Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Can I get one normal kid?

A couple of weeks ago when I took Elliot to her two year checkup with her pediatrician we were going through the long list of developmental questions when the one about speech came up.

I was dreading this because I knew that she wasn't up to par with other 2 year olds. After talking for a while her doctor agreed that she was probably delayed and referred us to early intervention to see if she qualified for services through the state.

I set everything up thinking they were going to tell us we were nuts and that she was fine and would be talking non stop before we knew it.

But of course it didn't happen like that. We went through the evaluation and of course Elliot is a shy one to strangers so she clung close to me. After a few minutes of warming up she gradually got into the play/ testing. She did the block stacking with ease and engaged in pretend play with a bear going as far as wanting the bear wrapped up in a blanket.  When it came to the social/emotional skills she excelled like we knew she would.

The verbal skills were another thing though. When asked to point to a picture she might if she felt like it and would point to the wrong picture many times. She talked very little during the evaluation other than nodding her head or saying “that”. When it was all said and done we got the news. She did qualify for services in speech due to her delay being at least 25%. Basically right now she has speech ability of a one year old. Yeah that was a kick in the gut!

So right now we have a date to set up her IFSP (Individualized Family Services Plan) next week. At this point we will find out how many days a week she will have speech therapy from her therapist and how long each session will be. The plan will be adjusted in 6 months to address improvements and new goals.

This kind of early intervention therapy will be good for a year. If she needs additional support after that we will be moved to a new program with the help of our therapist and family services coordinator.

After Alvin’s mess you would think I would be prepared for it all but I just wasn’t. She is so outgoing and many people that have seen her in WA can attest to it.
Showing her independence

But just like her birth she has to follow in her brother’s footsteps. She entered the world very similar to her brother and now is following him in the speech delay department.
Alvin teaching her how to fly

So I will update this more once we get more information next week. The best thing I can say right now is I am just glad we are catching it all early.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

To Elliot on her second birthday

To my peanut, two years ago I was scared to death of having a little girl. Not being big into the girly stuff and the color pink I wasn’t sure how things were going to work with you. But just like your brother your arrival had to be eventful as ever. You spent the first five days in the NICU and just like your brother have never had a sick visit since!

Two years later and you are still causing mischief as only you can. You get yourself dressed and of course undressed (at completely inappropriate times on occasion)! You are sensitive and caring to all of us and yes that includes your brother. I have witnessed so many times where you just want to help him or us and before being asked you are bringing people shoes to get ready to go or covering him up with a blanket when he feels rotten.
Alvin teaching Elliot to roll balls down the chute.

Elliot and Alvin. The normal look. She's happy to see him he just wants to run!

The biggest thing over the past year has been all the changes though. We moved you across country, dealt with your brother’s diagnosis and through it all you have been wonderful. What’s been amazing is how fiercely you guard him and still take the time to bully him around the house. You can’t say his name and maybe only 10 words but you can somehow manage to get him to do your bidding. You go to all of Alvin’s soccer practices and somehow befriend the kids with the biggest challenges by kicking the ball to them. You see kids with down-syndrome and other issues as normal and just laugh with them as you run down the soccer field.

The scariest thing that I have realized in many ways is that you have become a mini me! You are fiercely independent as only you can be. A few months ago I started joking that you are a 4 year old boy trapped in a 2 year old little girl’s body. When you set your mind to do something no madder how many times you have to try, you just don’t give up. In the gym you will do a face plant reaching for the bar and yet jump up and say "Tada!" You gain confidence every week in the gym and at home and its so cute to watch.
Walking on the beam.
Reaching for the bar! Its so far away though!

Reach and swing...but she doesn't want to let go!
So happy birthday Peanut! Mommy, Daddy, Sissy and yes even brother love you!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

the new job update

This is a post I've been trying to get to for weeks but everytime I think about it I'm too tired or busy taking the kids to gym or any number of reasons.

The job so far has been amazing and very worth the move 2500 miles across country. The job itself is a liaison engineer and it keeps me on my toes. The training just to recieve full authority will take me a total of about 6.5 months total. The training entails rotating through 6 different groups within the factory. This exposes me to many different situations so that I'm ready for my end spot on the flight line. I spend  my days now running all over the factory and putting out fires and coordinating things with the shop. I work with a mentor in every group who shows me the ropes and works with me throughout the time I'm there. This has been a great experience and I'm learning more every day.

The thing is even my bad days right now are better than my good days before. I'm no longer a "CAD monkey" as I referred to my job so many times before. I am no longer the lowest person on the totem pole and treated as such. I am actually using my degree which is a huge step for me! The days are 8 hours or more every day, but the guys are fun and we can always laugh even though things just get crazy.

So far the move and job have all been worth it. The job and people that I work with are great. Not only has the job been good but also Alvin's progress. We are seeing huge steps. He is talking and singing songs and even asking for things without any prompting.

Friday, May 13, 2011


So I noticed the other day that this thing had been quiet for about a month. Things have been busy around the house, but then again with 2 kids (about to be 3 when Mac comes to stay with us for a month) a dog and a cat how are things not busy.

We have been taking advantage of taking the kids to the Seattle Children's museum for their early open for autism. This is not only good for Alvin but also Elliot since its all about having fun in an environment made for kids.

Then there has been the time outside. When the sun is out we seem to stay outside doing things. We have even started doing picnic dinners at the park on a regular basis. They say that this is spring but I doubt its gotten above 65 deg and to me right now that doesn't feel much like spring!

The kids are still at The Little Gym. We have had issues for Alvin but that's another story for another day. The important thing is both kids are still loving it and doing well. Elliot even moved up to the next age group and Alvin transferred classes from the sports skills that was less organized to a pure gymnastics class with 4 to 5 year old kids that is much calmer and better organized.

The other reason I haven't been on here more is I have a new project. I found myself talking so much about Alvin and asperger's syndrome autism I created another blog just for that stuff. I'm working on about a post every week or 2 at this point. If you are inclined to check it out its called Life WithButters.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday Butters and the IEP results!

Happy 4th Birthday Alvin!!

Since Alvin has become stressed by large groups we pondered what to do for his birthday. Since we are still settling in we decided on one of his favorite dinners (fried chicken) at home.

And then of course there was cake.

Toy Story is a favorite right now so we did that them. The cake was chocolate with banana filling from Safeway. As far as grocery store cakes go it was pretty good.
MMmmm! Cake!

Must grab frosting!!!

 Of course Elliot had to be involved in the fun too!

 Going back in for more frosting!

Earlier that day he also got his puppy back so it was a great birthday for him!

On another note we had the IEP meeting with his school on Thursday and I know one thing. They are not playing. They have some pretty good goals for him. Some of them include (and all of this is to be accomplished by mid June) to have a 30% increase in perceptive and receptive language, doing a task for 5 minutes or more, sitting in a group and listening to a story with other kids, playing well with others with minimal adult intervention and doing imaginary play with an adult or other child. Almost every goal says "with minimal or no assistance" which I love!

I met with his teacher, physical/ occupational therapist, speech therapist and psychologist. I fell in love with these women. They were wonderful to talk to and just kept saying how they wish I had brought him so they could meet him. They are very excited to work with him. 

He will be going from 9 to 11:30 Monday through Thursday and I felt very comfortable with the entire staff and can't wait for him to start on Monday. His class will have 10 kids, 1 teacher and 2 adult teaching assistants.  This is the best student to teacher ratio we could get. I feel like he is going to be challenged but also cared for as well. The staff told me they send home weekly letters so you know what they are working on and also said they communicate through email quite a bit and said if we ever had any questions for any member of his team we were welcome to email or call anyone of them. How great is this! I love the open communication that they are fostering already!

It is a little bitter sweet. He will start school on Monday and I'm not taking him. Will and Elliot. I know he will do well though.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A new normal

Alvin has autism.

There I said it. He has a form of it that most people we meet have no idea about. We are increasingly looked at when out and Alvin has one of his meltdowns in public. His brain is in overdrive and lately the outbursts and being scared has come far more frequent since the move.

But you know what. Alvin is normal to us. One of the things that W and I have strived for in all of this is not to loose sight of is to Always treat Alvin as normal as possible. To us he is still a normal 3 almost 4 year old. He throws tantrums, plays games, and even sometimes does things to his sister that we wish he wouldn't do. He also gets his share of time outs like any other preschooler.

But there are also times when we have to slow down. We have begun to take notice of the times that he needs more reassurance. Times when he just needs an extra minute or two to understand what s going on.

With the move, and diagnosis all within 4 months at times its been overwhelming. But somewhere in the middle of it all I think W and I stopped caring. Not really stopped caring but just stopped worrying about it all. Yes we have challenges that most families don't. Yes Alvin has increasingly more odd outbursts and unexplained (to most) meltdowns.

We got him enrolled in The Little Gym here the same week we got into town. I don't regret it for a minute. The gym helps with his social and motor skills. We have had great success there. Its fun for him without being too structured. He loves it and so do we and I think we will have continued success there with our “normal” little boy!

Playing hockey at The Little Gym
He was actually playing with her!!!!

Monday, January 31, 2011

2 weeks until we move to WA!!!

I know I've been really bad about posting anything else since I announced the move and its just because we have been insanely busy. Between the holiday's and the shear logistics of getting us ready to move across country it's been really busy. I also accidentally over scheduled Alvin on Tuesday's so we go from occupational therapy to dinner to The Little Gym and his sports skills class.

Alvin has been doing really well in therapy and the gym. Of course we have good days and bad days. His private therapist (Miss Denise as he calls her) has fallen in love with him and he will do almost anything for her. The best so far with his sports skills class that he actually listened part of the time and tried to play with the other kids. The worst of it is when he just runs all over the place and acts wild. I try not to intervene but sometimes I have to because he is just too wild. Its all a work in progress though and that's what I have to keep in mind.The Little Gym is not only teaching him motor skills but also how to interact with the other kids.

The logistics of the move are another job in itself. We have our flights, temporary housing and everything nailed down now. The wait for the background check to clear was the worst. It took over 3 weeks to finally clear. We've been slowly saying goodbye to family both here and in Moody. We know we won't be back for about a year so we are trying to make sure we see everyone before we leave.

The best thing that's happened so far is my new boss has already contacted me. We've talked a few times and he has even assigned me a mentor that I've been talking to quite a bit. Right now it looks like they have everything ready for me to start work there which is really awesome! My mentor has been very helpful thus far and after our conversations I am very excited to start.

I told my boss at work last week and he seems happy for me. The guys in my group say I'm lucky to be leaving. The guys in my group are not happy with how things have been going and many of them are looking for other jobs as well. At this point I'm just the first to leave.

To say we are excited is an understatement. Excited, scared, nervous yeah its all hit. The overwhelming thing is that we are just ready to get going.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Leaving Dixie, One of the Hardest thing to Leave, Charger Hockey

So many times here I have talked of our love of Charger Hockey. I started going to games in 1999 when I started school at UAH. When W and I met I got him to start going to games with me. Since we started going to games together we have probably only missed a handful of games. We took Alvin to his first game at 6 months and Elliot went to her first game at 2 weeks and only about a week out of the NICU.

So to say the least we are dedicated Charger Hockey fans!

When I started looking at getting a job out of state one of the things that we talked about really missing is Charger Hockey.

In the past 4 years or so the hockey community has become family of sorts. The Charger hockey family being the closest of those people. Once Danton Cole took over W and I started going to coaches luncheons with Alvin. He immediately was very personable and talked to us quite a bit. We got to know him and the rest of the coaching staff including the current head coach Chris Luongo. We have gotten to know them and they know us on a personal level. It is like extended family. We have even gotten close to a few of the guys on the team and their parents. Last year Alvin took a liking to Brandon Roshko at one of the skate with the Charger public skating sessions. We ended up getting his jersey at the end of the year and to see the smiles on both of their faces was priceless. Now we seem to talk the Bill Burkholder a good bit as well as incoming freshman goal tender's dad Joe Groh. The funny thing is over the years most people first ask me how the kids and W are before anything else! Even the team gets involved with the kids at skate with the Chargers.

We even know most of the security staff at the VBC. Many of them have watched Alvin and Elliot grow up over the past couple of years. We talk to these same people every single home series. Most try to interact more with the kids and really seem to like seeing us every week. They also are fine with us going down to watch warmups on ice level. They always know we will be returining to our seats and generally understand that I'm just doing it to give the kids an upclose and personal view of the action.

Then there is W. Don't let him fool you when he talks about it. He is very humble but some of the shots he gets are amazing. Any doubt just look at his flickr stream. Especially this shot. His attitude with players and coaches alike is one I've never seen before. He has a standing philosophy that anything he shoots that the guys or their families want just let him know and he will give them the full resolution copies or prints for free. Many of the guys that play here don't have family that can come to a lot of games so its important for him to try and help them share what they are doing with family back home. He has amazing dedication to what he does and the players and coaching staff alike.

Leaving this program and the atmosphere kills me.  We have come to love and respect the program so much and now we are leaving.W and I have talked many times about what it is going to feel like at our last game. Its going to really kill us in a way. No matter what the record and how they play its just what we do and no longer having that is going to be difficult. I'm just going to go ahead and say it. Our last game I'll be a wreck. The complete realization that it will be sometime before we make it back to a game is going to hit really hard.

This program has meant a lot to us over the years. The move we are making is for the best and I know once we get up there we will see more hockey and come to enjoy other teams. We will order B2 networks broadcasts of the games and even join the Blue Line Club but it just wont be the same.

No matter what happens we will never forget the UAH Charger Hockey team and what it has meant to us over the past few years.