6/30/13

Hummingbirds


 For Mother's Day this year I told the girls that I have always wanted a hummingbird feeder.  I am honestly not a huge fan of birds in general as I think they are dirty but I do love the hummingbird.  They are so tiny and quick and magical.




I put my feeder right outside of the window where I do dishes so I can watch them.  We see quite a few but today the feeder was THE place to be!  I think the poor birds are dying in the heat.





Swimming!

It has been HOT here!  In our area it usually cools down to the 70's around 7pm even on the super hot days so we have never missed an air conditioner but we are in the midst of a MAJOR heat wave and as I type it is just finally at 75 (it's 11:00pm).  As I was laying in bed last night sweating and trying to fall asleep I decided we needed to skip church and hit the pool today.

The pictures are not from today but they are cute and on topic


Our local Y has an indoor pool which is muggy but at least I don't have to worry about Bunny turning into a lobster.  I had already told the girls I would take them to the outdoor aquatic center but I wanted the boys to have a chance to cool off too so all of us packed up and headed to the Y for a quick swim.  I knew I could never manage both boys myself even in the kiddie area and I have been dying to get Bunny in the pool for therapy.



We had SO much fun!!  I don't really have to worry about the girls there because the whole pool area is somewhat shallow and they can both swim.  The kids area is super shallow and has a slide and squirting water features.  The boys were in heaven!  Daddy and I had permasmiles the entire time because we were having so much fun with the boys.



We ran home for lunch and to put the boys down for a nap and then the girls and I headed for the aquatic center.  We had never been but knew it had a kiddie area, 2 water slides (Boogie is obsessed) and 2 huge pools to swim in.  The place was PACKED.  I knew it would be which is why I chose to go to the Y with the boys.



Boogie immediately got in the waterslide line while Baby and I worked on her swimming.  I had Baby swimming last year when we had our above ground pool but she is nervous when she can't touch the bottom so I have been wanting to practice with her when I am there so she can gain confidence.  It's hard to practice in a pool jam packed with people but we made do.  She can now tread water and will swim around in areas she can't touch the ground in.  Success!  Of course we will keep practicing!



Boogie surprised me today.  She has always been somewhat timid when it comes to trying new things.  She usually wants me by her side.  First, she walked right to the line of the waterslide and then waited in line by herself while Baby and I hopped in the pool nearby.  Her little face coming out of the waterslide was priceless.  She was so proud and having so much fun.  We both went on the waterslide later while Baby waited for us at the bottom and the girls got quite a kick at seeing Mommy ride a waterslide.  Waterslides were always my favorite thing!



Later I suggested we go check out the other pool.  It is 13 ft deep and most areas are for lap swimming but they have 2 small sections for rec swimming.  The areas are next to a high dive.  Boogie saw the high dive and begged me to let her try it.  Again...this is my timid child!  So she stood in line with a bunch of teenage boys and waited for her turn.  I could tell she was getting nervous as she got closer but she climbed right up.  I stopped myself from yelling "jump way out!" (being forever traumatized by the Greg Louganis incident) and just watched her.  She walked right to the end and jumped off like a pro.



When she came up for air she had the BIGGEST smile on her face!  I was SO proud of her.  My little girl is getting brave and I love it!

Fun time was definitely had by all today....especially mommy.  I am exhausted but in the very best way!

The Comments

I really try to be a good larger family mommy ambassador.  I want the world to know that having 4 kids is not that big of a deal.  Having 2 and then twins?  Challenging yes..but not unmanageable. 

To me, being a good mommy ambassador of the larger family means not being that hassled mean mommy dragging her kids through Target barking orders.  It's being the woman who has a smart and polite answer for all of the "Wow!  You sure have your hands full!" comments.  I hear this comment a million times a month and I want to find the perfect answer.  One that isn't smartass or make my kids feel like a burden.

Let me give you an example of how NOT to be a GMALF (good mommy ambassador of the larger family shortened from here on out because it's 10:20pm and I have a lot of laundry to fold!) :

Friday we had to change our "Fun Friday" plans to take Baby to the Dr.  Poor Baby had an ear that was all clogged up and painful.  I try not to drag all of us to the Dr at the same time but because it was short notice I had no choice.

Opportunity #1:  We walk into the office and a women with 2 kids is walking out and says

"Wow!  You have your hands full! (shocked face)  Are they ALL yours?" 

(Now keep in mind that our Dr has 4 kids himself and their picture is displayed in every room.  4 is not the Duggars people!  In fact..most of my friends have 4 kids!)

I said yes to the lady and smiled and she said "I don't know how you do it!!"  I decided to go with my humorous response and said "Lots of coffee!".  It got a laugh from all the ladies in the office and we made our way to our room and got settled but I really don't LOVE that answer.  It makes me feel like I am agreeing with the original asker that 4 is way too much to handle.  At least it isn't rude.

We left the Dr with a prescription for a case of swimmers ear and headed to Target.  Our Dr is about 40 minutes away and the kids were ready for a snack so I figured we could stay local and get a snack at Target and sit in the Starbucks (ironically) while we wait for the prescription.

I made the very stupid mistake of giving Buddy his way when he said he wanted to sit in the cart.  I put Bunny in the strapped in seat and let Buddy sit in the big basket area.  If you are going to be a good GMALF you have to make sure you are not adding to what could already be a stressful situation.  Buddy kept trying to stand up and I kept repeating "Sit on your buns!" while I started to stress sweat (coincidentally I remembered as I started to trickle sweat from my forehead that I forgot to put on deodorant that morning because of course I use crunchy homemade deodorant and of course in the heat it was melted and I needed it to firm up in the fridge and then forgot about it)

We dropped off the prescription and paid for our snack and then strolled over to the Starbucks.

Opportunity #2:  A lady was sitting at a table watching our chaotic show of ordering drinks and handing our snacks and said

"Wow are these all yours?  4!  What a blessing!" 

Ready for my big fail?  I mean she made it so easy for me.  All I had to say was "Yes they are" and what does bad bad mommy say?  "Somedays they are!"

I immediately felt terrible.  Talk about making your kids feel bad.  The girls didn't hear me because they were too busy fighting over the snack at the table but that was a major fail. 

Opportunity #3:  Being guilt ridden from my mean comment I decided to let the kids ride the money trap rides in the mall.  They had a blast and we spent a bundle of money but it reset my mood.  Right as we were leaving a women came up to me and said

"You have a beautiful family!

And I finally got it right and said "Thank you.  I do"

Maybe it is just our area but I feel like 4 is the new 17 when it comes to kids.  The last ladies' comment made my day because I really do feel like each and every one of my kids is such a blessing and I am so lucky to have them.  Yes things do get hard.  Daddy has been working A LOT which makes my days very long but I have been trying to focus on the blessing that my babies are.  Which is why I want to be a good GMALF.  I want my kids and the world to know that I count myself as one of the lucky ones.


6/24/13

My Birthday

A few months ago we were offered free tickets to the aquarium through Hope Services.  Bunny gets his PT and EI teacher through Hope so we get lots of free events and fun things from them.  We could ask for as many tickets and we wanted but the only drawback was that we had to name a specific date.  Daddy is going into summer mode which means he works most Saturdays and this was definitely not a trip I would do solo so I decided my birthday would be the perfect day.



As soon as I decided we would go for my birthday I also decided I would have more fun if the adult to child ratio was a little higher so I invited my dad to come with us.  Turns out he had NEVER been to the aquarium!  My mom went out of town on my birthday (the nerve!) so it worked out perfectly.



The kids were really excited.  This is not a cheap outing for us so we only get to do it every few years and the boys had never been.  I kept telling the boys we were going to see the fishies.  In fact when I woke Bunny up the morning of I said "You ready to see fish?" and he signed fish.  My little smarty!!


As you can see I did not get much sleep the night before.  Boogie had a bloody nose in the middle of the night and Buddy woke up at 5:00am.  Fortunately, everyone behaved themselves and we had no major meltdowns.  It helped that Daddy brought me Starbucks in bed to start the day!


My favorite is always the seahorses.  I think they are amazing.  Bunny and Buddy were not all that impressed with them.  The jellyfishes were by FAR Bunny's favorite.  I would hold him up to the aquarium and he would get the HUGGEST smile.  It might have helped that they were doing a groovy theme with jellyfish and had lots of lights and mirrors....two of his favorite things.  I myself just think "ouch" when I see jellyfish. 


Our aquarium has a few activity/learning centers for kids and we went through one of them and smartly avoided another one (splash zone?  I learned my lesson the hard way a few years ago.  $30 is a lot to pay to have your kids splash in water for hours on end!).  Buddy and Baby had a fabulous time at the touch pools.  The Bat Rays were not close enough to touch this time but they were fun to watch.



Towards the end of our short but productive time there it did get quite crowded.  My mom always says she hates the aquarium and that she is scarred from overseeing field trips there.  I totally get it now.  They keep most areas very dark so you can see the tanks and when there are a million people and it's dark it's easy to lose people.  I had a few mini heart attacks. 



It really was great fun.  I love doing stuff like that and it's fun to experience it through my children's eyes for the first time.  But we weren't done having fun yet!


I also decided that since we were so close to the beach that we should make a quick stop and let the boys experience the ocean for the first time.  Buddy was in hog heaven!  Notice my Dad's tight grip?  He would have ran right in if we let him!  He has not developed his healthy fear of the ocean yet. 



Baby, however, is completely traumatized from our last trip and she would get nowhere near the water.  Boogie got bowled over by a sleeper wave a few years ago and she is still a lover of the ocean.  The last thing I said before we got out of the car was "If your clothes are wet you are not getting back in my car".  She rode home in her shorty shorts.



Bunny, lover of water, was also a huge fan.  I didn't get a picture of him with his feet in the water because I was the one holding him but he loved it and even stood holding my hands for 2 minutes watching the water. 

It was a perfect first beach experience because we weren't there long enough to get burned and super sandy but long enough to make a good memory.  It was also a perfect way for me to confirm that there is NO WAY I am taking all 4 kids to the beach by myself.  So hopefully the boys hold onto this memory for a good long time.

It really was a great birthday.  Daddy kept telling me today what a fun time he had yesterday.  We may just have to do it again next year.

6/17/13

Update on Bunny

I don't have any adorable pictures of Bunny to share but I want to give an update on Bunny's IFSP and the changes we are making for him in the next 2 months.

First of all, the IFSP meeting was really hard for me and I kept it together for the meeting but then cried in the parking lot.  I knew what the dumb tests were going to say but it was still hard to read.  Bunny's gross motor and fine motor levels are at about the 10-12 month range.  His speech is also around there and his cognitive is closer to his age (26 months at time of testing) at 19 months.

Gross motor wise, Bunny has 2 issues.  He really does have low tone.  When he was a baby I thought his head was going to roll right off of his neck it rolled back so far!  He is also hard to motivate.  He doesn't really want to work hard to do things when sitting and watching us do it for him is so fun!

For fine motor his main issue is throwing!  Oh how I loathe throwing!  He has been throwing for a long time.  I have to sit next to him during all his meals because he throws food if it is more than he wants in his mouth.  So frustrating!  He thinks it is way more fun to throw the hoops at OT than to "put on".  And he knows he is doing it and CAN put on but he wants to throw.  So that's a hurdle.

I really don't know why some times it is harder for me than others.  I obviously see the difference in him and Buddy everyday.  I KNOW he is behind but sometimes it puts me in a major funk.  I know he is who he is and will do things when he wants but I wish it was easier for him.

I think part of my issue this time was nervousness about our new plan.  We are going to have Bunny go to the preschool for toddlers with special needs in July.  My social worker has been pushing for this forever and my answer was always "No way!" but something in me changed a few months ago and I decided I should at least check it out.

I went to the preschool with the boys and I met the other kids, who are dolls.   I liked that EVERYTHING was a teaching lesson and there was lots of signing.  The kids seemed really happy too.

I think that Bunny needs things to be shaken up a little.  I think throwing him in a new environment where other kids are closer to his same level might be a good change for him.  Another thing is that Buddy is a tornado.  I spend a lot of my day chasing Buddy and Bunny is happy to just sit and play with his toys so a lot of the time that's what happens.  I think it will be good for him to have a teacher constantly expecting things from him.  Plus it will be good for Buddy to get some time to run free at the park where I can give him my full attention.

The downside to the new plan is that I don't get to keep Bunny's current therapies.  I believe I could fight this.  I think he more than qualifies.  There is a PT, OT and ST at the school but I personally don't think that it will be anywhere the same as him getting individual therapy every week.  Plus, I like to be in the therapies so I can do things at home and since I can't bring Buddy to the school everyday I won't get to see what's going on.  At this moment I just plan to see how things go.  I don't want to do anything other than the preschool this summer because I don't feel it is fair to the other kids.  Their whole summer shouldn't be carting Bunny to therapy.  We do get to have a separate speech therapist.  She happens to be my friend and she has kids my kids age too so it's kind of a win for Bunny and the rest of the kids!

And honestly...the more I thought about it the more I decided that part of Bunny's problem is a lack of motivation and I can't change that for him easily.  Maybe he will love preschool and make the leap himself.  Or maybe I will have to reevaluate and go fight for him.  I am prepared for either.

In the meantime, he has been surprising me with new things.  He grabs the spoon from me when I am feeding him and puts it in his mouth.  This thrills me because he used to just throw everything off of his tray.  He sat there for a good 10 minutes the other night with a spoon and his yogurt cup without throwing.

He has been crawling over to the couch and attempting to pull up when we put a toy up there.  He is so close!!!  I usually need to put his leg out for him so he can push up with one leg/foot but he will sometimes put his own foot out now.  Tonight he pulled himself up in his crib without my help!

He has this funny thing he does that I call breakdancing.   He goes up into quad then spins over into sitting.  Repeat repeat repeat until he has spun around the room.  It's hilarious.  But...he has made some attempts to 4 point crawl during the quad part.  And he will now crawl when I hold him up with a towel at the middle.  So we are making progress!  Before he would lay flat the minute I tried to lift him up.

This boy is definitely giving me lessons in patience and endurance.  Two things I completely suck at.  He also reinforces to me everyday that I am his momma and I know what's best for him!  I really do think we are doing the right thing here and I hope it pays off.  My back will be much happier!!

Graduation


Kinder graduation has to be one of the sweetest things. Well, the kids are sweet.  The parents blocking the aisles with their huge cameras and video cameras are just plain obnoxious.  I might have said that loudly once or twice during Baby's graduation.  Yes. I brought my camera.  Did I take 20 pictures of Baby getting her diploma and stand blocking the aisle for 20 minutes before and after? NO.  Get a grip parents!

Ahem.  Off of my soapbox. 

I am so so proud of the girl.  I have to admit that I was worried last summer.  I wasn't sure that Baby was ready for kinder.  Her birthday is August so she is a young one and her maturity level was still pretty low.  Boy did she show me wrong!

I warned the teachers that she was not like big sister and that they would have their hands full with her but she proved me a liar.  Not only did she never get her fish dropped (their consequence system) but the teachers were always telling me that she was the only child behaving that day.



So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when she got the citizenship reward but I was!  My darn kids have broken my hard heart because I teared up like a big old baby I was so proud of her!  The citizenship award is the big deal award at their school.  It was the only award for the kinders and 2 kids from each kinder class were chosen.  Even big sister didn't get that award in kinder (she got it in first grade).

On a funny note.  One thing that surprised me about Baby this year was that she was suddenly aware of boys.  She has been aware before but in a "I don't like boys" phase which lasted until her brothers were born and I told her she better knock it off.  Then she went through a phase where she told me she was going to marry Buddy all the time.

This year she made a "marrying list".  She decided that there were 3 boys (2 by the end of the year) that were worthy of her affections.  Sadly, she takes after mommy and set her sights on the class bad boy.  In fact they sat Baby next to him halfway through the year because she was the only one who could handle him.  Baby told me she was happy because she could "stare at how handsome he was" all day.  Oh my lord. 

The boy to the left of her in the picture told her that he was going to marry her. (I believe he was the one dropped halfway through the year) She told me later than she was going to marry the other boy but maybe he could be her boyfriend.  I think we'll just go ahead and lock her up now!

6/12/13

Better than Holland

As my friends who are parents of a child with down syndrome (or other disability) know, there is a poem out there called "Welcome to Holland".  Go ahead and read it and come back if you have never read it.  It is a sweet poem and honestly it did give me a little comfort when Bunny was born but then it grated on me a bit.

I am a realist.  Or pessimist.  I like realist.  I think that this essay is a more fitting description of the journey.  In all it's hilarity, this one still caused me to tear up a little because that lonely part of me that feels like no one understands saw that this lady DEFINITELY understands! 

Enjoy

P.s.  I know my last post was a downer and I am better now.  I hate leaving something sad and depressing on the top but I haven't had a chance to post again.  I am not still wallowing in case you were wondering. 

6/3/13

Ugly Nature



Apparently, there was a "Bee Rapture" at the park we went hiking at last weekend because I found these bee carcases perfectly intact except for their guts.  Very strange!

My Life in Pictures

Baby, the Bug Whisperer

The Night Before


Tomorrow is Bunny's IFSP.  For those of you not "in the know", the IFSP is when I have a meeting with the social worker and Bunny's therapists to talk about the goals we set for him 6 months ago at the last IFSP.  We look at his scores from the tests that the therapists have been doing in the last few weeks and see where he is developmentally and what he qualifies for as far as services.  Then we talk about the goals for the next six months and what services will be started or stopped in order to reach those goals.

I have to admit that I am dreading tomorrow's meeting.  I love our therapists and I love having them all in the same room talking about how to best help my boy.  I loathe seeing the stupid test results.  I have a pretty good idea of where Bunny will be and honestly....it just makes me sad.

I know that where Bunny's at developmentally doesn't give or take away from his value as the perfect little person he is.  If there were a score for making his mama's heart sing with one little crinkly eyed smile he would be light years ahead of his age.  I just wish that things were easier for him.  I would trade all the Starbucks in the world for him to be walking into that meeting tomorrow holding my hand.

This month has been hard for me.  It's hard for me to share with people that I am struggling because he is struggling.  I feel like I need to stay positive all the time so others will continue to set the bar high for him.  I don't want people to feel sorry for him and I don't want people to feel sorry for me because that is not what I feel.  At the same time I never want to paint an unrealistic version of our life. 

So, yes, it's hard for me at times.  I cry because my son is a good year behind developmentally.  I cry because while so many of his peers with down syndrome are walking and drawing and holding their own, my little Bunny is happy as a clam to army crawl, seeing no need to walk when he can break dance his way across the floor.  It breaks my heart when the other three kids are running in the backyard and Bunny is watching from the window.

We have big changes coming for him in the next month and I am truly hoping that by mixing things up we find his inner tiger.  In the meantime, think of me tomorrow in our meeting and pray that I can keep it together and not break down in an ugly blubbery mess (like I may have done in front of the nutritionalist but not about Bunny.  Embarrassing.  It's been that kind of month.)