Friday, July 30, 2010

Quick notes

I've been reading a book about parenting your strong-willed child to try and get a better handle on parenting Ronin. Yesterday I tried implementing the positive attitude shifts that the book supports and it made for a more pleasant Ronin. I think I barely had to raise my voice as well. I hoped today would be more of the same, but Ronin was extremely challenging today, very boisterous, energetic, aggressive, bouncy, and sassy. I kept threatening him with time outs if he kept hitting or pushing Nikko and I felt like I was over-threatening them. It wasn't as smooth as yesterday, but I'll keep trying. This morning I took the kids into the basement and let them run rampant while I folded some clothes. I didn't want to keep telling them what to do, but when tempers flared over a silly toy I took it away from everyone and announced that it was time to go back upstairs. The kids seemed restless indoors so I said that we would go take a walk. The kids get excited when I tell them "Crocs no socks!" or "Socks and shoes!" and it surprises me that they retrieve the appropriate gear each time. We walked toward the train tracks when I saw a house the next block over was having a yard sale. I retrieved some cash just in case and walked us across the street, wary that the kids might get attached to something. One of the girls in that house is Nikko's classmate and her name is Faith. I believe she's another special needs child as she has an enlarged forehead and slurred speech, but I don't know the name of that condition. Her father seems to look just like an older version of Joey Fatone, the member of that group NSync. After perusing the kid items I saw a round kid-sized folding chair with the Disney princesses on it, next to a McQueen chair. Ronin didn't find any interest in the McQueen chair, surprisingly, but I knew the princess chair would be favorable to Audrey and it was slightly larger, so for $5 I got it. I got some change so I could get a styrofoam cup of lemonade that Audrey was quick to pounce on. The boys were entertaining themselves with a McQueen racetrack that was missing a vital track, so I had to announce to them that it was staying and we were going. Ronin raised a stink about it but I tried to impress upon him that he really wanted a racetrack for his birthday next week and that he should wait until then. Nikko kept trying to pull the chair from my grasp all the way home and was whining terribly. We got to the front step and I set the chair down. Immediately Nikko sat in it; that's all he wanted to do. Nikko was also carrying around Bow Wow, that stuffed anti-mite/antimicrobial dog that Denis got from a friend at Reggie's night club. Audrey really wanted to finish off the lemonade so I let her. Beyond our backyard I could hear the roar of a tree-cutting crew so I told the kids that we should go walk and see what's happening. We walked around the block and stood a few houses down from the crew that was indeed cutting branches off a tree while using a cherry-picker. Cheap, free entertainment, huh? We returned home to have lunch, then naptime for the little ones. I tried to lie down with Nikko because that bout of vertigo had really zapped my energy, but Nikko did not succumb to a nap. He was poking my face the whole time. Our afternoon was uneventful but I was fine with that since Ronin was still a bundle of energy. Ronin and Audrey kept donning their shark/duck costumes and getting all sweaty. I engaged in a bout of tickles and physical play with all three of them after naptime and before snacktime. I'm hoping to break out some wipe boards for them tomorrow or Sunday so that they can each have their own and practice some drawing. I may have to turn my head away from the inevitable marker that will get on them, but it's par for the course, right?

Something to note of late regarding Nikko is that he is showing instances where he is not going to have a complete meltdown if I leave the house or his sight. This has been the case on Wednesdays when I leave to go exercise. Nikko hasn't melted down, according to Denis. We've also had some trouble when Denis takes the kids to the basement after dinner. Nikko would stay upstairs and hang around the kitchen for me, thus forcing me to escort him downstairs when I'd rather be upstairs cleaning up the aftermath so the kitchen isn't a total disaster after kiddie bedtime. But tonight he followed everyone else downstairs when the door was opened. He stayed there for a good ten minutes before coming back upstairs for a drink and to wait for me. It's slow progress with many steps backward, but there's still some progress there. I think having the different therapists in the house may help with the transitions, even though overall Nikko is not great at transitions.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Trying hard / Vertigo

I have not had internet access to the laptop upstairs all week because lightning storms last Friday fried our router. The internet works downstairs, but coming down here late at night to blog isn't the comfiest or most convenient thing for me. The laptop has spoiled me to have easy access to the blog, Facebook, and information at my fingertips. I've journaled a few days upstairs, but can't transfer them to the blog until the router is fixed. I hope it happens tomorrow.

So a quick note of the passing week: I've noticed in the last few ABA sessions Nikko has had with his therapists that the overall consensus is that Nikko has been trying really hard. He had a terrific session with Jenna on Wednesday, but a tough beginning session with Kathy on Tuesday, and today Melisa said his session started out really rough with crying, whining, meltdowns and noncompliance, but after 20-30 minutes of getting all that out of his system, he became super focused and accomplished things with Melisa that he had never done before, such as copying her building blocks upwards and sideways. He was really volatile last week, and his noncompliance comes as a surprise this week because he's been in a relatively good mood throughout. Wednesday was his last day of Three Wee Camp Class and he came home with a project involving stamps and sand. Next year I might consider putting him in the camp class again, with an aide, but we'll see how his progress turns out this year.

One more note: Yesterday I was in a pilates class with my friend Rachel, who is making a commitment of traveling 30 minutes from Streamwood to Mount Prospect with the condition that I take this class and work out with her. Denis has committed to caring for the kids so I can do this. Last night during class, as I was on my back doing crunches and looking sideways at the instructor, I looked up and the entire ceiling was spinning clockwise, REALLY FAST. I closed my eyes but felt the spinning from underneath my eyelids. I hadn't had this spinning feeling in 8-9 years, and then we sat up and I was sweating profusely, extremely dizzy. I continued to be slightly nauseated, but went walking/running on the track with Rachel after class, did more sit ups, and worried that the spinning would come back. It didn't, thank God. I went home, drank water, and threw up. Went to bed, and this morning felt the dizziness come back right before I opened my eyes. I sat up and immediately folded back onto the pillow, dizzy. I heard Ronin calling out for me so I walked the hallway, leaning on the walls and trying to regain my equilibrium. It must have been residual dizziness from last night, but I didn't know it at the time. I ended up seeing a doctor and she pegged me as having benign positional vertigo, specifically in the left ear. Basically, if I lean on my left side, it will disrupt some stones/calcium deposits in the fluid of my inner ear and cause the horrible spinning. GREAT. No cure, it will subside within a day. I still have a headache from it, but I'm going to survive. I've always had some form of motion sickness, but knowing that it's really vertigo is both enlightening and terrifying. I'll do more research on it, but I've got to figure out how to avoid left-side stuff. How am I going to get out of bed, since I get up on the left side? What am I going to do about pilates? Lay on my right side and chance the vertigo there? Probably. Oh the joys of being me!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Nikko has been scripting songs. Yesterday as we got ready for Camp Class, he was chanting the beginning of Bad Romance by Lady GaGa:
Rah rah ah ah ah
Roma roma ma
Gaga ooh la la...

It was in Nikko-ese, of course, but I could tell what he was saying by the tune.

Another song he was scripting was the chorus to a Wiggles song:
Oooo oooo I'm dressing up in style
and that was verbatim!

And today he was repeating something but I couldn't pick out the tune. I had to ask Ronin where Nikko got his song and Ronin said it was from the Wiggles. Nikko was singing The Fruit Salad song in parts:
The first step, peel a banana
The second step, toss in some grapes
The third step, cut up some apples
Cut up some melons, now put them on your plate

Nikko also did some hand motions to eating the fruit salad like in the video.

I'm glad to see the beginning of these scripts, but I'll probably wonder at what point will he lessen scripting and turn words into conversation. The last two sessions he's had in ABA have been good, but he's been scripting a lot, very unfocused at times, and frequently goes into his own world. That's been characteristic of Nikko, going off into Nikko's world, but quite honestly he's been "here" over the past few months more than he's NOT been here. I still tend to turn his head towards me with my hands if he's looking off in another direction, "ignoring" me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Meet in the middle / HAPPY 4TH BIRTHDAY, NIKKO!

Today was Nikko's 4th birthday. He had ABA with Kathy at 11a, then lunch, then we went to Mom's house for the afternoon. When we came home, I fed them dinner, Denis showed up, we blew out candles again, did some gifts, then bath and bed. All in a nutshell. Did Nikko enjoy his day? I really hope so. Thank goodness there were no huge crying fits, although I can't say the same for Ronin, poor Ronin who is obsessed with having a birthday and wanting to "have Nikko's birthday" and everything that goes with it: the day, cake, presents. Ronin doesn't understand the concept of days, weeks or months so telling him his birthday is coming in two weeks was not comforting enough. I had to make sure that Ronin had a gift to open at Mom's house, and then again at home, because the alternative was to have a brute, upset, loud, crying, screaming little boy. I figured there's no real harm, that Ronin will be more mature next year to handle birthdays, and he can practice all year while attending other kids' parties that he can't always have a gift. I also didn't want to spoil Nikko's birthday with Ronin's incessant crying, because every time either Ronin or Audrey is in full cry mode, Nikko starts getting upset and will come over to swat the offending crier on the head. Not pretty. Best to placate the offender with toys. Nikko received a Toy Story 3 Pizza Palace car set and a Matchbox truck from Mom, while Ronin got a car carrier. I brought along a Disney Cars Dr. Mater truck for Nikko and a Cars ambulance for Ronin, but somewhere along the way they got switched in ownership. I brought a purple Little Pony for Audrey to open, but she didn't show much interest in it. At home, I gave Ronin a Buzz Lightyear puzzle which he worked on with our help and was so proud to complete. I got Nikko the play cash register and he quickly adopted the plastic play credit card as his own. I don't think Nikko understands what a birthday is at all, but that's ok for now.

I was answering a Facebook post on Nikko's birthday when I typed, "Sometimes I wonder what qualified me to be a mom in the first place." It made me wonder, truly, why God would give me three little lives to be in my care, when I have such a terrible temper. If someone told me I was such a caring person, responsible and great with people, I'd probably snort and laugh cruelly. On days when I'm yelling my head off because my kids won't listen to me or turn their heads towards me when I'm asking them to do something, I really wonder why I was given this opportunity to have kids. It almost seems doomed for failure, because if you are too stern then your kids could ignore you or turn away from you, and if you're too lax then they will step all over you and you'll feel powerless either way. I suppose there's the happy medium, but attaining it means working hard, REALLY HARD, to meet in the middle. Once I acknowledge this concept, I wonder if I'll be trying to meet in the middle for the rest of my life. I've admitted that I yell, in general, WAY too much. I yell at Ronin a lot, or reprimand him for not meeting my expectations. I get impatient with Nikko (and the others, too) so much that I hit that level of exasperation that elevates the shrillness in my tone of voice. I'm really quite ashamed of it and vow continually not to do that. When people tell me to try counting to 10, 60, 100, I tend to roll my eyes because that kind of "relaxation" method is not working. Go to the bathroom, close the door behind you to gather your thoughts, and let them cry and pound on the door. Um, no, that doesn't ease my nerves one bit. What I AM thinking of trying is to write out those key words (the ones that would make my eyes roll) on paper, very thick, and put them on the walls. Phrases like:

COUNT TO TEN (rolling my eyes)
Perhaps the visual reminders will help me to come down from my high horse. I may give it a try.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mimicking Wiggles / ice cream

We go into Nikko's Camp Class room to wait for Melisa to arrive. Since he didn't immediately rush over to the sand table, I steered him to a rug that had magnetic blocks and other building toys. The CD player had a Wiggles song playing:

Everybody clap,
(Clap! Clap! Clap! )
Everybody sing,
La la la la la!
Bow to your partner,
Then you turn around
Hands in the air,
Rock-a-bye your bear,
Bear's now asleep,
Shh! Shh! Shh!
Bear's now asleep,
Shh! Shh! Shh!

I looked over at Nikko and he had his arms cradled in front of him (Rock-a-bye your bear) and then he tilted his head to the side and put his hands under his cheek (Bear's now asleep). I was surprised to see him mimicking the movements to that song so I helped imitate his movements for one more verse. It makes me happy to know that he can recognize a song and imitate it from memory. Melisa showed up, I told Nikko, OK, I'll see you later! Kiss kiss!, and no tears. We picked him up at 11:30, had lunch, and then Sarah came over for therapy. She remarked at the end of it that she had never worked with a kid that could wipe his own nose. I looked at her quizzically and Sarah described how Nikko kept rubbing his nose because it bothered him, so much that he got up, went to the box of Kleenex, took one out and started wiping his nose. It's too bad he hasn't mastered this during bloody nose episodes. But hey, that was great to hear!

Later in the afternoon and after the kids' naps (however, not Nikko. He had therapy instead) I tried giving the kids popsicles for snack. Audrey didn't like it because it was too cold. Ronin tried an orange one, but must have lost interest. Nikko liked the cherry popsicle and had two, but became angry when the second one broke apart toward the end of the stick. He tried to put them back together to no avail. I had to take away the drippy, messy stick and plate, and revert to plan B: ice cream sandwiches. It worked, but Nikko was extremely messy. I even dug up a So Delicious ice cream sandwich that was Ronin-friendly, despite the freezer burn. I wonder how many times Nikko will bug me in the next day or two for ice cream, popsicles, and ice cream sandwiches. He hadn't napped all day so bedtime was welcoming to him. Before hopping into bed, Denis held onto Nikko's burp cloth and asked Nikko what he wanted. Denis waited until Nikko said, "Burp cloth please daddy." Hooray!! I still have to prompt Nikko many, many times before he properly asks for something. Except for cheese puffs, unfortunately.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The new "FS"

Two things were on our agenda today: attend two birthday parties. Would the kids be able to handle it? Would we?

The first was a 4-yr old's bday at the Randall Oaks Park in West Dundee. (Ironically, both the bday celebrants of today had actual birthdays the day before Nikko's.) This park had a petting zoo, two volleyball courts, two playground areas for kids/toddlers, and an event that warranted two inflatable jumpers. We arrived, greeted the hosts and picked a table that had some bubble equipment on it. There were also kites to fly and good food. We took the kids to the toddle playground and the little ones seemed to be having fun. Nikko, on the other hand, was not in the best of moods and started asking for candies (lollipops). He was becoming relentless with me and I was getting exasperated because I didn't want to give in. The lollipops have suddenly become the new "Fruit Snacks" and I'm hating it. Nikko claws at my pockets and starts tugging at my backpack zippers to get at my stash. I'm not sure how he was able to calm down but soon he was sitting near Denis and fiddling with an empty water bottle. Before we left, he was given a little lizard kite that he found enjoyment in carrying like an airplane.

We went home to change diapers, refill juices and give Ronin an albuterol treatment before heading out to bday party #2 at the Creen's. The kids enjoyed playing with toys that weren't their own as well as thoroughly enjoyed bouncing in the enclosed backyard trampoline. Unfortunately, when the birthday girl was opening gifts, my kiddos were getting antsy to want to play with her new toys, especially the Toy Story 3-themed ones. I ran through my supply of lollipops to keep Nikko at bay. The kicker was when she opened a doll-sized Buzz Lightyear. Nikko became enthralled and wanted that Buzz Lightyear badly. We had to pry him away many times and then reached the point where it was simply obvious that it was time to leave. I had to pick up Nikko on the way out as he cried and struggled because he didn't want to leave. I put him firmly in the car seat and he was upset the whole ride home. Before bath time he was on the floor in the living room and the kitchen so I let him cool off in whatever way he chose. All the kids are sleeping with minimal noise so I wonder how tiring a day it was. We've been on the go go go since Thursday with pool time late in the day, pool time Friday, then two parties on Saturday. I wonder if really was too much to have the kids on the go for the entire afternoon, and will we pay for it tomorrow?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Wheeling PD Aquatic Center

Denis came home from work early today so we took advantage of the hot weather and went to the Wheeling Park District Aquatic Center. We tried to visit this park before but thunderstorms kept the park closed and we went to the backyard pool at Casa Umali instead. This place had a huge zero-depth pool that had a tunnel slide attached, a deeper end to the pool plus waterfalls, a whale slide and other shower features. There was a splash pad with a huge bucket that tipped over when filled and doused the entire play structure. Next to that was a smaller pool for water basketball and a sand lot with climbing features. I think of all the parks we have visited, this one was the nicest one overall. I'd put Flick Park up there, too, since that kiddie pool is fenced in. Yesterday we had visited Meadows Park pool between 6-7:30p for their family swim hours and were disappointed to see that the huge water splashy tree thing in the zero depth pool had been taken out. Now it's basically a zero-depth end to an Olympic-sized pool with a few bubble fountains. Back to the Aquatic Center, Ronin was deathly afraid of the splash pad features due mainly to the huge bucket of water that threatened to empty gallons of water on everyone. Denis opted to take Ronin to the pool since Nikko was enjoying the bubble fountains. The minute he left, Audrey asked, "Daddy go? Daddy go?" She tolerated the splash pad features but kept asking for her daddy. I will never forget what I saw happen next. A girl about 6-7 yrs old in a green bathing suit had run full speed into Nikko's back, knocking him down like a football player. He flew two feet forward in the air and landed on his stomach, knees and hands on the watery pavement (the rubber splash pad didn't stretch as far as the fountains, it was like a rough sidewalk) and slid another half foot. I ran to him and he was shocked, then started crying in pain. I looked him over and noted that the girl was nowhere in sight. No major scrapes to the knees or hands, but I could see little red abrasions on his lower ribs which probably took the impact of his fall. He started struggling against me, trying to get away from my grip, when I saw the dad of the girl dragging her over to us and telling her to apologize to Nikko. She didn't want to do it at first, but after two tries she said, "Sorry." Normally I am the type of person who would have said, "You don't have to make her apologize, he's ok, he's going to be fine." But I kept my mouth shut until she apologized, then said, "That's ok." It was probably an accident, a result of kids running in the park when they're not supposed to so they don't pay attention to where they're going or who is in the way, but because she plowed down my Nikko, I definitely wanted that apology since that image of Nikko flying onto the rough pavement with no warning is burned onto my eyeballs forever.

We eventually moved to the bigger swimming pool and that's where Nikko was most comfortable. He is going to be a good swimmer some day and seems very at ease coasting in the water. He got stimmy back at the splash pad running back and forth through the water structure ending up on the water slide, and he got stimmy on the whale slide, going up the steps and down the slide, unfortunately getting pushier each time and annoying the kids around him. We got the kids to a quieter part of the pool with a structure that had streams of water from different tubes. Nikko enjoyed body-slamming into the water, bobbing as if he were swimming, and not afraid when his head dipped below the water. He' also tilt his head to the left side at times and didn't seem bothered by the water over his ears. Lollipops have been the key to keeping the kids still while we changed them out of swim diapers into regular clothes.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wal Mart Meltdown

Might as well start with the bad stuff...
I've been pretty lucky in the past taking all three kiddos to stores, but it's been increasingly difficult in stores with toy sections. I can rationalize with Ronin to a point, but when Nikko fixates on a toy, he becomes RELENTLESS. That's what happened today at Wal-Mart. After breezing through the grocery section, I wanted to *quickly* find birthday presents for two parties this weekend. Audrey was in the shopping cart seat while her brothers orbited around us. Nikko saw a $17 circular car slide that I wasn't planning on getting but would consider it at the end. But then he saw that green RC car from Toy Story 3 and when I glanced at the price tag it was $69.99! HELL NO. Nikko fixated on it, dragged and carried it, and wouldn't let it go. I tried to pry it from him and put it back. I put it at the bottom of the shopping cart so he could access it while I walked around. Nikko just wanted that box opened to play with the car. I'm lucky he didn't tear it open himself. Then, Ronin saw a Lightning McQueen Radiator Springs edition car that was similar to the one we had at home except this one's eyes moved. Ronin wanted it. Of course I said no. He started to cry and wail. I couldn't believe it! I dragged us to the party favor section and tried to see if I could make out with the Toy Story 3 plates and cups, but Nikko's cries were getting so loud and he screamed when I tried to shove the RC car onto a shelf. I thought about leaving my cart of groceries and dragging us all out of the store so we wouldn't have to wait in any line, but I couldn't drag Nikko with one hand, hold Audrey in my other arm, and what to do with crying Ronin? I was screwed. I put Ronin in the cart with the groceries and let Nikko follow me to a checkout lane. Bless the check-out guy, who didn't grimace when I stood in his line and gave me a reassuring laugh at the situation instead. I told him upfront that we weren't going to buy the RC car, so right at the end he motioned for me to grab the box from Nikko and give it to him. I did, then quickly scooped up a screaming, red, teary, squirming Nikko and put him on the handlebar of the shopping cart. I tried not to scrunch Audrey but still had to push the cart with Ronin screaming in the basket. We had to run the gauntlet to the exit so I put on my sunglasses and my mental blinders while readjusting my grip on Nikko. Everyone was looking our way. How could they not see the spectacle? I tried not to look at any one individual but I stole a glance at a cashier who stared at us making so much noise. I tried not to bump into any elderly people on their motorized scooters, and the bunch of teens in front of us parted like the Red Sea trying not to get run over by my cart. The kids cried while I buckled them in and put Handy Manny on the TV. Ronin, still upset over the car, decided to throw up into his lap and onto the car seat. I mopped him up with wipes the best I could, then took off with my angry brood. I didn't cry, and that was surprising. But I did vow to never take the kids to a store that has a toy section ever again. Or at least until they are old enough to behave. I revisited Wal Mart again tonight to finish shopping for the items I couldn't get earlier, and had a chat with Atz about child psychology. She suggested, and I concur, that perhaps during this time when the kids are still young and learning how to behave, I should just do my grocery shopping at night. And avoid the stores that cause trouble for me (Target, Meijer, Wal Mart). So depressing! I've been trying to make the trip teachable by exposing them to other people, social situations and also to stretch their legs in public, but seeing coveted toys is causing so many problems, especially with Nikko. Nikko was using NO words to express anything, just grunts and tons of whining. I don't even think taking Tianna along with us would have made things easier because Nikko would still be relentless about the RC car and Ronin would still need to be talked out of getting that Lightning McQueen. I want to go to Costco tomorrow to check out a phone on sale, but wonder if the kids will behave. Tianna isn't coming tomorrow because she has a scheduling conflict. So, I would have to go to Costco alone with the three kiddos. I think Nikko might remember the silly Scooby-Doo DVD that he wanted to carry around the last time, but I put it back out of reach and he got really mad at me. I'll have to load up on lollipops before we leave the house.

One good thing that happened today was after ABA with Jenna. Nikko came upstairs and asked me for Cheese Puffs. I was still talking to Jenna so I was moving rather slowly to get his snack. We watched Nikko empty his blue bowl of Cheerios into Audrey's bowl, in preparation of receiving Cheese Puffs in the blue bowl. What was even funnier was that Nikko took a napkin, seemed to wipe down the empty surface area, and then throw the napkin away under the skin. I had to reward him for his great behavior!

Finally, I took Nikko to Camp Class this morning while Denis stayed with Ronin and Audrey. Nikko went straight to the sand table and peeked over once to look for me. I waited for Melisa to arrive, about 6-7 minutes late. She and I walked back to Nikko, I crouched down and said, "Bye Nikko, see you later, have fun!" He let me hug him and he kissed me, then turned back to the sand table, busy. I got up and left and heard no crying at all. When we came to pick him up later, Melisa mentioned that she was confused by what the NWSRA told her, that her job was to look after ALL the kids there. That confuses me, too, because I thought that Nikko got an aide for his Camp Class that would be 1:1 with him, because he needs her help. The other kids in that class don't need Melisa's help, even if they are starved for attention from the teachers. Hmmmmm. I wonder if Maria should talk to Melisa about this.

Treehouse / Kathy

This morning I decided to take the kids to Mom's house because the Penepacker kids would be hanging out there until 2p and because the backyard tree house was cleaned up and ready for play. We could only stay until 12 latest because the new ABA therapist was coming at 1p. We arrived and went through the sun room to the tree house. I was wary about the koi pond on either side of the narrow pathway leading up to the tree house ladder because Nikko might have an impulse to either jump in or start splashing. I herded him past the water quickly but he hesitated in the doorway of the treehouse. Perhaps he wanted me to go in as well, but I don't think I could fit in that house anymore. As a child I spent many, many hours sitting in there playing, but over the years it has been renovated to fit the times. Gone is the tree branch that went through the floor and the roof. Dad panelled the walls, tiled the floor, ran electricity through it to accommodate a fan, and the mini-tv has cable. It's crazy. Ronin and Audrey loved it and played happily alongside Sabrina and Alicia. But when Ronin decided he was done playing, he stated that he wanted to get out NOW.

We headed back home a little after 12 and I tried not to get anxious about it until we got stuck at the train tracks by a long train. We got home by 12:50 so I rushed to change Nikko's diaper and throw some chicken nuggets at him when Kathy arrived. She is taking over Tuesdays because Jenna can't fit us in her schedule for two days anymore. Kathy is a senior line person, graduated from college this past year in speech pathology, and is incredibly nice. I liked her immediately. Nikko did well with her too, because I didn't hear any crying or whining when we left him.

After the little kiddos had naps, I decided to give the boys their haircuts. I put on a Handy Manny DVD and they sat still for the most part. Nikko needed a little more reinforcement so out came the lollipops. I didn't make an excursion anywhere else today, but tomorrow Nikko has camp class and I plan to take the little kiddos to either Meijer or Wal-Mart to get some provisions like milk as well as two birthday gifts for two parties we are going to attend on Saturday.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


This was Denis' 25th high school reunion weekend. It would be dinner on Saturday, sans kiddos, then a gathering at a classmate's house on Sunday afternoon. It was sunny and warm on Saturday so we opted to go to the pool. We went to The Big Surf Wave Pool in Mount Prospect just to try it out for ourselves. It had a zero depth end (the shallow end) then it got much deeper to accommodate the waves. The pool seemed small when I first saw it, but watching the really big waves along the back wall and then the milder ones that ended up in the shallow end made me a tad nervous that the kids would get swept up into a vortex and trapped in a drain. Didn't happen, obviously. There were brief periods when the waves shut off and it was a calm pool again. Nikko loves being in the water wherever we take him. Ronin and Audrey were apprehensive at first, but warmed up after lots of coaxing. A supply of DumDum lollipops helps keep the kids still when I have to change them out of wet clothes and into dry ones. Everybody napped at some point when we returned, and then my parents came before 7p to babysit the kiddos for the evening. Nikko was anxious when they arrived but didn't start to cry until I put on my shoes. He seems to observe my footwear to see if I'm leaving the house or not.

Denis and I arrived at J. Alexander's, a restaurant in Oakbrook, to meet up with 25-30 classmates. A few minutes after we arrived, his buddy Denny showed up with his wife, Jennifer. I had heard that Denny had a son who was autistic, so Jennifer instantly became my conversation buddy for the evening. Their son, SoHan, is high-functioning, perhaps even Asperger's but I only caught a little of that conversation from Denny. It was fine talking about our sons and having empathy for each other, especially concerning meltdowns and potty training stressors. I made some polite conversation with some of the other guests but it was really Jennifer who I sat next to. The post-party was at a club named SKY which was literally across the street and owned by Denis' buddy Reggie. Most of his 'mates danced the night away and the music was a mash-up of the 80's and today. Lots of Black Eyed Peas. We came home by 1:30a and Nikko had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room. Audrey had difficulty falling asleep according to Mom, but got tired by 9:30 by playing in the living room longer. I am always so grateful when my parents watch the kids because they generally like staying at home and could be accomplishing more things at home. But they enjoy hanging out with my kiddos, and with Ronin being so verbal it keeps everyone entertained. We rarely get a babysitter because of Nikko's meltdowns (especially when I walk out the door) and handling all three kids when they are so young is difficult for any one person who doesn't see them on a daily basis. I enjoyed the freedom of hanging out with Denis immensely, knowing that the next day I'd have to take care of the kiddos in foreign territory...

On Saturday after lunch time we drove down to Justice to meet up the classmates at a friend's house. I was told that they had a swimming pool and the kiddos were invited to swim in it. I dreaded this information and made a decision early that my kids would NOT be allowed to go in the water. When we arrived and entered the backyard I was firm on my decision and was more anxious because the pool was a big part of the backyard. It was fenced and had a wooden staircase but the door was left open for easy access. It would be a challenge to keep the kids away. Water is Nikko's greatest stim of choice so seeing the pool forced me to think of ways to distract Nikko. I saw Doritos on the food table so I steered Nikko in that direction and it worked. There was no way I was going to don a bathing suit in front of these strangers, and this was not a zero-depth pool. It was a bona fide four+ feet deep pool. The kiddos haven't used boogie boards, floaties or life vests yet and I didn't want them to try it for the first time in a real pool. (Note to self: Next time we go to Flick Park, we'll rent vests and give it a try.) One funny part of the day was meeting another 2-year old named Joel. He wanted to hang around Ronin, and when he found out Ronin's name Joel said, "That's just like our dog's name. Ronin." Indeed, it was! LOL! One not so funny part was that I was trying to clean Nikko up and join the others down by the basketball court where Denis was with Audrey and Ronin in a wagon. When I came down to them, I saw that Audrey was sitting in the wagon alone. I asked where Ronin was and then I saw him, standing by the edge of THE POOL. I called at him sharply to come down the stairs, he obeyed and told me that he wanted to go into the pool. My answer was a firm NO and I told him to go run along. It really freaked me out to see Ronin standing on the edge looking into the pool because while there were other tweens splashing about, if Ronin even tried to lean over and accidentally fall in, I don't think anyone would have noticed. He would have sunk without a word, not knowing how to swim. OK, the visual is bothering me so I'll stop. The rest of the afternoon was fine. Our kids were extremely well-behaved, despite the lure of the pool, and so I am very grateful.

Today, Monday, was Three Wee Camp again. Melisa and I miscommunicated about the location so she was late by 15-20 minutes. Nikko had been at the sand table the entire time, looking my way once. When Melisa arrived I walked toward Nikko to say good bye so he wouldn't freak out if I had just left him. He got anxious and started going toward the door, but Melisa held him back. I left, closing the preschool doors behind me. I went to the front desk and could hear Nikko screaming and screaming. I think he stopped after five minutes, which sounds short but is really, really long when a child is screaming through it. When I came back to pick him up at 11:30 he was happy to see me. Melisa said he did ok, but she noted that the teachers in the camp didn't play much with the other kids. I had warned Melisa that there was a lot of Free Play, especially while the teachers worked on the craft with the kids. Melisa said the kids ended up playing with her a lot, despite Nikko being distracted from the sand table, because the kids seemed starved for attention that the teachers weren't giving them. I knew this from last week, and later I told Denis that I was really glad that Nikko was going to Westbrook because his teachers there were really working with Nikko and monitoring his progress. I don't think a park district preschool would use a formal IEP with special needs kids, but I do know that Nikko would suffer without one. The rest of our day today was uneventful, except that I had asked Nikko some simple requests (More juice? Give me your glass, Nikko. More ice cream? Give me your bowl, Nikko.) and he was able to execute them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Two things

Did what I asked him to...
I forgot to mention two things Nikko did a few days ago. He had finished eating a slice of pizza and asked me for more. I said sure, and then, "Give me your plate, Nikko. Give me your plate." He stood up, picked up his plate and gave it to me. I thanked him happily because he followed this simple command instead of ignored it. The next day, I was in my bedroom and Nikko came up to me curiously. I gave him the swirl/unswirl whistle to blow, but he seemed disinterested. I said, "Nikko, give the whistle to Ronin. Give it to Ronin." He looked at me, turned, walked out of the room, stopped at Ronin in the living room and handed it to Ronin. I praised Nikko lavishly, then told Ronin to thank Nikko, which he did.

I have been using the Benefiber in Nikko's juice, 2x-3x/day, plus the probiotic and enzymatic capsules, had stopped giving him chocolate milk in the mornings, no milk (but just cheese on pizza) during the day, and STILL his BM's are inconsistent, and it's been two weeks and today I had to "help" Nikko again. I tried the Metamucil in his juice, but it's not as soluable as the Benefiber, as I found out when the glob of Metamucil formed a gel at the bottom of his juice cup and thermos. Don't know WHAT to do... get flavorless Metamucil? Increase Benefiber??

Friday, July 9, 2010

Perplexed. Baffled. Observant. Anxious. Searching.

This was not Nikko's best day overall, and his behaviors have left me truly baffled. Today was by far the most revealing in terms of sensory issues and I feel inadequate in trying to figure him out.

This morning after breakfast while I stood in the kitchen I leaned over the dishwasher to check on the kids in the living room. I saw Nikko hunched over the chaise lounge, clutching his burp cloth and toy shark. He was trying to blink, trying to open his eyes but his eyelids were heavy and shutting on him. He looked distraught so I ran over to him to check him out. Nikko wouldn't let me near his eyes as he continued to struggle with opening them. I deduced that he had accidentally poked his eye with something. A yellow plastic toy knife lay on the opposite end of the couch, which could have been the culprit, but he was also holding a blue and yellow shark with a pointy dorsal fin. I went to close the shades because the light was probably burning his eyeballs. I tried to turn his face to mine or view the whites of his eyes for blood or leaking fluid. Thankfully there was none, not even a torrent of tears trying to expel a foreign particle, but I did see a little red spec that was never there before, probably a broken blood vessel. I was freaking a little, wondering what would render a call to the pediatrician if there was no evidence of trauma other than the current struggle to keep the eye open (and the spec). Denis brought over an ice pack but Nikko wouldn't let anyone put anything on his eye. I called my mom for advice since I had just talked to her minutes before, and she calmed me by saying to just observe him for a bit. "You know how you can tell if he is ok? Let him play with some water. If he plays with it just like he always does, then he's fine. If he doesn't play with the water, or doesn't enjoy his favorite activity in the whole world, then something is probably wrong." Mom was right. Nikko calmed down and didn't even try to rub anything out of his eye. I'm always conscious of eye problems because I've had many of my own, especially recently. If he started rubbing his eye, causing tissues to swell, then that would be a big problem to me. I decided that if he was in pain by lunchtime, I'd call the doctor. Nikko, thankfully, was calm and no doctor was called today. Not long after this, Nikko had tripped on something random in the hallway near the kitchen and started yelping. I didn't know he had cut his toe on something until later, when I noticed the dried blood on his pinky toe. Poor Nikko!

I think all the kids were antsy this morning so I decided to take them into the basement to jump on the trampoline and the foof chairs. They did, and I even helped them jump from the tramp to the chairs with a 1-10 countdown. Soon it was lunchtime, then Jenna came for Nikko's ABA. I put the little kiddos down for a nap, and it felt like a blip in time but Nikko was soon finished with ABA, had a good session. Jenna noted, however, that he had some emotional outbursts. One minute he was reciting things, then got angry, flopped on the floor, became challenging, but then turned into Mr. Sunshine again. I saw some of these emotional outbursts earlier this morning as well. Tianna came at 3p, right after the kiddos woke up, so I gave them a quick snack and got us out of the house. It was sunny, hot and humid, but the forecasts had predicted thunderstorms so I nixed swimming earlier that day. I opted to take the kids shopping, then go play in a park if the weather permitted. We drove up to Lakeshore Learning so I could buy photo cards for Nikko. Tianna took the little kiddos around the store while I had Nikko tailing me. I found the cash register I wanted for his birthday present, as well as a fishing game that Ronin would enjoy for his birthday. I picked up a bag of plastic animals, especially for the giraffe that Audrey seems to favor. I also got a blue wall pocket organizer that I hope to convert to a daily picture schedule that we can all follow, to know what/where we're going to do for the day. Now I just have to put it all together. Nikko got whiny toward the end of our store visit, so I took us to a park near Prospect High School. It's set up at the end of a residential street. We had visited this park a long time ago, but when I drove up to it today I was happy to see that it had been totally renovated. The playground equipment was updated, the shelter was the same but had a better patio border, and the park seemed less dreary. The kids enjoyed it, but since they were wearing Crocs the wood chips kept stopping them from fully running rampant. It was also unbearably humid so I herded us back home. Nikko didn't want to leave and was asking for a cookie, so I gave them some Oreos as their snack for the short trip home.

Right before dinnertime, Nikko and Ronin had discovered a new way to entertain themselves in the living room: run back and forth on the couch, from one end to the other. It was springy and fun, but many dangers were apparent to me. It wasn't stopping them from trying, and when Audrey decided to copy them I really got anxious and tried to persuade her to come with me in the kitchen for dinner. The boys were loving it, of course. They all got really sweaty, too. Later on, I heard a big THUD on the wall. I went to investigate and deduced that Nikko had bounded on the couch and hit the wall with his cheek. He looked a bit in pain, but recovered quickly and wouldn't let me near him, of course. I thought his cheek was colored a bit, but I'll know tomorrow that it hurt if I see a bruise on him. These kids are all going to give me a heart attack and white hair before I turn 40. GEEZ!!!!!

After dinner, after more couch running, after Audrey's bath and bedtime, Nikko started running around with the empty plastic shopping cart from Target. He worked himself up into a huge sweat again, running that cart back and forth in front of the TV and in the kitchen. As we herded the boys into the bathroom for bath time, Nikko started dropping to his knees. He was doing this while undressing, too. And when I put him on the toilet while Ronin was getting his bath, Nikko seemed to lean over and then flung himself flat onto the bathroom floor. There wasn't much room at all so this alarmed me. I helped him back onto the seat and then he leaned over again and fell purposefully. And hard. It looked to me like Nikko was seeking sensory input by slamming himself onto the floor, so I sat him up again and when he tried to lean over I gave him some firm hugs and tried to stroke his arms. Nikko got angry with me and pushed me away hard. He tried to lean again so I tried to interrupt his fall. Nikko got mad at me for interrupting and pushed at me again, vocally shouting his anger at me. I was at a loss. I didn't want Nikko to keep falling so hard on the bathroom floor tile, but knew that he needed some deep pressure input somehow. Ronin's bath was finished and I warned Denis that Nikko was dropping to the floor at will. And that's exactly what Nikko continued to do in the bathtub. By the time his bath was over and we got into the bedroom, he flung himself onto the bed and then onto the rug just one more time. I saw him lean toward the hardwood floor but steered him toward the rug instead. After storytime, prayers and tuck-in, there were no more crashing incidents. But it really made me wonder what transpired today to cause him to seek this sensory input at the end of the day. Two days ago I worried that Nikko was becoming aggressive because he wasn't getting a sensory diet like what he got through school in OT. That's why I chose to bring the kids downstairs for some jumping. Did this morning's jump session overdo it? Are Nikko's emotional outbursts a way for him to communicate that he is not feeling regulated or calm, and/or needs some help? Was today's outings too much or too little for him, being in a store that had lots of visual stimuli, and not enough time on the playground? Nikko hadn't taken a nap today, but almost fell asleep on the way to the park. Did that factor in his crashing later in the evening? All his actions today have left me wondering all over again what triggers Nikko's need for deep pressure, or how I can get this kid to wear a weighted vest of his own free will? Not every typical OT recommendation would work on Nikko, so I have to keep trying other things. I've been scouring my copy of The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun for ideas, and will continue to do so.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Three Wee Camp

Today was Nikko's first day of Three Wee Camp at the Central Community Center. My first mistake was putting Nikko's backpack on as if we were headed to school. I ushered him out the door and went to open the Civic. Nikko was halfway down the driveway, confused when I called him back to get into the car. He started to panic and cry so loudly that I had to drag him into the car and worried that he would start to flail his arms while strapping him into the car seat. The Civic was handy this morning, but I had forgotten that Nikko was probably bigger than the car seat. His head was above the top, and the seat belt straps wouldn't fit without some quick and major adjustments. We were both sweaty by this time but he was teary and mad. I got us rolling and he calmed just a bit, probably out of curiosity. The class is Monday and Wednesday, 9:30-11:30, until the last week of July. It's run by two mothers working for the park district, a Mrs. Vitale and a Mrs. Hartman. They knew about Nikko and my presence and were very helpful and friendly to me. I mostly observed Nikko and tried to steer him away from the sand table when I felt he was hanging onto it for too long. The class had 3-4 year olds, and to my surprise I saw my friend Gail and her daughter Samantha enter the preschool room. We were happy to see each other, and while Nikko was indifferent to them he managed to greet them upon my prompting. There was a fine motor activity at the table, two kids at a time being directed while the others played in the different classroom areas. Today was a butterfly motif using dot markers, gem stickers, water colors and crayons. During the craft was lots of unstructured play time and that's when I redirected Nikko from the sand table to some parking garages, puzzles, and later the kitchen area. There was a puzzle of a place setting, and Nikko took the knife puzzle piece, scooped up pretend food on the plate puzzle piece and ate from the knife. I made him try the spoon, salt/pepper shakers, and drink from the milk puzzle piece. He went along with it well. As long as he spent some time in other areas I was ok if he went back to the sand. I overheard two little boys talking about pictures on the wall, and then their conversation steered onto the topic of time outs. The consensus was that each boy's dad gave them lots of time outs. Lots and lots. I found that amusing. Clean up time concluded the play time, then hand washing and goldfish crackers & water for snack. Nikko was able to request for More Fish Please, but that's because he looked directly at me and then I prompted him to ask the teacher. No guarantees that he'll get seconds next time. There was time left to read a group story, play with music sticks, and then conclude with putting their names into a basket before leaving. In lieu of the story was the option to take the kids to the gym to play, but they ran out of time. Overall, the experience with the camp seemed ok, but there are some opportunities that I'll impress upon Melisa, who will be his aide on Monday onward, where Nikko could play with cars and animals and not just be stuck on the sand table. When Nikko was involved with the sand table, he looked up to see where I was sitting perhaps two times. But he forgot about me not long thereafter. I can see him getting anxious between activity transitions, but I hope Melisa will be cheerful and positive because those will be the times he'll be looking for me. I guess we'll meet Melisa in the foyer of the preschool room on Mondays and Wednesdays. Today Denis was able to stay with the little ones at home, but I'll have to cart them in with me next week. I'll check library hours to see if we can camp out there for storytime. One more thing: there was a cash register by Learning Resources there, along with play credit card, and I think I'll hunt for that for Nikko's birthday.

Later in the afternoon we attempted to go to the pool, but thunderstorm clouds closed the Wheeling pool and a swim meet was at the Meadows pool so we were relegated to the blue plastic pool in our backyard with ice cold hose water, perfect for the hot, humid day we had. Nikko was content to stand in the middle of the pool with me, splashing water with his feet. The other two got tired of the little pool and ran around the backyard until I decided that dinner was in order.

If it doesn't rain tomorrow, I would head to the pool again. However, thunderstorms are predicted so we'll have to go with Plan B. Tianna is coming tomorrow so perhaps we can go to the Kohl Children's Museum since I don't have any more items on the grocery list. After Camp, I took Nikko to the grocery and it was definitely more manageable to have one kid on errands than three.

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 4th Weekend + bonuses

We really tried to have a summer-y weekend since it was July 4th and all. On Saturday we went to the Mystic Waters Aquatic Center (aka pool) in Des Plaines. Nikko had a great time in the water and splash pads. He wasn't an issue except when he got in line on the toddler dolphin slide, pushed his way to the top past the lifeguard and went down happily. I was glad that the lifeguard didn't ban Nikko from the slide so I kept a vigilant watch on him. Ronin and Audrey took turns being miserable. Ronin's eyes were stinging from the sunblock and water (note to self: don't put sunblock on kids' hands in water parks because they will rub their eyes when water gets in them. I supposedly knew this already) and the bright sun from a 4:30p afternoon was not going well for him. He brightened up when he used the water slide and when we moved to the zero depth pool. Then it was Audrey's turn to get miserable, but her symptoms were a total mystery to us. I have no idea why she was whining and miserable.

Today we went to the Mount Prospect July 4th parade in downtown Mount Prospect. It was HOT with a little breeze. It was sunny. I had a bottle of sunscreen that I applied vigorously to the kids, but I forgot to bring hats and an umbrella. We were all baking in the sun but enjoyed watching the bands and the loud trucks. When the Continental Bakery truck came by, we cheered loudly because they have the best coffee cakes and paczkis around. I saw that employees were handing out free cookies wrapped in plastic so I started cheering wildly and told Denis to get a sample. "Quick, hand me Audrey so I can use her to get stuff!" is what Denis asked in a nutshell, so I scooped her up and tossed her to Denis. It paid off because an employee threw a cookie to us directly. I know it sounds extreme, but seriously, that bakery is the best one around. We love it. Nikko did very well sweating it out in the stroller seat because he saw candy being tossed from car floats and a Sugar Daddy Caramel Stick landed conveniently at his feet. I was going to swap it for a lollipop but Nikko wasn't going to be fooled. It lasted the entire parade and a little bit more at home, and it kept him occupied. Ronin was not thrilled about the parade at first, but became excited when the Metra train came rumbling down the tracks right behind us. They saved us from a cranky Ronin and they weren't even part of the parade. Audrey was also curious about the parade candy so I gave her a lollipop - her first ever - and she happily ate it up, asked for more lollipop, and was granted bliss a second time. I didn't let her have thirds, but she accepted that. We went home and all the kids had a long nap. I let it happen because we planned to take them to see fireworks at 9:30p. When 8:15 rolled around, I looked around at the kids anxiously and wondered if they would last until past 10p. We packed the kids up a little after 9p and headed to a nearby park that was frequented with locals. Nikko was calm and happy and enjoyed the fireworks display. Audrey was nodding off at the end of the show. Ronin was a complete surprise to me because he was frightened by the fireworks and wanted to go home. He wouldn't look in the sky. I held onto him and tried to coax him to watch the show, but he ended up in the back of the stroller with most of his face covered by the stroller shade. He was peeking up at the sky with one eye and it wasn't until the end (of course) that he showed appreciation for the fireworks, even applauded at the end. GO FIGURE.

Over the weekend, Nikko did some things he hasn't done before. I retrieved a box of Cheerios from our pantry just as Nikko came to see what I was doing. I put it in his hands and said, "Give it to Daddy." He trotted straight to Denis and put it emphatically into his hands. I praised Nikko, who came back to me quickly, probably to see if I was going to give him some cheese puffs. Instead, I handed him some crumpled paper from a label and said loudly, "Garbage." Nikko took it to the kitchen sink, opened the right side door beneath, and tossed the paper into the trash. I looked up at Denis, who looked at me, and we both grinned knowing that Nikko had never followed a command so quickly and precisely. What a future we have in store for him. LOL!!! One more thing he did was when we sat at the kitchen table together. Nikko looked up at a paper I pinned to a bulletin board of his classmates on one side, teachers on the other. I took it down and started pointing to classmates. "Who is this?" I'd ask him, then wait for him to pronounce names. "Cate. Madison. Sophie. Lucy. Colin. Faith. Ingrid. Emelia. Aidan. Luca." The last kid on that page was named Dougyoung, but he didn't quite get it and that's ok. I was totally impressed that he was able to name his peers with ease! I think his attention span shortened because he didn't have the same patience when I turned over the paper to point out his teachers. That's ok, he's done it before so I let it go. I've never tested him on his classmates before, and he hasn't forgotten them even though he hasn't seen many of them in four weeks, besides the ones that were in ESY.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Last day of ESY

Summary of ESY fr. Margie McCarthy:
We continued to work on progress toward Nikko's IEP goals. In the classroom we focused on sustaining play scenarios with peers, pre-academic skills using games and table activities, simple drawing skills, transitioning independently, communication, and understanding concepts. Nikko quickly adjusted to the new school, assistants ad therapists. Nikko participated in a sensory diet during part of large group time (jumping on the trampoline, riding on the scooter, carrying a heavy ball, drills). He would do these activities with an aide. Niko played in all areas of the class. He especially liked playing in the water/sand table. he was able to negotiate the entire playground independently. Nikko would like to play in a patch of dirt next to the stairs on the playground and kick up dirt. He was redirected to the slide, or bubbles to stop the stimming behavior....

Nikko's schedule for the rest of the summer will be:
Mon - 9:30-11:30 Three wee camp
- 1:00 ABA w/Sarah
Tue - 1:00 ABA w/Jenna
Wed - 9:30-11:30 Three wee camp
- 1:00 ABA w/Jenna
Thu - 12:30 ABA w/Melisa
Fri - OPEN

After lunch, the little ones went down for a nap and I took Nikko into my bedroom to see if I could coax him into one as well. He didn't sleep right away, but eventually did get tired, so it just reinforced to me that he will nap of his own accord and rarely if I want him to. We later headed to my MIL's house to have dinner w/her and Derwin's family. Compared to his siblings who were bouncing off the walls, Nikko was very relaxed tonight. Despite his afternoon nap, he fell asleep quickly when we came home, around 10:30p. When it comes to requesting something like more juice, I'll prompt him with "I..." and then he'll say, "I. Want. [More.] Juice. Please?" He's getting better at saying 4 or sometimes 5 words after a prompt. I'm really happy with that!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Flick Park Pool

Nikko's ESY report: He liked marching around the room singing "The Ants Go Marching." I wonder if Nikko liked the rhythm, and if he was able to contain himself from breaking into a gallop or a run if everyone was marching in a circle. At home, especially in the basement, Nikko, Ronin & Denis (and Audrey as of late) love to chase each other in a circle at breakneck speeds. Ronin's legs have gotten stronger and he's able to run really fast. Audrey is running, too, but her little legs can't go as fast as her will so she keeps tripping and falling splat on her tummy, but gets up as the boys trample over her limbs. What a trooper.

This afternoon Tianna came over and we packed up the kids to go to the kiddie pool at Flick Park. I'm trying to pack sensibly and lighter, but this is essentially what I decided to carry:
Backpack - dry changes of clothes: t-shirt and shorts x3, dry diapers, EpiPens, chewable Benadryl, my wallet/camera/cell phone/lipstick case, sunscreen, plastic bags
Food bag - 3 Thermos bottles, 1 Nalgene bottle w/extra juice, container of crackers, container of Oreos, bag of rice cakes
Shoulder bag - hats, baby wipes, dry swim diapers
3 beach towels, 1 bath towel (kept 1 beach towel and the bath towel in the car)
The double stroller helped to cart everything around.

When it was time to get into the car, Nikko didn't shun the navy Crocs I put on his feet. He tried to take them off by stepping on them, but I quickly shuffled him out the door so he had to walk with them. I'm just surprised because the last time I tried to put Crocs on him, he ran to get his shoes and shoved them into my hands. I hope this warmer weather will encourage Nikko to ditch the socks and shoes, which he's used to wearing throughout the year since that's what they encourage him to wear at school. The weather was sunny and warm, but a breeze kept coming around to make things chilly. The Penepacker girls met up with us and played with their cousins while going back and forth between pools. It figures when we arrived at 2pm that the pool was having a 10-minute pool break. Nikko was anxious to go into the pool but somehow I was able to coax him to sit in a chair while I put sunscreen on him, ever so slowly. Once the pool break was over, I ceased to exist. My kids had a great time, and I felt better knowing that the water was exactly where Nikko wanted to be. I felt guilty about last week's Pirate Cove disaster so I wanted to make up for it this week. Ronin and Audrey wore long-sleeved rash guard shirts that worked beautifully. No sunburn on those arms or backs! Nikko stood splashing the water by stomping for some time. It took him a while to warm up to the kiddie slide, but once he did he was on it for many repetitions. Seeing Nikko on the slide gave Ronin the courage to try it, and when Nikko was done, Ronin dominated the slide next. There was a line of water shooting from the side of the pool that formed a tunneled arc and Nikko enjoyed crawling under the arc without breaking the water line and getting soaked. I watched him from afar and saw him stimming off one of the arcs of water, staring at it with his eyeballs mere centimeters from the stream of water. When the second pool break hit at 3p, I decided it was snack time so the kids munched on Oreos. After we returned to the pool I noticed that Audrey was starting to shadow me more and was whining just a little bit. She was probably getting tired from walking through the foot-deep water so it was almost time to go. I dried her off and put her in the stroller, and Tianna helped round up Ronin. I was drying Nikko off when he realized that we were totally finished, so he started protesting. I got a little stressed about him wanting to return to the water but luckily I fished around in the backpack and found my stash of DumDum lollipops. That calmed Nikko down and he sat in the stroller quietly. *whew!* He didn't sleep on the way home, unlike his sibs, but later in the living room he fell asleep sitting upright on an ottoman. Regrettably, it was at 6p so I had to wake him up with tickles and just being annoying. If he continued with a deeper nap, it would ruin his bedtime sleep. He was pretty mad at me for waking him up, but at bedtime he was so tired that he fell asleep while I read him a story. Perfect.

A Good #2 / Dirt / Mom's BDay

Nikko has still been drinking juice from the cup, and had a few big spills that I didn't erupt to as badly as yesterday. Paper towels, Windex and some blue shammies are my buddies now. And after a good therapy session, after his snack, I changed his diaper and saw, for the first time IN AGES, a semi-normal bowel movement. It wasn't the size of an apple or a kiwi, it wasn't rock hard, and it didn't reek as they all have in the past. I wonder if it was the doing of the Benefiber, but I'm not going to knock anything around for another week or so. Some of my ASD board girls would understand how it's perfectly normal to get excited over the make-up of your kid's poos! LOL!

Nikko's preschool report:...Nikko was mad at me [Mrs. McCarthy] outside because I wouldn't let him kick the dirt. He was okay with redirection to play with bubbles.
Yesterday on the way to Costco with Ronin and Audrey, I looked at the playground around 10a and saw Nikko's class playing in the playground. Many kids were on the swings with the teachers pushing, and a few scattered kids were on the jungle gym apparatus. I saw Nikko running up and down a patch of dirt (really, a bare spot on the grass) that was next to a short staircase and a wooden fence. I'm familiar with the spot because Nikko has walked on it before; it slopes downward from the level of the jungle gym ramp to the mulchy ground level of the swings. Nikko probably discovered that he could kick up some smoke by shuffling his shoes into the dry dirt. That's probably what Mrs. McCarthy was talking about, and I totally appreciate the redirection. I also know how mad Nikko can get when you remove him from a stim/favorite thing to do. I keep thinking back to his angry reaction at Pirate Cove and seem to use this in my head to gauge future activities. It made me sad, in a sense, because this afternoon we were planning on taking a walk with Mom and Atz at a little park across from The Glen, but I knew that this park had a splash pad water feature aside from the playground equipment. Nikko would want to splash/play there, and it wasn't an option today. We plan on going to Flick Park tomorrow, so I want to save the water for that.

Today was Mom's birthday so we headed out to the Penepacker's house to meet everyone for some Thai food. The kids played in the backyard along with the Penepacker girls. Nikko had fallen asleep on the way to their house and when I carried him in from the car he continued to sleep on their couch for almost an hour. I had to wake him up and brought him outside into the sunshine. Surprisingly, he wasn't cranky. He leaned back on me until he was fully awake and then was able to venture a few feet away from me to smile and watch the other kids run around like crazy in front of the garage. Nikko found an interest in the little bobsleds that hold two kids that you can pull/drag with a rope. I fed the kids first and then let them go into the basement to watch tv, and Nikko did really well by leaving me to eat dinner with the adults. He would come back upstairs to check on me, but then spin back and return to watching Toy Story on TV. It was not a bad day for Nikko.