Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Our new blog

Going forward, our new blog will be located at:

Be patient with me as I figure out this new system, all the formatting quirks, etc.  And let me know what you think... I can't decide if I like the look of the new one or not!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The latest on Charlie's chatter

I have more pictures and stories from our Thanksgiving trip, but am unable to load those pictures onto the blog.  It seems there's only so long you can use a blog server for free before you use up all your photo storage space.  So no pictures for a while, until I switch blog platforms...  stay tuned.

In the meantime - an update on Charlie's speech therapy.  He was tested a couple weeks ago, and fortunately it was a day that he was feeling cooperative.  The results?  He is now in the "normal" range for kids his age, as far as vocabulary and sounds.

Good news, I know!  I am happy.  But yet... I have to constantly remind myself how far he has come, because I can hear that he has a long way to go before a stranger can understand a lot of what he says.  A speech pathologist would tell me that's not the goal right now - that there are a lot of two and a half year olds who people can't understand!

So to remind myself and you... Back in July, Charlie's vocabulary was approximately 30 words, many of them partial words/sounds.  One of the goals we set in his original plan was to have him be able to verbally respond "yes" when asked questions!  Now we can't even keep track of his words, since new ones appear daily.  As do sentences and songs.  He is a constant echo - repeating whatever he hears, especially things his brother says.  He is always counting things and makes his way through about half of the alphabet.  Big changes.

So, what we've opted to do going forward is reduce the frequency of Charlie's sessions with the therapist.  I haven't seen it doing much good the last couple months anyway; he has truly lost interest in playing the game.  I have learned a lot by participating in the sessions, so we will continue to work with Charlie as much as we can without frustrating him.  The therapist will come once a month, so I can ask questions, to check in, and make sure the progress is continuing.

I've been both amused and horrified by the amount of paperwork involved in special education; the state sure isn't making efforts to save any trees.  So when I had to sign my name over and over again to approve the new Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP), I was happy to find two sentences that were actually meaningful - a summary of Charlie's progress and obstacles:

"Charlie has an age appropriate vocabulary and uses it correctly to request, comment, and label.  He tends to have difficulty with speech sounds in the final position of words and general speech intelligibility at the phrase and sentence level."

There you have it.  Onward we go!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving - things to do

We spent our long Thanksgiving weekend in Seattle and Portland.  In Seattle, we stayed at Scott's brother's Mick's house, while his parents, sister Mandy and her family stayed at a hotel nearby.  This gave us access to something all the kids (and Scott) love  - a pool!

Things to do for Thanksgiving in Seattle:

Lounge in the hot tub...

Jump in the pool...

Get thrown in the pool...


Play silly games with your cousin... 

Before she left for her own family get-together, Mick's girlfriend Lauren made us the most delicious turkey in a citrus and garlic marinade, smashed sweet potatoes with apples, a yummy salad dressing, and TWO pies from scratch - pumpkin and pear/apple.  As a result, the rest of us had very little to do, and we all got enjoy quite the feast!

Visit with your sister and wish her a speedy recovery with her broken kneecap...

Create your own cartoons on the iPad...

Open a few Christmas presents...

Then we were off to Portland, to visit my college friend Sarah and her family, as well as Scott's sister Kristin and her clan.  Sure is convenient when your family and friends manage to end up in the same city!!

Things to do for Thanksgiving in Portland:

Play a video game or two, on a beanbag or in a fort...

Eat another meal that tasted as good as it looked...

Visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (called "AHM ZEE")...

Things to do that I didn't take pictures of...

catch up with family you don't see enough
eat again
marvel at how much all the kids have grown
drink a little beer/wine
do a little shopping
catch up with friends you don't see enough
eat more
drink a little more
laugh a lot.  

Not necessarily in that order.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving - people to see

Our Thanksgiving trip was truly a whirlwind.  Since we were going to be on the west coast, we attempted to see as many people as possible.  While we accomplished that, I think we all got home wishing we could have spent more time with everyone!

Some of the fabulous people we got to spend our Thanksgiving weekend with:
The Norman side of the family - adults version.  
Top row:  Micheal/Uncle Mick, Scott, Alan/Grandpa Grumpy, Teri/Grandma Cookie, Mikel Ann, Bruce
Bottom: me, Mandy/Aunt Mandy, Aunt Shonny (Scott's aunt)

The Norman side of the family - kids version
Maryn (8), Charlie (2.5), Zach (almost 6), Bryn (10), and Miranda (15)

The Neudecks and the Willards - adults version.
Brien, Scott, Sarah, & me

The Neudecks and the Willards - kids version.
Charlie (this is how he smiles for the camera now... why????), Aiden (10), Ava (6), & Zach

The Oregon Willard/Cox family and us
top: Tim, Kristin/Aunt Poopdeloo, Scott, me
bottom: Liam (7), Charlie, Zach

Not pictured, but I wish they were:  Lauren, who made us the most amazing turkey, smashed sweet potatoes, salad, and pies, and then didn't even get to enjoy them!  The entire James family - I'm still kicking myself for not pulling my camera out of my bag while our children ran wild.  Aislyn - who we got to see but somehow managed to avoid being in any pictures.  And Ian/Uncle Ian, who missed out on the family pictures, but will appear in others as I post more about our adventures...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Just stuff

Before we head out on our Thanksgiving adventure, where I will take many, many pictures, I thought I'd better post all the random pictures I haven't done anything with yet.  With no further ado...

^While they don't usually wear sunglasses, it's amazing how much they still like to race around the kitchen on these things.  And now that it's cold and dark outside, I find myself encouraging them to do so on a regular basis - it's a great energy burner.

^ Zach doesn't go to school with Brett anymore, but their friendship remains.

^ Fun at the children's museum while Zach and daddy were curling.

^The Willard brothers boy band!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Charlie's chatter

Charlie was re-tested yesterday during his speech therapy session, so I thought this was a good time to do an update on our little talker.  We don't have the results yet, or know what those results will mean going forward, but I can tell you the difference between now and May was remarkable.  In May he could say the names of few, if any, of the pictures they showed him.  And if they said it and asked him to say it back - little success.

Yesterday?  He was chattering away about what he saw in the pictures before Heather could even ask.  A blue car!  A kitty - meow!  Balloons - war, two, we, wohr.  What does that mean?  It's my attempt to capture phonetically how Charlie counts, which is what he did any time he was shown a picture with more than one of something on it.  He's obsessed with counting things lately!  Anyway, the other change was how he willingly echoed back words she said - not perfectly, of course, but usually understandable.

So, we'll wait and see what the official results are, and what the recommendation is for how to go forward.  The change since he had tubes put in (July) truly has been dramatic - he now speaks in sentences, but he still has some improvements to make.  The main area is his "end sounds."  Basically, Charlie can and does make sounds like "k" and "t" - but only at the beginning or the middle of the word (you should hear this kid say "turtle!")  In other words, "rat" and "rack" sound the same coming out of Charlie's mouth.

And he has not been particularly cooperative lately when working with Heather, which I have to assume is fairly typical two-year-old behavior.  Why would he want to sit there and try to say "ca-T" when he could be playing with his cars, no matter how much of a game Heather makes out of it or cheers when he says it right???  So, we'll see, and we'll keep you posted.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share some of our favorite Charlie-isms.  Some of are a little old, but they show his progress!

"Gigi" - this was how Charlie used to pronounce his own name.  Scott turned it into a game, pointing at him or at a picture of him and saying "is this Gigi or Charlie?"  And wah-lah: now Charlie can say his name pretty clearly - more like "Cha-lee."

"Yay" - this is how Charlie says yes.  It cracks me up.  I think there must be something in our genes that causes our children to find alternate ways to answer affirmatively.  Zach used to say "ok," and now Charlie basically cheers!

"I me toe" - we hear this one a lot, and I'm sure it would greatly confuse anyone who heard him say it.  What is it?  Ice cream cone!  Any and all ice cream is "I me toe," and we regularly hear "I wan i me toe."

"I dohn no" - this one is probably obvious, but it's a favorite because Charlie says it 90% of the time you ask him a question, even if he does know the answer.  What color is this car Charlie?  "I dohn no.  Reh."

ARP - this isn't a word, these are the letters Charlie repeats over and over again if he's looking at your shirt or something else with letters on it.  He throws in the occasional O, but that's about it.  Which cracks me up, because he knows what a C is - he'll happily tell you "C is for Cha-lee," but it's still those same letters, over and over.

"Wa-er tow-r" - we don't know why, but Charlie loves water towers.  He points them out wherever we go.

"Bing-bo" - we play a game in the car where you yell bingo if you see a yellow car; this is Charlie's version.  Often he mixes it up with our VW bug game, muttering something that sort of resembles "slug a bug no pass backs."

Charlie has reached the stage where he loves to sit down with his books and "read" them to himself.  We read to him as often as we can, and since we've been instructed to "auditorily bombard" Charlie with the correct sounds, we are trying to focus on books that have the ever important T and K end sounds (those are the two sounds he should, at his age, definitely be able to say).  Dr. Seuss to the rescue!  Charlie now has books like Hop on Pop memorized, and we get a kick out of hearing him quote lines from the book when he's talking himself to sleep at night.

A lot of the other talking Charlie is doing is echoing Zach - the level of little brother/big brother imitation has gone off the charts in our house.  But more on that later...
I love this ^ picture.  The reason for the excited smile on his face?
His big brother, of course.  Running at him full speed in some sort of game only they understand!