Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Aliens Catching Dreams

For the past week Little Man continues to talk about aliens who catch bad dreams. I have asked him repeatedly about these aliens, who told him about them, what they look like, what kind of dreams they catch etc. He hasn't been upset about the aliens, but he has been adamant that they catch dreams and that he learned about them in school. I couldn't imagine why aliens would be in his curriculum at school so I asked him if Declan (a friend who is very knowledgeable about space) told him about aliens. Again, I couldn't get much of a straight answer from him, but he seemed fond of these aliens.

Then I noticed in his school bag that he had made a dream catcher out of a paper plate, hole puncher, string and some feathers. (it is just as cool as it sounds that my Little Man made this). I began to put two and two together and realized that they must have made a dream catcher and somehow he got mixed up and combined the dream catcher with a story a friend told him about an alien.

I was almost right.

This morning he showed me his headband that had feathers coming out of it and said "Look Mama, I am an alien and I catch dreams". I said, "oh you mean you are an Indian! And Indians make dream catchers!" He said, "Ok I am an Indian. But I want to do it my way and be an alien." I then asked him what an alien was and he rolled his eyes and said "Mama, they wear these headbands and catch dreams, that is what an alien is."

So now my equation finally makes sense. They are studying Thanksgiving and in my boys world the pilgrims sat down to dinner with aliens that catch dreams.

It could have happened!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Smoking Horn and other words of wisdom from a 3 year old

Kids say the darnedest things and Little Man provides us with hours of entertainment from his casual observations on life. I just love these gems!

Earlier this week we were at the park and a man walked by the park smoking a cigarette. Little Man was fascinated and exclaimed, "Mama, that man is blowing fire out of his horn!"

Inquiring Minds

Little Man asked me why Peanut has to have speech therapy every week. I explained that Peanut needs help learning words and how to make his mouth work and Little Man looked at me with a doubtful look on his face and told me in no uncertain terms that he thought his brothers mouth worked just fine. But the truth is that he does need the help. I have had a lot of questions from friends and family about Peanut's speech delay and motor planning disorder so I thought I would put together a post to help explain.

What is Apraxia?

Peanut has apraxia which is a neurological motor speech impairment. That means that there is a breakdown in the transmission of messages from the brain to the muscles in his jaw, cheeks, lips, tongue and palate. There is no obvious weakness in these muscles just in the communication from brain to muscles. Due to his apraxia, Peanut knows what he wants to say but there is a roadblock obstructing the signal from his brain to his mouth. His brain says "speak" but his muscles can't or don't "hear" it.

How did you know he had a speech delay?

For the first 12 months of life, children use their entire brain for speech and after 12 months speech begins to shift to the left hemisphere of the brain. When Peanut was 12 months he could say 4 words which is average for that age and nothing to be concerned about. However, once his speech center began to shift to his left hemisphere of his brain he lost the ability to say those words and went silent. By 15 months he stopped talking completely and didn't babble, imitate or make any sounds while playing. This triggered alarm bells for me and we started talking to his doctor and started the process for getting him evaluated for speech disorders. We are really lucky to have amazing resources available to us because this early intervention has been crucial in his success in overcoming his apraxia.

What is it like to live with apraxia for Peanut?

Peanut gets frustrated at times not being able to communicate with us in the way he wants to. Sometimes he can say more difficult words and gets excited about it and then he can't say them again for weeks. Sometimes he adds vowels to the ends of words or drops sounds from the ends of words. Down becomes "dow" and up is "uppa". We use prompting (a form of therapy where we touch and help his mouth form the movements required to make a sound) to help him learn how to make sounds and sometimes he learns how and then weeks later his muscles forget. He has a hard time transitioning from sounds that require his mouth to open wide to softer sounds and doesn't grade his mouth appropriately. He also has a hard time knowing when to voice a sound and when not to. Like b and p are the same sound, just one is voiced and the other isn't.

How is he doing?

None of this is to say that Peanut isn't doing fantastic. He is so quick and so bright that he surprises me each day. Early intervention has been key in his success. Up until a few weeks or so ago, we literally had to teach his muscles, jaw, mouth how to make the movements and translate the messages from his brain. None of the words he could say were spontaneously learned through imitation or hearing a word the way speech is typically learned by children. But a few weeks ago in the car he said "baby" clear as day and just last week he learned "bye" in that spontaneous way. So we are making progress and quickly. His speech therapist won't speculate on the future, but I think that by the time he is 3 or 4 we won't even know he ever needed this intervention. He went from 0 words at 15 months to 17 words by 19 months. Right now we are focusing on certain sounds like the "o" sounds because he has difficulty forming the rounded lip that he needs for that sound. My bottom line for Peanut is that he is happy and playful, excited to have his baby sister here and loving to his big brother. Peanut doesn't know he has apraxia, he doesn't even know that he gets special time with us to practice talking and playing. He just knows he is loved so throughly by all members of our family and that his only job in life is to play and be happy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Surviving 3 Kids - All 3 years and younger

Today was my first day home with all 3 kids on my own and my big takeaways from the day are:

1. I never stop moving. From one second to the next I am changing diapers, cleaning up messes, giving kisses, getting kids in or out of the car, making meals, cleaning up from meals, cleaning up from cleaning up. I just didn't stop moving all day.

2. I am going to be dehydrated for the next few months. With all of that moving I never managed to get myself a swig of water and if I did I ended up having to give it up for one of the kids that needed something to drink.

3. Sweet Pea is going to have to be even more flexible than Peanut had to be when he was little. In the course of 3 hours she was taken in and out of her car seat almost 10 times. She was a trooper though and slept when she could and was very easy for the entire morning.

4. Outfit changes are just a part of our day. We had 3 Sweet Pea outfit changes, 1 Little Man outfit change, 2 Peanut outfit changes and 1 for me. I had spit up on me by 7:30 am and finally changed my shirt when I had my 3rd or 4th spit up shower of the day.

5. I am more exhausted than I can remember being in a long long time and every ounce of exhaustion is well worth it. Sweet Pea holding onto my finger while she nurses, Peanut giving me extended hugs and reading books with me during our few minutes of alone time and Little Man's excitement to be with his brother and sister after school were my happy thoughts that got me through the exhaustion.

6. I will find my stride. It isn't always going to feel this hard. There may be days that feel harder and some that go smoothly. Sweet Pea is only going to be this tiny for so long and the boys are growing so quickly - I am going to live in this moment. I am going to live in this exhaustion and love it for everything that it is!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Biting My Tongue and 12 Days = Lifetime

Ok first, I am biting my tongue today partially wishing I had done that yesterday before I declared through the night for Sweet Pea. I wanted to document it because this blog serves as the kids baby books in a lot of ways but at the same time as soon as I typed the words I was thinking "I am going to regret this". So there was nothing "through the night" about last night and I needed every second of that extra hour of sleep to feel human this morning. So last night wasn't a good sleep night for Sweet Pea (or Little Man for that matter) but tonight is a new night and we will hope for better.

On a totally different note, this morning I was nursing Sweet Pea and I realized that she is only 12 days old and yet I already can not imagine life without her. I am madly in love with my daughter and look at her tiny nose that resembles mine so much and look forward to all of the memories she and I will have together. I look at her long long fingers and wonder if she will play piano (if she does it is because she gets Papa Bear's musical ability) or if she will play basketball like I did. I can't wait to see how she fits in the family dynamic with the boys and what personality will emerge as she gets older. Will she be tough as nails growing up with two big brothers or soft and coddled by them? Will she love pink and all things frilly or blue and play with matchbox cars with her big brothers or somewhere in between where she convinces her brothers to have a tea party with her and give matchbox cars as the hostess gift. There are so many wonderful memories to be made with our little family that now feels complete with Sweet Pea here. In just a few days she has filled our house with even more love than before and opened up more doors of wonder and possibility. Oh the power of a newborn, the power of love, the power of Sweet Pea! I love you Baby Girl!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Through the Night!

Technically, according to the many, many, many sleep books that I read during our struggle to get Little Man to sleep through the night, the sleep experts consider sleeping through the night to be a 7 hour stretch of sleep. Now the draw back to this is if your baby goes to bed at 8 that means that she will still be up by 3 to eat which won't really feel like "through the night" to the parents. All of that being said, in this house, sleep is sleep and we will take what we can get when we can get it! Little Man didn't sleep through the night until he was 2 which meant that literally for 2 years I never slept more than 4 or 5 hours in a stretch. Last night Sweet Pea went to sleep at 9 and I had to wake her up at 4:45 which is 7 hours and 45 minutes of straight sleep which is technically, again according to the experts, through the night. I don't know if it will last, if it is a newborn thing or a Sweet Pea thing, but at 10 days old it isn't too shabby. The other side of the coin is that Sweet Pea refuses to be put down during the day which means I will really be needing my sleep starting next week when Papa Bear returns to work! Sleep Baby Sleep!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Who's on First

A few weeks ago I had a very frustrating conversation with Little Man. It was one of those "Who's on First" circular conversations that has no end, ever, ever no matter how logical and reasonable I tried to be. It started because Little Man was rhyming words and he said "Silly and Billy rhyme - hey mama, Silly and Billy rhyme, isn't that cool?" From that point forward the conversation took a turn for the worst and it went something like this:

"Silly and Billy rhyme - hey mama, Silly and Billy rhyme, isn't that cool?"
"Yes honey, that is cool. They do rhyme."
"Mama, what's a Billy?"
"Billy is someone's name."
(do you see where this is going yet?)
"Who is Billy?"
"Well, we don't actually know a Billy. But Billy is a name, it is someone's name"
"Why don't we know a Billy"
"I don't know honey, maybe one day we will know someone named Billy"
"Mama, who is Billy?"
"Honey, we don't know a Billy?"
(now do you see how this conversation is not going to ever end?)
"Mama, what's a Billy?"
"Little Man, I have explained that Billy is someone's name"
"Whose name is Billy?"
"Billy's name is Billy"
"Who is Billy?"
"We don't know a Billy"
"Where does Billy live?"
"He lives with Humpty Dumpty"
"Ohhhhhhh, ok mama. I didn't know Billy lived with Humpty Dumpty!!!"

Ok so yes, I lied to my son about Billy living with Humpty Dumpty, but since Humpty Dumpty doesn't really live there I figured it wouldn't really hurt. Little Man thinks that this house on his way to school that has a wall in front of it is Humpty Dumpty's house and I figured that I could end the conversation by lumping Billy into that same house and it worked. So Humpty Dumpty and Billy live in this house and I found a way to end a conversation that was never going to have an ending. Little Man cracks me up and can be relentless when pursuing a topic that he wants to understand. I feel bad for his teachers!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Peanut and Sweet Pea

Peanut has never looked so big and grown up as when he is holding Sweet Pea. Two days ago Peanut became interested in more than just licking her or stealing her binky. For once, the Monkey See Monkey Do relationship with Little Man and Peanut resulted in something other than dangerous attempts to jump from high places. Peanut has watched Little Man hold and love on Sweet Pea for a week and he decided it was his turn and he hasn't let go yet! He is so good with her, supports her head and kisses her. Then he signs "All Done" and then as soon as I take her he asks for her back. This process can last for 30 minutes if Sweet Pea doesn't complain too loud. Two weeks ago he was my sweet baby boy and today he is very obviously my sweet little boy - a baby no more.

- as a side note: Sweet Pea is off of phototherapy and her bilirubin level is on it's way down! Yay! No more glowworm!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Our little glowworm

Sweet Pea has jaundice that has progressed to the point that she requires 24 hour phototherapy so she has a blue LED light (thus the glowworm reference) strapped across her back that is connected to a very expensive machine and plugged into a wall. This means that we are on a rather short leash while we try to get the daily tasks accomplished. However, I am eternally grateful that we can do this at home rather than have to admit and leave her at the hospital. We have had a bilirubin test (blood test) daily since we left the hospital and although her levels have gotten better they still are not good enough for her to get off of the phototherapy. While my house becomes even more of a natural disaster and the laundry builds up, Sweet Pea and I spend time laying together in bed while she sleeps on her LED light and staring at each other when she is awake. I miss my time with the boys and I know for sure that they are feeling the difference with me not around as much but I am trying to focus on the fact that this is temporary and snuggle time with my 3rd baby will be very limited when Papa Bear goes back to work and we are untethered from the phototherapy. In the mean time, any and all prayers are welcome to help her jaundice disappear as quickly as possible, that the boys, especially Peanut adjust as well as possible to the changes that are rampant in the house and that my patience holds as I adjust as well.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Cutest Roar in the World!

Roar, Trick or Treat

Little Man told us for week that he wanted to be a lion for Halloween so that he would be allowed to roar at people for a whole day without getting in trouble. And sure enough, that is what he did. He has the cutest roar followed by a sheepish smile in the world. He went door to door saying "Roar, Trick or Treat" and was just so proud of himself.

Peanut was supposed to be a dragon but after a growth spurt sent him popping the seams on his dragon outfit we went with plan B - a much larger Elephant costume that Little Man wore last year. He was the cutest darn elephant on the planet. He wasn't sure he wanted people to put candy in his bag and decided it was much better if he got to carry a piece in each hand. So he collected 2 pieces of candy all night and was content!
The boys were sweet and all that is cute in the costumes. They went with Papa Bear to the neighborhood parade and ended with cupcakes before returning home to trick or treat at a few houses on our street.

I got to snap a few pictures with Sweet Pea in them before she melted down from being in a costume, out in the cold and not eating for a whole 10 minutes!

And last but not least, Little Man found it much more efficient to ride his new scooter house to house to get his candy on but couldn't wear the lion hood with his helmet so there had to be some compromise!