Sunday, December 30, 2007

Home from the Great White North

It was a wonderful trip in every way. I miss all of our family so much, and coming home has made me realize that I am trying to do too much with too little support. Having family around was so helpful, emotionally and just in the simple fact of having others to talk to and play with the boys.

All three boys loved the snow. J. couldn't get enough of sledding, building snowmen (the snow was all wrong, so the snowmen were very short, but he didn't mind...they had miniature carrots for noses, which looked about right).

We found out that B. is obsessed with lamps and fireplace screens. Our house is so child-proofed that he can't get into much. Being at relatives' houses was an eye-opener. Both G. and B. were cuddly with family members, which was a nice new development.

Not back to speed with computer use, but hope to find time soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

On the road to Preschool

Had the IEP meetings today, met the teacher, saw the classroom. I was pleasantly surprised by what i saw. It was strange because I kept running into people I knew from my teaching days, and having to explain what I was doing there.

I emphasized in the meeting that the twins have some risky behaviors (running off, climbing anything, etc.) I'm trying to lay the groundwork for asking for another paraprofessional in the future (hope they don't find this blog!) Somehow we ended up spending an inordinate amount of time talking about the possiblity of G. sticking things up his nose (!) Apparently during the evaluation, they tried to get him to play a drum, and he stuck the drumstick up his nose. This hasn't been much of a problem at home, so when they kept mentioning it and making sure it was noted in the IEP, I got the giggles. I'm sure it was nerves... I had thought I might start crying, but instead I guess I went the other way. The IEP goals they set for them looked very ambitious to me. If they achieve them, I'll be thrilled.

Recently realized that I could be subscribing to blogs. This would be so much more efficient than what I currently do, which is check all my favorite blogs every day. I have to look into this when I get back into town. Which reminds me that I should be downstairs doing the final packing. J. will be carrying his own things. I bought him a chapstick, a little pack of kleenex and a lot of snacks. He can't get enough of his chapstick...he applies it to various parts of himself that he says have dry skin. I didn't explain it well enough before I handed it to him.

Wonderful holidays to anyone who happens by here!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Busy Days

Tomorrow I have the twins' first IEP meetings. I've decided I will send them to PPCD after all, although only 3 or 4 days a week, if possible. I'm going back and forth about how much information to bring with me (sensory suggestions, words they can say, what we've been doing at home that worked, etc.) IEP meetings are rushed as it is. I do want them to know that I have my masters in Special Ed., and I've got definite opinions about what the twins need.

After the meetings, it will be full-steam ahead with travel preparations. I can't remember how we got from Newark baggage claim, on and off the little train, and to the rental car office last year. We'll have two suitcases, two car seats, carry-on bags and two strollers and everyone's coats. My husband wants to have J. walking, but I think we should have his stroller just in case. A major advantage of strollers is that you can hang things off of them.

While making a list of the words B can say, I realized he has about 30 words that he uses now. It was nice to see this on paper, because he speaks so rarely, I don't notice how many new thing's he's saying.

Yesterday was my husband's birthday. G. sang "(about 10 unrecognizable syllables)...birthday oo you" It was the best of all possible birthday presents!

The photos are from a trip to the Adirondacks with J. two years ago.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Countdown

Once again, we are undertaking the probably-foolhardy task of flying to New York to visit both our families. As anyone who reads this blog much knows, I am a big baby about being far from family and old friends. I'd be willing to go through a lot of travel angst to get there. And that's a good thing, because there will indeed be angst.

Last year it all went surprisingly smoothly. The hardest part was getting through security with three two-year-olds. We had to let them X-ray the strollers, so there was a scary moment when all three boys were "loose", and we were scrambling to hold onto them while getting everything through the X ray machines. Biggest lesson learned: take off all their shoes and stow them away, long before you actually hit security.

I am going to try to have everything as stream-lined as one wearing shoes, no change or keys in the grown-ups' pockets, and anything else I can think of.
Last year I got an adrenaline rush out of schlepping everything through the airports...this is embarrassing, but I imagined it was the reality show the Amazing Race, and it really helped my attitude. The Amazing Race with two-year-olds would be entertaining, but not ethical to produce, I suppose.

This year we'll have two two-year-olds and a three-year-old on the way North, and three three=year-olds on the way home. I can feel the adrenaline kicking in already.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Evaluate this!

Updates from the past week or so:

The twins had their school district evaluations. B's was either depressing or funny, depending on my mood as I look back on it. There were 5 well-intentioned women, coming at him at all different angles, trying to do a cognitive, speech and motor assessment concurrently. I think one woman was an intern... she kept chasing B. around the room with some little blocks, saying "Can you give me a block?"

B. ended up very giggly and wild, jumping around and singing "Mail!" (his latest obsession, by way of Blue's Clues). He basically did nothing for them. I heard one woman say to another "Have you seen him gaze at an object for five seconds?" Now, B. might not be much at the usual academic tasks, but he definitely has extended gazing down, when he's not completely over-stimulated.

At the end, just to show them a little of what he is capable of in calmer settings, I did the manual alphabet, and he said the letters up to "g", when he started skipping around and then said "sing with me...Yay!" They seemed to think this was miraculous, which I guess it would seem to be if you've watched someone jump around a room for 90 minutes singing the word "Mail".

Wow, didn't know I had that in me. Guess it's still bothering me. Anyway, I called the diagnostician and suggested that they have fewer people in the room when testing G. They listened, and G. actually was able to concentrate fairly well. He still did what he wanted to do, when he wanted to do it (including a very lengthy rendition of Old McDonald in a kind of Darth Vader voice), but he did do some of what they were looking for.

On the junk food front, B learned to say "fry", as in french fry.

J. is completely caught up in the Christmas excitement this year. Almost nightly, we drive to a neighbor's house and sit in front of their yard with the windows rolled down, listening to a cycle of three Christmas carols, in time with which a multitude of lights flash on and off. J. tries to sing along, which sounds great except for one which he thinks is "Pop Goes the Weasel". I think it's really "On Christmas Day in the Morning".

He is also very interested in taking pictures. Some of his efforts are below:

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Five Good Things

Got this idea from Mcewen, over at Whitterer on Autism

1. the sight of Boston, as the plane circles while landing at Logan Airport
2. the smell of my boys when they first wake up (usually)
3. steamed dumplings at Mary Chung's in Central Square, Cambridge
4. my husband's voice when he's making a puppet (or baby unicorn, etc) talk when he plays with J.
5. rocky out-croppings along the side of winding road

Friday, November 23, 2007

Three years ago this month

When it gets to be the holiday time of year, I go into a weird state of remembering the last months of my pregnancy with the twins. It was one of the scariest times of my life.

I've mentioned before that we had just accepted J's adoption referral when I realized I was pregnant. It was quite a surprise, but we were thrilled at the idea of a sibling for J.

During the same ultrasound which told us they were twins, we were told they were conjoined.The doctor could see two brains and two hearts, but below that you couldn't tell what was going on. He couldn't get them to move apart. After three weeks of that situation (there are not many support groups for parents of conjoined twins on the's almost the opposite of the autism situation in that regard) we found out they were not conjoined, but monoamniotic (sharing an amniotic sac and placenta, but with two umbilical cords, which were extremely tangled from the outset).

The ob said, "Don't go looking on the web, because you'll just get worried". When has anyone ever taken that advice, I wonder? The websites we could find all mentioned 50% survival rates for monoamniotic twins. If one twin doesn't make it, the second twin can't survive. There is not much you can do except monitor things, and then deliver the twins as early as is safe. The other parents on the website probably saved my sanity. There were stories of loss, but also a lot of wonderful stories with happy outcomes.

It was such a strange experience. I didn't feel the twins moving that much, which in a way was a blessing, because when they did move I kept thinking about their umbilical cords, and wondering if they were getting more tangled. On the ultrasounds, B. was very active, and G. seemed to be asleep. I'd have to drink a really sweet drink to get G. moving to the ob's satisfaction. We didn't choose names until right before my c-section, and we didn't decorate their room at all, because we felt superstitious about doing too much preparation.

Once the twins were born, and doing okay in the NICU, we just assumed everything was fine. And it is fine, but a complicated kind of fine, as you all know! But I think this time of year will always have a shadow for me, remembering all the ultrasounds and the waiting and wondering

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Junk Food as the Ultimate Motivator

This evening, after a complete failure of an attempt at giving the twins dinner, I was sitting around, holding G. in my lap. He was being particularly "engaged", which was nice since lately he's been very self-contained.

Out of the blue, he looked up at me and said, "socks". Then he said, "shoes". Next he said,"car", so I was beginning to get the picture. Finally he did the sign he's made up for french fries and said "fries". Looking back on it now, maybe I should have popped him in the car and gotten him some fries, because that's the longest original speech he's ever made! On the other hand, he is starting to say "chicken....fries" whenever I put him in the car-seat, so I am trying to cut back on the drive-through stops.

In the last week, B. has said two new words(!): "goldfish" and "candy".

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mimi and Granddaddy

My last post mentioned that my parents moved down here for six months when the twins were born. Thought I'd post some photos from that time:

during a colicky period, only a hair dryer and a front-pack would keep the twins happy!

My mom helping J. take some of his first steps

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The last week

My posts have been tending toward a Wordless Wednesday, Everyday kind of style. My parents were visiting for the last week, and I chose staying up talking to them over blogging. They lived here for six months after the twins were born, and I've missed our late night talks, attempts at the New York Times crossword puzzle, exploration of Texas ice creams and just the chance to hang out with them.

It was interesting to see that they both really connected with B. I think it was really good for them to have him come up and put his head in one of their laps, or touch their cheeks. I know my dad loved it when B. took him by the hand and led him places. G. tried to ignore them for the most part, and stuck to acting out scenes from videos using wooden alphabet puzzle pieces (this is new, and interesting to watch, but distracts him from actual live people).

This morning while waiting for the cab to the airport, my dad picked up a toy guitar and started strumming. B. stood and stared at him, and then started hopping around and making elaborate arm movements. My dad loved it, and kept up the strumming til B. finally wandered off to other things.

Last night was a dramatic end to their visit when my doctor told me to take G. to the ER, due to shallow, rapid breathing. Right before I left home, we managed to get a good dose of Tylenol in him. By the time we saw the triage nurse, he had made almost a full recovery. He ended up running around the waiting room, yelling his version of the Bob the Builder theme ("bah bah buh buh, uh ee ill ih" and so on). I finally took him home without having him seen. I did learn that a fever can cause rapid breathing, and that you can buy Tylenol suppositories, so it wasn't a complete waste of time.

Our other excitement this past week was a trip to the audiologist in the Medical Center. B. passed his hearing test, and G. failed his. The technician had given G. some stickers which he got all stuck to each other. I think a freight train could have gone through the room and he wouldn't have flinched, he was so intent on unsticking the stickers. He did respond to voices, but that wasn't enough to pass the test. Now we are scheduled for him to have a sedated test (ABR, I think?).

I am able to write this because I am letting J. watch a Disney Princess movie (!) on a little DVD player in his room. He is fascinated by all things "princess". I used to try to steer him to Diego or Cars, not wanting him to get made fun of, but I've decided I should let him be who he wants to be.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Two Tiggers and a Duck Farmer

G. struggled out of several costumes, so we just told people he was a duck farmer.

The twins really are very happy kids, but won't smile in front of a camera.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Yellow Block withdrawal

Regarding the last post, we seem to be doing well without the beloved yellow block. Red is the new favorite, and a plastic spoon (??) is running a close second.

Ah, the simple pleasures of life.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Have you seen these blocks?

Here I am, at three am, searching the internet for yet another of G's favorite toys (obsessive love interests, security object). Last time it was the little wooden penguins, another time it was a fire engine which we got at Sonic.

We lost G's yellow Fisher Price "Peek a Block", with a little dog in it. I found the set of blocks on the Fisher Price site, but they seem to have been discontinued. There are tons of peek a blocks on ebay, but none of the simple, primary color ones which G. loves. He walks around the house saying "yellow?" "please?". We left it at the ASA picnic on Saturday, and my husband drove back to look for it, to no avail.

I know he has so many other toys, but there's something about how he looks up at me and signs please that makes me turn to mush.

So, if you happen to have a set of these, I'll buy them at a premium price!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

ASA Picnic

I managed to calm down after the doctor's appointment, largely due to a picnic we attended on Saturday. It was held by our local branch of the ASA, and it was encouraging, relaxing (as much as taking our 3 boys to a big park can be), and just such a relief to be with families who understand.

There was a ton of food set up in one pavilion, but not many people sitting down at any given time. Most of the conversations took place quickly, as we passed each other on the playgrounds or swings, or while juggling plates and children.

One thing I noticed was that the parents of teenagers got to sit down and eat a regular meal. The parents of kids under ten or so were doing lots of running, chasing and generally following kids around.

Once the twins had worn themselves out I had some actual conversations with other parents, and felt validated for sticking with my approach of some ABA and a lot of intensive playing, singing, jumping and so on, in a natural enviromnent. One mom kept telling me "Buy them a computer!" because her son has taught himself to read and do all sorts of other things on the computer. He was the cutest little five year old, walking around reading every sign he could find.

I finally figured out what G. means when he points to his chin and says, "Boo". He saw a lady with a plastic spoon, and started following her around saying "Boo!" and "Peesh!" (please), until she went and got him his own spoon. He has a thing he does where he bounces a spoon up and down, and says "one, two, fwee, foe". I'm sure it's from a movie.

Now if I could just figure out:

"Fwee, fwee...oooooooooo"
"Care-a bear-a" (it's not care bears, because he doesn't know them)
and about twenty other things that he says all day long, I'd have some peace of mind. I feel as if I live with someone who constantly speaks to me in a foreign language, and I do mean constantly.

As usual, we only managed to take pictures after everyone was exhausted.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Vent after reading dev. ped's report

Today we got the report on G. from the developmental pediatrician. I'll have perspective in a day or too, but right now I'm hurt and mad. I'm actually pretty much over the hurt, and fully into the mad.

What I"m upset about:
After a few minutes of observing him she concludes:

G. is on a 16-month level in language (that might be right, but I'm annoyed anyway).

He makes little or no eye contact (not true).

He can request a cracker with a word and a sign.

He has low-set ears.
And so on.

Then there was a cut-and-paste section of suggestions:

- he should sit in the front of the classroom (he's not even three)

- parents should try to spend at least 30 minutes interacting with the child per day (I'm a stay-at-home mom!)

- use positive reinforecement (she gives examples such as saying "Good Job!" or giving a hug and a kiss)

I know the last section was just there because they must put it in every report, but I think most parents would be offended by the suggestion that they start saying "Good job". Yes, that's why we wait months to see a specialist! I'm supposed to be hugging my child? Why did no one tell me this before? No wonder he's autistic

The fact that she wants me to get him 25 hours of ABA, and then reminds me to spend thirty minutes a day with him pretty much sums up the difference in our philosophies. And I do believe in ABA, for some kids. And G. is getting some ABA, and probably will get more.

I'd be fine with the ABA recommendation if the rest of the report seemed more personalized, or even as if she had spent more than ten minutes on it.

We aren't planning to go back, although my husband doesn't want me to "burn any bridges", in case we need the clinic for referrals or letters of medical necessity in the future.

I plan to write something up,and then talk to the social worker, who seemed a little more concerned about us as individuals and as a family. I feel like I could go out and run five miles, or fire off a nasty email. I'll probably take the dog for a walk, then put on my pajamas and read my mystery.

Meanwhile, to counteract all of the above:

G. talked my ear off today, to the point where I said to my husband, "Let's pull B. out of speech therapy. We need one quiet one in the house!" (That was a joke, in case the developmental pediatrician ever reads this)

B. keeps trying to sing "Sing, sing a song" from Sesame St. He says "Siiiiiiinnng, dadee sooooooonnnng". It's very, very cute.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bring on the Echolalia

We went back for our six month check-up with our developmental pediatrician. The twins went together this time, which worked fine and saves a lot of driving and child-care scrambling.

The dr. hasn't given us her report, but she did say B. is about where G. was six months ago. I have to say that while I like the dr's manner, I don't put much stock in her assessments. B. and G. are so different, it really has no meaning to say that B. is where G. was at any given time. She also said that they are both at about 12 months in their fine motor skills. They are light years apart in their fine motor skills, as far as I can tell. I don't know if we'll bother going back again in six months. She also wants us to put both of them in intensive ABA programs.

I was feeling very ready to leave when G. gave me a pick-me-up. The social worker and I walked into the exam room together, when G's face lit up and he said "Hello" in a loud cheesy voice. The social worker was thrilled. Only my husband and I knew that he was being King Midas from a "Between the Lions" CD we have in the car. I almost shrugged it off at the time, because G. is constantly singing something from a movie or CD these days. Once I thought about it, though, I realized it was the first time he's said hello to me. Wow. I'll probably take this back someday, but right now, I'm loving echolalia.

Friday, October 19, 2007

I've been having some lovely times with B. lately. He is determined to jump with two feet off of the ground, so we stand in front of the mirror and jump together. We also do a sped-up type of jogging, which I think is inspired by the Wiggles. He loves to be swung back and forth with my arms under his armpits, watching himself in the mirror (although I don't know how long my back can keep that up). I feel connected to him when we do these sorts of things. He'll look right at me and smile, and maneuver me into a position to keep me doing what he wants. If I work at it, I can get him to say "jump" or "swing", but sometimes I'd rather let him enjoy what we're doing.

I was just saying to someone that B. doesn't name his letters anymore. I figured he still knows them, but has moved on to other things. Then tonight in the bathtub, he started picking up foam letters, saying the name, and throwing it into the air behind him. He may not do it again for months, but it was nice to hear it. A little trip down memory lane.

I can't even begin to say all the things G. is doing lately. Naming his colors, trying to count things, giving me kisses. He also sometimes calls some of his ducks "mommy" and "daddy", but still not his actual mom and dad.

J. is doing great at school, and giving me a real run for my money at home. He is so jealous of any time I spend with the twins. But when I try to take him somewhere for special "mommy time", he wants to bring the twins. I can't figure him out, but I'm trying hard to stay calm and understand what he needs.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Zoo Day

We had a terrific day yesterday, at the Zoo with a local autism group. I'd never met any of the families, but connected right away with a few of the other moms. One was a fellow New Yorker, there with her 13 and 11 year old sons, the younger of whom has autism. She is appalled at the services available here, and kept advising me to move back to NY as soon as possible (we'd love to, but need a job!). She's been going to school district meetings, and says "No one here speaks up or complains!" She was very supportive of our decision not to send the boys to PPCD.

J. loved her two boys, and they helped him ride the merry-go-round, while I rode with G. He was desperate to get on the thing, and then was afraid to sit on an animal. So we sat on a bench, with him covering his ears and grinning from ear to ear.

We ended up separated from my husband and B., because B. fell in love with the fish building, which was dark and cool, and which allowed him to run free.

J. discovered the goat-brushing area, and happily brushed goats for a long, long time. G. did not want to get close to the goats, but was interested in the chickens, and kept trying to find a way into their pen. Shortly after that, my friend's 11 year old disappeared, and we spent twenty minutes locating him. She stayed amazingly calm (I would have been frantic, but I guess he doesn't usually go far). He is pretty quiet, but can write his name and address, if someone thinks to give him paper. She said he used to have a medic-alert bracelet, which I've thought about for the twins.

We all met up for lunch, and got a chance to get to know one another. Both twins fell asleep, and J. talked me into a giant bag of popcorn, so I actually talked to adults for almost an hour! We live all over the greater Houston area, but many of us want to get together again soon. We automatically had so much to talk about. especially food issues. There were at least four kids having goldfish crackers and not much else for lunch.

I didn't used to be much of a "joiner", but autism seems to be turning me into one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

In Appreciation of B.

Lately, in the midst of some discussions about "recovery" and "cures", with some talk of high- or low-functioning kids mixed in, I've had a real chance to think. I've realized that so often I think about the twins in terms of their relative progress. Who has said what word, who can take their own shoes off (neither!), who can stack one block on top of another. It's exhausting. And it's making me feel like a failure at mothering B.

Not a failure, that's too strong. But I try the same things with each boy, in fact B. has gotten more therapy, and their development is so dramatically different.

But starting now I've had enough of seeing B. in terms of what he's not doing yet. I want to enjoy him for his B.-ness. He dances in front of the mirror. He shakes with pleasure when he sees an FBI warning on a favorite DVD. He says a word now and then, for his own enjoyment. He absolutely loves the pool and the bathtub. He finds Angelina Ballerina hilariously funny. When he hears the "Between the Lions" theme, he screams with excitement. He likes to rough-house and jump on the big bed. Occasionally he'll stare into my eyes.

I've read a lot of other moms describing this feeling, but I didn't get it. I was still too new to the situation, trying to squeeze all the floortime I could into their "window". Tonight, I'm content (and unbelievably lucky) to be B's mom, just as he is, and however he ends up being.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Legs are Looking Good

The ECI physical therapist came today to check out the twins. She said the leg length discrepancy looks minimal. There's a more noticable difference in circumference, but that shouldn't cause problems. She also said she had worked at Shriners' Hospital with kids going through leg-lengthening, but those kids all had dramatic length differences. Apparently, if the difference is small, a person may limp, but might not even need a lift in the shoe.

So, overall, very reassuring. It's a great feeling to have an evaluation turn out this way.

To be fair to ECI, they are really redeeming themselves in my eyes lately (somewhat). They've hired an autism specialist, who comes to our house weekly, our new developmental specialist is great, and an OT showed me how to massage B., and lent me a book on massage for children. Although, the main reason I'm judging them less harshly lately may be that they are just supplemental to all the private therapy we're getting.

I tried to show how much better the birthmarks have gotten with these two pictures, showing G's right arm. i hardly notice them anymore.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Video from Special Rodeo

We still haven't developed the disposable camera from the rodeo, but there is a video on their website.

If you have some extra time, and are in a sentimental mood, watch it. One of the twins is in it, looking at someone in a cow costume (very briefly)

There is some debate in our family about which twin it is! Well, they are identical.

In other news, we are getting a physical therapy evaluation. This is nothing to do with autism. The twins each have a slight leg length discrepancy, due to extensive birthmarks (fading gradually) which somehow inhibit growth and muscle development. This used to be what kept me up nights, before the whole autism thing. Our pediatrician sent us to a leg lengthening specialist, before the twins were even a year old. What I learned from that visit is that leg-lengthening is something you really do not want your child to need.

I'm hoping the physical therapist will check them out and say that the discrepancy is nothing serious. They don't limp, as far as I can tell at this point. If the discrepancy stays small, they can wear lifts in their shoes, which sounds great compared to the alternative.

G. had a little feeding therapy today, and ate a speck of whipped cream on a goldfish cracker.
Every day has its triumphs!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Language explosion

About a year ago, I kept thinking that the twins were due for their "language explosion". Wnen their big brother was almost two, he started saying all sorts of words, adding new ones every day. When the twins were almost two, although I was well aware of their being on the spectrum, I hoped that they'd suddenly start talking. Echolalia, song lyrics, whatever, I didn't care, I just wanted to hear words. It didn't happen, although once we started watching sign language DVD's, we did make leaps with language for a while.

Lately I think we are having the long-awaited explosion where G. is concerned. For a long time, he amazed me with the signs he could pick up from DVD's, but somewhere in the past few months, he's begun to prefer speaking. Today he said "guitar" and "slow" and "stuck", and probably some others that I've forgotten. I just love hearing his voice, and I especially love how he'll turn toward me, hold something up, and then name it. A year ago I remember worrying that he never showed me things (one of those classic diagnostic questions). Now he is so eager to show off. He even said "hi" when a neighbor came over today.

This makes me feel all the more determined to hear what B is thinking about. I know he will have things to say, eventually. He is chugging right along with his ABA, so we're headed in the right direction. He's a man of mystery--usually aloof, but then coming out with a word or a killer smile when you least expect it.
And every one of those words and smiles is so worth waiting for.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Had a better day

Today my hope is creeping back. We went to church, and B. did great--walked from the car into the classroom, tried to color with a marker, didn't cry much, and so on.

Then J. and I took two toy fishing poles and went "fishing" at a local park. It was very relaxing. The only way I can possibly enjoy fishing is to be absolutely certain I won't catch anything. The thought of actually having to do something with a poor, panicky fish is not my idea of recreation. We had magnets on the end of our lines, so I felt pretty confident.

Right now we are experiencing the miracle of three kids asleep at the same time, and I'm going to go watch an episode of "The Office" (American version). My "Office" dvd's are my favorite couch-potato escape these days. I watch everything: the deleted scenes, the commentary, everything. I just love that show.

Thank you to Burgiboogie for letting me know that you can put four-year-olds in strollers! I should be in really good shape by that point, considering that they are already pretty hefty.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Down in the Dumps

Warning: self-pitying vent ahead

I'm up too late, tonight, seeking solace in reading other bloggers' thoughts. I feel as if almost every day someone says to me, "I don't know how you do it" I usually say something about caffeine, or that I'm lucky the twins are very mellow. Recently that mellow-ness is disappearing, which may be good for them, developmentally (I think!), but not for my ability to cope.

I feel as if I've hit a wall, and I can't find the energy and optimism that usually gets me through the tough parts. J. can't understand why B. cries so much, or why G. plugs his ears and cries in response to B's crying. J. acts out, and then I end up mad at him. It's not a great cycle to get into, but it happens at least once a day.

Going places with all three kids on my own is really, really difficult. Even with just the twins it's hard. I'd like to take the twins to parks while J's at school, and let them get some exercise. Both are pretty good climbers on playgrounds, but their balance and judgement has not kept up with their ability to climb.

They won't walk places with me...they go limp and lie on the ground, or try to run away. Occasionally one will walk well with me, but I can't risk it with two, especially if there are cars around. So they end up in the stroller, which they are out growing. What will I do when they don't fit in the stroller? Right now my plan is to find a bigger stroller.

The twins hardly eat any foods that are really food, if that makes sense. I know this is common, but I'm not sure what to do about it.

My husband says maybe we are at the hardest age right now. Once the twins can communicate better, and when J. is old enough to understand the situation better, things will get easier (we hope) And, most likely, they will graduate from the stroller in the next couple of years. I remember when I worked at a private school for kids on the spectrum, almost all of the kids would follow along when we took walks through the neighborhood. There was some bolting, occasionally, but I don't remember many kids lying down on the ground and refusing to move. So maybe that's a toddler thing.

I really look forward to being able to take walks with all the boys, and I've got to believe it'll happen.

Usually I fixate on the bits of progress I see, and that keeps me going. G. is a riot these days, saying new words all the time and trying his best to sing the alphabet song. He is replacing "Oh, no! Careful!" with "Okay!" as his favorite utterance. B. has taken to quietly reciting the alphabet, but almost without moving his lips (I don't know if it's progress, but it's interesting to watch). J. is really liking Pre-K, and is asking tricky questions like "Do clouds sleep?"

I feel a little better having written this. I'm thinking of finding another college student to help us get out of the house more. With another adult I can actually work on the walking problem, and go to playgrounds, the mall, etc. Something needs to change to get us back to our old happy state.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

And so it begins!

Well, the twins will be three in December, and the powers that be would like me to send them to PPCD (preschool program for children with disabilities). Having taught special ed in this district, I've formed the opinion that for kids with HFA (which we don't have), PPCD can be great. For others, it can be less than great, to be polite. There is one program for kids with language issues only, and another for everyone else. My guys would be part of "everyone else".

I'm generally a soft-spoken type of person, and right now I need a potion to drink which will make me ferocious, or at least, assertive and articulate. I know my reasons, but I want to be able to express them in a way that doesn't (completely) alienate the school district, while letting them hear what could be better.

Right now the twins get hours of 1:1 services, and to sign them up for PPCD, I'd have to give up many of those hours.

What I need to do now is sit down and write out my reasoning, read it over, and practice (each time an ECI therapist brings it up) expressing what I know is best for the boys.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Our First Rodeo

Being that I've lived in Texas for seven years (could this be true??) it is strange that I had never been to a rodeo. Never until yesterday, that is, when the whole family attended the Baytown Special Rodeo.

This rodeo was special in the way that the Special Olympics are special, and also in every other way. I had hired a babysitter to come with us, so the twins wouldn't be stuck in the stroller. But when we picked up our packets (which included cowboy hats, bandana and sheriff's badges), they introduced us to our "Rodeo Buddies". Each child had a buddy assigned to him or her, so that the parents could relax and have fun. What a great idea!

B. was fine with his buddy, but G. was terrified by his. So Rob, a ninth grade boy scout, followed me around, and pretty much talked my ear off. After about twenty minutes of knock-knock jokes, and verbatim routines from sit-coms, I was starting to get a feeling about Rob. Then, out of the blue he said to me, "Have you heard of Asberger's Syndrome?" He claimed to be "five-percent Asbergers". He was really a great kid, but struck me more like a sixth grader. He spent the entire time with us, and was really as helpful as the kids would allow him to be.

The best moments:

B. running in circles in front of the Elvis Impersonator as he performed.

G. walking right up to someone in an Elsie the Cow costume, and having a brief interaction. He even said, "bye-bye".

J. using his free camera to record the whole event. I hope some of his pictures turn out!

We had such a good time, and I'm so grateful to all those hard-working volunteers (especially our "rodeo buddies)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Things I Learned Yesterday

1. My husband does NOT think it's okay to let J. pee on the flowers in front of the mall, even when it's an emergency, and even when he was about to go on a concrete pillar next to all the people smoking. Even when my husband's parking the van and I've got all the boys with me.

2. It doesn't help my husband's mood when I can't stop laughing about the pee situation, the madder he gets.

3. When you put a purple crayon through the dishwasher, it can no longer be used for coloring (that was J's experiment, which I didn't know about until this morning, when I heard, "Oh, no. My purple crayon is gone")

4. My college student helper is a really, really good sport when it comes to sand, mud, and mosquitos.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Where has my blogging time gone??

Due to J. not napping anymore, and my resolving to go to bed earlier, haven't been posting anything.

I'll have to describe later the events which made me decide not to send the twins to nursery school. Long story short: gossipy prejudice against special needs kids, combined with my concern about stressing them out. so on Mondays and Fridays I'll get to be with just them, with (so far) No Therapy Appointments (heaven!).

Thanks to Kristen for sending me the book "The Other Mother"! I've just started it.

G. has been trying to give hugs. I think that's what he's doing, but it's a little unconventional. He also said "elephant" and "umbrella".

Right now, G. is in bed saying "uh-oh" and "oh-no" alternately.

B. is very into looking at books, especially the Backyardigan's Journey to the Tower of Power. Not one I'd choose, but I'm glad he's starting to like books again.

More later! I miss my blog reading!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Number One Son goes Number Two

J. doesn't get much mention in this blog, because he is generally doing well, I suppose. One area he has found challenging is having a poop anywhere other than in his pull-up, which he wears at night (I write this blog assuming that it won't be around by the time my kids are old enough to be embarrassed by it!)

I kept upping the positive reinforcer ante (okay, bribes), to the point where he was getting a full-blown party once he accomplished the deed. Well, he finally did it, and we had the party. He ended up confused, and told one person we were going trick or treating, told others that it was his birthday, and actually asked us to sing "Happy Birthday" to him at the height of the festivities, which we did.

So, there is a light at the end of the potty-training tunnel.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Watching the Hurricane

We're all in a tizzy around here, watching the progress of Hurricane Dean. We think we learned a lot from our Hurricane Rita evacuation, two years ago, but we're hoping not to put it to the test.

The wonderful family we stayed with last time has emailed us, offering to take us in again. They live in a very different type of area: scrubby woods with cacti, lots of deer, even scorpions. I thought it was beautiful...a great change from suburban Houston. In a way, I'd love to go back. On the other hand, twenty-five hours in the van would be a lot more difficult now that the boys are much more active (and opinionated!) We would leave earlier this time, hoping to beat some of the crowds (most of the twenty-five hours was spent sitting still or inching along).

Last time we were given some gas by a local man along the way. This time they say that fuel tankers are being sent to areas along the evacuation route. Lots of people have bought gas cans to bring their own extra fuel.

G. will only drink milk, so we'll bring a lot of that in a cooler. B. will drink soy milk in a pinch, so I can have some cartons that don't need to be refrigerated. Last time I thought we could buy food along the way, but most stores were closed. I wonder if they would drink water or juice if they got thirsty enough? I hope so!

According to the projections, we may not even need to evacuate, but you have to prepare, just in case. If we do go, I'll update from Austin.

Edit on Saturday: Looks as if it will miss us. Yay!

A photo from the last evacuation: