Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Update on Micah

Update #1:

He keeps getting cuter and cuter!

Update #2:

Micah's communication is getting better every day.  His new therapist introduced Micah to a modified version of the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS.)  Normally a child would give a picture of the desired item to Mom or Dad in exchange for the real item.  Micah doesn't exchange the picture, though.  He just has to point to the picture to get what he wants.  

I have taken a bunch of photographs of common snacks/ favorite foods, like this one:

We have practice sessions each day.  I put one cracker and the photo on his high chair tray and let him eat the cracker.  To get another cracker he has to point to the picture.  This facilitates speech at the same time because he almost always says the word (or a version of it) when he points to the picture.  Micah doesn't ask for things or talk about things that he can't actually see, so the photograph helps him organize his thoughts and ask for things that aren't right there.  This exercise has also FINALLY taught him how to point.  Just this week he pointed to a light just to show me that he liked it.  It was the first time he has pointed to get my attention and share something with me.  A big breakthrough!

Micah has a lot of new words now.  Most of them are food!  But he also says Bee-Bee for his Blankie, Bubba for toothbrush, Na for fan, On for air conditioner, ah-gah for all gone, and a few more words as well.

Update #3

This kid is trouble!

Last Friday we were rushing out of the house to get to Micah's play group.  I was throwing in a last-minute load of laundry.  I unscrewed the cap and filled it with soap, then placed the cap and the open bottle of detergent on the dryer while I went to the living room to clean up a mess.  When I turned around, there was Micah holding the upturned bottle of laundry detergent and standing in a giant puddle.  This was an almost brand new bottle of 2X concentrate.  AAAHHH!  I threw a towel over the mess, and while Micah was at his play group, called the RS president to ask her to send out an email asking if anyone had a Bissell I could borrow.  Luckily, she did.  So here is Jared spending 30+ minutes suctioning soap and LOTS of water out of our living room carpet.

Update #4

Micah is on his 7th ear infection in the past 12 months.  We have an appointment with an ENT next Tuesday.  I'll keep you posted on what we find out.  There may be surgery in his future...

Friday, June 22, 2012


Luke drew this picture on his easel tonight.  Jared and I were very impressed!

At first Luke had just drawn the big outline shape.  I said, "That looks kind of like a bird," and Luke turned it into one all by himself.

First Camping Trip

We had our first tent camping trip last Friday night.  We just went to Chickahominy here in Williamsburg, and we did a VERY simplified trip.  We ate dinner before we left to reduce what we brought along.  And we still managed to bring half our house.

Our instant tent really was easy to put up.  And now that we know what we're doing, we will be even quicker next time.  Here's how our evening went:

Micah played with the buckles on his car seat and Luke played with the CD player in the car while Jared and I set up the tent.

Then Luke, very ENTHUSIASTICALLY, helped Jared pump up the air mattresses.  (I fully admit that I'm a wussy when it comes to sleeping on rocks.)  

We went over to the playground for a bit and then stopped at the river to look around.  Isn't it beautiful???

Luke ran around on the dock.

And Micah ran around in the water.

He sat down in the water pretty early on, so he was stripped down to his diaper within just a few minutes.  He liked it better that way.

Before we headed back to the tent we got to watch a bass boat launch.  Luke thought it was very cool!

Luke doesn't like fire because he says it "gets him."  He means that he doesn't like the smoke in his eyes.  So we ate chocolate and marshmallows in the tent.  Not the best S'mores ever, but sugar is sugar. None of us were complaining.

Micah had a hard time falling asleep which makes sense because he isn't used to anyone being in the same room with him when he goes to sleep.  That was the hardest thing about the trip.  The best part was being together and seeing the boys so excited.  The other highlight was our neighbors.  They had a fold-out camper with Christmas lights strung to the trees, and the whole family talked like Mater.  Awesome!

Micah and Luke woke up early the next morning.  Jared had to get back to the bar grind anyway, so we packed up early and headed out.  We all took naps that afternoon.  And we are excited to go camping again soon!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Texas! (with no pictures)

On June 7th I flew down to Houston for my bestest friend Jennifer's wedding reception.  I got there mid-day, and from the time I arrived I was spoiled.  I was spoiled by glorious sights, like old me wearing cowboy boots with their suits-- I just love that!  I was spoiled with great food: Sweet Tomatoes, BBQ, and the best Tex-Mex EVER.  I was spoiled with the most marvelous pampered morning when I was treated to a manicure and pedicure.  I was spoiled with sleep.  I got to sleep in until 9AM at least 3 out of the 4 mornings I was there.  And most of all, I was spoiled with wonderful company whom I have missed so much!

Jennifer and I have known each other since second grade.  Our brothers were also the same age, so we had a lot of joint play dates when we were growing up.  I was envious of Jennifer's life-like dolls and unbelievable teacher-tool collection (She even had an overhead projector!), and she liked my trampoline.  We were close throughout our younger years and those first exciting years at girls camp.  And then in high school we became inseparable.  During those years when we were defining ourselves and going through (what we thought at the time) were terrible heartaches and struggles, we were there for each other.  And though we have been living apart for over 12 years now, we have kept in touch and visited and truly know each other's deepest struggles and greatest victories.  I was so honored to be the Maid-of-Honor.

The reception was beautiful, as anyone who knows Jennifer and Debbi would expect.  There is no way to do it justice without pictures, so I won't even try to describe it.  Good food, great dancing.  Catching up with friends.  And seeing Jennifer so gloriously happy with Victor.  He is a special person, and they definitely have a lot of good times ahead.

Like an idiot, I forgot to pack my camera.  Many pictures were taken, but I am still waiting for my promised package of prints to arrive.  When I have them I will definitely post them because everyone should get to see the breathtaking bride and her (sort of) beautiful side-kick.  Ha Ha.

On the way back, my flight got cancelled due to bad weather in Atlanta (my connection city), so I had an extra night in Houston.  I was so lucky that I got to spend it with my cousin Emily.  I met her new baby, Beckett, and he is just as adorable as her other boys.  We stayed up waaaayyy too late talking and catching up.  And I am so glad we did.

The trip was perfect.

And I came home to a clean house, completed laundry, sleeping children, and a handsome hubby.

Does it get any better than that?

Monday, June 18, 2012

The People in Luke's [School] Life

Luke has been blessed with so many wonderful people to help him through this year.  I wish that I had taken more pictures of these special people throughout the year, but here are a few from his last day.

Luke's bus driver, Ms. Cara, and the bus aide, Ms. Daisy

Luke LOVES Ms. Cara and Ms. Daisy.  They greet him each morning with a, "How ya doin' honey?" (Luke's imitation of Ms. Daisy is right on), and they made him feel special and safe.  The bus system for the pre-school kids was awesome!  The bus stopped right in front of our apartment building.  Ms. Daisy helped Luke walk up the bus steps, and then she buckled him into a car seat (Yes!  Can you believe that?) Ms. Daisy was sweet and happy, and both Ms. Cara and Ms. Daisy had treats for the kids nearly every Friday.  Ms. Cara, especially, thought Luke was a hoot (Those are her words.)  He told Ms. Cara and Ms. Daisy all about the meatloaf he had for lunch, the washing machines at Lowe's, his new booster seat, etc.  Heaven only knows what else they heard about.

Luke and Ms. Ginger

Ms. Ginger was one of the aides in Luke's preschool classroom.  (Ms. Gina is the other aide.  She is also wonderful but was absent on the day I brought my camera.)  Ms. Ginger has a son who is also in the program, and we had a fun play date with them at the Virginia Living Museum over spring break.  Ms. Ginger was kind and very good at her job.  She was often Luke's rug buddy.  Luke has a hard time focusing at circle time, so Ms. Ginger (or Ms. Gina) would sit behind him and rub his back or otherwise help him to sit still and pay attention.

Ms. Sara

I can't even express how grateful I am that Luke was put into Ms. Sara's class.  She is a woman who knows her stuff!  Her classroom runs smoothly.  She is organized.  She has clear expectations.  She keeps order without ever being mean.  She worked as a team.  We communicated via a notebook on a daily basis.  And she asked advice about what makes Luke tic.  For example, time out wasn't working, so she asked might work.  I told her the threats that work (No stereo time!) and she would let me know when I needed to enforce that.  We nipped the worst behaviors in the bud.  But mostly she could "read" Luke.  She knew when he was getting wound up and needed to spin for a minute.  She understood the meaning behind his questions just like I do.  For example she knew that, "I'm getting hot in here" translated to "I really, REALLY want to turn on the fan," and she would respond with, "Luke, we're not turning on the fan right now."  She loved Luke for who he is.  She laughed at his quirks and enjoyed them.  I'm so glad that she recognized the sweet, absolutely beautiful person that he is.  I love anyone who loves my Luke that much!

Luke and his school speech therapist, Ms. Kathleen

Ms. Kathleen has a lot of experience, and it shows.  I watched one session that she did with Luke, and she truly understood his methods of communication.  For example, she knew that if Luke repeated a question back to her instead of answering it, he didn't understand the questions.  Instead of repeating what she had said, she rephrased the question.  She kept Luke motivated and on task.  And, like Ms. Sara, she enjoyed Luke's personality.  Ms. Kathleen has a fan in her office that she turned off and hid during her time with Luke.  She told me that one time she had forgotten to hide the fan before she brought Luke to her room.  He walked into the room and spied it.  His eyes got big and he turned his head away.  He knows that he isn't supposed to touch or talk about the fan, so he put both hands to the side of his phase, building a shield and physically blocked his face from the fan.    She laughed and laughed about how hard he tried to resist the temptation.

Luke and his school occupational therapist, Ms. Janelle

Ms. Janelle is another person who has helped Luke immensely.  She has a vast knowledge about how to help with sensory processing difficulties.  Luke struggles with every sensory category.  I'm not sure how much I've explained before, but basically he can't filter sensory input very well.  Most people tune out the ticking of a clock, the whir of a fan, etc.  They only attune to the noises that matter.  Luke has a hard time distinguishing between what is important and what is not.  He has the same problem with visual stimuli, so slight changes in sunlight, etc. are very distracting to him.  He notices every change.  He is also oversensitive to touch, smell, and taste.  All this together means that his fight or flight response is on a short trigger.  (Is that the right expression?), so he needs input that is calming.  Ms. Janelle was so helpful in helping Luke get the calming input that he needed.  She introduced us to a pressure vest, stretchy bands, and much more.  

I am sorry to leave so many things and people and places in Williamsburg.  J.Blaine Blayton Elementary is on the top of my "Hard to Leave" list.  I am so thankful that we had the opportunity to be blessed by this program and this school in particular.  Luke has come SO FAR in the year and a half since his diagnosis.  There are a lot of factors involved in that growth.  A lot of tears.  A lot of time.  A lot of smiles.  A lot of laughs.  Small triumphs.  Big triumphs.  And so many angels pulling him along.  It is amazing how many angels we walk with every day.  I can name several who work at Blayton.  In fact, I just did.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

D's Birthday

For Jared's Happy 29 we decided to pool all the birthday money we would collectively get and buy a tent.  We got the giant 8 person instant tent.  Big was a requirement because I don't like to truly rough it.  I want an air mattress for everyone involved and a pack-n-play for Micah.  This tent has an added plus because supposedly it can be put up or taken down in a minute.  I would guess that's a bit of a Coleman exaggeration, but it should be pretty easy.  This is absolutely necessary because our boys are not.  I figure we have 3 minutes tops to ignore our boys and get the tent up before one or both of them will be lost in the woods.

The Tent:

Jared's birthday was on a Sunday.   We had planned to go camping the Friday before.  But unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) a thunderstorm blew in and we didn't get to go.  Instead we set up the old tent (which most definitely CANNOT fit 2 air mattresses and a pack-n-play) in our living room and had a home camping trip.  The boys LOVED jumping around in the tent.  Micah went to sleep in his own bed, but Luke slept in the tent.

That night Micah woke up with a fever that climbed steadily.  And the thunderstorm turned into a tornado.  So it's good that we didn't go on our trip.  

Saturday we took Micah into an Urgent Care.  He had an ear infection (again!) and the weekend was spent nursing our little Sicky.  

So Jared's actual birthday was not quite what we'd planned.  Jared stayed home with Micah so that I could be in nursery.  For Jared, maybe that was a nice break.  We had a special dinner.  We drove down to the beach to go for a walk.  And then, the best part of the day:


Luke helped decorate the cake.

He really wanted to blow out the candles.

But we told him that it was Dada's birthday, so Dada got to blow out the candles.  Luke was pretty understanding about that.  He liked singing Happy Birthday to "D," and he told Jared good job for blowing out the candles.

So after Jared blew out his candles, we lit them again and let Luke blow.

Happy B-day to you, Babesy!

I love you!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Giggles in the Bathroom

There are times when you just know that a giggle means trouble.  ANY time there is giggling in the bathroom I pretty much clue in that something is amiss.

Sometimes it means that Luke peed on the floor.  Or unrolled toilet paper.

Today it meant that Luke shoved his vibrating toothbrush in his ear.

Camp Out

Two weekends ago our stake had a mother-daughter camp out.  I don't have a daughter, but I didn't want to be left out.  So when my friend Stacy invited me to join her and her daughter, I jumped at the chance.  And I brought Luke.  I think he was the only little boy there (which makes sense), but I don't think he even noticed that he was grossly outnumbered.  He had a blast.

The camp out was held on the property of one of the families from our ward.  They own a big ranch in Gloucester.  They had 2 big cabins on their property, complete with ceiling fans over the porch AND a/c units, so I bet you can guess what Luke was doing most of the time.

He also had fun palling around with some of his favorite people from our ward.  

Luke ate marshmallows with Sister Allred.  He likes her because one time we went to a party at her house, and she had the best air conditioner Luke had ever seen.

Checking out the...

air conditioner!

Amber and Sophie rode up with Stacy too, so we had a full car and a full tent.  This is Luke and Sophie getting ready for bed.  Luke ended up going to sleep about 8:30.  I stayed up a lot later talking to friends.

The next morning

Luke got that flashlight special for the trip.  He also got his very own sleeping bag.  He wanted a Cars sleeping bag-- he'd seen one at Wal-mart awhile back.  He wanted one with Filmore on it (because he is green), but since Luke is the only kid in the world who likes Filmore the best, companies don't really make Filmore stuff.  Luke settled for Lightning McQueen.

This little girl is in Luke's church class as well as in Luke's pre-K class.  He is a big fan of Allie Palmer-- Luke always refers to her by her FULL name.  They ran around together a fair bit.  Also Luke followed Miss Laurel (Allie's mom) around.  I think he showed her his pump about 10 times.

A peacock lives at the ranch!  Luke and Allie followed the peacock around.  They loved it when it made its VERY loud yelp.

So glad I decided to crash the party!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mima and Papa's Visit

Quality, not quantity.  That's what this visit felt like.  I wish we'd had more time, but we got to do lots of fun things.  I got a few pictures from the graduation party on Friday night of graduation weekend.  Those pics are in another post.

On Saturday and Sunday I took a lot of pictures, but most of them were of Jared.  That makes sense-- it was HIS weekend.  But I did get a few shots of the boys with Mima and Papa at Lowe's.  Luke was extremely excited to take Mima and Papa to Lowe's, so we headed over on Saturday before the Public Policy graduation.

On Monday Luke played hooky, and we rode the ferry over to the Surrey side of the James and then drove to Smithfield.  It was a cute little town.  We ate lunch there and went to a "park."  It was just beautiful trees and walking trails, and my boys aren't much impressed with any park that doesn't have a playground.  Still fun though.  We played hide and seek.

On Tuesday Luke wasn't feeling well, and I was pretty much planning to let him play hooky again anyway, so he stayed home.  We picked up Luke's new glasses later in the day, and then stayed around home.  We had bigger plans, but rain and Luke's cough disrupted them.  Good thing we're a family that likes just being together.

Anyway, it was a great visit, and the only thing that could have made it better is to make it permanent.  Want to move to Amarillo?  And then relocate again a year later?