Lovin' our Big Boy!

Lovin' our Big Boy!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Homework and Swimming

Summer is the time to be carefree, right? Well, not for our kids with autism. There's therapy all year long. It comes in different forms, and for Jack these days much of it is either incidental or supportive therapy. But he also attends summer PDO at his preschool 2 days a week for social interaction and a 9 week class at Franklin Speech and Learning for Kindergarten readiness called Academic Scholars. Thankfully, Jack LOVES Academic Scholars.

He gets lots of homework from Miss Amy, his teacher there. At first he wasn't too keen on it, but lately he's been much more eager to complete it. Even the handwriting work, which is his least favorite. Here he is working on his upper and lower case letters with the support of the "alligator snap", courtesy of his OT, Miss Shayla, from ESY. Miss Shayla is awesome!! And we are so proud of Jack's compliance these days! It is at almost 100%...and anyone who knows Jack knows that this was an area of great concern as we approached kindergarten!

Today Jack had some good ol' fun with his friend Owen, and Owen's little sister Olivia, at their neighborhood saline pool! Yay for no chlorine! Jack is putting his newfound swimming skills to great use. Tyler got his first dip in the pool as well. Jack was excited to hang out with his classmate, Owen, and thought it was cool that he was there for Tyler's first swim. When Tyler turns 2, Jack's going to give Tyler his floatie ring and get a bigger one, he said tonite at bedtime. What a thoughtful big brother!

Owen and Jack having fun!

Jack taking a lap around the pool, just because he can now!

Clearly the coolest dude in the pool, baby brother Tyler!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fun In The Sun

Today was awesome. No other way to describe it. Jack and I had planned to go swimming today, and hoped that Mimi would watch Tyler so we wouldn't have to take him with us to the neighborhood pool, which has little shade. This is a big deal, as we don't go swimming often.

When I say not often, I mean not often at all. I'm not sure we even made it to the neighborhood pool during the entire summer last year. 1) I was pregnant (enough said) and 2) Jack has a weird response to chlorine. He gets really hyper and silly. We try to avoid it, seeking out saline and other chlorine-free alternatives whenever possible. And, since we swim about 3 times per summer, poor Jack has no water skills. He clings to my neck like a cat and fusses about getting splashed. Good times for all.

But today was different. I suppose I should be getting accustomed to this new change...but it still takes me by surprise every time, in a good way. Ok, back to the story...

Michelle called this morning to see if we were free. Seems the twins, also 6, saw Jack's reading video and wanted to play w/Jack. Cole called up and asked if we could get together. Once the mom's hatched a suitable plan we sprung it on the kids...swimming for all! They were so excited. Jack even cleaned his room in preparation for the boys coming over after swimming! Mimi came to stay with Tyler and we headed to the pool. After about 3 minutes of tentativeness, Jack managed to make it in and was standing in the 3FT section! Within 30 minutes, he was wearing a floatie ring, holding on to a kickboard and was swimming the LENGTH of the pool chasing after water toys! I was amazed! I swam out with him once and that was all it took. He was kicking great and having a blast!

After 1.5 hours, it was time to go back to the house and feed the baby. The twins were, at this point, bored with swimming, as it is something they do every week at the Y. Jack was, admittedly, a bit torn up over the thought of leaving, but I can't say that I blame him. The boys came back to our house, played for a while and watched a video before they headed home. Jack talked up a storm about how much fun he'd had swimming. I required him to soak in the tub for a bit with some Epsom Salts, and then we had an early dinner.

After dinner we headed out to Toys R Us, and then on to Target, in search of the perfect pool toys. We got a boat with a sunshade and swim diapers for Tyler, since I have a feeling he's going to be accompanying us to the pool this summer, and Jack picked out a kickboard, water balls, a blow up ring and a sit on float. He is all geared up for a great summer!!!

As for the chlorine reaction, I didn't see anything, except he got a little weepy at bedtime. That is really unusual for him, but he didn't actually cry. He was disappointed that he couldn't watch TV when we got back from shopping (it was 7:45p) but handled it well. He could have just been tired. Oh, and he had a very short (45 seconds or so) giggle fit over something Daddy said...so we'll have to keep watch for any "cumulative" reaction over the next few pool visits. And, if you have an alternative option where you live (Holly, Trina, Keeley, Amy), please invite us...my little guy is anxious to go swimming again!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jack is reading like crazy!

Jack has become quite the reader of late. His comprehension seems pretty good as well. He's headed to Kindergarten in 8 weeks, and I think he'll be focusing his efforts in areas other than reading! We're so proud of him...he has picked reading up so easily and enjoys it as well. Enjoy "Father Cat's Busy Day" by Richard Scarry, Part I, read by Jack at bedtime on a summer nite, 6 years old, to his proud Mommy. It's long, so sit back and relax, if you choose to watch it in its entirety! (8 minutes) And to the skeptics in the crowd, no, he does not have this book memorized. It is only the 2nd time we've read it...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Mental Checklist

The following have been able to be stricken from my mental checklist in the last 90 days, with the introduction of Namenda. To sit down and write them all out swells my heart. What amazing progress is chronicled here!

professional haircut, without incident
shopping with Mommy, going to as many stores as needed
being involved in baby brother's existence
helping around the house
dressing himself, shirt to shoes
buckling his own seatbelt
going to a playdate unaccompanied
sitting patiently through commercials on TiVo'd programs
talking on the phone
answering multiple questions about his day
spontaneously sharing information about his day (because he wants us to know!)
going to his first day of school, no aide, no supports, and getting a great report
allowing Mommy to go out at night without crying or worrying
doing homework without a meltdown
allowing me to take his picture without complaint (and smiling AND looking at camera)
walking in without incident, participating AND enjoying Sunday School
attending Children's Worship willingly
seeking out peers for play
coming when called 100% of the time
transitioning without protest, even from preferred to non-preferred task
doing homework willingly
problem solving
wiping his bum without assistance!

"Sweet N Sassy's Is the PERFECT place to get a haircut!"

This is the statement of the week from my six year old, former scaredy cat of all things hair-cutting related. I mentioned last week to him that it was time for a "real" haircut. Mommy's talent has not broadened nearly as much as I had hoped, and Jack's overall fear meter seems to be registering low. So, I gently broached the subject. "How about if Grandpa takes you to Snip Its?" , the location of his last professional cut a year or more ago (think tears, hunched shoulders, anxiety out the wahoo!). Note that I used Grandpa, the ultimate weapon, as he'll generally go anywhere with him! Jack pondered this and said "maybe". But then he added "I don't want to go to Snip Its. I want to go to the other place from a long time ago." That place is no longer in business, so I was scrambling..."Maybe we can find another kids' haircut place. How does that sound?" Jack said that would be great.

I tentatively called Sweet N Sassy, known for it's glamour girl parties and, sure enough, they cut boys' hair regularly! So Jack agreed to go on Monday.

Monday arrived and off we went. Mimi and Tyler went along too! Jack met Shelby, who was the most wonderful professional ever with my kid, and sat in her chair. No complaint about the cape, or the chair, or the haircut. So far, so good! A little cautious as she sprayed the comb...he made sure to warn her to be careful not to get his clothes wet, but sat and chatted with her and obeyed her direction (Look down at your knees for me). He was more nervous about the clippers but actually touched them with his finger and then agreed that they weren't so bad and allowed her to trim all that she needed to without complaint. I even noticed that hair was falling on his shorts and he was brushing it off! No meltdown in sight!

After the haircut was complete, he admired himself in the mirror and exclaimed that he looked handsome! And, well, he did! As I paid for his haircut, he selected a new Jibbitz for his crocs. Crazy store, had more toys and fun stuff than hair product. They sure know how to sucker punch the parents once you are there!

As we left, I felt myself pulling out my mental notepad...professional haircut without incident, check! I'm amazed at how many things are getting checked off that list lately since the addition of the Namenda (alzheimer drug). It has been nothing short of amazing...

Last night I asked Jack to step outside for a minute to take a picture of him with his new haircut. The sun was setting and the lighting was good. He hopped out right behind me and jumped into the grass, barefooted. I remember years ago him refusing to go anywhere outside without shoes. Times have so changed for the better for us! It really feels like easy street these days. And I thank God every moment for it!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Do you remember when I didn't love babies, Mommy?

Yes, these words fell from my sleepy boy's mouth recently just before bed as we were nuzzled up together on his "big kid's bed". "Yes," I reply, "I do remember." "But now I LOVE babies. Did you know that?" Um, yes, my sweet pea, I did know that as evidenced by the zillion times a day you are up in your baby brother's face...talking to him, singing songs to him, giving him his pacie, waking him from his ever so short naps, and all around doting on him.

Today Jack spent the afternoon with Grandpa while Mimi and I took Tyler on a shopping spree. We all arrived in our driveway at the same time. Jack came bounding out of Grandpa's car and was running right toward me. I was so tickled that he was so excited to see me....until he whizzed right past me and climbed into the backseat of my truck to greet HIS BROTHER. Yes, I am basically chopped liver. The mommy who hung the moon a mere 4 months ago is now second fiddle to a 14 lb. drooling smiling baby. Whodathunkit?

I'm ever amazed by Jack and his abilities. This new love for his baby brother and his serious response to being the Big Brother amazes me too. Maybe I'm unfair to him for being surprised, but I just didn't expect it so soon. But there is love. Full on brother to brother lifetime love. And it's not just Jack...Tyler's face completely lights up when Jack sticks his crazy antic, loud voice face up to him. It's most certainly reciprocated. Jack can't wait for Tyler to be old enough to sleep in his room with him. And it won't be long before Tyler will want to sleep there too. This is the joy of motherhood!

"Mommy, Tyler's love is forever, did you know that?" "Yes, sweet pea, I do." And I'm so grateful. It is truly a beautiful thing to watch.