Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Come cry with me...

I will be camera-less for anywhere up to 6 weeks!!!

What on earth am I going to with myself? My camera is a permanent attachment to me. If I am home, I know exactly where it is at all times. If I'm out, its with me. I don't want to miss that "perfect" picture of Jayce's rare smile or Jaina learning something new. Let me tell you, I must be getting older because my brain just doesn't work the same way it used to. I had an awesome memory in my youth (if I remember correctly!) and now, I can't remember what we did last Thursday! Thank goodness for pictures, I say. And my blog :) 'Cause then I can just go look it up!

I really shouldn't complain much. I have an awesome Canon Rebel 2000 SLR film camera that takes beautiful pictures and close-ups. It's fully automatic when I want it to be, or I can fully manipulate the f-stop and shutter speed (not that I know how, though!). It has been fun getting it out and playing with it. However, I've already shot a full roll of film, so now I need to actually drive it somewhere, drop it off, wait for the prints to be developed, scan the negatives, and put on a cd. What a pain! What a cost! And to think that I was very against having a digital camera because I thought that film photography was going to be a lost art form.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

One hand for each

It's 5:00 PM and I'm in my normal state of mad rush to get dishes washed, dinner cooked, and general tidiness in the house before we start dinner/bath/bed routines.

Of course, this is the same exact time my children need me the most out of the day!

Jaina impatiently says, "MOM! Why haven't you gotten my ice yet??"

I reply, "Just a minute, sweetie. I can only do one thing at a time!"

"But you have two hands," she reminds me.

Oh, right :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Getting ready for Halloween!

Its almost here!!! (That's what Jaina says every morning, you know...) and then, after Halloween, its Thanksgiving, and you know what comes after Thanksgiving, right???

Her train of thought is making me feel old. I once felt exactly the way she did. Now I just think, "Aw, man! Do I really have to drag out another box of decorations again? Didn't I just decorate for Halloween?"

Perspective definitely changes as you get older!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Schoolwork/Homework



I wish I could say that Jaina just absolutely loves Kindergarten, but unfortunately, that feeling of hers only lasted the first week of school. From the second week on, things started going down hill.

It kills me that my baby doesn't like school. :( Who doesn't like Kindergarten? You get to play all day, learn numbers and letters, sing songs, have circle time, are read to often by the teacher, and make wonderful friendships.

Oh, wait... that's how Kindergarten was when *I* was in school. I keep forgetting that I'm old now! (29 next month! EEK!)

Kindergarten nowadays is what First Grade was to us back then. I think all this stuff with the "No Child Left Behind" crap has made our society think that learning things younger is somehow better? Yet if you ask a Child Developmental Psychologist, they would remind us that not only do children develop new skills at their own pace, but that there are just some things that children are not developmentally ready to learn until a certain age.

So, school for Jaina is much different than it was for me. They sit out in the hall, with no talking, before school starts at 7:40 AM. Then there is no talking while they hand in their homework folders (yep, there's homework to do every day). Then, still, no talking while they say the pledge, sing the star spangled banner, and listen to the morning announcements. Then, while still sitting in their seats, they are given busy work to complete while the teachers get ready for their day. Next comes calendar time (still, no talking!). Lunch is very early (10:45) and they only have 20 minutes to eat. Hmm... wonder why Jaina comes home with a full lunch bag some days? I feel bad for the kids that have to go through the lunch line. They get even less time to eat! Then, they do get recess after lunch. It usually involves running around the pavement since the playground equipment is wet. Because the past years, Bush has looked down on recess and physical education, the schools are not required to let the kids have much recess time until some random year down the line when they up the requirements.

Now, I guess I should be lucky that they do have art once a week, PE twice a week, Music once a week, etc. I just wonder if they have time to be kids at all for the almost 7 hours that they are there sitting at a desk, doing worksheets.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Louder Than Words

Wow.

This book couldn't have come at a more opportune time. I feel like it was written just for me. Evan, her son, is Jayce, just minus the seizures (Thank God!)

The similarities between Jenny's son and Jayce were pretty astounding.

I know... you are sitting there thinking, "Wait... doesn't Jenny McCarthy's son have Autism? How can he be like Jayce then? Jayce doesn't have Autism!"

Yeah, I'm hoping you are right. Praying that you are right. With every ounce of my being. After all, he's certainly not like the boys I worked with in college who had Autism. Jayce doesn't head bang, or spin, or rock all day in a corner. He's bright, affectionate, can make eye contact. He just has a speech delay, right?

Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), Autism is such a broad diagnosis nowadays. On one hand, it puts needless fear into the hearts of many parents who immediately start thinking that their child is going to be institutionalized later in life. After all, there is no "cure" for Autism. On the other hand, labeling a child as having an "Autism Spectrum Disorder" opens up so many doors for therapies and interventions. And it seems as though these kids need the intervention, despite being "high-functioning".

We won't know what "label" Jayce has until we get our appointment this Spring at the CARE (Center for Autism Resource and Evaluation) team in the next town over. And most likely, he will be getting a label. There are just too many red flags.

That's part of the problem, I think, when it comes to evaluating young toddlers. There are so many different characteristics that can point to Autism. You can take two children, both diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, and they would be completely different. One would be verbal, the other not; one could have excellent motor skills, the other one with an obvious delay; one child suffers from seizures, the other from chronic immune disorders; one child has sensory issues galore, the other child is oblivious to sights, sounds, and smells.

That's why I was so shocked at the similarities between Jenny's son Evan and Jayce. But she did as I did... she had an excuse, reason, or answer for all of her son's "quirks". When you dissect the behavior of child with Autism, each little thing by itself isn't so "abnormal". Some of it can just be chalked up to typical two year old stuff. Its when you start adding up all those quirks, or looking at their intensity, or looking at its frequency... then you kinda can't ignore it anymore.

Jenny mentioned that her and her husband used to predict that Evan was going to be a mechanic because he just had to know how everything worked. If I had a dime for every time me or Brian said, "Wow, Jayce is definitely going to be a computer programmer! Just look at how he loves computers! Always has to be pushing the buttons on them!"

But it wasn't just pushing buttons. It was the impulse to watch the CD-ROM drive open and close and open and close and open and close. And then there was the toe-walking and hand flapping that he did while he watched it. "He's just excited," my mom would say. His pediatrician said that it was not considered a self-stimulating behavior because it "had a purpose" (his OT has since told me that she was wrong). While Jenny referred to her son as a "Little Bird", Brian's co-worker has given our son the nickname "Chicken" because he flaps his arms and hands like a chicken.

And then there was the fact that by the age of 20 months, Jayce knew all his alphabet letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. He had such an awesome memory (well, he still does!). All you'd have to do is show him something a couple of times and he'd remember. Same with music. At age 14 months, he could sing the entire ABC song. So I guess I'm not surprised that my pediatrician was so reluctant to say he had a speech delay after seeing that! But now I know that this early memorization is called hyproxia and may mean that Jayce will be able to learn to read at a very young age. The way he looks at Jaina's sight words taped to our wall in the kitchen, it would not surprise me one bit.

Like Evan, Jayce sees the world in shapes and colors. Its how he organizes his perceptions. Its not a ceiling fan, its a circle. Its not Anthony Wiggle, its just blue. That was my first clue that something was wrong. Here was this amazingly bright toddler who knew at least 100 words, but couldn't put any of them together.

Then I realized that all he knew were nouns. And 3 verbs. Yet he couldn't put those nouns with any of those verbs. And then I realized that he was just repeating what he heard from either me or a tv show (called Echolia and also "movie talk"). He honestly had no clue what those words meant.

I've always known that Jayce's receptive language was different than Jaina's. Since I choose to nurse my children well past their first year of life, I've had to practice gentle "nightweaning" to impress upon them that nursing was just fine in the day time, but night time was not for nursing. Most children can understand this concept at age 15 months. Jaina was 19 months when we night weaned. I attempted to nightwean Jayce at least 4 times between the age of 12-24 months. We finally just fully weaned (day and night) 3 months after his second birthday. He is just NOW understanding that when it gets dark outside, people sleep.

Sometimes I wonder if I am reading into all this. Am I looking for ways for Jayce to be diagnosed with Autism? Why on earth would I do such a thing? Yet, here I find myself listing all the things that make him different from typical kids all the time. No one wants to believe that he could have Autism. And when my well-meaning friends say this very thing to me, I feel myself getting defensive and start naming off why I think Jayce is going to be diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is crazy?! What am I really trying to prove? That I'm right and all these people that see my child for 45 minutes at a park once a week are wrong?

And then my sanity returns (if I ever had any to begin with!) and I realize that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I know my child better than everyone. I see all his qualities day in and day out, good and bad. I know he needs therapy and intervention. His ST, OT, and EIC agree, but at the same time, are very positive and optimistic that he'll loose any label he's given by age 6. I'm going to hold them to that, okay?

My good friend from my AP board told me, "He's still just Jayce". I have to remind myself that every day. He's not a label. He's not a diagnosis or a disorder. He's my baby and he's as perfect as he can be. I'm just getting him a little extra help for him to glide through life a little easier.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Our Week, At a Glance...

On Saturday, I cleaned the playroom and moved the Little Tykes Slide inside. Woo hoo. Exciting stuff, heh?


Last Sunday, we all went to the International Festival downtown. They had music, food, games, a clown, face painting, you name it. But I loved the fact that each country had a tent that you could go and visit. Jaina had to stop and get a bindi from the beautiful ladies of India. Then we bought hand made mermaid dolls at the Chinese tent. Jayce had to have one, too :) He calls her "dollie" and sleeps with her and gives her kisses. The kids also had fun coloring pictures at the Denmark table.






Jaina is officially a Daisy Girl Scout :) She has earned the "center" and two petals to be put on her pinafore. We went with her troop to the fire station to learn about Fire Safety.




Jayce's newest obsession.... its like a Mr. Potato head, except its Elmo and it talks when you stick the objects in. He got it for Christmas last year and just now decided it was worthy of his attention. Now he gives it TOO much attention!



Then on Thursday, Jayce and I went to the park to meet our AP friends :)



I went to a local consignment sale this week and scored some good stuff! I got a Kelty Kids metal frame backpack carrier for $35!!! The receipt attached said it was bought in 2003 for $145 from a hiking store in G'ville. Jayce has already broken it in around the neighborhood. I also got Jaina a few cute outfits. And they each got a toy. Jaina picked a bag of motorcycles and Jayce got a Little People garage.




This morning, I took Jayce to an inflatable playplace in our town. He did not like it, and stayed by the door for the 45 minutes we were there. If it wasn't so darn expensive ($8.50 each visit!), I would go every week until he got used to it. The place is toddler heaven... ball pit, noodle pit, inflatable slide, arts and crafts, tricycles, plastic animals to play with. We went with MOMS Club today and got a special price, so it wasn't too much of a waste.

So much to say, so little time!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Day Four (finally!)

Okay, I'm getting sick of posting about my trip down to Georgia. Its old news already! I already have like 7 more posts I need to write about this week! Let's get on with it!

On Sunday, our final day, we all got our best clothes on and attended church with my parents, sister, and grandmother. My parents are members of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (also known as LDS or Mormon). Jaina absolutely loves
going to church there. All three hours of it. She is one brave girl! I was pretty impressed with Jayce. He sat in Sacrament meeting for a full 40 minutes before needing to go out. Nursery, however, was a different story. He did not like Nursery, even with me in there with him. I ended up leaving Jaina in her CTR-B (Choose The Right) primary class while I took Jayce home before church ended. Jaina received her very own green CTR ring and she is very proud to have one.

Jayce dressed up:


Jaina and Great-Grandma Elsie


Jayce and his Grandpa:


Jaina and Aunt Jami

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Day Three Continued (Night)

Well, I was trying to wait until one of my old friends from HS emailed me a group picture to post, but I don't want to get too backlogged on my blogging. My Atlanta trip was now a week ago and I've got to move on!

Saturday night, I took the kids over to a HS friend's house to meet up with some former friends. It sounds weird to say former because its not like any of these ladies stopped being my friend. You know how it is... people get married, people have babies (or backwards!) and old friends grow apart. It was nice to try to reconnect a little now that we are all 10 years older. Just in time for our 10 year HS Reunion in November as well :)

My Best Friend (whom I've stayed in touch with) brought her 11 week old baby. She is the cutest thing! Just so smiley and cuddly and adorable! Then my friend who used to live behind my dad's house brought her little boy that is just a few months younger than Jayce. It was fun seeing everyone in "mommy mode" especially when my last memories of these friends were of frat parties in college!

Unfortunately, I didn't get to do much catching up due to a certain 2.5 year old and his explorations through a non-baby-proofed house!

Jayce waving "HI!" to the trees outside:

R had a little slide that the toddler boys loved playing on:

Jaina took this of me:

R holds baby Grace for the first time:

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Day Three

Day Three was spent hanging out with old friends again :) How nice it was to be able to see everyone this trip! Normally my visits to ATL are less than 48 hours, with no time to even rest.

When I was 15, I met a family at the local library where I was volunteering. By then, I was a seasoned babysitter, thanks to my sister who is 11 years younger than me. I started sitting for this family when their oldest was 2 years, their middle child was 10 months old, and their daughter wasn't even born yet.



Although I was only their sitter for 3 years before heading off to college, I formed a bond with their family that is still strong today :) You would think that two teenage boys and a pre-teen girl would have better things to do on their Saturday than to visit with their old (And boy do I feel old now!) babysitter, but I am so honored that they chose to come over to my parents house instead.





Since Jayce refused to have anything to do with our family portraits, here's a random picture of him closing the door to my dad's house:


And just because I like to reminisce, I found these old wallet portraits from their pre-school years :)