Wednesday, March 28, 2012


This is Luke's nemesis:

This kind is even worse because sometimes it turns on when one just walks past it. This REALLY terrifies Luke.

Luke's biggest, most all-encompassing fear is of public restrooms and all that they entail. He hates automatic flushers. A friend of mine taught me a trick to help with this fear: she carries a pad of sticky notes in her diaper bag and slaps one over the sensor so it won't go off and scare her kid to death. Genius! But it isn't just the automatic part that scares Luke. He is scared of the sound of ANY flushing. Even in our own house he runs out of the bathroom with his pants down half the time. He waits until the toilet is done flushing and re-filling and THEN he'll go back and wash his hands.

Public restrooms are ten times scarier (or more) than our house toilet because he doesn't know how the toilet will sound. So he stands in front of the toilet shaking and swearing that he doesn't actually have to go, or that he just wants to go at "Luke's house" or any other number of excuses while I try to calm him down so that he can just try. Figuring out what to do with Micah while I also try to comfort Luke is an adventure all in itself. One time I was helping Luke go to the bathroom at the library. He was shaking. I was rubbing his back and telling him it was okay, swearing the toilet wasn't scary, promising he could do the light switches when he was done. Meanwhile Micah was in the next stall over splashing happily in the toilet. A woman walked in, took one look at the situation, stated emphatically that she'd just come back later, and fled the scene.

Once Luke knows what to expect he does better. He can usually pee in a specific public place again with little problem after he's done it once. So he WILL use the restroom at Martin's grocery store, the library, and a few bathrooms at Colonial Williamsburg. This does not, however, apply to Wal-mart since the bathrooms always have other occupants besides just us. He doesn't know when a toilet will flush, he doesn't know if and when the hand dryers will turn on. He's a nervous wreck in a Wal-mart bathroom. Although things have gotten a lot better since Luke has learned that MOST people will be nice and NOT use a hand dryer if they understand his fear.

This is how he learned this (to him) most valuable lesson. We were at CW and Micah needed a diaper change. Our regular bathroom at the Governor's Palace was closed, so we had to go to a different one. This bathroom had multiple stalls (we usually go to a family restroom that is an individual room), and it HAD A HAND DRYER. As we went in another woman followed us in also. Luke literally dug in his heels and refused to move. He was trembling. He was crying. I told him that I wouldn't use the hand dryer, but he kept looking to the stall that the woman had entered. He just didn't trust that woman. I explained to Luke that the lady looked very nice and that if we just asked her not to use it, she probably wouldn't do it. Luke took that to heart and ran to her stall door. He stood outside it screaming, "DON'T USE THE HAND DRYER! DON'T USE THE HAND DRYER!" Thank Goodness! She swore that she wouldn't. Then some other ladies came in. Luke ran to them and frantically begged/ shouted "DON'T USE THE HAND DRYER!" Heaven be praised, every single one of those kind old ladies swore to him that they wouldn't use it. And they all began telling stories of their little granddaughter or grandson who was also scared of them...yahta yahta yahta. So now any time we enter a public restroom with a hand dryer, Luke proceeds from stall to stall shouting at every single person NOT TO USE THE HAND DRYER. I am so thankful there are good and understanding people in this world, and especially in Wal-mart. The kind ladies there will stand sentinel while Luke is in his stall and make sure that newcomers know the rule. God bless every single one of them!

In the meantime this is how we are dealing. When we have a string of errands to run, Luke wears a pull-up. When possible I just avoid the scene all together.

And more exciting, perhaps, Luke has started a daily listening therapy with the help of his outpatient OT. He wears special headphones that have AMAZING sound quality and listens to special CDs. The CDs play somewhat distorted classical music that helps him assimilate to certain sound frequencies that bother him. I think it is helping. He is at least more tolerant of the music. When we first started he would tell me that he was "all done listening," after just 5 minutes or so. Now he will listen the full 30 minutes without even complaining. We usually play games while he is listening: Go fish, number dots, blocks. But his very favorite is "Silly Hats" (Cranium-- the adult version-- modified for Luke.)

I hope there's a hand dryer frequency on there!

Monday, March 26, 2012


Two weeks ago I watched a friend's children for her while she and her husband went on an overnight trip. Luke was so excited to have a "sleepover."

I wasn't as cool of a baby-sitter as I planned to be, mostly because I ended up bringing Luke and Micah with me. But I think we still had a good time-- the kids built a fort and watched a movie in it.

And in the morning, I let them put chocolate milk in their breakfast cereal.

That makes me pretty cool, right?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Micah learned how to climb last night!

And suddenly my TV barrier doesn't keep him away from the buttons!

Monday, March 19, 2012

It Turns Out...

that Walgreens is a great place to buy toys! We found lots of great deals-- Don't worry, Mom! I didn't get most of them! A couple months ago, during the time that Micah was going from one infection to another, we wandered the toy aisles while we waited for his prescription. That was when I realized that there is awesome stuff at Walgreens for cheaper than you can find the same toys at Wal-mart (but admittedly a much smaller selection). Anyway, Luke had a few birthday parties coming up and wanted to get his friend Tucker a tent. I remembered seeing one at Walgreens, so we headed over. We scored TWO great tents for 10 bucks a piece-- (the same ones were $20 on Amazon) and the boys had SO MUCH FUN playing in their tent.

Micah figured out that if he crawled around in there he could make the tent do sommersaults. (How do you spell that word?!!), and he crashed the tent into everything in the living room laughing and having a ball. Luke spent most of his time closing the door only to pop it open again and start all over. He also pulled blankets in there and "took a nap," sorted his balls, and hid in it repeatedly during a game of hide-and-seek.

When we were at Walgreens I also saw (but didn't get) some Fisher Price Little People toys for about $5 dollars cheaper than they sell them at Wal-mart. They had some baby Disney Princess dolls for about $5 dollars cheaper too. Playdough sets. All kinds of things. So if your Easter Bunny gives presents or if you have a birthday party coming up, check out your local Walgreens!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mee-Kee Pants!

Micah has a lot of nicknames. And out of the lot (a whole lot) quite a few are actually very unattractive. Mee-Kee Pants is one of those. But he gets called that A LOT. Poor kid! I blame Jared for starting this one, but we really are mean parents.

Micah has been busier the past few weeks, and I just realized I haven't blogged about any of his activities/ goings-on. So here's a synopsis:

I emailed Micah's used-to-be physical therapist at CDR (Child Development Services), which is Virginia's birth-three program, in late January about some concerns and questions I had about Micah. My primary concern was regarding language. Micah didn't have any words (not that big of a deal), didn't use many gestures to communicate (a bigger deal-- he wasn't pointing and made little effort to communicate much at all), and also didn't seem to understand language. He didn't respond to questions like, "Where's Mama?" at all. He also seemed to have some sensory over-sensitivity which made me nervous because of Luke's history. His therapist recommend another evaluation, so we started the process all over again.

It took almost a month before the full evaluation by which time he was making requests for things by bringing us objects and also by screaming or whining. He also responded (just sometimes) to words like Mama and Dada. This time he was screened by an early childhood special education teacher and a speech therapist. The special ed teacher said she didn't see anything to be concerned about regarding his socialization because he did communicate through eye contact and some body movements (plus he was starting to reach and vocalize); he was interested in the people in the room; he sought out contact with adults. She also said that his sensory issues were not severe enough to warrant real concern. I should just keep an eye on him. The speech pathologist further expounded on all the things that count as communication. So I realized that Micah was communicating more than I realized. I was getting the messages he was giving and responding. I just wasn't "counting" his communication as communication. I hope you understand what I'm trying to say. Anyway. But the speech pathologist noted substantial (for a 15 mo. old) delays in receptive and expressive language.

So Micah started speech therapy once a week. I know, I know. A lot of you are thinking that seems extreme for a 16 month old baby. But if the intervention is available I say, "Why not?" And it has been very helpful. I do and always did the things I knew a "good" parent does. Jared and I both did. We read to our boys, sang to our boys, talked to our boys. I would just talk about all kinds of things while I drove because it was drilled into me that I needed to expose my kids to language. But for whatever reason my children don't just pick it up like a lot of kids do. Exposure is not enough. They need explicit instruction. They need planned out strategies. And I don't know all those strategies and what-not, not having a degree in speech pathology. So the sessions with Micah are really training sessions for me to know what I should work on during the rest of the week.

After 2 sessions and a lot of newly implemented strategies around the house (and a very good book later) Micah signs MORE on his own to make a request for more food or to play a game/ read a book again, responds to a few "routine" words like EAT and BATH, shouts "Up-ah!" (up) on a regular basis (That is definitely his first consistent word!), Mama (every once in awhile), dog. He is making some animal sounds, and he is mimicking other words too. He says "Baa!" for bath, "bah" for ball, and I know he says more but I can't think of them.

His therapist suggested that I get Micah into the CDR play group. He had his first play date on Friday. I was expecting him to struggle and get upset, but he went right in and just started exploring. He didn't need me at all! So I went into the observation room to see if he would be alright even without me there. He was a champ! I think partly it was because the room and the teachers were amazing. There were 5 kids and 4 adults. There were stations spread out throughout the room-- it was pretty much a kid's paradise. There was a "library" area, a train station, a car station, a kitchen area, a dress-up area, tables with gears and puzzles attached, slides, an obstacle course. And more. It was incredible! They had a snack time. Micah sat down in the chair with all the bigger kids and ate his crackers. Then they gave the kids applesauce. They let Micah feed himself (which he thoroughly enjoyed!) and I realized that I haven't given him much opportunity to feed himself. So we've been working on that this week. It's a messy business!

Children Inspire REALLY Bad Poetry

I wrote the following poem (in my mind) yesterday morning as I tried to sleep (unsuccessfully) at 6 AM when Luke crawled into bed with us.


I like to share pizza,
I like to share games,
With one special friend, I share my name.
But one thing, when shared, makes me turn red.
Dear Luke, I am talking about Mama's bed.

A knee in my back,
A foot on my leg,
A whispering voice right by my head.
These little things make it so Mama can't sleep.
These little things stop me from counting my sheep.

I give you my money,
I give you my time,
But on this certain issue I'm drawing the line!
Just so you the days right ahead...
I love you, I love you. But I won't share my bed!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Savannah, Georgia

For Jared's spring break (at least the beginning of it), we went to Savannah to meet up with our good friends Justin, Nancy and Hazel. They moved to Florida last summer, so Savannah was the midway point between our two houses.

It was a pretty long drive to Georgia, and we worried about how well the kids would do. So we found some good deals on Hotwire, and split the drive into 2 days. I'm so glad that we did! Micah can go about an hour before losing it. Then he cries. When he cries, Luke gets upset and screams. Literally screams. That scares Micah, and Micah cries more. Luckily the screaming and crying cycle didn't happen continually the whole 4-5 hours (Luke was a very good traveler most of the time, especially the hour or so that Micah was asleep), but it happened enough to convince us that we better split the drive up again on our way home.

Here are a few pictures from our hotel stops:

Micah wrestling with Dada

Luke and the blow dryer-- love the semi-wedgie

After a sort of lame continental breakfast we made it the rest of the way to Georgia. We actually stayed in Tybee Island about 30 minutes from downtown Savannah. We originally thought that we'd spend most of the time on the island. But it turns out that it was terrible timing for a beach vacation. It was pouring down rain when we arrived. Shortly after we got there a severe thunderstorm warning was issued-- with VERY LOUD SIRENS to announce the warning. Luke clamped his hands over his ears and had a meltdown because he was terrified and it hurt his ears. He curled up on the bed under a blanket and just shook. Even after the alarm had stopped he wouldn't come out. Jared thought he might be in shock or something. I was playing with Micah (who was completely unphased) but decided I'd document the moment.

He eventually got off the bed but wouldn't go outside to the porch to look at the rain, and he kept asking to go back to Luke's house. Poor little guy! Part of the reason he was so scared was because we told him the alarm was all done, and then it went off again 10-20 minutes later. So after that time, he didn't know if it would happen a third time or more. He didn't want to get off the bed just in case.

Justin and Nancy got there an hour or two after us. They said that while checking in they heard in the office that the severe thunderstorm warning had been lifted (Is that the right word?) and that it was just a rainstorm now. We finally convinced Luke that the alarm would NOT go off again, and he came out to play.

So the first night we stayed inside, played some games, and ate microwave pizza hot pockets since we couldn't make a fire.

The next day we drove to Savannah for church and then went to the downtown area to walk around and play. Jared was listening to "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" on the way down. That book takes place in Savannah, and it talks about several historic houses, so he plugged one into the GPS and it took us to the prettiest place I'd ever seen.

This is the park just a few blocks from the Mercer-Williams house where we had parked and picnicked. We played here for a few hours on Sunday and then again on Monday. We were all in love with it!

Honestly these pictures just don't do it justice! The trees, the grass, the houses was all completely incredible!

This is the walled fragrant garden. On Sunday it was closed, but when we went back on Monday we got to go inside and sit for awhile. There were 2 woman gardeners there who were very kind to Luke and showed him a snail they found and let him throw some leaves in the fountain.

This is the Mercer-Williams house that I mentioned. Jared and I loved the architecture. Luke loved the air conditioner. Micah loved the grass.

I wish I had taken more pictures of the city and the buildings. When we went back on Monday I forgot to bring the camera, so this is all that we ended up with. But there were so many beautiful walkways and buildings. It reminded me of old-timey London that you see in the BBC movies.

After getting back to the campground on the island later that afternoon, we tried to go down to see the beach but the wind was so bad that the sand just shot into our eyes, so we didn't make it to the beach. Like I said, bad timing for beach camping. But there was a short trail we got to hike around. And Nancy and I got short naps. So it turned out to be a great day anyway.

That evening the weather was still windy, but we braved the wind and built a fire anyway. We roasted hot dogs for dinner, and after the kiddos were asleep we made s'mores,

warmed our hands,

toasted our tushies,

and had great conversation.

On Monday we went back to Savannah to play in the park and check out some more of the houses. We had a beautiful walk, rested in the garden, climbed on the playground, tried to find Paula Deen's restaurant (we did, but the wait was too long), and then had to say good-bye. It was a short trip, but it was a good one.

Justin and Nancy are game for making this a yearly tradition, so the plan is for them to come visit us in Amarillo next year. We are so excited for that! We miss those guys!

Justin is doing a clerkship in Ft. Lauderdale, so among the many conversations that we had, we had a few about what to expect for our clerkship. We were happy to find out that their student loan payment is less than we had thought, which gives us hope that we can afford to rent a house after all. I am very happy about that! Justin reported that he loves his job, loves the judge, and wouldn't want his life (for now) any other way. All good things to hear!