Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ongoing Potty Training Saga

Oh boy, we are only a week and a half in, and I'm calling it a saga.

Well, I suppose there is good news, and really good news.

The good news is I am almost fully trained! LOL Seriously, my own training is almost complete. I am taking Charlie to the potty about ever 40-60 minutes, when possible, from the time he wakes up, until bed time. I am forgetting less and less. By next week I'm sure it will have become automatic. And soon, a compulsion. Ha!

The really good new is, Charlie is doing better and better.

Yesterday he went in his potty 5 times, which included one time when we were away from home (but had our special potty with us, of course!).

He knows the whole routine. He willingly sits on his potty, and entertains himself well. Sometimes he'd rather not get up! He knows exactly what he is suppose to do when on the potty, and if he doesn't have to do it, he will often get up and try to pull up his pants soon after I have put him on. He knows when he goes, and will then stand up and pull up his own pants (with a little help, but he initiates), and pick up his little potty bowl to take to the bathroom. He dumps his stuff in the potty by himself, and flushes and waves bye bye. He then goes to the kitchen counter to wait for his treat. He has even been dry after his nap for several days, but not in the morning... Not by a long shot! LOL. We do a lot of happy dances, and he couldn't be more pleased with himself.

We are still "missing" a lot though, too. He does not 'hold it' if he has to go, he just goes in his pants. He also does not let us know what-so-ever that he needs to go. So we need to work on those things.

Anyway, we are plugging along. Calvin is even starting to learn what the potty is for. He will run to the potty when he has to go pee, and sit on it with his clothes still on, and go pee in his diaper. So, a little bonus progress, as well. :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Potty Training Update

We are still plugging along. Spending a lot of time on the pot. Calvin is playing along, but not really doing anything. Charlie is very dedicated to sit on the potty, and is super excited when something happens. The last two days have not been too successful--he only went in the potty one time each day. But there has been other success, like his enthusiasm to learn this pottying thing, and his sense of accomplishment when he goes in the potty.

I feel less and less like I know what I am doing, and I wish I had a coach to help me along, tell me how to be more effective, encourage me when it seems like we are going nowhere fast.

My hope is that by the end of the break we will feel like we made some great headway to continue at school. It all feels a lot like when he was taking months and months and months to learn to walk, and I began to wonder if he would EVER do it. I think he will eventually get this, but it seems like such a mountain to climb.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Potty Training: The Christmas Break Sessions

Yesterday we commenced what will be a two week long potty marathon for Charlie. Of course, Calvin gets to play along, too.

We are taking Charlie to the potty about every hour or two (and Calvin, too... Of course!). We are letting him wear training pants. The whole nine yards.

It is a little tricky because a) he will not sit on a regular potty, even if it has one of those little inserts that make the seat smaller; b) his *bits and pieces* are tiny, so we have to use a very specific potty that has a very high splash guard; c) the two aforementioned factors mean we have to lug around his special potty where-ever we go. Oh, and d) he pees in couplets, or triplets, meaning when he has to go he spreads it out over 30 minutes of so, going a little at a time. At least if we missed the first one we can usually catch the 2nd or 3rd one.

Anyway, Charlie is so cute about his potty business. Today he had a lot of success, and was oh so proud. He peed in the potty 3 times!!! Everything is made better by the fact that Nana and Papa are here to join in the festivities and praise each time he goes. At church today he went once, and our good family friend, Chelsea, played along to let Charlie know what a "Good Job" he did. She even made him up a bagel treat! And did I mention that in our house one may earn an M&M for doing ones business in the potty? Oh yeah! Charlie thinks that is so special. (And Calvin is doing his darndest to figure out how to get one, too.)

I am so very happy for him. Seriously, I think my heart is sporting a big grin right now. He couldn't be more proud of himself. Really. And, while I think the road out in front of us is going to be very, very long, I am feeling ready to walk it with him. We will lug our little potty all around the County. We will slowly get used to a big potty. We will slowly learn to go all at once, instead of spreading it out. We will slowly learn how to communicate the need rather than relying on the clock. Yep, it is quite the road we will walk. And I am not discounting that it may be a road that takes years instead of months, so here we go...

(By the way, I never would have guessed I would care about poop and pee, and where and how it happens, this much. I just have to laugh about that. :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Good Kind of Back-Fire

Helping Charlie along in development comes with many a "Good Job, Buddy." We can't help but congratulate him as he accomplishes task after task, and skill after skill.

Well, lucky us, now when Ray or I or Calvin do something Charlie deems to be a success, he will tell us "Good Job!"

Yesterday as I put my shoes on Charlie congratulated me with a "Good job, Kim."

Thanks Buddy. You're doin' a good job, too.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

To Give a Boy a Hair Cut

Sensory issues can be a part of Down Syndrome. By that I mean people with Down Syndrome have a higher likelihood of being oversensitive or under-sensitive with one or more of their senses. A person might be oversensitive to sounds, and get frightened or overwhelmed by loud noises. Or, a person could be under-sensitive to taste, and so want to eat very spicy foods.

Charlie has a little bit of under-sensitivity and oversensitivity. He tends to be under-sensitive in his mouth, and seeks out extra sensation by chewing on his hands or, you know, whatever. He tends to be oversensitive on his face, body and hands, and gets very worried or anxious when he spills on himself when trying to drink, or gets paint on his hands during crafts.

He also happens to get extremely agitated and upset when hair clippings fall on his face, neck, and body. Giving Charlie a hair cut is a ridiculous affair. I cut as fast as I can while Ray pulls out all the stops to try to distract Charlie from his experience. (And let me add, when you barely know what you are doing, a moving, screaming target does not make for a very even-looking hair cut.) Then, after the trauma of the hair cut, which involves much crying and squirming despite Ray's valiant and silly antics, we still need to get in the bath and get wet to wash all the hair away (which is a whole 'nother dilemma!).

Enter the FLOWBEE.

You might remember an infomercial in the 80's and early 90's for a hair-cutting invention that you hook up to your vacuum cleaner. The device has a set of clippers and attachments that you add to get the length of hair you want. Then you vacuum your hair while the Flowbee cuts.

It was a fellow mom of a child with Down Syndrome who suggested we try the Flowbee. That was months and months ago, and I admit, when she suggested we try it all I could picture was Garth from Wayne's World flailing his arms and yelling, "It's sucking my will to live!" while having his hair vacuumed by a prop meant to mock the Flowbee. I just could not bring myself to buy one.

Well, just like I thought I would NEVER own a minivan, sometimes necessity takes over, and I placed a wanted add on Craigslist for a used Flowbee. I was surprised when the same day a woman got back to me who wanted to give us her used Flowbee. (A savings of $70!)

So yesterday afternoon we got out the Flowbee for trial numero uno.

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First I sat down with Charlie and we watched video's of other kids getting Flowbee hair cuts on YouTube. We talked about their hair getting vacuumed and cut by the Flowbee. We watched how fun it was. Charlie was getting really excited and was laughing at the kids in the videos, and saying "Owbee! Owbee!"

Next, I brought the box with the Flowbee out and gave it to Charlie as if it were a wonderful gift. He thought is was most fortunate, indeed! And, when I asked him if he wanted a "Flowbee hair cut," the answer was a definite Yes!

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We set up our little barber shop in the kitchen, with vacuum, Flowbee, and mirror. Charlie was really excited! When I turned it on he was less excited, but very tolerant. It was pretty loud with the vacuum and the Flowbee running all at once. He got a kick out of watching his hair get sucked up into the tube.

Whenever I turned it off he would point to it and say, "Owbee! On!" When we were done he kept rubbing his head and saying, "Air cut! Owbee air cut!"
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Here he is giving brother an "owbee air cut" with the vacuum hose attachment, complete with motor sound effects.
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The hair cut looks really good, and is very even. It took 5 minutes, and most important, no tears! Oh, no mess either, which was a cool bonus.

I will close by simply adding...

I {heart} Flowbee.

Oh, and...

I love the way that God gives us just what we need. I'm sure a comb and scissors will certainly do for most folks, but we needed something different for our sweet Charlie, and God... well, He provides.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Potty Training Inch Stones

I once heard another mother of a child with Special Needs refer to her child's developmental progress as "Inch Stones". You know, instead of "Mile Stones". I can't think of a more appropriate term for a child whose accomplishments are measured in increments. Two steps forward, one step back, one step to the side, now turn around, and yeah, I think we are still ahead of where we began.

I would have to really look back on this blog to find my first post on Potty Training. In fact, it seems that every few months I write about a small amount of progress we have made toward being diaper free. Most of our potty efforts lately have focused on getting Charlie comfortable with the idea of sitting on the potty at all. For a while he was really excited about it, now he is terrified of the big potty, and only slightly tolerant of his little potty. Why? I have not idea. It's just Charlie.

I am happy to report, however, that Charlie has decided it is okay to do a number 2 on his little potty. It is a fun sight here in the house. He only gives us about 30 seconds notice, so when we hear him say that one little word, "poop", everybody scrambles! One of us is running to fetch the potty, the other is helping him off with his clothes. If all goes well, he is quite happy to sit on his little pot, whilst holding a toy or a book, to do his little business.

This has happened a total of 3 times this week. I think it is safe to say, "Inch stone accomplished!"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Grace

Today at church during the children's sermon Gale, one of our co-pastors, said something that will forever be a part of how I think about Christmas. It defines so well our belief about this very special time to celebrate:

"I think of Christmas not so much as what I am going to get, but that I am going to get what I need."

You know... Christ. Grace. "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." Unmerited favor. Grace.

So, about Grace. Receiving grace is not natural to who we are. At least, it doesn't feel like it to me. I was having a conversation with a dear person in my life recently about some tough issues, and I have to say I think Grace is what she is learning.

Grace is hard to receive when you are working so hard to get it. But that is what we tend to do, isn't it? Indeed, we even try to earn love, to earn grace from our parents, our employers, our friends. If we strive, then surely we will be okay. Right? At some point we will start to feel okay with ourselves if we see that we are admired on enough people's faces.

I have a dear friend who talks about the importance of knowing that we can "Just Be" and that is enough. And you know, that is the thing with Grace. You can't strive to achieve it. You can only ask for it, and you know what? It's yours. He is waiting to give it to you. You can "Just Be." It's Okay.

And you know, I think that is one thing I learn from my boys. At their age they ask for Grace all the time. They don't worry about earning my love. They know it is there. They only need to come to me with that tear in their eye, or arms stretched open wide. I am there, just waiting to give a hug.

My friend is at the beginning of a journey to Grace. I know she has received the Grace of God, yet I see her hold on to the stance of striving. Striving for the approval of so many in her life, God included, and you know what? It is exhausting. I know. I've been there.

I'll close with a wish. A wish that we can all remember Who we are celebrating this season, and Why. That Christ is born, the One sent to save each of us from what we cannot save ourselves. The One who came to give Grace freely to each of us, just as we are. That we can "Just Be" and still be loved. Still have infinite value and purpose. That we can cease doing what we feel compelled to do, and start healing so we may do what we were created to do. This is my wish for you, friend. It is just the beginning of the road for you, if you choose. You are bathed in the prayers of the saints.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ratting Him Out

This is another Calvin story.

If there is one thing Calvin dislikes it is having his "work" (whatever that may be at the moment) disrupted by a--gasp!--Diaper Change!

Lately when we come into the room with diapers in hand and announce that diapers will be changed in 2 minutes (our standard amount of "heads-up" time in this house), Calvin will start pointing at Charlie and saying, "Bother! Brother Turn! Brother Turn.... Share! Brother!"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Potty Talk

So the other day Calvin and I were doing a little shopping at Target. Halfway through our trip we made a pit stop to the ladies restroom.

Well, as Calvin stood in the stall with me he started to say (with ferver) what he always says when he sees a potty, "Poop! Poop! Poop! Poop!"

Now, Calvin seems to think that the more times he says a word the more likely the person he is speaking to will understand his train of thought. I must not have been catching on because he kept repeating over and over, "Poop! Poop!"

Embarrassed by my toddler and a restroom with every stall occupied I could only say, "Yes, Calvin, you are thinking of when you poop on your potty."

Of course when we flushed the toilet he waved at the swirling water and offered a, "Bye Bye!" Awe Calvin, he makes my life so rich... and so comical!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Check-Ups and Check-Ins

Last week was time to Check-In with the boys teachers at the Children's Center. That's right, parent-teacher conference time.

Calvin's conference was a little weird for me because it seems so unnecessary to have a meeting to discuss his development. Truly, I do care about how he is doing, where in his development he is, and how I can adapt too support him where he is at. For Calvin, milestones and development is all about providing a safe environment in which to explore, and letting him take it from there. His personality is one of movement. I have often described him as industrious. He is curious and bright. He is learning so much right before my eyes. He is learning things I just did not know was possible for a 20 months old boy to learn. He is teaching me.

On to his conference: I love his teacher, and I love that he is able to attend the center. It is a blessing to his outgoing little soul to have some social time with a bunch of his little peers, and a chance to play somewhere with a lot of very neat activities going on. He is doing great, and feels very comfortable to be there. He knows the routine, and is becoming increasingly independent in his part in it. When we arrive he knows it is time to wash hands. I turn on the faucet for him and provide the squirt of soap (at his command, LOL), and he takes it from there. He puts his coat in his cubby, and gets right to work. Sometimes I get a hug when it is time for me to leave, but mostly it is just a wave as he is getting down to the work of play. His teacher shared that he is talking more and more. He is very independent, and does not seem to need teacher assistance or assurance in order to dive into a new activity. Currently his education plan includes encouraging him to point to and verbalize things he is looking at in a book, and encouraging him to wipe himself when having a diaper change. That's it!

Charlie also had a very positive conference. His teacher couldn't be more pleased to have him as a part of her class. She feels very good about how he benefits from participating in class. She said he does not talk much, except to express objection to something. Mostly he is busy doing. She said almost all of his free play involves dramatic (pretend) play, which was an IEP goal that we had, and I think we can cross it off as accomplished! He chooses to participate in circle time almost always, and prefers the messy, sensory table top activities. He pals around with a couple of little boys consistently, and tries to join in their play. He is also following complex sets of directions, and seems to be very well versed with the daily routine. Transitions go best when the teacher brings a physical object to Charlie that symbolizes what they want him to do next (like showing him a diaper when it is time to try the potty and get changed). I felt really great about this meeting. His goals are to continue to encourage participation in table top activities, and to continue to support his independence in the classroom.

Now, on to Check-Ups.

Charlie is due for a check-up in January, and I'll tell ya, our questions and concerns list keeps growing and growing, so I better ask for two time slots when I make that appointment!

Calvin had a check-up today, and it was great. He is now 26 pounds and 33 inches tall. His hemoglobin was back down below average (10.6) after finally creeping back into the normal range at our last appointment, so we need to focus on that again. No worries, though. It just means we need to actually remember to give him his multivitamin, and sneak some iron rich foods in more often. Yay for Kidney Beans!

The appointment concluded with two boys getting flu shots and taking it like men. I don't know how I ended up with children who recover so quickly from the shear inconsiderate-ness of getting "a poke". I should get them t-shirts that say "Will get Vaccinated for Stickers," 'cause really, at the end of the appointment, it is all about getting that sticker.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Deep Peaceful Sigh

Chili on the stove. Bread in the oven.
Two little boys being active yet pleasant.

There are times I pause to just breath in what feels like
domestic triumph.

It's good.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

All Natural

One of the things that gives me so much pleasure as a parent of these boys is simply to behold the uniqueness in each of my kiddos. Their individual personalities: Charlie approaches new situations with careful consideration, slowly easing himself into the new environment until pretty soon he is running full steam ahead with utter confidence. Calvin enters a new situation with little reservation, meeting and greeting all those in the place and putting himself right to work in the business of play.

There are also their physical attributes. Charlie has a soft and sturdy little body. Calvin is thin and light. Charlie's eyes are something of a navy blue with white flecks. Calvin's are light brown with a ring of gray around the edges. Charlie's feet are short and wide. Calvin's are long and narrow.

And then, there are the bonuses. Quirky, random things about the boys that I think are like bows God added when he gave us the gifts that are Charlie and Calvin. Fun little extras thrown into the mix of their genes by a Creator who no doubt works with a twinkle in his eye.

Case in point: Calvin's All Natural Mullet.

I can't tell you how sweet this little curl at the back of Calvin's neck is for us. It is like a bit of icing on the cake of this amazing little soul.

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It is a cause of wonder for all who notice it, as well. What in the world would cause one small section of scalp to grow hair so fast? And why is it the only part that grows in a curl?

Look how long it is when straightened out. Really!

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It is starting to get very long, and at times feathers out a bit for a fuller curl. Other times it bounces behind him when he walks. We will cut it off eventually, and no doubt preserve it in a zip lock bag, so one day we might show a future sweet heart Calvin's all natural mullet in addition to the customary naked bath time photos. For now, though, we will enjoy it a bit longer, marveling at the many ways we are created with such care and thought, and even a bit of divine humor.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Immensity of Down Syndrome

Sometimes the weight of having this little boy, this Charlie-boy, in my life rests heavy on my heart.

I have to say most days we go about doing our little family thing in our little family way, and I don't give much thought to Down Syndrome. Charlie is Charlie, just like Calvin is Calvin, Ray is Ray, and Kim is Kim. We all have our unique personalities, strengths, weaknesses which may or may not have to do with our respective number of chromosomes.

Most days, when I do think about Down Syndrome my thoughts lead me to a stunned realization. I look over at Ray and say, "Ray, we have a son with Down Syndrome!" It still seems so uncanny.

But there are times when the shear meaning of Down Syndrome makes me pause, and fills me with fear and trembling, in the reverent sort of way.


Oh man, I don't know if I can articulate this well at all.

Maybe it is the school thing and looking at the big picture of his life, which I just don't do as much for Calvin, and feeling like it is up to me, to an extent, to map out a path for Charlie. Like, I need to pave the road for him and hope I end up in a place where he will feel confident and prepared to take over when he is ready.

It is the thought that Charlie has something that we don't all have. In his more simple way of doing things and feeling things and interacting with things, he is a more perfect human than I. Yet I am charged with his care.

It could be the thought that valuing people with disabilities doesn't seem to be a condition inherent to the human heart. Here, we need books filled with law to value our most vulnerable. In some places imperfect babies are left to the elements. In other places, abandoned to the system and ware housed. This scares me about the world, and about sending my boy out into the world. And I struggle to understand what it means.

Maybe it is just the sight of his too-small-to-almost-be-four-years-old body sprawled out on the comforter, and the sound of his raspy breaths as he naps on my bed this afternoon.

He's an incredible human, this Charlie.


I confess there are times when I've pondered the hand of God to create such a boy. I've pondered it in light of things I've heard said, things I seen done. Some people believe it is a tragedy to let such a person live, so they discard the child before he has ever tasted air or seen light. Others believe people like Charlie are sent into the world to give. To give love and light and truth and simplicity. They believe there is no mistake in an extra chromosome. They believe God meant it.

In our home group (Bible Study) this week we started a series that looks at the Biblical narrative as a whole. Of course, we started with Moses' account of creation in the book of Genesis. In the DVD series ("Nothins Going to Stop It!" by Bill Jaxson) we examined God's mandate to Adam and Eve to multiply and fill the earth. He was asking them to fill the earth with bearers of His image.

There is a line of thinking about why God even created the earth. It is an idea pondered by people way more intelligent that I (Jonathan Edwards, C.S. Lewis and others).  I will try to distill it here. The thought is that God has existed in absolute perfection for all of eternity. Because nothing and no one can even hold a candle to the absolute perfection of God, it can only be right that God is completely delighted in himself without being arrogant in any way. To make this very simple, God's plan in creation was to multiply his image (thus He created
human kind in his image and mandating them to multiply and fill the earth) so that His delight would be multiplied and increased. Again, with zero arrogance. It is hard to fathom.

After the fall then, it is apparent that though we multiply and fill the earth, we are multiplying a fractured image of our Creator. An image that is not wholly as God intended. From the moment we are born, our hearts are inclined to falter.

And then there is Charlie.

Imperfect in body and mind, and certainly inclined to fall as surely as his brother or mother or father. But, there is something about him. Something unmistakable. A simpler outlook, a purer motive. He is a gift to my heart, and indeed I learn much from him. I learn something of, well, a joyful-humility. A humility that is not embarrassed to be humble or meek, but delights in such a position. Charlie is completely delighted in himself, without any arrogance. Even in his meekness. What does it mean?


I learn other things from this boy. I learn to receive others into my life with a gentle gratitude. To accept the help of a stranger, the hug of a friend. I learn to rest. To take it slow when I need to. And, I learn to accept people, though I struggle at it. Plain and simple.

Raising Charlie... It is immense. It is sacred. And I hope...

I hope this blog extends a view of the practical, the spiritual, and the daily of raising a child with special, or just different, needs. I hope it comforts a new mother or father in their search for "what it all means" when grappling with a child's diagnosis and that feeling of being lost. I hope beyond hope that even one person faced with such immensity will find, as I have, the endless, boundless potential that such a human, imperfect as they may seem, holds for this world, and beyond. And I hope by reading here, you will be lifted up, because you are blessed in this path.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Gettin' Some Treats!

I can't say our family is all that in to Halloween. But, we play along a little bit by letting the boys get dressed up and participating in some low key fesitivities.

Today Charlie's Special Ed School hosted a costume parade and trick-or-treating at the classrooms throughout the school. So, Calvin and I made the drive to meet up with Charlie for some fun activities!

I think Charlie is saying, "Hey, what are YOU doing here?!"
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Charlie is dressed up as a carpenter, complete with hard hat and hammer. Specifically he is "Bob the Builder" a favorite character of his. Calvin is dressed as a train conductor.

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We had a wonderful time meeting some of the parents of kids in Charlie's class, and going around the school getting treats from teachers and students. Many of the staff stopped me to tell me how darling they think Charlie is, and that they just love it when they get to see him around campus. Ah, they know how to make a mother's heart swell!

Pumpkin Catchin'

Thought I better write about our Pumpkin Catchin' adventure before Halloween gets here!

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A couple weekends ago we went out to the Pumpkin Farm up the road in Blue Lake. We met up with Aunt Renee and Uncle Russ, and Grandpa was able to come too. The boys had a blast! We had a picnic lunch, and the boys enjoyed their first ever corn dog, which we all shared. The farm set up a hay maze for the kiddos, and Charlie loved it especially.

Daddy and Calvin (who is standing on top of the hay maze wall).
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Charlie on the hay maze.
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After a good while in the hay maze, we decided we better head out to the pumpkin fields before the rain came. The boys loved riding in the tractor trailer, Calvin was overjoyed, in fact.

The Trailer Ride.
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Well, by the time we got to the fields the rain was coming down pretty good, and we had no rain gear at all, so pumpkin catchin' went something like this:

Boys run around in mud and trip on pumpkin vines and smear dirt on lips while mommy runs crazily around field to pick perfect pumpkin in 5 minutes flat.

A wet Charlie, Mommy, and Daddy.
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It was really fun, and the boys are very excited about their pumpkin. We plan to carve it tomorrow (the 31st)at our family game night.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Discouraged

It's about mid-way through the fall preschool semester for Charlie. Time to drop in and see how he's doing.

On Monday I stopped by his Special Ed preschool class for an hour. I saw some nice interaction between Charlie and some of the kids in his class in the play area. I saw him use a computer mouse to do a computer game. I watched him do a one-on-one center activity with one of the aids. I also spent some time chatting with the Occupational Therapist while she worked with him.

All in all I was very pleased. He seems to know his way around the class very well, and follows verbal instructions to go to the next activity. He is in a non-verbal class, which perhaps is my only concern, though I'm not sure. I did not see him talk much. I can probably count on my right hand the number of words he said, yet when we are home or out and about he is a chatter box. I think his vocab is probably close to 200 words, of course some of them are hard to understand (okay, a lot of them). I don't know whether being in a class where most of the children have very few words is a hindrance for him or not. I suspect a lot of it is due to his slow-to-warm-up to adults personality.

Today I spent some time at his typical preschool classroom. Sigh. I saw very little interaction with other students. What interaction did occur, today at least, involved a little boy asking Charlie for a turn, and Charlie staring back clueless as to what to do. I saw him look on longingly at some of the playing the other kids were engaged in. I could tell he really wanted to jump into the play that was going on on the trike track, but the boys were moving so fast, and Charlie did not interject in their play. He does know how to ask for a turn, but I think he was pretty overwhelmed by the pace of everything.

It turns out that on Thursdays the center does not do circle time or structured play because the teacher is not there (something I did not know), so Thursday is mostly unstructured free-play. I was so bummed to learn that Charlie spends those days in his own little world on the play ground. He used to interact with the kids more, but I think they have just blown by him in development. Charlie is still doing parallel play (a toddler thing), but the rest of the kids are into interactive play. I did not see the kids try to include him, or they tried and moved on when he did not respond.

I left after feeling so discouraged to see how things were going and went to spend some time in Calvin's class for a bit.

When I came back at 11:30 to pick Charlie up, the boys had moved on from the trike track, and Charlie finally had his chance to ride a trike. He was riding around the track, just as happy as can be, but all alone. It just hurt my heart. I don't think Charlie feels rejection, but I DO!

I guess my expectation of the typical preschool class was that it would provide some valuable peer interaction and modeling, and an environment where he can use his verbal skills. I think there is plenty of modeling, but I did not hear him using words, and he certainly wasn't being facilitated in peer interaction. I feel let down for him, and I don't really know where to go from here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

So Much Illness

There is so much illness going on in this house. Well, I'm not sick (miraculously), but the boys are sick, sick, sick. Even Ray had a touch of this bug the past few days, though mild with his Super Star Immune System and all.

Calvin spiked a fever last week on Thursday. That was the start of it.

His fever only lasted for half a day, but then the nose started to seep. And the cough--that 'wonderful' Humboldt cruddy cough--appeared.

Charlie started to feel unwell on Sunday. The nose started up, then the cough. On Monday he spiked a fever. That lasted for a day. Tuesday was a bit better, Wednesday better yet. Finally I sent both boys to school/day care on Thursday thinking, "Boy, I'm glad THAT is over."

Got a call from the school. Charlie is sitting like a lump int he corner. He doesn't seem to feel good. "He's not crying or anything," they say. It is close to pick-up time, so I decide not to fetch him early.

When I got to the school to pick up the boys, I see Calvin asleep in the teachers arms. NOT like him to do that, AT ALL. He had suddenly spiked a fever just 10 minutes earlier, and immediately fell asleep when the teacher picked him up.

So, now there are two boys feeling crummy. Awesome.

Today, Calvin continues to have a fever and a cough. He is a pretty cheery sick person. It is really amazing how this kid goes to any measure to make sure he is not missing out on anything.

Charlie has no fever, but he is quite worn out. His nose is disgusting, and his cough has not gotten any better. For Charlie, being sick usually means he is either laying on the floor moaning, or in the big chair watching a movie. I think we have watched every kid movie we own, and maybe a couple old movies not made for kids, but the fact that they are old make them family appropriate, if not understood by the boys.

It has been precious to have so many sought out hugs and cuddles from the boys this week. I hate for them to feel poorly, though. I hope all this illness is over really soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Priceless

This kid is hours of entertainment for the entire neighborhood. Seriously.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Sweet Gift

Our friend V, gospel singer extraordinair, gave the boys this old guitar her kids don't use anymore. They like it A LOT! Thanks, V!
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

An Amazing Day

Today is one of those days that just feels great. Nothing exciting, new, or extraordinary has happened at all. Which, I suppose, is really how I like things.

It is raining. The first good storm of the season. As I was about town this morning people were complaining about the absence of the rain. The forecast has called for heavy storms, and the sky has promised us rain for two days, yet until this afternoon there was none. It rains a lot here on the far north coast of California, and the locals aren't always so hungry for rain. I think it was just the feeling in the air, the warmth that low cloud cover brings, the wind from the south. We were all living in anticipation for this storm, and it is finally here. Ah, comfy.

The boys are both napping. It probably won't last long, but I was able to get them both down to sleep at the same time. This is a new occurance, and it is so wonderful. Bedtime and nap time have been the one really stressful part of having two boys so close in (developmental) age. It is such a relief to bring them both into the bedroom at the same time, read a couple books, then get Charlie settled in his bed while I nurse Calvin. Then, they both fall asleep, listening to each others noises, comforted by their buddy just across the room. It is sweet. It is sweet for me to not have to need the TV to babysit one while I get the other down. That feels so good. It is sweet to see them settle in to each other's presence. It is sweet to get them down for naps and bed in half the time it took before.

Today just feels so good. The sound of the rain, and the way it makes the air feel. The quiet of the house, with two boys settled in for a sleep. The appreciation of "this too shall pass" having come to pass.

Friday, October 9, 2009

More Charlie Words

When one is leaving the room, one might say, "Bye! Eee-ooo Ayda!"

When one rides the bus to "cool" one must carry one's things in one's "a-back."

At certain times of the day one may notice a certain empty feeling in one's tummy. The best way to feel better is to tell a grown up that you are feeling "huggie" and would like to "eat peese!"

If one's name is Calvin one might be more specific about food choices and ask for "meat" or a "n-a-n-a" since one has recently learned the spelling of a certain long, yellow fruit.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Way Charlie Says It

There are words that Charlie says in his own little boy way. You know, incorrectly, if you really want to be technical.

We like it though, and often find ourselves using the Charlie version instead of the version found in Webster's Dictionary.

For example, this morning for breakfast we had Daddy's special "Biskicks". Sometimes Daddy whips up some yummy "cake-cakes". I like when he does that. Most mornings we simply have "meal-meal" though. One of our favorite special treats in this house, "Choc-ick."

Charlie tends to leave the beginning consonant off of a lot of words, so instead of hearing our names as Daddy, Calvin, and Kim (usually he calls me mommy, but not when he is calling to me from afar), we are called "Addy," "Alvin," and "Im" (he leaves the "r" on "ray" and the "m" on "mommy" for whatever reason). His own name he pronounces "Chawie."

Lately he has been making many pretend phone calls which he begins by saying, "He-yo, haw you?" and ends with. "umm hmm, bye bye!"

Rascal number 2 gets in on the fun as well. I often find myself using Calvin's version of the word "brother" instead of the proper term. Calvin says, "Brubber". In fact I've never heard Calvin utter Charlie's name, he simply calls him "Brubber".

And it's funny, the boy's language evolves so quickly. They will learn a word, complete with creative toddler pronunciation, and before the week is out the word has new sounds and is a much closer approximation. Some other word versions seem to stick for a while, like Calvin's use of "Brubber".

I really enjoy these adorable word interpretations, although my own learning curve for understanding emerging words probably needs improvement if you ask Charlie!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Yesterday I found out about...

The death of the sweet baby daughter who I "knew" through an on-line parent support group for families touched by Down Syndrome. I had prayed so very hard for her, as had many people. She passed away after complications from an open heart surgery.

The opportunity for life given to a 4 year old orphan boy whom I had been praying for for over a year. He lives in an orphanage in Eastern Europe, and desperately needed a family to commit to adopt him before he turned 5 and would be sent to a mental institution. I found out yesterday a family has chosen him to be their son. (Reece's Rainbow Ministry)

Monday, September 28, 2009

We've Got Twins!

Ray and I both agree: Calvin has caught up with Charlie. We are now raising developmental twins!

Oh yes, one may be 3 inches taller, ten pounds heavier, and just overall a more husky boy, but in almost every sense they are at the same level in development.

Large Motor

We think Calvin is actually ahead of Charlie in this area. Calvin can go down steps unassisted, Charlie still crawls down or needs a hand. They both run and attempt to do the cutest little jumps. They roll, they tackle, they dance, they fling themselves about. Their newest trick, which they both picked up recently (and both feel rather proud of) is their ability to walk backwards. Calvin is maybe a little bit slower when running, and perhaps a bit more tipsy than Charlie just yet.

Fine Motor

Calvin is unmistakably ahead. Fine motor skills are a big challenge for Charlie. Calvin's movements are altogether more refined and his hands much stronger. In fact, Calvin is already eating with fork and spoon--his aim for his mouth is a bit off, though. Charlie does great with fork and spoon and eats very neatly, but has a lot of trouble getting food onto said utensils.

Receptive Language
Of course it is a bit hard to tell just how much the kids understand, but it is a heck of a lot! They are both able to understand instructions, and follow through. Calvin is a little better at understanding instructions that are not familiar. Charlie needs the instructions to be very concrete, preferable a task he has carried out before, but not always.

Expressive Language

Both boys are talking a lot. Both have well over 100 signs (ASL), and tons of words. Charlie is repeating many sentences that we say, and strings up to two words together. Calvin is also beginning to put two words together, most notably "more (food) please" and "big truck!" Charlie's latest word combo is "chocolate chip," which totally makes sense if you know our family. I'm only surprised "chocolate" wasn't his first word. haha.

Emotionally
I think the emotions part is maybe where Charlie has Calvin beat. Calvin is still in that in-between stage of baby and boy. He needs his mommy a lot (aw, I love it), he still nurses, and generally just lacks the little boy independence that Charlie has moved in to.

Self-Control
The boys are neck in neck when it comes to impulse control: THEY HAVE NONE! Okay. That is not entirely true. They do pretty well, and being the sons of parents in ministry, they are well trained to behave reasonable well through long, boring meetings. (As was I, kids. As was I.) They are a joy (and a workout) to take to restaurants. Really, they are a lot like puppies: Happily they will play, or quietly they will sit and "read", until some item (that looks like it may have an internal combustion engine) catches their attention, then all bets are off! It is all very normal (or so am told about boys.)

So there you have it. Our amazingly wonderful developmental twins.

You know, we knew this day would come, and fully expected it to be, well, kind of sad. Funny thing is, I'm not sad at all. I am excited for a couple reasons. One, with Calvin growing and developing so rapidly it is easy to see a day on the horizon when my job will get a little easier. He will gain independence, we will communicate better, I will train him to fold the laundry... (Okay, he's off the hook for laundry. At least for a little while.)

And two, I am excited to see how having a sibling who is developmentally ahead will help Charlie. Soon his brother will be modeling behavior that we want Charlie to do. Soon Calvin will be speaking in sentences, which will no doubt inspire Charlie to try his hand at it. Charlie has always been encouraged developmentally by typical children.

I am often asked if the boys get along. It is a complicated question for me to answer. At first the images that fill my mind are of pre-bedtime wrestling matches, Charlie laying on top of Calvin, Calvin screaming for help, and tug-of-wars over a toy they both want but refuse to share. So, there are times they clearly are at odds with each other. But really, our boys value their companionship deeply. They are so excited to be reunited after time apart. Calvin talks about his "Brubber" often while Charlie is away at school. They do play very sweetly and cooperatively with each other at times, even offering their toys for a "turn." If one is hurt, the other will extend a comforting pat and an, "Okay?"

These guys have no idea they are in a fairly unique sibling relationship. Calvin scooting by Charlie, both loving who the other is, just how they are. These brothers, this sibling relationship... It's a good thing. And right now, it's a twin thing.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Word

Calvin's latest little saying is, "Yee Haw!" No idea where he picked it up, but way cute!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Communication or Charades

During our family dinner last night Charlie initiated a little exchange with Ray. It was a conglomeration of half sign language and half spoken words. He was pointing, smiling, and seemed very pleased with his idea, if only mom and dad would catch on.

"Milk? You want more milk?" Ray asked and moved his cup closer.

"No," Charlie said.

The gestures and words continued. Charlie was pointing to the milk carton, which we keep on the table at dinner. (We add just tablespoons of milk at a time to his cup, which usually gets knocked over on accident, or dumped on his shirt if he miss-aims for his mouth, a couple times during the meal.)

By then we had figured out that he was saying milk. "Ilk, ilk, ilk!" he would say, and then he would point his hand down toward the table, elbow up in the air.

"You want more milk in your glass?"

Charlie nodded his head emphatically. Ray and I just looked at each other and shrugged. I almost felt as if I should add a point to a charades score card for Ray.

Communicating in this household feels a lot like charades. Both Charlie and Calvin are at about the same level when it comes to verbal communication--Charlie being behind developmentally, and Calvin a little ahead of schedule. Both boys use sign language extensively, and I estimate each of them know and use well over 100 signs. Add to that mommy and daddy who tend to use sign language a lot to communicate what we don't want the boys to hear, or trying to politely communicate to each other during quiet meetings if one of the boys needs attending to.

Come to think of it, I can't remember the last time I played charades with out slipping in to using sign language!

For the boys communication is a little bit of gesture and signs, a little bit of verbal communication, a lot of guesses. Sounds like... First word, first syllable... And finally, "Ohhhhhh, you want to play outside," or "Oh! You want help putting the back-pack on!" Understanding feels like an accomplishment.

I think Charlie's greatest improvement in communication over the last few months is his willingness to stick to it until mom and dad get it. He is really quite patient with us. After all, to him it is obvious what he is trying to say!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Black Eye

Calvin slipped off the dining room chair at our friends house the other evening and caught his eye on the side of the table. Result: Big ole black eye!

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You know what's funny. If you know Calvin very well you would think to yourself, "Well, of course Calvin has a black eye!" He is such a little adventurer.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

First Day of (Regular) PreSchool

(Okay, so this post is a little late. It should have been posted on August 28th, but what can I say, we've been busy! Two schools, two boys, lots of colds and coughs since school started. Whew!)

Charlie attends 2 preschool programs. One is a special education preschool class he attends Mon, Wed, Fri. (I would say a self-contained class, but that is not completely accurate. More like a self-contained special education school with students from age 3 to 21 years old.) The second preschool is a non-special ed preschool that is affiliated with the toddler center he has attended since he was 17 months old. You know, just your typical old preschool.

This year, to his delight, Calvin gets to attend the younger toddler class. Mommy is delighted as well because she no longer has to take him to work (which was getting just a wee bit HECTIC! LOL). Here are our boys on their first day of school.

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We are so pleased that Charlie has the opportunity to attend this awesome school. It gives him a chance to just be a regular kid, and indeed to learn how to be a regular kid with regular kid behavior to model. He does very well in the the class even without any extra supports. He follows along with all the activities and is dearly loved by the children. You would be amazed at how the kids and Charlie communicate so well, despite him not having near the language skills as they.

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Ray and I both strongly believe there is value in children with special needs being a part of their 'natural' community (you know, the community in which they live and interact, disabilities or not). We adore Charlie's special education school and all that he gains from attending there. Unfortunately his special school is far away from our home and completely segregated. There is no opportunity for the kids there to have exposure to non-disabled peers or to develop friendships with children who do not have disabilities. (In Charlie's particular class the only people modeling language and appropriate behavior are the teacher and aids.)

Now, I realize that not all children with disabilities and differences would gain what Charlie does from being around non-disabled children. Every child is so different. But for Charlie, we are so blessed to have this regular preschool option. This amazing preschool that has gone out of their way for our son to keep him there because they want him there. Because they value who he is and believe that he belongs.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Normal

Ray and I were viewing a DVD on parenting tonight, and the Pastor in reference to talking about the way people come to view the world said, "We all pick up a normal somewhere along the way, don't we."

A Normal.

Normal is something parents of children with differences think about a lot. In Charlie's story I mention that at some point in our journey we found a "new normal". I may talk about a lot of things--therapy, doctors appointments and tests, IEP's, IFSP's, IPP's, services--that many families would consider a crazy amount of extra. To us, this is just normal. Actually, with Charlie being our first child, we have literally never known any different. This is simply a part of the fabric of our day.

I think there are a lot of things that we as families and individuals see as out of the ordinary, so we decline from getting involved. It is weird if it is not our normal. Parents of children with differences are in many ways thrust in to this world. So, we grieve, we research, we learn, we reorient ourselves, and we move on.

This is the thing. I am a person of comfort. I hesitate to venture too far from what feels safe to me. I would not dare to think that I would be interested in raising a child with Down Syndrome had it not been given to me, and now... Now I wonder how other families get by without this enduring blessing.

There are a few hopes I have for this humble little blog. I humbly hope that I will be diligent enough to write a few things down about my kids, to record my thoughts and feelings about them, to share their milestones and the funny things they do. I hope that this blog will bring awareness to people about what life is like for families who experience disability or differences. I hope parents will begin to to dream the dream that they can "handle this" in their lives. That this journey, for all of us, starts out as anything but normal. That is okay. If anything, I hope this little blog helps a parent or two come to understand that they will pick up a different "normal", and before they know it, that old way will all seem so surreal and far away.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Learning at School

Well, Charlie came home from school yesterday with a new little phrase he picked up. He is saying, "Bye, Have a nice day!" Seriously cute.

Also, the bus driver said he made a friend. Apparently Charlie got to sit next to a high school student from his school (all special ed) on the way home. The driver said they were cracking each other up during the entire drive. :)

Sounds like he is enjoying his year so far!

Have a nice day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Day of School Revisited

Just wanted to say, Charlie seemed to have a great day on Monday.
This is the note we received home from his teacher:

Kim & Ray,

Charlie had a good day -- ate lunch & had a popsicle at afternoon snack.

He painted purple, sat in circle, played outside, computer--

Seemed to be very happy and cooperative.

This year we have APE (adapted physical education) on Wed & Friday,

so Charlie will be able to participate. Speech on Wed and Friday this year.

C


After school we talked a lot about what he did, who he saw, and, of course, the school bus.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of School 2009

Today was Charlie's first day of school for the new school year. It feels a little bittersweet.

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Ray's not sweating it too bad, he is gone during the day anyway, but the fellowship of the brothers is broken up for now. I don't know if Calvin is relieved for a bit of piece and quiet, or wondering where his partner in crime is all day long.

Mommy is doing okay... I guess.

And, Charlie? Well, the kid has an amazing ability to "just roll with it" when it comes to things like this. I took him to class this morning, and he promptly hung up his lunch box, and jumped right back into the routine of things. He did give me a long wistful hug, a little reluctant to let go. And he watched closely over his shoulder as Calvin and I walked out the door.

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That was 9am. Cal and I ran some errands after that, and went to the park. Now we are preparing pictures for Charlie's "All About Me" book for his second "typical" preschool that starts up tomorrow.

I have so many different things going on in my head about this school year and my sweet boy. Like I said, it is quite bittersweet. I wish things could feel perfect to me. Oh well, now we wait until the bus comes at 4:15pm.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

You can't only have vegetables for dinner: A Meal Time Update

It struck me as it came out of my mouth what an unusual thing it is among parents of 17 month olds to admonish the youngster to lay off the roughage. I love that Calvin loves veggies! But sometimes his vegetable-love leads to avoiding other healthy foods on his tray. Tonight it was cherry tomatoes (technically a fruit), steamed broccoli and beats from our garden. We had some yummy lentils and rice too, but all Calvin wanted was the veggies. The boy is getting so lean, so I do worry that he get enough fats. (Good thing he is still such an enthusiastic nursling.)

Charlie on the other hand, loves the tomatoes, but rarely touches veggies. Well, he does like corn! He did great with the lentils and rice (which was a pleasant surprise) as long as we added some sour cream, or "keem" as he calls it. He has also been making great strides drinking from an open cup, and used his big boy cup all through dinner with just a little bit of assistance. He tends to bring the cup away from his mouth without tipping it back up when left to himself. We are trying to help him understand that it is no big deal if he spills. I think cup drinking has in part come along so slowly because Charlie tends to have a lot of anxiety about liquid spills.

Anyway, a little meal time update for you!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Spiders

Ever since Charlie and I brushed the spider webs off the outside of the house yesterday, I keep finding spiders crawling all around the inside of our house!

I felt a little bad to do away with all their handiwork, and I even left a few of the 'prettier' webs, but now we've a number of homeless spiders roaming around the walls and carpet. (How did they get inside?)

My neighbor, an amateur entomologist, assures me that spiders rarely actually bite folks, but still...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Logic

Today Calvin has been calling his diaper "bye-bye pee-pee."

Which, when I think about it,

what else would a diaper be called??

Friday, July 31, 2009

Language Development 2

Mommy: (Runs after giggling 16 month old boy) "Calvin, we need to change your diaper."

Calvin: (Still giggling) "Nnnnnooooooooo!

Mommy: (Against her better judgment...) "Do you want to hold the Butt Paste while I change your diaper?" (I usually call it diaper paste, but the name of this particular brand really is "Butt Paste".)

Calvin: (Happily holds tube of paste and submits to a diaper change.) "Butt Pace!"

Later that day:

"Butt Pace! Butt Pace!"

Before bed time:

"Butt Pace! Butt Pace! Butt Pace!"

Next Morning:

"Nurse... Butt Pace!"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Language Development

Here's a little exchange between Charlie and I the other day:

(Boy walks up with his helicopter in two pieces.)

Charlie: "Mama." (Smug smile on face.)

Me: "Hi Charlie."

Charlie: (Offers broken helicopter up.) "Pancake?"

Me: (???) "Hmm... Do you mean 'fix-it'?"

Charlie: (Big smile, nods head.) "Fis-it!"

Me: "Okay." (Snap) "Here you go, Bud."

Charlie: "Ank-ooo." (Twinkle in eye.)

Me: "Your welcome, Buddy."

(Happy boy walks away with a helicopter in one piece.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Goings On

The summer weeks keep going by, and our days are filled with that easy-going, spontaneous kind of adventure that only come in summer days. Few of our family exploits have made it to the pages of this blog (the screen of this blog?).

Oh Blog. Poor neglected blog.

Without any pictures to show you of our latest happenings, I will tell you in short form what they are.

Summer school is out for Charlie, and I realize just how much I miss him being home. Just three-and-a-half, and I wonder if all this hurried educating is really worth a mommy's empty arms. (Or a bit of family time!) Ah, life.

Have you ever tried to go on a gluten free/casein free diet cold turkey, all at once, with no plan to speak of. Ooo! Me, me! I'm trying a GF/CF diet to see if it will help me with my asthma, allergies, and ADD. So far I have had a huge headache for a week, and nauseousness, but on the positive side I am having improvement in my ability to focus.

There has been lots of time to exercise as I let the kids out to play in our yard-with-no-fence. I kind of feel like a mother Emu running after chicks in all directions. (Do Emu chicks have the propensity to run amuck?) Our boys are yet to learn the meaning of "stay on the grass."

We went "Speedering" again on Sunday. And we saw some huge "Choo Choo's" too. More on that later.

And finally, Ray and I celebrated out 6th anniversary on Sunday. Thank you to Grandma and Grandpa who babysat so we could go out for a lovely dinner and movie. We had a great time. We rarely go out on dates, and decided we should go at least once a season. Maybe we'll even work up to once a month. Provided we can find enough family and friends willing to watch our amazing, spirited, creative, and extremely energetic boys.

Happy Anniversary, Ray. I don't think we are doing all too bad (wink).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Many Hats of Calvin

So, did you ever have one of those days--make that weeks--where your 16 month old son felt that dinner might make a nice cap?
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Come to think about it, just about any household item can make a unique and fashionable hat. Or so says our Calvin.
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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Summer Time, Summer Time

You know what? We are having a great summer. And we are so busy. But I want to update some of our fun. So to begin...

A couple weeks ago Nana and Papa (my folks) came up for a visit. The kids get so excited to have Nana and Papa around. "Papa Moose" (as Charlie refers to him) taught Calvin and Charlie all kinds of fun new words like "Bonsai!" and "Kowa-Bunga!" and "Dude." Don't ask. He's always been like that!

Here's Charlie loving him some Papa.
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One of the days Nana and Papa were here we took the kids to the local zoo.

Their faces just say it all. They had so much fun!
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Hi guys.
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Looks like a pretty friendly spider to me!
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Calvin and "Joy" the pig.
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Well, that's all for now. We have so much more to share. We went on a trip to visit Great Grandma Chalmers, we've been gardening, potty training, "speeder-ing," and hanging out with friends. More of our summer time adventures to come! Happy July 4th!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Potty Training Update

Was just discussing potty-ing with one of Charlie's care providers. Apparently he was willing to sit on the potty at preschool today (a first), and even used a tissue to wipe, though he did not actually "do" anything.

At home Charlie is going poop in the potty about every 2 or 3 days (the other days he goes in his diaper, or as he did one time last week, the floor). He is really excited when he does it. Have not worked on going pee yet. I don't think he is really clued in to that particular body function at this point. I am told it helps to just let kids run around the yard buck-naked so it is easy to notice when they go. I just don't know about that. We haven't a fence here, so he would be quite exposed, and it is a lot of work for me to keep him from dashing off. I think the neighbors would really start to wonder if they saw me running down the alley after a totally naked toddler very often.

Anyway, there is progress, and we are proud of our part time potty pooper. :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day 2009

Well, now we can't let this day pass without honoring our Daddy. Raymond is an amazing father. He is steadfast, he is dedicated, and he loves all of us so much. I can't think of a better father for our boys.

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Do you know he gets up every morning at 6:30am when we hear Calvin over the baby monitor, and fetches him for me? He gets the boys set up with breakfast even while he is making his lunch for work. He is amazing.

He parents with so much creativity, and the boys feel so at home in his arms. There is nothing like watching him together with our boys, doing all the things that boys do.

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Thanks, Ray, for being a most excellent Daddy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Now You See It...

This video (in the post below this one) is of Charlie performing a fun trick he made up all by himself. This kid is way too cute, and funny, and amazing, and and and!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fat Lip

Calvin... Oh, Calvin!...

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Your little mind is two steps ahead of your little body. Such an adventurous spirit, you are.

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Well, sweet boy, I hope that fat lip heals quickly; and, hence forth I promise to make sure the slides are properly spaced so as to avoid another face-to-slide encounter.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Flashback Friday

Charlie at 11 months. Look at that hair! He was a bald baby until about 8 months when it started growing straight up on top.

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At 11 months old Charlie could roll over, sit unassisted, play a mean drum beat, and clap too. He could do a lot of fun things, but those seem like the major milestones at the time. I think our struggles at that point were communication, fine motor play, and eating and drinking. He just would not eat or drink anything! (You would never know from all the chub, though, eh?)

Boy, those days seem to have gone so quickly. I can remember thinking things like, "Will Charlie ever crawl?" "When will he be able to tell me what he wants?" "Am I going to have to breastfeed this child forever?" Now, when I begin to ponder the "will-he-ever's," I remind myself of those early days, and I know my answer is "yes." Yes, he will. Yes, he is capable. Just, in his own time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Guess Who...

...went poop on the potty today??!!

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He was so proud of himself! He walked over to his potty and said, "poop," then made a grunting noise. I asked him if he wanted to poop on his "froggy potty," to which he replied, "yes!" So, down came the pants, off with the diaper, and 5 minutes later he told me he was done! Just like that! I was out of chocolate chips (for a reward), but he was so pleased with himself anyway. He carried the pot to the toilet and helped me dump out his, well, dump. Then he flushed it down while we all waved bye-bye (Calvin was audience to the whole affair). Last, he stood on the step-stool to wash his hands in the sink. He was so excited about what he did. I was excited, too! Yay for Charlie!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Melt

Tonight Charlie came in the kitchen for a milk refill. I helped him pour some milk into his cup and screw on the lid. As he padded away, cup clasped in chubby little hands, I heard, "dank-oo, ama." This boy has my heart.

Monday, June 1, 2009

When Charlie's Away

Snow-angels in the wood chips.

Scrunchy faces at the check-out lady.

Friendly visits with the goats.

And... Oh! This:
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These are some of the things Calvin and mommy do while we wait for brother to be done with school.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Moving Forward

Charlie is doing something new. It's pretty crazy.

First, Calvin does new things every week. Last week it was "E-I-E-I-O", this week it is "One-Two-Three-Go!". He is saying more words every week, and if he is not yet talking in full sentences, he IS understanding EVERYTHING we say. If I say, "Calvin, it is time to go," he is then waiting for me at the door. If I say, "Are you hungry for lunch," he is standing at his highchair ready to be fed. I can ask him to fetch things for me. I can ask him to come to me. I can ask him to stop doing something.

It's not just that. He is doing all this stuff too. He figured out how to work a buckle. Today he mastered assembling the train tracks. He appropriately plays with the many things in his environment. He climbs the ladder to the slide, manuevers his little legs over the top, and slides down all by himself. All this quick development... it's really wild.

Now Charlie. Things don't happen this way with Charlie. Development with my Charlie is a gentler process. It goes at a pace that, frankly, leaves a parent feeling less like life if passing by too quickly. I feel like I can breath between developmental steps. And, bringing a new step is a process. Almost a dance. A little work here, some practice here, now for for therapy, some play, some time away.

We push, we relax, we push some more. Then finally, out of the blue, a new skill, a new combination of words. A milestone.

So what is it, you might ask? What is the new thing Charlie is doing? He is doing puzzles. This is huge. He is able to match the piece to where it goes, then orient the piece to match how it should go in. He totally blew me away! I can't tell you how many months, make that years (okay, like 2 years), we've been working on puzzles. It is not just the act of doing the puzzle, though. It shows he is able to match pictures, and he is able to re-orient the image correctly.

Yes, he is my little smarty pants. I am incredibly proud.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Post

I just wanted to make a quick post, as I've let the last week go by with out adding to this blog. It's not that things are slow. There is a lot to report. But that is just the thing. A person needs to be pretty quick to catch one the thoughts racing through my mind, and then wrestle with it long enough to set ideas in to words. It is a bit like a Rodeo (the writing) when I'm feeling so scrambled. Not that I really know much about Rodeo, but you know that one event where the cowboy races up to a scrambling calf, then jumps from his horse onto it's back and ties it up? Yeah. It takes a lot of energy and precision to do that, and I'm pretty spent by the time I have a chance to sit in front of this computer screen these last few days.

It's good stuff we are up to, though. We've been tending our garden. Planted our first ever Bean Tee Pee last week. Enjoyed a lovely visit from some far away friends. We attended an IEP review meeting to discuss Charlie's educational situation for next fall. Had a great hike with our boys in the Redwoods. We tickled the backs of banana slugs we found on logs. Charlie liked them a lot. Calvin wanted to take a bite. The boys have been going down the slide in the front yard again, and again, and again. I conquered a mountain of paperwork (perhaps the foremost reason that I feel so wiped out--oh, the life of an adult!), folded (ing) endless piles of laundry, washed a multitude of diapers after an unfortunate bout with a tummy virus. We've slept with a crabby baby in our bed, who needed lots of hugs as he dealt with some very painful gas (all better, now).

A bunch of little things that together make my life add up to something meaningful. A little ball of life I would hold so tenderly if indeed one could do that. Busy, but slow in many ways as well. (We can't move too quickly up here in Humboldt County. It would be unlike us.)

So this is what has been going on in my blogging absence, though I hope you repeatedly enjoyed the commercial about adoption as you've checked in the past week. I have been enjoying your beautiful blogs this last week. Loving all the pictures I see, the stories I read, the updates. Thank you. Pictures and 'Calvin and Charlie stories' to follow later this week.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Stats

Last week Calvin had a check-up. Here's his new stats: Weight is 23lbs 4oz, length is 31inches. He is healthy as healthy as can be.

Iron was low at 9.3, lower than last check-up, so we are now giving him iron drops and feeding him Hemp milk of all things, which is high in iron (and tastes like a rope). Lots of leafy greens, but we had been doing that already. Hopefully next check-up will show his iron is up where it should be.

We are to focus on giving him a high fat, high nutrition diet with extra snacks as his weight has been at a stand still for some months. I'm not too worried about his weight, I think he is leveling out after those first months of super-chunky-monkeyness. But, he is enjoying all the extra food anyway.

Calvin now has eight teeth, the top and bottom ones in front. He has two molars partway through up top, and two big bulges ready to break through on the bottom. That will make 12 teeth!

Lets see, what else... He got 2 immunizations, and took it like a champ even though he was tired and cranky and hungry by the time we got to that part of the check-up.

K, I think you get the gist. Everything very regular and boring. A couple things that need tweaking, but overall the boy is growing like a weed and quite strapping.

Developmentally, Calvin is saying more and more words, climbing more and more things, getting in to all kinds of stuff. He has become quite the little gardener, digging in the planter any chance he gets. He is playing with many of our toys in ways that are appropriate to how the toys are intended to be be played with. He understands familiar directions and carries them out. He is just so bright and curious and learning all about everything with what seems like very little effort. I love watching Calvin develop in what feels like double-time. My boys progress so differently, and I love both ways.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Industrious

There are certain adjetives a mother begins to associate with her children as she watches their little personalities unfold. When I describe Charlie (which I am asked to do a lot in concern with special education stuff, so I tend to think about it a lot), I describe him as curious, inventive, tender, exuberant. Charlie has a great sense of humor. He is both easy going, and set in his ways.

Today, as I was watching Calvin work in the garden, digging up rocks and plucking leaves off the Basil, I was impressed by his industriousness. Calvin is indeed a very industrious little fellow. And more than that, he is quite the renaissance man too. At once he enjoys the feeling of the dirt beneath his nails, while he contemplates his next turn with the bubbles, meanwhile he plans a future sidewalk chalk masterpiece, and how he shall call to the goats who live at the end of the drive. His little mind is full of adventure, and work, and joy in whatever endeavor is set before him.

I love having the full access pass of motherhood to watch as these boys develop into the people God set in motion the very day they were conceived. Do you suppose our Papa, you know, our God in Heaven, looks upon each of us with the same wonder and amazement? I think He does.
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