Friday, May 30, 2008

Field Day

Field DAY is a complete misnomer in this case. More like Field Hour. I remember Field Day back when I was in school (eek, that was like 20 years ago!!) and it was a huge all day event. And in Southern Florida where it was like 95 degrees at the time!

Anyway, either the kids can't handle the weather or the teachers don't want to deal with keeping up with kids for 6 hours outside, but each grade only got one hour to be on the field this year.

Jaina only signed up for one race. She told me it was the "gumdrop in the spoon race" but it turned out to be a relay race that involved opening and chewing Hubba Bubba bubble gum. She surprised me by being a fast runner (something that's hard to judge when you only see your kid race through your house!), but she spent a whole lot of time opening the gum up! Anyway, it was really fun for her.

Jayce didn't like field day so much :( But he made it for 30 minutes before he got overwhelmed. You just never know how he's going to handle crowds and noise. Some days are better than others.

Jaina was SO excited to get a ribbon at the end. Her first ribbon, she proudly proclaimed. She said, "Participant" was a very fancy word :)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A rare Jayce moment!

We have been working on modeling for Jayce how to "play pretend" for a whole year now. Although its especially hard for children with autism, I think its also pretty typical for boys as young as Jayce not to play pretend as much or as well as girls the same age. At any rate, we basically have been modeling play that includes feeding a doll pretend food and putting a stuffed animal to bed. he's gotten those concepts down well. Now, he won't just spontaneously start to do those activities on his own. But if you prompt him with the doll and the food or give him the verbal instruction to put Elmo to bed, he will. And its just SOOO cute to watch :) I remember watching Jaina at 15 months old pat her baby dolls on the back, lay them on the floor, and smother them with a blanket to "put them to bed".

So, the other day when Jayce randomly and spontaneously grabbed Jaina's stuffed dog that looks like Alli, I immediately grabbed my powershot to record it. First he sat on it to "ride" it. "Yay, Jayce!" he said :)

Then he picked it up and gave it a hug and said, "Awwww!"

I prompted the kiss by asking him to do it, but the result is still the same :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daisy Petals

The school year is almost over and school isn't the only thing that's ended for the season. We said "goodbye" to the friends we've made at Girl Scouts last week.

My little girl is no longer a daisy. She will be a brownie in the fall. Jaina is super excited because they get to wear brown vests :)

Its been an interesting experience, to say the least. Luckily, I know not to judge the entire girl scout program on just one experience with a local troop, so I am excited to see what Jaina's new Brownie troop will have in store for them in the Fall.

And don't forget... the best part of having a daughter as a girl scout is the cookies!!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Jaina's Birthday Slide Show

Oh wow... where do I start? Friday. Friday is a good place to begin.


My mom came to stay with Jayce while I went and had lunch with Jaina at her school. I made chocolate fudge brownies by her request. We found Spongebob and Patrick candies to go on top. After I baked the brownies I realized that you don't typically put frosting on brownies. Therefore, the candies didn't really want to stay in place. Oh well!

The other thing I realized is that I didn't know how many kids Jaina had in her class. I had 24 brownies. When I got there, I counted 26 kids. The teacher quickly assured me that there were only 25 kids and that one of the little boys didn't like chocolate. However, he did want a brownie with a spongebob candy, though. I was saved by the bell when a little girl was picked up early right before the brownies were handed out. Whew!

Then it was off to the west side of town. We went and spent $5 in tokens at Chuck E. Cheese. Then we headed over to Toys R Us to pick out whatever she wanted. Well, not entirely true. She wanted this HUGE (and I mean huge!) stuffed dog that was $50. I said no way, no how. We already are the proud owners of a giant pink unicorn and you can barely walk in her room as it is. Instead she picked "Snuffy" who was luckily only $14.99. She also found a monkey pillow and blanket that she wanted. I would have never picked out those presents for her in a million years. Guess it goes to show you how well I know my daughter!

The next morning was her big birthday party at Pump It Up, the inflatable play place in town. She invited some friends from school and from MOMS Club. And of course, her best friends from our old neighborhood. We got a sitter for Jayce and everyone had a wonderful time!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy Birthday Jaina!!!

My "baby" is 6 years old today!!

Since her birthday weekend is just beginning, it might take a few days to post pictures. Already today we've:
-had lunch together at school
-baked Spongebob Squarepants brownies
-went to Toys R Us to buy a huge stuffed dog named Fluffy
-opened presents from Gray (a spirograph!)
-spent $5 in tokens at Chuck E. Cheese
-picked up cake and balloons
-helped mom and Gray paint monkeys on t-shirts for party favors
-went out for Ice cream at Bruster's with Daddy

And like I said, the weekend has only just begun! Let the party begin :)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Little Booger

Jaina and Jayce have this little game they play. Annoying as it is, I am still thrilled that they have found this one thing to "connect" on. The game is simple, really. It consists of Jaina running and chasing Jayce from one end of the house to the other. Sometimes she even makes roaring noises. At the end of the house, she tickles him once, calls him a "Little booger" and then they hug. Then they do it again.

Sometimes it gets way too out of control. Sometimes the screaming/roaring is so loud I can't stand it. Sometimes the tickling gets too rough and Jayce falls down. Sometimes Jayce gets too scared at the roaring part. But, for the most part, Jayce will walk up to Jaina and say, "play booger?"

Except that it doesn't come out "booger" from my son's mouth. It sounds much more like a very naughty cuss word, as if "booger" wasn't inappropriate enough! Its all Brian and I can do to not roll on the floor laughing every time Jayce yells, "Jaina!! Play Booger!"

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pizza Planet

Okay, so the park we went to in the next town over isn't really called "Pizza Planet". But that's what Jaina calls it, hence the name of my new post. She got the name from the scene in Disney's Toy Story where Buzz and Woody get stuck in the claw game at the pizza restaurant. And this park is nothing like that, but that's what you get when your child has an imagination :)

We hardly ever come down to this park. The drive isn't terrible... just about 40 minutes or so, but its long enough to make it annoying. And with gas prices as they are, we really have to be careful about how much $$ we spend.

But we have some really good memories. We had Jaina's 4th birthday party here. And we've come with MOMS Club several times for picnics. And we've been recently with our Attachment Parenting group. In the dead heat of the summer, they turn on the misters in the middle of the park, which all the kids love. Especially Jayce.

Another cool thing about this park is that its completely handicapped accessible in one section. Funny how I really didn't notice things like that before Jayce got a label. We are so lucky that Jayce doesn't have any motor skill delays (well, he has some fine motor skill delays and some low muscle tone issues, but no gross motor delays), but when he gets too big for the baby bucket swings, we'll have to move to the "red swings" or, aka, the special needs swings. They are basically plastic chairs with high backs and a place to put your legs while you swing.

Jaina was three years old when she learned how to use a "big girl" swing. I put Jayce on one at the park last weekend just to see what would happen. He was okay for a brief minute swinging very slow and then he got very scared. Jayce has "gravitational insecurity"and does not like his feet to not touch the ground. He feels very secure in a bucket swing and on the low hanging therapy swings at the hospital.

Anyway, our day was filled with fun.... until Jaina got motion sickness :(

You would have thought we would have learned our lesson the first time. Or the second time. I swear we've learned it this time! Jaina cannot go on tire swings. She will throw up afterwards. There. Now its official since I wrote it in my blog. No matter how much fun she thinks she is having, do not let Jaina on a tire swing.

After she told me her tummy felt like she was going to throw up, I let her lie down in a bed of mulch on my jacket while she rested. 30 minutes later, I thought we were safe to drive home.

That would be a big "Nope!". 5 minutes later, she is puking all over her pink jacket. I didn't have any bags or bowls or anything else she could throw up in. The jacket worked just fine and we balled it up and put it on the floor board until we could get home. Let's hope we don't repeat that again!

That night, we went to a cookout at Dodi's house to meet some new friends. We had a blast and the day ended on a great note :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Playing Around in Basic Modes

Alli, no flash, auto mode:

More sports mode:

Portrait Mode:

Sports Mode:

Macro mode, no flash.

Picture in Jayce's room, low lighting, without flash. I now realize I should have at least changed the ISO setting.

New Camera

After much contemplation... (and I mean A LOT!!) I finally purchased the camera that I have wanted for 3 years, a Canon Digital Rebel.

I love it. I'm so glad I finally took the plunge. Thanks, Uncle Sam, for issuing these tax stimulus thingys. Of course, it would be better if our country was not heading for a recession and we didn't even need the damn things thanks to gas prices, forclosures on the uprise, and unemployment rates. But that's another rant for another time.

I love my camera :)

Now I just gotta learn how to use it!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Glo E Bear

This is Jaina's most prized possession. Can't you tell? Because its also Jayce's favorite toy of the moment, too.

Jaina scrimped and saved for that bear for months! She first saw it in either March or April at Walmart one day. They wanted $25 bucks for that thing! A stuffed animal that lights up? No way is that worth over $20. So I told her "No, I will not be buying that for you today." So she decided to earn the money herself.

She earned $.25 cents for every "green" card she got at school (green is the highest good behavior score you can get). If she got 5 in a row, that earned her an extra dollar on top from me. Grandma gave her $3 for having a good dentist visit, no cavities, and not crying. I paid her a whole dollar for cleaning up a food mess her brother made because I was too pissed off and lazy to do it myself. She conned another dollar from me by claiming she was "babysitting" Jayce one afternoon when she was really just trying to play with him. She got a dollar every week for feeding Alli our dog and keeping her water bowl filled. Still, she got discouraged when she only had $18 with $7 more to go.

Funny, that was the same day I was at Toys R Us shopping for Jayce's birthday present. What did I find on the clearance shelf? None other than Glo E. himself. I guess other people thought he wasn't worth $25 either :) We got him for the bargain price of $13. When Jaina saw him for the first time after school, you would have thought that it was HER birthday!

Jayce didn't care one bit about that bear until hours later, when it was time for bed. That was when Jaina showed him that you could press the button in his hand and watch a kaleidescope full of colors appear. He turns every color of the rainbow for 15 minutes before shutting himself off.

No matter how many times we said, "Jayce... that's JAINA'S BEAR!" he wouldn't stop lugging it around. Jaina wanted to sleep in Jayce's room that night (on the floor) and they had their first fight over it. Jaina went to sleep with Glo E. in her arms. But when I went to check on Jayce later, the little stinkerpot had it tucked under HIS arm in his toddler bed!!!

Luckily, now, weeks later, the bear has lost much of its appeal to both kids. They have learned to share it quite well. Now Jayce brings the bear over to her and says, "Jaina's bear" proudly.

Then screams "NOOOOO!! Jayce's turn!!" :)

Okay, so they sort of share it :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Its been a week!

I told my friend Patty on the phone last night that I needed a valium! I've never even taken one! I have no idea what it even feels like! She just laughed at me, knowing that I just meant that I wish some fairy could come down and relieve all my stress.

Instead, I took a scalding hot bath with mineral salts and two tylenol for my aching head. It did help :)

Our day yesterday started out well. We had an appointment with our Special Needs nutritionist. We were so happy to find out that Jayce gained a whole pound in 6 weeks! And grew 1/8 of an inch! This is very good news. He's stayed at 28 lbs or under since we started seeing her 7 months ago. Whenever he loses weight, we start talking about pediasure-like supplements, so I am glad to have some good news for a change.

Then we went to the school that Jayce will be attending next year for a speech evaluation. I can't go into details because it wouldn't look very good for me to post cuss words about our particular school district workers on the internet. But believe me... I wish I could. Instead I'll probably end up venting on my attachment parenting board instead, hidden in a private forum. I'll suffice it to say that I am surrounded by idiots of the education system. I really do understand why so many people are choosing to homeschool in South Carolina. I really fear for my children's quality of education when I come into contact with certain individuals. Its so sad.

So, steaming and fuming, I came home long enough to eat lunch before packing Jayce back in the car to go get Jaina. While I was walking across the school yard to pick her up, I connected with Jayce's former ST/feeding therapist on my cell phone. Unfortunately, that call lasted about 20 minutes. It was extremely helpful, but poor Jaina was having a very hard time being patient. She did so well and I am extremely proud of her. She couldn't wait to tell me about her day at school but was able to keep it in until I got off the phone.

Then it was off to my mom's work at the arts center. She had agreed to let Jaina come do art while I took Jayce to his genetics appointment.

Ah. The genetics appointment. The real reason my day ended with me wanting a valium.

The geneticist and his assistant (whatever her title was, she handled all the paper work) were extremely nice. The geneticist had a laptop in the room and let Jayce watch him work on it, much to Jayce's delight. I gave a complete family history and answered all their questions.

One thing that they confirmed was Jayce's poor muscle tone. Our OT at the hospital suggested the same thing. He also said this may be why Jayce had such a poor time learning to latch on and suck in the beginning (even though he was full term) and why he continues to be plagued with GERD (reflux). Most babies outgrow infant reflux by the time they learn to walk. Instead, we have to keep upping Jayce's dose to match his weight.

Another thing they were concerned with was a little more unsettling. Jayce shakes his head sometimes for no reason. I was told it was considered a self-stim by his old ST. However, they said that it could be related to mini-seizures, especially since he also has the symptom of "checking out" as I call it, where he stares off into space and its hard to get his attention back. I thought that was just a normal characteristic of autism. With both of those symptoms together, they recommend that Jayce see a neurologist. We'll have to look into that when we receive secondary insurance.

Then, last but not least, they had to draw two vials of blood for the genetic testing. The first vein didn't do so well, so they had to stick him twice. It was a night mare. I never feel so bad as a parent as I do when I am watching (or in this case, helping) my child go through pain. He kept screaming "ITS OKAY!" through his tears because that's what I usually say when he's upset. He was trying to calm himself down. It took way longer than it should have. But its done and over.

Our local genetics center is only set up to test for a couple genetic markers, although new research suggests that there are 27 genes that could be related to autism. He will also be tested for Fragile X syndrome.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

In which I owe the day entirely to my children, Jaina and Jayce. Without them, I would not be who I am today. A mommy :)

A friend posted this on APU and I had never heard it before. I thought it was extremely fitting to post here for Mother's Day:

"On Being Mom" by Anna Quindlen

If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they
ever existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the
black-button eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the
yellow ringletsand the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the
lower lip that curled into an apostrophe above her chin.

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in
disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two
taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and
have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of
them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry,
who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors
closed more than I like.

Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food
from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the
bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within
each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now.
Penelope Leach, T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and
sleeping through the night and early childhood education, all grown obsolete.
Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are
battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust
would rise like memories.

What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the
playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations -- what they taught me was
that they couldn't really teach me very much at all. Raising children is
presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice,
until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one
knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another
can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One boy is toilet
trained at 3, his brother at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to
put baby to bed onhis bellyso that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the
time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research
on sudden infant death syndrome.

To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then
soothing.Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research
will follow.

I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful
books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of
infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for
an 18-month-old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat
little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he
developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last
year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can
walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes
were made. They have all been enshrined in the Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of
Fame. The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not
theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for
preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp.
The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her
geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted
I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and
then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I
include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two
seasons...What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while
doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now
that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of
the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing
set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate,
and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they
slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next
thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little
more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and
what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday
they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they
simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I
back off and let them be.

The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact
and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up
with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone
to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was
bound and determined to learn from the experts.

It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

Friday, May 09, 2008

And it happened just like that!

Who would have known that an 8 year old big sister would be so insightful?

Because the birth of her new baby sister, Caroline Elizabeth, happened just like that.

Already mom to Anna and Emily, and soon-to-be mom to Caroline, knew to go to the hospital as soon as contractions, albeit irregular, started. At the hospital, they told her for the third time in her life, "You aren't dilated enough to be in active labor. You can't have an epidural." Tracy insisted that her babies like to come fast. By the time she would get to 4 cm, the baby would be crowning 10 minutes later. They didn't believe her. And that's exactly what happened with baby #3, just like her big sister's births.

Baby Caroline was born at 12:40 AM, weighing in at 6 lbs 12 ounces, 19 inches long, and a head full of BLOND hair! She is nursing like a champ and already enjoying being in this big big world.

Congratulations Tracy and Welcome baby Caroline!!!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Fish Eye Lens

Grandma Kim came up with a wonderful idea for Jayce's 3rd birthday present. She had read somewhere in an article pertaining to children with autism liking to watch fish swim in an aquarium.

We are now the proud owners of a BiOrb, which is a kinda cool looking globe 4 gallon aquarium. It is perfect for Jayce.

Going to the pet store was quite the disaster, though. The pet store worker was no where to be found when we got in there. While we were strolling around, having no clue about what we were looking for, 4 other people walked into the store. So, when the man finally came out of the back, he helped them first.

Jayce heard the birds so we went over to see them. They had a blue macaw out of his cage in the middle of the store. Jayce absolutely lost it. He loves birds, but is scared of them up close. He won't even go near Kodak, my dad's scarlet macaw anymore.

You would think that a screaming kid would get you help faster? Nope. Again, the man took his sweet time helping everyone else but us.

And when it was finally my turn (thanks to one man who politely let us go ahead of him), the pet store worker treated me like I was an idiot that shouldn't even be allowed to have fish or a fish tank.

I purchased 3 neons and 3 rios, remembered to get some food, and then got the hell outta dodge. But the man had scared me so much about my water temperature, I was sure that I'd wake up the next morning with 6 dead fish and $20 down the drain.

By the way, Brian says we got over charged on the fish. How was I to know?

1 week later and the fish are happy and alive!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Spring Fling

Jaina in the bouncy house:


Jaina got compliments on her face painting the entire afternoon!

Brian was the lucky one and got to ride all the rides with Jaina. No fair!

Riding the roller coaster. Jayce was mesmerized watching it, but answered with an astounding "NO!" when asked if he wanted to ride.

It was only 81 degrees, but Jaina complained it was too hot to walk! What on earth is she gonna do the rest of the summer?

I love this picture!

Too bad they weren't giving away free ice cream!

Daddy and Jayce checking out the fountain. Jayce wasn't so sure about it:

Jaina at the fountain:

Jayce spent the majority of the time in the stroller, just watching everything. He got out and walked in the beginning, but it was too hard with the crowds to keep him comfortable.