Let’s see… a lengthy visit from my mom, the holidays and then the boys’ birthday in early February (with the annual visit from their grandparents in Florida), and suddenly it’s almost four months later and Leo and Luka are four years old. And there is much catching up to do…
This actually happened a couple months back, but since this is meant as a record for Leo and Luka, it belongs.
One August evening, roundabout 10:45, I heard some suspicious noises from the boys’ room, and as W happened to be walking down the hall towards their door, I asked him to check it out. He immediately shut the door and began laughing, and said, “You’ve got to see what Leo’s up to…”
I looked, and oh, my god… toys everywhere. And Leo was pretty proud of the display. Luka, totally oblivious, was zoned out, sound asleep, as usual. So W was good, and returned the toys to their various shelves, and I had a little talk with Leo about the benefits of sleep and all that. Obviously it didn’t work, since about forty-five minutes later, I heard similar shuffling sounds, and opened the door to find the scene below…
It hasn’t happened since, and I still think that people shouldn’t be afraid to give their little ones a little bedtime freedom… The laughs are priceless.
So, yeah. Yesterday we were looking at pictures of all sorts, and after a lot of pointing out of who’s who to the kids, W went off to find the picture our waitperson shot of us that day we met at Cafe Loup in August, 2001. Maybe it wasn’t the best picture, but hey, there had been a little wine, and it was godawful hot and humid, as Manhattan is wont to be at that time of the year. And hey, a nice elderly gentleman even stopped me on the street that morning and told me I looked like a movie star.
But Luka was pretty sure that wasn’t the case. As he commented to me, “That’s you having you bad hair day, and Daddy’s having her bad hair day.”
Thanks… I love that little guy.
I’m finally starting to see more tangible results from all of the therapies we’re doing–what a relief! Leo’s loving to do puzzles lately, the wooden ones with animal scenes, shapes, numbers or letters. Until now, it’s been nearly impossible to just get him to sit at their play table with a toy, any toy, and suddenly, he’s there of his own volition, working one puzzle after another. He even surprised his teacher with this new ability, which pleased me immensely since the evaluation committee made a big deal about him being unable to do even the simplest puzzle a few months back. Me? I think he could’ve done it then; he just wasn’t interested yet.
But anyway, the reports from every direction are the same; he’s playing appropriately with toys for increasingly long periods of time, is sitting still for stories at school and is also doing nice four-step obstacle courses at therapy. Even better, last night, in addition to all of the vocalization he’s been doing, he said “jump” and “uh-oh” for me in the space of a couple minutes, and both in absolutely the right contexts.
Leo, poor kid, even endured a haircut yesterday–the first one we’ve attempted since May, because that last one was such a hysterical nightmare. Anyway, he struggled and was only minimally appeased by the rare chocolate malted milkballs treat, but we did it–and with absolutely no tears or crying! He looks like a different kid now; those curls are still there, but we did take a good inch or so off… Should hold him for quite a while!
Oh, and speaking of sensory matters, we picked up the niftiest little massager the other day at CVS, of all places. It’s got four little knobs that light up and vibrate. Let’s face it; neon blue lights are pretty attractive to little kids, and Leo’s loving the thing! Without my even showing him, he’s doing the right things with it, and has been experimenting with buzzing it all around his face and mouth–and stimulating those muscles is one of the best things for him. Anyway, that was $9.99 well spent…
On the other hand, this weekend is all about wrapping up loose potty ends with Luka. He’s perfectly trained at school, but has been resisting going reliably at home, and I’ve pretty much had it. These guys are going to be four in February, after all; it’s time! So we’ve been on the potty without fail every fifteen minutes this morning, and it’s worked so far. Poop is the last frontier. (Boy, that’s something I never thought I’d see myself write…) Anyway, Daddy gets to take over on that front once he gets home; he’s been off on a BBQ-buying mission since just after 7:30 this morning, from this place. I’m curious to see if the brisket was worth the trip… will report back on that later!
Oh, and we’re almost done with cleanup from the Great Chocolate Debacle… All that’s left now is recovering the dining room chairs, and we’re good to go. Luckily, we haven’t seen any more activity along those lines.
More than a few hours later, my mom and I arrived home from what was largely a fact-finding trip to Ikea to learn that not only had Luka had an accident on the living room rug, but that he’d only actually been on the potty twice in the space of about three hours. We’d be getting the proverbial wet noodle ready for Daddy shortly, except that he finally got Luka to do the poop-thing, after Mama contributed just a bit more roughage to the effort…
I forgot to mention the really amusing bit, though. My son, knowing full well there’d be no chocolate malted balls in the offing without a tradeoff poop, kept insisting that he had, in fact, gone in the potty. But when I’d come in to examine his efforts, he’d slam the potty shut and block the door with both arms outstretched, advising, “You not need to see.” And when I’d persist, he’d pull the lid up, revealing a pristine white potty, and say with a flourish, “There! You see?!” I kind of like the concept of invisible poop…
But anyway, he finally did it, and received three malted milk balls and a stuffed turtle for his efforts. We’re all pretty pleased about it…
Oh, and as for the much-heralded BBQ, I sampled some of the brisket, and while it looked beautiful, it was sliced way too thick for my taste and still had a good half-to-three-quarters-of-an-inch of fat on the top. For my money, when you’re buying brisket by the pound, that stuff needs to be removed before they slice and sell it. Darned tasty, though, with beautiful color and a really nice bit of smoke.
If you listen to Mahler’s sixth symphony, you’ll hear a series of hammer blows in the final movement, which Mahler himself described as “three hammer-blows of fate, the last of which fells [the hero] as a tree is felled.” At 6:47 a.m. in our house, though, it means that the three-year-olds have somehow gotten hold of a large hammer and are using it on their bedroom door to let Mommy and Daddy know that it is, indeed, time to wake up. It’s a message I hope the rest of this country of ours begins to get, loud and clear.
You knew it was coming: Sarah Palin… Douglas Burns hit the nail on the head in the Iowa Independent . To wit, “For her part, GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin – speaking with the programmed cadence of a GPS navigation system — used forced folksiness to deliver crammed material in the manner of a high schooler looking to score a good grade on a Spanish test. The kid may escape with a B-minus, but he wouldn’t be able to order a cup of coffee in Spain a week later.” Bless you, Mr. Burns. (Hey, can I call you Doug?)
Anyway, I took the hammer away from our little ones, but I certainly hope that Obama and Biden keep pounding their message home, at least as long as Gidget Sarah is on the loose, beating us about the collective head with with her uber-folksy hockey stick.
I wish there were time for more fun and games right now, but the little fellas will be home from school anon, and then the carpet guy’s coming over so we can sign contracts. (His brand of folksiness is fine and dandy by me… “Let me do my cipherin’ and I’ll give y’all a call back with the figgers.” )
But Sarah must wait. So much to talk about from last night, though… Hockey moms (I think not…), Joe Six-pack, which doesn’t come anywhere close to categorizing the male of the species in this particular house… Really, could she possibly boil us down to a lower common denominator? On the other hand, Sarah, thanks for the reminder that you’ve “only been at this for five weeks.” Until later, then, mind your head, America!
Whoops, I see I forgot to mention the Hollandaise, which is actually pretty important. I finally got around to trying the new incarnation of Kerbey Lane. I used to be fond of the place not only for its laid-back vibe, but also for its excellent Eggs Benedict. With Mom in tow, that’s where I headed yesterday morning for breakfast, intent on getting my annual Eggs Benedict fix. Not like I can’t make it myself, but its so much nicer to dive chin-first into someone else’s Hollaindaise. Damn those hippies, though… they pulled my EB from the menu!!! I did manage to identify an acceptable alternate, Eggs Francisco–scrambled egg, tomato, bacon, avocado and queso on an English muffin–but I doubt I’ll be going back, as the vibe seems much more ‘Luby’s’ to me now. Sigh…
So, yeah… chocolate syrup. Dark stuff. Sticky, excessively so. Eight parts honey to one part cocoa, the whole business diluted by 4 – 25% water. Still really, really sticky.
Leo’s class did spin-art in school this week. In the usual way, that is, with a neat little contraption that enables little kids to put ‘driblets’ (as Luka calls them) of paint on little squares of cardboard as they whiz around in a circle. Leo? He doesn’t need such a ridiculous mechanical set-up; he can do it himself.
This would explain why, last night, I ran to the bathroom and came out to hear an odd sound from the dining room. As it turned out, it was the sound a spent bottle of Hershey’s chocolate syrup makes when a three-year-old is still trying to squirt it. And there was Leo, poised atop the dining room table, turning ’round and ’round, squirting as he went.
Chocolate everywhere. The Persian rug. The upholstery. The table and table runner, not a big deal at all. The floor and curtains. Oh, and did I mention that since he wanted to do really well in the dining room, he practiced a lot in the kitchen?
I went through a dozen Swiffer Wet Jet pads last night, and a couple more today. (Don’t bother, folks–they don’t work!!!) Two passes through with my steam mop did far more good, though I still have to go back and do more once the kids are in bed tonight. And I think we’ll be seeing the lovely folks from Stanley Steemer sometime in the next couple of days, because the steam mop doesn’t even begin to deal with the chocolate-filled grout canals, and this all conspires to make walking in the kitchen downright impossible.
That said, I’m really glad Leo retained the concept of spin-art and all… it’s a good sign.
Leo’s on a roll at school; every day his backpack contains notes from his teacher about how giggly he was, what great eye contact he’s making and how plugged-in he is in terms of classroom activities. We love that. We’re also attending a nice little multi-part seminar his school district is presenting on increasing social communication for kids with developmental delays. After all of the reading and research and appointments we’ve had over the last few years, I frankly wasn’t expecting much to be new to me, but I’m kind of relieved to see I’ve still got a lot to learn. The more I can push, the better off he is.
He’s doing good things, though. Yesterday he came home from school and got to watch one of his favorite music DVDs–which isn’t offered to him all that often–and he had a blast, pulling me over to dance with him, responding to verbal cues in the lyrics, imitating the dancing he saw on screen, and best of all, falling down whenever the singer shouted, “Wipeout!” (After that, of course, he just kept falling down as a prompt for me to yell “wipeout,” which was great, too.) In general, falling, bouncing and dancing around are great things for him… here they are on the trampoline at a friend’s place the other night…
I’ve put out my feelers for ABA therapy, though I haven’t heard back from anyone yet. There was an interesting phone call from his therapy place, though–they wanted to know if his therapists could co-treat him today instead of doing back-to-back sessions, in hopes of it being less tiring for him. Of course, I agreed, so we’ll see how that goes. As it is, we’re just reaching the end of the dozen PT sessions our insurance company initially agreed to cover, so we’ll have to see where that goes. The therapists’ office suspected we’d be offered thirty more over a three-month period, but who knows?
Luka, on the other hand, is our self-appointed style monitor. I confess that it’s time for some serious hair-coloring on my part, and Luka was nice enough to inform me yesterday, “Mama, you got some funny hair… it’s not good. You have a bad hair day.” Uh, thanks. (At least he was good enough to revise his assessment after I managed a quick run-in with the hair dryer…)
So, W and I have to do our ‘homework’ for our training sessions at Leo’s school tonight, and I need to finish reorganizing things in preparation for my mother’s upcoming visit. There’s been much dust raised during the process in the last few days (mostly from changing out window treatments and cleaning ceiling fans…), which is doing a nice job of exacerbating the miserable cold I already have. Peppermint oil is the only thing keeping me going.
Oh, and they both went off to school this morning wearing shirts that were part of a Christmas gift from K&A (my brother and sister-in-law)–which was funny because I was certain these shirts were so huge that the boys wouldn’t be wearing them until they were five or so. As it turns out, three and a half is more grown-up than I thought…
We’ve been searching for answers for Leo for, oh, seems like forever, now. Our pediatrician kept reassuring us that he was meeting milestones pretty much on time and that he seemed absolutely perfect, so we went with that for a while. At the boys’ fifteen-month checkup, though, I wasn’t content to wait any more.
Leo had always been the yappier, more vocal of the two boys, but between nine and twelve months, he began getting quieter and quieter. At the same time, he became a bit solitary–distant–and frequently preferred to spend his time alone, chewing on things, rather than playing with us. He also seemed tired, worn out–not my pink-cheeked, excited little guy. This wasn’t Leo.
So I had him brainmapped, and as I scanned the lists of possible diagnoses the next day when we went for results, I can honestly say that I’d never been as relieved as when I saw that the box for autism wasn’t checked. But in the end, it doesn’t really make a difference. Leo benefits from exactly the same therapies used to treat autism, as he presents with many symptoms typically seen in autistic kids. In his case, the cause is just different.
He immediately began receiving speech and occupational therapy through our local Early Childhood Intervention program, which was enormously helpful, though not frequent enough. But clearly, it had its limits, and as the extent of his speech delay became more obvious, we sought private speech therapy. The therapist recommended to us, though, was based several states away, so everything needed to be done by video, including the initial evaluation. Looking back, I feel he was improperly diagnosed because it’s truly not that he’s incapable of making the necessary sounds; he just hasn’t started using them as he primary mode of communication yet. It’s such a subjective thing without the therapist being able to examine his mouth and see him in action for more than a few minutes at a time, or being able to try the prescribed exercises with him herself. I was Leo’s primary therapist, and it was wearing me out.
But back to his diagnosis… the therapist felt that he presented with Pervasive Developmental Delay and Apraxia. PDD, to me, is just another label and one more way of getting additional funding for schools, and I wasn’t about to see Leo having “PDD” stamped on his forehead when his delay is, in fact, extremely specific. There are areas, actually, in which he’s more advanced than Luka, but therapists don’t seem to like hearing any sort of comparisons. All that aside, I didn’t have a problem with Leo’s prescribed therapy, since it addressed appropriate issues, though perhaps not all of them. My main problem was that at least some of the time, I felt the therapy needed to be administered and monitored by a professional; after a while, the “You’re his mom–you know him best,” business starts to sound like a really convenient therapist’s excuse for not having more answers than I do.
Once Leo began school–when he turned three, at which time his ECI services were terminated–we went through all of the evaluations, the ARDs, the IEPs, blah blah blah… (How much longer until I start referring to myself as a MOONTKAHDDT *?)
Anyway, we saw a neurologist early this summer and Leo’s EEG was perfectly normal; we still have to do an MRI (easier said than done…) as well as a few standard blood tests that none of our docs expect to show anything out of the ordinary, and updated allergy testing. Unfortunately, because of where we live, he’s needed Benadryl or Zyrtec intermittently all summer long, and I can’t schedule the blood testing until he’s off the stuff for two weeks straight.
Said neurologist agreed that we should intensify his therapy schedule, but now the poor kid’s just inundated. Four hours a day at school, plus two bus rides and a ridealong to drop Luka off at his school, first. And on top of that, he’s supposed to have two hour-long OT sessions and two half-hour ST sessions each week–and since school’s back in session, it’s absolutely wearing the little guy out. Seriously, he came in from school yesterday and just crumpled in a little Leo-heap on the living floor. It doesn’t help that our current therapists are half an hour away in traffic, either.
So, I love the therapists; I just hate the four hours of commuting to therapy each week (time lost for the kids, not me…), and the fact that twice a week, Leo has to go straight from the school bus into the car to therapy, with no time to just be a three-year-old. Inevitably, on those days (and even the day after), he’s so tired that he just cries, and has hardly any regular-kid fun, which he clearly misses.
So now I’m on a search for other therapy options… maybe a place closer to home, or one that’s got appointments available at times that would work better for him. Yeah, that… Then, there’s also the fact that the neurologist wanted us to get him ABA therapy, and it’s taken me this long to locate a place that actually might be a possibility. Oh, and I probably am a difficult parent, because I always want to know more than they want to tell me. But he’s my kid.
* Mother of One Neuro-Typical Kid and his Developmentally Delayed Twin… Does this give you any idea just how annoying I find this need some people have to label everyone?! I was floored to find out that they weren’t happy to just label Leo as delayed, but Luka also needed his very own ‘neuro-typical’ designation. Please!!!
So… kids and music–mine both love it. Even when they were just ltitle guys… at four months Luka showed a distinct appreciation of Gershwin tunes (Rhapsody in Blue) and has been known to wander around humming snatches of Stravinsky’s Firebird. Little Einsteins is not a bad thing for the little ones, in moderation, though it does mean that when Luka hears Stravinsky, he flashes back to those LE episodes and starts asking for Daddy’s Matryoshka nesting dolls and talking about Faberge eggs.
But Luka’s no snob; his other early favorite was The Surrey with the Fringe on Top; I’m sure he just liked the bit about the chicks and ducks and geese, plus, I used to follow Dave Barry’s suggestion of playing “Oklahoma Baby Chicken Hat” by dancing around with Luka on my head while I sang it. (Dave advised, “This game will teach your baby many meaningful lessons, the main one being that the world is full of deranged people.” A good thing to know!)
Leo, far too much the spitter-upper for OBCH, was much more a Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star kind of kid. In fact, he just fell in love with Marlee Matlin early on, after seeing her signing it in a Baby Einstein video. He’d giggle insanely whenever she was on screen, sometimes getting so darned excited that he’d have to run away and cover his eyes, still laughing gleefully.
Caveat: our guys never sat and watched TV all day, and we don’t consider ours to be a big-screen nanny, but they do watch enough TV to have been able to make some choices. Leo really does love watching Little Einsteins, and he likes Yo Gabba Gabba and Go, Diego, Go at times. Wonder Pets, too, which is fine with me, since I like its songspiel quality. Mahagonny for kids… We don’t watch TV that much, though. Leo’s main TV connection is that it allowed him to find Dan Zanes and Ralph Covert, his favorite music dudes. Leo seems to evaluate music these days according to its inherent suitability for wild jumping. Not surprisingly, Leo likes ska, and while his current technique is more pogoing than skanking, his father would probably tell you that’s okay… it’s great sensory input!
Luka seems to have a bit more commercial awareness, though, and knows the band They Might Be Giants from their contributions to Disney Playhouse. He clearly likes them, and any other music that’s up to their standards, in his estimation, is acknowledged with a knowing nod and the comment, “They think they’re giants.” I had to laugh at who got the Giants nod today…
I was driving Luka to school and we were listening to a CD of various medieval and renaissance lyrics, one of which was Sumer Is Icumen In–the earliest six-part round with a ground bass. To Luka, though, it’s ‘The Cuckoo Song,” as he loves to sing along with the refrain, “Sing cuccu, nu, sing cuccu.” I loved listening to him because he’s so innocent that he doesn’t have a clue that he’s listening to a Middle English lyric closely enough to know exactly where his part fits in… And then, when the song was over, he said, “Silly guys, they think they’re giants…”