How do you do dinners with all 8 kids and do you and your husband eat with the kids or later on?
We generally all eat together! If I'm home alone then I often won't eat at the same time as the kids because there's no way I'd get to eat it HOT, but otherwise we all sit down together. Our kitchen table doesn't hold all 10 of us, but 8 fit pretty well and 2 are in highchairs so we make it work. Lynae is in a highchair and self-feeds so she's in a 'corner' of the table. Micah is on the end next to her, right now. Then the other corner next to Micah is James. He gets pushed to the other side of the walkway if we're not eating though, or no one can walk through the kitchen! Michael is on the side by Micah, Aleksa is between Michael and I, and I'm on the other side by Wesley. His wheelchair is pulled up sideways next to the table on the other end. Across from me is Kristopher, Brianna's in the middle, and Emma is next to Brianna on that side.
As far as who needs help... Aleksa has to either be slowed down or told to eat every single bite... depends on the mode and the minute. Micah has to be slowed and occasionally assisted. James needs to be reminded to eat. Emma needs to be slowed. Brianna sometimes has to be plain out hand fed. Wesley we do have to feed completely, because he can't use his arms to feed himself. So Mike has an eye on Micah and Emma and tells James to eat. We tag team on Brianna and Aleksa and whatever that minute's needs are, and I have Wesley that takes total feeding. It works!
Have you considered bathing with Wesley? That may be the most comfortable!
Although I don't mind bathing with my kids... I haven't thought of this as a permanent solution because the only time I'd be able to do this would be when my other kids are all in bed... which means that Wesley wouldn't be going to bed on time. We do kids' baths every other night, and this just isn't a realistic solution for us right now.
What are your kids' different diets and how do you prepare each of them, specifically purees?
Oh yes, the ever-changing diets! Here's a rundown from oldest to youngest:
Aleksa needs food cut up or to be reminded to take bites (but often still crams the entire thing in her mouth). No dietary restrictions though.
Emma is not on any milk tho she still gets food with milk content. She has to have everything cut up small and be watched to make sure she doesn't cram too much food in her mouth. Emma can't have any soft breads or foods that can be 'packed' into her high palate and chokes easily so we are very careful with her.
Kristopher isn't on any alternate diet!
Wesley is actually a great eater and we've not found anything he doesn't like much. We have to cut everything up but he has no dietary restrictions.
Brianna is my picky child and often won't taste even delicious stuff because she doesn't want to try it. Sometimes we fight it and she "has to" eat. Other times we give in and give her something else. Depends on SO much more than just a yes or no!
James is on Pediasure exclusively. He'd moved to purees too but now his reflux is severe enough that every time he has purees he throws it back up. So we've laid off of anything food-like for a while, but when he does eat, it's purees.
Micah eats a lot now! He had meatloaf and corn tonight just it was crushed up and in a bowl. YAY! He is still on all thickened liquids.
And Lynae needs small pieces but will generally eat whatever's around us.
As far as preparing purees, I would use baby cereals to thicken up things, but I bought a "Ninja" blender to make babyfood in and like it very much!
How do you handle time outs with your kids and how do you get them to STAY there?
I put the kids in time out different ways depending on 'what is working' right then. Kristopher sometimes gets time-outs in a chair in the laundry room because then he's alone and that's often better. The other kids it's generally nearby and in view but not right in the middle of everything. If the kids get out of time out, we say 'no' and firmly put them back in there, then reintroduce WHY they're there "NO, you hit Emma" and then walk away again. Eventually they 'get it' and generally stop whether it's because they understand or because they're tired of the routine :)
What type of stuff do your kids do at the Ds clinic?
There are 4 evals-- OT, PT, ST, and educational. These are with therapists that see almost exclusively people with Ds. We go about every 18 months or so if we are able so we can know what ideas there are for the future. We really enjoy being able to get that extra input!
Do you have "help" outside of your parents and Michael's?
Nope, not on a regular basis, but we do have people we can call on to babysit here or there. This week on Wednesday morning a homeschooled highschooler came over for about 2 hours to help out and fed the kids that were home some lunch while I cleaned up the living room. It was really great! We also have a babysitter coming tomorrow (Saturday) along with Mike's parents so that he and I can go out and celebrate my birthday and there will be enough hands-on-deck with the crew of 8 that we'll leave home!
Have you considered homeschooling so you don't have to drive around as much?
I have definitely considered homeschooling and love the idea of it, but I know that right now with the amount of doctor's appointments we're doing, the kids would ALL have to go to every one of those and we would have any time for actual SCHOOL. I think that some day I will homeschool (more formally) some of the kids, but right now we're keeping Aleksa and Wesley home as homeschoolers the rest of this year and we'll go from there!