Friday, June 30, 2006

Precious Cargo

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I lay out an empty suitcase on the living room floor this morning, and left it open. Tonight we are off to the Hamptons and I am one last minute packer.

Needless to say, within minutes two little orange furballs inhabited the empty suitcase.

I asked Joe to help me pack, and so he got up and began to gather things. Five minutes later, as I buttered my toast in the kitchen, Joe called out to me, "okay, I'm packed!" I rolled my eyes at this typical male notion of throwing a few things in a suitcase and being done.

I charged into the living room to tell him there was plenty more to do, and stopped short at what I saw. There was Theo, sitting in the suitcase with his legs sticking out. He looked up at me with a blank stare, as if to say, "what?"

I giggled to Joe that the cats were just in there, and he said, "I know, that's why Theo is."

Theo loves to imitate whatever the cats do...unfortunately that includes climbing onto the table!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

School Bug

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Every morning Joe says to Theo, "Ready for school, bug?"
Theo has taken to responding, "cool BUG!"

A Brush of Luck, and Aging

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I wasn't blogging at the time, so allow me to reminisce about the time I was practically in the poorhouse from buying so many toothbrushes.

About 6 months ago, Theo had an obsession with brushing his teeth. He would grab a toothbrush and the toothpaste, and bring it to one of us. We would put the toothpaste on the toothbrush, and he'd brush his teeth, which was really just sucking on the toothbrush. He would proceed to leave toothbrushes all around the house, causing me to throw them away and keep buying more.

For a while it was cute, then it got frustrating and expensive. I tried boiling the toothbrushes that were found around the house to save some money. But his "habit" was still a pain in the neck. Especially because we could never find the toothpaste, and because all sense of which toothbrush was whose was lost.

And so we phased out teeth brushing altogether, not brilliant parenting, but a temporary solution.

Now, my big boy has a purple toothbrush that he knows is his. He will take only that toothbrush. He knows to put it back when he's finished with it.

He brings his stepstool to the sink to follow my routine of taking the toothbrush, turning on the faucet, wetting the brush, putting the toothpaste on (I still have to do that part for him), brushing teeth, running brush back under faucet, putting toothbrush back, and finally, putting his mouth in the running water to rinse. There are two flaws in his routine, however. One, he doesn't spit the water back out. And two, he doesn't shut the water off. I think that last part is to bug me.

I never taught him the routine, he just picked it up from watching me. My smartie.

Backwards Boy

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Theo has a game where he likes to start out in the bathroom, and walk backwards to the kitchen. It's so cute watching him peek behind him, here and there, ever so slightly to make sure he doesn't crash. He's very slow and cautious. When he gets to the kitchen, he walks at regular pace to the bathroom and starts all over again.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Weekly Haiku

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They are resplendent
Glist'ning on the kitchen floor
O sweet cheerios

Monday, June 26, 2006

Inter-generational Scratching

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I have posted before how Theo loves getting his back scratched.
As kids, Elliot and I associated Aunt Donny with back scratching. She'd come to Nonny's house and our shirts would come up, and we'd assume the position.

This weekend we visited Aunt Donny. Theo ran over to her and bent over to get his back scratched.

I told Elliot and even he got sentimental!

Happy Belated Father's Day!

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To celebrate Father's Day, everyone gathered at Shea to root for our home team. "Everyone" included us, Clay, Jodi and Carl and the boys, John and Gianna, and of course, our matriarch, Joanne. It was nice to have everyone together. Theo just loves seeing his cousins.

Theo got a kick out of clapping and cheering for the Mets whenever he saw the crowd do it. The kids looked adorable in their Mets garb. If only we won, it would have been perfect night.

Testing, Testing

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Joe took Theo to a new pediatric neurologist on Tuesday. The doctor spent less than twenty minutes with Theo, and essentially used that time to just ask Joe questions. Theo was in one of his moods, and ran back and forth repeatedly. The doctor suspected PDD. Without giving Theo so much as a toy to play with.

While we were annoyed and wanted to write him off, Joe liked his suggestion of getting an EEG test, and so Joe took him back the next evening (at this point I was on doctor strike and my wonderful husband took over. Joe was concerned that I actually got physically sick from the stress; that day I had puked at work).

Theo was an angel as the doctor spent forever attaching electrodes to his head. Joe got him to lie still by petting his head and softly saying, "shh." This is one of their nighttime rituals.

And so Theo's brain activity was tested. The results won't be back for a while...you'll know when I do.

There Goes the Neighborhood

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Allow me to blaspheme and write a non-Theo-related post.

I went hiking one weekend, and to a Bear Mountain picnic the next. Guess how many mosquito bites I got? Zero.

This weekend I went to Brookln and got a dozen bites. Joe says the mosquitos are just tougher there.

Looks like I was the victim of a gang.

Bad Blog Mommy

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"SO ELYSE," Lisandra instant messages. "HOW'S THEO? I've been trying to track his PROGRESS and CUTENESS."

Indeed,I've been a bad blog mommy. I'll make no excuses, but I will catch up presently.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

CPSC Evaluation

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Here's a play by play of yesterday's events.

Luckily, the morning started with a chipper little dude who had a good night's sleep.

He helped me make eggs, and he ate mounds of them. Joe said it felt like Sunday...it was nice to get a chance to have breakfast together on a week day.

Off we went to Birch, the evaluation site/school. It was happily close to home, the Vernon Jackson stop on the 7, and then right off the train. Knowing that, it became an instant contender for the school he ends up attending. But one thing at a time; we were here for the evaluation to determine if he needed the school in the first place, although we of course knew what the answer would be.

We went to a waiting area where a little girl, exactly Theo's age, was waiting with her anxious mother. I was instantly comforted, knowing we weren't alone. The kids' situations were practically identical. They both didn't talk, but were both very aware and very affectionate. Theo and Cristal, the little girl, were instant friends. They ran around together, and Theo took on the role of leader. Their communication was entirely non verbal, just smiles and sound effects. He would shake his head and jump. She'd imitate, laughing. Watching our children, Cristal's mother and I shared an unspoken, unnerving feeling of, "this is why we're here." For the moment, all that mattered was that the kids were having fun. And while I couldn't help but think of how other kids their age would be relating to each other, it also felt good, that for once we were in a room where Theo was not the least advanced child.

Our first stop was the social worker's office. Theo happily played with legos while she asked me a series of questions that I would answer many more times throughout the day, and that I had already answered a million times throughout the past year. How was your pregancy (perfect) what kind of delivery (vaginal, full term), family history, yadda yadda yadda.

Next stop was the best stop, the psychologist's office. Lillian had been doing this for 30 years, and she clearly loved it. She thought Theo was just the cutest thing and that he was a pleasure to work with. It was still early, Theo was still well-satiated from breakfast, and so he was at his best. When Lillian tested him, I realized just how much Theresa and Lorena, his therapists, had done in preparing him for this day. I tried to hold back tears as he successfully matched objects to corresponding shapes and colors.

Then there were the questions Theo couldn't answer, and I tried to remain calm and remind myself that that's why we were there. For example, she'd show him a group of pictures and ask, what do you wear when it's cold? Where do you go when you're sleepy? He didn't score on any of the function questions. But he did great on his body parts.

I felt good about myself as a mother, knowing my son as well as I did. I knew what he was capable of answering or doing and what he wasn't. Of course, he surprised me a couple of times and knew things I thought he wouldn't, which was even better. And I had feared that he would know more that he would let on, but that only happened a few times throughout the day.

After Lillian evaluated Theo she let him play with the cash register he was desperate to play with for the past hour, while we talked. I told her about the PDD assessment from a year back. She said she had been doing this forever, and that he is NOT NOT NOT autistic. The more Theo flirted with her, or ran out of the room and mischieveously peeked in to see if we were looking, or kissed me, etc... the more she repeated it with certainty. She had no doubt in her mind that he would need special services, and a lot of them. But it was just because of developmental delay, not autism. She recommended a full speech, OT, and PT evaluation, which we had later in the day.

I told Lillian I had an appointment with a neurologist next week with the hopes of them removing the PDD label. I asked if I should even bother going based on our conversation. She recommended going instead to a pediatric development specialist. Aunt Pia had said the same thing, you were right, auntie! This would be a person who would get to know Theo over the next few years and could better determine where he is. I still plan to keep exploring all those other thus-far dead end avenues, ear-fluid, tonsils, etc. The speech pathologist said he had swollen tonsils. But while I'm not ruling any of that out, I am starting to believe that he's overall pretty healthy and simply delayed. That there doesn't need to be a reason for it, he's just got catching up to do. But back to yesterday...

Next stop was classroom observation. Theo joined Grace's classroom. The kids were just finishing up their outside play. Theo went up the ladder, down the slide, up the ladder, down the slide, not paying attention to anyone. Even though I had just assured the psychologist that he loves playing with others at the playground. And he does...when he feels like it.

Grace's class went back to their classroom and were given drinks of water, and took turns going to the bathroom and washing up for lunch. The kids were all introduced to Theo as a visitor, and they were so cute saying hello to him and offering him water. He was very happy to sit with them, drink with them, and even throw his cup away as they did.

The classroom, and the school even, was a very normal place...nothing out of the ordinary. If I didn't know beforehand, I'd never have known the place, or even the children I observed, were different. Again, I was comforted. That's Theo. Normal kid, just slower to develop in language and motor skills.

Theo ate lunch with the kids. I loved seeing their mom's prepared meals layed out. Egg rolls here, rice and beans there, pasta and sauce there...it was an ethnic smorgasboard. Quite lovely to see. As long as all communication is in English, which it is. As they ate Grace walked through a typical day there with me...again, very normal preschool stuff. The only difference being the extra work done with speech, OT and PT.

Went back upstairs to meet with Anthea, the speech pathologist. At this point Theo was exhausted, having skipped his nap and working so hard, and so he gave very lazy, sleepy answers, if any. We decided to hold off and go to the physical therapy portion, where he would wake up again through playing basketball, going on a swing, jumping on a trampoline, etc.

I thought Theo would shine and have no problems at all with PT. But they even found things there that were not up to speed. Jumping, ball throwing, ball kicking...all needed work. The PT was followed by OT, occupational therapy. Michael, the OT teacher, had also observed the PT, and thinks that Theo has low muscle tone. It's why he slaps his feet when he runs, grips with flat fingers and not curved, and locks his limbs. At the time it was all tough stuff to hear, but as I sit here writing this, I realize this is all stuff I worried about being autism related. I can deal with words like low muscle tone, or developmental delays...those words were already pretty much a given anyway. The idea is to work on those delays and get caught up for school. This is the most important developmental time in Theo's life. I feel good that we're taking action now and not when it's too late.

Back to the speech pathology office. Theo was still tired. He refused to label items that I knew he could identify. Luckily, Anthea came with me to watch Theo do the PT and OT, and she learned a lot by observing him there. And so she understood he was just tired. After all, what else can they expect? We got there at 8:30 AM and it was now 3:30 PM. A full day of work for Theo.

From this last series of tests Theo did fairly well in using items properly. He fed a teddy bear with a spoon, gave him a drink with a cup, and made appropriate sound effects. However, he didn't do those things on command, just on his schedule. The exhausting part is, for every single little thing he does, it requires the analysis: Is it because he's 2? Is it because he's tired? Is it something more?" But no matter the reasons, one thing is clear - and this was a unanimous vote - Theo will need to go to one of these schools. Possibly this one.

I liked this school, and hopefully can reserve a spot for them there. Last night, Lorena came over. She spoke very highly of this school, Birch. I told her what an emotional, exhausting day it was for me...she's on the other side, she does evaluations. She told me they are required to take a seminar to deal with what parents are going through. She said some break down, some get angry, some cry.

As for me, I know I cried through happy moments and unhappy moments yesterday. Someone took away the PDD label. Hooray! At times I felt like I was in a separate universe, but then we'd see Cristal and her mommy walk into a room that we just left. And I imagined all the mommies at home making those lunches the way I will be for Theo. I realized how alone we'd been with this up until now. Having the support of loving family and friends has been invaluable, but I'm really looking forward to the new support system for my son and for me that will come in a few months.

Everyone was wonderful. The staff, the kids..especially Theo. He worked so hard yesterday. They all commented on what a good boy he is. Last night, he walked in from the kitchen carrying a whole cake and a fork. I let him go at it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

They're All Taking Over. I Surrender.

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Theo pours his own cereal. Maybe he hasn't yet learned portion control. Or maybe he's pouring the same amount that daddy pours in his bowl.




Then there's the babies. As you can see, they have made themselves at home.

A Cat Family

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A cat family rushes to meet the new kitties as they would a newborn. Observe.

Maow Was Not Amused....

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When Theo threw her in the bathtub. Thanks Aunt Lisandra, for helping me towel the kids off.

Kissy Boy

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Thank you to my wonderful friends and family who read my last blog and offered me such beautiful support. Joe, Theo and I are very fortunate to be surrounded by you all.
Now, on a cheerful note, let's admire our kissy boy!

Friday, June 09, 2006

To answer your question, "What's going on with Theo's adenoids and all that?"

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I think I'm going out of my mind. Phone calls, appointments, tests, more phone calls, and I still don't know anything and nothing changes. This frustration keeps me at a high stress level constantly and I feel so helpless. I can't help but feel like it's my fault and other moms would have gotten this solved long ago. I feel like there's more I should be doing but I'll be damned if I know what.

The spark for this vent was a call from the ENT, saying the xrays showed the adenoids are not obstructive and at this point, Theo needs nothing done. Nothing removed, no tubes, just more nasal spray. And check back with him in a month. His decision is based on the xrays, and the sleep apnea test that wasn't as bad as we thought it would be (only 2 apneas, despite snoring).

I have appointments now to see him again, to see an allergist to see if maybe there's something there, and to see a neurologist, where he will hopefully have his awful PDD title removed. I have an appointment on Wednesday at CPSE to start the evaluation process so that if necessary, and it most likely will be, he can start his schooling by September.

Appointments, appointments, appointments. Since we started the year of appointments August 2005, I'm trying to access the progress that his been made. In that year, we've learned that Theo has fluid in his ears that comes and goes. But he scored perfectly on his hearing test. We learned that one doctor thought he was on the autism spectrum and that we do not agree, but we are not in denial either. Theo receives treatment as though he were on the spectrum. He's got his early intervention, his two speech therapists, and that's the only real, tangible thing that has been done for him. He has really come a long way with his therapy. When they started, he said nothing. Now he says many words and is starting to grasp 2 word phrasing and at the very least, the concept of a sentence. He knows his colors, numbers, and letters.

He is a happy child. I try to hold on to that. If we can get him caught up by grade school, nothing would make me happier. I think at the rate he's going now, that is entirely possible, even likely. The move now is to get him out of the daycare where he hears what is probably 75% Spanish, and into a learning environment suited to encourage his use of language. For a while I thought it was best to keep him with "normal" kids his age so he can jump to their level, but I was wrong. Now I realize that he needs the specialized attention and work this CPSE program can provide, and not to mention being in a larger facility with more physical space to play as opposed to the tiny room he's in now.

I know I started this entry in a frenzy, and I almost erased the first paragraph. But such is my train of thought. Here it is for my loved ones to experience with me.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bed, Bond, and Beyond

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Notice I haven't posted any pictures of Theo with the kittens? That's because I don't have any. They are very clever little creatures and learned quite quickly to flee the big bad Theo Monster when he lurks near.

When he is in terrible two mode, he picks them up and drops them. He is just playing, but he doesn't realize his own strength. I know he doesn't know what he's doing; it's obvious that he adores them. He is playing the part of a new big brother with babies in the house. He gets jealous and acts out for attention. He sees mommy and daddy doting on the babies and looks at them as the enemy...when he's not immersed in blissful play with them.

My three kids share toys. You ain't seen nothin' til you've seen the three of them running around chasing the same ball. I'm losing track of whom the orginal toy was bought for.

Then there are those utopian moments when the whole family comes together. When Theo is mellow and gentle, and he, Joey and I cuddle and pet the pootie wooties together.

Last night Theo seemed to have a nightmare, and so he came into our bed in the wee hours. Maow and Bruce were with us, purring. I imagined being someone else, looking in at the five of us on the bed, smiling.

First Days...

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When I first met Maow and Bruce, I couldn't tell them apart. Now, I can't believe I ever had difficulty. Bruce is slightly larger with a narrow face and bat ears. Maow has a tiny little round face and a lighter tone of orange fur.

Bruce seems to have a toe fetish. He is always nibbling on someone's toes, and he is such a little boy. Hyperactive and playful. Maow is more mellow and does her best to defend herself against her brother, but he always ends up on top...literally. Both are ravenous eaters.

Yesterday I came home to them for the first time - only they were nowhere to be found. I told myself it was silly to panic, that they were tiny and obviously in a spot I can't think to look in, but I admit I got nervous. Theo and I wandered around the house yelling their names, which I'm happy to report Theo has already mastered. He was so cute looking under the bed, table, and chairs with me.

Finally they appeared...from where, I can't tell you.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Namesakes

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Before you ask, the girl is Maow because of Theo's pronunciation of "meow" ... she is NOT named after a Chinese dictator. And yes, Bruce is inspired by the Boss, Springsteen.

And Kittens Make Five

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Never before had I seen a storm shut down entire train lines. Friday's rainstorm was NY's equivalent of a hurricane. With the trains out, Theo and I took a bus, packed with would-be subway riders. On we treaded to a pet shelter, Kitty Karetakers, in Rego Park.

We were allowed to look around, and right away I searched for the kittens I had seen online - a litter of orange babies.

There was only one girl. When I looked at those big eyes encased in a tiny little head, I was determined to take her and her brother home. I figured that nightmare of a commute couldn't be for nothing.

Joe and I have different tastes in cats. I like tabbys and he likes them more exotic. But when he saw pictures of the orange pootie wooties he was instantly in love. Yet another reason we were meant to have them.

Last night they arrived, and now I'm happy to report I have 3 children.

Enter Maow and Bruce

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We're 6 weeks old, brother and sister

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Theo's Counterpart Pet

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adopt your own virtual pet!