Monday, August 25, 2008

JT's Debut

After mowing our lawn a few Saturdays ago, The Hubs was relaxing on the couch with his glass of ice water, trying to cool down.

JT snuck up beside him, picked up his ice water off the table, and proceeded to dump it onto The Hubs's lap.

"Ah!", JT said, as if the ice water on his lap was a source of pure refreshment.

I've never actually seen The Hubs move that fast before... It must have been VERY refreshing!

JT looked SO proud :-)

Pants Are Optional

On the way back from our Vanderbilt class a few weeks ago, Audrey was trying to convince Miss Amy (our ABA therapist, who I asked to go with us since The Hubs couldn't make it) to spend the night with us for a 'sleepover'.

Amy kept telling her that her sons would miss her, and she didn't have her pajamas anyway.

Audrey replied, "It's okay. You can take your pants off Miss Amy. You don't need pajamas."

I just about died of embarassment, and Amy replied, "As much fun as a pantless party at your house sounds, I have to go home to sleep."

Audrey tried one last time to get Amy to stay. "But, I won't even laugh at you."


Sunday, August 10, 2008


From May 10, 2007
Audrey has to be one of the funniest kids ever... So I thought I'd share a few examples of her funniness.
JT had his circumcision done, and she was hovering while I was trying to change his diaper later that day. Trying to explain everything technically, I tell her what's hurting, etc. So the next day, she gets in the car and says 'Mommy, I tell my friends JT have peanuts.' My jaw dropped, and I said, 'You did?' 'Uh-huh, and he take his peanuts to the hospital.' Not going to correct her, I figure her 2-3 year old friends have had enough anatomy for a while.
At Easter, she was looking at this egg while we were egg-hunting (she was the only one actually looking for eggs). I told her to pick it up, so she does, and she gets this disgusted look on her face. 'Momma, it's dirty.' I said 'Well, that's okay, just put it in your basket and it'll dry off.' 'No, momma, it's NASTY.' She then throws the egg on the ground. After that, my mom had to wipe off EVERY plastic egg we put in her basket.

Will the Fun NEVER End?!

From August 5, 2007
Well, Audrey finally noticed the difference between boys and girls. Only she doesn't quite understand...
She keeps telling me 'Mommy, someday I have a penis like daddy'. I have to correct her and tell her, I'm sorry baby, but you're not going to have one of those... You're not a boy. This is one of those things that could very possibly negatively affect her getting a prom date in 14 years, so we're stopping it now.
And here's the kicker. She walked up to The Hubs a few nights ago, and said 'Daddy, kitty cats eat penis.' Just as calm as you could imagine. The Hubs, being entirely freaked out, called me in there to ask her to say it again, which she did. We both just stood there like what in the hell? The only thing we can figure is when the kitties lick themselves... You know...
I swear, my kids are going to 1)give me a heart attack before I'm 30, and 2)get me a social worker due to their constant injuries and crazy comments.

Audrey and her Mouth

From August 14, 2007
JT got his cast off after 5 weeks and 1 day! The process was not fun, they take a saw and cut the cast off, which really freaked my little guy out. His arm is kind of crooked, but the doc said it will straighten itself as he grows. When they took it off, his arm was really stinky and it's all splotchy from the skin not being able to shed.
Yay!!! We celebrated by going swimming twice today. It was a blast!
Onto the Audrey and her mouth story. This elderly man (think 85) was sitting next to her in the waiting room talking to her while I was chasing JTmy. He was really sweet, obviously a grandpa. Anyway, he was showing Audrey a spider bite on his wrist.
'You don't fool with spiders or they'll bite you.'
Audrey responds 'It's gonna bite ME?'
'Not if you don't fool with it.'
Then comes the kicker. Audrey looks at him and asks 'Are you gonna DIE?'
I was just thinking 'God, PLEASE let them call us back now... Pleasepleaseplease!'
He responds, 'No, it just hurts a little.'
Then she asks 'Are they in there?'
'Well, no...'
Luckily, his wife came out and he had to leave. Surprisingly, he was disappointed.
I'm betting he went to his doctor right after just to get that spider bite checked out...

Race for the Cure

From October 23, 2007
More like Walk for the Cure. Saturday morning, I got up, got into my running gear, and drove downtown to participate in the Susan G. Komen 'Race for the Cure'. Along with 45,000 other women. It was insane.
So, I push my way through the crowd to around a block back from the start. I figure the slower runners will be back here...
Ugh. So, I realize after the start that all these women around me? Are walkers. Which is totally fine. For them. Not for me. I was pissed.
So, I keep telling myself it's for a good cause, blahblahblah. There is absolutely NO WAY to get around these women. I am lodged, stuck in a perpetual hell.
One hour, fifteen minutes later, I come across the finish line for a 5k. Angry, sulking, and downright grumpy, I head home to go run my mileage for the day. I did get it in later in the day, but wasted half my morning walking.
The kicker? I heard someone behind me say 'Ooooh, look. We finished in just an hour and fifteen minutes!'

Pirates in Court

From November 4, 2007
Tuesday, The Hubs and I were in court, and had no one to watch the babies, so they came along.
The great thing about taking young children with you is that you get special treatment. At least I assume everyone does. Maybe it's just us, because our kids are so loud and irritable. Who knows. Whatever it is, it works.
So, the judge/trustee decides we get to go first. While we're waiting, however, a man walks in with a black eye patch over his eye. I would barely have even noticed this guy if it weren't for Audrey.
In the dead silence of the room, Audrey gasps in horror. Then she turns to me and says 'MOMMY - IS HE A PIRATE?!?!', with such obvious concern that I didn't even laugh at her for asking that.
So I try to hush her, assure her that he is NOT a pirate (at least not a good one, if he's in bankruptcy court, no booty there).
'IS HE GONNA SAY ARG?' At this point, all of the nice people sitting around us are laughing, and our attorney is trying hard to control his expression and hide his amusement. Unsuccessfully. He is turning colors from trying to hold in laughs. And his eyes are beginning to water.
Luckily, the trustee called us then. I know the pirate heard us. I was so glad to get out of there.
On the way out, Audrey kept her eye on the pirate. Smart kid.

What Do You Say to This?!

From December 7, 2007
Audrey and I went to the mall to get JT's birthday cookies on Sunday.
She was riding quietly along with her Cinderella and Princess Aurora Disney Nursery dolls, when suddenly, she had a thought.
'Mommy, Princess Aurora and Cinderella are married'.
'Oh, they are?'
'Yes. And they can because Nanny and Mimi are married, and Nana and Shelly are married.'
I was laughing so hard at this point I couldn't answer her. My mom and The Hubs's mom are both 'married' to women. Audrey knows this, and has commented on it before... But never to this extent.
Then, her last comment did me in. Tears were running down my face.
'Mommy! That means I can marry YOU!'
Take that, Freud.
Oh yeah, and you know Walt Disney was turning over in his grave when two of his princesses got married in the back seat of my Jeep Wrangler!

Things I’ve Learned from Staying at Home

-Kids poop and pee WAY more than they get credit for.
-Getting 1 kid to nap on a schedule is amazing. Any more than that you need divine intervention.
-There are about a billion places for kids to hide... Leave them alone for two minutes to find out.
-Kids are way smarter than adults think. They're just waiting for the moment to unleash it. When they do, it's almost never in a way that adults consider constructive, and usually ends up in a giant mess or something broken.
-Never teach kids things before they ask. Genitalia, and sex information are things to NEVER teach a kid until they are old enough to know how to keep their mouths shut.
-When a child asks you a question that is going to result in a thousand more questions if you answer it truthfully, lie. Lie, lie, lie. Seriously, because it will save you at least 30 minutes of your life you will not get back. Consider it a favor.
-Buy toys that a kid can play with on their own. I hate: dolls that have to be dressed, barbies, paints, and anything else that I constantly have to supervise. A sure-fire way to get on my sh!t list is to buy one of these gifts for my child.
-When a child wants to 'help', just let them do it. They end up crying for longer than it would take to just let them touch whatever it is.
-If the kids are being quiet, they are DEFINITELY tearing something up. Probably something really important. Kids can sense this and immediately are drawn to necessary objects for the sole purpose of DESTROYING them.
-If in doubt, always go with the option that will lead to the most quiet and happy outcome.

Horton Has a HUH?!?!

From March 23, 2008
This is the funniest thing that has EVER happened. It was absolutely mortifying, but SO freaking funny.
My dad took me, The Hubs, Audrey and JT to dinner at IHOP. Right now, they have this cool promotion for Horton Hears a Who...
I had drawn Horton with their crayons (yeah, keeps me entertained while I’m waiting for my food). Then, Audrey wanted to color him.
So, she drew him a belly button. She was SO proud.
My dad, The Hubs and I were talking, and all of a sudden, we hear...
"Look, he has a penis!"
And he did.
Horton is VERY well endowed. It hangs to the floor.
We hid the picture, then took it home.


Riding in the car, Audrey starts acting up. Stealing JT's toys, whining and just being ornery.

After giving her a warning, I tell her, "Audrey, if you don't act like a nice girl, I'm going to pull over and whoop your tail."

Audrey replies, "How you gonna do that, mom? I don't have a tail! See!"

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Still Here

Well, last week started off rough.

We were all snuggling in bed when JT got mad at me. He wanted to put his juice under the covers, but it was COLD, so we put it on the table. He threw a fit, and fell off the end of the bed. He popped back up with a salad stoneware plate over his head, and threw it... Directly at my head. The plate center hit my ear, so my jawbone was (and is) really bruised.

So, we started our timeout chair. I was so worried he was going to be in it all the time, but I was wrong. He only had to go in it 3 times that day, and hasn't been in it since. So, he stopped hitting, kicking, biting, throwing... Awesome!

We started our behavioral class at Vanderbilt Tuesday night. It was great. The teachers are actual therapists and one of the faculty members of the department there. They were amazing. It was really wonderful to meet the other 11 families there. All had boys with autism, between 20 months and 4-5 years old. Finally, other people who understand and sympathize (but don't pity!) our situation.

A good week overall! Therapies all went VERY well, and JT's behavior is getting better day by day.


Behavioral (ABA) Therapy - August 8, 2008

Today JT started off in a grouchy mood with Miss Amy, due to the fact he had just woken up from his nap. However, after a few minutes he was ready to play and in a great mood.
He jumped over two tubes, imitating Miss Amy perfectly. They played in his room for a while, and Miss Amy put some play cookies in a ball with holes in it. She was impressed that not only would he get the cookie out, figuring out in the process which holes were big enough to fit the cookies through, but also that he released them after he retrieved them into a play jar. He was imitating her very well throughout their session, and was in a good mood.

Other notes: Miss Amy called me into his room due to a 'blank stare' at one point during the session that worried her. He was very involved in the cookie/ball game, and all of a sudden just blanked out. She gently poked his nose (natural reaction is to blink for a child if they're just staring) and he didn't blink. He resumed play after about half a minute.

Speech Therapy - August 8, 2008

Notes from therapist:
JT was seen for his weekly home visit on this date. His mother and sister were present. JT interacted well with his family and the clinician. He did say "ball" during play. His mother reported that he has been doing well in his other therapies. He is also imitating more throughout his daily routine. JT's parents are now attending classes at Vanderbilt to help them with issues associated with behavior and autism in general. Continue x1 weekly speech therapy visits.

My notes:
JT was pretty happy to see Miss Lisa today! He played much more with her than the last time she was here... Which, due to issues with both of us, had been 3 weeks. After she left, he played with the bilibo and ball, imitating what Miss Lisa was doing (out, in, pat, pat, pat). Miss Lisa wants us to continue what we're doing - using labeling words, short labels, using physical play to get more attention/words.

Easter Fun

Anyone who knows me and The Hubs know we are SO not organized. We are pretty much scrambled constantly. So, it should come as no surprise that Easter of 2007 we were last minute scrambling for Easter gifts/baskets.

The Hubs successfully goes to Walgreen's, buys the baskets (premade, again, we're not organized) and puts them up in the closet in our bathroom. The intention was that we would wake early on Easter morning and put the baskets in their room, so that they would wake up to the 'magical' surprise.

Well... We didn't wake up. So, Audrey comes into our room... She was about 2.5 (a little older than that).

The Hubs gets out of bed, and goes in the bathroom. While in there, he exclaims, "Audrey! Look, the Easter bunny left you a present!"

Audrey is a pretty smart kid. She looks at the bathroom and replies, "In the BATHROOM, daddy?"

She then opens her basket, helps JTmy open his, and is playing with the toys and eating her candy. We thought we were totally in the clear... Not so fast.

"Wow, Audrey!" I said. "Look at all the cool stuff the Easter bunny got you!"

The reply I got... Priceless.

"Thanks, DAD."

Santa the Pirate

Around Christmastime last year, I was putting Audrey to bed one night when I asked her about Santa.

Me: Are you excited about Santa? He's going to come on Christmas Eve and come down the chimney...
Audrey: No!!! I'm scared of santa!
Me: Audrey... Why are you scared of santa?
Audrey: Because, mommy (speaking to me like I'm an idiot)... Santa is a pirate.
Me: (trying to hold back laughter so hard my eyes were watering... good thing it was dark in the room) Why in the world do you think santa is a pirate?
Audrey: Because santa says 'YoHoHo'.

She was completely convinced santa was coming to our house to STEAL her toys...

Autism Diagnosis

JT got his "autism disorder" diagnosis in March of 2008. We knew in July of 2007 that autism was very likely, due to JT's strange behaviors and lack of speech.

The wait list to get a 'team evaluation' at Arkansas Children's Hospital was roughly 10 months, but luckily we came into contact with some people who helped us get in a little sooner.

It was an all-day appointment - from 8:30am until 2:30pm (with a small break for lunch). There were 4 professionals that took part in JT's evaluation - a developmental pediatrician, a speech language pathologist, a psychologist and a social worker. Although I was warned beforehand that receiving the actual diagnosis takes months usually, it took the team 10 minutes to conclude that JT did indeed have autism. He has classical (not regressive) autism.

From birth, JT was always a 'good baby'. He loved to play alone. He would shut himself into our room and scream when we came in. After putting him down at night, we would hear him giggling and belly laughing by himself - perhaps the happiest he had been all day.

At his day care, no one noticed his behaviors as odd or delayed. In fact, they were surprised when I told them I was fairly certain he was autistic. This was surprising to me mainly because he was at a Developmental Day Treatment Center, and the therapists (speech, occupational) were all baffled. The last few months he went there, they transitioned him from the baby to the toddler room. They commented 'He had a rougher transition than any other child they had ever had.' I had to be called up there to pick him up a few times simply because they couldn't calm him down. I was missing so much work just from him picking up illnesses and getting so sick, then all the issues he was having with his classroom move, that I put in my notice at work.

He never really talked/babbled/interacted. He loved to run in circles. I started noticing the toe walking around 15 months, and shortly after the hand flapping.

At first, even our pediatrician wasn't convinced JT was autistic. However, as time passed, it became more and more obvious. His behaviors that once just seemed a little off were now seen as inappropriate. He was no longer just a 'late talker', but way behind in speech.

I called Arkansas' early intervention in August of 2007. The only therapy that was ever set up was developmental. We loved Miss Rennie, she helped immensely in generally helping JT with skills and just giving us information about what we could do.

He was very anti-social until a few months after I became a stay at home mom. Finally, he started seeking out attention, wanting to be around the rest of the family. From the time his developmental therapist started in August until we moved in April, he made HUGE progress socially. She said 'he isn't even the same kid he was when I first started coming!'. This is what I am the most thankful for - my son wanting to be around us.

When the diagnosis came, we were not surprised at all. It was just a formality to get services more easily for JT. Without the diagnosis, getting therapy or other services is very difficult (who am I kidding, it's difficult anyway).

Basically, I try to focus on JT's therapies main points and incorporate them into our lives. However, he is (first and foremost) just a child. I do not want my son's childhood to be nothing but therapies. I do think they are very important, but also strongly believe that in order to grow, children must be able to play.

Current Therapies

Occupational Therapy - Mr. Rob
1 hour per week.

Speech Therapy - Miss Lisa
1 hour per week.

TEIS (Developmental) Therapy - Miss Laura
1 hour per week.

Behavioral Therapy - Miss Amy
3 hours per week.

Behavioral Class at Vanderbilt for parents. Meets Tuesday nights 6:30-8:30 pm. Parent training in behavioral therapy.

Enrolling in WAVES classroom program mid-September (first opening).

Hanen More than Words project through Vanderbilt - 'community family' when next 'session' starts.

Sweet Child of Mine

Audrey : Mom, did God make ants?
Me : Yes, baby, God makes ants.
Audrey : Well... God needs to be more careful, because ants bite.

Note to self: You are SO going to hell. Your (then) 3 year old is chastising God. NOT a good sign.

I'm Stupid...

Last night The Hubs came home with my requested items from Kroger... (Two cans of tomato soup and dishwashing detergent - FYI).

I was looking at the receipt, and it said:
"Your cashier today was CAROUSEL."

I found this VERY funny. I was like, "The Hubs, someone named Carousel checked you out?! Someone named their kid CAROUSEL?!" I was pretty much bent over in laughter...

Joke was on me. The Hubs informed me that he checked out at the self-checkout carousel. And proceeded to laugh hysterically at me for thirty straight minutes.


Developmental Milestones

JT was always a little behind on his milestones.
Gross motor:
Crawling - 8 months
Walking - 13.5 months
at 32 months (current), he seems to be on target/advanced in gross motor skills.

Fine motor:
32 months (current) - using spoon, but turning it upside down (messy! haha), has pincer grasp mastered.

JT's language skills:
First 'word' - dada - 9 months
Second 'word' - mama - 12.5 months (the ONLY time he EVER said mama)
Nonverbal until 30 months
31 months - echolalia
32 months (current) - words include: whoa, okay, whee, ball, truck, car, hi, night-night, byebye

Sensory issues:
JT is a sensory seeker. He loves to jump off of things, on his trampoline. He has low muscle tone, which makes him go all the time. He likes to eat ice. He mouths most toys still, although he is very good about not swallowing (thank goodness, see the penny incident in medical history for why that is a HUGE relief). JT toe-walks, flaps, but most of his stims are visual. He loves to watch reflections, wheels turning, shadows and anything that spins. He lines up anything that he finds that matches... Coke cans, DVD's, cars, anything. He tries to sleep with strange things such as shoes or (unopened) plastic containers of playdoh.

Behavioral issues:
JT is hard headed. He only wants to do things that are his idea. He has a temper, and is aggressive if he does not get his way. He is known to bite, throw, scream, kick and hit when he is riled up... He is a hoarder.

JT is a sweet little man. Although he does not give 'real' hugs or kisses, he is affectionate in other ways. He likes to snuggle in your lap, lay on you, gently play with hair. He loves physical games. He enjoys singing and dancing. He thinks the 'bad guys' are hilarious - his favorite being Swiper on Dora. He absolutely adores his sister. He responds very well to praise, and really tries to be compliant.

Medical History

I found out I was pregnant with JT when my daughter was 8 months old. During the pregnancy, I was put on bedrest at 24 weeks due to preterm labor. During this time, I developed polyhydramnios (excess of fluid in the uterus). JT was due 12/25/2005. We had scheduled a c-section due to the fact that JT was breech, but he flipped November 29th.
I went into labor (for the last time) December 1. During the labor, everything went well until they broke my water. At this point, JT started to go into distress. I had several OB physicians and nurses in my room for the final 2 hours of my labor. His heart rate would drop into the 30's every time I would have a contraction. I had fluid bags that the doctors were trying to put back into the uterus to 'cushion' JT, in hopes that he was sitting on his cord and this would help. I had oxygen to help with the distress also. Had JT taken any longer, they would have had to take him via c-section.
When JT came out, he had neuchal cord. The cord was wrapped one time around his neck. He did well on all his APGAR scores, but the pediatric physician and nursing staff was concerned about his breathing, so he was immediately taken to the special care nursery. He weighed in at 8 lbs 3 oz, a very big boy for a 36 week baby.
He remained in the nursery for 3 whole days before we were released. The doctors finally did a chest x-ray, and determined his grunting with breathing was 'normal'. He also had low blood sugar when he was born, and roughly 10cc's of fluid were pumped from his stomach - most likely related to my excess fluid.
When JT was a few days old, he caught a cold from his 'big' (16 month old) sister. This developed into bronchitis/pneumonia, so he was put on antibiotics.
At 9 months old (August of 2006) he woke up from a nap wheezing and barking. We took him to the after hours clinic, where they discovered he had eaten a penny, and we were shipped via ambulance to Arkansas Children's Hospital. He spent 2 nights and 3 days in the hospital. They had to put him under general anesthesia and take a scope in to remove the coin. The removal of the penny caused minor damage to the trachea, so once he was healed, he was allowed to go home.
At a year old, we opted to do the circumcision that the doctors couldn't do when he was born (due to his prematurity and issues). There were no complications after the surgery.
JT had more than 15 ear infections in his first 1.5 years, and when we got his hearing tested, it was determined he had 20-30% hearing loss. We had tubes put in, and although his hearing was restored, he did not gain language skills.
July 4, 2007 JT fell out of a lawn chair while watching fireworks in Frisco, Texas. Five days later, he was still acting like it was a little sore, so we went to the doctor. Even though he was using it, he had a break in both bones of his forearm. JT was in a full arm cast (shoulder to fingers) for 6 weeks.
JT's immune system is not very strong. While in daycare (until July of 2007) he was constantly sick. He has had whooping cough twice, and croup several times.
Currently, we are concerned about absence (petit mal) seizures. We are seeing a neurologist at Vanderbilt August 25th.

Friday, August 1, 2008

August Already?!

I can't believe it's August! So much has been happening around here that July came and went without me realizing it!

JT is talking tons now! He loves to tease his daddy by saying "The Hubs" (haha). He also says car, truck, uhoh, whoa, hey, hi, boo, pull... And so much more! He said giraffe for his ABA therapist, Amy. It was pretty funny!

I started physical therapy for my ankle. I had an MRI done, and completely tore the ATFL (anterior talo fibular ligament). I also have tendinitis in my peroneal tendon, which is because my ankle is unstable so the peroneal tendon is working overtime so I don't fall over! Anyway, the doc said we are going to try physical therapy for 6 weeks, and if it doesn't work, surgery... So, we're hoping the therapy works! I go back September 12th for the big decision day...

JT's therapies combined with my therapy twice a week are keeping us busy busy busy.

Audrey's still a pretty princess, helping with her brother however she can. Such as sweet girl.

I got a new job writing articles for Demand Studios... Still with Writers Research Group, too, but the articles with Demand Studios gave me a good raise :0)

We're still truckin' along!