Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The return of Thomas the Tank Engine

This morning Nikko brought to me a DVD cover that was a compilation of episodes from the Sprout channel including Thomas the Tank Engine, Barney, Fifi and the Flowertots, Fireman Sam and Bob the Builder. I didn't take his request seriously because Nikko has not been a fan of Thomas for over a year, and we could simply watch Sprout to see all these shows. Ronin came over and asked if we could see Thomas. "No, I don't think Nikko likes watching Thomas. Nikko, what do you want to watch?"
"Thomas," he replied.
I was surprised because Nikko covers his ears and emits a low whine whenever an episode aired. I shrugged my shoulders and said, "OK, suit yourselves, you'll see." I put in the compilation DVD. Nikko's hands covered his ears as soon as the HIT Entertainment box rolled on the screen. He didn't start whining, however, and sat watching it alongside a captivated Ronin and Audrey. When I checked back with them at the end of the show, Ronin eagerly wanted to watch more Thomas and Nikko was pushing the DVD at me again. I chose a longer DVD called Engines and Escapades and put it in. The boys were hooked. It made me nostalgic for the days when Nikko was younger, when all he would watch were Thomas episodes. Ronin didn't really remember them, but now he's able to fully understand what's going on, ask questions and retain each episode. I don't have episodes saved on the DVR anymore, but we do have many DVDs tucked away which I think I'll have to unearth.

Kathy came over at 11 for therapy and they had a good session until Nikko got whiny at the end. He could have been hungry for lunch. Mom came over after 2p and I had to leave the kids to go to an eye appointment. Nikko got a little misty-eyed when Mom came into the kitchen because he knew I was going somewhere, but he didn't erupt into tears or a tantrum. He let me kiss him good-bye and he ran to the window to watch me leave. Ronin announced, "BYE MOMMY!" and luckily did not wake up Audrey.

So now I've got punctal plugs put into the upper tear ducts of my eyes because the doctor said I'm better, but still very dry. The plugs are supposed to help keep the tears in my eyes and not let them drain away quickly into the nasal cavity. I printed out some literature so I could keep up with tear ducts. In three weeks I'll go back for a Lasik consultation. My other alternative was to get some eye drops that would help increase tear production, but he warned me that they were $100/month for a bottle, and it would start to work between 1-3 months. Um, that's a lot of dough! The quicker method was to put punctal plugs in the upper tear ducts; I'm supposed to have improvement faster. I'm reinstating my fish oil capsule intake to help with the omega-3s.

When I got home, I discovered that Audrey had slept from 1p to almost 4:30p. Yikes! Ronin had also fallen asleep on the couch with a #2 in his diaper. Nikko, on the other hand, was awake and playing around, watching TV and checking in with Mom when she called him over. Nikko was happy to see me but didn't overly display affection. His affection-seeking comes in the form of playing TICKLE with him. Many times I'm all for it, but Nikko is over 40 pounds and I get tired of holding him down with one arm and tickling him, his brother, and his sister with the other. I may have strained my right elbow in tickle games yesterday. The rest of the evening was fine.

School is just about here. The Garden Walk is on Wednesday! We have to split the time between classrooms but feel it's really important to meet Ronin's teachers for the first time. There are many questions that have to deal with his food allergies as well as bus issues for them both. Tomorrow we may have to pick up some forms from Arlington Pediatrics, so I'll have to take the kids with me. I don't have any scheduled activities but perhaps we'll end up at Costco or somewhere.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Over too quick!

Can't believe the weekend is over already. We didn't go anywhere on Friday until the end of the day when I took the kids for a walk to the train. On Saturday we went to a park in Des Plaines called Lake Park where the kids got to run around on some new playground equipment and Denis got to fly a kite really high in the air. I guess you could say we were all about building the kids' gross motor skills. We had warm weather but it was tolerable, unlike today. Hot, humid, sunny. We drove down to Hinsdale to have lunch at the Benjamin's house. Nikko was having fun running around in the front yard while the adults played stick ball, but Audrey was Miss Attitude from the get-go, sitting in my lap and refusing to be social at first. Ronin was also in this camp, getting ornery because he wouldn't give back the yellow stick the adults were using as a bat. "Ronin, why do you want that stick?" I asked him.
"Because I want to be mean," was his unfortunate reply.

Rena, Denis' friend's sister, was determined to get Ronin to like her and so she kept talking to him and prodding him and eventually charmed him into playing games with her. Ronin's a tough sell, so kudos to Rena! Nikko was content to run back and forth from their living room to the kitchen, but when he started opening and closing cabinet doors and discovered a box that looked like it had candies in it, Nikko turned on his whining. It was getting really bad so I had to start packing up the kids, our time to go. The boys fell asleep in the car, which made our segue to the next activity smooth.

We met up with Pat, Anna, Jovy and Max at Mystic Waters, the Des Plaines Park District pool, for some end-of-the-summer splashy fun. Nikko was a total fish, lurking with most of his body under water except for his head, right above his ears. Ronin favored the dolphin slide but soon discovered jumping off the side of the pool with Jovy, in the waiting arms of their parents (not me, I had crabby Audrey). It's been a challenge to go to the pool with all our gear, but a bigger challenge at this park because they don't allow strollers inside. Carrying the towels, backpacks and food bag while holding onto a kid's hand was our only option, but it worked out better that they were all walking. I hate it when Audrey decides that she wants to be carried, especially when we are taking a walk on a hot, humid day and we have 1.5 blocks to go before we get home. All the pool activity made for some tired kids. It was the end of a good weekend.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Gum / Good night, _________

***TMI ALERT***This was day two of no MiraLAX in the morning, just Benefiber 3x/day. Yesterday I ran out of Nikko's chocolate fiber Pop Tarts, which stinks because he was eating them happily (of course!) and I thought it was helping his poo. Today the poo was not quite as voluminous but still peanut butter smeary. I am anxiously waiting for his bowels to pause for a day and hopefully form something more solid. Or will he bypass that step and become backed up again?

Nikko started the day with some body crashing onto the floor. He lay on the living room mat and put the big square floor pillow over his head and torso, whining but not full-fledge crying. I wonder if he needs more deep pressure in the mornings from the way he would pile that pillow plus another arm rest pillow over himself. His feet would be sticking out from underneath the pile and I worried that Ronin or Audrey would seize the opportunity to jump on the pile. Thankfully they didn't because that would ensue a rage from Nikko, I'll bet. At breakfast Nikko lay under the kitchen table with his head in the box bin. It makes me wonder why he seeks these cave-like conditions, but does not like to be restrained or cornered in tight places. Perhaps it's of his own free will? This morning I had to leave for a dental cleaning at 8a. On good days, Ronin will happily chant, "Bye Mommy, see you later!" Nikko will echo that and seems to handle my departure easily. However, on bad days such as when I go to pilates class, Ronin will whine and cry when I leave, setting up Nikko for failure. My visit roundtrip was an hour and I was greeted by my cheering throng when I came back. Kathy came at 11a for therapy and he had a good session. When they both came up during the kids' lunch at 12:30, Kathy came over to me and said that she thinks she did a bad thing: Kathy said Nikko was watching her put a stick of gum in her mouth. He started pawing at her purse and was becoming quite relentless and aggressive so she gave him a stick. He started chewing on it and she was watching him closely to see if he would swallow it. He didn't! I think he has observed Kathy enough times to see that she chews her gum, and he probably copied her. The problem was that it was lunchtime and he didn't know what to do with his gum. I invited him to put it at the edge of his plate and eat it after the meal, but he ran away. Nikko finally tried eating his mac cheese WITH the gum in his mouth. I think he swallowed it because I didn't see him chewing anymore after lunch. Oh well. I also think Kathy will have problems with Nikko going forward regarding her purse and that there might be gum in it. When Sarah was here, she made the mistake of allowing Nikko to root around in her purse for something. Whenever she came over, the first thing he started clawing was her purse. I believe the same thing will happen to Kathy.

I took the kids to Target to get Ronin a backpack for preschool next week. He got distracted by the toy section and didn't pick anything out. Nikko was hunting for lollipops and in desperation I gave in again. His whining was grating on my nerves, plus the vision of having to haul these kids away from the toy section a la Wal Mart was stressing me out so I decided we'd have to go. I informed Ronin that despite his weeks of protest, he would have to wear Nikko's Thomas the Tank Engine backpack. Ronin said, "OK!" and I wish he would have saved me the trouble of the trip in the first place by being agreeable. I managed to pick up some gym shoes for the boys, and they light up when you take a step, similar to the ones I got Audrey from Meijer last night. We met Denis at his "Secret Park" and the kids had a good 45-minute play time in great weather. Then it was home, dinner, baths and bed. After the prayer book, we usually prompt Nikko to say, "Good night, Mommy / Good night, Daddy" and then he kisses us good night. He leaned into me, looked me in the eye and said, "Good night, Mommy." Then he kissed me, leaned over to Denis and said, "Good night, Daddy." He kissed his dad and hopped into bed. We were floored! Nikko has never addressed us by our "names" without prompting. I was so thrilled and really hope it is something that will stick and generalize in other areas. What an awesome thing to happen.

No rages

Nikko had a relatively good day until after therapy, which was 4:45p-6:15p. He came upstairs and Jenna told me he had a very good session, no rages except for a part of that teddy bear emotions storybook where he put his hands up to his cheeks in a mock-scary motion when part of the story talked about the bear being scared. Not a bad thing, really. But Ronin was being especially whiny and that was causing Nikko to put his head in that organizational bin under the kitchen table and basically retreat there. Ronin was getting upset over who-knows-what and started stomping on Nikko, right in front of Jenna, so I put Ronin in a time out. His screaming plus Nikko's crying made dinnertime chaotic. I had to coax Nikko out from under the table with some mac cheese, trying to placate everyone before I left for pilates class. I was told that there were tears and crabbiness, but the kids still went to bed, even before 8:30p.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Nikko had a rage-free morning, thank goodness. Kathy was coming at 11a for therapy and when she arrived I discussed Nikko's recent volatility. At the end of his session she mentioned that he seemed aggressive and agitated during some of the drills, but started out focused and in a good mood. Similar to Melisa's session, Nikko started getting agitated when they were reading a book about emotions. The book has a bear with removable emotional faces. Nikko has done well with it in the past but only recently has he been reacting differently to it. Nikko didn't nap in the afternoon and neither did Ronin. In fact, I took a golden opportunity to teach Ronin how to use the remote for the DVD player and press the Enter button to replay his current favorite Pixar short: Mater and the Ghostlight. It's 7:06 minutes long and I went batty yesterday having to keep coming into the living room to replay it for him. Today I learned my lesson and gave Ronin an opportunity to be independent. He loved it. I loved the freedom!

After Audrey woke up I gave then a snack and decided to venture out to Menard's for some carpet backing and possibly Costco. Everyone seemed in good spirits and the boys were curious walking in the store. After getting the rubberized carpet backing, Nikko thrust a package of something he picked up in one of the aisles. It was a sealed pack of garbage disposal freshening balls. They looked like magenta gumballs and Nikko was whining for me to open it, probably thinking it was candy. I tried to move along and distract him but he was whining so loud that I had to give all the kids lollipops. I just had time to get a push broom for the garage when Nikko started getting more aggressive with me to give him more lollipops. He had ingested three of them by the time we got to the checkout counter and was seeking more. I was so aggravated that he was whining, Audrey was crying about not being able to hold the push broom in the cart, and Ronin was touching every product at his eye level that I wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. The Menard's crowd and cashiers are not as forgiving as other retail stores in my opinion. I refused to give any more lollipops in the parking lot and I decided that we were NOT going to Costco after this. Instead, I drove us home and took the kids for a walk to watch for trains.

I fed the kids first. Nikko finished two pieces of pizza and was going for a third when he spotted a half-empty bag of cheese puffs on the table. He asked for it so I emptied the rest of the bag onto a plate. The last crushed cheese bits sprinkled around the bigger puffs, signifying the end of the bag. I put it before Nikko and turned back to assemble the things I needed to start making spaghetti sauce for the adults to eat. When I turned my attention back to the kids, I saw Nikko, Audrey and Ronin hovering over the plate of cheese puffs. I gasped when I realized Ronin had bright orange crumbs on his face and fingers. "DID YOU EAT THE CHEESE PUFFS?" I asked him in a voice trembling with fear and rage. When he nodded uh-huh happily I became totally unhinged and picked him up from the table, half-brushing the crumbs off his shirt and hands and half-shaking some sense into him while heading to the sink.

"Ronin, you are ALLERGIC to cheese! Those are ITCHY! You must NEVER EAT ANYTHING ON NIKKO'S PLATE!!" I was panicking inside, wondering if he'd break out right away, so I started washing his hands. Then I opened a chewable allergy tablet and shoved it into his mouth. All the while I was wailing about how eating off Nikko's or Audrey's plate is never safe, kicking myself for not having my eyes glued on Ronin at the table all the time (unrealistic, honestly, but now it's regrettable) and wondering how much he ate and how long it would take before he threw up. My answer came five minutes after he left the kitchen for the living room. I heard him throw up a little on the mat so I ordered him to run to the kitchen to throw up. He made it; right in the doorway by his chair he unleashed his dinner onto the floor. I couldn't chastise him any more because he was bleary-eyed from throwing up. I put him in the tub and went back to clean up the huge mess on the kitchen floor as well as in the living room.

This incident delayed me from starting to make spaghetti, but after Ronin's bath I quickly decided to get started and finish before Audrey's bath time. As I was stirring the sauce on the stovetop, Nikko came in and was saying something unintelligible at first. He dragged a stool over to me, got up and peered at the stove. "Cooking," he said, "cooking!" "Yes, Nikko, I'm cooking!" Nikko kept chanting Cooking and was laughing at himself. I was happy that Nikko came over to identify what I was doing, simply to observe and not to request a darn thing. Loved it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fluctuating rages

Ugh. This morning, Nikko got into another rollercoaster rage before breakfast. I'm not really sure what set him off, except that since the time he woke up and came into the living room he seemed to be seeking some sensory input. He kept putting a big pillow over his head and body while laying on the floor. He also did some big body drops to the floor followed by the pillow. He also started getting agitated. At one point I saw him rifling through the toy bins near the window and heard him mutter "Screwdriver." It made me nervous because we are on a campaign to eliminate Felipe the yellow screwdriver from our midst. Nikko is totally hooked on it, but it comes and goes in waves. He gets obsessed about it when he remembers it. When it's out of sight, it's usually out of mind. I had the other two kids in the kitchen with breakfast going when I heard Nikko start thrashing about on the floor, taking swipes at the cars and the toy bins, ensuing chaos. I came in there to give him some big, comforting hugs and to stop him from destroying the living room. Meanwhile, Nikko was shrieking and whining the whole time, the grating-on-my-nerves high-pitched shrieking that is going to drive me insane sooner than later. Thankfully, Nikko responded slightly to my deep-pressure hugs and he calmed enough to decide to go eat pop tarts. By the time he sat at the kitchen table he was acting NORMAL again. It boggles my mind, this raging behavior. I mean, SHEESH!

Another UGH thing this morning was Ronin's stubbornness. He was demanding Blues Clues and yelling at me to the point that I dumped him into Time Out. He wanted a truck but I told him he could have his truck back and get out of Time Out if he stopped talking and was quiet. It took 30 minutes for him to settle down hoarsely, to the point that he would stop screaming my name or for me to turn around and look at him or let him go. Ronin was relentless and wouldn't be quiet. I couldn't give him to him, just as when I hit that point of no return with Nikko then I can't go back and give in to him. I have to keep going forward. Did Ronin learn anything from his half-hour Time Out? Hopefully he'll just not want to be there for so long again and perhaps stop yelling at me. Maybe. That's the whole point. It's totally an issue of control and he wants to be in control.

During lunch, the Penepackers came over. Tristan worked on the lawns, front and back, while the girls played indoors and outdoors and in the basement with us. My kids seemed to go with the flow quite nicely. Things got slightly dicey outdoors when Nikko and Audrey started fighting over the Little Tykes red car. I was able to steer Audrey away to another ride-on toy the first time, but Nikko didn't want to give it up for Audrey to take a turn. I decided it was time to give Nikko a diaper change and he was pissed that I dragged him back inside. I was good to my word and got him back outside quickly, but he was angry and less likely to be friendly after that. We brought everyone inside to play in the basement and got the kids interested in our parachute. Nikko was still angry when we first went to the basement but he became involved with the parachute and soon forgot that he was mad at me. Or so I thought. After we used the parachute as a tent and all the kids were sitting underneath it, Nikko started a cycle of whining that escalated into a crying spell. It might have been too hot under the tarp, or maybe he felt unsure of his body in the tented space, but he ended up in a fetal position and crying. I took him upstairs for a snack and he settled into a calm state in the living room. The Penepackers had vacationed in Charleston, SC, and brought back some pirate hats for the boys and a pirate t-shirt for Audrey. Ronin enjoyed walking around as Captain Feathersword from The Wiggles. Nikko was mildly interested but didn't put on the hat. After they left, I put Ronin and Audrey down for a late nap (4p!) and tried to put Nikko down as well but he didn't stay laying down long. Perhaps he really is done with afternoon naps, even though I personally think he needs them. The rest of the evening was ok, with dinner and more Blues Clues.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


We took the kids to Costco today for provisions. We really should stay away from Costco on the weekends because it's really busy, but that's when Denis is home and able to go out with us. We managed the kids through the waves of people, but I wonder how many people get annoyed that Nikko is weaving in between carts, slowing down and speeding up in the aisles. I try to keep him safe regardless. He was clawing at me for lollipops when we got into the store but I managed to fend him off with some tickles and chases. Nikko seemed like a pretty happy kid throughout the store but he reached a point 3/4 of the way through our trip where he was dragging me by the back of my backpack so I decided it was ok for him to have a lollipop or two. The last dicey part of our trip was when we finished at the checkout lane and headed toward the exit. The cafeteria is on the way and I sped up my steps putting Nikko on my right side so I could block him from looking at the cafeteria. Too late! Nikko tried to run in front of me, hoping to look at the churros and whine his way into a snack but I ushered him forward with a bit of protesting. Another lollipop came out to seal the deal and we were able to leave without a big scene.

Nikko's been repeating a lot of lines from TV. The latest ones are "Hola Kelly, hola Manny, hola tools!" from the Disney's Handy Manny cartoon. He was also chanting something about "Lightning McQueen and the Piston Cup!" He sounded so cute when he was saying Piston Cup that to me it sounded like musical chimes in my ears. And he tries to sing the Mail Song from Blues Clues, but gets overshadowed by Ronin, who loves to sing this song with lots of gusto.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rollercoaster rages

Not the greatest Mommy day, and wish it would get better. Audrey has finally stepped up to join Ronin as a whiner and drama queen. I wish it wouldn't grate on my nerves so much, but it totally does. I have got to dig deeper than China for patience. Ronin sat in time out a few times, Audrey got put in her crib yesterday and today because she wouldn't play nicely with her brothers and was wreaking havoc, and my voice is shredded again. One GOOD thing that is working is the use of a timer when Ronin and Audrey are fighting over a toy. I let one kid play with the toy for five minutes, then when the timer goes off I announce that the kid relinquishes the toy to the other kid. They do it begrudgingly at first, but I stick to it and enforce it and it's working. Unfortunately, it doesn't work with Nikko yet. I feel bad that the kids have to give up a toy to Nikko, who is relentless and will shriek and howl when a toy is taken from him. I tell myself that I should teach Nikko that he can't always have what he wants, but then when I relinquish said toy from Nikko to the other kid, I always have to hold Nikko back in a death grip. I do want him to learn to share, or to give up a toy for a short period of time, but right now he's not getting it and it causes more harm according to me. We'll get there, just not today.

I've been trying to figure out why Nikko throws himself on the floor before breakfast, sometimes puts his head in a box under the kitchen table. The thoughts of anxiety, sensory and perfectionism have come through as suggestions, but I definitely need to ruminate on this more. It isn't always because Ronin just beat Nikko on the head. Sometimes things are out of alignment and Nikko may be reacting to it. Or he could be trying hard to process things around him, including the energy it takes for him to hold himself together, and one little thing could be setting him off.

Finally, at the in-law's house tonight, Nikko did not immediately eat his dinner. He was sitting at the table, then slid to lean on his chair, and ended up hanging out underneath the table. I noticed that he had picked his nose a bit and saw some remnants of blood but it wasn't a full-on bleed so I let it be. Later on, after worship in the living room, Nikko's nose let go full-force and the blood was rolling out of his nose. I got him into the kitchen because the living room has WHITE pleather couches and WHITE carpeting. I was a nervous wreck until I got a paper towel clamped on Nikko's nose and dragged him to the kitchen. The bleeding stopped after a while, but it was a long while. I worried that he swallowed some of the blood and would throw it up like he did the last time this happened. He didn't. Other than the state of humidity in their house, I don't have a reason why his nose was pre-bleeding and then bled for real. Nikko is really an enigma to me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Zero to 180

This morning was another instance of Nikko going from zero to 180 at the drop of a hat. He was on the floor crying about who knows what at the start of breakfast. He got over it eventually, but it's a mystery to me. Melisa came over for therapy today and he started out very happy. But with about 40 minutes to go I could hear him whining and screaming about something. It sounded like he didn't want to work. When they came upstairs, Nikko's cheeks were flushed, eyes teary, but he still asked and signed, "Ice cream?" Melisa told me that she was reading a book on emotions, that when we got to the happy face Nikko was smiling and laughing and signing Happy, but then he suddenly threw himself to the ground and started wailing. For a long time. Melisa was like, "Ooookkkkaayyyy...." and she tried to redirect him but he wouldn't get out of his mood. I didn't know what to say to her except that I've noticed this happening lately. A friend on an ASD board mentioned that this is called emotional lability, defined as a condition of excessive emotional reactions and frequent mood changes. That doesn't sound good!! It doesn't happen all the time, and Nikko doesn't have "excessive" emotional reactions over things. Many times he's rather indifferent to something. But the mood changes are disturbing, especially when I can't pinpoint what had just happened, what just floated across his path or in the air or pushed something over enough to upset him. I think I also freaked out when reading the definition because further in the paragraph it talked about bipolar disorders. YIKES!!! Please, God, don't make me walk that path! It's just speculation right now, anyway. Another person suggested perfectionism possibly causing the whining/screaming/anxiety. That's plausible. Nikko's anxieties cause him to get antsy and agitated, so maybe if he can't set something down the way he wants to in his mind, it overwhelms him to the point of tears and dropping on the floor. Maybe? Maybe?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sometimes I wonder...

Sometimes I wonder...
If Nikko had been born without autism,

would he be a talkative kid?
would he still be prone to constipation?
would he be curious?
would he be intelligent?
would he still have a speech delay?
would he be potty trained by now?
would he know how to ride a bike by now?
would he be funny?
would he be sensitive or have any sensory issues?
would he be a picky eater? (Probably!)
would he be closer to his brother and sister?

I can't even compare Nikko to Ronin in terms of development because they are so different. I wonder how Nikko's voice would sound like if he were a talkative kid. I wonder if we would have great conversations. Sometimes I find myself carrying on a complex conversation with Ronin about some random topic and then I look over at a silent Nikko, or a Nikko that is babbling in a foreign language. I feel guilty that he and I are not having that kind of exchange. What I also find fascinating is that neither Ronin nor Audrey seem to demand a conversation from Nikko. They don't ask me why Nikko doesn't talk like they do. They just accept that Nikko is there and they talk to him like anyone else in the room. They don't seem bothered that Nikko doesn't talk back to them. It worries me that I need to get more conversation out of Nikko.

And yet, while I feel the wide gulf between Nikko and me when it comes to speech communication, I feel very connected to him when we are sitting next to each other, or playing tickle games where there's a lot of physical contact, or when I'm trying to get him to take an afternoon nap and we are laying on my bed with Bow Wow and his burp cloth between us.

I don't know what Nikko would be like without his autism, but I hope I can help him grow and develop so he won't have to carry it on his shoulders in his future.


Lots of Blues Clues this morning because Ronin was still under the weather due to his respiratory problems. Nikko didn't seem to mind and kept to himself unless he wanted more juice or more pop tarts. He did ask me for ice cream first thing in the morning, but I told him No Ice Cream, only during snack time. Upon waking, Nikko was in a fairly good mood, but when we all entered the kitchen for breakfast he ended up on the kitchen floor in a whining, crying heap. There were some decorative bins I bought from Costco that were under the table, which Nikko decided to stick his head into and wouldn't vacate. It really makes me wonder what could set him off at the drop of a hat. It took a while to coax him out of his crying, angry state, but he was able to join us at the end of breakfast. Lunch came upon us quickly and I had to feed Nikko before Jenna came at 1p. I also tried to hurry with lunch because Ronin seemed to be needing a nap.

After therapy, Nikko rushed back upstairs and asked me for ice cream while signing it, too. Since it was snack time I was happy to oblige. Jenna said he did really well and was close to mastering many of the tasks. I asked what areas he wasn't mastering and she said there's a drill where you point to a picture of an action and it correlates to the noun. What do you brush your teeth with? Toothbrush. Where do you sleep? Bed. What do you cut with? Scissors. He's not getting it all right just yet. He's getting much better at eye contact with Jenna and asking for help. I'd like to say he generalized "help" because this morning he wanted to fix a Disney Cars track so he ran to me, pulled my hand, then put his hands into fists and tapped them together while saying, "help." It was close to the sign, but he verbalized it too. I've experienced him asking for help with objects, but not for things in the kitchen. If he wants a food item, he will ask for it directly.

During dinner, it was time for me to leave and meet up with my friend Rachel for our pilates class. Nikko was hovering around me while I got ready and was slightly whiny, but when Ronin announced from his chair, "GOOD BYE, MOMMY! SEE YOU LATER!" Nikko started to repeat that under his breath and didn't get agitated. I gave the kids kisses before leaving and Nikko leaned in and out easily. I saw Audrey getting upset, and later on Denis called me with an upset Ronin that I had to talk to on the phone and wish him good night. Nikko, oblivious, was already in bed.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I've been putting maybe even a 1/8 capful of MiraLAX in Nikko's juice first thing in the morning, then lunch he gets a tablespoon of Benefiber and another tablespoon at dinner. In the mornings Nikko has bowel movements that are a peanut buttery consistency and messy but not liquidy. I'm not crazy about this form of poo, but right now I'll take it over the painful constipation bouts. I'm almost scared to let up on anything I'm doing for fear that he'll skip a day and have some impaction going on. But deep down inside I know this isn't the way his stools are supposed to be. They should be slightly firmer and mirroring the shape of his intestines. How I'm supposed to get to that point, I'm not sure yet. The nice thing lately is that since I'm monitoring him and changing him frequently, it doesn't give the poo a chance to sit and irritate his butt so that he'd start reaching into his diaper and smearing. I HATE THAT.

Kathy came at 2:30p and had a really good session with Nikko. He was in a good mood. Right before she arrived I had opened some mail and an invitation with the Little Einstein cartoon characters was on it. Nikko immediately snatched the invitation with me, complete with the map inside, and claimed it as his own. He was even singing a song while enamored with the invitation but I couldn't figure out what the song was. He took the invitation with him downstairs to therapy and came up with it again. He also took it to bed with him tonight. After therapy, he rushed up to me with his fist at his chin saying, "Ice cream? Ice cream?" This seems to be a new habit he does right after therapy. Sometimes it's convenient because it's around snack time, but at other times it's a definite NO. After Kathy left I was able to persuade Nikko to try a new potato chip I got from Whole Foods called Popchips, not baked or fried. He seemed to like them, and I know Ronin was crazy about them. Thankfully Nikko forgot abou the ice cream, but I was prepared because during last night's grocery run I got him some Edy's vanilla chocolate swirl that is both sugar and fat free. That should take the sting out of eating ice cream! We didn't have any outbursts from Nikko today that were caused by himself. Ronin would get upset that Nikko took something from him so Ronin would start to hit Nikko or ram his own head into Nikko's back. That would upset Nikko, who would fall to the floor in a crying heap, and Ronin would be sent to Time Out. Nikko's just been overall calm the past few days, something I'm really grateful for.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Millennium Park

Today was a really good day. After breakfast we packed up our cooler and stuff and headed downtown to Millennium Park. We hoped to catch glimpses of the Chicago Air and Water Show, mostly the air part, while picnicking in the grassy area in front of a band shell, then let the kids play in the interactive water fountain before heading back home. The weather was awesome for a summer day, somewhere in the mid-80's but dramatically less humidity than the day before, a virtually cloudless sky and some cool breezes off the lake. Perfect, really. Now it was a matter of having the kids be compliant.

We have a system for packing for our outings. We use the rolling cart cooler and use ice packs/bricks to chill the water bottles and juice bottles, Coke for me, and we make sandwiches for the adults, nuggets or leftovers for the kids, and fruit or munchies. I use the backpack for diapers and a change of clothes for the kiddos, and Denis brings his backpack for anything else like shoes or towels. This time, when we were unpacking in the parking garage, we took along our lawn chairs and a big umbrella for shade. I guess we looked overloaded while walking down the city blocks to the lake but when you count the three kids it's just proportional. We took the banig mats along and spread them out over a sunny green patch in the park. Lunch was easy and afterward we threw a frisbee around. Nikko transitioned very well between being in the car, being pushed in the stroller for many blocks through lots of people, and finally eating lunch. There was a gridlike structure over our heads that cast long rectangular shadows on the grass. Nikko was stimming off the shadows by running up and down the shadowy planks. It was cute to watch the trio chasing each other and falling into a heap when they bumped. What's funny to me is that the orange frisbee, which has been sitting in our house for weeks, suddenly became a prized possession when I took it out of the backpack and flicked it to Denis with my wrist. The frisbee in flight took the entertainment up a notch and it was fun for the kids to chase it. Two hours flew so quickly and we decided to bring the kids to the interactive fountain to splash around. It was Audrey's first real time and she kept slipping on the slick black stone floor, hitting the back of her head. I think that killed the fun for her and she opted out of romping in the water. We had visited this fountain once before and unfortunately I don't think the boys enjoyed it as much this time. Nikko found it enjoyable to run with his feet low to the ground sloshing the water puddles, but he didn't go near the water falling high from the fountain walls. Neither did Ronin. In retrospect, I think they enjoy going to the pool much better than this. Ronin already doesn't care for splashy features that much, but I'm surprised that Nikko didn't seem as into the water as expected. But when it was time to go and his turn to get changed into dry clothes, Nikko put up a little whining battle. Our trip home was not met with a lot of traffic, but Denis went to Super H Mart to shop for some Asian ingredients for future Thai dishes he wants to make. The kids and I stayed in the car with the air running and watching Finding Nemo. Actually Audrey was awake and the boys finished their naps. When the movie finished and I swapped it for Toy Story 2, Audrey threw a huge fit that made Ronin start screaming and kicking her, and then Nikko got irritated with Ronin's screaming. The meltdown lasted five (long) minutes until Toy Story 2 got kicking and rolling, thank goodness. Dinner at home was slightly early, but bedtime was welcome.

And I didn't have to give a lollipop to anyone at all.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Daddy's Secret Park

Nikko woke up in a decent mood this morning, but as Ronin began to whine about something, Nikko began to get upset and put his hands over his ears. I really think that Ronin's pitch when he's talking or whining sets Nikko off, which is really unfortunate because Ronin whines a lot lately. Nikko refused to sit at the breakfast table and ended up on the floor instead. He wouldn't let me change his diaper and he wouldn't eat the cheese sandwich I made at his original request. Ronin was being really obstinate about something which I have forgotten since it was some 20 hours ago, and I felt so drained with Nikko's crying/whining. Denis was observing what was transpiring, and then he got up, took the wipes and diaper, picked up a crying, protesting Nikko with a cheerful voice and informed Nikko that they were going to change his diaper. I was really grateful that Denis took Nikko into the living room, removing a volatile Nikko from an annoying Ronin so that Nikko could calm down as well as get changed since he would inevitably leak. Nikko managed to calm down, but kept getting riled up at Ronin's voice. When I was at a better place, I went to Nikko who was crouched into a ball in the hallway and coaxed him to come into the kitchen to eat. He looked at me with teary eyes and I gave him some big pressure hugs just to connect with him again. The episode was finally over.

The day went quickly, lunch was looming on us already. Nikko seemed to have a big appetite for cheese (croissant) sandwiches. He didn't nap when I wanted him to, and unfortunately Ronin wriggled out of his nap, too. Audrey was extremely cranky today, probably because she felt really warm when I picked her up from the crib this morning. When I took her temperature it was around 101.4 so I asked her if she wanted to go sleepy time or to eat lunch. She said, "Sleepy time" so I put her down for a nap. It helped a bit, but crankiness came back later in the evening. We took the kids to "Daddy's Secret Park," which was a park at the end of a road that we discovered by accident and we visited with Tianna, the day she broke her slipper. The park district redid the playground so it had updated slides and swings, which was a nice change from the former equipment that looked dated and everything looked so dim and dingy. While the morning was overcast, by this time in the afternoon it was HOT and HUMID. Within minutes each of the kids' heads were drenched in sweat. Ronin was playing along with me at a little countertop at the base of some slides, pretending to order food. "What can I get for you today?" he'd ask, which is what I taught him, and I'd say, "Five burgers, five french fries and five ice creams." "Coming right up!" Ronin would declare, then scurry to a pole behind him to mimic cooking, then bring it back to me to taste. Nikko and Audrey were fighting over a ride-on dolphin attached to a big spring in the ground. I knew Nikko would try it and then move on to something else, but Audrey did not want to be moved from the dolphin at all. In fact, she became very protective of it. It wasn't long before we hydrated the kids with their juices, then we left and went to Costco for some provisions (greens, spinach, Cheerios, Ronin's bread, bread for us, strawberries). Ronin saw the two guys at the T-Mobile kiosk where we bought my cell phone and he said, "Hey look, there's those guys!" I was surprised that he recognized them from almost a month ago. I was able to distract Nikko for a while before he started whining for a lollipop and clawing at my backpack until he almost yanked it off me. I gave in, but knew that I had a limited supply so when it was done, it was DONE. For real. After buying our stuff, we stopped at the food court to get a quick snack. Nikko and Audrey had churros, Denis and I shared a frosty, but Ronin didn't want to eat any graham crackers. We didn't have the food bag with us, and he technically couldn't eat the frosty or the churro. I felt bad that he didn't have an official snack, and he was giving me such a hard time that I said he couldn't possibly eat the frosty because he's extremely sensitive/allergic to dairy, but I'd give him a purple candy (chewable Benadryl) and let him try the churro. It was risky, but I did it to see if he would react to the churro which probably had milk or egg in it. Luckily, he didn't react, probably thanks to the Benadryl, but it's not something I really want to do without reading a label first. When we got home, Ronin got so sleepy that he took an hour nap, Audrey was super cranky, and Nikko was totally fine watching Math on the Moon. I was going out to a Girls Night Out so left after 6p. Nikko wasn't happy to see me go, was starting a low whine with teary eyes, and the other two were more accepting but not liking it as well. I went to dinner at Wildfire in Oak Brook with the girls and had a nice time reconnecting with adults. When I came back home and checked on the kids, I put Bow Wow next to Nikko, rolled Ronin back into the middle of his bed since his leg was hanging over the guard rail, and felt Audrey's forehead - - still warmer than it should be. I hope it doesn't get worse, but we probably won't do an ambitious Air & Water Show visit downtown that we originally planned.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Reinforcers and pool etiquette

To help add some fiber into Nikko's diet, I was told about Fiber One toaster pastries, which are a slightly more expensive pop tart. They have 5g of fiber in each pop tart, but the only flavor I found around here was brown sugar cinammon. Nikko liked them for a while, but only ate the frosting on the top, consuming only a slight amount of the insides. I switched to chocolate fudge flavored pop tarts that specifically were fiber enhanced, and Nikko continued to eat mainly the frosting on top. I heard that chocolate was a natural laxative so I thought I was still on board. Today he ran out of the fiber enhanced pop tarts so I tried to give him some regular chocolate fudge pop tarts. The main difference is that there are little white specs of sugar on the frosting. This has deterred Nikko completely from the pop tart and now he refuses to eat it altogether. I don't know how many pop tarts I'm going to try to get him to like it, but the fact that he won't deviate from something that he settled on liking is extremly frustrating. This can be seen in other areas such as watching particular DVDs (Math Adventures on the Moon, Real Trains for Kids, The Reef), clothing (refusal of Crocs early in the summer) and in daily nuances (must have lights on or off at particular times, must close doors despite the door jam, won't let me wear a hat). These peculiarities get tough when it is associated with food, as evidenced from the fruit snack obsession, then the cheese puffs, and now it's ice cream. I have been trying to stick to serving these things only during snack time, so when anyone mentions that it's snack time he immediately brightens up and requests either cheese puffs or ice cream. I think that's the most appropriate I've gotten the behavior to, but it slips at times and during the day he may request these special foods at breakfast or during lunch. When I tell him it's only during snack time he will throw a huge tantrum. I mostly don't give in, but it's hard when he's dragging me by the wrist or the finger, pushing me forcefully with his head toward the pantry, or whining like a toy car with dying batteries that just won't quit. I recall that Linda Hoeck wrote to me that we don't necessarily have to remove the food completely, just serve it only at specific times.

I thought Nikko would be open to taking an afternoon nap, especially since we had a late swim night, but when 1p rolled around he didn't settle at all. He lay on our bed with Bow Wow, babbling to himself until 2p. No nap at all. After all the kids woke up and had a snack, we went to the Wheeling Pool and met up wth Pat, Anna, Jovy and Max. Nikko was thrilled to be in the water again and I watched him start to cup his hands in front of him before taking a mini-dive in waist-deep water. It was sunny, hot and humid with the chance of thunderstorms looming hours away. During the safety break when everyone had to vacate the pool, I had to drag Nikko out of the pool by carrying him. He was screaming in protest like any kid who was being taken away from his favorite activity in the whole wide world would, but I couldn't let him try to get back into the water. And he's getting heavier and stronger. It was physically draining for me to hold him back, so I offered him as many Oreos as it would take to keep him calm. It worked, just enough so that I could let go of him and allow him to sit/stand at a table waiting for the break to end. He would take a step toward the pool and look at me to see if I'd reprimand him. I would look, say his name sternly, and he'd wait begrudgingly. I wanted him to see that no one else was in the pool, but this concept still doesn't matter to him. He almost didn't believe it when we told him that the break was over, but when Denis walked him to the pool and Nikko saw everyone rushing to get back in, he was gleeful and took a dive. I am still using lollipops to lure him out of the pool at the end of our visits and to keep him standing still while I change him so that he doesn't bolt back into the pool. It's something I hope to phase out, but with the summer coming to an end so will the lollipop usage. Perhaps. I might have to keep them on hand to save us in the store. It's not a forever thing, and I truly believe that when his language and communication skills improve over the next year, along with his maturity, he may be better able to understand the concepts that he won't always get what he wants in a store, that he needs to stand still while I change him, or that it's not ok to go to a certain place just because he wants to.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Woodland Trails Pool / Smaller than a grain of rice

For some reason Ronin woke up at 5:30a and was calling out. When I told him to go back to sleep he almost screamed, I WANT TO PLAY! I ushered him into the dark living room and told him to go ahead, but be quiet and I'd be laying on the couch. I don't think Ronin dozed for even a second, but around 6:30a Audrey wanted out, then Nikko woke up at 7a. These kids were going to take their 1p nap for sure! I fed them lunch and then Melisa came at 12:30p. When she entered, Nikko immediately ran to get his Crocs and put them on by the door. I had to coax him into following us downstairs and feared that he would make a big scene about going outside, but he was very compliant despite having to take off his Crocs again. He continued to have a very good session and even ended it outside with Melisa, as promised. Meanwhile, I put the other two down for their nap while I worked on purging things in the bedroom. All kids were up by 2:30 so I gave them a snack before Tianna arrived. It was her last day with us before she leaves for college. I am so grateful to her for volunteering to help us out a few hours each week. I cannot successfully take the kids out somewhere that requires more than one adult to help supervise. Backyard? Sure. Walks around the block, no problem. But the mall? Nope. Since it was so hot and humid outside, I took us to the mall to run around the play area. We were slated to go to the pool later on with Denis so I didn't want to go to the trouble of organizing swimsuits and such. The kids were extremely active on the climbing characters, including Audrey who showed no fear in scaling, and especially Ronin who was leaping off taller structures as if he studied Parkour. Nikko was content to run around the perimeter with some climbing mixed in. There were so many kids of varying sizes running all over the place, and while I thought I was being smart by dressing Nikko in an orange t-shirt, it blended in well with the orange accents of the perimeter couches as well as the two other kids in orange that kept circling around him. I worried that it would be difficult to pry Nikko away from the play area, but I baited him with promises of chicken nuggets and French fries. We went to the McDonald's in the mall for an early dinner, then got home by 5pm.

Denis came home early from work so we headed out to the pool at the River Trails Park District/Woodland Trails Pool. It was similar in style to both the Wheeling pool and Flick Park, but what couldn't be beat was their price: $6 for Denis, me, and all three kids. It was $3/person after 6:30pm, but how the kids came out free is something I can't explain. Whoo hoo! Ronin and Audrey ran back and forth from the kiddie pool to some splashy apparatus, and Nikko was a total fish in the water. He is becoming braver each time we go, taking a little jump off the side of the pool and landing like a dog without hurting himself on the bottom of the pool. I wonder if he'd like to do some diving, if the pressure from his body hitting the water feels especially good to him. We saw our neighbors from across the backyard and chatted with them a bit. We left the pool right around closing, 9p, expecting crabby kids and a late bath and bedtime. We may swim again tomorrow afternoon if Denis comes home early, taking advantage of these last days of summer.

Last thing I have to admit here: after seeing the ophthalmologist again yesterday to have plugs put in my tear ducts again, this morning I tried to clean out some gunk in the inner corner of my left eye and the plug came out. I couldn't believe it. It was on my fingertip and I tried to put it back in but was to clumsy and it fell somewhere on the sink. I was so aggravated and pissed because Dr. Herz had told me not to go there, that they were expensive, that he'd cauterize the tear duct if they fell out. What the heck is the matter with me that I have to ruin things twice over?? How can I possibly not rub or touch my eyes for the next three weeks?? I threw my hands up and gave up, deciding to just have one plug in and tell Dr. Herz later on that it recently fell out. Then I remembered that I had saved the plug from the first time they had fallen out, how it was on the inner rim of my eyelid so I put it in a contact lens case with saline. Going against better judgement, I hunted around for some tweezers with a blunt tip and practiced how I would insert the spare plug. Somehow, I managed to push it into the tear duct. The thought of possibly infecting my tear duct with the plug was apparent, but not as strong as wanting to be able to go back to the doctor with TWO plugs in my tear ducts instead of ONE. It was extremely hard to put that tiny, silicone plug onto the tip of the tweezer. It was smaller than a grain of rice, I seriously kid you not. It was half of a half of a grain of rice. But it somehow went from the tip of the tweezer to the hole, and I had to restrain from being too rough or it may fall out again. SUCCESS!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gains with Jenna

Today I had mom come over again because two days ago the plug in my right eye's tear duct came out and I felt it along the lower inside rim of my eye. I put it in saline in a case, just in case. Yesterday I felt uncomfortableness in my left eye and I think I was able to remove particles of the left plug. I SWEAR I didn't rub my eyes preceding this discharge! But out they came, and I had to make an appointment to see Dr. Herz about the plugs. He reinserted slightly bigger plugs into the tear ducts and told me to be careful. He also said that if these don't work, he could try cauterizing the tear duct with a hot rod. "It will only hurt a little bit." Um, I think he scared me into not wanting to touch my eyes for fear the plugs will fall out again! I can actually see the top of the plug on each tear duct, which is found near the inner corner of your eye but on the bottom (and top) lashline. You have to put your finger near the lashline and pull down to expose the tear duct. Now that I know where to look, I feel like I'm constantly checking those tear ducts. Kinda crazy.

Mom came to sit with the kids. Nikko didn't cry when I left, and Jenna came to work with him at 1:00p. Ronin was behaving, but Audrey was willful and when I came home around 1:20p, passing by Costco and the grocery quickly for provisions, Audrey was a crying, heaving mess. They both were refusing to take a nap, ganging up on Mom. It's a good thing I didn't take longer, so I marched the little ones into the room for a story and then put them in their beds for a nap. Audrey protested at first but I didn't back down. Jenna and Nikko came up after their session and she told me that Nikko did some great things today. When he wanted help opening a can of play-doh, he pushed it at Jenna but also said, "Open" and then when he wanted her to pull it out of the can he said, "Help." When Jenna and Nikko were rolling a ball back and forth, Nikko said, "My turn" without prompting, which is a phrase and understanding that they've been working on for a while. Finally, Jenna said that at one point she turned to Nikko and said, "Hi, Nikko." He usually repeats back what is said, like a parrot, but this time he turned, gave her eye contact and said, "Hi Jenna." She was really happy with his progress today, and I'm really happy she told me all about it! Tomorrow we have a 12:30p session with Melisa, and then Tianna is coming over for the last time to go out with us. I plan to take everyone to Woodfield Mall just to run around the play area. I don't feel up for gearing for the pool, and now that I have to wear my glasses I feel extra fuddy-duddyish in a swimsuit and specs.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Eyeball hell

Mom came over today to watch the kids while I went to see an ophthalmologist. She told me later on that Nikko was upset when he came up from ABA and I wasn't home. He searched for me in every room. But he got over it and tried to get Mom to play the LeapFrog DVD. Unfortunately, she doesn't know how to work the DVD player and it had to wait until I got home. Nikko was especially whiny today and it grated on my nerves so much, coupled with Audrey screaming and pawing at me, that I had to put on my ear plugs. I think that because Mom was at the house, Nikko tried to get away with asking me for ice cream at 5pm. I didn't want to give him any, but he was persistent, pushy and whining like crazy. Mom told me to just give him some, so I caved in. Thankfully, it didn't spoil his dinner appetite and he ate a few chicken nuggets, but I felt like he was taking advantage of the situation today.

SO, my prognosis was:
1.) High myopia - retinal detachment precautions
2.) PPMD - posterior polymorphous membraneous dystrophy
3.) Trichiasis

What this mean is this:
1.) I am at a high risk for retinal detachment. Doc said something about a range of 6 and above as bad. I am at 6.5. Whatever that means, I'm reading up on myopia and retinal detachment and I am FREAKING OUT.
2.) PPMD - bad stuff here, too, can lead to glaucoma but he said he didn't think it would happen to me, but had to tell me about it anyway since he mentioned PPMD. Trying to find out more info on this in layman's terms, but having trouble.
3.) Some lashes in the inner corner of my eyes are growing inward, causing irritation on my eyeball. He had to pluck some OUT of the inner corner of my eye. Yeah, you said it: OUCH. Then, due to all the dryness in my eyes, he put some kind of plug on my tear ducts, using forceps, so that when my eyes get hydrated the liquid will stay on my eyeball and not disappear into the tear ducts. He was putting these little silicone discs somewhere along the underside of my eyeball at the inner corner of my eye. I could feel the pressure of the forceps, but it didn't sting. Just felt uncomfortable. But now I can't feel them at all. I will not rub my eyes for any reason because they may pop out and then what the heck am I supposed to do??

No contacts for a few weeks, we'll follow up on Aug. 30. He may try contacts on me to see what happens, but if that doesn't work then we will talk Lasik. He is a specialist in that, and said that if I had it done it would solve all these current problems which are being caused by my wearing contact lenses and the dryness it has provoked. I am glad I finally saw someone who is going to help me solve this problem, but I am in eyeball hell.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tuna and blue cheese

On Saturday, we ventured off to the Chicago Botanic Gardens for their 6th annual Kite Festival. Breezy and perfect temperatures plus a beautiful flowery backdrop made our trip worth it. The kids weren't as interested in the kite demonstrations as we were. Nikko opted to run back and forth along a pathway nearby but never ventured too far from our spot. Ronin took a turn at holding our kite reel and I was surprised to see him looking up at his kite all by himself. Audrey hit a meltdown at one point and took the option of sitting in her stroller to cool off. We brought our cooler and ate lunch at a balcony with umbrellas and tables, but I waited for the staff to boot us out of there for not buying any of their food. Didn't happen, which made lunch go smoothly. We went home for naps and to simply chill out. Today, the weather was completely upside down. We didn't go anywhere in the morning because the ground was wet from rain and the skies were terribly cloudy. After lunchtime and naps, I looked out to clear, sunny skies and hotter temps. I still didn't venture outside with the kids because the ground was still damp and I wanted to tackle some organizational things in Nikko's room. Looking at the junk piling up in his room made me want to scrap the entire mission, but I tackled a bin of miscellaneous toys despite my laziness.

I have put some miraLAX into Nikko's juice, alternating it with Benefiber, and today I was rewarded with an explosive diaper that smeared out the leghole when I pulled his shorts down to change him. Yuck. But the fact that there was a bowel movement was a good sign. I'm not giving Nikko a very big dose at all, really just 1/8 of a capful. Nikko's appetite has increased as of Friday night, especially when it comes to chicken nuggets. We ran out of them at the in-law's house, and we are going to run out of them at lunchtime tomorrow. If it helps him have better bowel movements, I'll be thankful. I also wonder if we're on the verge of a growth spurt. Nikko has been pulling me in directions when he wants something, but I've been trying to encourage him to ask directly. We got a LeapFrog DVD that has Math on the Moon on one side and Letter Factory on the other. When I tried to change to the Letter episode after watching a few Math episodes in a row, Nikko vocally protested and went to fetch the TV remote so I could change the show back to Math on the Moon. During dinner tonight, Ronin was talking about a Handy Manny episode and he mentioned something from the show about tuna and blue cheese.
"Hey, Nikko!" Ronin said, "Can you say tuna and blue cheese?"
I didn't think Nikko would respond so I chimed in, "Here Ronin, I'll say it: Tuna and blue cheese!"
Nikko didn't look at us right away, but within a few more seconds Nikko said, "Tuna and blue cheese."
Perhaps he WAS paying attention.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bye pool!

***TMI TMI TMI*****
UGH. Jenna was coming for therapy at 11a and it was around 10:30a that I noticed Nikko was hunched over an ottoman with a strained face. I was wondering about his state of constipation because this was about 1.5 days without a solid movement. I knew that I would have to help him again, so I quickly assembled the diapers and wipes, vaseline and suppository and got to work. My mind was turning over where I had gone wrong this time. He has been drinking juice, straight and watered down, mostly peppered with Benefiber at every meal. He is still on the digestive enzyme, which I'm really wondering whether or not it's helping. I've given him some Fiber One pop tarts, even though he mostly gnaws on the frosting so he's not getting 100% of the promised 5 g per tart. Nikko had a kiwi-sized poo that was compacted but still pliable, and then he had two movements after that which seemed to clean out any excess. Per his pediatrician, I will have to go back to using some MiraLAX, and will alternate it with Benefiber. She asked if I was giving Nikko the full recommended dosage of MiraLAX and I told her I was only giving him 1/4 capfuls, which rendered smears. His doctor also told me that she'd rather he utilize the MiraLAX right now instead of having to resort to the painful suppository treatments. When asked if helping him poo will ruin his muscles so that he can't do it anymore, she said that wouldn't be the case. Lucky Jenna came at 11a, after Nikko was in tears and mad at me for putting him through the trauma. They had one visit back upstairs for one of his two post-trauma bowel movements, but according to Jenna he ended up having a really good session. In particular, when they were playing with a ball back and forth, she paused at one point and Nikko said to her, "My turn." I wonder if I can help him generalize this by emphasizing this phrase when he plays upstairs, not just downstairs.

Denis took the afternoon off and we took the kids to the pool at Flick Park in Glenview. Nikko was so excited to go swimming, and indeed he reverted back to fish status in the pool. Flick Park has an enclosed zero-depth kiddie pool which is perfect for the three kiddos, even though after the first hour we moved to the bigger pool that had splashier features. Nikko didn't care either way, but Ronin has a big dislike for the splashy, shooting water apparatuses. I noticed that Nikko was climbing out of the pool, standing at the edge and taking a small jump into the water. He'd land on his feet and be to his mid-thigh or waist upon impact, but it is a progression nonetheless. I wonder if he'd really flourish when he learns to be a better swimmer. Despite our two hours in the pool in perfect weather, sunny and warm with no humidity, the best part of the outing was when we were in the Pilot, pulling away from the park. Nikko looked out the window and said, "Bye, pool!" He repeated this a few times, then his siblings started chirping in so that all three of them were saying "Bye, pool!" I loved that Nikko said it on his own, with no prompting, as if his experience was really memorable and saying bye gave it meaning. I heard him say "ool" instead of "pool" a few times because he was searching for the word in his head and wrestling with the recall. We headed home, showered the kids and ourselves, then headed back out to go to the in-law's house for Friday dinner and to blow candles for Ronin's birthday. Nikko had been sporting a bug bite on his arm that I didn't notice until Jenna pointed it out today, saying he had been picking at it. It reminded me of the spider bite he got on his leg last year, red and raised center, swollen with a lighter outer right. Nikko doesn't have a temperature or anything, but I'll bet the bite is painful because the venom has made the swelling hard. The bite was still large tonight, but my FIL said that if it were really large then we'd have something to worry about. I really hope it doesn't grow.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cheese Sandwich & Lollipops

Nikko seems to be really hooked on these Cheese Sandwiches I make for him using half of a half of a croissant and this cheesy spread from a jar. Sometimes he'll eat nuggets on the side, but the Cheese Sandwich is the core meal and he comes up to me asking for it. I wonder when this phase will end. He's also accepting of a pseudo-Pop Tart that has 5g of fiber. I'm doing it for the sake of his constipation problems, so while it seems kind of unhealthy, there are health benefits at the bottom of it. But lately he's been focused on eating mostly the glaze on top of the pop tart instead of the whole thing. It's backfiring, unfortunately.

We took a trip to Costco around lunchtime, after a series of heavy rains in the morning. The kids were behaved, but mostly because I had to give them lollipops at Nikko's behest. It's becoming a not-so-good sign, like the fruit snacks, where he is expecting that I give him a lollipop when we go to Costco. I hate that he does this because he'll whine and squeal and claw at my backpack and at me until I give him what he wants. I am starting to dread going to the store again. We came back home and I put the little kids down for their naps. Then I walked Nikko to my room and said, "Sleepy time," and he knows that it's time for him to take a nap with me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Aversion to shrillness

Kathy came to work with Nikko at 11a and I worried about it because at 10:20a Ronin was still sitting in time out in the kitchen, wailing and screaming at me to let him get up. I was ignoring him at the table and listening to Nikko in the living room, getting upset at the shrillness in Ronin's screaming. When I checked on Nikko he was on the floor with the square floor pillow on top of his head, moaning and gritting his teeth with teary eyes. Ronin was sent into time out because he double-head-butted Nikko in the back over some toy, of course. I told Ronin that he needed to be quiet before I could let him out of time out and Ronin protested loudly despite me telling him the key to his freedom. I watched the clock and hoped that Ronin would comply so that I could get everyone settled back to a normal vibe before Kathy came. I think it took Ronin another 10 minutes to finally settle into a pause between sniffles, so I jumped on that second of silence to praise him for being quiet and to let him stand up. *BIG HEAVY SIGH* All the kids were acting like animals before 10a, especially Audrey for some reason. While Nikko was downstairs with Kathy, I gave the two little ones Toy Story 3 Dry Erase Boards to occupy their attention. I saved one for Nikko for after lunch but he didn't show much interest in it. That surprised me because I had heard from school that he seemed to enjoy scribbling away on wipe boards. Perhaps he just wasn't in the mood for it so I'll have to revisit that later. Kathy told me that Nikko had a very good session, even started laughing and singing in the middle of some drills. At least he didn't have any meltdowns. It's strange, because since Friday he had a good session at the end of Melisa's, then Sarah and now Kathy. We won't see Jenna tomorrow because she had to reschedule for Friday. It's an open slate tomorrow, but I think we'll go to Costco so I can get more hot dog buns for Ronin and to return a saute pan. I may try to take the kids to the park behind the Westbrook school, if it's not cornered off since the building is having asbestos cleaned out. If not that park, then maybe we'll go to the "secret" park near the high school. It's not totally fenced off but the playground equipment is toddler friendly. I really want the kids to get out and about, taking advantage of these summer days. After lunch and naps, I snacked the kids and planned to take them on a walk to see the Metra trains. It's our little ritual if the weather is good. I had no real idea that it was terribly hot and HUMID outside, regretting our outing by the time we hit the end of the driveway. Still, I made us walk two blocks toward the railroad tracks and we were graced by 3 instances of Metra trains lumbering by. I think the boys enjoyed it, but their heads were dripping with sweat so much that Nikko was clawing at the tissue in my hands so that he could blot his head. At dinnertime, Nikko had mac cheese but didn't scarf down the battered fish fillets that he had at lunchtime. His appetite wasn't there, and it's been pretty inconsistent lately. Which reminds me to buy more croissants from Costco. He has adapted well to my croissant/cheese sandwich that I make to replace the expensive Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches that he picks apart. He ended the night by getting excited over seeing Steve on Blues Clues and dancing to the Mail Song. Nikko looks at himself in the mirrored wall and swings his bent arms back and forth the way Steve does it. Nikko also says, "Mailtime, mailtime, mailtime!" in the same tone as the tv program. I have it as one of my goals to outline some activities we should do with him and the other kiddos before the summer ends.

Monday, August 2, 2010

One-hour pool

Two things on today's agenda were Nikko's ABA with Sarah and then pool time with Tianna. When Sarah came, I warned her that Melisa's last session started out rough and then ended really well. Nikko's mood in the morning was ok, somewhat in a good mood but kept colliding with Ronin (or, Ronin kept targeting Nikko) so that Nikko had some crying spells as well. But when they both emerged from ABA, Sarah said that Nikko had a really great session and was in a really good mood. Shocking for me, but I was very pleased. Ronin had passed on taking a nap, then Tianna arrived and we headed to the pool. Unfortunately, I didn't know that the pool was closing at 4:45 and reopening at 6:15p. This was due to swim lessons, according to Rachael, my neighbor, who happened to be at the pool. Basically I had one hour to put the kids in the pool and enjoy the time. Strangely, it was just enough for them today. Nikko resumed being a fish in the water, and Ronin and Audrey surprised me by grabbing onto the edge of the pool and practicing kicks, as if they were swimming. They had done this the last time at the pool when Denis showed them how, and today they copied the motion again. We came home to an early dinner, then baths and bed. I thought Nikko was going to take a nap around 6p because he seemed tired, but he found his second wind and was dancing around the living room in front of the mirrored wall, working up a sweat and enjoying Blues Clues. That kid is a natural sweat-er.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Quick notes 2

After a trip to Costco, I took the kids to McDonald's for a sit-down meal. This is the first time I've taken them to one without a Playplace so I worried that they would get restless. They really didn't. Audrey sat in a high chair while the two boys sat in adult chairs. I put them facing the street view, chatted up about the happy meal box, and didn't make us stay very long. I think they were relatively happy. Nikko got up a few times but didn't have any meltdowns over anything. French fries keep them all very happy. After nap times, I took them out for a walk around two blocks. We caught sight of a Metra train, which is always a bonus. It was hotter than I thought because sweat was pouring down the kids' heads, including Audrey. On the way back we ran into Rachael, our neighbor, and had a chat while Denis came up the driveway. Overall the day was ok for Nikko, but he kept getting upset whenever I got upset with Ronin, which was unfortunately quite often. I am in the middle of reading my books on the strong-willed child and am still learning how to regain my composure when I have a breakdown. For example, this morning Ronin woke us up at 6:20am. It's still kind of early for me but we'll get used to it. They had breakfast, but Nikko came to me asking for a popsicle at 8:00am. I was going to refuse him, but then said, Why Not? Ronin and Audrey wanted some, too, and what started out as a good idea became sticky and messy, to my chagrin. Nikko also wasn't satisfied with the flavor of his popsicles because he refused the two generic ones I gave him after I initially gave him one of Ronin's. That was frustrating me, as well as the sticky orange goo on Audrey. All that mess was causing my anxiety to build up so much that I actually broke down while trying to corral the messes each child was making. In the middle of my sobbing I seemed to give myself my own therapy session. I must have sounded crazy as I told myself, "They are just popsicles, and they are just babies. What the HELL is my problem? They can be washed! Why am I making such a big deal about this??" I think the pressures of being with the kids nonstop for days is building on me. I've been nit-picking on them, and I think I really need to just get a little breather. It's almost easier when the internet on the laptop is working so I can escape to the asd proboard forums, to chat or to read for inspiration. Since I didn't have that this week, and still don't, I don't have an outlet to vent. That's why I'm here, I guess. Tomorrow will be better. I hope to take the kids to the pool with Tianna since it will be a hot one.