Monday, December 28, 2009

A Diet of Scary!

Kittyboy acts like a Tigger, but we think of him as a Piglet. He's scared by many miscellaneous things, it kind of depends, and it's hard to predict what will scare him before he's in tears, and once something scares him, he's often DONE. That's it, no more, done for the day.
Likes music loud, but is scared of certain noises, and they don't have to be loud to be scary. Scrolling through an app on my phone - made a swooshing noise - sent him running in tears to his room. We spent a day at the Steam Show in Jacksonville, THAT was a total bust. At the beginning of a video about construction equipment, they show demolitions, which scares him every time. Fire scares him - we got one good shot in front of a background with a fireplace for his Christmas photo, and he was all done with that. We saw the background as the photographer was pulling it down, thought "Here goes nothing," and were impressed we got the one, AND that he only said "All done, all done" and hastily climbed down from the platform, instead of losing it completely. Food must be lukewarm - the sight of steam is distressing. Bugs are scary, anything small and quickly moving that's not in a cage.
This afternoon, I told my mom we were taking Kittyboy to Brookfield Zoo with the grandparents in the spring, but were taking him the our smaller local zoo first as a dry run - so we could know in advance what exhibits to avoid. Then then I listened to what I just said. And I decided this is ridiculous. Not the idea of a dry run at a smaller zoo, that's a good idea - just the whole, "What about this normal childhood activity is going to scare him?" thing. He cannot go through life being anxious about every new sound and anything sudden, especially when it's actually contrary to his personality. He's an extrovert who charges through life with glee and abandon - seeing him stop short and burst into tears because of a ladybug is just too sad.
We watched Pinocchio today. I was nervous that he would get scared, and then of course be done with the movie, but every time he did get scared (let's see now - the puppeteer, the coachman, Pleasure Island, the whale, the fire to make the whale sneeze, the whale again) he calmed back down. He ran crying from the construction video later, because of the demolitions, but it gave me an idea. I know reading the original Grimms' Fairy Tales is supposed to be really good for kids, because it introduces scary things and allows kids to then deal with being scared without anything scary actually happening. So on that theory, I am putting him on a diet of scary, because the earlier he learns how to BE scared in real life, and then deal with it and get past it, the happier his childhood will be. I don't care if he ever goes on rollar coasters, but I don't want the sight of one to ruin his day at a theme park, you know? (I don't even know what he will think of rollar coasters, that's just an example).
We'll read Grimms every day, and we'll start watching all the Disney movies that I haven't put in simply because of the long run-time (he's just turned three, 90 minutes seems like a long time to sit for one program, but if this would help...!). I've made progress on food temps, by fixing a LOT of fried potatoes during Advent - I doubt anyone can resist fresh fries, no matter the heat. That was the first thing he ever ate that was actually hot (who wants lukewarm fries?). And this evening he ate pasta that was steaming - we blew on each bite, together, until it was totally cooled, but the plate sat there steaming, and he actually didn't refuse to eat, which he usually does if it looks hot.
Any other ideas how to nicely but firmly expand his horizons? How to safely scare him, so to speak? Because that's the plan! It may sound mean, but something's got to change!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

And it's Christmas...

All my gifts are wrapped. Okay, not ALL, but all that are being opened tomorrow. Kittyboy knows tomorrow is Christmas, and that we get to go to c-h-u-r-c-h tomorrow (I actually did spell that at breakfast this morning). I could pat myself on the back that I don't have to spell Christmas and Santa, yet DO spell church, but I can't really take credit - that's him. His devotion and enthusiasm are not really things for which we can take credit. Church has been his thing since he came home from the hospital the Friday before Palm Sunday - we went to a couple night services, planned to keep the newborn home from the crowds by midweek, but by Wednesday had come to realize church was where he was quietest, calmest and happiest. That was just his happy place. Sure, we take him every week, but that can't account for all of it. So yeah, spelling c-h-u-r-c-h made my day.
Tomorrow he will be performing his dual chanter/altarboy duties, singing with Mommy and walking in procession holding Daddy's hand. He gets to open one package (nice short-sleeved dress shirts!!! he tends to overheat in long sleeves) and Santa is giving him a little stuffed Grover who can go to church with him. Grover is so ridiculously cooler than Elmo, it's not even funny, and we finally found a stuffed Grover. I've never watched a full episode of Sesame Street, neither has Kittyboy, but somehow every toddler knows Elmo. I grew up with Grover, reading "The Everything In The Whole Wide World Museum". Kittyboy loves that book too. So now we may stealthily and covertly replace in his affections Elmo, who can't talk right, with Grover, who is cool. Or at least that is the hope.
And this year, the third anniversary of the rush to the hospital, pain, sickness, impending liver damage, "How determined are you to stay pregnant?" ordeal (started the 21st of Dec) passed without my noting it. Yahoo. At 10:30 tomorrow morning, it will have been three years ago that Kittyboy made his way-early entrance into the world, screaming and ticked off. That boy was many things, but even at 28 weeks, "weak" was not one of them. Strong-willed was. Then, he was on a ventilator. This morning he said his first full, complete, correct sentance. "Where dih da Winnie Pooh book go?" as he turned in place looking for one of his early Christmas presents from Puppygirl (yes, we all clutched at our chests and then praised him effusively). He also weighs a little over 20 times what he did at birth.
I have a duck thawing in the fridge. We have, oddly for the end of Advent, no vegetables in the house, and stores are closed, so we're just not eating veggies tomorrow. We've eaten enough, right? I need to brown sausage for my aunt's awesome breakfast casserole, to go in the oven when we get home.
We did early Christmas this morning with Kittyboy's Puppygirl and Aunt Carey, and he has spent the day playing with a wooden tractor bank and four pennies. He can count to four very well now. Daddy, in the guise of Santa, slipped a fifth penny in the bank. We're looking forward to tomorrow's counting. "One, two, fwee, four..." confused look. "One, two, fwee, four..."
A Merry Christmas to all tomorrow, as we celebrate the birth of Our Lord.
And to all a good night!

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Kittyboy can chant AND be an altarboy...

Those who were not in church this morning - which was EVERYONE - missed QUITE a show.
Kittyboy walking around the tree in front (decorated with little icons and crosses) finding Marys. Kittyboy walking around the tree finding crosses. Kittyboy examining the lights. Kittyboy holding Daddy's finger during the Gospel and standing nicely. Kittyboy singing and singing and singing with Mommy. Kittyboy FINISHING A HYMN for Mommy ("eonon Amin") when Mommy got the giggles (he is starting to match pitch well for being a week from turning three). Kittyboy running up to Father for his very OWN blessing whenever Father blessed the (invisible) congregation. Kittyboy walking backwards with Daddy processing at the Great Entrance. (That was impressive, and took some trial and error). The Kittyboy-Daddy tug-of-war after the Great Entrance when Kittyboy thought they should go back in the same door they came out of and was convinced Daddy was going the wrong way. Kittyboy running up to kiss the Gospel. The energetic and sometimes urgent gesturing of chanter and acolyte at each other, concerning where Kittyboy should be and what he should be doing. Mommy calling Kittyboy back while FATHER called him over (Kittyboy knows Father outranks Mommy, and behaved accordingly). Kittyboy running out to Mommy WEARING FATHER'S CROSS. (I was scandalized!! Husband says it was Father's idea...) Many hymns were puncuated by No and Sit and KittyboyJamesEmmanuel Get Back Here, vehemently and quietly.
Father's taken him back to the altar area to look around after services enough times that our son now thinks that's where he belongs (problem!) but I'm told he's good while back there. This morning, he just couldn't decide whether he wanted to serve or be a chanter, so he kept changing his mind. He would sing with me a while and then run over to the door in the iconostasis and knock to be let back in. He did a LOT of running back and forth - but for a toddler, he WAS very good.
It was a long, funny, adorable morning. And quite tiring on both parents. Father said he was wonderful, and wants him to come back (!!!) so tomorrow we're going for Orthros and we'll give that a try. Husband can put an acolyte on Kittyboy-duty if necessary. I WOULD love to chant on Sundays again!

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas for the birds

I don't know why I've never seen this on crafting sites, moms' blogs, etc, but I haven't - so here it is! Stringing CHEERIOS.

Kittyboy and Puppygirl had a NICE long playdate yesterday, and I wanted to do Christmasy stuff. I love stringing popcorn and whatnot for the birds, but Kittyboy's at that age where you don't want to hand him a needle AND he's going to WANT a needle, so he can do what you're doing.
Why have I never read about stringing cheerios? They have holes already made! Two soup bowls full gave Puppygirl and I several feet apiece, strung on yarn with tape around the end to stiffen it for a needle. They make VERY attractive garlands, there's no breaking of popcorn (and subsequent vacuuming required), no needling of fingers, easy and quick. Any generic oat-based cereal with a hole in the middle will work. I think a whole box would decorate several hedges. We decorated the saplings growing off the stump at the end of the drive.

Kittyboy is quite proficient at stringing, but more so at eating! So is his dragon pal, Ock.

Our house has a new, EASY tradition!

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Monday, December 14, 2009

"Para tou einoi"

Sometimes I think we could employ a military code expert in this house - or alternatively, that I am in fact qualified for such a job.
Kittyboy started out the morning requesting "Pana (Para?) too enny" music. We asked again and again, what on EARTH he was talking about, could get no clarification, and getting him to sing it didn't help. Then I thought I had an insight. I was sure I'd heard at least the last two words before, in church. Not "too enny" but "tou einoi" (pronounced eh-ni). Ah HA. At some point in church yesterday, there must have been some hymn in Greek that he really liked, and that was the only phrase he remembered of it - and gosh, now I was REALLY sunk, because he was asking me to sing something in Greek and I didn't know what. (I missed ALL of church yesterday getting ready for coffee hour, so I didn't know what the hymns were that might have caught his interest!). And he was most insistent - "pana tou einoi! para tou einoi!"
Before I could sit down with the toddler and the husband to try and figure out which hymn this was (something about praise, enoi is praise), which I was fully prepared to do, I saw the back of a Veggie Tales video tape box.
"We are the PIRATES who don't DO ANYthing..." Para tou einoi, "pirates - do - any".
You know how the brain reshuffles the unfamiliar so that it makes sense? Kittyboy's English actually made more sense to me as Greek.
I need a vacation.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Positives of Echolalia

First the amusing story.
There are FIERCE winds today, and it sounds like a downpour but without rain. It's really loud. Kittyboy has been quite a hoot! During breakfast he kept saying "yittle pig, yittle pig" and we weren't sure what he was talking about, then he said "A huff an a puff an BOOOOOO da house down!!" He was talking about the Three Little Pigs! One of his favorite stories. We told him there was no wolf, just the wind, and everything's fine. Besides, our house is made of bricks. Then shortly after, there was a GREAT blast of wind, whereupon Kittyboy jumped to his feet and yelled excitedly, "YITTLE PIG, YITTLE PIG, I COMMY IN!!!" (the end of the story when the wolf gets up on the third little pig's roof to climb down the chimney). He was more excited than scared, fortunately. But all I would have had to do anyway is explain that we don't have a chimney. Problem solved.
He's been quoting a LOT of videos and books of late, but also forming a lot more sentences independently - so really awesome. And sometimes what he quotes is actually relevent in some way, now that we're paying attention to what he quotes from and when. We were discussing at lunch a friend of a friend of my dad's, who is in the hospital with very serious complications from H1N1 (pray for Resa Ellison!). I told Kittyboy that there was a lady named Resa who is very sick and we needed to ask God to take care of her and make her better. After we prayed, he said "Dadey Guy pay outside!" (Davey and Goliath, as in the claymation cartoon, play outside). I said yes, Davey and Goliath play outside a lot. "Dadey Guy yooky!" "They were looking at something?" "Airpay CASH!!!" (airplane crash). In "The Big Rescue", I think it is, Davey is at summer camp and the campers hear an airplane in trouble, and the plane crashes nearby. "Davey (something) singy!" The campers sang hymns while they walked through the forest so the people who crashed could hear them coming. He kept going on about the airplane crashing, and then I had an idea. I said, "Yes, and when the airplane crashed, the people were hurt, weren't they. And the pilot asked God to send help." And like an affirmation, ("Houston, we have contact!") Kittyboy said again, "Dadey singy!" "Yes, God sent help. God sent Davey and Goliath and their friends to help. The pilot PRAYED for help and God sent it! And we PRAYED for Him to take care of Resa, didn't we?"
The echolalia was irritating when it was the reason he repeated things in question form and called himself "you", but now that we're educated about the different forms it takes, we can sometimes have conversations we wouldn't otherwise. He didn't ask to watch Davey and Goliath, he didn't want to watch it, and he dropped the subject when the conversation changed, but right after I told him we were praying for Resa because she was sick and needed help, that was what he brought up. And after I remembered the pilot praying and talked about how THAT was what we had just done too, it was like we were having a back and forth conversation about prayer. I'm just sure that's what we were doing.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Shocking Admission

I hate baklava.
Okay, I said it, let fly the rotten tomatoes.
I have deeply disliked honey as long as I can remember. I don't know if I'd ever had it straight before the day I had to take some nasty medicine and my mom thought I would take it in honey. It wasn't the flavor of the medicine I objected to, that I remember, it was more the texture that made me gag, and the texture was NOT improved by putting it in a big ol' spoonful of thick, cloying sweetness. I hate honey. Pouring it from the big jug into the little bear-shaped jug, the smell is revolting. Yes, honey has a smell. And baklava, in addition to one piece being about all the sweet I can take for months on end, is dripping and oozing with honey.
Greeks put honey on everything. If it's not honey, it's sugar-syrup that looks the same. Diples are drizzled with honey, kataifi is drenched with it. And I just spent from 10 until 3ish standing behind pans with pools of honey/syrup in the bottom, puddles of it on wax paper, handing treats that stuck to my gloves and nearly slid out of the goofy paper cups because of the sheer amount of ooey, gooey, sticky syrup.
I tried, heroically I think, not to make a face while boxing up stuff for people. I gagged not once. But it was nauseating. I had never seen so much sticky sweetness in one place. I never wish to again.
Next Holly Fair, I'm serving gyros.
Holly Fair WAS a blast, apart from desperately craving pretzels or wasabi peas to settle my stomach. I think we had a pretty good turnout, and one of the other venders there (they have some crafters set up sometimes) was a hostess for "emagineGreen" which I guess is a company that sells organic this and that, and one of her sample products was a carved, handpainted, rubberwood zoo. Yes, Kittyboy is getting a zoo for Christmas! And now I have GOT to stop buying him presents. But I just keep finding such cool stuff he "needs"...

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Our First IEP!

IEP means Individual Education Plan. It's the school equivalent of an IFSP, Individual Family Service Plan, which is what the big fancy meetings are called when you're still in Early Intervention or a similar 0-3 program.
The quick run-down, followed by long story:
Kittyboy qualifies for NINETY minutes a week speech therapy, and monthly OT to follow progress. He will be in an Early Start classroom, which is the small size, 2.5 hours a day, kinda-the-whole-thing-is-group-therapy "special ed" preschool. Which is soooo funny to me, considering the stuff he knows, because you think of special education as meaning mentally handicapped. Bree asked him Monday what color a shape was, he was being extremely difficult and answering shapes for colors and colors for shapes, and so when she asked what the color was, he said, "Quatrefoil!" (which he says catafoyo, kinda) because that was the shape. Friday morning at my parents' house, he pointed at the clock and said, "Minute hand on-a da TEN!" Yes, the minute hand was on the ten.
So that's the short story.
It was really cool to listen to all the "experts" giving their reports, and jumping into each other's presentations with, "Then that's why I saw such-and-such!" and, "Okay, maybe THAT explains the disparity between his score for this and his score for that..." I've seen a t-shirt that says, "I reject your reality and subsitute my own!" and I think our son needs one that says, "I reject your developmental timeline and substitute my own!" He will learn what he wishes in the order he wishes, and if he wants to tell you all the numbers on the clock before learning to count sequentially, well, that's exactly what His Imperial Highness will do.
Everyone saw marked improvement, during his assessments, when he got sensory breaks in between things. I laughed when one lady described him as "oozing" out of his chair. That's why he went from high chair to plain booster to booster with straps and tray, because it's the only way to keep him in place. I just loved the oozing description! They're really picky on eye contact, at least I think so, they seem to expect a LOT of that, and who goes around staring everyone in the face all day? I don't... I also laughed, and then had to explain why, when one lady said that he really didn't want to stack the blocks, because all Ginny has to do to induce a rolling-on-floor TANTRUM is pull out blocks. He HATES stacking blocks when someone tells him to. He'll do it on his own rarely, once stacking them on a rotating toy (we have the pictures to prove it), but no way if it's not his idea. And the "need for transition object" comes up again if he's in a new place, because there was one toy he took with him from the first area to the second, another he took from the second to the third, and so on, and then he would pick up and put down that toy between activities, like touching base. And I explained about how he used to need something to leave the house with, that hasn't been as important lately at home but it makes sense that it would be in a brand new environment with strangers. He has, according to them, low muscle tone, which is strange when we think of him as Baby Samson, but I guess muscle tone and strength aren't the same thing. There are muscles that are strong, but there are others that are underdeveloped. When I think of low muscle tone as being a problem, I think of a kid I knew in SCOPE whose muscle tone was nonexistent. The way Kittyboy runs is a little rough and an "immature stride" - this kid walked the way mine runs, and was two years older. Now THAT is low muscle tone that's a problem. Of course there are muscles Kittyboy needs to work, trunk comes to mind, but as far as being a concern, it's not overly one of mine.
Kittyboy has learned VERY well how to self-accomadate (meaning stuff like grabbing a transition object when he needs it). Ironically that was a stumbling block in writing up his plan. If it's a need he can meet on his own - which it is - then it doesn't go in his plan. But what you just KNOW will happen, though, is that he would grab something from his immediate vicinity before leaving the classroom to go to the gym (self-accomodating, meeting his need) and the teacher would say no, and unpleasantness would ensue. So it HAD to be in there. So everyone had their laptops out rewriting their reports so that everything was worded Just So. Husband had already been through the hairsplitting with IEPs at Hope School, but I thought it was funny. Evidently that's the norm, is that they write their reports, we have the meeting, we decide based on those reports what he needs, and then reports get rewritten to reflect what we decided he needed based on those reports... Love it. Director and miscellaneous therapist going back and forth - "If transition object is going in, I need a report stating the need for it." "It's right here where I said 'used toy to transition between activities'." "But that doesn't label it a need." "No, he needed it, we all saw this, he had to pick up and put down that toy between every activity." "But that's not how it's stated." Clickety-clickety-clickety.
And, very important - his eligibility is NOT "concerns of possible autism" (which was actually on the table as an option!!!!) but "developmental delays". Another example of wording being key. I am perfectly willing to go with district services as long as he "requires" them, but we're not involving labels, and NOT putting anything on paper that can't be changed as he changes. Developmental delays says it all, and will be invalid when he's caught up, at which point the plan is still to homeschool.
And where was Kittyboy this whole 1.5 hour long meeting? He had an ADVENTURE. We dropped him off about an hour beforehand with Aunt Carey and Puppygirl. He played there, he had fun, Puppygirl read him books, and despite some whimpering when Carey added wood to their woodburning stove (still afraid of fire), he calmed down after some snuggling and said, "Warm! Pretty..." Then, he took a bus ride downtown with them, transferred to a different bus, rode to Puppygirl's gymnastics class, and even crossed a four-lane in the process. And Carey said he was a very good boy!

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Advent Snack - Sauerkraut Sandwiches

This just isn't worth being called a "recipe", it's just a sandwich. My dad introduced me to these when I was in high school and trying to find any alternative I could to PBJ. You need a can of sauerkraut, bread, and mustard. Pumpernickel or rye would be awesome, I just have wheat at the moment. Yellow and brown mustard both are good, whatever mustard you like. You toast the bread, drain the sauerkraut, and you're good to go. Husband isn't big on these if I remember right (feel free to correct me, dear?) but Kittyboy and I both like them. Yummy!
You don't HAVE to toast the bread, but I can't stand sogginess to any degree, and toasting prevents that. Draining the sauerkraut as much as possible, though, is MANDATORY.

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