Saturday, August 12, 2017

Slow Week & Char's Birthday

Slow week here at the house. Well, slow compared to the previous 3 weeks. Oddly, that makes things seem even slower. Morgan is on vacation so Rowan has been doing half day ABA sessions. Come to think of it, that could be adding to the lull this week.

Anyways, the theme for this week at ABA has been super heroes. Rowan painted a face mask (which was mostly green). He also colored a super hero belt (which Anastasia got a hold of before I could get a picture of it). 

Tuesday was pajama day for the babies. Rowan wanted to stay in his construction jammies. Heidi Anne decided she wanted a pajama day, too. Since we weren't going anywhere and no one was coming over, I made it a pajama day for everyone. 
Have I mentioned how much Rowan LOVES the dog. Unfortunately, it's an unrequited relationship. The dog tolerates Rowan, meanwhile Rowan adores the dog. Which is why we plan on getting Rowan his own pup a few years down the road.  
Wednesday, Rowan didn't have ABA because Mackenzie forgot she was covering for Morgan that day. The supervisor offered to come in but it would take her awhile to get there. We figured his routine was already messed up, why not skip a day and deviate even more.  

Since it was Char's birthday he decided to get everyone a treat of doughnuts and soy milk. He took Rowan to the store with him. Which could go 1 of 2 ways, 1)Amazingly or 2) total disaster. Rowan did amazingly. 
Rowan loves taking the dog for "walks" around the house lately. Here he is looking for Anastasia. She'll hide behind the sofa and we'll ask him "Where's Anastasia?" He'll go to her and say "There is!" Or he'll yell "Jaysha?" for Anastasia. This game only works with Anastasia, he doesn't play this game with anybody else. If he does, he'll go off and find Anastasia instead of Char or myself. 
I had a terrible migraine on Friday. Which pretty much sums up our slow week. But you need weeks like this to wind down from fast paced weeks or gear up for them. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Dance Party, So Big, and First Steps

We've been told by Rowan's therapist at ABA that he loves dancing. They'll play musical chairs during group sessions. Instead of going around in a big circle around the chairs, Rowan's jumping and moving, having his own little party. We hadn't seen this until Sunday afternoon when the radio was playing. As soon as a fast paced song came on he ran to the kitchen to be closer to the music and danced all over the place. He couldn't stop giggling, having a good time. Char was quick and got some video of it before the moment passed.  
I've made a realization today as I was fixing Anastasia some chicken for lunch. We've bought our last bit of baby food or formula-EVER. It's bittersweet. I'm amazed she's made this much progress over the summer. But my babies are getting bigger!

We're done having kids, 3 is plenty for me. On top of that another baby would be most likely be born premature and / or run a high risk of having autism. I don't think I could do the NICU life with 3 other kids needing me at home and knowing that the outcome of a preemie isn't always as good as Anastasia's experiences were. I know some families that have multiple children with autism but I don't think I could balance it very well. Who knows though, right? After all, you don't know how strong you are until being strong is your only option.
On Monday Rowan's therapist got caught in traffic, promptly followed by getting a flat tire. Rowan is the first child of the day to the office, so they were locked out until the other childrens' therapists came in for the day. Rowan's therapist was over 45 minutes late, which wouldn't phase your average child. However, it totally through off Rowan's groove for the rest of the day. 
 Tuesday was jam packed with speech and occupational therapy for Rowan. Plus physical therapy for Anastasia. His speech therapist is thrilled with the signs of "more", "water", and "all done" he's been using since her last visit. With the mixture of signs, words, and PECS he's really come along way in his communication skills. 

His OT therapist is going to work on his bath time and diaper changes going more smoothly. Right now he HATES both of those things to the point of trying constantly to run and hide or screaming at the top of his lungs. She also taught us how to do deep pressure on his joints and brushing his arms and legs lightly to help relax him at night. She took a look at his weighted blanket for us and will think of ways to get him to use it or a weighted vest to help out when Rowan's feeling anxious.  

As for Anastasia's walking, her physical therapist believes it's just a matter of time and confidence. There aren't any physical reasons for her lack of walking, which is reassuring. Also Rowan's speech therapist is comfortable with Anastasia's communication skills thus far. (A nice perk of of having a speech therapist visit you twice a month).
Later that night, Heidi Anne was trying to play in her room when the babies knocked down the barricades (A.K.A baby gate). She started reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" to them. They climbed onto the chair and watched her perform. I could only get Anastasia to look at me and Heidi didn't want a picture in her nightgown. Notice a car by Rowan's side? He carries at least 1 around with him at all times, even takes cars to bed with him the way another child may cuddle a teddy bear at night. 
Wednesday Rowan said "Hi Mom!" a few times. I think he's trying to get my (or his therapists) attention because he tells them "Hi Mom", too. During dinner he said "Hi Mom. Cookie?". I said "Hi Rowan, no cookie." He then looked around the table and said "Hi Mom. Water?" While signing "More". So he was communicating "Hi Mom, [More] Water?". I love seeing him making strides. 
I adore one of his ABA therapist, Morgan. Both of them are sweet to him. But Morgan always has a smile on her face and tries her hardest to write down every single word he says or interaction he makes. That way we don't feel like we're missing out on anything. She's going back to school in the fall, meaning we might loose her. I asked to stay with her, no matter her schedule, but we won't know for sure until next week. (The fall schedule starts on the 14th of August). If we lose her, it just means we'll have to find our new normal (again). We're constantly adjusting what "normal" is for us. Right now, it just means the average weekly routine.  
Thursday, Anastasia got me up early at 5:45 am. She was bright eyed and bushy tailed. She was playing "So Big!" with me. She'd put her arms up and down high over her head so quickly that it looked more like she was doing the wave single handed. Anastasia would even try saying "So Big" with me, it came out as "Oh Bi." Which was adorable (it would have been cuter at 7 or 8 am-ish). 

On Friday, Anastasia took her first real steps! She went from Dad to the sofa and then back to Dad. She walked further every pass. Anastasia would fall down, we'd cheer "Yeah!" while clapping our hands, she'd then clap for herself. Then repeat the whole process. It was amazing. (Sadly, my phone was dead). 

Rowan had a great day at ABA. He was saying so many new words. Things like "Cupcake", "Triangle", "Circle", "Oink". Apparently, there is a book at the ABA facility that makes animal sounds. Rowan loves to press the dog barking and the pig oinking, but will cry if the cow makes a "moo" sound. Even just "mooing" in person to "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" can make him cover his ears. I'll take their word on this instead of experimenting for myself.  

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Shark Week and Progress

We're recovering from vacation this week, days just feel off. Now the littles are boycotting naps, making it hard to get basic chores done around the house. One thing that's helped out a lot is Heidi Anne. We assigned her chores this week and so far so good. She has to do them before she can play, read, or have any screen time. 

Rowan has reached a milestone. He's learning that every object has a name to it. I think his PECS pictures helped him learn that. Now he loves looking at books and will even point at pictures on occasion. (The pointing is another big milestone.) To help foster this desire to learn names of things we bought him some "Baby's First 100 Words" picture books. We also got him "Baby's First 100 Words Things That Go", since he LOVES cars, planes (or any vehicle come to think of it).  

This morning he was flipping through the pages of his books contently. I decided he was in a good mood and might tolerate me sitting by him. He actually snuggled closer to me. Then he just starting talking! 

We had the following "conversation" Rowan still looking through his book said "Hi Mom." I'm surprised at this acknowledgement from him. I respond "Hi Buddy Boy!" Rowan then points to about half a dozen pictures of vehicles from his new book. He proceeds to name and point to the following objects; 

  • "Tractor" (I had no clue he knew that one!) 
  • "Car" (He's saying that word more and more often,)
  • "Boat" "Boat" "Boat" (There were 3 boats on the page)
  • "Plane!" Plane!"  (He gets excited about planes, We live near an Air Force Base, he likes to go outside and watch them as they fly by.)
I got curious and wanted to see what else he knows but can't always verbalize. I got out the Shapes & Colors book. I was in for a bigger surprise;
  • "Oval!" (Pointed right to the correct shape)
  • "Fish" (We've been watching Shark Week at home)
  • "Circle! Clock!" (Pointed at a picture of an analog clock. Doubled my sense of shock.) 
  • "Star!" (Impressive)  
With that word, "star" the spell was broken. He wanted me to name the objects again, Not a peep from him. But I love these moments. It shows he's taking in so much more than he can reveal. For those few minutes I was welcomed into his world, until it becomes to much for him to bare. But I'm patient and work hard with him and his assignments. 

Rowan continues to make amazing progress. He knows how to sign and say the word "More" and is starting to do 2 word sentences. For example, the other morning he said "More Coke!" (Anything bubbly is a coke in our house). Or the other night when I put him down to bed, he said in his soft voice, "More Up?" Naturally, I picked him up and held him. I know it was a delay tactic to avoid going to sleep, but it worked and I am so proud of him. 

Now we're working on having him tell us what exactly he wants more of. Right now it's a guessing game because he does have a limit of words he can use with PECS. He needs to say or sign more and hand us the picture card OR try to tell us what he wants. It's a goal for down the road but we're starting to try it at home right now. 

Anastasia is teething and having a growth spurt. Which makes her cranky from the pain, then she stumbles because of her growing body, in turn makes her more upset. I swear she's thinking "I could cruise just fine 2 weeks ago!" Her shorts are starting to look like onesies. Anyone have size 12-18 or 18-24 month girl clothes I could use?  

Heidi Anne found Char's old guitar and now she wants to take guitar lessons. Char thinks it would be good for her to have a creative outlet and a chance to learn a musical instrument. A piano is out due to lack of space in the apartment. But a guitar we have space for. Anyone know where I'd go to find lessons for her? Or if there are DVDs or books that can teach you to play? 

As it is shark week we've been watching a lot of shark shows. Rowan has now learned "Fish" and "Turtle". He'll say things like "Fish" or "Water". He's also picked up "Tree" and "Bird" along the way, too. Even better, he actually knows what these words are. Unfortunately, you can't play the "What's this?" (while pointing to an object. You just randomly here him pip up and say in his soft voice "Fish". We just say in surprise, "Wow! Fish! You're right buddy!"

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Vacation-Summer of '17

The first part of the week was fairly slow. We were just waiting for Thursday to roll around so we could go on vacation to the Tetons in Idaho.Thursday finally came and we went to Driggs, Idaho with Char's family. We left early in the morning and discovered that the little kids are NOT good travelers. They cried most of the way up. Despite some detours and traffic delays our family was the first to arrive at the cabin.
Unfortunately, the cabin was locked and we couldn't find the key box. Char went from door to door and found the back door unlocked. We hoped we got the correct address and joked about being in the wrong place. Once out of the car the kids were pretty happy. Rowan went around the cabin playing with an airplane, trying out every single chair. Anastasia crawled around, discovering stairs in the process. She can go up them but down is a different matter. However, Rowan did learn how to go down the stairs, scooting down one step at a time. 
Right after breakfast Friday morning all the cousins (minus Anastasia who hates grass) played in the front yard. 
They played in a tent, tag, with balls, bubbles, just playing in the cool summer air.
We planned on visiting my friend, Valerie, and her family in Yellowstone. But the day before proved that the kids couldn't handle a car ride for 4 hours. A drive of over 6 hours in the car was out of the question. We were able to meet in the middle at West Yellowstone, Montana. 
All the kids played at the park while we caught up. Heidi Anne was nice and pushed Rowan on a swing. I found that Anastasia hates sandy gravel in addition to grass, she stayed on the bench with me. Time flew by and suddenly the kids were hungry. We decided to have some Popsicles  followed by a picnic lunch in the shade.  
On Saturday everyone decided to go play on the water. Some people went paddle boarding, others went canoeing. While waiting for the canoe Heidi Anne had a butterfly land on her hand.
Heidi Anne rode in a canoe with Grandpa for most of the river ride. She got to ride on a paddle board with Aunt E for a few minutes and loved it. The four of us (Char, Rowan, Anastasia and I) went ahead to the meeting place to play in the river. I was envisioning a nice lazy river with a large sandy place to play and wade in the water. However, there wasn't much of a river bank at all and what little space there was had many cars pulling in and out of the area. We headed back to the cabin, made the babies lunch and put Anastasia down for a nap.

Later that afternoon we went to Victor, Idaho for huckleberry shakes. I got a raspberry one and tried to share with the babies. Anastasia is just barely learning to use a straw and Rowan kept chewing the straw, getting very little shake in the process. What little he did get, he loved every sip of it! He kept signing and saying the word "more". Naturally, he got as much as he wanted. Char tried sharing his huckleberry shake with the babies, but they weren't fans of the taste. 
Anastasia was content being outside of the car. (Or outside in general.) We got a double stroller a while back and it works perfectly for these little outings. 
Early Saturday evening Rowan went out with Grandma to play in a wading pool Aunt L brought along. It was a big hit with him.
He was a brave little boy and splashed in the cold mountain water. He sat right down and played away. Cousin G was more cautious and just put his feet in. He didn't get soaking wet like Rowan did. 
He was shaking from cold by the time he was done playing. Actually, I think he would have stayed in the water even longer if we'd let him. 
Later that night we roasted hot dogs over an open fire. Then the girls made S'mores. Here's Heidi Anne enjoying her hamburger outside. 

On Sunday we headed back home. Before we left we did a craft with all the cousins. Char made sensory bottles with them. You fill a water bottle with food coloring, glitter in varying sizes, and some baby oil. You shake it up and watch the glitter swirl.

Monday, July 17, 2017

4th of July, Heidi's Birthday, Rowan's Arts & Crafts

Let's see, we left off just before the 4th of July. Char had work that night which meant we couldn't go to Grandma's house for a barbecue. We did have a mini barbecue at our house before Char left for work. That night the kids went to bed at their regular times. 

Then at 9:45 pm the fireworks in the neighborhood began to go off. I was just praying the babies would sleep through it all (which they did). Right by our house the whole street had gathered and everyone was taking turns lighting off their fireworks. I watched for about 15 minutes from the living room window, then went to bed myself. Do I know how to have a good time or what? 
The day before Heidi's birthday she had a cousins' party at Grandma's house. They played in the water, made cupcakes, and had a sleepover. Grandma brought Heidi back home the next morning

Char decided to take Heidi on a Daddy / daughter date for her birthday. They went to this nice burger place called Habit. Once full they were off to the movies. They picked the new Spiderman movie, which they both enjoyed. Char and Heidi were laughing when they came home telling me a bit about the movie. Thankfully, Heidi didn't give everything away, because I want to see it (in 3-6 months) and be excited about watching it. 

We also got Heidi her first mountain bike, complete with handbrakes and gears! She got a "cool" helmet because safety. Lastly, we got her a T.A.R.D.I.S poster to hang on the back or front of her bedroom door. She loves her poster. 
In the early evening we remembered we still had cake to eat, I snapped a picture before the candles were put in. As we were eating cake Heidi informed us she knows what she wants for Christmas. She figured it was to late to make a wish for her birthday when she blew out the candles. Heidi wants a wand from Harry Potter, more specifically Hermonie's wand. I'm glad she's really getting into the Harry Potter books / movies. 

We just got Rowan a new PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) book. It has over 200 pictures of objects, feelings, and verbs. We've just expanded his vocabulary options from about dozen items or actions to hundreds. Everyone's working on teaching him to use the words properly and not pick any picture at random. He's doing good and picking up actual words along the way. 

There is a little boy who's about 3, named R, at ABA therapy the same time as Rowan and they often do group therapy together. Almost everyday Rowan goes into the room and asks "Where he go?" R will respond with "R here 'Owan!" The other day, they were playing with the tunnel together and Rowan saw R and said "I see you!" They're adorable to see together. I love the way R says "'Owan!" every morning. 

Every day at ABA therapy they do an arts & crafts project. You'll notice they have a summer / beach theme going lately. 
This is a little beach, with pasta shells and a sand mixture similar to play-doh. Rowan was the most enthused one to participate. He loved playing with the sand. He thoughtfully placed each shell in it's spot.  
Here is a crab that he painted all by himself! The therapist helped to glue the arms, legs and eyes. 
This is his little island. He painted it by himself and did a few cool things while working on this project. While painting it the girls played music from Moana in the background. Rowan heard the music, shouted "Moana!" (Sure he can't say Mom or Dad, but Moana...no troubles there). While he was painting he said the word "Blue". 

Just a few days ago we ran out of yogurt (a huge no-no in this house as it's 1 of Rowan's favorite foods). Which made me do an emergency run to the store with Rowan before his ABA therapy. Normally we don't bring Rowan to the store because the crowds, noise, overhead speakers all make him have meltdowns. Somehow there were no crowds nor calls placed overhead. When the music got to loud, he'd cover his ears. If we saw people he bent down in the cart and stared at the floor. We just ran in to get yogurt but he did amazing!  

Anastasia has overcome her food aversion, she pretty much eats what's put in front of her. I think she'll finally gain some weight. Which is giving her more muscle and pushing Anastasia closer to walking. She cruises, stands, and finger walks really well. Her psychical therapist thinks Anastasia just needs to have more confidence in her abilities.  

Anastasia is becoming quite vocal herself, lately. She likes to say "No way, No way, No way." She says go, just prompt her like Rory, say "Ready? Set?" she'll whisper, "Go!" Lastly, she's learned to say "More". 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Anastasia's Turn

I feel like I keep posting about Rowan's progress. I wanted take a minute and focus a little bit on Anastasia. 

Up until 6 weeks ago Anastasia could only tolerate formula and maybe some level 2 baby food. The kind for a 4-6 month old infant, super pureed. She had a nasty food aversion. It was a test of wills when it came to feeding her solids and she normally won.
About a month ago we decided to help her get over this once and for all (with some advice from a feeding / speech therapist). This girl seriously needed protein and to get some meat on those little bones. We got her a cute new high chair just for her (before then she and Rowan took turns in his high chair). We got a variety of dis-solvable foods; Cheerios, baby puffs, little crackers, tiny baby dis-solvable stars, yogurt bites, ect. Then we'd have her sit in the high chair and layout the bounty. 
At first she'd just put the food in her mouth and promptly spit it back out. But slowly the food started to stay in her mouth long enough for her to taste it. We'd leave her in the chair (with one of us sitting with her) for 30 minutes, several times a day. We wanted to give her time to choose to eat. Whatever stayed in the longest, Anastasia would receive more of that item.

Finally it just clicked, with baby cheddar puffs. Anastasia actually ate them. We'd get 1/2 a dozen of those cheddar puffs and let her eat as much as she wanted. Shortly there after, we introduced "Li'l Bits" which is baby food with actual bits of real food in it. We repeated the same process as before. 

She's now up to eating 5-6 containers of Li'l Bits a day (2 per meal) and snacking on easy to eat finger foods. We're working up to regular foods in the next day or two.
Anastasia is beginning to talk a little more. She waves and says "Bye Bye". She'll do this whenever she goes down for a nap or to sleep for the night. I love it! Every time, she waves bye to everyone in the room. 

She can say "No, No, No", Bye bye, Momma, and Dadda. She's a little behind in her in her speech, however, Jill (the speech therapist for Rowan from Early Intervention) is keeping an eye on Anastasia. If she slips further behind we'll be on top of it. 
Lastly, she's starting to walk, she'll cruise around the sofas in the living room. Anastasia will walk with assistance. We're thinking by Char's birthday she'll be toddling on her own. Here's to hoping and lots of physical therapy.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Aquarium Fun!

The other day we went to the big aquarium down in Sandy. Last time we went to the aquarium was for Heidi Anne's 2nd birthday and it was at old place. It's since moved to a brand new (to us) building.  

I went to go wake up Rowan and found he was buried in a nest. Recently, he loves to surround himself with his, and a few of Heidi Anne's, stuffed animals. No matter how hot it gets, he must have everyone of them. 
We left the house before 9:00 am to get there right when it opened. We were hoping it would be less crowded for Rowan's sake and that less crowds would equal more time there. We snapped pictures of each of the kids on the ride down. 
Heidi Anne enjoys having a mini-van. She gets to pick anywhere in the back seat to sit. She now has dark purple reading glasses. She's reading along to the audio book of "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" while in the car.
Rowan just got new shoes today. Which he HATED when we put them on. We think that since the shoes are a different texture they just rubbed him the wrong way. 
Anastasia just sat back and enjoyed the ride. She'd serenade us with her lovely voice saying her new word "No, No, No" whenever it got to quiet in the car. (She's going to be rear facing until she's 3, I swear, she is such a light baby.)

We got down there a bit earlier then expected. We just waited outside until they opened. 
Plus we were also waiting for Grandma, Aunt L, and cousins G and little E. (Boy will I be in trouble if cousins start to have the same initials).  
We found Grandma and later Aunt L. We didn't get to explore all of the aquarium nor see a 4D movie. Hey, you've got to save something for the next visit, right? What we did see was awesome and loads of fun. 
We went to the South America exhibit. We saw toucans, huge catfish, sting rays, and loads of different fish. Grandma told the kids about her experiences with a variety of animals on her various trips around the world. 
Rory demanded to be freed from the stroller, leaving Anastasia all alone. So Heidi Anne, Grandma, and I took turns holding his hand / carrying him around the exhibits. 
We saw tiny poison dart frogs. Rowan surprised us by joining Heidi Anne on a replica of a frog. 
Here is an electric eel. Underneath the it was a demonstration of how the shock of an electric eel feels like. You'd place two fingers on the buttons and receive a shock equal to that of a 15 volt battery. Just enough to give you that pins and needles feeling in your hand.
In the Asia section we saw Heidi Anne's favorite wild animal. She did 2 different reports on this critter. It's a clouded leopard. She asked "Why is it called clouded when it's not grey like a cloud?" (I quickly Googled that question). I told her it's because of their large cloud like spots on their fur. Heidi Anne regaled one of the employees nearby the cage with all the information she's learned about the leopard. 
Fun Fact: I love the show Deadliest Catch. Char liked it before I did, and I would tease him that he was watching people fishing like an old man, never giving the show a glance. Then one day I was sick at home from work, when this cool show about crab fishing was on. I loved it. Later that day Char exclaimed, "That's the show you've been picking on me for watching!" 

I'm amazed at how big those crabs really are. I got a picture of a Japanese Spider crab. It was huge but there is nothing in the picture to compare it's size to. 
Rowan was running out of steam, so we quickly went through the Wild Utah section. Lots of fish, a couple tortoises, and these adorable river otters. Which were sleeping. Char tried a dad joke and told Heidi Anne "You know, that's where Otter Pops come from, right?" While Heidi just rolled her eyes it did make a random stranger laugh.  
We thought we'd push the limits and go to the playground zone. There were three different playgrounds, one was for infants, (just right for Anastasia), another for kids 4 and under, (perfect for Rowan), and lastly a huge maze for 5 and up (which Heidi Anne had a blast in). Honestly, it was like a play maze of your childhood dreams. 

Rory would do the obstacle course to get to the end with the slide. He'd sit at the top and say "GO!". It was rather crowded and I was impressed he spoke at all. He doesn't normally talk in large groups of people. Anastasia was walking with the help of Char and even played on the baby playground a little and went down the tiny slide.
After the aquarium we all went to McDonald's. Where Rowan impressed us once again. He liked apple juice from a juice box with a straw-without squirting it everywhere! You have to appreciate all the small victories in life.