My Babies

My Babies
My Babies

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Jesus Lives in the Cookie Jar at Grandma's House and God Lives in a Roundhouse

I try to expose my children to the same kind of faith I was while growing up.  I was raised in a couple of really, really good United Methodist churches.  They were open, friendly, supportive, non-judgemental, fun, loving, etc.  We were taught the fundamentals of Christianity but we were also taught so much more.  To be honest, I was shocked as I got older and realized that all religions and all churches were not so welcoming of everyone and anyone because that wasn't what I had been taught.  I am thankful for those churches of my childhood because I have now grown into an adult who is secure in my faith yet respectful of others who share my faith differently, more, less or not at all.  I will gladly tell others about my personal walk if they desire however I do not expect others to have that desire and feel everyone is entitled to their own beliefs or non-beliefs.  I do however like to read of others' walks in faith so there are a couple of blogs I follow that do a great job of sharing.
 
My point in all of that is that I want the same for my children.  I want them to have a strong foundation of faith that they can choose what to do with as they grow.  I have started and stopped attending a few local churches in the past several years trying to find the right match for us all so I haven't done the best job so far of making sure they are learning the fundamentals.  I do make Christmas and Easter big teaching moments and on Christmas morning we sing happy birthday to baby Jesus before we open any presents (that Santa delivered on Jesus' behalf for us to enjoy).  Reagan has always been a sponge and lately she has started asking me more and more questions about Jesus.

Of late she has repeatedly asked for the crucifixion story and seems to really hone in and enjoy the absolution aspect.  She will often stop me throughout to question and repeat why Jesus walked the earth and why He was crucified and what that did for all of us.  When we get to the resurrection portion of the story she likes to talk about all the places Jesus is.  She told me once that He was even on roller coasters and I had to laugh and say you know, I think He must ride A LOT of roller coasters as people call out for Him from there.

The other night as we were saying prayers she informed me that Jesus lives at Grandma's house.  I said oh He does?  She then went on to tell me, in a very matter-of-fact-you-mean-you-don't-know way, that yeah, he lives in that cookie jar at Grandma's house.  Now the cookie jar is actually a decorative urn that holds the ashes of my step-father, Papa Joe, who died well before she was born but she has heard us mention that Papa Joe is in there.  Apparently Jesus lives in there with him when He's not out riding roller coasters and all.  While telling my mother this story today we both remembered that I had declared a similar type "truth" around the same age as Reagan is now.

As a small child I knew God and I knew Jesus but I was apparently more focused on the God aspect of things.  I think because of the plaque that was above the sanctuary doors of my first church.  The plaque said - This is God's house.  Well looking around I didn't see God standing around, or His bed or personal things so maybe He didn't really "live" there.  But He had to live somewhere - I mean, we all do and with how busy He was taking care of everyone in the world and listening and answering prayers then He must have someplace where He rests His head.  So, one day while driving on the roads in Baltimore with my parents, I saw it!  I saw God's house!  Of course that is where He lives.  It didn't look like any other building I had ever seen - it was different and special and from where we were on the road, seemingly inaccessible.  He would need that kind of privacy.  From then on whenever we drove past I would excitedly exclaim THERE IS GOD'S HOUSE!!!!!  In truth, it is the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Museum but to this day we all still refer to it as God's house.  And Jesus lives in the cookie jar on Grandma's counter. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Where Do Babies Come From? One Little Boy has the answer...

Something the other day that made me remember how kids sometimes perceive things.  One of my BFFs has a son who we used to joke that I had shared custody of him.  This child's heart really is a sight to behold.  He has always been very sweet, loving, caring and empathetic beyond his years.  He always seems to understand things on a deep heart level even when his young mind can't quite grasp all that is.  One of those instances happened when I was in the trenches of fertility treatments and he himself had his little world off-kilter.  Without going into too many details, he was 4 years old, his older brother had been horribly injured in Iraq (he is miraculously fine now thank God!) and his mom had to fly out for an undefined period of time to be with his brother as none of us knew if his brother was even going to survive.  While his mom was away, he stayed with me and up until that point had never been away from his mother even overnight. 

During his extended stay with us I had many doctors appointments to go to.  He picked up on the doctor talk and nervously asked what I needed a doctor for.  Knowing he had to be worried because the recent doctor talk in regards to his brother was grim, I tried my best to put his mind at ease.  One day while taking him to Pre-K he asked what was going to happen to me at the doctor later that day.  I told him that he shouldn't worry about me because I was going to a doctor who was trying to fix my belly so I could grow a baby.  Confused, he asked several more questions and I tried to explain in ways he could understand.  He seemed satisfied with the answers and somehow internalized how badly I wanted to be a mommy.

From time to time he would ask if the doctor fixed me yet and I would tell him not yet.  Apparently his little brain then went into overtime trying to help his Aunt Dawn become a mommy.  One day while picking him up from Pre-K he told me that it was okay that the doctor hadn't fixed me yet because I could just go into the baby room there and get a baby.  He was so proud of himself for figuring out that people went into the baby room at his childcare center and came out smiling and holding babies and he was so happy to tell me of this solution.  I nearly cried with the sweetness and innocence of it.  Man I love that little boy! 

Here he is a little bit more grown up and sitting in a fire truck (a helper vehicle of course!).  Can't you just see his sweet soul shining through?!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Graveyard Visits

For as long as I can remember, my mom would go around to all of the family graves for each major holiday and put flowers.  Of my mother's 3 daughters, I was the only one who enjoyed doing this with her.  I can actually distinctly remember the last time she ever made my two older sisters go but I will get to that a bit later.  I have very fond memories of visiting each grave and paying our respects and after I moved 800 miles away from where I grew up I really missed doing so with my mom.  This past Christmas the kids and I spent the holiday up with my mom.  I was so excited to visit the graves for Christmas and made my mom promise not to do it until I could be there.  It made me feel good to be there for this tradition.

This is for my grandmother and grandfather:
 
 

This is for my much beloved great-aunt:

This is for my aunt (my cousin had also been there):

This is for my grandmother's best friend who was always part of our family in love and also was my mother's godmother - we called her Ollie (like ole-lee) as that is what my mom called her when she was first learning to speak and it stuck for the rest of her life:

So a couple of things about Ollie's plot.  Her plot sits on a rather steep hill and one visit to her other family members while Ollie was alive and I was maybe 10 or so had me convinced that they were out and roaming.  We had lots and lots of rain and with the rain came some erosion.  Many of the in-use gravesites on that hill had caved in from the erosion.  I had already bounded up the hill while my mom was helping Ollie up and when I saw the caved in sites I just knew they had gotten out.  Funny thing was that I wasn't scared about it - just very concerned about how they were going to know where to come get back in and how we were going to find them to help them.  It took my mom awhile to convince me that they hadn't actually gotten out because to me, at the time, them digging out was the only plausible explanation! 

Also near to Ollie's plot was a grave that once had a big beautiful statue on top of a pedestal.  Some jerks had made their way through the graveyard one night and vandalized many of the stones.  The statue on the nearby plot had been knocked off its pedestal and broken.  I was young when this happened but I can still remember seeing the pieces laying on the ground and it made me feel so badly for that family.  I am not sure if there were any surviving family left or if they still lived nearby enough to visit but the statue never got replaced.  Well my heart couldn't take it so every time we visited I would pop off a flower out of the many we were placing on Ollie's plot and stick it in the hole left behind by the absent statue.  My mom took up this tradition for me once I had moved and no longer went to the graves.  Of course this Christmas I got to do it myself and we brought along a flower just for this purpose.  :-)

At one of the graveyards we visit there is a set of graves that we were always fascinated by.  They were big columns and big elaborate stones and some even had stone picnic tables on the plots.  On each of the stones were porcelain portraits of the people buried there.  After visiting our family plots we would always run over to look at the portraits.  Well while looking at the portraits one year my oldest sister nearly had a heart attack and never had to go to the graveyards again.  It was around the time of the movie Carrie where she reaches from her grave and pulls in the people who picked on her and also around the time where the style was Jordache jeans with the big giant cuffs rolled up.  It was also a winter visit so there were lots of dead twigs and branches on the ground.  So, while looking at the portraits and moving from one to the next, a rather large twig got caught in my sister's jean cuffs and she thought for sure that she was being grabbed and pulled into the grave and just about jumped out of her skin.  She screamed and ran and that was the last time she ever set foot in a graveyard!  What is so funny to me is that my oldest sister is not scared of much, is very logical and a realistic thinker and isn't prone at all to being scared of boogeymen.  She could walk through any haunted house alone and never jump or get scared but this grave grabbing about did her in!  I had Reagan stand near some of those graves just so I could show my sister!  LOL (Reagan was cold and tired here so she gave me a weird look when I told her to smile)

Here are some close-ups of the portraits:



I am still fascinated by those graves!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Preschool

As mentioned in my previous post, both kids started preschool on April 8th.  I was excited and terrified at the same time, plus a little sad.  Since Reagan was born she has been home with me, her dad or close friends.  Of course Trevor was too and these arrangements were great for us all.  I started looking at preschools in February to get a jump on picking one for Reagan to start VPK (voluntary pre-kindergarten) in August as I was told that if you wait then your first choice may no longer have open spots.  I have a tendency to procrastinate so I wanted to get the choosing and registering done well before August approached and sent me into a panic-driven choice. 

After visiting several daycare centers and talking to other moms who already use daycare I narrowed down my choices to tour.  The center I decided on is small (no children under 2 and no children older than VPK), has lots of teachers and assistants in ratio to the number of kids, does not do field trips and is right across the street from where I work.  I was very happy with the "vibe" of the place, the availability of the director and teachers for all of my questions and their rates are very reasonable.  I sealed the deal in March by filling out the VPK registration forms and getting our list of supplies. 

Meanwhile, back at the home front, Trevor was participating in his weekly speech therapy.  His therapist and pediatrician both agreed that at home Trevor just doesn't really have any motivation to communicate.  He gets fed when everyone else does, he has a sippy cup available at all times, he naps and sleeps on a regular schedule and diapers get changed as necessary.  This also meant that he would frustrate easily during those times when communication would be helpful and have himself some pretty big, but short, tantrums.  After many discussions it was decided that he would benefit from being in a small preschool class.  In Florida the rules are 11 two year olds per teacher and many centers will put 2 teachers in a room with up to 22 two year olds.  While legal and fine for most kids, the larger scenario would actually be worse for Trevor's communication efforts.

The center where Reagan will be attending VPK has one teacher and one assistant and 8-10 kids on any given day in the 2 year old room.  Trevor's therapist deemed this perfect for him and felt he should start as soon as possible.  I had also been told (by moms and teachers) that since Reagan had never been in a daycare setting that she should start at least a month before the actual VPK started so that she could have some time to adjust.  I spoke to the director about possible start dates and she informed me that she had openings starting that next week and could take Trevor legally now since he was past 22 months of age even though she normally didn't start kids until they were already 2.  After some internal agonizing and over-analyzing and talks with his therapist, both kids were set to start that coming Monday.

Here is Reagan the morning of Day 1 - she was SO excited to be starting school!
 
I couldn't get Trevor to stand still long enough for a morning Day 1 picture of him and of course getting out of the house in the morning with two kids and all their stuff took way longer than I anticipated - it always does!  Drop off went great.  Reagan happily went into her room and began to get acquainted and barely even said good-bye.  In fact I do believe she shot me a look from across the room that said "don't you DARE embarrass me Mom!".  Trevor happily trotted off to play with a group of little ones once we got him to his room and never looked back.  I was happy that they were confident enough to not melt down but my mommy-heart was a little traumatized at the lack of their trauma. :-)  They both got good reports and were happy to see me when I came to pick them up.  It sure looked like they had fun:


Day 2 was more of the same - they both happily joined their classes with quick waves and hugs and kisses.  Here they are on the morning of Day 2.  I snapped Trevor's from his crib after getting him dressed so he couldn't run off without a picture!


By Day 3 Trevor had caught on to the routine and started to cling and whine during drop-off.  I knew he'd be fine after I made a quick exit but hearing him cry was not fun at all.  By Day 4 Reagan had caught on and while getting ready in the morning she loudly announced "I HATE school!!!!".  Ahh, so much for easy drop-offs.  Both of them have adjusted now but it was a rough road for a bit.  I'll save that for another post as well as Trevor's speech progress from school.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Trevor

Well my baby boy is almost 2!  I can hardly believe it.  He is such a joy and growing leaps and bounds, of course, and continues to be a pretty easy going little man.  At his 18 month well baby check I knew there were going to be concerns.  Even though he started on track verbally with early babble he kind of stalled.  He was late to say his first real word - Eat - but he didn't continue to say it.  Instead, everything was "Ma".  Everything.  Me, his dad, his sister, his cup, his pets, his toys, his bed, food - everything!  When he wanted to express that he wanted or needed something he would only say "Ma" with an occasional "Mama" thrown in. 

I remembered counting up the number of words Reagan was saying at her 18 month appointment and quit counting when I was well past the number of words they hope they can say by that age.  His one single word was not going to be good news to his doctor.  At his appointment they gave me a sheet to fill out that had different questions that they use for an early autism screen.  He missed 3 big ones - all somewhat related to communication.  He did not have the desired number of words, he did not point to objects and he did not follow a point.

His doctor spent lots of time with us (love her!) and decided that yes, he did have some communication related delays but that she would be surprised if he was actually autistic since he does have great eye contact, recognizes emotion, isn't repetitive other than age-appropriate repetition, etc.  She referred us to Early Intervention for more testing.  I was glad for the referral.  I am the type of mom who is driven by information.  If there is a problem, I want to know what it is, how to mitigate it or fix it, what we should be looking for in the future, etc. 

I was expecting some difficulty with Early Intervention only because it is a state funded program and I knew the program had to be understaffed with overworked people.  I was pleasantly surprised when we quickly got an appointment (after some phone tag) for a worker to come assess him at home.  She ran through a bunch of questions, observed Trevor just being him and then attempted to engage him in several simple tests with toys and commands.  His worker felt he did need services and set us up for a more in-depth assessment with other therapists.

We went down to a great looking DCF center (the waiting area was SO cool with tons of fun stuff for the kids!) and met with his worker and two therapists.  They ran Trevor through some more tests with toys and commands and asked me questions throughout.  After about half an hour they agreed he needed services and wrote up his report.


For the scale they use, there are 5 categories.  A child must score 75 or below in two or more areas or 70 or below in one area.  Well Trevor ended up qualifying both ways. :-(  He scored 71 in Academic/Cognitive (Playing, Thinking, Exploring), 70 in Self-Help/Adaptive Skills (Eating, Dressing and Toileting) and 59 in Receptive and Expressive Communication (Understanding and Communicating).  I was not at all surprised at the Communication score but the other two did take me by surprise.  The other two were mostly because he wouldn't transition during play when prompted (at all and would melt down when further attempts were made) and he didn't yet take his shoes off properly or use utensils in an age-appropriate manner (totally my fault on that one as I hadn't really ever given him the opportunity to practice).  He was 20 months old at the time of his evaluation.

Since then he has a therapist that comes for an hour once per week to work with him and give us ways to help him when she isn't here.  His therapist is an incredible woman that we all like very, very much.  We also enrolled him in preschool earlier this month to help with peer modeling and exposure to other people that he has to communicate with to express his needs since family tends to anticipate his needs and he never really needs to ask for anything (more on preschool in another post).  He is making progress and we are thrilled!  He now says "Ball" (his favorite), "Bye" and this week started saying his version of "Yellow" - it comes out el-LOOOOW.  He also uses some signs - eat (of course!), please, all done and hi/bye.  Overall we believe he just needed some extra help and motivation to communicate and opportunities to develop his other skills (he uses utensils now and tries to put on socks as well as takes off his shoes properly some of the time).  We are looking forward to seeing how he progresses from here and what strides he will make from being in preschool. 
 
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