A Change In Plans

Nate and I had ended the summer thinking that we would focus our energies on homeschooling this fall and working Michael’s RDI program.  I was going to learn how to cope with my increased ADD symptoms.  I had very high hopes for lots of change.

Well, it came.  Michael suddenly regressed again, pretty severely.  Oh, and Nate and I got a little surprise.  Turned out I was pregnant.

Soooo, September and October ended up looking very differently than originally intended.  My first trimesters are always fairly brutal, and I spent two months on the sofa watching Michael spiral out of control and barely had the strength to deal with it.  It was a pretty dark time for me.  I felt very helpless to do anything about his situation and a bit like a negligent parent in that I could not provide the structure and routine at home he so obviously needed.  Feeling nauseous and exhausted 24/7 wasn’t really helping my outlook either.

In hindsight, I can see God was still taking good care of us and walking with us.  As usual, our family stepped up to the plate and gave us invaluable assistance.  God also put us on the hearts of some church people as well, and suddenly we had food and help at a time when I could do almost nothing.  He encouraged me along the way through various people and gave me the words I needed to hear to persevere.  We got some answers to Michael’s health picture, and he began to stabilize.  He still has a way to go, but at least we’re moving in the right direction again.

At twelve weeks pregnant, I’m finally starting to feel better.  I can do things!  Michael’s getting a more focused homeschooling program, and my house isn’t a complete disaster.  The kids are eating real food instead of cereal.  Nate and I are totally thrilled at the prospect of another baby joining us soon, we’d been considering another addition in the future anyway.  Things are still tough, but improving, and God’s hand and encouragement has been everything.

It’s been awhile since the last post, so here are some pictures of my beautiful babies!

Gabriel is doing fantastically.  He has a very intense therapy schedule this fall (six sessions a week!), but he’s showing vast improvement.  His speech is intelligible most of the time, and the OT work has improved his coordination by leaps and bounds.  His special instructor is working on his ability to process information and follow directions, and he is showing progress there as well.  I feel like he may not need therapy much longer.

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I absolutely cannot resist this face.  William is the welcome wagon at our house and always runs to the door with enthusiastic greetings for whoever comes.  He is developing by leaps and bounds.  His vocabulary is impressive and his relational skills are just plain fun.  God was good, and after an acupuncture session, his liver issues seem to have been taken care of, and he is no longer in constant abdominal pain.  Of course, he’s making up for that by growing four teeth in right now, but he’s a trooper about it and completely adorable at the same time.

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Michael is into all things rocket science right now.  He can’t really read (I’m beginning to suspect we might be dealing with some sort of visual processing problems) and numbers still seem kind of abstract to him, but he is always happy to lecture on shuttles with rocket boosters and fuel tanks.  We watch lots of documentaries online about NASA (thank God for the internet), and it’s something fun we can do together as rocket science was one of my interests in college.  We do many outer space themed homeschooling lessons, it’s a great way to keep his attention.

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I was just thinking of the chorus to Tindley’s’ hymn “Beams of Heaven”.

“I do not know how long ’twill be,
nor what the future holds for me,
but this I know: if Jesus leads me,
I shall get home someday.”

We’re gonna get there.  Somehow and someway.

I’ll try not to stay away so long this time.  Happy Thursday to you all!

P.S.  Shameless plug here:  Nate started writing a blog recently about what it’s like to be a dad with special needs kids.  It’s aimed at fathers, to encourage them to stay the course.  Here’s the link!  Not A Curse

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Inventing Games

Michael’s therapist is pleased with the progress he’s been making.  I too have noticed that aside from the sensory issues we’re actually cruising along alright for the moment with just a few bumps in the road here and there.  Being outside a lot this summer has been helping, something we could not do last year.  (Going out alone with a brand new baby, a two year old who could not follow directions, and an impulsive four year old was just not in the cards.)  He’s periodically asking to do school work, and while it’s just busy work he’s doing on his own, it’s getting him ready, his fine motor skills are improving, and I’m happy.

One of the things I have to really apply myself to right now is inventing educational games.  If I try to teach Michael traditionally, it is most definitely going to turn him off to school and we will in no way be able to develop a teacher/student relationship, something he’s not capable of right now.  He just can’t comprehend that someone has a concept that they want him to absorb.  His therapist wants to slowly start teaching him how to work in sync with another person.  This is not just doing something in synchronized motion or even just turn taking, but truly doing an activity with another person in such a way that even if he is just sitting and watching, he is still fully engaged in what the other person is doing.  He absolutely cannot do this even a little right now. This will slowly start training his brain on how to be a student.

While a lot of this stuff is accomplished in our kitchen or laundry room, I’m looking to invent a series of educational games for him so that I can tell the school district he’s learning his letters, numbers, reading, etc.  I’m not great at doing stuff like this in the spur of the moment, so I have to sit down and plan them in advance.  They have to have at least four different kinds of parent/child relationship role playing, probably include some sort of physical activity for some of them, be a topic that he’s actually going to be interested in to stimulate the ADD portion of his brain, and only last 3-5 minutes in length.  I also have to figure out a way to keep him from hyperfocusing on something he really enjoys as well.  Sooooooooooooo….. I’m really curious to see what I come up with!!

I’m starting to have a few regular parenting moments with the kids, and it’s really warming my heart.  We’ve never had these before.  Michael and Gabriel are finally starting to coordinate some of their play together, and they seem to really be getting a kick out of each other.  Of course they fight a lot more now like regular brothers too, but that’s another story.  Gabriel was coloring a picture of some dinosaurs I gave him yesterday, and he announced, “Look, Mommy!  I coloring blue!  See??  The astronaut fighting the dinosaurs!”  (You can totally see the Michael influence there.)  The two little ones seem to be going through growth spurts and are doing some extra napping in really random fashions.  All three of them are as brown as little roasted peanuts from being in the sun nearly every day, and when they’re actively engaged in an activity, they’re adorable.  It’s nice to finally be able to communicate with these little guys after so many years, and I’m slowly learning their triggers and am finally able to preempt some of their crises.  Combining that with me getting some help for my ADD and my ability to run the house a bit more efficiently, things are looking a bit better around here, for which I’m grateful.  It’s still not easy, but at least I don’t feel like I’m just moving from one disaster to another.

I even started the second draft of my novel.  Sure, the boys were splashing in the pool and the baby was crawling all over me when I was writing, but I did it!

Hope you all have a lovely Thursday.

Baking Cakes is Educational, Right?

I’m trying to get the boys more involved in regular household life.  Of course it’s messy and takes five times longer, but this is how they learn, and I guess it’s never too early to start.  Besides, isn’t baking a cake the best kind of exercise for a kid with poor motor planning skills? 😉

Licking the spoon is such a huge reward!

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Michael loves cooking and baking so much.  When I told him he could help make cake and pizza last night, he got super excited (it was the only way I could bribe him into going to therapy).

It looks like there’s a bit of chocolate nirvana going on there.

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I think I’m going to let Gabriel participate in washing dishes more.  And by participate in washing dishes, what I really mean is letting him pour water in cups and bowls and make a tiny flood on the kitchen floor, but I have a sneaky suspicion that keeping him at the kitchen sink now will pay off when he is older.

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Besides, isn’t he too stinkin’ cute in an apron???

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You can call this homeschooling, right?

Happy weekend!!

Giving the Boot

The last four days have not been fun.  William was officially kicked out of Mommy and Daddy’s bed, and he’s not too thrilled about it.  I have to say I’ve been sleeping loads better without having a baby next to me all night, and my shoulder is feeling better too, but William’s definitely missing his old spot.  He just cries and cries inconsolably, and I’m hoping and praying this doesn’t last much longer.  He will fall asleep in someone’s arms, or even just sitting on my bed next to me, but he refuses to go to sleep in his own crib.  We are making a little progress, and some of the crying jags are getting shorter.  I hate doing this, but it’s gotta be done.  Having him sleep with us is really starting to ruin my way of life.

On the good side, he was able to have his liver treated (acupuncture is a wonderful thing), and he seems to be making some great progress on that end.  Because of that, I don’t feel quite as bad as I would have about the sleep thing as I know he’s not in pain and his intestinal system is doing better.  He’s just mad, and I pray he will get over it soon.

I’m quite excited because today is our first RDI home visit.  Our consultant will be coming and sitting down and showing me what homeschooling can look like for Michael, and I will be videotaping it for future reference and family members who could not be in attendance.  Michael always does exceptionally well with RDI techniques, and this therapist has been able to work with him and a way that no one else has.  I’m eager to learn everything!

Here’s wishing you all a fantastic Monday!

Where Are The Naps?

I think someone dumped Kool Aid in our water supply.  The kids have been acting like they’re all hopped up on sugar and red food dye.  They were actually flipping furniture yesterday.  At one point, I think I actually had to wrestle them into shoes and coats and drag them one by one down the stairs and strap their thrashing butts into car seats so we could make doctor and therapy appointments.  Fun times.

So the news from one doctor was that William’s liver is running pretty sluggishly.  Now we have to figure out how to get that up and running correctly, but hopefully that will correct a lot of his digestion problems.

We went back to our RDI consultant last night and basically yawned and stared our way through the meeting, but I think we’re making some progress.  Unfortunately Michael’s ADHD is becoming an obstacle in dealing with the autism.  We’re trying to figure out new techniques to work with him and temporarily slow his brain down, but that’s not going to happen until we’ve had a nap or two.  She gave us the talk about having to figure out how we’re going to take care of us right now.  I don’t think Nate and I can have that talk either until we’ve had a nap or two.  I’ve been sensing a pattern. 🙂

With this winter storm hitting, I’ve decided to just bunk up for the next few days.  We’re taking a break from school stuff and I’m gonna keep the chores to a minimum.  If Nate’s office closes, I’m going to see if we can fit a few naps in there.  I’d like it if we weren’t both delirious for Valentine’s Day.  Rest shall be the name of the game.

Hope you all have a fun long weekend!

Reading Rockets

I don’t get much sleep between midnight and 5 AM, so the whole “getting up at 5 AM to hustle” thing isn’t working out so great for me right now, hence the late morning posts.  Oh well, we’ll get there again some day.

We are however making a little progress on the homeschooling front.  I was thinking about how to get Michael more interested in his reading lesson, and this is what I came up with.

I put all his vocabulary words for the week into a little story on our lap-sized white board.

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Then I put all the same vocabulary words onto little pieces of paper shaped like rockets with tape on the backs.

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We read the story on the board, and then I started showing Michael the words on the rockets.  When he correctly read the word, he got to fly the rocket over to the board and stick it on its matching counterpart.  He loved it!  I didn’t have to force him to look at the words at all, he was totally into it.

Here’s the finished product.

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I will definitely be using this method again with different stories.  He also loves being read to, and he’s able to pick out his vocab words in the books as well.

Prayers are still appreciated as all three children are still sick, and now Nate’s sporting a lovely raspy voice too.  Well, at least it’s Friday and Daddy will be bringing us pizza tonight as Gabriel keeps reminding me every 3 and a half minutes.  It’s gonna be a long day, and I feel a Veggie Tales movie marathon coming on.

Stay warm and enjoy your weekends.  We made it!

Of Space Helmets and Cookies and Other Things

Our awesome hero Nate came to the rescue again and shoveled our driveway about three times during the storm yesterday so we could make it out around 4PM and head over to our chiropractor.  All three children were treated since they seem to be sharing a bug, and the doctor worked on unplugging William all over again.  Unfortunately, it always seems to take a day or two to kick in, so last night was still pretty bad, but I’m hopeful tonight will be better.

Michael’s still enjoying his outer space schooling.  Yesterday he decided of all the kinds of astronauts there are, he wants to be an engineer.  He loves dismantling things, and I was impressed he seemed to make the connection.  I struggle so much with him over school.  Most times he refuses to even look at his paper while we’re working, so the reading portion of things is going REALLY slowly.  He does love the arts and crafts part though (maybe I have to figure out a way to mix those two together).

Since Daddy got a snow day from work, he helped Michael make a space helmet.

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P.S. I had a wicked sweet tooth craving yesterday, and this recipe did the trick.  If you like to bake chocolate chip cookies, I would recommend you try these.  They are definitely the best I have come across yet.

http://backforsecondsblog.com/2013/09/how-to-make-soft-thick-chewy-chocolate-chip-cookies/