Tiny hand

Tiny hand
November 20, 2010 (one day old)

Lilypie Premature Baby tickers

Lilypie Premature Baby tickers

Monday, November 18, 2013

Riding the Wave of Fall Fun

I thought I was going to make it through this birthday without any of the flashbacks, panic attacks, or bouts of crying that seem to infiltrate the days and weeks surrounding Cayden's birthday, but it just caught up with me.  At least I made it all the way up until the night before his birthday before it hit.  The waves of tears are flowing, so I'll try to distract myself with happy thoughts of all the fun things we've done over the past couple of months so as not to ruin what should be a joyful celebration of three years of a living miracle!

Daddy was gone from mid-August through mid-October, but we kept ourselves busy up until he came home, then, for the two weeks he was home, we kept even busier!

Unfortunately, Cayden got sick four times in that two month period, and it appears he is coming down with his fifth cold this fall as I type.  One of those colds progressed into an ear infection, but thankfully no croup or anything worse has ever developed.  <knock on wood>

All the colds are no surprise considering how many different play groups/daycares Cayden visits!  Before Cayden started school himself last week, he would come with me to drop Jamison off and pick him up each day at his pre-school.  Of course Cayden had to run into the room and touch as many toys as possible in the few minutes we were there, so there's germ exposure number one for the week.  Then, Cayden and I would often head to the gym so I could exercise and he could play in the gym daycare - germ exposure number two. 

On Tuesdays beginning in September, I started going to a Nurturing Parenting class at a local community college.  It's a 16-week course that basically teaches parents they need to nurture themselves so they can in turn nurture their kids.  Each week, they provide dinner for all of the families, then the kids go to the daycare for two and a half hours while the parents have some adult interaction.  (Germ exposure number 3.)  It's been a great learning experience as well as a wonderful support system for me, and a nice social outlet for the boys.

MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) started up again in September, so every other Friday, we head to the church so I can socialize with other moms and the boys go to Mopettes (child care).  Germ exposure number 4!

We've continued swimming lessons and three weeks ago, Cayden graduated from the parent and tot class to being in the big pool by himself (without Mommy or Daddy, but with an instructor and a few other kids in his class.)  He hasn't been too keen on participating and keeps telling the teacher "No!" or "I don't want to!" when she asks if he wants to do something.  I finally had to tell her that she can't ask him, she just has to tell him - this is what you're going to do!  Yesterday, he got into the pool without too much resistance and no crying, so hopefully he's getting used to the idea.

Before Cayden started pre-school himself, he and I got to tag along with Jamison and his class's field trips.  In September, we went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  Jami's class was studying dinosaurs, so we met at that exhibit first but were free to explore the rest of the museum.  It was our first visit, but we will definitely go again soon!  The boys had a great time, especially in the AstroTots section of the Space Exploration exhibit.

In the cockpit of the Space Shuttle!
Mr. Mule-Eared Deer Ears
In October, Jami's class visited Nick's Garden Center for their Fall Festival.  The boys had fun jumping in the bounce castle, riding the haunted train, washing their pumpkins, playing in the hay maze, racing pedal carts, and taking a tractor hay ride through the Tunnel of Terror.

High-fiving Daddy after racing Mommy and Jamison on the pedal carts
 In late October, we had a joint gymnastics birthday party for Cayden and Jamison at the Trails Recreation Center.  All the kids had a total blast playing games, doing the obstacle course, playing with the parachute, and eating pizza and cake.

Playing on the parallel bars

Taking charge while blowing out the candles on their cake

Testing out Jami's birthday present from Mommy and Daddy (Cayden got a cool Tonka dump truck, but couldn't resist getting on the bike!)
The week after the party, we let Cayden and Jamison each choose a special thing to do for their own Special Birthday Day.  Jamison chose to go to "the Farmers' Market", as he called it.  Over the summer, I often took the boys to our local Farmers' Market at a nearby mall to buy veggies and then they'd play in the fountain after we finished shopping.  Technically, I think that's what Jami wanted to do, but since the market was over by then, we told him we were going to a different 'Farmers' Market' and went to a REAL farm.  We saw lots of animals and took our own private hayride out into the fields where we picked our own veggies - corn, carrots, onions, potatoes, cabbage, and pumpkins!


Carrots, fresh from the Earth!

He couldn't get enough of this tractor

For Cayden's Special Birthday Day, he chose to go to the zoo.  It was the first time all four of us were able to go during the day (we went last year for Zoo Lights, but didn't see the animals.)  They loved the train ride and feeding the lorikeets and pressing all of the buttons on the displays.  (I think they enjoyed seeing the animals too!)

All aboard!

Feeding a lorikeet with Daddy

Then there was Halloween.  Cayden was a fireman this year and he just LOVED the whole experience!  At the first house, he rang the doorbell and when they answered, he tried to go inside their house.  A couple times early on, he tried giving some of his candy to the person who answered the door.  Then there are those people who stick a whole bowlful of candy in front of an almost-three-year-old:  of course Cayden started grabbing handfuls of loot and stuffing it into his Elmo bucket!   But by the end of our block, he got the hang of it and would say, "Trick or treat!" and "Thank you!" right on cue. 

Ready to ring some doorbells and score some goodies!
Potty training is still a work in progress.  He's back to wearing a diaper full time because he absolutely will NOT poop in the potty.  He had the peeing part down, but for some reason, he won't go #2 in there.  He loves sitting on the potty and will pee on it any time you ask or remind him.  The first couple of months, we were very good about asking him all day long and he hardly ever peed in his diaper, but I have to admit I've been lax about enforcing the issue, so we haven't made much progress toward wearing Big Boy Underwear. 

I guess that covers about everything we've done around here lately.  Tomorrow is going to be a busy day for the Birthday Boy!   And just as I hoped, recounting all of the fun things we've done lately has helped me smile and made me feel better.  :-)

School Daze

My intention was to post another update a couple weeks ago while Jason was home (and well before Cayden's third birthday, which is in two days), but we packed so much into those two weeks Jason was home and I just never had a chance to sit at the computer and type!

In my last post, I mentioned that we had Cayden evaluated for physical therapy again.  Our Developmental Pathways coordinator, Alex, and the therapist who joined her for the evaluation both agreed he'd benefit from PT services, so we were re-approved for two visits a month.  The therapist turned out not to be very reliable - she cancelled, had to reschedule, or walked out in the middle of five out of the seven visits we were supposed to have, and I think we only ended up actually seeing her three times.  And during those visits, I don't think we accomplished much - she wanted to meet at the park for our visits, and all Cayden really did was swing on the swings, slide on the slide, and ride on the teeter-totter, all things I could have done without her.  Her observations and advice were inconsistent and pretty much useless, so that whole experience was a disappointment.

However, we've had a better experience with the occupational therapist he saw three times in the past month.  Here's how that came about:  The Early Intervention services provided by Developmental Pathways are only offered until a child turns 3.  As their third birthday approaches, the child has a "transition evaluation", where they are evaluated by a team of professionals through the child's school district to determine if the child needs ongoing services. 

In early October, I took Cayden for his transition evaluation, where he was assessed by a special education teacher, an occupational therapist, and a speech therapist, all from the Cherry Creek School District, during a play-based evaluation.  Alex, was there as well.  I had mentioned my concerns about his clumsiness and his inability to self-regulate, and they kept this in mind while they observed and interacted with him for an hour.  It didn't take them long to agree that he would absolutely benefit from ongoing services through the school district.  Apparently, all of these behaviors that have been confounding us and really trying our patience - the bouncing nonstop from one topic to another, the constant chattering and nonstop talking, the clumsiness, the not listening and not following directions, the hypersensitivity to criticism or discipline, the stuffing his mouth when he eats, the hyperactivity in general - they are all signs of sensory processing disorder.  Although the school district doesn't give a medical diagnosis, their observations convinced them that he qualifies for pre-school services through Cherry Creek School District, and they highly encouraged Alex to put in a request to restart occupational therapy sessions through Developmental Pathways up until Cayden started school.

Apparently, these "sensory issues" are very common in preemies and usually start manifesting after their second birthday and can greatly benefit from occupational therapy.  Cayden was discharged from OT just before his second birthday because at that time, he was meeting all his milestones.  If we had kept OT going, they would have noticed the emerging sensory behaviors and maybe we could have gotten a better jump on reigning Cayden in, but I'm glad it's been recognized now and that we're getting the services we need.

So after the transition evaluation, we were able to squeeze in three home visits with an occupational therapist and I am so grateful!  Within 15 minutes of meeting Cayden, the therapist said, "Oh, yeah.  He's a classic sensory kid!"  She's given us all kinds of tips and exercises and things to do to help manage Cayden's behavior and get him on the path to self-regulation.  In people with sensory processing disorder, sensory signals don't get organized into appropriate responses.  They can have issues with any or all of the senses - sight, hearing, taste, touch, movement - and they can be over-responsive or under-responsive.  Cayden is an under-responder.  A quote from the Sensory Processing Diorder Foundation's website sums him up perfectly:  "Children (with under-responsive SPD) exhibit an appetite for sensation that is in perpetual overdrive."  There is way too much to go into detail about in this blog, but if you're interested, check out the SPD Foundation's website here.

As a result of the transition evaluation, we had Cayden's IEP meeting the first week in November and they suggested we start him in pre-school just before his third birthday.  It all came about so fast and honestly, I wasn't quite ready to let him go!  We barely had two months of Mommy and Cayden time during the mornings Jamison was in pre-school, and I didn't feel like we got to really take advantage of that time together.  But the bottom line is that Cayden was SO ready to go to pre-school and the sooner we continued on with services through the school, the better off he would be.  Somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to start him at Aspen Crossing Elementary last Thursday, November 14th.  He's at the same school as Jamison, but there are two different pre-school classes, and they're each in a different class with different teachers but they share the same specialists.  Cayden will be getting occupational therapy while he's there, as well as working with a special education teacher and speech therapist.  (Side note:  during the transition evaluation, everyone was blown away by Cayden's advanced, articulate, thoughtful speech, so there aren't really any concerns on that end, it's more the receptive speech skills - or paying attention, focusing, listening, and following directions - where he needs help!)

Sure enough, Cayden's first day of school saw him running through the door, leaving me holding his backpack and jacket, waiting for a hug or a kiss or at least a "Goodbye, Mommy!", but I got nothing of the sort.  He ran straight to a table full of other kids, sat down, and started coloring.  I had to yell his name several times before he finally looked up so I could take his picture on his first day of school:

I'll be fine, Mommy - I love it here!

With his backpack on, SO excited for his first day!

Go Marmots!!

Well, I had intended to catch up on all of the other fun stuff we've done over the past couple of months, but it looks like this post ended up being long enough just talking about the transition evaluation/OT/PT/SPD stuff.  I guess I'll end this for now and hopefully post again soon with pictures and details about all of our other adventures in September, October, and November!