Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Life at Twenty-six Weeks

I'm at twenty six weeks now. Time is flying and I've been grateful for these last few good weeks where I've been able to get things done in preparations for the new one. Isaac and Eli are settled into their newly painted room and bunkbed and loves the pink on her walls and we've begun a small stock of times baby girl will need when she first arrives.

Just like with all the others, she's riding really low. The notorious Braxton- Hicks contractions have begun and while not typically painful, they are when they last for 5-10 mins and occur 3-4 times in a hour. Thankfully they've only been in the evening but its a clear sign to me to start slowing down. It's just as well, the fatigue has begun to set in again. The kids have begun talking to baby in the hopes she'll respond to them but she seems to prefer being Thumperoo late at night and in the wee hours of the morning.
Feeling huge already! The picture is courtesy of Keila who is forever begging to use the camera on the phone.

We've managed some fun as a family even with my growing size and fatigue. The other weekend we decided to give the Glendale recreation center a try and had some fun in their water park. Isaac loved the lazy river and even attempted the slides (height being more of an issue rather than the slide itself). Keila was happy to have either parent wonder her side as she swam like a mermaid from place to place. The stimulus was a little much for Eli but after 45 min or so, he adjusted and would take his time wading out to the deeper water to jump for a bit and then wander back out.
Isaac felt all grown up the other day as he purchased his first set of Pokemon cards. He carefully selected each quarter and dollar he felt 'less attached' to spend and estimated that $3 would be sufficient for his small purchase. He was thoroughly disappointed though when he discovered the cheapest set of 11 cards was $4.99. I declared it a rip off, explained the term and he quickly agreed. We talked further about whether or not he wanted to spend that much and then I had to regretfully tell him that he would have to pay tax as well. "Why does the government get money for my pokemon cards?" Was asked multiple times. I tried my best to explain but wasn't very successful. His reply, "Wow, the government must be powerful to take my money for Pokemon cards - and busy!"
Library fun is a must in our crazy hot summer months! Isaac has gotten to the point where he can read fairly well on his own and its nice for him to take over that duty with Keila, especially when it comes to all thing Pokemon!
Keila also attended a birthday party for her 'BEST friend' Mona from Stepping Stones. She is such a reserved girl and so very possessive of her friends that its hard to for her to find someone who fits, but she and Mona have been inseperable all last year. Although Keila was shy and quiet upon seeing her again, her expressions of affection really showed her heart about this little friend.
It is a frequent ritual every night that the kids wrestle Kent before bed. At first it would frighten Eli and if things got a little too rambunctious he'd start to cry. Nowadays he is the one to initiate it, growling, attacking in his cute little way and getting everyone else not it. I caught this shot the other night amid all the fun but late Kent admitted he was getting too old for it. I told he couldn't stop yet, we have the fourth on the way who would want in on all the fun as soon as she was able. His reply came in the form of a groan! Ah the fun we have ahead of us!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Free Birds

Kent I have known the Tanners for almost the entire time of our marriage. They lived just a few houses down the street from use while our husbands attended Midwestern Univerrsity, one in pharmaceutical and the other on PA (physicians assistant) school. Both Faye and I worked until we had our first child, hers a girl, mine a boy born within a month of each other and then graduation took our families n different directions. Since then they have travelled the world, living in stints in remote places in Alaska work indigent services, Saipan (a island north of Guam), China, Mississippi, etc. They've kept the house in AZ as a rental and come back on an off to prep it for the next renters. With such a tight schedule, we were lucky to spend sometime an evening with them to catch up on life.

The kids loved each other and had a blast playing, drawing, eating and talking silly with each other.
They are off on a long road trip up to Anchorage. On the way they will go to a family reunion in Utah and enjoy whatever sights are along their path. Faye homeschools them so that they are free to travel about from area to area and enjoy the experience of a greater world. I must admit there is a measure of envy at how free they are from ties to physical things, but I crave too much the ties to people to not have a base to come back to. I'm glad though they stopped to share a little adventure with us. Good luck old friends, and we hope to see you soon again!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Allies for Eli from Midwestern

Elias, just over two years old, is just now getting occupational therapy. There's a lot of reasons, both political and social for the delay in services and its been frustrating to say the least. I'm grateful though that I have an education degree and 6 years experience under my belt to have compensated a little for this lack of support.

We recently got to know a gal who attends our ward (congregation) who is a student at Midwestern university for Occupational therapy. I told her of my frustrations and she mentioned that she might learn more in her classes that might help me out. Well, she did more than give me info, but brought our names to her professors for Eli to volunteer in their OT lab for the other students to observe and work with him. I was thrilled and since the beginning of June through to the mid July, we will go twice a week to have what I call "learning time" with our OT friends!
Isaac and Keila helped out Eli by trying out stuff to get him comfortable.

As an educator I was always big on working with my kids to learn and reach their potential. Now as a mother of three (and one more on the way) I still reach for that ideal but find myself straining to do all the things I want to do with each of my children, let alone my boy with DS. Eli naturally takes more of my attention and time, and yet I want just as much to spend time dong ABCs or crafts and books with the older two. There are some days that I am just too tired to 'help' Eli feed himself with the spoon or a fork, or to help him go through the process of helping him pick up all his toys when his sensory needs dictate throwing is much more rewarding. At the same time I know that the repetition is important and necessary for him to gain the skills he needs in the future. So moments like these in the OT lab are so refreshing for me. First off I get to take a break and observe (which is means a lot sometimes), I've gained ideas on how to better help him with certain skills, particularly his fine motor control, he gains the understanding that he does not depend on only me to achieve things. Best of all we gain many friends along the way - definately a part of Eli's Allies!
Initially I was worried we wouldn't be a good fit for them. Eli takes time to warm up to people and a large group of 15 people watching you can be intimidating to the best of us, let alone a two year old! He's grown and changed though and after the first week he was willing to leave my side and have others work with him. It really was a wonderful thing to see! Now he walks in like he s a little celebrity, waving hi to everyone or giving high fives. Talk about the Cutonium at his best!
They gave us a Spio suit to try out ... An amazing opportunity if you ask me. There are many other parents of DS kids who have been advised by their therapists to buy one for their child. They cost about $120 and with the fact that the child can outgrow them quickly, it's a hefty price tag to swallow especially when one is not sure of their effect on a child and I insurance won't cover it. It's a highly stretchy material designed to help give physical feedback to the child to make them more aware of their body, motion. It helps in physical therapy (Eli's core seemed stronger) and gives back sensory feedback constantly. Eli didn't like putting it on, but it was apparent he got plenty of sensory feedback and no longer threw items, hit hard or bang things. In other ways it seemed it was all he could focus on and he lost a little of his fun interactive personality.
We found that he liked spinning on the swing to help with sensory integration. After a good spin, he was able to focus and sit for tasks that took more fine motor skills, such as this shape sorter. Throwing was at a minimum as was hitting or pulling. It seems to be our solution to some of his struggles, cheaper and easier than a Spio suit!
He loved how everyone would cheer him on and often stopped midtask to clap for himself! What a ham! He sure knew how to work an audience!
We are grateful for this opportunity Eli had and for the friends we've made along the way. All the therapists we've had become a part of our team no matter how brief their stay. It means a lot to us, because we see that one persons success is really an acknowledgement of our success as a community. Having Eli makes us see how much richer life can be when people help people with so much patience and love. Thanks be to the OT class of 2014 of Midwestern University!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Finished with a Bang!

The swim season ended a bang! The swim party had otter pops, juice, donuts and tons of fun.

Keila having her first otter pop! The coaches had fun too, they stretch out a swim cap so much that they could fit 3 kids in at once, let alone a coach!
They played hard enough to burn off most of the sugar, than heavens for me!

The awards ceremony was later that evening everyone was presented a certificate and a personal message.

It was a great season but I must admit I'm need of a few days away from a pool!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Swim Championships Preliminaries

We attended our very first swim championships preliminaries tonight with Isaac. We only signed up our kids for the swim team to help keep them busy during the summer heat as well as build their confidence in something they are not naturally inclined to do. It also helps us as parents to feel comfortable with our kids in the water when we have little ones like Eli who obviously are dependent on us there. It was a huge surprise to us when we learned Isaac qualified for the swim championship preliminaries and he felt the thrill of being part of a greater team. Swim meets are taxing as is with the younger two so Kent and I opted for a sitter and then we took Isaac out for a special night.

Swimming for warm ups

I realized mid-day I was rather nervous for him and for us since we had only ever swum at the Bellair pool. There was a lot to figure out with going Arrowhead country club to compete so we went early to do the warm ups. I was bummed out to find in the hustle and bustle i'd fotgotten the camera, thank heavens for phones! Afterwards we took him to Costco for some dinner and down time. He was jittery and couldn't explain how he was hungry and sick all at once but he got better as we distracted him.

He did great, his best time ever with the backstroke: 38.12 seconds for 25 meters. Over the weekend we worked on his arms brushing close to his ears and keeping a rhythm with them despite the fatigue and I could see the practice paid off. He was so tired though and had troubles getting out of the pool once he finished. We were just so proud of him. While he was disappointed he didn't make the finals, he did express a sense of pride in helping out is team. We just love this little barracuda!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Camping on the Fourth

For the Fourth of July Kent graciously offered to take the older two kiddos camping so I could get a bit of a break. Isaac and keila were thrilled with the prospect of hot dogs and s'more. The following are their summaries in their own words:

Kent's favorite memories
- seeing their excitement while getting ready
- on the way they kept telling me they were so hungry so we stopped and had a little snack. When we got there they were too busy playing to want to eat.
- hearing the wind rustle the trees, the quiet
- they had such a level of gratitude the following morning and they expressed it particularly in an appreciation of their breakfast - obviously genuinely happy
- both deciding to go to the lava caves knowing it would add on another hour to their trip home but how they both gave sad looks and said, "but what about Mama?"
- on the way home they were so sweet with each other saying things like, "okay, you can rest your head on. My shoulders"

- I got to eat mushmellows and sleep in a 'sleep bag'
- I saw lots of buggies piled up on a stick but I got a little scared but even thought I was scared of them, they were cute
- I loved going to the lava caves because I saw crystals

-everything was my favorite
- we found sticks, went to the lava caves, reading books about rocks, sleeping in a sleeping bag
- there was two fuzzy bugs and one was orange and one was red, they were just playing with each other, it looked like they were playing tag - your it
- and we found some bones, a little pile of them but they were big bones
- it was fun making something that looked like a fire

The kids were calmer when they came back, something about nature that seems to help reset us. We're all hoping for more opportunities like this one in the future.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Little Barracudas

It's the summer and time once again for swim team with the Bellair Barracudas! Isaac has had the chance to show what age, discipline and maturity can do for his growing abilities. He's much more focused this year and we have seen him improved by leaps and bounds. He has improved his times in each and every swim meet with the exception of one. he was much more serious about his stroke class as well and surpised us with his butterfly swim at one of the meets. His arms were clear out of the water and he had a rhythm to his body motion that had me do a double take to make sure I was cheering the right kid. We are so proud of him and his hard work. We've just learned to our surprise that he qualifies to swim for the championships in the backstroke. We're so excited for him!

We also enrolled Keila this year. She was always such a fishy girl from the start and we thought she'd take to it right away. Unfortunately we underestimated the how much pressure she felt in the set up of swimming down a lane and had many battles over just going to practices. We reached a truce of sorts, I needed her to be able to swim an appreciable distance for me to feel safe with her in the water. (Planning for the next summer when I will have another baby in addition to Eli to worry about). So she agreed to swim practices without fighting as long as she had time for fun swimming and didn't need to do the meets. What she can't see during practices is how strong and able she is to swim the whole 25m. She's always the last to start and pauses along the way and yet she is one of the first to finish. Her coaches say she is a natural and has the motion of butterfly down and just needs to work on her arms. But the key is that she doesn't feel ready and it seems that no matter what we say to her, she doesn't have the confidence to make the go. For a time I would push it, but then I realized I just needed to respect her choice and realize that she is still just four years old and that confidence will come with age and maturity. In reality she amazes me already with how strong she's become and I never had her ability or courage at her age. It's funny how as a parent we see how much they can do and push for them to see it to. Sometimes it just takes encouragement and some nudging but other time, like in this case, she needs her space to decide for herself. I looked back on old posts, especially when it came to potty training. It is always the first major battle of wills with my kids and sure enough, she just needed to make that choice herself. I supplied the tools and taught her the skills and when she was ready, she owned it and made the choice. I needed to be patient and allow her that agency. I have a feeling this is a lesson I need to remember because I sure there will be many more of these moments in the future.

Keila won't let me take pictures of her swimming (yes, it was that much a point of contention) but she had fun with my phone camera at the meets and caught these few.

Eli giving loves to a family friend of ours, one of his favorite playmates while we wait for Isaac and keila to finish swim practice. The next shot is our traditional treat at ll the swim meets!

I think this might be the kid favorite part of swim meets!