Simultaneous Sickness

I think I finally managed to pass the stomach bug onto some of the kids.

Sickness sharing is a weird thing in our house. Each person who is exposed reacts so differently and each time I wonder if we didn’t just all pick something completely different up randomly, by coincidence.

I am the iron stomach. I haven’t thrown up since I was sixteen years old (who decided that beer bongs were a good idea, anyway?). But sometimes I wish I could. Not in a bulimia kind of way. I just think that expunging sickness so quickly and violently must make it pass quicker, right? Surely I wouldn’t be so tired and queasy for so long if the sickness had a second outlet as well?

Ben, my dear Ben, all those years of sticking every single thing – I mean EVERY SINGLE THING in your mouth (food from the floor, sticks, dirt, beach sand, more beach sand, then even more beach sand, small choking hazards, licking poles and trees) must have paid off for you. Because on Friday night Ben ate a hearty dinner, followed by a hearty dessert, then walked into my bedroom where I was preparing my bed so I could dry and dress the bathing twins on, and silently threw up.

Then he casually turned to me and told me that he threw up on my bed. No heaving, no crying, and in fact he even tried to go back and finish his lollypop. He was fine by the next day.

Jack. Woes Jack. My goodness you’d think their was an inner demon ripping out his insides when he gets sick. And perhaps because he was always a bit cleaner about things (doesn’t like sharing drinks, freaks out if anyone touches his food, will study his food for any dots or abnormalities and refuse to eat it, never ate copious amounts of sand, wasn’t a big fan of mouthing toys, is my only kid who consistently uses utensils, is my only kid who will wash his hands for a full 20 seconds after any bathroom break) he always gets hit the worst.

Jack was puking for 2 days straight. He ran a fever. He was up all night for two nights. He was coughing and puking up any morsel that touched his lips. He was laying on the ground groaning and moaning. He even TOOK A NAP!

So all of our fun weekend plans were put aside. We had a big day of apple picking on Sunday which we postponed.

And instead of doing things like a family we divided and conquered.

In the morning while Adam took the older sickies to the suburbs to buy a used stroller I was planning on picking up on our way out to the apple orchards, I took the twins to Bauler Park.

Old School Equipment

Old School Equipment

It’s funny how you can dislike a park with some kids and love it with others. I used to really dislike this park when I just had Jack and Ben. I preferred the newer structures that were completely manufactured. The prefab soft services, devoid of any natural materials. I also liked smaller spaces so I could follow my kids around like a hawk, being overly helpful and unnecessarily liberal with my reprimands regarding manners to other kids.

A big, open slab of concrete in the background and many green areas.

A big, open slab of concrete in the background and many green areas.

Now with the twins I love a park where I can sit back and let them play as if I’m not even there. From Ben’s therapist I’ve learned that I’m too helpful when it comes to such things. Let the kids struggle to climb things, that is how they learn and build their muscles.

I also really like how natural the park is. Huge spaces to run and do one of Aaron’s favorite activities – collect sticks and poke them in the dirt. And since Jack and Ben’s time, people have dropped off old toys which adds another dimension.

And even though there are three entrances, all are gates and easy to see from any viewpoint.

After lunch I was able to take Ben for his swimming reward. We were the only ones at the outdoor pool at our club. It was 65° out and it rained half the time but the pool was nice and warm and we loved that we were able to enjoy it all to ourselves. Ben is so close to swimming I can taste it. I’m hoping we can keep swimming despite winter coming until he gets from one end of the pool to the other unassisted.
While we did that, the twins napped at home. Adam and Jack stayed at home and also got some one-on-one time together.
They also were very productive…IMG_7582
It may just look like four bags of legos to you. But that is hours of work, sifting through our zillions of lego pieces. They managed to put together all the little men that were torn apart and collect all the stray wheels. Anyone who was ever a lego fan must be smiling right now at the sight of this and singing in their head, “Everything is awesome”.
And they would be right.
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A Nine Day Update

Sorry my loyal readers for the nine day silence. It’s been a long nine days and I haven’t had any time or energy to blog.

The day of my last blog, I came down with some stomach bug that has plagued me until now. I’m still a bit queasy but feeling better.

It drained me of all my energy. Every day I did the bare minimum.

For nine days I have had absolutely no energy to cook anything creative or healthy. Gorgeous, locally sourced, organic veggies delivered from Irv & Shelley’s Fresh Picks have wilted in the crisper while I’ve fed my kids a bunch of pre-packaged white carbs, cheese and processed meats. It was not a high point for me as a mother and not something I am proud to blog about.

For nine days we also had a very difficult week with Ben as school. It is another thing I don’t feel good blogging about and I’m pretty sure when Ben gets older he WILL not like it to be public knowledge so let me just give you a little metaphor for the past week.

I feel like in Kindergarten they basically throw 30 kids in a big pool and see who can swim. Some have had expensive lessons and get right in there. Others cry when they are dropped in by eventually start swimming or realize they can touch their feet to the ground. Ben didn’t do any of these things. Ben sank. But he went down kicking and screaming. And no matter what they did, throwing out buoys, try to give some instruction, nothing worked.

In the end it got so bad we picked him up from school last Thursday.

It has gotten better since then. Wednesday we sent him in 1/2 day, just in the special ed room, and with his own personal therapist. Then we repeated this half day schedule, without his therapist, for the next two days.

We realized Ben needs to just get out of the pool altogether and start at the first step of the stairs and work his way down slowly.

We also got really good news from the principal today. Ben’s one-on-one aide was approved today so we can start the hiring process. When he/she is hired we have a chance at getting him back to school full time.

But for now we’ll keep the 1/2 days up. They seem to be working. All days he got a good report from the teacher and as a result he gets to cash in the prize we dangled in front of him when we told him he was going back.

Ironically the prize is for him to go swimming this weekend.

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Kookaburra Cafe

A week into the 2014 school year finds me back on the ‘pay to play’ circuit.

Climbing structures.

Climbing structures.

It’s feels odd to be back. I have mixed emotions about it. Going to Kookaburra Play Cafe this morning meant doing something I had done a hundred times before, like starting a project again from the beginning with all the confidence experience brings but with none of the thrill that it had the first time around.

Infant area

Infant area

Still it was something I could never do with Ben. His sensory processing disorder would have made it impossible to watch all the kids without getting dirty looks from other moms. I was anonymous for the time in ages. And unlike when I used to frequent these places with Jack and Ben the first time around, nowadays I don’t feel the need to connect with the other moms. Being nobody never felt so good.

As far as ‘pay to play’ spaces go, I was pretty impressed with this one. They all charge pretty similar prices but some can be quite run down. Kookaburra was modern and clean.

It had enough space so that the twins barely entered two of the areas but the space was laid out well. At Little Beans Cafe, the open space is central with all the play areas on the periphery. The result is a lot of kids running into each other with little cars or body to body. Kookaburra’s open spaces meandered so you could still ride little cars around in a natural path.

Reading area

Reading area

They had lots of really cool things to ride too. You can see a motorcycle above but there were caterpillars, cars, Lightning McQueen and more.

There were also random things I didn’t capture like a structure with 3 hoops and a ton of balls, a bin of food to put in grocery carts, a small puppet theatre, a dress up corner and loads of huge stuffed animals. Aaron spent quite some time carrying a Scooby Doo around that was larger than he was singing, “Where are you?”.

Music Room

Music Room

We had a lot of fun in the music room. The keyboards played songs and the twins danced and shimmed around the room for a good 30 minutes. It was a magical moment.

Chalkboards and crayons also in the music room.

Chalkboards and crayons also in the music room.

Kitchen Area

Kitchen Area

Later we discovered the kitchen area. The twins loved feeding the dolls, something we have NONE of at home. I loved that the woman in charge let them clear this table and eat lunch on it later.

DSC_0527It was very enjoyable morning. If you’ve ever been to my house you know I probably have just as many toys as this place. But sometimes you just need to shell out the money and go somewhere else where there is no laundry, or computer, or dishes so that you can remember to spend some time enjoying your kids undistracted.

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We met with Ben’s school yesterday.

It was meant to be a meeting with Ben’s school councilor and the special education teacher.

When we entered, there were SEVEN people waiting to talk to us. All had observed him and had suggestions. One was the principal of the school!

I was amazed how many resources they threw at him. And a little scared that they were maybe proving their case to kick him out.

They started the meeting very gently, like they knew I wasn’t going to like what they had to say.

The principal said something like, this is going to be hard to hear but by the time we meet in December it will be a much better meeting.

All I heard was that we were going to meet again in December! They weren’t kicking him out!

In fact, after observation they realized the current IEP, was not helpful enough.

They want to apply for a FULL time aide for him. And they want to put him in the special education classroom for most of the learning portion of the day, about 2 hours and 20 minutes each day.

It means he is so far gone he can’t learn with the other kids. It’s sad, but everything they said in the meeting made sense. He really can’t learn in a big group setting. Not now. But maybe with this help one day he will.

When Adam and I first started this process we found it very difficult to hear that Ben was not normal. We blamed everyone else. Eventually we realized he was not responding to situations in a typical way. We finally admitted that he was different, but not in a good way. In a way that hinders him socially, and hinders his ability to learn.  Even with our new, more accurate viewpoint, it is still very difficult to hear anything negative about your kids.

Having said that, I would say they did an excellent job of seeing Ben’s limitations. Everything they said in the meeting was factual and insightful.

He is disruptive and unfocused enough that someone has to be with him full time. Sometimes I wonder how I did it all those years, with other kids, without any help. I certainly wasn’t trying to teach him anything, but we did keep some sort of a schedule. In hindsight I’m kind of amazed he didn’t get hurt, lost or drowned under my watch.

Afterwards the Kindergarden teacher asked me if she could have some extra one on one time with Ben after school sometimes. She definitely isn’t one of those teachers who punches the work clock. She really cares about the children. Every night she sends me an extremely detailed email explaining the day so I can come up with a visual schedule for him to follow. She sent it to me at 7:30pm tonight, which I quickly created and showed to him before bed.Slide3

He was very, very happy to see the schedule. His therapist said he DOES NOT like surprise so the more we can tell him, the easier it will be.

It’s a ton of work for the school. I’m still amazed at how much effort they are willing to put into his education and feel lucky that we are at this school. And that we live in a time period where kids like him do not get shoved into the back of the classroom and ignored, but instead get MORE attention, with early intervention to help them with the hopes of integrating them back into mass society.

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed it doesn’t go pear shaped and I’m picking him up again next week…

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Mom leaves

Mom left yesterday after the older boys went for their first day of school.

As if my kids going back to school wasn’t emotional enough!

She was an incredible help. So selfless. I hope I can remember to be as giving, understanding and caring when I’m a grandparent.

She loves all the kids, and gets on particularly well with the twins.

One afternoon Adam had the older boys at the cubs game and Mom and I were resting in the kitchen. The twins were in the back room.

“You know they are up to no good when they are this quiet, right?” I said.


They were covered in toothpaste. In their hair, on their shirts, in their mouths, and all over the wall, the map, and the rug.

I think at one point Sam said, “Aaron did it!”, though his hands were obviously covered in blue as well.

Mom just laughed and made a comment about the whole house being a playroom, then helped clean Sam off while I got the walls.

She watched the twins so we could take the older boys to their first day of school. She watched the twins while we spent an entire day at Great America. And she watched all three kids when I took Ben to therapy one day. I haven’t seen the inside of my laundry room in two weeks.

I hardly got any pictures of her because she was always in the background, helping out!

On the last day I suggested we take the twins to a park then go for a nice lunch. Even after 2 weeks of doing nothing but laundry and kiddie duty, she suggested I go for a run and shop at the grocery store so she could launder more things and change more stinky diapers.

I’m going to miss her terribly. Thanks for everything Mom!

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First Day of School 2014

Today was the first day of 2nd grade for Jack and the first day of Kindergarten for Ben.

Sam and Aaron (in their diapers) and Japo are ALL photo bombing.

Sam and Aaron (in their diapers) and Japo are ALL photo bombing.

Ben woke up at 4am, no doubt from the anxiety he has been feeling about starting school. He finally fell back asleep at 5:30am, just in time for the twins to wake up at 5:40am. Normally this would make me very angry but today is the first day in 852 DAYS I will be able to take a nap without having someone else watch kids for me. Not that I’ve been thinking much about it or anything.

We purposely got to school early so the kids could run around the playground and not feel too rushed. Ben seemed very happy running with Jack and his buddies Timmy and Luke.IMG_7521

He even seemed okay walking into school.


He started to freak out a bit near the door to the room but when he turned to run I said, “I’m right here Ben!” and it seemed to work. He walked in and sat at his desk.

The teacher had playdoh and an owl out. She is amazing. I was so nervous that I sent her the visual schedule I prepared to Ben and she wrote back a long, detailed message about the schedule for the day. Which we then used to prep Ben as best we could. We read it to him a few times, then told him how lucky he was to get to play with Playdoh and legos and have TWO recesses. Then we asked if we could switch with him. It put a little smile on his lips at the thought of us going to Kindergarten.DSC_0507

He saw that stuffed owl at the meet and greet and was asking about it later.  After his teacher heard this she deliberately put it next to his seat for comfort.

I thought I would only cry the first time around, when Jack went to school, but because it was Ben going to Kindergarten, it was all I could do to keep from welling up. Partly because I couldn’t believe it was real. I was sure they were going to call me to collect him like every other institute we’ve tried to send him to. And partly because I know what a big step this is for him. Bigger than all the rest of the kids who were in that room.

But seemed okay. He let us leave, with no crying. The school already had the special ed teacher standing at his side, talking to him. Great school. If anyone can handle him, it’s them. Not that I’m not obsessively checking my phone today. I’m just saying IF anyone can do it…

Jack, two doors down, was an old hand. He got a great seat next to a couple other buddies and was happy as a clam.DSC_0511

We’ll see how the day goes at pick up time. But for now, my readers, it’s time for this momma to nap!

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