Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Kids These Days: 23 Months and 3.5 Years

Ah, the kids these days!  What can I say?  They are an unstoppable twosome of fun, silly antics, and amazing ability.  (Yes, most days I have at least one moment when I think I'm going to lose my mind or my cool, but I am trying to focus on the positive here.)

Ladies first ...

Miss Amalia is quite the character, as she has been since we first started seeing her personality emerge.  Multiple times daily she is described as "silly" and seems to embrace it wholeheartedly.  (We're not calling her silly like she's a nincompoop or something ... she's just so undeniably goofy.)  Funny faces, parrot-like repetition of words and phrases, and a need to ape whomever strikes her fancy that moment, she keeps us laughing for most of the day.  She's also starting to speak (pretty much) in full sentences, with her current favorites being:  "Ice too loud!" (in reference to watching Ice Age at my parents' house and it being too loud) and "I love you, too!" (rarely does she just say "I love you" ... even if she says it first).

She's amazingly polite these days; whenever you give her something or do something for her, she'll say, "Thank you very much!"  It's adorable and hilarious, and I hope it sticks for good!

Mollie is very curious and loves to empty things out whenever she can.  On the upside, though, she actually seems to enjoy putting things away as well; most days, she is our star picker-upper!

I say she keeps us laughing for most of the day because for the rest of it she often has us a bit on edge.  Mollie is most definitely a girl who knows what she wants and when she wants it.  She is prone to fits, but instead of kicking and screaming on the floor, she usually cries and walks away, then stages a "lie in" where she lies prone on the floor for a minute or two to silently voice her displeasure.  The crying at the beginning is often shrill and stressful, but I have to say her "lie ins" are adorable and almost always make me smile.  I can tell her teenage years are going to be ... fun.  Yesterday she walked around the kitchen in circles saying, "Run away, run away," and towing a blanket behind her.  I asked her if she was going to run away from home, and she replied in the affirmative.  *sigh*  Even at night when I put her in bed, she often has to pick up her Dollie and Sleep Sheep herself; if you hand them to her, she'll shake her head, sit up, put them past her feet, wait a moment or two, then pick them up with a smile and lay back down.  At first I was exasperated by her stubbornness and need for independence, but I'm trying very hard to embrace it and account for it in our daily doings.

Miss Mollie loves to count to ten, and does so on a regular basis, but I'm not entirely sure she knows what the numbers mean.  She also likes to attempt to say the last few letters of the alphabet, but she's definitely a long way off from really having that down.

How's the little man, you ask?  Well, Baylor is ... Baylor.  He's awesome and trying and wonderful; he definitely has his more Asperger moments when plans change, the noise gets too loud, or he is in a social setting, but the happy moments are definitely outweighing the not-so-happy ones these days.  He's such a loving, caring little boy; lately he's been spontaneously telling me that he loves me or that he missed me while I was gone to an appointment, he loves to snuggle, and he even tells his sister that he loves her on occasion!

This next part I say with a bit of bewilderment because, quite frankly, I can't really wrap my head around it ... Baylor can read.  Like, full-on, sound-out-the-words, read.  It's amazing.  Even if he doesn't know a word, if we tell him to try, he'll take a stab at it.  It's amazing and overwhelming all at the same time; what do you do with a three year-old who can read.  I tell you what you don't do ... you don't try to spell things around him (he can figure that out, too) and you don't leave things around you don't want him to see.  At this point, I guess I will just encourage him to keep reading, keep learning new words and all the rules I can.  (Why do I have a picture of an Aaron's truck up, you ask?  Well, he read it while we were waiting for a prescription to get filled, so I snapped a picture of it.)

How's potty training going?  Well ... not as great as I had hoped, I guess.  He definitely knows how to go on the potty and will often tell us when he has to go, but it's always at the last minute (meaning we have to sprint to the bathroom) and he refuses to go when it isn't a near-emergency.  A couple times lately he's had accidents a couple feet away from the potty because he has stopped to make mischief!  Seriously.  The other day he said he had to go potty so I told him to run to the potty and I'd dry off my hands (I was washing dishes) and be there in a jiffy.  I got to the bathroom and found him standing less than a foot from the toilet, underwear still on, a puddle on the floor, and him holding - and quickly unraveling - a roll of toilet paper.  Thanks, dude!  Hopefully he'll hop on the pottying-like-a-big-boy bandwagon soon!

So I guess that's what the kids are like these days ... in a nutshell anyways.  I'm sure I'm forgetting something, lots of things probably, but it's so tough to tell you about them when everything they do and are seems so daily to me.  Maybe I need to do this more often ...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Esquela!: So Proud

Baylor went to school again today, and as I got him ready, I thought he was going to be completely cool about the whole thing.

Silly Nicole.

He was fine until we got to school, then the nerves started and he stood there on the sidewalk and informed me that he wasn't going to go.  I informed him that he was, and that his autism specialist would be there any second to take him in.  Of course, I was wrong; she was late today.  Mrs. G, his actual teacher, came out to collect him, saying, "Baylor, do you want to come with me?"  To which he emphatically replied, "No."

Awesome, kid.

His autism specialist finally came out to get him, and between the two of us we were able to get him to walk in on his own.  As I drove away there weren't any tears today, though I'll admit I was fighting some back.  But, though he looked so scared as he went in, I know that he went in the same last week and came out just fine.

After running an errand, I went back to school to sit in the parking lot and read ... you know, just in case.  Once the hour was up, I pulled out of my spot and looped around to the pick-up spot at the front of the building.  A few minutes later, Baylor finally came out.  His autism specialist said he did a really great job today, and both of the other teachers were nodding in agreement behind her.  I was able to talk to all of them, and they told me that he did a great job cutting with scissors, gluing (with a purple glue stick, no less - that was the one thing he was happy to tell everyone about today), and he even spoke up a bit today; he asked Mrs. G not to play the clean-up music too loudly (and she obliged) and he asked for a Smartie when it was snack time.  Last week he wouldn't talk so he didn't get a treat at all.  He also, apparently, played with Legos next to some other kids and seemed okay with it, though I talked to him later and he told me it scared him a bit.

Once his hat was retrieved from the cubby in the classroom (he had come out without it), we hopped in the car and made our way to the pharmacy and then home.  As we were driving up the main road near our house, Baylor started talking about the music playing on the CD player in the car.  He told me which tracks were (according to his speculation) his autism specialist's, his teacher's, and the "other kids'" favorites.  Then he said, "And number 6 is Dylan's favorite."

Dylan is a kid in his class.  He knows the name of a kid in his class.  It was a great moment to know that he cares enough about another kid to assign a favorite song to him.

I then told him that I was so proud of him for going to class and doing so well, and that he should be proud of himself, too.  He merely replied, "Yeah."

But then he said, "Mom, I am so proud of YOU!  For ... for ... for ... dropping me off!"  Considering how difficult it had been for me to simply drop him off, I took this as a great compliment, even coming from a three year-old.

Between that and the Dylan mention I was crying with joy by the time we pulled into the driveway.  Today was a good day at school for Baylor, and I can only hope that there are many more like this to come.

Splish Splash!

The kids took a bath the other night and I decided to document it, as I hadn't done that in a while and things have changed so much since they both are freely moving about the tub.

Before her bath, or anytime she has to change her clothes I guess, Mollie likes to help take off her diaper.  Being an adorable nearly-two year-old, she does it the prim and proper way, undoing the velcro strips just like they should be.

Of course, she has to lift up her belly to find them first.  It is beyond adorable every time she does it!

Baylor always claims to prefer baths without Mollie, but looking at these pictures I struggle to understand why.  They look like they are having so much fun!

Before Mollie came along, our bath time was relatively dry, as far as the parents were concerned.  Then Miss Mollie, with her energy and silliness, entered our lives and well, bath time has never been the same.  

And I rather like it that way.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Catching Up On the News

"Nicole, grab your camera!"  Bryson whispered the other day from the living room.

So I did.  Such cuteness!

Such fun on a Sunday morning!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Damn, It Feels Good to Be ... Mollie

Not everyone can pull off the over sized hat look, but my Mollie girl can.  She wears the swagger with style.

Even when she's coloring.

Big smiles!

Baylor couldn't care less about his sister's antics when he's focused on his Legos.

"Oh, big brother!  I'm wearing your hat!  And I'm being silly!"

"So much silliness, Baylor!"

"Did he look?"


"Mom, enough with the pictures!"

Okay, okay ... camera down.

Nap Restart

The other day, I was on the phone with our credit card provider trying to get some fraudulent charges refunded (important note: do not pay for stuff on iTunes with PayPal).  Anyhow, I was on the phone, couldn't get off it, and all of a sudden Mollie started to stir.  Baylor was actually sleeping that day, so there was no way I wanted him to wake up.  I figured she was awake so I, still on the phone, bounded up the stairs, went into her room, and scooped her up and realized she wasn't exactly up yet.

So, after finishing up getting our money back (yay!) I snuggled with Mollie a bit and realized she needed to sleep more, so I asked her if she wanted to go upstairs to nap again.  She said no.  In a moment of slight desperation, I asked her if she wanted to nap on the couch and she said yes.  Oookay.  So I set her up on the red couch, snuggled her in with her dollie and sleep sheep, and pulled up our green leather ottoman next to her ... just in case, you know?

Thank goodness I did!

As you can tell, she first went for the legs-over-the-edge move.  Soon enough, though, she was all butt-in-the-air.

At least she got a little more sleep, though, right?

Esquela!: Flying Solo

This past Friday, February 10th, my son, my beautiful boy, went to his Friday class without me.

Deep breath, Nicole.

I dropped him off at the door in the capable hands of his autism specialist, and after snapping a quick picture through the wet car windows (because no matter how upset I might be, the dork in me just won't go away) I left the parking lot sobbing.  He looked so nervous and scared as he walked away from me, that I couldn't help it; I was so worried for him, so hoping this would go well.  Even now as I type this I'm getting all choked up.

After dropping off a card at the post office, talking to one of my best friends - who had already done the dropping-the-oldest-kid-off-at-school thing before - to calm me down, I drove back to the school and sat in the parking lot, car running, like a total dork.  I read a funny book my sister had gotten me for Christmas as I sat there and laughed a lot less than usual.  (Seriously, though, if you are in need of a hilarious read, I highly recommend Notes from the Underwire, by Quinn Cummings.  This book has made me laugh harder than any book has in a LONG time.)

Once his hour was up, Baylor emerged from the school, happy to see me and excited to go to Toys R US, which is where we were headed next (after picking up my mom and Mollie, of course).  His specialist told me that he did a great job, though he remained an observer on the periphery most of the time.  All in all, a great start to his solo school visits.

Later on, I asked him when we were alone, "Baylor, what did you think of school today?  I mean really, honestly ..."

He sat there in silence just playing with his Legos, not responding at all.

"Was it a little scary?"  I probed, hoping for something ... anything.

Then he spoke.  "Yeah, it was a little scary at first, but then it was okay."  So matter-of-fact.  So calm.

And such a relief to his mom.  There is hope yet for him to like school.  And I couldn't be happier.

Is That How You Dress for the Super Bowl?

None of us were really rooting for anyone in particular in the Super Bowl this year, so we instead chose to focus our attire-related cheering efforts to our beloved Spartans, who were playing our in-state rivals, the Wolverines, earlier in the day.

Hey look!  There I am looking halfway decent!  (Thanks for snapping a picture of me, Mom.  I like everyone to know I'm still alive every now and then.)  Baylor and I were just messing around with some Qwirkle tiles.

Mollie, meanwhile, waited for ...

... and enjoyed a clementine.

Then the kids spent some time reading with Aunt Christine.

And Mollie worked on memorizing family member faces.

In no time, though, Mollie was hungry again, so she set off to mooch from my mom.

We had a lovely Mexican meal: tacos, homemade guacamole (for those that enjoy it), homemade applesauce, rice, salsa, chips, and fresh berries.

We all ate and enjoyed dinner, but in seemingly no time at all, Mollie was hungry again.  Growth spurt, anyone?

My sister, gifted baker she is, treated us to some homemade cream puffs, filled with homemade pastry creme!

Aaand covered in chocolate!  They were delicious!  As Olivia's mom would say, Christine is a "magician in the kitchen."

We had a fun-filled evening at my parents' house.

Go Green!  (And congratulations to the Giants!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Low Sodium Life: The Bread Maker

When I started this whole low sodium diet a couple weeks ago, I had no idea how much sodium was in the food I ate.  Bread, in particular, shocked me; as I mentioned previously, just to eat two slices of the regular bread I buy would equal ten percent of my daily allotted sodium intake.  The thing is, I love bread; there was no realistic way I could cut it out.

So, with lots of plans and hopes of follow-through, we started researching bread machines.  My husband was, surprisingly, on board with the whole plan; turns out he was just really excited at the thought of homemade bread.  (Who can blame him, though?)

After much looking online, we settled on the Oster 2 LB. Expressbake Breadmaker.  (In case you are interested, the model number is CKSTBRTW20.)  It is relatively quiet except for the beeps during the kneading time (when you can add things like raisins) and at the end.  It has been pretty easy to clean up, and so far the bread we've made has been delicious.

Though the bread maker came with a bunch of recipes, we have been making recipes from one of the low sodium cookbooks I checked out from the library, and it has been awesome.

It's odd trying to get used to making bread when I need it, but it has been nice not to have to go to the grocery store when I run out of bread.  The kids aren't in love with this new bread yet, but I think they will warm up to it with time.

If any of you are interested, I can always post a couple of the recipes here on the blog.

Have a happy, healthy day!                    

Friday, February 3, 2012

Weirdest Cold Ever

Last Saturday, the kids came down with the weirdest cold ever.  We were first made aware of such illness when Mollie woke up at 2:00 a.m. throwing up.  As far as minor illnesses go, the stomach flu is my worst nightmare (the smells, the sights, the clean-up ... ughhhhhh), so needless to say I didn't sleep well that night or have a very good day the next day.  And Mollie, poor, sweet girl needed lots of cuddles and rest.

She tried to sit up to snuggle next to me but ended up slumping over onto my leg.  It was the saddest sight.

(P.S.  I just love that this is one of the only recent pictures I have of myself.  On the one day I didn't shower in the past YEAR!  *deep breath*  Okay, I'm over it.  Very small price to pay to comfort my girl.)

The really weird part was that she seemed to have a cold, too.  And the last stuff she threw up looked weird, more mucus-y than former food-ish.  (Sorry if that was an over-share.)

Baylor got a cold that day, too, so we just sort of hunkered down.  Most of the week was spent either at home or at my parents' house resting and having fun, because most of the time they were just all sniffles, snot, and coughing.  Lovely picture, huh?

Which is probably why I was so surprised when Baylor started throwing up yesterday morning.  Seriously.  Six-or-so times in a few hours, all of it mucus-y ... like that was all he had in his stomach.  So it appears that this bizarro cold has so much gunk to go with it, that if you're not getting it out of your nose, you'll be throwing it up later on.

Baylor was not himself yesterday, which is really putting it mildly.  He asked very few questions, moved around very little, and fell asleep both on the floor and on the couch.

He did let me know, however, that he was NOT sick.  He just, as he put it, had "coughing, throwing up, and crying."  Luckily, later in the day, things were reduced to just "coughing".

I'm ready for this cold to pass the kiddos ... I want them back to their usual selves, as exhausting as that might be.  It's tough not to have them at their spunky best!

Esquela!: The First Day!

He wouldn't let me take a picture of him all suited up and ready to go with his backpack on his back ... hell, he wouldn't even put his backpack on.  But I snapped a picture of him on the way to school, perusing a map and staring out the window every now and then.  And that's enough for me.

Mollie came with us but the autism specialist that has been working with us was there too, and since Mollie is really comfortable with her I was able to focus most of my attention on Baylor. Which was good because he needed it; just to get him to walk in the door I had to distract him by telling him one of his favorite stories ... what we did on his birthday last year.  After everyone got their coats hung up, they sat in a circle around the rug in the classroom, but Baylor wasn't comfortable yet, so I held onto him and we participated as much as we could.  Mollie got to participate too, which was undoubtedly exciting for her.  They sang songs, learned about "light" and "heavy", and then they got to make a craft using kid scissors and crayons.  By the end, Baylor was able to be away from me at least a little bit and seemed to mildly enjoy himself.

I asked him what he'd like to do as a reward for being a big boy and going to school, and he said he wanted to go to Oma's house.  So, to Oma's house we went!

There, he got to enjoy a nice big piece of cake with whipped cream.

Mollie, not much of a fan of sweets herself, was content to have a chip.

Oh, and an orange ... because she's perpetually hungry.

While watching Olivia, he showed off his art project ...

... and got to practice a little more with kid scissors.

I was hoping to build on all this socialization success and get him out over the weekend, but the kids have been sick, each with their own day of throwing up, and that just hasn't worked out.  In fact, today was supposed to be our second class visit, but because Baylor threw up so much yesterday I wasn't comfortable letting him around other kids just yet.

There's always next week ...