Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Day 10: Facts About Me

On the tenth day of Blogmas The Petite Mrs and The Coastie Couple gave to me...

Oh great! I get to talk about myself. Okay...

Fact #1: I hate talking about myself. Well, not really, but my life is pretty boring. Stay-at-home-mom of a special needs 2yr old girl and a gifted 5yr old boy. Not much to say about that. I don't do anything super Pinterest-worthy. I'm just a mom.

Fact #2: I hate selfies! Yep. I don't usually take them. Not by myself or with my kids! There's only a handful of them out there. And this includes just people taking photos of me in general too.

Fact #3: I was a preemie and am now a mom to a preemie! AND we were both born at 28 weeks and were within an ounce of each other!

Fact #4: I love that I can make hot chocolate in the Kuireg now!

Fact #5: I have ALL my Christmas shopping and wrapping DONE! (Save the ONE for Little Man that I want to make sure is READY for him....) I start shopping WAY early, like sometimes in the summer, as I see stuff the kids will like go on sale. A little trick my mom has taught me. The problem with it though is remember all that I got them when it's time for actually shopping!

Fact #6: I enjoy reading, though I don't get enough time to do it.

Fact #7: I enjoy watching TV shows on Netflix. I don't stream. I still use the DVDs. In fact, I OWN the whole series of "Fringe" and it's still unopened because I haven't had time to binge on it. ;(

Fact #8: I live with my mom. Most of the time this is great, except for the weekends the kids aren't home and I just want to binge watch "The X-Files" and she makes me do stuff! Probably better I get stuff like laundry done anyway.

Fact #9: I enjoy writing stories, I just don't do enough of it most of the time. I have attempted NaNoWriMo for like 12 times or something (I don't even know now how many years I have done it) and I have only managed to write 50k in words in the month of November ONCE. That was back over a decade ago. :(

Fact #10: I am working on becoming a better blogger. The 12 Days of Blogmas is helping me.

Favorites from Yesterdays Link-Up:

Up tomorrow: Day 11: Holiday Photos

Monday, December 21, 2015

Day 9: Holiday Songs

On the ninth day of Blogmas The Petite Mrs and The Coastie Couple gave to me...

My favorite Holiday Songs!!!! Yay!!!! I LOVE holiday music! In no particular order, here are my favorites....(YouTube heavy post!)

9. But I don't want to hear ANY holiday music until "The Day After Thanksgiving" by Brandon Heath (new favorite Christmas song!)

8. And of course we've got to have the "Christmas Song" by Alvin and Chipmunks (the original one)

7. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without Mannheim Steamroller's "Carol of the Bells"

6. And then of course there's "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon.

5. Here's a twist on a classic non-Christmas song. It's about the night Jesus was born. "Hallelujah Christmas" by Cloverton (this took FOREVER to find on YouTube...blasted copyrights!)

4. And here is another one about the night Jesus was born: "O Holy Night," this version by Josh Groban

3. But I have to ask, "Mary Did You Know" by Pentatonix

2. And we have to go with "Away in a Manger" by Casting Crowns

1. And of course, then we have to "Go Tell It on the Mountain" by NeedtoBreathe.

Bonus Christmas song that I LOVE and I have as an ornament on my tree:

So those are my favorite Christmas songs. What are yours?

Favorites from Day 8's Link Up:

Up Next: Day 10: Facts About Me

Friday, December 18, 2015

Day 8: Holiday Food & Drink

On the eighth day of Blogmas The Petite Mrs and The Coastie Couple gave to me...

This is one of those posts that's difficult for me. I'm not much into holiday food or things like that. But there are a couple things I'd like to say on this topic.

1. My absolute FAVORITE thing to drink at this time of the year (or any time really) is sparkling cider. Yes, some moms go for the wine. Not me! I LOVE sparkling cider. I think I've gone through 3 or 4 bottles already this month!

2. For all of Princess's therapists and her preschool teacher and Little Man's teachers, we made these little mini bread loaves. They are those muffin mixes, but done in bread pans. And I even found half sized loaf pans for the teachers! We're going to do 3 more for Pastor and the Sunday school teachers, but we're going to do regular sized loaves since BOTH kids will be giving them to them. The great thing about these is that the KIDS essentially made them themselves. Little Man was old enough to do it with very little help. Princess still needed some help stirring, but she poured everything into the bowl. I poured the mix into the pans because I wasn't sure how much to put into these little mini loaf pans. But everyone loved them! I tied bows on them. Both kids made these little Christmas trees with dot makers for tags. It worked out GREAT!

So that's about it on this one. I PROMISE I am getting caught up on reading everyone's posts this weekend!

Favorites from Yesterday's Link-Up
Yes, I need to do this!

Up on Monday: Day 9: Holiday Songs

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Day 7: Winter Activities

On the seventh day of Blogmas The Petite Mrs and The Coastie Couple gave to me...

Okay, this one is a little bit more difficult for me. Why? Well, winter kinda is strange here. Some years we have snow:

Yes, this really is our front yard!
and other years we haven't.

Now, my town does do an outdoor ice rink from mid-November to the first part of January. We haven't gone yet because Princess is still little. (Not to mention, she can barely walk when it's cold. Not sure if ice skating would be a good thing or a bad thing for her.) So it's something that we may do later on.

But otherwise, we curl up and watch holiday DVDs in front of the fire because it gets cold here even if it doesn't snow! Not sure what else we will do during the winter. But I'm sure there will be games and just being together.

What about you? What are your favorite winter activities? I'm always looking for new ones!

My favorites from yesterday's link up:
Sorry, AGAIN. I'm behind. Things are a little crazy right now. I'll catch up and update this weekend!

Up tomorrow: Day 8: Holiday Food & Drink

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Day 6: Holiday Movies

On the sixth day of Blogmas The Petite Mrs and The Coastie Couple gave to me...

So today's post is about Holiday Movies. First I'm going to talk about the Holiday Movie I don't like, but everyone seems to love:

Yes, "A Christmas Story." I can't stand it! I don't know why. Maybe it's because the story is set in a time that I wasn't alive for. But the whole thing just drives me nuts. Yes, I have seen it. I think there was some guy I was dating at some time who LOVED it and forced me to watch it. I wasn't impressed. I also hate how it's on almost EVERY DAY until Christmas. Okay, maybe not, but it sure seems that way to me!

Okay, now onto my Favorite Holiday Movies. You can probably guess one of them right now...

Yep, "A Charlie Brown Christmas." We watched it the other night on it's 50th anniversary! Awesome Christmas "movie." (Oh, during Linus's monologue where he recites Luke 2:8-14, when he says "Fear not" he drops his blanket! Here watch!)

And last year at church, when we HAD kids, they did this whole story one Sunday. And my son got to be a shepherd when our "Linus" recited the scripture. It was great!

Okay, my other favorite you can probably guess too if you read yesterday's post:

Yep, another one that will be celebrating it's 50th anniversary NEXT year! And before you ask, yes, I have seen the Ron Howard directed version staring Jim Carrey. I love that one too! I love the backstory they give The Grinch and yet they still manage to keep the original story that only ran 30 minutes in animated form.

Those are my two favorites that run on network television. As for my favorite full length feature film, it's this one:

I have the book and the movie now. I used to do this with my third graders when I was  teaching every year right before break where we would read the book, do activities surrounding it and then watch the movie! I love it that you can have the kids in their pajamas, have hot chocolate and they feel like they are part of the movie! I think even when Little Man was at the playschool, they did this where the day before break they brought in a box decorated as a train and watched the movie in their PJs. For some reason, when the reindeer come out and then Santa does, I get all teary. I don't know why. Such a GREAT story!

I know there are lots of newer movies out there. I would LOVE to hear about them. What are your favorites?

Favorites from Day 5's Link Up:
Yesterday was a crazy day for me! I'll catch up on this!

Up tomorrow: Day 7: Winter Activities.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Day 5: Golden Memories

On the fifth day of Blogmas The Petite Mrs and The Coastie Couple gave to me...

There's one Christmas that sticks in my mind. It obviously took a lot of work for my mom. It was the year "The Grinch Stole Christmas." I was 5 years old. My mom made me watch "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" like every day. I remember when I woke up Christmas morning, everything wasn't there! There wasn't any presents. I think the tree was still there but it was bare, not sure. But I remember accusing my cousin, who had slept on the couch, of either not protecting our Christmas or of stealing it, I can't remember which. Then the phone rang. It was my grandfather. He said that he had seen someone coming down his street with our stuff so he stopped him. All our stuff was safe and at his house.

Apparently, my grandfather had been diagnosed with lung cancer and they thought this might be the last Christmas we had with him. So they wanted to get everyone together in one place. I don't know who came up with the idea of The Grinch stealing Christmas (probably my mom), but it was a good one to get us all together. I still remember, thirty years later!

Up tomorrow: Day 6: Holiday Movies

Monday, December 14, 2015

Day 4: Holiday Quotes

On the fourth day of Blogmas The Petite Mrs and The Coastie Couple gave to me...

Well, I'm not big on quotes usually. But there are a couple this season that have been running around on Facebook that have kind of struck me.

The first one is from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." The photo isn't correct for the quote from the show, but it works.

And the second one is actually from the Bible, but Linus says it in "A Charlie Brown Christmas." Again, the photo isn't correct for where it happens in the show, but it works.

So those are two of my favorite Holiday quotes. What are yours?

Favorites from Day 3's Link Up

Up tomorrow: Day 5: Golden Memories

Friday, December 11, 2015

Day 3: Signs of the Season

On the third day of Blogmas The Petite Mrs and The Coastie Couple gave to me...

Probably the first signs of the season that we get is the fact that my mom wants to decorate the house. We usually do this the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We haven't done our tree yet, as we will be doing that tomorrow. Partly because it takes so long to put up, but also because we want the kids to be involved. But here are some photos of the house decked out for the holidays:

The trees in the kids' rooms. We'll do the big tree tomorrow.
The kids' stockings and the reindeer in the entry way.
Another sign of the season now that the kids are in school are Christmas programs! And wow, how did I end up so lucky as to have BOTH kids have their programs ON THE SAME NIGHT even though they go to DIFFERENT SCHOOLS! Yeah, it was a big confusing thing when I figured this out! But thankfully it went okay. Little Man sang and signed two songs with his class and the first graders. They did "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" (a kindergarten tradition, I think because I did that song when I was in kindergarten) and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Yes, they learned them in American Sign Language, because it's one of the "specials" his school does!

The kids ready for their performances.
As for Princess, her thing was longer and I "helped." Their singing only lasted for a few songs, which we have practiced and practiced! But then it was a bunch of fun for the whole family! Princess did about what I expected. She stood up and did the songs in the beginning, which had lots of spinning and action, but the songs she didn't really like, she sat down for. She didn't wear her little reindeer antlers and Santa hat mainly because they wouldn't stay on her head, but she was fine with it. Afterwards, we went over and had some cupcakes and then Little Man showed up with his dad so we were able to go over and get a photo of them with Santa. Then I went over and helped the kids wrap presents after they "shopped" in Santa's Workshop. I had to help my mom get Princess in the car so I could finish helping the rest of the kids wrap. I got home shortly after the kids were in bed.

Favorites from yesterday's link up:
The Berger Bungalow's Random Acts of Kindness
Drops of Learning's Birthday Giving
Trish's Sweet Son

Up Next on Monday: Day 4: Holiday Quotes

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Day 2: Random Act of Kindness

On the second day of Blogmas The Petite Mrs and The Coastie Couple gave me to me...

Our family usually STARTS our season off by helping serve Thanksgiving Dinner at our church. Our church is only the host facility. It's actually put on by the Salvation Army. But dinner is FREE to ANYONE. This year, the kids got involved and made about 200 crosses. We did stickers, paint, markers, crayons, glitter. All different kinds of things! Then, they laid them out on all the place settings and even put new ones out as tables were cleared.

Other things we have done is donate to Toys for Tots, Angel Tree, and Operation Christmas Child. If you're not familiar with either of these programs, they are really very simple.

Toys for Tots collects new, unwrapped toys and then right around Christmas, they distribute them to children who may not get a lot for Christmas. They aim to give every child 2 toys and a book. I only know this because we have been part of the program for the past two years on the receiving end. For more information here is their website.

The Angel Tree is another gift giving opportunity for the less fortunate. There are usually several versions of it throughout an area. I know our community college does one and our church is hosting one put on by another charitable organization in our local area. But the idea is simple: pick a card off the tree with a child on it. Their age, sizes and a specific wish is on the card. Then fulfill that card and return it to the place where you picked your card from. When we do it, we try to do at least one outfit and a few toys.

Operation Christmas Child is put on by Samaritan's Purse. Basically, you take a shoe box and fill it with little things for a child overseas. They can be healthcare items like toothbrushes, combs, etc. As well as small toys, crayons, books, and other things like that. Drop your box off at a collection point before the last day with the small amount for shipping (usually under $10) and that's it! It's then sent overseas to a child who may have never received anything before. For more information here is their website.

So those are some of the random acts of kindness we have performed in the past.

Favorites from yesterday's link up:
Random Crafty Girl's Peanut Butter Cookies
xoxo Rebecca's German Christmas
The Pen and the Needle's Christmas Traditions
Drops of Learning's Cutting Down a Christmas Tree
Trish's Hanukkah AND Christmas Traditions
A Mommentary Life's Christmas Tree

Up tomorrow: Day 3: Signs of the Season

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Day 1: Holiday Tradition

On the first day of Blogmas, The Petite Mrs and The Coastie Couple gave to me...

This is something that is very important in our household as we have Princess, who is almost 3, and Little Man, who is almost 6. By having holiday traditions that we do every year, we are shaping how they view the holidays. They are learning that there are some things that are important.

Now, some of the things we do, help explain the meaning of Christmas. Every year for the past two years we have had the opportunity to light the Advent Candle at church. For those of you unfamiliar with Advent, Advent is the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas where Christians prepare themselves for remembering the birth of Jesus. There is a wreath with 5 candles (some only have 4). Everything on the wreath has meaning. One candle is lit every Sunday during Advent, save for the center white candle, which is lit at Christmas Eve Service.

Everything about the wreath has meaning. The 3 purple (or blue) candles represent Hope, Love, and Peace. The pink candle represent Joy. These are all things Jesus brings us. The white candle is the Jesus candle and this why it is lit at Christmas Eve service. The greenery is from evergreen trees to represent the everlasting life that we get through Jesus. The circle is for God's never-ending love. The red holly berries symbolize Christ's blood that was shed for our sins.

These two traditions have only recently started as we have begun attending our new church. But they are something we are very glad to be apart of to keep Christ in Christmas in our household.

We have a couple of other traditions that you are probably more familiar with and probably do yourself: Elf on the Shelf and an Advent Calendar.

Our elf, Jingle, came to stay with us two years ago. He USUALLY comes on December 1, but this year, he came early! I will try to do a weekly round up post here on the blog. But if you want to see his antics, follow me on Instagram.

And as for the Advent Calendar, here's the deal on that. I wanted something that DIDN'T have candy, chocolate, Legos or anything else when you opened the door. I wanted one that I didn't have to buy new every year. We had a Scooby-Doo one before the Big Crazy Mess (divorce). But I wanted something that also explained the meaning of Christmas at the same time. Fortunately I found this one on clearance a couple years ago at a Christian bookstore. It was PERFECT! Not only was it my FAVORITE Christmas TV special ("A Charlie Brown Christmas"), but it actually told the story of Christmas by the end. Every year now, Jingle the Elf brings our Advent calendar on December 1.

So those are our Holiday Traditions. What are yours?

Up tomorrow: Day 2: Random Act of Kindness.

To learn more about our beliefs, here are a few helpful links!
Advent and Christmas (Go her to find out what it means by "The Twelve Days of Christmas!")

Monday, December 7, 2015

Jingle The Elf Returns!

So our Scout Elf, Jingle, returned the day after Thanksgiving. He usually doesn't arrive till December 1, so this was a surprise! So here is a round up of his antics for the past week.

He arrived by special mail from Santa! The kids actually walked by it A LOT. He didn't get opened until about 9am!

The next day he moved from the shelf to the table. The kids weren't that great so he brought them a reminder to get back on track.

On December 1, Jingle brought our Advent Calendar.

I still haven't figured out how the snowman with no arms was able to play Connect Four with Jingle....

Little Man has been having some problems with accidents, even though he is almost 6. I'm not sure if this is something to do with his dad having a new girlfriend or the fact that Princess still isn't potty trained. But either way, Jingle didn't move because of it. :(

If you want to see our adventures with Jingle the Elf as they happen, follow me on Instagram.

This is where I got our Santa Labels and Stamps.

And the Good Deed Cards and Joke Cards. (The blank card was with the Good Deed set.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Coming Soon: 12 Days of Blogmas

Coming soon to this blog: The 12 Days of Blogmas! This is put on by The Coastie Couple and The Petite Mrs.. Essentially they are blog prompts for 12 days. They'll be hosting a link-up every day. I'll be sharing my favorite posts over on my Facebook Page and will likely share my favorites here on the blog as well.

Here's the list of Days and Prompts:

Day 1: Holiday Tradition
(December 9, 2015)

Day 2: Random Acts of Kindness
(December 10, 2015)

Day 3: Signs of the Season
(December 11, 2015)

Day 4: Holiday Quotes
(December 14, 2015)

Day 5: Golden Memories
(December 15, 2015)

Day 6: Holiday Movies
(December 16, 2015)

Day 7: Winter Activities
(December 17, 2015)

Day 8: Holiday Food & Drink
(December 18, 2015)

Day 9: Holiday Songs
(December 21, 2015)

Day 10: Facts About Me
(December 22, 2015)

Day 11: Holiday Photos
(December 23, 2015)

Day 12: Holiday Wishes
(December 24, 2015)

As you can see, you get weekends off. If you want to join in, Pam at The Coastie Couple explained it best in this post. Yes, there is a Facebook group, a mailing list, a calendar, and pre-made graphics!

There will likely be old photos in here as well as some new ones! Can't wait to share all of this with you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

GUEST POST: For Those of You Who Don't See Anything Wrong...by MeMe

This is another Guest Post from MeMe. We are brushing Princess. That may make no sense to some, but for some reason, this little white brush is helping immensely with Princess's issues. Granted, we still have our bad days, but that's okay. This happened on Sunday, October 25.

There are many who have said to us that they don’t see anything ‘wrong’ with Princess.  That she doesn’t seem to have sensory issues at all.  For those that say that, either you aren’t paying attention, or you don’t know what you are looking at, or maybe you just don’t spend enough time with her.  In any event, I am going to describe today’s events, so you can understand.

Today was a pretty typical Sunday.  I got to sleep in, while Becca got up with the dogs.  The kids got up and watched about 30 minutes or so of cartoons – Paw Patrol.  It was then breakfast time and then getting dressed.  Little Man gave us the usual hard time, he’d rather play than get dressed, and Becca brushed Princess and got her dressed.  And then off to Church, which includes a trip through the coffee kiosk and a drive around town, just to get everyone settled and ready, mentally, for church. 

Once at church, I found our seat, while Little Man colored at the back tables, set up for the kids to do such things.  Princess opted to sit with her mother and I, quietly playing with her toys, writing on the program, etc. She was quiet and content.  Once the organ started, she had to sit between us, but again quiet and content.

Children’s time came and the children ran up to the alter, Princess and Little Man included.  Miss Patty talked with them about our event after church, which was a Nifty Nineties Party for those in our congregation who are 90 or older.  Miss Patty had them sit in the front row of pews to watch the slide show of all those who are 90 and over at our church; Princess had to come back and sit with us.  The children were then dismissed to Sunday school and church proceeded.

After church, as I was leaving the Narthex, I could hear the band playing in Charter Hall.  I went into the Education building to collect the kids and Becca and asked if they wanted to go the party.  Yes, was the answer, so we walked over to Charter Hall.  Once inside the building, we made it about 3 steps in when Princess stopped.  It looked like she was mesmerized by the band, but upon watching her, this is what I saw.

Princess went from standing next to her to leaning into her mother.  I asked Becca is she thought it was too much for Princess, at which point she knelt down and talked to Princess, explaining to her about the band, and the music, etc.  Slowly Princess melted into the floor.  Yes, melted into the floor, so that now she was lying in a fetal position on the floor next to her mother.  Becca stood up and said that Princess wanted to stay.  I said ‘okay’ and started over to see our 90’s members.  I turned around about half way across the room, to see Becca and Little Man chasing after Princess, who had left. She just walked out. I caught up with them in time to hear Princess tell her mother ‘carry me, I can’t walk’.  When  I looked at Princess in her mother’s arms, she had tears in her eyes and was on the verge of crying.  We walked to the car – explaining to the other members how it was just ‘too loud’ for Princess.  Thankfully our church family adores Princess and are very in-tune with her needs.  Most could see she was in tears and told her that hoped it got better, or agreed with her, that it was ‘too loud’.

Once home, Princess continued with the ‘carry me, I can’t walk’ to melting into the floor into a fetal position and even saying ‘I can’t get up – help me’.  I suggested her mother go get her changed and brush her.  She did and out walked a totally different little girl.  She quietly played on the couch with her jewelry and toys.  There was no more fetal position, no more tears, no more being paralyzed by a body that didn’t know what to do with the overstimulation of her senses. Brushing had settled her senses and got her back to normal.

I don’t understand how brushing works, nor why.  I just know that it does.  Will Princess have to be brushed forever? NO!  Typically the regime of every 2-6 hours of brushing only lasts 3-4 months and then the child can go to an ‘as needed’ basis.  In the meantime, we are pretty consistent of every 4 hour brushing.  It keeps Princess centered and allows her body to catch up to her senses.  It’s something we will continue and something that she loves. 

For more information on the Brushing Therapy :
Therapeutic Brushing Techniques

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Most Uneventful Shopping Trip

Last week, I told you about our Adventures in Grocery Shopping. A few things changed this week and, truth be told, this week's trip was UNEVENTFUL!

So what was different from this week and last week you ask?

1. Little Man was with us. He is off of school today for a "staff development day." I talked to him beforehand about how we weren't going to get the "little carts." It's too difficult for me to corral both kids with them. Plus, I wasn't entirely sure how much we were going to get.

2. We've started the Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique (DPPT). (More information can be found here.) There is a "sweet spot" of time that the mind and body organizes itself. This "sweet spot" is about two hours. (That's why it's recommended to do it every two hours if possible.) We went to the store an hour after brushing.

So maybe this brushing thing is working....

All I know is that I didn't have to buy Cheetos, milk, waffles, sugar, or anything else that we usually get at the store because some little girl was going to melt down if we didn't. AND afterwards, we all shared a package of powdered donuts and Princess didn't scream or cry that her hands were messy!

Friday, October 9, 2015

GUEST POST: Sensory What? -- by MeMe

Here is another guest post by Princess's grandmother, MeMe. In this one, she explains the different sensory issues that Princess has and what it all means. Yes, all children (and adults too) have sensory issues. It's when it affects their daily life that they need help.

You know that Princess has Cerebral Palsy (CP); we’ve discussed that in my last guest post.  What you probably didn’t know that almost 89% of the people who have Left Hemiplegia (the ‘type’ of CP that Princess has) also have sensory issues.  Sensory issues are known by two names that essentially mean the same thing – Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) or Sensory Integration Disorder.  What is SPD?

First, let’s take a brief look at CP again.  CP, as you will remember, is a caused by some sort of known or unknown brain injury. Along with that brain injury and resulting nerve damage that it causes, it also causes nerve damage to the way the nerves process the sensory input it receives.  Remember from grade school the 5 senses; touch, hearing, vision, taste and smell?  Well they are obviously processed in the brain by several of the billions of nerve cells all throughout the brain.  When one part of the brain is injured, there is a good likelihood that the way we perceive the input from one or more of our senses is impaired as well. 

The most common known brain injury is Stroke.  Many stroke victims not only lose movement in a part of their body, they also lose sensation from that part of their body or taste, or the ability to smell, or even hearing or talking.  It’s the same way with many of the CP patients.  Except CP is a much milder injury to the brain, for the most part.  Severe CP patients are sometimes are unable to see, even though their eyes are fine, or they can’t hear, even though the auditory system is all there and working correctly.  The reason for this is, because the injury to the brain also injured nerve cells, thus the smell of garlic or a sweet smell of a rose, never connects in the brain.  The nose is doing its job, but somewhere along the nerve fibers in the brain, it isn’t making a connection and therefore the patient doesn’t register the smell at all.

With SPD, the nerves or nerve cells are damaged by the injury.  They are there, they may not be firing correctly or maybe they just aren’t making the complete connection to tell the person what they need to know about the input their senses just received, or perhaps they are over-firing.  For most of us, if we are walking down a busy street and hear a car horn beep, we will startle and look around to make sure we aren’t in harm’s way, and assuming we aren’t, we continue on our way.  When someone with SPD, who has auditory issues, hears that same horn beep, they may freeze, become very fearful, retreat, even into traffic to get away from the noise, become disoriented, pass-out, cry, or a number of other unusual responses.  Their brain is having trouble processing the sound – it’s not making the proper connections and the rest of the brain doesn’t know exactly how to respond. Or, the input is so overwhelming to their nerve cells, that it is causing them to over-fire. With small children, it is typical for them to have, what we call a ‘meltdown’ in either case. 

A meltdown is NOT a temper tantrum.  A temper tantrum happens when the child wants something – a toy, attention, etc.  When that is given or the child is distracted, the tantrum stops.  With a meltdown, the child cannot control their actions until either their brain catches up and tells them how to respond, or they are removed from the offending sensory input.

One of the biggest issues to explain is that many of those that have SPD depend upon things being exactly as they have always been.  Change upsets them, because they have difficulty processing it. For instance the other day, Princess had a meltdown in the grocery store because the bottle of chocolate sauce wasn’t squeezable as she had always known it to be.  She has never handled a brand new, unopened bottle; she had no experience that with a sealed bottle, you can’t squeeze it and it doesn’t ‘feel’ the same as what she knew.  She couldn’t process this and she shut down and then melted down, as her brain tried to catch up to what she has always known.  Princess is 2 years old and although she has a vocabulary of a 5 year old, many of the concepts and even words she doesn’t yet comprehend. As a result, her mother had to show her that ALL the new bottles were like the one she had, AND explain it to her in a way she could understand with her 2 year old comprehension level.  Unfortunately we go through that with many, many things, as there is always something that she has not had exposure to, or that she doesn’t remember having exposure to and her brain therefore cannot process the change into what she expects and knows.

Right now, as I type this, Princess is having dessert and wants a ‘pink’ Popsicle.  She’s already had a cookie, but her brother chose a Popsicle.  We nearly had a tantrum because she ‘wanted’ and wasn’t going to get.  This can turn into a meltdown, even though it starts as a tantrum, as she becomes overwhelmed with the noise of her own crying. Fortunately, the tantrum and possible meltdown was avoided when I explained to her we didn’t have ‘pink’ Popsicles and her mom distracted with playing with some toys.  As you can tell, it gets VERY ‘interesting’ around here.  Meltdowns can last for hours – which means hours of screaming, crying, stimming, rocking and a number of other things, as her brain tries to make sense of the input it is receiving.  It is heart-wrenching and one of the worst things, as a parent and a grandparent, that I have had to witness, knowing that there is nothing I can do to help her make sense of the world, or noise, or change or whatever.

These are some of the areas that we know Princess has an issue with, they may change with time and we may discover more as she grows and does more:

·        Loud noises
·        Groups of people or children
·        Unexpected change
·        Having dirty or sticky hands, fingers or areas on her body
·        Sleeping
·        Severe separation anxiety – she doesn’t feel ‘safe’ except with a few people, due to her other issues.
·        Uncomfortable in anything but certain fabrics and clothing – basically will cause a meltdown.
·        Food if it is ‘broken’ – meaning a cracker that breaks into 2 or more pieces - -she won’t eat it, because it’s broken.
·        Talks with a Boston accent, even though no one in the house does.

So what CAN we do??  Occupational Therapy is the therapy that deals with sensory issues, as it can and does affect the activities of daily living.  You can’t do your daily walk, if every time a car horn beeps you freeze and then run into traffic, trying to get away from this offending input.  So the doctor has ordered Occupational Therapy. So, what do THEY do to help??  Actually there are several activities and therapies that help.  For instance, Princess has an issue with loud noises, it is recommended that we get her headphones and play soothing music to drown out the offending noise, especially when we know it’s going to happen – such as when we vacuum the house, or blow the leaves off the driveway.  We haven’t tried this yet, but will.  It may allow her to process the vacuum or other noise at a level that is comfortable for her brain to process, while also rewarding the brain with noise that she likes.  Makes sense and something we will be trying. 

Another thing that seems to help is large motor activities – running, jumping, crawling, spinning, etc.  They aren’t exactly sure why this helps with SPD, but there is documented studies that show it does.  This is one of the reasons why Princess goes to the gym, where the class that she is in, her Occupational Therapist (OT) is there to observe and help the families they service.  Princess is not only running and jumping and physically active, they utilize lots of different equipment to offer exposure in a safe environment.  This leads us to the next therapy – exposure. Remember with Princess, she was under ‘house arrest’ for the first 14 months of her life, which was spent either in the hospital or in the house, due to RSV season.  She didn’t get exposed to being in a crowd, lots of the noises of the world.  This may have had an impact, but we also knew that RSV could have been deadly to her, if she had caught it. So, the plan is to expose Princess to as many things as we can, while keeping her from being overwhelmed and allowing her to feel safe.  Sounds easy, right??  Remember the grocery store and chocolate sauce??  If it’s not the norm, or what she’s used to, she reacts poorly, as she cannot process the change.  We will figure it out!! But obviously, a trip to Disneyland is NOT in our immediate future!

Remember many people with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), like stroke, have to be taught to walk again, or write again.  The brain is an amazing organ and has billions of neural pathways.  If we can find the correct therapies, perhaps we can help the brain to ‘re-wire’ itself or at a minimum, perhaps we can help Princess learn to compensate for her SPD.

Below are some of the therapies that we are either currently doing or will be doing, as money and/or training become available.  We have already researched these, discussed them with Princess’ therapists and/or they are being recommended:

·        The Wilbarger Deep Pressure and Proprioceptive Technique (DPPT) & Oral Tactile Technique (OTT), more information can be found HERE We will be starting this after training on Friday.
·        Gym Time, as many Friday’s as she can make with doctor appointments, and such.
·        Jumping Time at home – we have purchased a small trampoline.
·        Exercise Ball Time – again we have purchased this and are doing prescribed exercises on it.
·        Essential Oils – we are in process of learning and purchasing, but have already found a couple that seem to help – if you are interested in Essential Oils, let us know, we can hook you up and earn Princess free oils and a diffuser!
·        Therapeutic Horseback Riding – this will take some budgeting, unless CCS or our Regional Center decides to step up to the plate and pay for it.
·        Headphones and a child quality Mp3 player, this will again take some saving and budgeting.
·        Swinging – we purchased a toddler swing for the swing-set when Princess was a baby and liked to swing (now we know why!)
·        Sit and Spin – we’ve noticed that Princess likes to spin herself as a way of ‘stimming’ which is creating rhythmic motion that is soothing to her (many autistic children ‘stim’ by flapping their hands).  We will be budgeting and saving to get her this ‘toy’.
·        Weighted Blanket and later, perhaps a vest – again, something that we have to budget and save for.
·        Natural sound machine – another item to be purchased.
·        Child quality CD player that she can use to listen to music that soothes her. Another item to be purchased.
·        Soothing music that she picks out, again something to be purchased.
·        Clothes that she will wear – which right now is ‘skinny jeans’ (they are like leggings for women) and short sleeved tops.  No dresses, unless it is denim, nothing on her neck – which annoys her and nothing ‘scratchy’ which annoys her. Items are purchased as we find them, but of course they have to be specific to her ‘liking’.
·        Lots of going places for exposure – new parks, picnics, playgrounds, different stores, schools, and ideas are appreciated!!
·        Of course we will be keeping Princess in her pre-school, which again we have had to budget for, as the insurance, school district, etc. will not pay for this particular pre-school, which we think, right now, is the best fit for her. (Next year, she may be attending the special needs preschool, depending upon how she assess for the school district after the first of the year. This will obviously be looked into like any other new day care/pre-school setting, as it has to meet her needs.)

As you can see, many of these things either need to be purchased or are ongoing expenses, which we need to figure out how they fit in the budget.  We will continue to try to do everything we can to help Princess and we will make it work!  If you’d like more information about CP or SPD, I’d encourage you to visit the links below:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Preschool and the Dentist

Today at preschool, Princess did okay. She didn't want me to leave though. Every time I tried just to sneak out of the room, she would run down the hallway after me! Most of the kiddos didn't really want snack today. Princess actually took a few bites of rice cake! I can't seem to introduce new foods at home because of Little Man and his picky eating habits. Every time I try, he says something and Princess echos it.

Then with painting today, the kiddos got to paint with various (plastic) fruits and veggies. Princess wasn't having it because someone had already painted with them and then she would get paint on her hands. I don't quite understand this. She doesn't have a problem with all the handprints we've done. She lets just about anyone, well, mostly me, paint her hands and then she'll put them on the paper. But today, she didn't want to touch the food that had paint on it. So pretty much I painted her circle.

We also had Mr. Potato Head out, so of course "Tinky Nee" had to wear the glasses.

They also made plates with their favorite breakfast on it. Sadly, there wasn't any waffles for Princess, so she had to use pancakes. And then of course she had to play with the magnifying glasses! While she was playing, I poked my head into the store room and found that they needed more letters cut, so I snagged those to do at home. Finally, we were in the playroom. I tried to duck out again, but Princess wouldn't let me. Oh well. Maybe next week.

This afternoon, Little Man had his first field trip with his class. Their service project this year is that they are going to be cleaning up trash in the parks around town. So they walked down to one of the parks today, picking up trash along the way. I then met him there at the park so we could go to the dentist! Surprisingly, BOTH kiddos did GREAT! Little Man showed off his recently lost tooth. Yes, he did lose his first tooth! The Tooth Fairy visited last week and left him two golden dollars! Then he got his teeth cleaned and a fluoride treatment. Then it was Princess's turn. She actually let the girl brush her teeth (with a pink tooth brush!) and even let her put fluoride on them! But probably because the tray was pink.

So that was our day. Came home from the dentist, did homework, and then the kiddos went off with their dad for dinner. Soon it will be time to get into jammies, have desert, and go to bed. Here's hoping that goes easily tonight.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Adventures in Grocery Shopping

Lately, Princess has been having a difficult time when we go to the grocery store. It's not anything I think I can totally change. She is VERY resistant to change at times. This goes from the sheets on her bed, to the coloring books she has, to obviously going to the grocery store.

How can going to the grocery store be difficult you ask?

Yes, we've tried the little carts before. They only last so long and I still have to help steer.
Well, now that Little Man is in school, we go on Mondays. (It's also our only free morning at the moment!) Well, because there are some things we get almost every time we go to the store, Princess pretty much will tell me what we need to get. If I don't get what she thinks we need, she will have a meltdown for about six aisles. Sure, if it was because she wanted something like candy or cookies, I'd be okay with it. But this over things like milk!

So sometimes, in order to avoid a meltdown (and the pity looks from the grandmas and other moms), I will get the things that she asks. This usually pertains to things that aren't going to go bad right away. Then we just have a "special" on it at home. This is the list of things she has thrown a fit over and I've had to buy:

  • milk (it HAS to be a gallon and have the pink lid now)
  • Cheetos (she can't have potato chips)
  • bologna (she calls it "big taco baloney")
  • sugar
  • waffles
Then today, we had a fit over chocolate sauce. So you know, her fits include screaming and crying at me and pushing or pulling me or the cart in whatever what she thinks it should go. So what was the deal with the chocolate sauce? Well, we were out last night, so I didn't have to make her "chocolate milk" at bedtime. So today, we needed to get some. Well, she got to pick which brand we got: Hershey's or the store brand. She picked Hershey's. Then she wanted to sit in the cart so she could hold it. About an aisle away, she realized it was closed. She wanted it open. And she wanted the "squeezy" kind. No matter how much I tried to tell her that that was the "squeezy" kind, she didn't believe me. She wanted out of the cart and then actually PULLED the cart out of the aisle we were starting down so we could to back to where we had found the chocolate sauce. We finally got back there and I showed them to her. She picked the Hershey's again and I told her that I wasn't opening it until we got home because then it would spill all over her and we needed to go get "pink sugar." Thankfully, she came with me and by the time we got BACK to the sugar aisle, the fit was over.

This week, we didn't have to buy anything extra, thankfully. And the chocolate sauce was the only fit. Now if only they would've let me get out of there without eggs. (They were out of the type I can buy with WIC, so I was hoping, but instead, I had to get JUMBO eggs. Oh well.)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The First Thing You Learn in the NICU

The first thing you learn in the NICU is:

Don't Compare

Don't compare your child to another child born the same day as yours.

Don't compare your child to another born the same gestation as yours.

Every child follows their own path. Some have longer stays. Some have shorter stays. Some have lots of issues they must overcome. Some don't.

If only I could keep remembering this!

Lately, I have been seeing all the things Princess CAN'T do.

She can't undress herself.

She can't put her shoes on.

She can't jump.

Yet there are other children I see who CAN do these things. Maybe they are younger than Princess. Maybe they were born earlier. But yet, they CAN do things that Princess can't. And sometimes that is frustrating. It hurts me to see it. I want her to be independent like she wants to be, but she's not. It's going to take time for her to figure it out. Maybe she'll have to do things in a different way.

I guess I just have to remember that rule from the NICU: Don't Compare. She's going to follow her own path and get there whenever she does. I've just got to help her along the way. I need to focus on the little milestones again.

She CAN walk up stairs holding a railing or without. (Scares the daylights out of me!)

She CAN take a few sips out of an open cup, if the cup is small enough and doesn't have a lot in it.

She CAN color with various things, even though her grip is still "caveman-ish."

She's doing so much now. I just have to remember to always look for what she CAN do instead of what she can't.
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