Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Fun and a New Baby!

We have lots of fun things planned for this summer! Friday we went to the MN Zoo with a friend and her 2 kids. It was a very long night, I woke up at 1am because of a storm that hit. 70mph winds and a ton of rain. It knocked out our electricity, along with most of the town as well. Thankfully we got ours back on that morning, but much of the town will be without all weekend. The boys woke up and were rather taken back by nothing working. Dawson was worried that our house was broken. He was reassured when I told him it would be fixed soon. Thankfully we had planned on leaving early that morning anyway, so we didn't have to deal with it for very long. I was quite tired from being up since 1am though! I didn't get back to sleep much after that.

We got to the zoo and Dawson was in a funk from our house being broken and because we passed a waterpark and he'd rather be doing that. Gabriel was in animal lover heaven. By the end of the trail I had a happy boy, a crabby boy and was very tired from pushing them both in the stroller! Thankfully we had a break in the middle of the trail, that had a little playground and some refreshments. Gabriel decided to run through a puddle repeatedly. With his stuffed zebra. Then he decided the zebra needed to splash in the puddle too. They both ended up rather soaked and the zebra was in dire need of a good bath and joined the next load of laundry! It's white again now. :)

 Watching Dawson in the splash pad, but not brave enough to join him yet.
 Penguins! They were chasing each other around and Gabriel found it very exciting.
 Dawson liked the big fish tank.
Gabriel, all wet from playing in that puddle, but very pleased with himself.
Dawson watching penguins

After the zoo I went to the hospital to see my sister, who had her baby boy, Kale, just after midnight on Friday! He's so adorable! It will be nice to not be the only one in the family with kids, and it's fun to finally be an aunt. Dawson wanted to hold him right away and loved it. He's so sweet with babies.
 Gabriel was very interested too and gave him some kisses and hugs. I didn't get a great picture of him though, I was mostly too busy holding them both.

 I'm a happy Auntie. :)

 Afterward we went to my parent's house to check out the storm damage. They lost 12 trees, some big ones too! Gabriel was impressed with all the water that was in the hole.

Saturday we went to the food festival, where they had food, pony rides and a harnessed trampoline. Gabriel was super excited to see the horses, which are actually PONIES! Dawson was correcting him every time Gabriel said Horse and was getting all worked up about it! Gabriel didn't notice or care, he was too excited.
 So happy to be on a horse!
 YeeHaw! He was going between saying Horse! and YeeHaw! Was so adorable.
 I took a video of him riding.

Trampoline! Dawson has been on this one before and was excited to do it again. Gabriel hadn't done it before, but wanted to. He cried getting harnessed, but was giggling so hard while I bounced him!

I had my 29 week OB appointment today. Baby sounds good, measuring good too. I had the glucose test, which I passed in 1st trimester, but failed this time. So I'm going in on Friday for 4 hours so I can do the longer test. Not looking forward to that, and even more just hoping I don't fail the longer test! That would mean having to watch my sugar intake, which doesn't sound very nice not being able to have ice cream in the summer! Hoping for some better news Friday.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What we've been working for

It was so frustrating when we realized Dawson wasn't progressing as he should. After evaluations, school intervention, speech therapy, occupational therapy, switching to Children's for speech while we were there, switching back again. We needed wait lists each time we switched, and wondering if he'll ever get enough help to keep up or get anywhere. Each therapy session was frustrating. What did we accomplish in that hour? He played, screamed, refused to do what the lady wanted, and we went home. Repeat 2x a week. When he finally settled in and was more comfortable, they'd play and she'd prompt him to say things, but he never did.

2010, he was 3 and I was trying to get him to sit still on my lap for a picture. I swore he'd never stop being on the go constantly! They even wanted to put him on meds for it. I told them he doesn't need meds, he needs time. He's so much calmer now!

Months went by with no progress and it's so disheartening to watch every day and wonder if things will ever improve. Progress is so slow that we hardly notice it. Then one day I look back and think about how things were 6 months ago, and I see it. I look back a year ago and the progress is really amazing! Some days there will be a moment where he will do or say something and it will stop me in my tracks and I think "Wow, that was awesome!".

They don't happen much though, and often we get so weighed down with the everyday struggles that we don't look at the big picture and realize how far we've come. I'm so tired of him arguing with me! But that means he is talking, reasoning, and coming up with sentences that make sense! Some kids don't get that far. Some are non-verbal their whole life. Somehow that 2 year old who only had a couple words became an almost 6 year old who argues with me, tries to bargain, uses complex sentences with filler words that we worked so hard and long to teach him.

Even a simple "Mom, he took my ball" is amazing. The "he" and "my" is a very new skill. He used 3rd person labeling for a very long time. This year we taught him "he, she, her, him, me, you, my, I". Something that was very hard for him to grasp. "Took" is a concept he had to learn too. Instead of screaming and not being able to tell me what happened, he can say what happened and he understands what the child did and is able to process it and put it into words. The other huge thing is even getting him to tell me in the first place. Usually he'd be running after him, grabbing the child's shirt and getting the ball back. Instead he was able to control his actions, process what happened and tell me about it. Self control is a HUGE step for him, one we work on everyday and that I'm seeing much improvement on!

So yesterday I had a meeting at someone's house. A boy was in Dawson's face, growling, making scary hands, doing what boys do. Dawson is not a physical, boisterous boy. He will chase Gabriel around, but doesn't like wrestling or anything like that and doesn't like much growling either. Last summer, a boy did that and Dawson shoved him. It's what he did when kids crossed the line and got in his bubble. Therapy has been working all this year, taking him out to the community, having him interact with kids, learning how to deal with situations. It's working!

Dawson being nice to Gabriel. He was mad and in a time out for pushing, but he turned it around and was very nice to him after that. We still have our days, but it has been much better!

Dawson asked the boy, rather calmly and trying to reason with the child "are you being a dragon? I don't like that". It continued and Dawson backed away, I could tell he was restraining himself from pushing him, and the child was following him around very closely, still being very loud and growly. So Dawson put his focus on some legos without any prompting from me, and asked the boy "do you want to play legos?". That amazed me, because normally he wouldn't want anything to do with a child who has been in his face, but he really wanted to make this work and do something they both enjoyed. He asked him a few times, but got no answer and his mom asked him to stop. I was so proud that Dawson kept his cool! He not only didn't act negatively, but he even tried to engage in some play with him, despite being stressed at what the other child was doing.

It's hard with other kids, because you can't control both sides of the situation and things escalate so quickly. I was bummed that it didn't turn out even better and he didn't want to play, but we talked about it afterward and Dawson knows how awesome he did and that everything he did was a good decision. The situation did wear him down though, he was misbehaving a bit after that. I could tell he needed some playground time to run around and get that stress out of his system!

Afterward we went to a playground with a splash pad, and he happily got very wet and had a ton of fun on the playground. He came to me a couple times with problems, but he was actually running around and playing with another little boy he knows. It's so fun to see him recognize kids he knows and be excited to see them! A few years ago he didn't grasp the concept of friends, he pretty much ignored other kids all together. This makes me look forward to this summer, going to parks and splash pads, getting together with friends. I can sit back a little more now and feel comfortable just letting him play.

Looking back at all the stressful years we've had with playgrounds, social situations and places, it's great to see how far we've come. It's been stressful, people stop inviting us over because Dawson didn't know how to get along with other kids, and other kids don't realize they can't get in his face without him freaking out. Or he used to need someone at his side constantly so he didn't run away or do something dangerous. So we either didn't go places, or we'd be very stressed at the end. Dan and I were just talking the other day and he said he misses going to bonfires. I said we went to one last year, remember? He said no. Then I reminded him that Dawson ran away from him and locked himself in the neighbor's house (who were also at the bonfire). Then he remembered!

Thankfully I have friends who understand his needs, his progress and his struggles, who still invite us over and who understand instead of taking offense when he's not acting perfectly. No child is perfect, but as he gets older, it becomes less acceptable to do things. He's not a toddler anymore, but sometimes his behavior is more on that level. It just looks worse because he's a bigger kid now, so people are more taken back by a tantruming 5 year old than they were with the tantruming 3 year old.

So I'm thankful that we and the therapists have been working so hard on the community stuff, and helping him with self control and coping methods. It has helped a lot. We still have bad moments, bad trips to the store, but it's not as frequent as it used to be. He will walk by me in the store and not run away. He will even hold Gabriel's hand and walk with him when I have my hands full. He loves being a big brother and helping out too, which has been very helpful. Especially since he can run much faster than me! Yesterday I asked him to go get Gabriel, who had started running off, and Dawson ran to him, took his hand and walked back to me with him. Awesome!

Thinking back at each year and how much he has grown and matured over those years makes me excited to see what's to come. The days may be long and exhausting, but we are getting somewhere!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Exciting News!

It's been too long, as usual! Lots to catch up on! Dan is doing well, he's working more regular hours these days because he got switched to doing something else at work and they have more consistent hours. He was finally able to tear into my van, there's many things needing to be replaced. As he went though, he's finding more problems to fix, so that is going to take longer.

I'm doing good. Still feeling ok. I'm 26 weeks along now, next week is 3rd trimester! The time has been going pretty fast. I've been keeping busy. The chiropractor is helping a lot. Other than some sciatic pain, I have no complaints! I am dreading the very hot weather though, it may be a long summer! Baby is getting big and strong, very active! My Dr still wants to induce a week early due to me having large babies. She said she's aiming for September 3rd, which is also our wedding anniversary!

Dawson is almost done with Kindergarten! This year just flew by in some ways. Seems like he just started school not long ago. He's reading much more fluently and is reading things everywhere. His special ed teacher says she's pleased with his end of year testing, compared to his earlier testing. I'm excited to see how much he's improved! He's very excited to be done with school. For the last month he's been telling me he doesn't want to go. Even though he qualifies, I declined the summer school option. He will be getting his Autism Center therapy at home, 25-30 hours per week. He loves that and is making lots of progress. It's also more customizable, so we can work on other things around home and in any area that he needs, not just academically. They will continue to take him out to the community for some fun and social interaction practice. I've been looking for different things for him to do and may sign him up for some community ed classes and fun things he may be interested in.

Gabriel is growing up so much! He went through a big growth spurt, so he looks so much bigger now, and he's been talking a lot too. He labels many things, has several 2-3 word phrases, he's working on counting, but he skips some numbers. He has 1-5 down fairly well. He knows about half the alphabet too! He's still very obsessed with horses. He graduated from his little rocking horse to a big spring rocking horse and he loves it. He was rocking the little one so hard that he was tipping it over! Even with the big spring horse, he can get the front legs off the floor a bit! Crazy little boy.

Gabriel sleeps with his two favorite stuffed animals. The brown horse I made in 6th grade, and the zebra I got him for Christmas. These two are well loved and it shows! ;)
 Dawson loves his pacman set that Grandma made for him. He had quite the pacman obsession for quite a while! It has been a bit less obsessive lately, but he still really enjoys playing it.
 We finally got new bunk beds! We've had this set since Dawson was almost 2. Someone had moved out of our apartment building and left them next to the dumpster. So we got some hardware and they've been good sturdy beds for a while, but I've been wanting something else for a while and was just waiting for the right time.
That time presented itself when a friend posted these up on a local facebook sell group for a really good price. I've always wanted bunks with stairs, but wasn't about to pay over a thousand for a new set! I love the darker wood too, it looks so pretty and clean in there now! Gabriel likes going up there. A few times he has gone up and slept with Dawson, but for the most part he is still in his crib. He tried the lower bunk a couple nights, but wasn't ready yet. I'm just following his lead for now. I don't want bedtime battles quite yet and I'm not in a hurry to switch him.
 The ceiling!
 Dawson loves the steps! We do too. Before this bed, he was falling asleep on the couch and we had to carry him to bed. Now he is comfortable climbing up himself and falling asleep. Maybe it's the excitement of the new bed, who knows! He has to have his star lights projected onto the ceiling, but that's a pretty simple request.
 The boys testing out the new bed.
 Dawson's Kindergarten concert was fun. I really couldn't see him once I sat down, he's on the bottom row in the middle and we sat in the back because Gabriel was making a big fuss about being in there.
 Gabriel actually ended up really enjoying the concert and sat perfectly! Go figure. He even clapped after each song.
 After the concert, the boys enjoyed playing together in Dawson's classroom.
 The end of April was my ultrasound. My mom came with to watch Gabriel and to be there. It was very fun. Baby was so stubborn, laying with legs tucked under, on the belly and everything. The lady moved me around, tried to wiggle baby, and finally after a lot of poking around she got a look at the gender. It's a GIRL!! I was completely surprised, I was really expecting it to be another boy. It's all I know and we just seem to make a lot of those. It took quite a while for that to sink in! I'm finally used to saying words like "she", but it was so weird at first!
 Our clinic recently got 3D added! I've never seen a 3D picture of my own kids. It was so neat seeing her move around and looking more like a baby. When I showed Dawson the "x-ray of mommy's tummy", he smiled. Then I told him it's a girl and he burst into giggles and said "mom, that's silly!"  I think it's going to take him a while to get used to the concept too. :)
I've been having fun buying some pink things!
 Dawson started horse therapy in April. He's really enjoying it. It was so cold that first week, it had been snowing still, so much that they had to cancel a session! The barn is so dusty from not being aired out, and his allergies (and mine!) from all the dust despite the meds was a bit much. We were both sneezing quite a bit. The next time they had him use a medical mask and that helped a ton!
 Me the end of April, around 20 weeks.

Gabriel loves watching me cook. He's not as much of a helper like Dawson always has been. Dawson is more hands on, but Gabriel hasn't felt comfortable doing things yet, he just loves to watch.
 Finally warming up a bit! Was nice to ditch the bulky winter coat.
 Gabriel got to come with us for the first time in May! He was so excited to see all the horses, but he also wanted to ride. He was gathering the sawdust footing and throwing it around.
 He was also offering up the sawdust to the horses in exchange for a ride. He was saying "please!!" in the cutest, most desperate voice. Poor kid, he gets an A for effort!
 Mother's Day with my boys. :)
 Watching horse therapy, outside this time!

 Riding with his mask. The outdoor arena finally dried up so we can use it! So much better.
 Me today at 26 weeks.
I've been doing ok for the most part, but I had a bad dream the other night about Tyler and it really threw me into a funk. Plus it's June, the month Tyler was originally diagnosed. We also just passed April, the month he was readmitted after his relapse! Too many bad months. Some day to not focus on them, but it's really impossible. So many dates are stamped into my head! There has also been a ton of 4th birthdays lately! I'm realizing I know way too many people who have a 4 year old! The talks of starting preschool and all the exciting things they've been doing is a bit too much some days. 
I've been trying to focus on happy things. My sister is due June 15th and I'm excited about that. Also with gathering things for this baby. It seems like the busier I get and the more I try to concentrate on other things, the more that gets stored up and it's harder when it finally all comes out. Thankfully those super horrible days don't come often, but when they do, I have no appetite, I feel physically sick and sore all over. I can't hardly get out of bed or off the couch and have no motivation at all. Gabriel always senses those moods and is either very fussy and needy, or he gets super sweet and cuddly. He was fussy in the morning, but got very cuddly in the afternoon. Thankfully by morning those internal clouds were lifting again.
I think things have been harder due to the extra hormones too. Extra moody, and the highs and lows are much more exaggerated some days. The weather has been rainy and gloomy too, which isn't helping. I need some sunshine! They say the 2nd year is harder than the first, and it's been true. It's been so long since we've seen him, I start forgetting things and wondering if someday all those memories will slip away. I have to look back at pictures and then it starts to come back again. Many I've talked to said they have the same and it's a common fear. Thank goodness for pictures, lots of them!