Sunday, May 30
This morning, though, he came up to me, stood in front of me at the couch, and signed "more" :). I was eating a blueberry muffin and he wanted some! He got a little bite, craweled across the room, spit it out, then picked it back up and popped it in his mouth. LOL. He did end up eating most of it. Then he went to Lynae in her exersaucer and grabbed on of her little fruit puffs and crawled away. Maybe he'll be ready for an early lunch today?
I'm just glad to see him interested in food! :)
Friday, May 28
Kids with Ds are KIDS first :) :) So... if a kid will like it, a kid w/ Ds probably will too! Of course all kids are different and all kids w/ Ds are different so there's really not one catch all.
That said, sevaral things that we have around the house that I find the most 'useful' for my kids w/ Ds in different areas I'll write about here!
A trampoline with a handle is the newest and 'greatest' thing at the moment! Brianna has just learned to jump and this is a great way for the kids to get exercise and to learn new skills. It helps that big brother Kristopher can jump high and do jumping tricks on it, encouraging the other kids to try, but all 4 kids w/ Ds and Kristopher all get quite a bit of use out of it!
The rice bin that I wrote about the other day is a great one that all my kids use as well- even Lynae! It is just a large rubbermaid bin with high sides on it and a snap on lid that I poured several bags of rice in. The vacuum is always handy after it comes out, but the kids love it and it's perfect for rainy day fun inside- or to take outside on a sunny morning and play in the grass! This is a great alternative to a sandbox because it can be inside and helps with sensory as well as fine motor skills. We have plastic spoons, cups, a set of stacking cups that have different size holes in the bottom of it (for the rice to pour out of) and some metal pots and pans for the play kitchen in ours. The kids pour, scoop, and play in it and love the sound of the rice 'dinging' off of the metal pots!
A water table is also a great thing, but we don't use it nearly as much as the sand. You can do warm or cool water and funnels, cups, and bowls. I love to put these outside when we're having playtime in the front yard and get out the McDonald's toys and such for the kids to play with in the water as well. Great for sensory, great fun, and a good way to stay cool in the hot FL weather!
Rubbermaid drink boxes with straw are a great 'tool' for teaching kids to drink from a straw and for keeping leaky drinks contained :) They are about $1.50 and the worst part is that their straws are made pretty cheap and can easily be lost. We have several of these, though, and use them for Brianna and Emma. When the kids are first being introduced to the straw, a juice box or these boxes are great for squeezing the liquid up into their mouth. Then once they learn to sip, the straw isn't very long, it's not so wide that the amount that comes up is too much, and it does NOT have a valve. Valves are a little tricky for kids to figure out sometimes! Emma still prefers the Rubbermaid boxes to a cup with a straw and we're just starting using juice boxes and these straw cups for James and Micah.
'Jigglers' are little sticks with a rubbery character on one end of it that when you twist the stick part the mechanism jiggles. THese are a fun way to learn body awareness as well as fo oral motor. Kristopher plays 'teacher' with ours and will say "head" and touch it to his brother or sister's head, "toes" etc... The soft rubbery texture is intended to be chewed on and for kids with oral sensitivities or just needing the sensory input or stimulation they are great! Micah has slowly warmed up to ours and will now put it on the outside of his cheeks but isn't so big on putting them in his mouth yet. The one thing we WANT him to lick... he doesn't ;). But these are a great alternative to the more expensive "z-vibe" which is a smaller and more 'medical' device which vibrates. The z-vibe has multiple tips for different things and is intended for oral motor exercises and stimulation. The z-vibe isn't something I'd leave in the room for the kids to pick up and play with (and throw) by themselves, whereas the jigglers are plastic and pretty resilient (and about 1/5 of the cost!).
Shape sorters, puzzles with knobs, and magna-doodles are other favorites for kids that are easy to find, easy to use, and easy to replace when they get broken :) Aside from their obvious uses, shape sorters and puzzles can also help with color recognition and shape recognition as well as their 'puzzle' nature of fitting the shape in the hole. Speech skills can be reinforced as kids say the colors and shapes' names, names of animals and their sounds (with an animal puzzle), and learning basic directions like "turn, try again, up, down, etc. Using the shape sorter and knob puzzles also help with wrist rotation to fit the shapes in.
Magna-doodles are a favorite of THREE of my kids w/ Ds and we have one in the car most days, one comes to dr's appts with us, and one even comes to church since James is sitting in the service with us at the moment. They are great for SO MANY reasons! Even kids with a weak grasp or no grasp on a pencil can make scribbles and color on it because the magnet doesn't need 'pressure' to work. You can write or draw anything on it! We use it to practice side strokes, up strokes, down strokes, and circle strokes. We use it for letter and number recognition, and name recognition of family members. We use it for shape recognition. We use it for animal recognition (when my animals don't look like they should I say "this is a dog, what does the dog say?"). We practice signing when we practice letters and animals and such as well, by signing and saying all the answers and encouraging the kids to do the same. "Easy" toys to come by... LOTS of 'educational' uses!
Macrame beads! These are great for stringing! Use a pipe cleaner or a thin straw to give some level of stiffness to make it a little easier at first. Stringing beads is a great skill that all of my kids are still working on getting 'just right' and these are neat ways to learn along with lacing cards with shoelaces and hole punches through them (make your own with cardboard or buy them with pictures on them).
One of the more unusual toys that we use all the time are counting bears. We have ones that have 5 different colors and 3 different size bears. We sort them by color, by size, we count them, we pour them, we play Goldilocks and the 3 bears with them, and then we start all over again. The kids like them, especially Brianna!
One of my favorites and Micah and Emma's is the swing we have. It's from IKEA and is called a hammock swing. It is great for vestibular stimulation and one of those things that every kid with any type of sensory needs just LOVES! Micah will sit and sing in it for an hour if there's nothing stopping him and all the kids want a turn when we're giving rides! This swing has ONE picot point so it swings in every direction and spins too. It's a lot of fun!
And the last one for today- crawling tunnels! A crawling tunnel is easy to find at most toy stores and crawling is a great skill for our kids. Some tunnels are colored, some are 'darkened', some have a 'flap' at the end rather than being open at both ends, some connect to tents, and some are longer or shorter. ALL of them encourage the child to get down on all 4's and quad crawl with reciprocal motion (each hand and foot goes at different times, not 'hopping' on hands and knees) through it. Having had 2 'scooters', the tunnel is a great way to reinforce this important step of brain development.
Ok, that's all for today, I'm sure there's many more things I could add to the list but nap is over so I'm back to the land of the little ones :)
If you have favorites of your own please feel free to post them in the comments!
Someone posted this to a group I belong to today and I wanted to post it here because I'm sure I'm not the only person needing these!
James is 3 1/2 and right now fits in size 24 month onesies. Generally I don't put my kids in onesies once they are approaching their 2nd birthday, but he needs one under his clothes because of his Mic-Key button. Here at the house I don't have him wear one every day, but once he stays in the nursery and for school in the fall he will need it for safety reasons. I don't think he'll fit in the 24 month ones much longer!
So, here are two solutions. The 'usual' solution is to get snap extenders (available at onestepahead.com). This adds about 2" to the length of the garment and are really helpful!
But, if that doesn't solve the problem, here is a site that has onesies in size 2T, 3T, 4T, and even 5T! :) http://www.essentialwhites.com They're $9 each, or 4 for $27 (about $7 each). Not too bad if you really need them! I haven't tried these yet, but I'll be going back there when we need them. Oh, and they have them in long sleeve, short sleeve, and sleeveless varieties :)
We've recently gotten a few things that have been VERY useful to us! One is by OneStepAhead and is a pop-up swimming pool! Ok, so I have yet to put any water in it... But that's because we bought it as a BALL PIT not to use as a swimming pool. My kids have gone through 3 ball pits since Christmas. I buy cheap swimming pools usually, but they get holes in them pretty quickly with my rough crew :) So I hoped that these pools were as great as they sounded and we bought a 'medium' size pool. All 6 kids can sit in it easily, though there's not a ton of room to move around with all 6 kids in there. It has worked great, though! Easy to set up and easy to fold back up later. It was on the pricey side of things, but knowing that I can put it away and get it back out again without having to inflate and deflate it is a HUGE bonus, and of course the fact that my kids cannot POP it is another!
When it talks, they listen! We have a 'go talk' which is a communication device. I have yet to put all the photos into the blanks and program it how it is 'supposed' to be, but the kids have been using it and being PRODUCTIVE regardless :) I quickly programmed it to say "hello ______" to each family member (there were 9 of us at the time so it worked perfectly!). Brianna and Micah would both go to the family member that it said and say "hello" to them! Now, I need to get my act together and program it 'for real'. But in the mean time, Brianna has learned everyone's name really well and can pronounce them all too!
I got our quad stroller the other day and am very glad to have a way to get out with all the kids by muself. I've used it just a hand full of times so far, but I know over the coming weeks of summer it will get quite a bit of use! A few thoughts... It is definitely made with infants/ young toddlers in mind. The seats are small and everything seeme to be aimed at that demographic. Also, when I used it the first time, I put 4 kids in and at every step the brakes touched the wheels. This was really annoying! It had about 90 lvs of kids in it, so it wasn't light to push. We did get the brake lifted slightly so it is working fine for now!
Wednesday, May 26
It was WONDERFUL! I got 2 hours worth of laundry folded/hung and put away! I usually do this from 9-11 or 12 at night or while the kids are at school- which is not longer an option since school is out :) Then she helped me feed the kids lunch, do a round of diapers, and send them off for naps. EVERYONE napped :). Kristopher went with grandparents for the day at their request so it was just the 5 little ones after about 11. The kids all napped a good 2 hours, some of them 2 1/2 :).
Now that they had a fun morning of 'free play', lunch, and a good nap, they're ready for the GOOD stuff :) We have the rice and beans bucket out. It's got about 30 lbs of rice in it and 3 bags of different types of beans along with all kinds of containers to pour and scoop with. Emma, Lynae, and Brianna are really enjoying it! Micah took a short time with it then went to do other things... he's my sensory kid that hates to touch, so we'll do short spurts of it and be glad he's not screaming when he decides to leave! James came for a little bit... but was much more interested in eating the rice and beans than playing with them. Now... I suppose I should cook some rice tonight and attempt to get him to eat it! Maybe, with two fistfulls (like he was the dry rice) he will get some solids in??
We have playdough out and some puzzles and we're moving through some of what I think are the fun things of summer. Getting to do all the fun things in one afternoon! I love having the free time without driving back and forth to school and having the down time that the kids can have freeplay AND structured home activities without being just DONE by the end of the day. With school it's so hard to do any structured play in the afternoons because the kids are just ready to go play. And we let them. Weekends are great but they're also the only time Daddy's home and we often do family activities instead. I love summer and having the kids home!
No pictures yet... maybe I'll go find the camera :)
Monday, May 24
There are pictures posted on MyNormalFamily too! :)
From Busch Gardens, Tampa!
The “Very Special Arts Festival” at Brevard Zoo!
A day relaxing outside
Kristopher’s soccer awards and picnic last weekend (Brianna’s soft cast is on)
Emma’s award ceremony! She’s now a first grader! (pic’s are with her teacher and her PT at school)
Kristopher’s award ceremony and Kindergarten Graduation
Brianna and Micah’s last day of Pre-k (for the year anyway…) pool party! (pictured are their main teacher and then Micah’s aide with him
My two FIRST GRADERS! :)
Wednesday, May 19
Two beds delivered (not here)
Church with 9 of us
Lots of studying for final exams (For N)
laundry times 9
dishes times 9
sheets times... I'm not sure! :)
4 doctor's visits for 4 kids in one day
an award ceremony
A class party
A cast- purple- and WATERPROOF! :)
first day of early dismissal
a shopping trip to Kohl's
A porch now FULL of toys because James' toys were unpacked
a full set of mats down in the playroom and the kids are LOVING that!
Lots of rain and a lazy afternoon
Several days with NO TV and not missing it (nor was it on purpose)
Tomorrow is the prek end of the year party and the little ones' last day of school! James and Lynae will come with me and we'll all enjoy the water party with Micah and Brianna. Emma's party is in the afternoon and we sent in some games for them. We may stop in there but won't stay because it can be overwhelming to that class to have 'extra' people there.
Tomorrow is also N's last day because he'll be missing Friday. He's headed on to his next adventure and we will miss him! Tonight is packing for him and studying for his last finals tomorrow. His parents will come get him tomorrow afternoon.
Two more days of school (Emma and Kristopher go Friday) and then... it's SUMMER!!!
Friday, May 14
I'm glad we went ahead and had it checked out! It's so hard to know whether anything's really wrong or not so better safe than sorry... but in this case she really did hurt herself pretty good.
Tylenol- and no more climbing- and she's doing good!
Thursday, May 13
I know that running to the ER tonight is pointless unless she really can't get comfortable and sleep. She's had Tylenol and 2 hours later some Motrin and is just about asleep with Mike in the recliner. Poor thing was not a happy camper this evening, though.
Tomorrow we'll head over to Tampa and likely will visit an Urgent Care Center over there after our meeting at noon. She has full mobility, can squeeze my hand, and doesn't really mind me touching it, but obviously putting pressure on her hand/wrist is hurting pretty good.
Maybe the morning will be better, but my guess is a trip for an x-ray at this point. Here's praying for a restful night for everyone and that she will be feeling better in the morning!
In other news, she decided to climb EMMA's bunk bed today. She got to the top once. The second time she didn't quite make it. Now, Emma's bed doesn't have a ladder, and was raised so that the bottom bunk has head clearance for an adult man. It's a pretty tall bed. I know she hadn't made it far up because she was only around the corner for about 10 seconds before falling and crying, but regardless of how far she fell, she wasn't happy about it!
In true Momma fashion I'm still wondering if everything is 100% ok or if I should be taking her to have anything checked out. She can move every joint and I touched and pushed on her all around. She's babying her right arm a bit but could be that she was holding on with that as she fell and hyperextended it... or... no idea! She was around the corner, up, and had fallen before I caught up with her.
So at perfect Grandparent fashion, as I asked Kristopher to get me my cell phone so I could look a number up and call someone to come help me out to get the kids down while she wanted nothing more than to be held and I didn't think it very nice to tell her "sorry, you got hurt at bed time so you just sit there for 30 min while I get everyone else in bed," the doorbell rang. It was my parents :). They were coming bringing fresh pumpkin bread (yes, some people still do that, isn't it awesome? And YUMMY smelling!) and to pick up a stool that we were getting rid of and they found a new home for. (Some older woman will be enjoying a perch for weeding now!) They happened to have a few minutes to come in and 'visit' and in doing so helped hold the sweet (but upset) little girl that fell down while I started on PJs. And, in the way of "when one thing happens it's a spiral effect," I also got a phone call from a parent of one of my Ukraine families that's overseas with some questions. So I was even able to take that call and the kids continued getting PJs on and Brianna was snuggled. Couldn't have planned that all out, but very glad it worked that way!
Oh, and Mike and N are at the church working on some project that needed to be finished tonight since Mike and I will be in Tampa tomorrow.
Brianna's still babying her right arm a little, but she's smiling (begrudgingly) and clapping to Barney and is sitting on the floor not connected to my hip. So I think she's ok. I waited about an hour after she got hurt to make sure everything seems ok and then gave her some Tylenol just a min ago so any minor aches and pains would be warded off. I'm pretty sure the extent of the damage is just a bruise (if that), and my parents agree, so that's always helpful.
I didn't need a trip to the ER tonight! Unless all of a sudden she decides that something is very painful during the night, I think she's just fine. Hopefully she was just well-shaken from falling down. (And maybe... she won't climb Emma's bed again?? For a while anyway??)
And yes, their bedroom door will be closed now. No need for a repeat tomorrow! Brianna used to be very careful about getting her feet off the ground, now she appears to have taken a 180 to being a daredevil. Time to up the caution again! Not difficult now that I know she'll try to climb. I already don't let the other kids in that room unless they're in bed (that room has the kids that can't get out of their cribs alone) and now it's just plain off limits. Problem solved, potential crisis avoided! And sweet little girl not even babying her arm now that I'm done typing. Must be time for bed.
Or, warm pumpkin bread with cream cheese.... yum.
To say I'm happy would be an understatement. Although it is manageable, I was not looking forward to the change in diet and the restrictions that he would have as a forever chore for eating.
He does have H. Pylori and we will begin treatment of that tonight for 2 weeks. It's a combination of two antibiotics and the reflux med that he already takes. Then, unless it shows resistance, we will be done. Yep, two weeks and maybe there will be an end to the diapers he's been dealing with for almost three months. Two more weeks...
Thanks for all the info and help that has been provided to us as far as the H. Pylori and Celiac goes. I am so grateful to have resources and people that have said "been there and it will be ok!"
I have more updates to post but that one was the biggie, so the rest can wait ;)
Tuesday, May 11
For Emma this was suggested to us as well a year or so ago but she was really already getting big for the crib. My 'other' child isn't too big... just too skilled in the ways of the monkey :)
I know a few bloggers who have used them so thought I'd see if there was any feedback from you all before spending the money to find out myself :)
Monday, May 10
It started with the morning run...
Wheelchair to Elementary school
Drop by child's parent's home
Drop child at middle school
Back home to meet grandma and drop 3 kids there
To the church to drop a 4th child
To the elementary school for a "mother's tea" in Kindergarten
Back to the church to pick up 4th child
Back to elementary school for lunch with kindergartener
Back home to children 1 2 and 3 to feed the baby and put away laundry (and send a few RR packets while I had a minute)
Then back to the elementary school to get children 5 and 6 (with child 3 and 4 in tow).
Back home again to drop off two children and bring two children to physical therapy.
Home again to make dinner
Out one more time to take 2 children and go grab dinner on our "formerly known as a date night" evening but with 2 kids in tow :)
And back home... to rest!!
It was a busy day but it was great to see Kristopher's Mother's day program. I know that he worked hard as did the teachers and it was very sweet! James had fun hanging with Dad during the program then joined K and I for lunch outside at the school. He got to meet the PT and I turned in his paperwork to start therapies at the center here.
I even have a PT eval set up :) Now just waiting for ST to have an opening so we can get going there!
Tomorrow isn't nearly as busy, just a long drive ahead. One last trip back to James' foster mom for a few days and then later this week we'll pick him up. It will feel weird when he's gone this time since I've spent a full week with him (part in Tampa and part here). I'm sure his FM feels the same way when he's here...
NINE more days of school... I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one counting down, but I'm ready for the schedule to calm down a bit. I know the summer will still have busy days, but taking out 4 trips to 2 schools cuts back pretty significantly!
Have a great Tuesday! :)
Sunday, May 9
Today is a wonderful day because all SIX of our little ones are home for Mother's Day! Last year we had 4 children, this year six... My how God works! What a blessing they each are. I'm so thankful to be called mom- to be allowed to raise our children, and to be blessed with their smiles and love.
Happy Mother's Day to YOU, too!
Friday, May 7
Wednesday, May 5
Back on the homefront...
Friday is a scope to find out whether Micah has Celiac disease. Celiac is a gluten intolerance and that's the extent of what I know about it at the moment :). I have a feeling I'll be learning a lot more about it in the very near future, but the positive screening doesn't mean that he definitely has Celiac. Honestly, I don't know what the process is o really what all is happening... I never did receive a call from the doctor's office to let me know that he had a positive test result or what to expect next... Anyway, that's Micah's update!
Brianna-- I was asked why it took 2 years to get the issue fixed for her to receive OT services again... When she was in Early Steps (the 3 and under program) she and Micah both were receiving OT services which we chose to put on hold. There was just too much going on with everyone at the house and scheduling wasn't working out (the available appointment time was 8am on Mondays... which I wasn't able to do!). So we asked for them to be put on hold. Then we did Brianna's IEP to transition her to the school system and I was surprised to hear that the wrong box had been checked or form or whatever (I don't pretend to understand what they did there either!) and instead of being put on hold with OT services she (and Micah) was released from OT. So... I asked that she be evaluated when she started school and during the 5 months she was in school last year she never was evaluated. I brought it up again the 3rd week of school this year and it has taken all school year to get her qualified for services again. So... she stopped OT in April 2008 and here we are May 2010 when she's starting (and should have had OT today I believe!). In other news she's figured out how to JUMP! Woohoo! :)
Emma is LOVING her new AFO's and I hope to share a video soon ;). She loves them and has so much more stability with them! She is excited about that stability and it's harder to get her to sit down now :D. She's walking with one-hand assist and even with me just holding her shirt behind her shoulders (for a little stability). I'm so excited for her to go to PT next Monday and to see whether she'll do the next tasks we've been working on for a while. For whatever reason, she's much more likely to "perform" at PT than she is for ME! Ah... at least one of my kids likes PT lol
Kristopher's last soccer game is Saturday but he has LOVED playing soccer! He's going to miss it, but it is nice to have the 3 days/week that he's doing soccer back :). He has gained a lot of confidence in playing soccer and I think it's been great to have a coach telling him what to do and not do, etc. so he also has learned teamwork and respect in this. I'm glad soccer's almost over, but I have a feeling we'll be back at it before too long if he wants to do it again.
Lynae has almost figured out how to pull to a stand. She is definitely a MOMMA's girl and lets me know this regularly. She's loving babyfood now and has traveled great with all the trips back and forth across the state. I love watching her grow and change!
James-- you'll have to read his update on My Normal Family :)
Monday, May 3
Brianna's IEP was today and she's officially ready for her K-4 year! I'm happy with her IEP and goals, and we finally have OT services added back in (after losing them because of the wrong box being checked 2 years ago!).
I also was able to get Emma qualified for ESY, or summer school... which is only 4 days for 3 weeks, but it's something... and more than nothing! Thanks for all the positive replies on that. I think she'll do well with it and hope it ends up benefitting her.
I also got a call from the children's hospital to schedule Micah's scope. If you're like me, you're thinking... WHAT scope?? Yes, well, they had written down that the results had already been given to me. Oops on their part I guess? Anyway, she did say his celiac screening came back positive and they wanted to scope him to know more. Friday I'll head over to the children's hospital for Micah to be scoped.
And... Tomorrow at the crack of dawn. No, well before, actually... I'll be headed over to Tampa. I'll be there from Tues to Thurs probably and able to attend 3 appointments for James while I'm there. Then he'll hopefully come back here for a long weekend with his new family :). I haven't seen him in over a week and he's been sick and I'm very ready to see him again!
Lynae will come with me and this afternoon I had a sitter come and get reacquainted with the house and what needs to be done here so she can come help out one evening while I'm gone. Mike will be able to take N to youth group and have a little time to do whatever errands need to be done too. I will feel like I'm on vacation with only a kid or two for three days, I think!
Now I just have to whip the house into shape before I leave in the morning...
On a positive note, I did get two bedrooms, the family room, and the porch rug all vacuumed, shampooed, and vacuumed again over the weekend! We also got the big van washed and a 'child guard' installed at the end of the driveway to keep the kids on bikes IN the driveway and the people in cars OUT of the driveway when it's up :)
We also built two dressers and finished up the 'closet' part of the office. I'll have to post a pic when it's all settled in... but at least everything is BUILT! Mike put the shelves up late last week for bins with clothes the kids have outgrown to go on top of the clothes hanging racks. We now have 6 dressers in a row and all the kids' clothes above them. I also have 6 hanging racks for 6 days each of clothes! And a table to sort and fold laundry on. Poor Mike has lost his office :)
Now back to e-mails, I have a few important ones I've read and not had a computer handy to answer on. Tonight is our weekly Ukraine chat which I've missed the last several weeks and ope to hop on there and say "hi" to all the mommies in process :). Maybe I'll say 'hi' and then vacuum all the Styrofoam off the living room floor that's left over from making the dressers??
OH- and I built a DVD cabinet last night too (hence the foam) which I was VERY glad to get for 50% off when I went to the store the other day. I've looked at it twice then went back to buy it and it was out of stock. Finally it's back in and it's on clearance! Yay for that! We also put tot locks on it to keep the kids out and Mike secured it to the wall. LOVE tot locks. If you don't know what they are and you have little inquisitive children... you should learn! :)
I'm looking forward to a busy time the next few weeks but integrating a new child into the family is always a bit crazy at first :) Add to that the end of the year 'stuff' and we're glad to have two sets of grandparents and a new babysitter ready to help out some! Also, the pool is WARM! And I can't wait to get into the pool and start therapy with the kids this summer!! I can see how strong Emma is getting and can't wait to see how she gains, especially. James, too, since he's not walking yet. I think he's going to enjoy it!
Off to do what I should be ;) :)
Saturday, May 1
Mike's on cloud nine. He loves it when the kids get mobile :) He's been encouraging this behavior... He calls it helpful. I say "lay down!" :)
Such a blessing to see little ones learn new tricks though!!