Thursday, September 30, 2010

What happens in preschool...

Apparently the boys were quite the hit at preschool today. Their teacher emailed me to tell me that they had walked the boys around the school just to show everyone the shirts... and they all want one. I rarely impulse buy things like this, especially if they're not on sale, but when these caught my eye as I walked by them at Meijer (on my way to get diapers), I laughed out loud and then grabbed them. Glad to know I wasn't the only one that this amused. And the twins loved all the attention.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


After apple picking (post coming soon), I made a big batch of applesauce. Collin decided to help me. I cut the apples and he stood on a chair beside me, happily putting them into the pot. What teamwork!

Later, as I stirred the pot, something caught my eye...
Yes, that's a big ol' bite out of that apple slice. I actually found several like that as I stirred the pot of apples over the course of an hour. Hmmm... maybe I need to discuss with him his role in this venture again...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The tooth fairy flies again...

Yes, it's true, she visited again. The evening of the first day of school (September 1st)... Ethan's teeth seem to fall out around his big school events. Honestly though, for this one, I suspect it had some help. My clues: It was loose, but not loose enough to come out yet. And the fact that Ethan came downstairs after being in bed for 15 minutes and said "Look mom, I lost another tooth! It only hurt a little when I pulled it out." (yes, I am a regular Sherlock Holmes.)

Big gap where bottom middle baby teeth were.

The silver tooth holder tucked safely between his beloved Floppy Bunny's arm and ear.

A very excited boy, getting ready to dream about the tooth fairy.

So, I am thinking I really need to get working on that chore chart and allowance system (I know, I know... I've meant to do it for a long time... I've just been at warp speed all year with too much going on...) so he doesn't resort to pulling out all his teeth just to get some cash.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Channeling my inner...

high school and marketing geek self.

I just spent the last four days in Indianapolis attending a conference for work. There were a few highlights of the conference.

1) One of the conference vendors sponsored a private concert for us (um, can you say super cool?!!)... which probably only 1500 (at the very most) of the 2000 attending this conference showed up to this event (what the heck people, FREE concert). The band was Train.

My inner high schooler (what I felt like at the concert):
Like OMG! I am standing on the floor a few rows from the stage of Train! "Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star..." Like OMG!!! I can't believe it. Patrick is soooo dreamy! *Sigh* His voice is like totally awesome! "Meet Virginia...." I can't believe we have this private show! He is so funny too! "Calling all angels..." This is just, like, so much fun I can't stop taking a bunch of photos and video of it! Like OMG, what is wrong with me?! "Hey soul sister..."

Honestly, it was just that pathetic. I have countless photos and videos... I have no idea what came over me. I'm sharing some photos because well, I don't know what else I am going to do with them!

2) I heard some marketing gurus speak... which was quite frankly exciting for this marketing geek... er... person. Sir Richard Branson was the keynote speaker and also did Q&A. In case you don't know, he founded the Virgin brand. As in Virgin Records, Virgin Radio, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin (fill in the blank they have a company)... He's true entrepreneur and I am in love with his "Screw it, Let's do it" mentality/tag! Certainly has worked for them diversifying successfully into so many products. His latest... Virgin Galactic... yep, just what you think. Along with him, Jeffrey Hayzlett, the former Kodak CMO (and many time guest appearance person on Celebrity Apprentice), Dick Costolo, Twitter's COO and countless others.

3) Awesome breakout sessions on social media in business to business companies, to drive sales and awareness (among many other things)! Fun, fun, fun!

I totally had all my inner geeks on this week. Pathetically so. As proven by this post, which I did because again, what else will I do with all these photos of Train in concert... but to share with all of you?!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The day of firsts...

Wednesday September 1st was the boys day of big firsts. First day for all of them to ride a bus (to school). Ethan's first day of kindergarten and Collin and Oliver's first day of preschool. Wow. All the boys were very excited about this day, Ethan probably the most because he really understood it.

The only group shot that was somewhat successful before school.

I took the day off and Steve stayed home in the morning for the bus. The morning went well except for a small accident in the morning that caused some tears and hurt feelings. There was much excitement at the bus stop that morning and a couple neighbors (whose kids weren't in school and not in our school) came out to cheer the kids for their first day. So sweet!

At the bus stop. The only shot with Collin.

Christopher hugging Ethan... both very excited about school. Where's Collin?

There he is..

Ethan and his friend Christopher were pumped to get on the bus. Oliver was too. Collin, on the other hand, was not.

We did get him in, but he was the one that cried when they pulled away (he had the window seat - his preference always). It was hard to see. It was hard too because the other two were very excited. So, I did what any other (crazy) mom would do, I got in my car and followed the bus. Oh yes, I did. Traffic got in the way (it was not pretty... meaning my stress and mouth) and I lost them. However when I got to Ethan's school I was at least able to see him and Christopher lined up outside waiting to go in. Both wearing HUGE smiles.

Ethan is on the end, Christopher is in front of him. Ethan's teacher is next to him.

I then rushed over to the twins' school, which is not close, and hit TONS of traffic. Tons. By the time I got to the parking lot, I could see the bus pulling away. Oliver was standing there holding someone's hand while she spoke to another person. I couldn't see Collin anywhere at first, then there he was darting into my view (I was too out of range for him to see me). And then there behind him a lady chasing him. Collin... He went limp on her. Collin... She ended up getting a big male to help her. Collin... And that was all I saw.

Here comes Collin, on the run. I had to duck down just in case, since he came into open space view.

When I got home, worried about how the twins were doing, my cell phone rang. It was Ms. Cathy, their bus driver. W.O.W. Seriously, wow. Apparently she asked for my phone number so she could tell me how they did. W.O.W. As it turns out, Collin stopped crying before they got out of the neighborhood (which wasn't very long). He fussed a few times before they got to Ethan's school. When Ethan got off the bus, in big brother fashion, he reassured them they would be okay and he would see them on the bus later (*sniff* what a big boy thing to do). She said Oliver's face completely seized up into full heartbreak and Collin started whine crying. Ms. Cathy said she started reassuring them and the other kids left on the bus all moved up to the seats by them and started talking to them and making them laugh. When she dropped them off at school, she asked if she could get them out (something they don't like bus drivers to do because they have so much to keep track of and time lines, but she really felt they would react better on their first day if she did it. Again, W.O.W.). She said they both let her get them out and carry them down, but that Collin went limp on the ground when she tried to put him down. Collin... And then started whine crying. She felt bad, but the aide took over from there. I can't tell you how much better I felt knowing all that detail about their trip. And maybe more so, that she cared about them that much to call me. W.O.W.

The afternoon trip wasn't quite the same, I don't really know what happened other than they had a last minute sub and ended up being 35 minutes late home (I won't go into the confusing fuzzy story). They were all smiles when they got off the bus though. Of course that might have just been relief to be home after spending that much time on the bus.
After getting of the bus. Super cute!

To celebrate the big day, I let the boys pick a place to go to lunch. They unanimously picked Noodles. These kids are all about the chop sticks I tell you.

All in all, it was a good day of big firsts. Everyone was tired but happy and talking about day two... granted Oliver and Ethan were excited about it and Collin was telling me "heck no, I won't go"... but... two out of three ain't bad, as Meatloaf once said. (and I am sure he will love it soon enough)
Here are some cute shots of the boys on their first day...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Special Needs Preschool

I've been meaning to write about this for a long time now. Months. I have thought of what to write in my head, but just never got it out in writing. Of course, I haven't been a good blogger/documentor (I like to make up words) this summer at all. Life.

The twins started preschool - special needs preschool.

I had mixed feelings about this. Back when they were babies and delayed, Help Me Grow was going through their services and mentioned at three years of age you get passed on to your school district in the form of special needs preschool. I remember vividly being very adamant that wasn't going to happen, more out of fear that my babies would still have delays or worse things which would merit that. At the time, they were only three months old after all. As time went on and they got caught up on some gross motor delays and even progressed through some sensory issues (we used to have to feed Oliver in a dark quiet room and Collin couldn't stand sensation on his palms or feet), we started to notice other delays, like speech. Actually their physical therapist, Ms. Beth (I LOVED her!!!), called that one early on (17 months) even when my doctor wrote it off as nothing. As it turns out she was right. More right than she thought actually.

Six months after starting speech therapy, in addition to the occupational therapy and physical therapy, we discovered Collin had the tell tale signs of Apraxia, which is a neurological motor planning disorder. From that point on, we switched gears on speech therapy and started some intensive therapy more geared to Apraxic kids. Their speech therapist, Ms. Debbie (wonderful!!!!), did wonders for Collin and us. After a few months of this, he finally started repeating some words we said (that would be at 27 months of age). We had to get in his face and exaggerate our mouths so he knew how to do it, but he was doing it or at least trying. He's made huge strides since then, though he has a long way to go. He talks up a storm now, but you cannot understand him as he drops beginning and ending sounds of words. However, if you give that kid a five action command, he can do all five things without having it repeated (go get the ball, put it on the sofa, pick up the whistle, blow in it and bring it to me).

Oliver had other issues, which were actually kind of masked. Though, again, Ms. Debbie saw through them after some time. Oliver has a difficult time understanding. He talks beautifully. He was babbling as a baby doing conversational babble, as they call it, early on. You knew he was asking a question or stating a fact, just by the fluctuation in his voice, even though it was all babble. He would talk and talk. Though he was delayed in speech, he was talking well quickly after starting therapy. That is why it was kind of masked. He was able to repeat back to you what you said to him but in a way in which you thought he understood and was answering you. For example: "Oliver did you read that book?" Oliver's response: "Yes, I read that book." Wow, right? Wrong. As we grew to find out, he didn't have a clue what we were saying. He just knew language really well. I could give Oliver an action item "go get the ball" and he would understand he was to do something (because I also have a visual cue of pointing my finger), turn and move then get side tracked or wonder around the room. He just didn't get it. He also often didn't look when he was called. We had his hearing tested and he did great, but I have to tell you I still wonder about that. With therapy, he's doing much better. Though as of late, I have noticed moments of what I would call "looping" for lack of a better word to define it, where he will go around and around. He is agreeing to things but not understanding. M: "Oliver you can't wear those socks, we can't find the other one." (after searching the entire room) O: "here it is" (pointing to the one sock) M: "we need a second one, we only have one" (counting) O: "Oh.... here it is!" (again, pointing out the one sock, which he has now put on his foot). M: "That's only one sock, how about the froggy socks instead?" O: "no thanks mom, here is is (pulling the one lone sock off his foot and putting it on the other. we actually went around and around on this pulling it off one foot and putting on the other as if it is the found missing sock and I explain in fifty different ways - verbally and visually - it is not it). M: "Let's put on the froggy socks, look how cute!" O: "Okay. They're so cute." M: starting to put the socks on his feet O: "NO (crying), I want these socks." M: "Oliver we only have one." O: "oh, here it is!" (repeat above sequence again from the beginning). To be honest, when this happens, I get very scared. Figuring out how he will get over this and how we can help him is not as easy for me to wrap my mind around as it is with Collin learning how to enunciate, even if his disorder is neurological (and therefore much harder than a normal speech enunciation issue). It just really worries me for Oliver. Don't get me wrong, I have seen improvement over the last year, but just when I think he's really getting better, he seems to regress. Or, maybe it is that some situations just display the issues more obviously than others. I don't know.

Needless to say, due to these issues, along with some sensory and social emotional issues, the twins made it into special needs preschool. And, to be honest, I couldn't be happier.

Special needs preschool has half "typical" kids (developmentally on target or above), also called 'peer models' and half special needs children (which could be of any degree from severe to mild and include developmental delays, disorders, syndromes and those children with life threatening diseases - which cause them to be delayed). Special needs children, if qualify, can start when they turn three years old regardless of the point in which it is in the school year. They do not need to be potty trained (thank goodness because try as we might, these boys have NO interest whatsoever, period.). They all get a variety of therapies, from occupational, sensory, speech, physical and so on due to the needs of the children with those issues. They focus on normal preschool things, but incorporate things that help the SN kids. I have heard nothing but fabulous things about SN preschool, and what it has down for their kids, from everyone that I have asked.

Getting into SN preschool is a series of evaluations with the twins (for them, it was three to be exact), a few tests (scoring tests that I had to fill out, times two), and two meetings. It's a few month process. A long few month process. I remember worrying that Oliver's issues would not present themselves during the time of his evals. I worried that Collin would get in (he was a given) and Oliver would not. I knew Oliver needed to be in. I also didn't want to separate (never mind that Oliver was the one begging to go to school - when they dropped off Ethan each day). I worried for months (even though Ms. Debbie said I had nothing to worry about). My stomach turned. I remember a day after one of their evals that a work colleague and friend called and sensed I was preoccupied, and asked if I was okay. I told her that the twins had an eval today and Oliver aced it (I thought at the time) and I was really worried he wouldn't get in special needs preschool. She laughed saying "really is that a bad thing?" That was the moment I realized that I had completely moved past the long ago stereotype and fear in my mind I had when it was first mentioned to me over two and a half years ago. I saw past the name and connotation. My babies are special needs children and this is what is best for them. I desperately wanted them in special needs preschool, as strange as that sounds on the surface.

Of course my fears were for nothing as obviously the various therapists and teachers who evaluated him saw things that even I didn't see, even though Oliver was performing stellar from what we typically see. Oliver, in the end, much to our surprise, actually scored worse on sensory and social emotional than Collin (who still has in-your-face sensory issues).

After months of waiting, they leaked the news to me that the twins were "in" just days before our evaluation review meeting. This review meeting also was the IEP meeting. Strangely enough, I didn't cry about their IEP items, instead I cried when I found out they would go to a different school than Ethan and therefore would have to take school transportation. At the time, I was told it was a contracted car service (I had crazy images and thoughts about what might happen, drivers, how the twins would feel and so on... but I won't share them now). So, in typical Wendy fashion, after the relief of them getting in, I switched gears to the worry about the ride to school. That one took a "fun" turn right before school started, but I will save that for another post.

So, that's the story explaining the course of events leading up to and the reasons why the twins are in special needs preschool. And why we couldn't be happier about it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Kindergarten soft start

As I mentioned, Friday August 27th was a day of double excitement for Ethan - the tooth fairy paid her first visit and kindergarten soft start. Soft start, in case you are wondering, is just like it sounds, a way to work kids into school easily rather than throw them in. Four days before school started they had only five kids go to class each day, Ethan's day was Friday. It also started 10 minutes later and we were to drive them (no bus rides). The parents got to go through their morning routines with them, which consisted of checking their mail, putting their backpack in their lockers, getting their water bottle and going to their desks (I think that is all... I lost track, there was a lot!). We also helped them make name tags, checked names, found his desk, got familiar with the room and located the bathroom (in the classroom - excellent). Then the parents left and they learned a little of what they would do every day.

We started the day with a special mommy and Ethan breakfast, which we don't get to do often, at Ethan's favorite morning spot - Panera. He also picked out a pastry for his teacher, all by himself and after some consideration (read: going up and down the case surveying and seemingly mentally mulling it over), an apple danish. Now that's a one up on the age old apple gift!

Ethan was super excited to be there and unlike preschool, when it was time for me to go, he gave me the "see ya later mom" quick brush off (ouch!). For that matter, so did his teacher who was dropping soft hints like "such a big day, can't wait to get started" and "wow, look at the time." Since I was in my own little world, taking in this big moment, it took some stronger ones to get me to even notice I was the LAST parent left in the room. I think they need a soft start day for parents too.

When I picked him up, he was all smiles. He told me they read, visited each of their classroom centers (drama, science, art, etc.), helped a little girl who was really shy, colored and generally had a great time. "I can't wait to start next week!"

My baby looking all grown up.

At the school, outside the doors, with his water bottle, apple danish and smile all ready to start!

At his desk coloring when I picked him up.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The first tooth fairy visit...

Ethan lost his first tooth (bottom right) on Thursday August 26th, the night before his kindergarten soft start (it was a night of much excitement). He actually lost it at soccer practice while running on the field, and playing with it with his tongue. When he got home he had to call a bunch of family to announce the major event. (so cute!)

Though it's been loose a while, so it was not a complete shocker, both the tooth fairy and I were not at all prepared. I didn't have a special container or tradition figured out, or anything. Luckily I remembered a special gift that Ethan had gotten when he was born, from the hospital, that contained a silver velvet lined tooth holder (along with holders for birth certificate and hair from his first haircut). He loved it and was very excited to put his tooth in and tuck it under his pillow.

Fortunately, I was home in the morning since I was taking him to his soft start so I got to be there when he woke up. Yea!!!! (Another first that I was very excited to be there for... so glad I didn't miss it. I rushed in his room with camera and video in hand when I heard him up and moving.)

There was cash and a book, along with a glittery letter from the tooth fairy.
The glitter didn't look as bad as it does here... um... sort of. It was late and what the tooth fairy envisioned it to look like and what it looked like were two different things... er... so she told me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The minor leagues...

My workplace had a family fun day at our local minor league baseball game (read: free tickets!). Steve and I didn't think the twins would make it long at one of these, and it started close to bedtime, so I signed up for Ethan and I to go. However we got lucky and not as many people signed up to go as they anticipated so I was able to bring along two of Ethan's neighbor friends with us. This was Ethan's first time going to a baseball game and he was really excited. I'll be honest, I was really excited as well. "Firsts" for each of my kids are a thrill for me still... always will be. And many times so are seconds and thirds and fourths and...and... and...

When we got there, since it was dinnertime, the first thing on their minds (and some of the funny conversation on the way down) was food. They wanted hot dogs... okay, a must have for baseball games I understand.

Then they wanted ice cream... in a baseball hat. Seriously, how could I resist these faces... I caved easily.

Andy, Ethan and Aiden

I can't say we saw much of the game, or even sat at our seats for any significant amount of time, but I think I can say they all had fun. And so did I.

Bouncer at the game.

Climbing statue.

Just plain cheesy.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The three year stats

This year's appointment went WAY better than last year's appointment... thankfully. It helped that it was first thing in the morning, before anyone was there. Both Collin and Oliver did fine on their walk to the scale. They also did pretty well in the appointment, with the exception of the shots.

Here's where they come in at three years, two days:

Weight: 30 lbs (35%)
Height: 38 in. (75%)

Weight: 34 lbs. (75%)
Height: 39 in. (90%)

Oliver is catching up to Collin height wise, but I doubt he will ever catch up to Collin weight wise. Oliver actually didn't make the charts until he was six months and has remained steadily at the bottom, with a little bump up this year. And now looking at it three years later, I totally believe that Collin was not stealing supplies from Oliver in the womb... they are just built completely different. Collin was measuring two days bigger than Oliver at six weeks, after all.

I was trying to get them both to look AND smile at the same time (after shots). I think I told them to say "hi" here... so Oliver did... with a wave.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A progressive birthday celebration

Collin and Oliver turned three on Saturday August 14th. I can't even believe it's been three years. I am sure I just blinked my eyes and three years passed. I need it to slow down... S.L.O.W. way down.

We couldn't seem to get everyone together at once to come celebrate, even as pea sized as our family is, so we did mini-celebrations, starting with Aunt Krissy at the end of July. On their birthday, we celebrated with them in the morning with their favorite breakfast: whole wheat blueberry oatmeal flax seed pancakes. They LOVE these, really Steve can attest, and there is no way I would make them otherwise because they take forever to make. Then we opened gifts. Here are some highlights:


Binoculars, lanterns, wedgits (love these things), talking trains and of course, silly bandz.

And, the time had come for them to have their own capes and masks, just like the one we got Ethan two years ago:
The superhero stance.

Look at Oliver's face!

Collin wasn't so sure about his cape... the tag bothered him.

Getting down with their build your own saxophone (another blowing toy good for Apraxic kids).

Collin doing what Collin loves to do, stand on his head.

It's on!

After icing their cake and putting the icing away, I turned to see the above pictured suspect grin... and this is what that was about...

Yep, trying to lick the cake.

Grandma Dee arrived at lunchtime and we took them out to lunch to celebrate. We actually had the wait staff sing happy birthday to them, which was so fun. Collin was really not sure about that many strangers singing to him (that's intimidating to him, not sure if it's part of the sensory issues he has), but Oliver was ALL smiles enjoying it thoroughly. Collin's fussing didn't last long when he saw the warm chocolate cookies though! They both loved them!
Bad camera photos:

Their big gift from Grandma Dee - their very first scooters! It was raining so they rode them around inside. They love them!

Grandma Dee and her grandsons.
Time for cake!
Blowing out the candles. It's funny, Oliver blows through clinched teeth and Collin sticks his lips way out and blows. They are just so cute!

Then on Sunday, Grandma Kathy, Uncle Ben and cousin Samantha came over for a little birthday celebration.
Their favorite thing was the music cards. Collin's was Spiderman and Oliver's was Batman. They are still playing them constantly!

Samantha, Uncle Ben, Ethan, Grammy Kathy, Oliver and Collin... in one of 200 shots to try to get everyone looking and smiling.

Next, that same afternoon, we had their neighbor friends over for some celebrating and neighborhood fun.
Homemade banana cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (yum!), surrounded by silly bandz.

Collin was not too sure about everyone singing. Sometimes he is fine, sometimes he is not.

Enjoying their cupcakes and ice cream with friends... trauma from singing long forgotten.

"Hello doctor... I think there is something wrong with my mom. In one weekend I got cookies, cake, cupcakes and ice cream... the real kind, not that stuff with hidden vegetables and no sugar that she normally feeds us. What? Yes it was my birthday. That's it? Hmmm... how can I arrange to have this birthday thing every weekend?"

They had a wonderful birthday weekend surrounded by family and friends!
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