Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years Eve, Children's Museum

Dawson was beyond excited when I told him we were going to the Children's Museum. This was decided the day before, after days of being cooped up and having nothing to do. For all our sanity, we needed out of the house! He asked me about 30 times on the way there if we are going to the Children's Museum. He had to make sure that was still where we were headed. We got there and it was priceless. When we went there for the HopeKids event 2 weeks ago, we only had an hour to play, and it was so rushed. This time they got to take their time, play with more things and really enjoy themselves more.

The boys playing the iPad before bed. I love how they get cuddly and play together in the evenings. Dawson has been doing so much better with social interactions lately. Observing him in the Children's Museum was so great. He respected other kid's boundries, shared toys, didn't get upset or anything. Such a huge change from even last year!
 Gabriel liked the My-Size-Castle
 They have a paper facory set up. Of course Dawson likes anything that spins!
 Water! Gabriel actually played in the water this time, and was quite excited about it.
 Plus there were balls, so that's a bonus.
 Daddy and Dawson playing at the older kids table. They have some neat set ups.
 Gabriel exploring the ant tunnels
 Dawson holding still for a picture. He actually walked in the halls and waited for us. Stood in lines. Especially the fear of danger and being lost is a tough one, and he still has no fear of either, but his obedience is better, so that helps a lot!
 A favorite toy.
 A huge ball! There were some way bigger than him too. He was excited.
 Dawson likes sitting in the catch bucket for the roller coaster ball set up. They all come right to him, plus he has a great view of them going down the coaster. He was handing the balls out to kids who came to get theirs back too.
 Gabriel checking out what Dawson was up to. They traded spots for a while.
 Watching balls go around, like the coin donation things. Very amusing.
 Gabriel was a little ham all day. Until the end when he had completely worn himself out and couldn't do anymore. :)
 These stairs are small, so he was happy to be able to walk down them himself. Something he's been trying hard to do lately.
 Another one of Dawson's favorites. I asked him what his favorite room was, the water, balls or ant tunnels and he said "all are favorites, mom!" Then promptly asked if we can go back tomorrow. He happily settled with the idea of going to Grandma's house. Whew!
 I asked for a happy face, and I got one. Goofy boy.
 Lots of balls going down at once. Surprisingly, he was very cooperative when leaving all the rooms. I guess the excitement of what's ahead kept him interested, but it's a big sign of mature development when they leave the "now" for what's maybe ahead. Something he really hasn't done much, especially with things this exciting.
 Gabriel was a bit taken back by the idea of this wobbly bridge, but he kept going across until he was doing it confidently. I love his determination and patience!
Gabriel has been talking so much! We got home and he was babbling non-stop. Some of it was comprehendable, other stuff was not, but he was sure talking about something. I'm glad he had lots of fun today too! He's been saying new words every day. He's been loving his new toys and has been doing a lot of pretend play, which is so neat! Dawson doesn't even have interest in that yet, which is common for Autistic kids. It's just so weird seeing such a little guy doing these things. His horses drive cars and busses, they go in buildings, fences, along the couch, in the Christmas tree, and everywhere. I'm excited to see the playsets get played with, and I love that he keeps himself so entertained! Excited to see what the New Year will hold for them both. :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas and Children's Museum

This month has been really up and down, but mostly up. I have had a lack of motivation mostly. The tree never got decorated. It's a pre-lit, so it still looks pretty in the evening. Gabriel has knocked it down 4 or 5 times, and is a bit of a tree terror, so that made my motivation to decorate even smaller. He did play with it a lot, he thought running his horses on it was very fun.
 Dawson loves to plug it in every night
 On the 11th we went to the Children's Museum, it was a HopeKids event. We had a huge snowstorm 2 days prior and got a foot of snow, so getting there was interesting. Not all of it was cleared away, and it was a bit icy, so traffic was slow and we got there an hour late, despite leaving an hour early. The kids were not thrilled with being in the car for 3 1/2 hours, especially in stop and go traffic. We had 1 hour to play once we got there, and it looked like many others were coming in at the same time, or even after. They still had lots of fun, and Dawson has been asking every day to go back. I told him we will after the new calendar is up.

He loved the elevator. He still is obsessed with pretending our sliding closet doors are elevators.
 Gabriel was a bit leary of the big, busy place. He loved all the water, and walked around saying "oooh!", but really didn't touch anything in the first exhibit. I had brought extra clothes and everything!
 They loved the bus
 Gabriel and Daddy loved the foam blocks room. Dan was stacking them up, and Gabriel would giggle and run to knock them all over.
 This was by far everyone's favorite room. They rolled balls around and around, down ramps with hills, and a huge one like a roller coaster too. It has always been a big interest of Dawson's.
 Gabriel has been requesting popcorn lately, so the boys have had some popcorn movie nights before bed.
 A very sleepy Dawson after a busy day. I went to tell him to get off the computer and go to bed, he hadn't even been sitting there that long!
 Footie pjs! Someone gave us a bag of clothes, and it had a couple of these in there. He thought they were hilarious! He was always a warm baby and didn't like warm pjs, but now he's been asking for them, and giggling about it.
 Animals! We went to my parent's house on Christmas Eve in the afternoon. Gabriel got several small animals, and a stuffed horse and puppy. They are adorable stuffed animals! He is loving them all.
 Dawson was excited to see his Cat in the Hat game, Math game for his handheld Leapfrog game, and a little Hungry Hippos game. He's been playing the Math game a lot, and he's currently in the playroom with his Autism therapist and they are playing the board game.
 Gabriel and his adorable horse. To the left is Daddy, to the right is my sister Sarah and her fiance, Nick.
 Looking at all his animals.
 The end table was Dan's Christmas gift from my parents. My dad does woodworking and has made most of the things, big and small, for their home. It was neat how he made the top a checker board.
 Our goodies from my parent's house.
 Time for our gifts! Gabriel was pretty tired, but he perked up fairly quick.
 Super excited to get the Perfection game! His therapist had brought it a couple times, and he loves it.
 A Toy Story 3 toy from our friend Heather.
 Gabriel got a stuffed horse, and a set of 9 smaller horses.
 He was trying to figure out how to carry them all at once.
 Playing Perfection together. So nice to see them cooperating better. Especially Dawson, he has worked so hard all summer on sharing and playing with others. He has hugely improved in that area!!
 Gabriel's gifts, both from my parents and us. See a theme?  Right now he is playing with Dawson's Toy Story playset. Of course. Though he is playing it with many animals. Apparently they can drive and operate machinery. :)
 Dawson at my Grandma's house. He did really well for having 18 other people in the house. Big crowds give him anxiety, and it was nice to see the hard work paying off. Instead of tantruming and yelling, he retreated to the quiet of her bedroom/bathroom, where there was a sliding closet and he played elevators. He did have a couple encounters with another toddler, but he stepped back instead of shoving. Not only that, but he sat on my lap and talked about it afterward! He has also been using the word "me", which is fairly new. He usually just talks in 3rd person, referring to himself as Dawson. Now just trying to get him to say "I" as well. It's coming, sometimes he uses the words out of context, but he knows he should be using them and is trying hard to get it right.
This holiday season has been a bit rough, just thinking of how things would've been with Tyler here with us. I had little motivation to start with, but as we got going and around people, it wasn't quite as bad. Just some moments here and there. I went to a grieving parents group in Sauk Rapids. They meet every 3rd Thursday at 6:30pm if anyone is interested. It went well, I got to meet some new people and talk about things that normal people don't understand. It was really nice. One thing that popped into my head the other day is the New Year. It was really hard moving into 2012. I didn't figure I'd have issues with other New Years. But now, after this New Year, I won't be able to tell people "last year". Just one of those sad realizations.

I am looking forward to some new things in January. They are starting on another community/social goal for Dawson, so we get to go do some fun things, like the library and other places involving children. Some days we'll invite kids over here, which isn't as easy as it used to be now that our friend has moved, but hopefully we'll find some people.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and has a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 7, 2012


Dawson is having a harder time, he seems to have hit a denial phase. He was watching Tyler's videos and told me that is Tyler's home. Then he asked me if Tyler can come live with us in our home. I told him Tyler is in the sky, remember? He got upset and yelled "No! He's not in the sky, he's down here on the ground!" So we again went over how he was sick and died and is up in the sky now. His ears were closed though, he told me no, and started yelling about it. It was obvious he was not listening and just needed some time to be angry, so I left him alone. He calmed down and eventually accepted an invite for a hug before going back to playing. He has re-visited this conversation everyday for the last several days. I'm hoping this phase will pass soon, but it's a normal part of grieving for everyone. I was pleased by his acceptance of being sad. I have asked a few times if he is sad and he says "yes, Dawson is sad", with no correction or insistance on being happy. That is huge progress, and a huge step in the grieving process. So for now he is sad, angry and in denial, and that is ok. His daily school reports have showed this as well, they say his days have been a bit rough, though he has gotten up and out the door the same as usual. He comes home and tells me, "mom, I had a not great day", it was just a fact. I told him that's ok to have a bad day and he nodded his head, accepting that he was just sad that day and it happens. He has woken up at night crying and screaming, he has gotten up shortly after going to bed in a panic. It's been a rough couple of weeks for him. I'm hoping it will pass soon.

Today we did some shopping, Dawson had no school today. He ended up having a moment and was screaming at the top of his lungs in protest to something so simple. It was obviously not anything about what I had said no to. Grief will amplify things. Something sad will make you so angry. Something that is normally not a big deal will suddenly be a big deal. So as he is screaming, to the point of tensing up tight and nearly shaking, I just had to continue on, head to the back corner of the store until he got it all out. We got so many looks. It's hard enough having a tantruming 1 year old, but with a 5 year old, people look at me like I have failed to teach the child something, or like he's just that spoiled. They have no clue what he is going through. When we pulled into the parking lot, he was excited to go shopping. It changes so fast, lots of ups and downs. He was so excited to pick out a present for his uncle's birthday and to learn he gets to have birthday cake on Sunday. Yet a few aisles later he was throwing a huge fit over something tiny. He was better by the food section, when I reminded him he gets to pick out a treat for this week. He earns tokens during his home therapy and when he earns enough, he gets to do something fun, or have a special snack if it's that time. It really motivates him.

On the other hand, I have had a much better week. Those internal clouds seem to have lifted and I'm feeling more motivated and I have more energy. It's amazing how grief can affect you physically. For a while I was getting anxiety attacks, only I didn't realize what it was and was rather worried. My chest hurt, I couldn't breathe and my left arm was tingling. It happened several times, and everyone knows that's not a good sign. Thanks to my grief group, I discovered those are also common symptoms of a panic attack, and sure enough, it only got bad when I was feeling more emotional. They have not lasted very long and it was only for a short span of a week or 2 when it happened and I haven't had that issue since. Seems like just the phase I was going through at the time. Dawson's problems this week have dragged me down a bit, but in general I have been much better than I was before. It's hard when everyone is in a different place in their grieving. Seems like someone at any given point is in a bad mood, it makes things difficult.

Yesterday I ventured out a bit more. I hadn't really left town while Dawson is in school until then. I went to my cousin's house in Becker, which was fun. Gabriel loved seeing the animals. He's my little animal lover, horses especially. They have 2 and he was so excited! We went up to them and he made his "neigh" noise, which is rather long, exaggerated and high-pitched for a horse! It's really funny. I tried to get it on video, but of course once I started, he wouldn't do it again. He also got to see some cows and ducks. Also his 2 cousins, who are Dawson and Tyler's age. We had our babies 2 months apart both times, which was neat.

 "oooh!"  Everytime he says that, it sounds so much like Tyler. It's crazy, the same tone, voice, everything. Sometimes it's really cute, other times it just hurts.
 He looks so little walking up to the fence. They can be so fearless at this age. He walked up to the fence and knocked, as if they were going to open it up and let him in!

 After we got home, Dawson was asking me about the couch. We had moved it the night before to where it used to be. Needed to make room for the tree. He got excited and I asked him if he wanted to put together the tree now, and of course he said yes. We aren't allowed a real tree in our apartment, so we've always done fake. I gave him the top part and he carried it to the living room. Since nothing ever fits back into the original box, we had to keep it seperate. He happily walked to the window, stood it up there, looked at it and then back at me. He finally said " It's really small". He was even crouching down to help tell me how small it was. He was not impressed!
 Then I showed him what was in the box. :)
 So he got to put it together, and he figured it out himself. Thankfully they are easier than they used to be. We bought a new one a couple years ago after Christmas, since everything is so much better priced after the holiday. We got a good deal on it.
 Admiring his work so far. Much more impressed.
 Putting the little tree up on the big tree. He approves. :)
 Tyler's handprint, still on our window from August 2011. It's getting smudgey in that area, since Gabriel's smudges are joining Tyler's and starting to make it less obvious. It used to be a perfect handprint, and now it's mostly fingers left. Just one of those little things, a sign that he was really here. He only lived in our new apartment for 2 weeks, so we don't have many memories of him being here, it was a stressful couple of weeks, waiting for transplant, dealing with an infection and living among packed boxes in our half moved in apartment. It was still so nice to have him here though, and I'm glad we did have those 2 weeks.
 Gabriel playing on the ipad. I've been asked by a few to take pictures of this, because it's so adorable. It started out as "oh cute, he's trying to play the ipad". Then it moved to "wow, he's actually doing something with it!". Now it's more "let me play ipad or I will scream". Gotta love those almost 2 year old moments. He is still my easiest child, behavior wise. He has his moments, but is so mellow usually. I do take it with sometimes when I have a lot of errands to run. I got to a point where I just didn't care what people think. Yes, my 1 year old is playing an ipad. It's not his, it's for his brother's therapy and they happen to make awesome toddler apps too. It is sanity while shopping, and I will take some of that!
 So focused! He spelled "xray", mostly by process of elimination, of course. He's good at matching animals, doing little puzzles and things. He's a smart little guy. It's exciting seeing his little mind at work.
 Gabriel was thrilled when we moved the couch. We reunited him with 3 of his toy horses, all which he hasn't let far out of his sight since we found them.
We have an exciting several days ahead. Going to visit Tasha and Rilee, the little guy we met in the ICU. Also my brother's birthday party, and the Children's Museum through HopeKids. I'm also on the parent counsel for the school now and have a meeting on monday. They asked me to be a parent voice, so I thought I would try it. Dawson and Tyler both did home visits and ECSE there, as well as ECFE, and now Gabriel is in ECFE also. I'm hoping for some Christmas shopping motivation to hit as well! I don't even have a clue what I'm going to get Dawson yet. I'm hoping this 6 inches of snow we're supposed to get will help that Christmas mood to hit!