Friday, November 2, 2012

Piper Pretends

Apologizes for the quality of this photo. The light was "just right" so I couldn't avoid the glare, even with the blinds closed. I hope you get the idea.

Piper has been amusing us with her "imaginative play" abilities lately. This is a "picnic" she set up one day, all on her own. Please notice that her dolls are being served steak and cheese while Piper and I are eating cookies. Ha ha!! She carefully makes sure to feed each doll their food and tea.

This is novel to us because Morgan doesn't do a lot of this type of play. She will play along with Piper, but then the next time they play a similar scenario Morgan gets upset if it isn't done exactly the same way as before. Piper is good in that she tolerates Morgan's repetitiveness, but it's nice to see that in her own play she is able to be creative and spontaneous. Just the fact that Piper does this is a great example for Morgan. Her pretend play is emerging and has made much more progress since Piper started doing more. That's why we always say that Piper is the best thing to ever happen to Morgan. As a sort of "peer model" she challenges her in ways that David and I can't and that is an amazing blessing.

On the other hand, Piper can model some of the repetitive behavior that Morgan presents. It shouldn't be surprising that she does this, as she learns much more socially than Morgan does. For example, I hear Morgan ask many times a day "Mama, what is your favorite color?" She does the same to Piper. Then, Piper in turn asks the same thing...just because she thinks she's supposed to (we think). In the last few days we've had to call a "cease and desist" on talking about colors. We are encouraging conversation on anything else. We'll let you know how that goes... :-)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from the Monkey and her Banana! These are not photos from the actual day...we were so busy that day everyone forgot to take photos! Ah well, this captures them pretty well.

This photo just kills me!! It is sooo Piper! They had a little Halloween performance at their dance classes and there is Piper with three little girly-girls...then there is the banana! Love it!

And....same idea for Morgan. If you didn't know it, you'd think she there were two boys in this class, right? Though we hear a lot in our house about things that are for "boys" and things that are for "girls," Morgan has yet to "get" the whole princess idea. She loves the Disney Princess website and like to print out pictures of them, but she doesn't yet express that she wants to BE a princess. Piper is somewhat the same way (so far), she likes dressing up in her princess costumes, but that's as far as it goes. I suppose it's a blessing, right?

As for the actual Halloween, they LOVED it! We went with friends to their old neighborhood and all the kids ran from house to house. About halfway into it, we started seeing signs of tiredness. Piper would want to sit down and check out her loot and I'd have to carry her to catch up with the other kids. When their buckets of candy started getting heavier they at first would not let us help them carry their candy in between houses. Eventually they gave in. All said and done they collapsed into bed at around 9 pm, which I think is great for such and event!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A New (Ad)Venture

I's been a while, but it was a crazy end to the summer and start of the school year for us. Now both Morgan and Piper are settled in their new preschool classes and I finally have a little time to think about this blog and start to make updates again.

I've also started a new "venture" myself! For a while I'd been feeling like I needed something new in my life. I know that sounds sort of vague and I don't even know to explain it, but I had been thinking and praying about whatever "feeling" this was for a while.

And...after that period of time I decided to do something I said I would never do...sell products at parties! way!! But, yes! I've done it and so far I'm having a blast!!

I've decided to become an independent consultant for Thirty-One Gifts ( It's a direct selling company (similar structure to Mary Kay, for example). In this case Thirty-One designs fabulous totes, purses, bags and organizing items for your home. I first heard of it something this spring via my online Mom's group. I had never heard of it at all before then. The company is based in Columbus, OH and is extremely well-known in the Midwest and east coast. It is really just starting to take off on the West Coast. I'm excited that I've chosen to do this now, since there may be potential for many opportunities moving forward. I also love this company since it really focuses on empowering women. It is a faith-based company, as the name comes from Proverbs 31, The Wife of Noble Character, or as some say The Virtuous Woman.  One of the company motto's is Celebrate Encourage Reward...I'm such a sucker for this kind of thing!

There are a lot of reasons I've decided to do this, and surprisingly money was not a huge reason. I've really needed something that is my own...aside from kids and not associated with autism. Over the past few years this has been our focus, and it will continue to be a major focus for Morgan as well as Piper's development and upbringing. I know that if I have something for myself I will do a better job at being a Mom as well. Even after just a few weeks into this venture I am feeling like I can do a better job at balancing everything. This also allows me great social time, especially with girlfriends. I can tend to be a homebody, but my soul needs friends and this allows me more time for that as well as all the networking I've been doing has reconnected me with a lot of friends I haven't communicated with in a while. I'm really excited about this adventure and I hope that you won't mind seeing a few "plugs" from time to time. The Thirty-One products are amazing, they simplify your life and let you look good doing it! knew this was coming... here's my website Please let me know if you would like to purchase a product or if you have any questions about the company. I'll be so happy to share!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday Piper!

Here comes the cake!

Making a wish?

Blowing out the candle!!

Happy Birthday Baby Girl! We will probably always call you baby, though you are no longer a baby...except for the fact that you are refusing to use a potty in any form. You are our "pistol" and have been since day one. You are our silly girl who loves to dance and pretend. You also still like to snuggle and sing songs with Mama (and sometimes Daddy) before bedtime. Even though you are a pistol at home, out and about you can be shy and cautious. You went through a "fraidy-cat" stage this summer, but seem to be making your way out of that slowly. We love watching you interact with the kids you know as your social skills are starting to emerge. Two days of preschool a week starts soon and we can't wait to see what you can do! We love you so much and are so happy you've completed our family.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Parks and Picnics

We love our new park! Last Friday I packed a lunch for us and we headed over. We got a nice spot on the top of a little grassy hill. It was not too hot that day and we even had a little breeze. The girls love every part of this park to different extremes. Morgan could spend all day on the swings and slides and Piper could spend the whole time in the sand area or splash pad. There is something for everyone! The girls also love the idea of picnics now and yesterday pulled out every blanket we have, as well as toy food items, and played "picnic" in our living room.

Here is Piper taking a "nap." She is not really sleeping, but was having fun pretending to. I wish she was one of those kids who could nap anywhere, but alas, I did not get one of those. I do love her imagination and her ability to have fun anywhere. That's way better than the napping part!

Now, here is an example of "extreme." The sand area has rocks and a "apple core" sculpture that spout water when you push a button. The kids love to make rivers and lakes in it. It was just packed with kids that day too. Piper does not hesitate to jump right in. She was wearing her pretty blue swimsuit, but had managed to cover herself in sand from head to toe. I had already "swished" her through the sprays of water in the splash pad several times, but she kept going back for more. At this point I had already stripped her suit off because I thought she was finally done. Not so much. She went back again and again until that swim diaper was almost falling off her. I sent a text to David with this picture saying "this is YOUR daughter." He sent me a text back saying he was "not claiming that." What do you think Allendorfs?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Chairs and Swings

We had a lovely visit with our RDI consultant Christine yesterday. We love it when we get to meet in person as it always gives us new motivation and energy to keep running our marathon. We have days with our RDI program that we just "don't feel like it" and those days are the ones where we need to remember that it is a long process, but if we are diligent we (and Morgan) will succeed.

Yesterday we had a great lesson in limit-setting. It was something that Christine was going to bring up that session, but just was we were getting started a perfect opportunity presented itself to us. As we were sitting down, I decided to give Morgan and Piper some cookies and milk before their "quiet time." As I placed the cookies on their small play table they both went for the same chair. Piper got there first, but Morgan tried to sit on it too and grabbed at Piper's cookies. Chaos ensued and somehow I was able to extract Morgan from the seat and give Piper her cookies back. Thus the major meltdown began. Morgan refused to sit on the other chair. I sat there and held her a bit and tried to get her to settle down, but she'd already passed the point of no return.

Christine jumped in and gave us some advice. She reminded us that Morgan was mad, but she was OK. She also told me not to coddle her as she needed to learn to "self-regulate" on her own. Children with autism do not do this easily. So, then I slowly backed off and let Morgan sit by herself on the floor. Meanwhile Piper finished her snack and David took her upstairs to her room. As happens when Morgan is upset, she also went upstairs to her room on her own. This is a kind of coping mechanism she uses. We had originally planned on keeping Morgan with us during the session, so once Piper was in bed, David coaxed Morgan back downstairs. Christine had started to review some material with us and I had placed myself in the chair that Piper had been sitting in. Morgan's snack was still there, so at that point she could choose to sit and eat...but she didn't. She saw me sitting there and got very upset again. She had not really calmed down upstairs, so it didn't take much to set her off. She went back and forth between trying to push me off the chair and just lying on the floor crying. Christine told us to leave her be. We could remind her at times that her snack was there, but she needed to try to calm down by herself.

Christine told us this was not about Piper, the cookies, or even the chair specifically... it was about control. I then realized that most times I give them cookies for snack Morgan does sit in that particular chair. Why? I don't know. It just is. There are plenty of times she sits on the other chair, but somehow she has it in her head that for eating cookies she must sit in that chair, on that particular side of the table. She was being unreasonably rigid about this. This is something kids with autism do. Certain things must be done certain ways...and if we let them, the rigidity will continue or possibly get worse. The fact that we held our ground with this threw her into a tailspin of uncertainty and anxiety. It was the unknown and it made her very upset. Now, most people can rationalize that it's just a chair and if you sit somewhere else, the world will not end...but Morgan cannot yet do this. Her brain short-circuits somehow and tells her that something is not right. Then she goes into fight or flight mode. Another important point is that at no point did we take away her cookies and milk. They were there for her if she chose to eat them, but she could not sit in the chair she wanted. After a period of time, and it was quite a while, as we continued to work with Christine on some other items and viewed some videos, Morgan eventually calmed down, sat in the (previously rejected) chair and ate her snack. Success!

This is something that we need to tackle now. Setting limits in these situations will help Morgan to slowly learn that doing things differently is OK. This is more of that "dynamic" intelligence we are working on. Morgan cannot live in her "static" world, she needs to become more flexible in her actions and her thinking to allow her to grow emotionally and socially. Christine shared an example of a thirteen year old boy she worked with who at that age was still very rigid in his thinking. There were circumstances at school where this very thing happened. He wanted a particular chair, and he physically pushed another child off it. At that point, being bigger and stronger, this is viewed as extremely aggressive and is not only unacceptable, it's stigmatizing for the child. Now is the time to work on this and help Morgan not only be less rigid, but when she gets into a meltdown mode, to help her to quickly "regulate" her thoughts and feelings so she doesn't react in a negative way.

We had another great example of this today at church. While playing on the playground after the service Morgan wanted me to push her on the swing. I did this for quite a long time, then switched with David when I had to use the restroom. When I came back Piper was taking a turn on a different swing (Morgan was still on hers) and she wanted me to push her. When I started to push Piper, Morgan got very upset and refused to let David push her. We told her that she could stay on the swing, but Mama was pushing Piper this time. Again, for whatever reason, she was trying to control the situation and we had to set the limit to not allow her to be so rigid. She sure stuck to her guns though and eventually David had to pick her up off the swing and carry her to the car to go home. She cried the whole time and even once we were heading home she kept asking to go back to the playground. She did calm down on the ride once she realized we were not giving in.

It is so easy to accommodate in many ways to keep everyone "happy", but we now realize for Morgan this is detrimental to her development. I know there are many times in the day that I ask Piper to do things that are really unfair to her to make Morgan happy. And sometimes I do the same thing for Piper. We will be working on better recognizing these opportunities for Morgan to learn to increase her flexibility. I think it's a benefit for Piper as well as she cannot get away with some of her two, almost three-year old behaviors just because we want to keep the peace. Christine said to expect it to get worse before it gets better, but if we are diligent we should see things get better after several weeks.

Please pray for us! :-)