painfully slow. A little over an hour. I worried that the kids would melt down but they didn't. Finally arrived, parked after stalking a space, and put the kids in the double stroller and umbrella stroller. We could see the vast sea of kites in unique shapes and sizes rolling in the sky. The kids loved seeing everything! I put down a banig (straw blanket) for a mini-picnic and we had a lovely time. Except for the kids getting tangled again and again in our mini-kite strings, we blended in with all the other families chilling out with their own kites. On the way back home, all the kids fell asleep.

Denis and I were going to attend his coworker's wedding reception for a few hours. I asked my mom to come stay with the kids, and later on Atz and her girls would keep mom company for a short while. When she walked through the door, Nikko instantly started whining and became my shadow. Mom tried to coax him with a toy truck and books but my shadow stuck by my side. When it was time to leave, Nikko cried louder and louder and stood at the screen door looking after us. At the reception, I ate too many hors d'oeuvres but still had room for dessert. Mom had texted me that Audrey was in bed, that Nikko fell asleep (all after their baths) and that we should enjoy ourselves. I felt guilty, still, but we got home by 9:30. The door was locked but Ronin heard us and came slowly walking to the door, wide-eyed. He recognized me through the blinds and toggled the knob when I asked him to open the door. Nikko had fallen asleep on the couch so I carried him to his bed. Audrey was sleeping soundly in her crib, tired from the day's activities. Ronin looked tired but was wired because Team UmiZoomi was on. Needless to say, he was ushered to bed and I thanked my mom for helping us out. She seemed to enjoy the kids' company and was happy that after Nikko was finished crying at the screen door, he took her hand and led her to the kid table. He sat down and started eating dinner, accepting his situation. Aw.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Water, water

Today was extremely windy, partly sunny and incredibly warm. Nikko's class was going on a field trip to a local farm. I dressed him in a t-shirt and jeans and hoped that he had a great time. This is day two of Nikko carrying around a little yellow dinosaur, but probably day four of carrying around his Costco card. He was in good spirits when he came home, which is always a plus.

The entire morning I was plotting what I was going to take with us on our outing with Pat & Anna & their kids to the Morton Arboretum. There was a children's garden that was supposed to be interactive that was a big draw. Anna also warned me that there were water features and places to dig in the dirt. I packed two extra changes of clothes for each kid, brought Crocs just in case, hats just in case, diapers and wipes, the food bag with chicken nuggets for a quick, late lunch, and sunscreen. I tried really hard to pace the kids with diaper changes and trying to feed them something quick before leaving, but Ronin & Audrey were sabotaging my efforts by squawking for animal crackers before Nikko came home from school. I was pretty patient in the morning but got antsy and then irritable when we were down to the wire. Had to leave by noon to get to Anna's by 12:15p. And somehow we made it on time, for once. Chinny and Chester were already there, so we left as a caravan.

I don't know what I was thinking when I first decided that sure, I could handle all three kids in an open garden-type setting. I've been handling them at Costco and Meijer, no big deal. Um, WRONG!! Nikko was cemented to the side of a waterfall pond, leaning over and splashing joyfully. He was not a menace to anyone so I let him be. Ronin was running all over the joint and discovered a duo slide with climbing features around it. There were ramps to walk/run and big tree roots to walk under. There was another moving water feature that involved shovelling dirt around but I steered the kids away from that. Audrey didn't sit in her stroller for long. Soon she was toddling over the wood chips and exploring with her fingers. If her pacifier weren't in her mouth, she would have put everything that came across her fingers right between her teeth! It's with mixed feelings that I was glad Nikko was totally into the water. He was stimming off the water, the splashing and putting his face into it. He was also cooling off and enjoying every minute of it. If he were running around exploring as deftly as Ronin was, I would have major difficulty trying to keep track of him. Thank goodness that Chinny and Chester were able to rotate the three kids between us so it was a 1:1 ratio. After I herded the kids to a corner to take a break with some juice and nuggets, Nikko was able to detach from the pond long enough to run around the slide and ramps. I changed Nikko's shirts twice, saving the last dry shirt for the car ride home. The kids had a blast, and all fell asleep on the ride home.