Friday, June 23, 2017

Living on the Spectrum - Rowan Updates

Things have been busy here lately, to say the least. We have had an appointment or ABA therapy almost every day. Heidi Anne spent nearly a week at Grandma's going on different adventures.

Heidi Anne is making her way through Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which she is loving. Char's been waiting for her to be old enough to start enjoying the world of Hogwarts. We even got it on Audible for her to listen to it in the car when we're driving.  
Rowan's ABA therapy is going good. He attends ABA Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:30-2:00. 5 1/2 hours a day, 3 days per week. It's a 20 minute drive to the office, (which is a lot better then a 90 minute one way trip that we were facing up in Evanston). Our insurance doesn't cover in-home ABA sessions, only clinical ABA at a facility. We pack him a snack and a lunch. It's basically a pre-pre school. 

Rowan has his own therapist who works with him 1-on-1 and there are 2 other children with their own therapists as well. They all get together about 1-2 times an hour and do their group therapy sessions. They practice on talking to someone their age, work on taking turns, trying to get them to play together, or just plain interacting. 

Rowan's already picked up some new words and learning to use the ones he knows correctly. He can say "Wader" and knows what the word means, he loves playing with water so much. He also knows "car". He enjoys his cars and watching the cars drive by through the windows. He even said he's first sentence the other day, "Car go!" It was so exciting!
They've discovered he has a fondness for puzzles and he's pretty good at them. He loves to jump on the little trampoline. Rowan likes to get on the slide and they chant "Ready? Set?" He promptly says "GO!" as he slides down. 

We, (by we I mean; the Primary Children's speech therapist, Early Intervention speech therapist, the ABA therapists, and us) are all working on teaching him to use the PECS system. Right now we have about a dozen pictures of his favorite things or actions, he brings or points to the picture he wants and receives the item. This system has helped to reduce meltdowns. We slowly add more pictures to his vocabulary as he learns the old ones. 

Rowan is actually starting to speak more. He's beginning to say; "Yes, No, Cool and Shoe". He doesn't use them properly, as of yet. He randomly says "Dank-you" (thank-you) "You Elcome!" (You're welcome). We're loving all the speech and ABA therapy he's receiving. He's made so much progress in just 1 month. I love watching him grow, I can't imagine what he'll accomplish in the next 6 months to a year!

The other day we took the kids to a larger splash pad. Heidi Anne got super soaked. Anastasia stayed in the stroller. Rowan had fun but there were too many people. He kept coming back to the stroller, sit backwards facing away from people, and white knuckle grip the sides of the stroller. After 30 minutes we headed out.
That's when Char spotted the swings at a nearby park. Neither Rowan or Anastasia have played in a swing. Rory LOVED it! He kept laughing so hard and saying "Weee!" or "YESSSS!". Which surprised us. Anastasia was a tad tiny for it and kept slipping backwards inside the swing. Even Anastasia giggled a few times.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Offically the Start of Summer

It's officially summer. Heidi Anne's last day of school was Friday of Memorial Day Weekend. Yep, she was enrolled at her new school for a total of 10 days, (3 of which were 1/2 days). Since it was the same school she went to for Kindergarten and 1st grade, she remembered a few of her old classmates and made some friends. She's already had kids call and set up play dates with her. 

On Saturday Char's Mom came to visit and to see the new apartment. She took us out to lunch to McDonald's, since it's 1 of Rory's approved places to eat. Grandpa even dropped by to say hi. As he left Rory spoke up and told Grandpa "Bye, Bye!" Which was amazing, he rarely speaks, much less out in public. 
Anastasia surprised us by being able to chew on some french fries. She has been stubbornly against solid foods no matter what we tried. Then a switch flipped now she likes trying to chew food, actual swallowing said food is down the road. But it's a start! We got Anastasia her own high chair, now she and Rory don't have to take turns in his high chair. (Notice her cute little pony tale at the top?? I love it!) 
It was super toasty on Wednesday so we took the kids to the splash pad down the road. Rory loves water! He could spend hours with water if we'd let him. He loves water, until it gets on his face or hair, then he can't stand it anymore. Due to this fact, we knew the splash pad could go 1 of 2 ways, Rory would either LOVE it was a passion or HATE it with every bone of his little body. 
At first he was hesitant to run through the water, but Heidi Anne guided him round the pad. He'd get misted by the water here and there, not really getting wet. Then it happened. He paused for a second when a bucket of water drenched him from overhead. I was preparing myself for a big scream but he just ran to Dad who encouraged him to keep playing. Which he did! We knew then that the splash pad was a hit and we'll be visiting it quite often this summer. 
Despite the fun he was having, there was a lot of noise and a number of children running around. Sometimes Rory would just freeze from all the stimulus or come over to us in the quiet(er) shade. We lasted 30 minutes before he began to shake, not from cold, but from overload. We cut our visit shorter than we planned on, but everybody had some fun. 

We even got some ice cream as a treat afterward. The babies and I shared one cup while Heidi Anne and Dad each got their own cups. The babies ate more then I planned on. It was their first ice cream experience. I underestimated the power of vanilla ice cream. 
Since the move we've been busy. Mostly with doctor appointments and therapy assessments. Rory had a speech therapy review and they are going to use a PECS system to help him communicate. PECS is short for Picture ExChange System. Basically, we have various pictures of different items. He bring us a picture of what he wants and we give it to him while repeating the word. The goal is he'll associate the picture with the object or action and will begin talking over time. PECS is a way for us to communicate and reduce frustrations until he can actually speak. We'll see how it goes.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Moving & The Month of May

For the first week into the second week of May, illness had been making a circle around the family. 3 out of 5 of us were on antibiotics as I write this. Char reached a fever of 104, Stacy reached 102.6, Rory hit 102.3, I had a fever of 101.  

One day when Rory wasn't feeling well, we made a little fort for him. I think he had more fun watching us build it then being inside the fort.
Poor Rory got his first double ear infection. Along with a cough and a sore throat. They didn't do a strep test because he needed antibiotics for the ear infections.
We mostly just packed up whenever the kids would allow us to. We moved Mother's Day weekend. Grandma took the kids with her on Friday, so we loaded up until 6 pm that night. We had some help from church the last 90 minutes and they loaded more in those 90 minutes than just the 2 of us did in the entire day. That night we camped out in the house and slept on camping foam pads. 
We moved back to Utah on Saturday. No one from our new church came to help us unload, which was unfortunate. However, 2 of Char's co-workers showed up, we at least had some help, which we were grateful for. We spent the rest of the day and late into the night unpacking. (Which is mostly what we've been up to ever since then.)   

On Sunday it was Mother's Day. We went down to spend it with Char's family and to pick up the kids. It would have been a nightmare to try to load and unload with 3 little ones following us around. Heidi Anne got me a bouquet of multicolored tulips. Which were accidentally left at Grandma's house. We had a fun time visiting but had to leave a little early because Rory's bed time was coming and we still had cribs to put together. Also we thought Heidi had school the next morning. 

On Monday morning I walked Heidi to her old but new school. Yes, we moved into the same school district that we lived in before we left for Wyoming. I thought I could just walk in and transfer her right then and there. However, I had paper work to do, they had to find space for her in a class, and they had to get a desk put together. Which meant she didn't start school until Wednesday. 
That worked out alright since Heidi and Anastasia both had well child checks that Monday afternoon. Anastasia is still a tiny thing, she's 18 pounds (finally) and 28.5 inches long. Anastasia then received 4 shots. She was very unhappy about that. Heidi Anne is doing good and doesn't need any shots until she's 11. 
On Heidi's first day of school, she was super happy when we picked her up. She exclaimed, "Nobody bullied me today! Everyone was actually nice to me!!" It's been a sad fact that she's been bullied or teased nearly every day at school this year, even by her "friends". 

Rory recently had an assessment to see what his goals for the next 6 months will be for his ABA therapy. What they are going to focus on is learning to learn. Basically, teach him the skills to start learning to do things like mimic what other's do, teach him to pay attention to actions people do, learn to eat with a fork and spoon. Just things to get him able to learn, which normally comes naturally to other children, but not him. 

We also had Anastasia and Rory interviewed for Early Intervention. They both qualified. Anastasia will continue to get physical therapy and monitored for language development. Rory will have a speech therapist. 
Rory got his first official hair cut afterwards. I think he looks handsome. He sat on Dad's lap, only struggled a little bit, and got a sucker after. He's never had a sucker before but he sure knew how to unwrap and suck on it. 
That's been our month of May so far. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

New Plants, New Car, New House?

Last Wednesday Char bought some semi-succulents for me as an early Mother's Day gift. Heidi Anne, Char, and I replanted them into more roomy containers. Heidi Anne had a lot of fun with this little project and decided 1 plant was hers. Also she thought all 4 plants needed a name. Here she is with her plant named Angel. It has little veins that look like angel wings. 
This one is Icing because the white lines are raised up and in zig zag lines like a frosted cake. They are joined by Spike and Goldie. (Sadly, no pictures). 

Rory finally starts ABA therapy in May. He'll be going 4 hours a day, 3 days a week. In addition to ABA he'll have at least an hour of speech therapy every 2 weeks (insurance only allows 20 visits a year, insert sad face) otherwise it would be once a week. His Early Intervention once a week. He'll be a busy boy. 
Rory is lining everything he can in a row more and more often. Especially his cars. For Easter he got identical Matchbox cars that he likes to pair together when he lines those up. 
We just heard back from Geico regarding our 1 and only car. They've deemed it a total loss. We decided we've reached a point in our lives that we need a minivan. That way there would be room for 2 big booster seats without squishing Heidi Anne. We even have room to spare for friends. 

We learned why Anastasia can kneel down but can't sit down like an average baby. It's because she had 3 surgeries in 1 back in August of last year. It's left behind scar tissue which makes sitting with her legs out put pressure on her abdomen which causes her pain. But when kneeling or standing she uses her back and the support of her legs more and her abdominal muscles less. Resulting in less pain. 
Anastasia is also starting to teeth 2 bottom teeth. Which makes her bite, a lot. She won't bite Daddy, but she has no problem biting Rory or me. Not angry biting, but just crawls up and bites me. I tell her "No Bite!" but she just keeps doing it. I guess I taste good?  

Heidi Anne is in an arts and crafts after school program. Here is a mosaic she made of the sun and the sky. She loves doing arts and crafts. She worked on another project where they worked on shading objects properly. The teacher looked at her artwork, held it up for everyone to see and announced "Everybody, we have an artist in the class!" Heidi Anne felt so proud of herself. 
Rory is very sick with his first real illness. We took him to the InstaCare where he was diagnosed with a double ear infection and a very red, sore looking throat. He also has a fever up to 102 F, a nasty cough and raspy breathing. The doctor didn't check for strep or other aliments since the double ear infection qualified him for antibiotics.  

In other news, we (most likely) bought a house. We'll be back in Utah, which will be nice since all of Rory's therapies are down there. In fact, we'll be just a mile away from where we lived in Ogden and less than a block away from Heidi Anne's old school, (which will be her new school). 

We plan on moving in the middle of May so Heidi Anne will have to finish out the school year back her new (old) school. She is super excited to move back to the same area. Splash pads, fun trails, parks galore. It should be a fun summer this year. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Deer vs, Car and Anastasia's First (Real) Easter

Let's start this week off on the day that things got, interesting. Wednesday morning around 6:00 am to be exact. 

I get a call from Char saying he had just been hit by a deer. It darted out of the darkness, he saw a blur in the side of the light from the headlights. BAM! Hit by deer. He's (sadly) hit a deer before, which did some serious body damage but still the car survived. He expected no less from this incident, in fact, this time he was in an SUV. He made it a few miles when the engine started smoking. 

He called the towing company and alerted the police of the accident. (Which we're going to get a $1,000 bill for the dead deer from the DNR). Char thought that he would just be taken back to Wyoming like last time. Unfortunately, he was taken to a small Utah town called Coalville. Where he was promptly stranded and with a dwindling phone battery. 

I called his Dad around 7 am and asked if he could pick up Char. His dad was pretty much Char's only hope of getting home. Char was rescued around 8:30 and they went to Park City to try to rent a car. They arrived around 9:00 am just to discover all the cars are already rented OR getting an oil change. Furthermore, none of their cars would be available until 12:30 pm at the earliest. 

They choose to rent a car in SLC instead of leaving Char to wait around for over 3 hours. By the time they arrived in SLC Char had been up for nearly 30 hours straight. He couldn't make the 2.5 hour drive back home. They got a car rented and Char just followed his dad home and slept and spent the day and the night there. Because he had an early morning appointment in Ogden the next morning.
On Thursday Heidi Anne broke out in a rash at school. It got to the point that it was worrying the school nurse (who knew they still existed?). The nurse called me and told me how the rash was spreading before her very eyes. Well, I was stranded, without a car or a rental, because Char was in Utah. I didn't even have a stroller, because it was in the car, which was still stuck in Coalville! Luckily, my friend Amber rescued Heidi Anne and brought her home for me. 

On Friday Heidi Anne was going with her Aunt E, cousins, Grandma and Grandpa to see the Broadway production of The Lion King down in SLC. When we got to Aunt E's house everyone was dressed up. I dug out Heidi Anne's Easter dress from the bottom of the suit case so she could match them.  
Char had work all weekend and activities were planned, thus we would be spending all weekend at Grandma's house. I spent the afternoon alone with the babies at Grandma's house. Rory watched Moana and played with a school bus while Anastasia pulled herself up into a standing position on everything she could.
Rory loved pushing the button that made the school bus make noise. Anastasia kept trying to steal it from Rory whenever standing up got to boring for her. When Grandma and Grandpa came home they had brought the cousins for a sleep over with them. Heidi Anne loved it. 

On Saturday we all had special breakfast of french toast and waffles. Then when it got warm enough the girls all went out the play. Soon Rory went out to join them once he noticed they were playing with bubbles. He tried so hard to be like the big kids and blow his own bubbles. He had a good time popping them. 
Meanwhile, Grandma packed the eggs with treats like candy and little toys. Then Grandma took Rory with her to go hide the eggs. 
Around 10:30 all the cousins, aunts, and uncles (minus Aunt S) had arrived. A short time later the hunt was on. Heidi Anne and Cousin A got the most eggs. 
Rory could care less about hunting for eggs. He wanted to jump on the tramp alone while everyone was hunting around. Then he went and played in the sandbox. I put Anastasia in the swing, which she enjoyed, to keep an eye on Rory in the sandbox. 
On Easter Sunday we were going to have a big family dinner, but Rory had reached critical mass. He suffered meltdown after meltdown. It just wasn't his day. Unfortunately, we left before dinner. 

We came home and gave the kids their Easter treats. I saw this cool thing on pintrest, where you fold beach towels into bunnies. That gave me the idea to get the kids each a beach towel, swim suit, bubbles and candy for Easter. I think it went over pretty well. We'll use them a lot this summer once we live close to a splash pad again. 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Spring Break 2017

We were going to do a family outing to kick off Heidi Anne's Spring Break and to get out of the house and into warmer Utah weather to have a taste of Spring. We wanted to go to the Dinosaur Park in Ogden. Everyone had some blue on their clothing in support of April 2 wear blue for Autism Awareness. However, that got postponed on account of rain. Once again, our plans were derailed by weather. 

One neat thing is Rory has learned a new word "Bubble". We have no idea where he picked it up. He knows the word but not the actual object bubble. 
On Monday we got to go to the dinosaur park in Ogden. It was a bit chilly but much warmer then Wyoming. Heidi still had her own guide book from her field trip last year. 
There was an indoor museum before you went outside to the park. Upstairs, there was an machine T-Rex, he's attacking a family of triceratopsIt made Rory rather nervous. For most of the trip he was just sitting in the stroller, he wasn't strapped in, he could have gotten out at any time. 
We had fun looking at the different fossils, gems, and rocks located upstairs. Some of which were turned into beautiful works of art and lovely craftsmanship. I regaled Heidi Anne with the times my Granny and GrandDad would take us fossil and rock hunting as a kid about her age. 

We went downstairs to the museum where Heidi Anne could watch a paleontologist work on a fossil and ask him questions directly. Next was an activity table where Heidi Anne could trace "real fossils". 
There was a matching game next to her. Rory had fun just putting the wood blocks back in their slots. It may have been mismatched, but he enjoyed himself. That's the important part, after all.
Anastasia had fun just going along for the ride. It was a bit cold so, yes, her jacket is on backwards and she's tucked under a warm, fuzzy blanket.  
We walked around the indoor museum downstairs. Looking at the skeletons of different creatures, from a woolly mammoth, saber-tooth tiger skull, to different dinosaurs.  

Heidi Anne found a dinosaur eggs' nest, with mostly cracked eggs. She decided that the eggs hatch before they became fossils, that way the baby dinosaurs survived. Because if they died before the eggs hatched that thought made her very sad. So we went with her happier theory. 
Next we wandered around the park outside, with different life sized models of dinosaurs. This is the best picture of of all three kids together. We spent over an hour strolling around the park.
After we toured the park grounds went to the play ground. It was a bit crowded. We were going to have Rory go down some slides but they were all wet and a bit muddy. 

That's when Char found the baby swings. Rory LOVED the swings. He was grinning ear to ear the whole time he spent in the swing. I love his tee-shirt, it has a little monster and reads "Hear Me Roarrrr". I thought it was perfect for the Dinosaur park, and with his nickname of Rory. 
Here's Heidi on top of a giant turtle at the park. She had fun on the playground as well.
Rory tried to be a big boy and go through a "dinosaur skull" on the play ground. Unfortunately, there was a big dip that we weren't aware of and he fell down, hard. That pretty much brought our Dinosaur adventure to an end. 

On Tuesday we went to the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City. We got there just as 2 bus loads of children on a field trip arrived. There were a lot of kids running all around the place. 
Heidi Anne became the self appointed tour guide since she had the map. Every time we came to an enclosure she'd inform us of where we were. It helped that there little signs with pictures telling us what birds we were looking for. Which turned into an eye spy game. 
There was a large duck pond filled with different species of ducks. Char spotted an adorable family of ducks with ducklings. They were the only ducklings in the water. 
I like to think that Rory enjoyed seeing the birds, except for the time when two ducks swooped over his head. That startled him quite a bit. As did the loud children running all about. 
One part of the duck pond had pelicans. We were just in time to watch them being feed by their handlers. We saw geese, swans, and ducks as well.   
When we were looking through some of the enclosures I saw something bright blue near the ground. I told the others "Guys look at that bright blue bird!" Just as I said this I noticed a man kneeling in the cage and it clicked. He was wearing bright blue gloves. There was no brightly colored bird, in fact, there were no birds in there at all. The man must of thought I was trying to make a joke and replied "Yeah, like I haven't heard that 30 times today." But I seriously thought there was a bird in there. 
There were pairs of ducks everywhere waddling on the walkways, in the gardens, or on the lawn. These could have been the very same ducks that scared Rory for all I know. I got a lot of duck pictures. 
Heidi Anne's favorite bird was the scarlet ibis it was just the most beautiful bird she saw in the whole aviary. Also because she LOVES the color red and it was the reddest bird there. 
We went into a woodland birds section. We watched some little species of ducks swim fully submerged underwater. We even found a bird on her nest. I got a lot more pictures of the birds but there were either cages in the way or random children blocked the view. 
Near the entrance there was a merry-go-round sculpture that kids could ride. Heidi Anne got very dizzy on it. 
We saw some bald eagles and some golden eagles. Around this part of the park we asked out loud to each other how do the birds stay in the mostly cage free aviary? Out of nowhere a random employee responded "Most of the birds here are injured and unable to fly away." 
We had a lot of fun trying to find the owls that were blended into their surroundings. Here is Heidi Anne spotting an owl that I "couldn't find for the life of me." I love being a mom. We were going to the play ground but it was crowded by the kids on a field trip.
Anastasia did fairly well for her first fun outside adventures. It's so nice now that she isn't a new preemie and that flu/RSV season is over. I think we've expanded her worldview quite a bit. "You mean there's more to just home, doctor offices, and Grandma's house?"
Later that day Anastasia surprised us all. She took her first steps with the aid of her doll stroller / walker. Anastasia doesn't know she lacks the muscle tone to do this, so she pushes herself to be just like her siblings. 
On Wednesday, we didn't have any adventures planned. Char made us a lovely breakfast, since we didn't have to rush about trying to head out somewhere. We decided to do some deep cleaning and start packing up parts of the house. Strangely enough, that's when Heidi Anne went to go play with a friend. They then had a sleep over. 


Thursday Heidi Anne played at her friend's house and I worked on laundry. So here's some pictures of the babies being adorable.  
Rory has a large stuffed dog that he got for his birthday. You may remember that he fell in love with a stuffed animal at Christmas which was actually going to his cousin as a Christmas present. As you can see, he still adores his doggy. He also makes a little nest out of his soft, fuzzy blankets. 
Anastasia likes to drink her sippy cups the same way Rory does. Laying down on the ground. She's trying to giggle and drink at the same time. It didn't work out very well for her. 
Rory's begun lining things up now. It started with his matchbox sized toy cars. But now it's anything that matches. 
For example, when he got into a pack of diapers. They became fair game to be lined up. This was in a much better and longer line, until Anastasia crawled through it, destroying his hard work. Here he is trying to put everything back in order. 
On Friday, the busy week caught up with Heidi Anne. She was exhausted and slept on and off until noon. Heidi does this thing where she raises her arm when extremely sleepy. We were going to Bear River State Park but it was to windy. It just became more windy as the day wore on.