Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tough Guy

The "easy" button is a huge fail and I'm excited about it.  Little man would rather try to make sounds, than press a button.  The past few days at home, he refuses to use it when I record scripts for night time and he refuses to use it at school during singing songs at circle for now, it's going to stay on the counter.  After speaking with his teachers about his week, they also feel that he is making more progress to make some beginning sounds of words and would rather encourage that instead of pressing a button.  I fully agree with them on this.  In fact, this week, Little Man said, "No! No! No!" when another child went to take away his truck in the sensory table that was full of rice.  His teacher told me that she purposely left the table open because she was so excited for him to continue to ask her, "Mowa, mowa, mowa!" while signing "more" every time she closed it.  Her telling me this brought tears to my eyes.  Little man is finally making demands at school and asserting himself - he is becoming 2! :)

Little man had a ton of fun this week with his EI specialist.  She brought in a bucket of dry kidney beans and some stacking cups for him to play with and practice the words up, down, in, out, dump, pour, dig, and splash.  He enjoyed hiding his matchbox cars in the beans and then having dig to find them.  At one point he put himself in the tiny rubbermaid and pointed and said, "Ga!" Katie got a kick out of this and of course, his demands of pushing him around the living room in a bucket full of beans was rewarded.  Our visit was ended by him hugging her and not wanting her to go...even with some of this new tough guy attitude, he is still our little cuddle-bug.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Pseudo "Easy Button"

This is what Little Man got in therapy today - it looks like a Staples "Easy Button", however it's called a "Little Step-by-Step Communicator."  What it does is record a voice and then all Little Man has to do is tap the button and it will say what is recorded.  For instance, we can record one of us signing "Itsy-Bitsy Spider" and then during Circle Time at school, Little Man can press the button and he can "sing" along with the group.  We can also record half of a conversation in it - so for instance, today I recorded myself saying the following things, "Good bye Miss Jenn!", "Thank you for coming!",  "We will see you soon!",  "Big kisses, MWAH!" and as Miss Jenn, the SLP was leaving, Little Man could press the button and say good-bye to her.  He was all giggles and smiles pressing the button and then waving good-bye to her.  It's not perfect, or super interesting - and an adult has to record and switch the button between 3 recorded "scripts" - but it's something to get Little Man interested in communicating and hopefully helpful in getting him more involved in verbal activities at school.  We're going to try this out for a few weeks and see how it goes.

Our next step while we wait for our evaluation from a big hospital in the city, is to have another SLP come out and visit and evaluate Little Man to see if he is a good candidate for a fancier communication device.  Something interesting that I learned about communication devices is that they can cost up to $10,000!  This little "Easy Button" costs close to $200!  Thankfully, it's on loan to us from Early Intervention.  An ipad 2 is on the way to us (Happy Mother's Day to me!), and we're hoping that some of the apps that we can download, will help Little Man more in helping motivate him to work on his speech sounds and possibly see if we can develop something for him to communicate better...even if we have to get him his own ipod...all that is way cheaper than $10,000!

This whole process is extremely draining.  Today's therapy session was sort of a wash since Little Man got upset that Big Girl got to go outside with Daddy and he then threw himself into a very rare temper tantrum that lasted over 10 minutes.  By the time we got him refocused, and working on some sounds, the session was almost over and we had to spend time working on learning how to use the "Easy Button" and recording some scripts.  We still only have a few consistent words - /ruck/ for truck, /yuck/, /up/, /more/, /no/, /go/, /ha/ for help, and /o/ for open.  At almost 27 months, we have yet to hear Mama or Dada.  Some of these sounds, we've been working on now for the past 10+ months.  Although he is making progress, the progress is extremely slow and tiresome.

There is no "Easy Button " for this process - although I wish we had one.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Big Girl, Big Money

A few months ago, Big Girl saw her first copy of an American Girl Catalogue. I had made it 5+ years with her only going to the store once to get her first Bitty Baby when Little Man was born and I had thrown out every catalogue since. Well, she found one and decided with her birthday money to purchase the Girl of the Year, Kanani. Then she found all of the wonderful Bitty Baby things she could purchase for her beloved Bitty Baby "Ava".

I held firm and told her that if she wanted to have more American Girl things, she had to save up her own money - no way was I spending my money on overpriced doll accessories and clothing. So during April Vacation, she was determined to count and sort all of her coins to buy Bitty Baby things. Little did we know she would count and roll $47 in change! Big girl's number sense soared in 5 days - she would talk about how she needed 27 more pennies to make 50, so she would have 50 cents and two of those rolls make a dollar. She's the only 5 year old I know who knows that 40 quarters make $10.00. She can even comprehend that she has to pay tax and shipping if we order something over the internet (What you think I was going to travel 30 minutes back to that store so she could swindle me into buying her more overpriced things?).

Then tonight, she blew me away with the following comment, "Mommy, does the American Girl store have a Credit Card that I can use to by Bitty Baby things?" Hubby and I had a good chuckle over that. Thankfully, I'm not aware of any American Girl Visa or Mastercard!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Do you have a random single banana that is really ripe? These are easy to put together and, because the recipe is both low-fat and fairly small, you don't have to have any guilt about keeping them around the house. They'll stay fresh for several days when stored in an air-tight container. I just made a batch for the kids' daycare for the (belated) Teacher Appreciation Luncheon for tomorrow.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, very soft
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup mashed banana (1 small/medium)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups oats
3/4 cups raisins (or chocolate chips if you want to be bad!)

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars. Beat in egg and banana, followed by the vanilla extract. Gradually, on low speed or by hand, add in the flour mixture.

Stir in the oats (either whole rolled oats or "quick cooking") and raisins/chocolate chips.

Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 11-14 minutes at 350F, until set and lightly browned.

Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes on the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Smell of Diapers

I don't often use name brand diapers - we're more of a mixture of Luvs or BJ's brand with occasional cloth, but a friend of mine gave me some of her Pampers diapers and Little Man enjoyed scattering them around the living room as I worked tonight on my computer, all I could smell is the powdery sent of the Pampers - and it brings me back to those first days in the hospital and home with my babies (because after those Pampers ran out, I never bought them again!).

It's amazing how the smell of something can bring you back...smelling them right now transports me back to the first nights home and sleeping on the couch with my baby in the pack and play (the c-section stopped me from going upstairs until they were 2 weeks old). With Big Girl, she was up every two hours to nurse...I remember my first night home, I set my alarm clock so I wouldn't go past 3 hours without feeding her - and it was clockwork that by hour 2, she was up, crying and ready. I learned that after that night, no alarm clock was needed - she would let me know when she needed to eat. Little Man was different. It took everything to wake him up out of his slumber to get him to latch on and eat. My phone would glow and buzz every 3 hours so I would make sure he didn't miss a feeding. How content he was to nurse and fall back to his slumber - while Big Girl wanted to stay up and look around at her surroundings and not let mommy sleep.

When I think back to their personalities as newborn babies and who they are as children today - it's very telling. Big Girl came out of my womb crying, mad as heck, and ready to go; while Little Man was stubborn, needing a vacuum (yes, during a c-section!) and needing some nice rubs to get that cry to come out of him. Today, Big Girl is the same outgoing, ready to take on the world no matter what - where Little Man is wanting to explore, but does so cautiously by taking everything in before jumping in - always staying close by for a hug.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our Little Man and Verbal Apraxia?

We still are not 100% sure of what diagnosis Little Man has, but all arrows are pointing to Verbal can find a lot of information about that here: It's been a long road and a lot of hearing "Oh, he'll get it" and "He's just letting Big Girl talk for him" and "He's so smart, it will come"...all the encouragement in the world is great, but when you are living this day in and day out and your only wish is to hear your son make a noise in his crib so you know he's awake or to have him say "Mama" after 26 months - it can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.

We have some good news coming though - we finally got our appointment with a large hospital for a developmental and speech evaluation for June 27th - it sounds crazy, but I had to put in about 20 pages of paper work about a month an a half ago to get an appointment in 2 months. I've been told that we got the quickest appointment around! We will have our parent meeting on July 11th to discuss all of the testing and results and possibly get a diagnosis, so we can make sure we're treating Little Man with the right therapies and techniques.

For now, Little Man gets therapy for speech and language 2-3 times a week. We absolutely love his developmental therapist Katie - she's been with us since he was 7 months old. She has witnessed many of Little Man's milestones and has seen my tears of joy and frustration. No one ever wishes to see their child have a developmental delay or a disability, but I am eternally grateful to the people who help make it possible who know that my child will be able to be successful in the world.

Katie goes to LM's daycare and shows his teachers what methods are best to get LM to communicate and she comes home for home visits to help us learn too. It's the best of both worlds. We also have a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) who comes every other week to assist with LM. She was on a once a month consult, but now with this possible Apraxia diagnosis, we upped her services. LM is a little more reluctant to work with his SLP, but he's getting there...for the first time a few weeks ago, he sat in her lap and gave her some big hugs and kisses...this of course was after he pointed to the door and told her in his own sign/body language to "go".

About a month ago, LM had therapy at home and we introduced communication cards. He was hesitant at first, but Katie laid them out and asked him what he wanted to do...and LM pointed to the car and then TV. Yes, he wanted to watch his Truck DVD on TV. Precious and totally him. We were able to get him to move towards playing with his cars and trucks instead of watching them on TV. We had some success with at a few word/sounds - he said /ruck/ for /truck/ and /o/ when pointing to the card for the song "Old MacDonald". He also attempted /stop/ when he wanted us to stop singing. More recently, this week, we're working on doing the initial sound and quickly shoving in the second sound to trick him into saying the word. So far it's worked for /up/...he does it one time and forgets it an hour later...but it's still progress.

The hard thing about Apraxia, is that he will use the word once and then we don't hear it again. We have to prompt him all the time to say a word - his only word that he consistently says unprompted is /ruck/. We don't have any word for mommy or daddy. It's hard when Big Girl asks me, "When will he say my name when he wants me?" or "Mommy, what will my name sound like when he says it?" I often wonder the same thing...