Sunday, February 27, 2011

The white stuff, with a little red too

So, I unintentionally took a week off of blogging. Oops. No reason in particular...the time just seemed to fly by.

We thought we'd escaped any further winter snowfall, but last week the white stuff decided to appear again. We enjoyed our first official "snow day" on Thursday, so there was no school for Morgan. We spent the day playing and staying cozy indoors. It was super windy outside, blowing drifts of snow, so we didn't think venturing out would be a good idea. Along with the arrival of snow the next few days were COLD! Brrrr! That may have had something to do with the following events...

David got up before me on Friday and left early. As he was heading out the door he warned me that he'd had a bloody nose in the middle of the night and that some had gotten on the sheets. I needed to wash them anyway, so I just thought OK, no big deal.

After she woke up, Morgan was playing nicely in her room. I went in the say good morning and she kept playing for a bit. Then I opened the door to Piper's room. She was standing in the crib with her arms outstretched and, as usual, a big smile on her face...then I noticed something that always comes with a shock to a Mama...her face and hands were covered in blood! Ack! I hurried over. She didn't seem bothered by it. She had not been crying before I went in to get her. She was looking curiously at her hands as if she was thinking "what is all this red stuff?" Poor thing. The bleeding seemed to have stopped, so I gently wiped off her face and hands. The mess in her bed could have been worse, just some blood on her sheets and pajamas, all blankets and loveys were spared.

THEN...later in the day the girls were in their nap/quiet times and I heard some louder-than-usual noises from Morgan. This usually means a poopy pull-up, but we'd already done that routine. I went in and she was half-asleep on the floor with, what?! Again? A bloody face and hands. I wiped her all off and put her in her bed. She sleepily said as I left the room, "thanks for the wiping Mama." OK, sweetie, no problem. Then she slept for almost two hours. Unheard of!

So strange...I'm the only one that seemed to be spared from the bloody nose. I don't know if it was the dry/cold climate that caused it, but no problems since then. So strange that it happened all in one day.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Mobius is our local children's museum. We were thrilled to get a membership from David's parents for Christmas. We have already taken them there are few times this year. They LOVE it! There are so many things to do there and so many learning opportunities. They have water play, little go carts on "streets" with traffic lights and stop signs, an arts and crafts area, a village store, grass hut, costumes, musical instruments. So much to do!

On our way there last weekend we hadn't even told the girls where we were going. Morgan kept saying "I want to go in the hole!" David and I looked at each other and thought, how does she know where we're going?! The previous time we were there Morgan had discovered a "rabbit hole" in one of the play structures. The kids can jump right down into it and crawl through a tunnel to get out. Piper had made the mistake of actually falling into it, which freaked me out. She was a little startled, but fine. I think that made a distinct memory for Morgan though. When we got there, she ran right to the rabbit hole!

The museum was a little different than the last time we went. We don't know how often they change the attractions/activities, but it's great that they do that. There's always something new for the kids to do. We got a few pictures, but they just show a small amount of the available activities. They could stay there all day if we let them!

Piper by one of the over sized "doll houses." She crawled into it herself, but I got there too late to get a shot of it.

The fruits and vegetables at the "store"

Music on the stage

Morgan makes the conveyor belt move all by herself!

Loading the bucket and pulley

Moving the "big legos"

Putting the ball in the vacuum tubes. It shoots out the top!

In the "three and under" play area

Piper and Piper (they have the same name!)

Morgan joins in

Friday, February 18, 2011

Aunt Ali comes for a visit

Aunt Ali came to visit a few weeks ago, the weekend of the Super Bowl. We had so much fun!

Ali always brings fun gifts for the girls. She recently returned for a trip to Paris and Morgan and Piper enjoyed their bracelets, coloring books and toys. She also brought some cute "gel clings" to put in the windows. It was funny because I had also bought some similar ones (thank you Target dollar bins)! The girls had a great time decorating the windows for Valentine's Day. Don't forget to check out the new Old Navy duds! Don't they look adorable?!

They are crowded around Aunt Ali looking at the videos on her camera. This entertained them for quite some time. They love to watch themselves "on TV."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Speaking of Little Mama's...

Piper's showing "little mama" tendencies herself lately. A few days ago we were at home while Morgan was at school and I had a bit of a headache. I turned on a show for her on Nick Jr. and lied down on the couch. She watch the show for a little bit then noticed me on the couch. She got up, walked over to a basket we keep blankets in...carried one over to me and tried to put it over me (I helped her a little). Then she brought her snack trap over and started feeding me her goldfish and dried cranberries! Hilarious!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"My Turn"

Morgan is really starting to show a desire to become more independent! Lately she is communicating this desire by saying "My turn!" whenever she wants to do something without our help. Sometimes we also hear "I do it!" We are thrilled with this development!

Many times in the past I have heard of friends who will say that their kids start to assert their independence...and I've always thought "will Morgan ever do that?" She's always been comfortable with letting us help her do things like dress and undress her, put toys away, etc. Yes, she is starting to do this later than most kids, but I'm just glad she is doing it! Today she even insisted on putting on her own sneakers! Those are not easy shoes to put on! This tells me that her fine motor skills are really improving because she is feeling more and more confident in doing things like this on her own. We've now got her buckling herself into her own booster seat and buckling the chest strap on her car seat. You should see the look on her face when she completes these tasks. She is SO proud of herself! She gets a big smile and says "I did it!" Sometimes she claps for herself too. Piper has also started to imitate her clapping too!

I have also made a concerted effort lately to let Morgan do things on her own instead of helping her with them because it's faster or neater. Yesterday she also hung up her coat all by herself for the first time! Usually she says "please help with me." I kept asking her if she needed help and she would say "No!" Then I heard a happy "I did it!" and off she went to play with some toys. Go Morgan, go Morgan, go Morgan!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Parent-Teacher Conference

We had our very first Parent-Teacher Conference yesterday at Morgan's school. It was totally casual. We even sat at the little chairs in Morgan's classroom as there was only one adult sized desk chair in the room. Ha ha!

Morgan is doing well! We went over the goals in her IEP (Individualized Education Plan). They are as follows:

Social - During a freeplay setting, Morgan will engage in functional play with peers
Her overall long term goal is "80% of the time with minimal prompting." This is to be met in one year's time. Her short term goal (by Feb. 18) is "30% of the time with prompting." Her current status is "40% of the time with prompting." So that is 10% better than the short term goal! Go Morgan!

Social - Morgan will independently acknowledge (saying hello/goodbye, asking for help if needed, etc.) familiar peers and adults during the arrival and departure routines.
Her short term goal is "2 out of 5 opportunities." She is meeting this goal! I was concerned about this one. We really are working on it, but it didn't seem to me like she's catching on yet, but apparently they think so. Yippee!

Social - Morgan will independently follow the preschool routine
Her short term goal is "4 out of 5 opportunities with physical and verbal prompting." She is at "4 out of 5 opportunities with physical prompting." The teacher said she transitions well during the day from activity to activity (in and outside of the classroom, recess and bathroom). The only time they have a little trouble is at the end of the school day when it's time to put on her jacket and backpack to leave. All the kids have their cubbies lined up next to each other right by the door. Morgan will go to her cubby, but will get distracted by her name tag and other kids' name tags (reading the letters, of course) and won't put on her jacket. The teacher says she usually has to take her away from the cubbies and other kids to help her put on her jacket. She thinks maybe the noise and "chaos" of the getting ready to leave process might be a little overwhelming for her. This is her guess...but they are still working on how to best keep Morgan focused on this task so they can all be ready to go out the door together (the teachers walk Morgan out to the buses/parking lot where I meet them).

Morgan's Occupational Therapist could not be at our meeting, but we ran into her in the hall on the way out. She gave us some quick details (in addition to what her teacher had already reviewed with us). She is REALLY pleased at how well Morgan is doing! She also said that when they do their sessions Morgan comes right over and is eager to work with her.

Fine Motor - When given a model, Morgan will copy a horizontal line, circle and cross with a writing tool.
Morgan's long term goal is completing this task at 4 out of 5 sessions. Her short term goal is 1 out of 5 sessions. She is already completing the line and circle 4 out of 5 sessions!! They are still working on the cross. Good job Morgan!

Fine Motor - Morgan will complete simple visual motor tasks (i.e. string beads, puzzles, stack 10 cubes, snip paper with scissors, lace holes with a string, place small objects in small holes/slots, etc.)
Her long term goal is also 4 out of 5 sessions. She has met this goal with the stringing beads, puzzles and small object in small holes. She is still making progress with the scissors. The therapist said she is doing well with the lacing and stacking cubes too.

And then the Occupational Therapist told us she doesn't think Morgan will need OT much longer! Whoopee!

Overall Morgan's teacher is also very pleased with how well she is doing. Obviously her biggest challenge is her social skills. We are glad she is making progress in this area. Her teacher said she seems to be forming some "bonds" with a few of the other girls in her class. We ultimately decided to keep her in this morning turned out that the afternoon class will be structured very similar to the one she is in now, so there didn't end up being a benefit to switching her. This was a relief for me as I was having a hard time making a decision on this. It ended up working itself out.

We were also glad to hear that Morgan has displayed NO behavioral issues in her class. She has been such a challenge at home with the "no's" and just plain defiance that we were concerned this might be happening at school too. Her teacher said once in a while she'll resist doing something initially, but will join in pretty quickly. Even if she resists, it is only with slight body language (turning away from the person or looking away), none of the yelling and screaming that we see at home. We were really glad to hear this. It sounds like she's testing us like any other three year old would, but knows somehow that this will not be acceptable behavior at school. Thank goodness! Now if we can only figure out how to improve this behavior at home!

I also discussed with her teacher about working on some potty training in March. Shad made a good paoint about Spring Break being the first week of April. She said they would plan on working with Morgan on this for a week before the break with the goal of her continuing progress at home the week of the break. This sounded good to me as it will give us a solid week of "operation panties" at home without having to deal with the school schedule. Crossing our fingers that something "clicks" for her during that time.

So, for our first meeting, this went VERY well! If I could have this kind of feedback from here on out I'd be thrilled! I'm sure we will have bumps in the road along the way, but this only confirms that this school is the right place for her and she is making great progress on her goals.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Little Mamas

Piper has an uncanny ability to attract other little girls when she is out and about. The girls are usually older, and must be "nurturing types", around three or four years old. I call them the Little Mamas.

Twice she has been to the play area at a mall in the "north side" of town and BOTH times she has had these little girls start following her around to "take care" of her. They'll help her up, and sometimes down the slides and walk around the play area with her. They'll usually try to get her to do the things they are doing, climbing and jumping on/off various things.

The funny thing is, Piper really wants nothing to do with them. She is so independent that she wants to do everything on her own. She kind of let's the Little Mamas play with her for a while, and then she heads over to the stroller, hands me her shoes and jacket and tries to climb in, saying "help, help!" Basically she's saying "I don't want to play with this girl anymore." Each time, the poor little girl seems a little hurt, but I try to thank her and give her a big smile! "You're such a great helper!"

Yesterday, I took Piper by the doctor's office to get some routine blood work done (on me, not her). We were in the waiting room for a bit and another Little Mama quickly attached herself to Piper. This time it included a little tackling and kissing too! Piper was not amused. The girl was so adorable! She spoke Spanish and kept saying "busso bebe!" because she wanted to keep kissing Piper. Her parents apologized and kept pulling her away. I just laughed and said it was OK. I knew one of us would be called into the office soon.

Piper's pretty cute, especially with her ponytail on top of her head. I have a feeling we'll be seeing more Little Mamas around. She hasn't attracted any little boys yet. Let's try to keep it that way for a while!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Pumpkin Piper

My "changes" post was supposed to post TODAY, not yesterday... so my Wordless Wednesday became Wordy Wednesday. Oh well.

On to more updates. Our little Piper is now 17 months old and is turning into quite a character, at least around us. Our neighbor watched her yesterday while I had a dentist appointment and said she didn't talk at all. Hmmm. Maybe she's got the shyness gene I have. We'll see.

Here are some words Piper has added to her vocabulary lately:

Dance - "Da... da" (usually while swaying back and forth or turning in circles)
Stomp - "tomp" (If you're happy and you know it, stomp you're feet!)
Open - "op"
Ball - "ba"
Beep Beep - "bee-bee" (like honking a car horn, or pushing the "buttons" to the microwave in her play kitchen)
Apple - "a-puh"
Button (Belly button) - "dubba dubba"

Pretty cute. I still worry that she doesn't say "Daddy" or "Mama" really. Some times she'll say it when you tell her too, but not voluntarily. If you ask her "Where's Daddy?" she'll look right at him, so she knows who we are, she just doesn't use our "names." It just seems so strange that she's adding other words, but not our "names." I'm going to ask the Dr. about this at her 18 month appointment, if she doesn't start saying it by then. She definitely has way more words and overall better "functional communication" (pointing and body language) than Morgan did at this age. This gives me hope, but I still have a lot of worries.

On the other hand, she is impressing me by what she is picking up from us. Just this morning we were in the car at Morgan's school and I put some lotion on my hands. She watched me rub the lotion in and started making the same movements, rubbing her hands together. She seemed very pleased with herself for doing this. I think little things like this do show that she is socially aware of what other people are doing around her. Also, she was doing it totally on her own, without any prompting from me.

Piper is also doing a lot of pointing at things she sees, like pictures on a wall or something bright colored. She's been saying "ba-da!" while she does this. I'm not sure what this means, but she's calling our attention to it. This is something Morgan only does once in a while.

I hate to compare the two of them, but I really can't get around it. They both have their strengths and challenges. We still call Piper "hyper Piper" sometimes. I don't really think she's hyper, but she reacts very quickly and intensely when she wants something or if something is taken from her. We joke that the little ponytail on the top of her head is a fuse because she's a firecracker about to go off. David says someday she's just going to spontaneously combust.

We have two girls who are very strong willed. Challenging, yet I'm glad they know what they want. The other day I had a basket of clean laundry on the floor while I got Piper dressed for the day. She went and grabbed a shirt out of the basket and put it around her shoulders. This is how she "puts her clothes on." I grabbed a different outfit from the basket and tried to put it on her. She screeched and pushed the shirt away and went and got the first shirt and brought it to me. I guess that's what she wanted to wear that day because I was able to put it on her without a fight. She also seems awfully fascinated with shoes. Uh-oh.

She's getting better at using a spoon. She won't let me feed her anymore, so I have to put up with the mess if I'm going to let her learn. I'm behind on working on the open cup because I'm dreading more mess. Gotta get on that one.

What else? She's still pretty wobbly on her feet sometimes, but she still moves pretty fast. I've also got this on my list for the Dr (the wobbly part). She doesn't crawl anymore, so I know this will get better, but she falls down an awful lot. It doesn't seem to bother her though. She climbs on everything. She can even climb into her car seat all by herself which is especially impressive in David's bigger car. She really wants to climb up onto the stools in our kitchen... but I won't let her. She gets pretty mad, but sorry kid, you're not ready for that (or I'm not).

This kid's got some pretty good fine motor skills. Her Dr. mentioned this at her 2 month appointment as she tore apart the paper on the exam table as he was giving her the exam. She stacks blocks pretty well and puts the Little People in their various vehicles. She scribbles in coloring books (when she's not trying to eat the crayons) and she works well with the magnets on her doodle board. Pretty good.

Piper is even starting to display some pretend play. She turns any rectagular or oblong object into a phone and says "hi, hi." She puts play food in the pots in the play kitchen and stirs them with a spoon. As mentioned above, she pretends to push the buttons on the microwave. She pours us "tea" from her teapot and "drinks" from her own teacup. She brings us play cookies to eat. A good start, I think.

Oh and I almost forgot. The other day we went to Jump and Bounce again and Piper climbed all the way up the "ladder" on the biggest slide and slid down all by herself. She took her time getting up and didn't mind when the bigger, faster kids went around her. She just chugged her way up. She slides down any slide feet first on on her belly. So funny to watch. Go Piper!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: The Lego "House"


Just when we think we've adjusted to a new routine, something changes. Ugh. Morgan doesn't do changes well and honestly, I like my routine too. We'd just started to get into a nice groove after the holiday break. Morgan was looking forward to school each day and I've been taking advantage of having just Piper for a few hours in the morning so I can get some errands done or even have a few play dates with friends/kids closer to Piper's age.

Now Morgan's preschool teacher wants to switch her to the afternoon session. There are a lot of reasons for this and some against it. We are leaning towards the switch, but it's a tough decision. The afternoon session starts this week and her teacher is taking a little time to get to know the new kids. We don't have to make a decision right away, but it will be in the next week or two. We are also hoping one of the Morgan's "friends" from her class will move with her so she has one other child who is familiar to her. Luckily the teachers will all be the same. One pro is that there may be more opportunity for "academics" (letters, numbers , etc.) in the new class since there will be more kids at a similar level as Morgan. Of course she knows all her letters and numbers, but I'm sure they will gear the activities towards something challenging for her.

Other info on Morgan:

Morgan is gaining some more spontaneous language. At least we think it's spontaneous because we know it didn't come from us. It could be some things she's heard at school too. When we ask her a yes or no question she'll respond no, no way, nope, yes, yep, okay and sure. Sure? Don't know where that came from. Yesterday I asked her to hang up her coat and she said "Okay Mama, that's a good idea!" Hee hee. Yesterday at dinner we asked her if she wanted anything else to eat (as usual, she was not touching what we gave her), and she said "cinnamon rolls!" Hmmm. Unfortunately we had no cinnamon rolls to offer (and would not have given them to her for dinner anyway), but it was a unexpected suggestion. There are a lot of other examples, but overall she's making strides. This makes me feel good that she's still making progress, though she's not currently receiving speech/language therapy. You may remember she didn't qualify for this through the school, but it's still an area of concern for us.

Fine Motor Skills
Morgan is also making strides in this area. Her Occupational Therapist says she is doing so well that she may have to write new goals for her already. Go Morgan! As you saw in yesterday's Wordless Wednesday, she is now (finally) building with her Lego's. It's so neat to see her create on her own. She usually wants me to do it for/with her. She's also using her coloring books with a lot more skill too. We still don't know her "handedness" yet though. She switches back and forth between her right and left pretty equally.

Potty Training
Still a no-go. Will sit on the potty, but won't do anything in it. I read something that said that many kids with autism spectrum disorders do not show clear "readiness" signs like typical kids do. Basically you have to switch totally to undies and deal with the accidents until they "get it." I'm tentatively thinking that I may want to start in March and I've started to tell Morgan that the pull-ups are going away "soon." We'll see if I stick to the plan. Yikes!

I think that's whats going on with Morgan for now. I'll do a Piper update soon too.