Sunday, July 26

More from vacation land....

I promise, tonight I'll try and figure out the camera.

I didn't think I'd be blogging, but since we're staying with friends, it makes it pretty easy, actually. Right now, as I speak, the kiddos are splashing around in our friends' heated pool and spa. I hope they don't get too used to this! LOL

We've visited two beaches in the past couple of days. Yesterday, we visited Zuma, which is a beach close to Malibu. Today was Ventura was really cold! So cold that we left the guys with the kids and Jen and I went shopping on the boardwalk. ;) It was beautiful though...all of the boats in the harbor....had it not been so cold, it was definitely the prettier of the two in my opinion. Tomorrow we'll try another beach in the afternoon and evening.

It is hard to believe vacation is going by so fast, but we're having a great time. We keep remarking how much fun we're having, how much Will is enjoying it, how well C and her friend Patrick get along together, and how much of a daredevil N is! (We just had to stop her from jumping in the pool like the big kids...she was awfully close to the steps, but she had no fear!) Smiled the whole time, and when she got out, she announced...."TA DA!" with a big smile on her face. She is something else. She rounds out our family for sure. Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of how very lucky we are.

Friday, July 24

Meeting the Mouse

We had a great time with our friends in the land of Disney yesterday! I have to track down a camera cord, so for now, there are no pictures.

My husband and I reflected on past vacations, which honestly, were mostly stressful. Will's metabolic issues were discovered last May, and even during our last vacation in June last year, he was a mess. He was super low on carnitine, and it showed. Two years ago, we went to Disney, and Will was hard to deal with and really didn't enjoy the vacation much.

Yesterday, he loved it. He rode rides, met Mater and Lightning McQueen, and watched the parade and fireworks. In general, the only tantrums we saw were when we had to pull him off of rides because he was enjoying himself so much. The girls loved every minute of it as well. It was hard not to be on a high the entire day watching ALL three of my children sincerely enjoying vacation. For my husband and I, it was an experience to remember and the first vacation in a long time that we got to breathe....just totally relax.

I was reminded of how far Will has come in one year, and how very blessed we are with all of our kids as well as what good friends we have.

Wednesday, July 22

We're here!

We made it to vacation! :) The flight went better than expected....well, what I expected for flying with all three kids, anyway.

We would now like to thank Pixar movies, the maker of M&M's, and the Play Doh company for saving our sanity.

We're hoping to meet the Mouse tomorrow. First, we have to see how the kids (read: Will) sleep tonight.

We're off...

Very early tomorrow morning (as early that I'm not sure why I'm even bothering to go to bed now) we will be leaving for the airport. After a 4 hour flight, we'll be landing across the country to visit some really good friends, pictured above reading to my two youngest. They've become like family, and we are ready to see them again!
It's doubtful I'll be blogging this week, but I suppose anything is possible. Otherwise, I'll see you in a week! :)

Special Exposure Wednesday

I love this one. My little family...having fun together.

Sunday, July 19

New Tricks

Well, she IS the third child. What did you expect?

You can thank her sister for teaching her that one. This kid doesn't miss a trick.

I always thought people were joking when they talked about how much things changed with each subsequent child. My latest epiphany...they weren't joking!

Friday, July 17

The Balancing Act with Siblings

Someone on an online group I belong to asked about balancing things with siblings of children with special needs. With all of the attention that our special kiddos need, how do you balance things out with your other kids?

I'm not sure I have the answer. We work really hard at making sure all kids get some special one on one time...quality time rather than the quantity of time. But Will sure needs a lot of individual attention.

Before N came home in December, we started something we called "Date Day". The first Saturday of every month, we each took a child and did something fun. The child frequently got to pick. C and I did things like painting pottery, taking a trip to the aquarium and most recently, she's asked to go bowling. She still comes up with all kinds of ideas, even though we haven't had a Date Day in over 6 months.

It is time to begin our practice again. I think for now, one of us will take the younger two and one of us will take C. In the future, we'll have to rotate somehow.

Does anyone else have good ideas for balancing time with siblings? Or how to keep the family balanced overall? I'd love to hear them.

Wednesday, July 15

Maybe I just need to listen.

I attend what I guess is considered a megachurch. I lead the Special Needs ministry. It is a pretty amazing ministry, really...we hook kids up with a one on one volunteer to hang with them back in the children's part of the church. I serve some really great kids and their parents. In addition, I attend church almost every Sunday. I listen to the pastor speak and try to apply it to my life. I pray.

But it is so much more than that.

For the first couple of years after Will was born, my husband and I struggled greatly with the ups and downs of life with a child with special needs. There were days when I felt like we'd never make it through. Then slowly, things started to improve and life didn't seem quite so difficult.

Today as I was reflecting on some of the major turning points, I realized something. There was a common thread among them all.

First, we met the feeding therapist who had a daughter in C's classroom at church. She is the reason that the child who people thought would never eat by mouth is now weaned from his feeding tube.

Then, what about the mom in my small group who told me about our wonderful speech therapist who lives around the corner from me? She is the reason that I can now hold a conversation with my four year old.

I can't forget the teacher who volunteers with me and works at an ABA school nearby. I plan to enlist the school's help to get Will past some of his behaviors that are currently stressing his mother out.

And what about those who prayed for us? Or told us about adoption when we said we wouldn't have any more bio kids? They cheered us on as we brought N home from Vietnam last December.

Or what about the naturopath who has treated Will off and on? She's the reason I started looking into alternative treatment and discovered Will's metabolic crisis...his abnormally low carnitine. Guess where she attends?

I can't forget Will's first OT. The one who gave me hope and told me never to give up on my child, even if others had. Because of her, I made it through some dark times. And in her presence and with her guidance, Will learned to sit. And crawl. And walk. I volunteered with her at church too.

There are those who might say this was a coincidence. Or that we go to a pretty awesome church. (We do!) But I'm thinking that God has been trying to tell me something for a very long time. Maybe I just need to listen.

Special Exposure Wednesday

Painting with sidewalk chalk paint. For the child who resists new activities, this was a victory. N was happy to join in as well.
To see other cool kids, check out Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

Monday, July 13

Day 1 of the Potty Training Experience

image from
This is going to be a slow ride, my friends.

Will has decided he does not want to sit on the potty. I'm not sure why. I bought a seat that is sturdy and will not shift around on our big potty. I have a stool under his feet. Chocolate sitting nearby. I mean, really...who won't sit for chocolate?

So, goal number one becomes getting him used to sitting on the potty until a timer goes off in true ABA style. For now, I have him sitting on it three times a day for all of 20 seconds until he hears the timer. He then gets an M&M.

I might have to change the reinforcer. Today, I had to hold him there. Though I must say...he gets it, and each time gets easier.

We'll see. ;) For those of you with experience, is it better to teach them sitting down or standing up? The only way I can think to teach Will is sitting. There's no way to keep him there otherwise, and his stream would never reach the potty standing anyway. The only issue I see with this is that Will is a routine kind of fellow. I'm eventually going to have to change it to standing up. Hm.

Saturday, July 11

To Market, To Market

We made it to our local market downtown today. Remind me not to go when it is close to lunch time. Crowds + three hungry kids + almost naptime = a MESS. However, my husband and I had fun. ;)

Will loved a new food today - Belgium crepes with Nutella and bananas inside. (Who wouldn't love that?) I'm so excited to continue new foods with him...he's beginning to be a more adventurous eater.

True to our "homemade summer", when we came home, my husband pickled a bunch of the things we bought as well as some from our raised bed garden that we planted with the neighborhood kids this year.

Some other things I've got on my to-do list right now:

Wish me luck!

Friday, July 10

Saying "Yes" to my Kids this Summer

picture from

Right now at the moment, C is finger knitting. She wants to make something like what's pictured above, and I've promised to buy her some really cool fuzzy yarn. Instructions are at Craftzine, complete with pictures.

Later, we're going to the pool. Tomorrow, we're hoping to go to the local market and buy some fresh peppers to pickle since the kids are eating all of ours before we have enough to make a batch!

This summer is about saying "yes" to things that they want to try...things I might have said no to in the past due to lack of time or mess. We're also focusing on a "handmade" summer...making more of our food from scratch as well as doing some fun, crafty stuff.

It is easy to get tied up in the everyday life, particularly when we have so many appointments with Will. I've found that slowing down in the summer and taking time off of most therapies and doctors gives us a great way to do some things we don't ordinarily get to do.

I plan to do more posts on the ideas we've found on the web in case you are interested in trying some yourself! Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 9

Picture Update from a Holiday Week

Every year our neighborhood has a Fourth of July parade for the kids.

Time with family at a nearby amusement park. Despite a fat lip from being bumped, he fought getting off of this one.

The week also included spending time with 10 of my favorite girls.

and one stinker.

Wednesday, July 8

I'll let you in on a little secret....

I sometimes lose my cool with my kids.
(Okay, so that might not be a secret to my neighbors! If you've heard some yelling coming from my house, I plead the fifth.)

I've made some changes around here to make the summer more enjoyable. I've started worrying about the house less, choosing my battles with a fairly stubborn 18 month old, and saying "yes" to my kids much more often.

This morning, C (the 6 year old) asked for play dough. So she and N (my 18 month old) began to play while Will was swinging in the sensory room. Until N began to eat the play dough by the handful while I was downstairs, spending a few minutes engaging Will in a new activity.

Who needs exercise? I ran those steps at least a dozen times, back and forth. Will joined in on the play dough instead. A first.

Later, I tried to get them all ready to go to the library for a short visit. I decided to allow N to play in the sink with a bit of soapy water while I put meds together. I showed her how to use a little pitcher and fill and dump it into the sink.

Until I gave Will his meds and heard water pouring all over my kitchen floor. She dumped it everywhere but the sink. It was at this point that things spiraled downhill, and N ended up in her room, in her crib (screaming!) so I could take a time out myself. But not before I yelled at her and totally lost it. I ended up coming back and rocking her in her room for about 10 minutes before we tried to leave the house again.

Now I am sitting here printing pictures for her baby book, recalling those first days after we met her in Vietnam. Feeling like a total winner of a parent. Hoping she forgets by the time she wakes from her nap.

Thankfully, tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, July 7

WFMW: Complex Child E-Zine

One of the things I love to do is read, especially on the internet. (Especially late at night.)

During Will's four years of life, I've belonged to a variety of yahoo groups, forums, and blog carnivals. One of the most recent places I enjoy going to read is the E-Zine, Complex Child. Each month there are articles written on a variety of topics. This month features of my favorites! LOL

Check it out! It works for me!

Special Exposure Wednesday

Holy crap! Did you know some flavors of Ben and Jerry's ice cream have 20 grams of fat? Great for Will. (Why yes, that IS a chocolate ice cream mustache, thank you.)

Remind me not to eat it, though.

Monday, July 6

Amen, sister!

Ellen at To the Max recently blogged "A Bill of Rights for Parents of Kids with Special Needs".

It is well written and deserves a read. Go check it out!

New toys! Hooray!

The fiscal year for a small fund that we get every year has just started over.

We are adding to our sensory room and using the rest to pay for Will's awesome, super duper PROMPT therapist.

We are getting this:

And this:

And this one:

What are your kids' favorite swings? Do tell. I might just change my mind. ;)

I need opinions!

You've probably noticed, but I haven't been posting Blog Talk Tuesday for the past couple of weeks. I wasn't sure there was much interest in the blog carnival thing. Or at least not yet.

There's also been some issues with Mr. Linky, but I think those are resolved now. Oh yeah, and there's the time that my one year old and four year old conspired to almost shut down my computer for good.

Anyway, check out the poll on the left hand side. You won't offend me. Promise.

Sunday, July 5

Things heard around our house...

Will's language is taking off!

This weekend, we've heard:
  • "I tired."
  • "I need help!"
  • "I stuck."
  • and the most recent..."Stay."

Up until very recently, Will was a one-word kind of guy. He would label and request things most frequently, all with one word. We also would hear phrases like thank you, and all right, but never any real sentences, so this was exciting.

The last one ("Stay") needs some explanation, and I could use some advice. Will has decided that it is great fun to run into my next door neighbor's house through her back screen door. It is usually unlocked because she is outside with her boys at the same time I'm out with my kids while they all play. Will apparently discovered that her boys have Thomas videos, and he's been liking Thomas all of a sudden. Originally, I think it was to go looking for videos, but now it seems it is a game, and I'm out of ideas to get him to stop.

Tonight, as I went and got him off of their back deck for the millionth time, he took my hand and walked me into the backyard. Once we got so far, he stopped, turned and told me to "Stay" as he ran back toward the house. LOL!!

I'd love some help with this one. I'm stuck for ideas.