Thursday, February 28, 2008

Theo's First Homework

We had a blast doing Theo's big homework packet with him! We took turns helping him with different pages, but he really did it mostly on his own. We only guided.

Grace held onto the pictures Theo drew from the vacation, so they're not included in this video. But he drew going to Alexander's 11th birthday party and he drew getting a haircut. When I took him for a haircut last week, he laughed so hard the whole time that it took two barbers to hold him steady. Which sounds cute, but I got dirty looks from old ladies who didn't get why I couldn't control my kid.

Addendum to Knuffle Bunny Post


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Knuffle Bunny

Grandma Ice Cream bought Theo the book Knuffle Bunny, as well as the sequel, the DVD, and the actual stuffed bunny the book is about.

So now Theo is a little Knuffle Bunny freak. He's gotta read the book every night and watch the DVD almost every day (luckily, the latter hasn't replaced the former). The story is about a daddy and his little girl who brings her stuffed bunny with her to the laundromat, and leaves it there. She obviously has a heart attack as a result. Funny how now Theo's stuffed Knuffle Bunny is becoming as beloved to him as the little girl's is to her!

The drawings are set on a backdrop of photographs in Brooklyn. 2 nights ago I was laying in bed listening to Joe read Theo Knuffle Bunny, when Theo suddenly exclaimed, "Look! Going to Nonny's house!" Joe and I burst out laughing! This is the picture Theo was referring to:

Do we have a smart cookie or what? I know for sure it's Brooklyn, from research, and there's a very good chance that it is indeed Park Slope, where Nonny lives.

UPDATE: Aunt Pia confirmed IS Park Slope! Thanks for sending me this story, auntie!

Week 4

It has been 3 weeks since Operation:No More Diapers began. You faithful readers deserve an update. You non-faithful readers can go to hell. :)

I'm thrilled to announce that when it comes to being at home with Mommy and Daddy, Theo is 100% toilet trained. Still speaking in daytime terms, of course. Nighttime will be a whole 'nother fish to fry, to be tackled later. Hehe, fish...tackled. I mixed metaphors and blended them nicely. I'm so proud of myself.

Anyway, as long as he's home and with one of us, he without fail pees and poops in the toilet without prompting. He always lets us know when he's about to go, then goes. And after he poops, one of us has to go look before he flushes. The other day I was collapsed on the couch, exhausted, and when Theo called me in to look, I asked Joe entirely seriously, "Babe, can you do the looking today?" After a minute we realized the full hilariousness of that question and cracked up. So now whoever is up and about does the looking. I like to look whenever I can, because the bigger the poop, the more thrilled I am that it's in the toilet and not crushed in a diaper with the remnants on his butt for me to clean.

Theo still needs to be prompted to go to the bathroom at school, at Sharon's (the sitter) and with friends and family. In other words, anyone but us. But at least he's fully cooperative with other people and so the accidents are very minimal. Not sure why he doesn't ask them...maybe he's shy? But then again, he doesn't ask us to go when we're outside, either. Only at home. So, this is just something that will keep progressing with time.

Here's Uncle Elliot's account of their visit from last week, when Gloria babysat for the day and Elliot joined them later.

"Theo was great. We were on the treadmill for a while, then I made him watch Jimmy Kimmel. I randomly put Animal Crossing in on Gamecube and the first thing you see is a train, so he said "choo choo train!" I do wanna kill Joe because he kept saying stuff like "two eyes, two noses" or whatever random crap and Gloria said that you told her that Joe showed him some weird funhouse mirror or something. But yeah first I made him pee, he went standing up. Then about 5 minutes later he started farting which amused him (and me) to no end. I then sat him down to poop. He dropped a huge log, then I asked him if he was done and he said no. He kept trying and trying and eventually said, "I can't, finished." He sure is a smelly boy, I am impressed. Another fun part was trying to figure out what terminology you use for everything. Do you say tushy like mom? Sigh. Not that I can think of a more suitable alternative. Another funny thing is that when you ask him body parts on his face, he generally points to them but when you ask about his tongue, he just sticks it out. He's really a good kid who is smarter than people give him credit for, he is just a bit quiet unless you engage him in conversation, but he definitely answers your questions as best he can. He is really a great kid and I look forward to hanging out with him again in greater length."

(In case you're wondering, no, I absolutely DO NOT say tushy. Sorry, mom.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Back From the Neurologist

On Tuesday, a car from the Jervis Clinic picked us up and brought us to Staten Island for Theo's neurological examination. The purpose of this exam was to update his "label," which is necessary for kindergarten and the government and obviously doesn't change Theo one bit.

This doctor was the nicest neurologist we've been to yet. He's the only one who didn't rush. He spent a good few hours with Theo and got to know him and us. In fact, everyone at the clinic is super friendly and efficient; this is a great place.

The doctor always asked if we agreed with what he said and wanted our opinions. He very much involved us in the process of evaluating Theo. Theo did great with things like identifying letters and numbers and answering questions like "what color is grass"? He couldn't answer questions like "Can you name some animals?" Interesting, since he knows the name of many animals. He just didn't understand the question. The doctor quickly caught on that Theo is a visual learner and has difficulty with abstract concepts.

The doc went over the criteria for autism and Theo met almost all of them. He classified him with PDD (so basically, no change from his last classification) and wants Theo to come back for a specific autism evaluation that determines his level of autism - mild, moderate, severe, etc.

He left us on a very encouraging note when he saw Theo plunking out "do re mi" on a little piano and singing. He also saw how Theo makes eye contact and is personable. He stressed bringing Theo back to earth when he gets into his own little world, and socializing him as much as possible. When Theo gets into a routine, break it. He thinks Theo has a great chance at functioning well and it's possible he can have an independent adult life. Obviously it's too early for promises. He also said he was encouraged by me and Joe and the work we're doing and the care we're giving him. That was nice of him since I was in tears and pretty emotional. Even though the day didn't really bring any surprises and everything that happened, I expected, it's still puts a mommy (and daddy) through the wringer.

But I'm glad we went. In a way, the autism label is a relief. The doc could tell that Theo is smart. Theo is smart and autistic as opposed to just being normal and dumb :)

I've never been more proud of my boy!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Future Mr. Right


Theo is silly and restless in this video, hope you get a kick out of it.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cute Mode

Theo is always cute, I know, but sometimes he's really in full force cute mode. Last night he was at the height of cuteness.

1. I had made the sick boy chicken soup a la Nonny over the weekend. He refused all veggies and ate only the chicken and the broth. Little Theo used to eat anything in the world if it was in a soup, but now it's like he grew up and discovered veggies are healthy or something. Anyway, since he was sick and the broth was the important part, I gave him a straw to suck out the broth and leave the veggies. So yesterday I gave him some leftover soup and he immediately said "I want a straw!" Oh boy, what have I started?

2. A few weeks ago we all did "cheers" with our cups at dinner. Last night Theo randomly remembered this and held up his cup and said "cheers!" Boy, if only you'd seen the smile on his face!!

3. Whenever someone burps or farts, we blame someone else. For instance, if I burp I say "Theo, stop burping!" and then he says "Daddy, stop burping!" and Joe says "Bruce, stop burping!" Then we all laugh. A tear jerker of a family tradition, eh? So last night Theo decided he was going to learn how to burp. Frustrated, he said "I can't!" But he kept trying to produce burp-like sounds that really just sounded like someone going "eh." It was hysterical!

You should see Theo attempt to wink and whistle!

The Watering Hole

Week two of Mission: No more diapers.
It's kind of ironic how the success has been in the department I least expected: the pooping. Theo hasn't had one poop accident. He has told me when he's had to go, and then gone, every night (and he proudly shows me before he flushes!). I'm amazed and proud and surprised! After all, this is where he had trouble before. He's known how to pee in the toilet for well over a year.

But knowing how to and doing it are apparently different. He is still having wet accidents when left to his own devices. He's great about being instructed to pee, but the idea is to get him to recognize the urge to go and then go in the toilet. That part is going slower, but I'm still confident it will happen. Like I said, failure is not an option, which really helps. School has returned all pull-ups. He is GOING to be toilet trained. NOW.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Kitty Morning Ritual


Every morning Joe drinks his coffee on the couch, then sets the cup on the windowsill. And every morning, the cats bookend the cup and look out the window.
They remind us of an old married couple sitting together with their coffee, relaxing. But the reality is, they're drooling for the pigeons they hear out there!

The Next Two Days

Wednesday: 1 wet accident with sitter, none at school, none at home; pooped in toilet

Thursday: 2 wet accidents with sitter, none at school, none at home; pooped in toilet

Evaluation: I am still very encouraged. And not having changed a poopy diaper for a week has been the best week of my life! Yes, yes, I know I have quite a few of them coming up, but they'll be from a significantly smaller tushy! :)

This is going much better than I thought it would the first week.

Poor guy is home sick with daddy today, I can't wait to get home to him. He's so sweet and cuddly and helpless when he's sick. I feel so bad for him! I don't know what he has, he's just feverish and achy it seems. Hopefully it will pass by tomorrow.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Update on School

Yesterday, Theo's school held a meeting about the transition to k....the transition to kin...I can't say it. Kkkkkkkk. Kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkiiiiiiiiiiii. Kindergarten! There, I said it.

In my years of watching Joe photograph 5 year olds at various events and shoots, I have heard this conversation many times:
"How old are you?"
"Oh, so what grade are you in?"
(Joe gasps) "You go to school in a garden??"
At this point kid reacts one of two ways:
1. (laughs) "Nooooooooooooooooooo!"
2. (doesn't get it)"No.."

And now here we are, almost at that time with our own big boy. I know this is the universal emotional time for parents, and I'm not saying anything new.

So, back to the meeting. It was a big meeting for all the parents, not a personal one, so Joe attended the meeting for both of us since I couldn't miss work for both that and the ultrasound.
And he took really cute, thorough notes, complete with doodles. :)

The good news is, we're on track with everything we're supposed to be doing. Theo was evaluated in January, and we have a big meeting with various people in March, where he'll be "classified" (ugh) and we'll choose which model is the most appropropriate for him. It will definitely be special ed, but there are different models: 12 kids, 8, or 6 in a class, for instance. Then Joe and I visit schools and observe the models, and we pick something we all agree on and register.

Feb. 19 we have an appointment with a fancy neurologist at a fancy clinic in Staten Island (they actually provide a car for this!).

So lots of nervewracking but necessary stuff going on. And Theo keeps a smile plastered on his face through it all!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

About Both Kids

THEO is 4 1/2 today! Yaaaaay! We sang happy half birthday to him as soon we woke him up, and he put on his groggy "that's great now let me sleep" face.

MELODY is perfect, as evidenced in part two of my ultrasound today!

So Far, So Good

Update on Operation: No More Diapers

Monday: Grace began using a timer every 30-40 minutes to take Theo to the bathroom. He had no accidents at school, he had just one with Marta, and then none at home! At home I used the microwave as a timer, since I haven't bought a little egg timer yet. Theo knows when he hears the "beep beep" that it means to pee, but he didn't want to go every time. I think it's fine for him to say no to going, as long as it means he's thinking about whether he has to go. Monday night he pooped in the toilet, but that's because I smelled a fart and told him to!

Tuesday: Whooohoooooooo! NO accidents yesterday! Not in school, not with Marta, and not at home. And at home, he asked to poop on the toilet, and then did! I love my boy for the pleasure he gets out of things like grabbing toilet paper and wiping. Do any of you smile when you do that?? Last night we decided to increase the interval of the timer a bit, to an hour.

Evaluation: He still isn't asking/telling me he has to pee in the toilet, but I am confident that after a week or so of him going as often as has been, he'll just be so used to it it'll become second nature and he won't think to pee in his underwear. I think this is going really well so far!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Operation: No More Diapers


Operation: No More Diapers has begun.

While Theo has known how to use the toilet for over a year, the fact is he was still in pull-ups because of his refusal to have an exclusive relationship with porcelain.

I always knew the only way to nip the problem in the bud was to ban diaper use not just at home, but at school too. And I couldn't bring myself to ask Grace and staff to have to deal with the messes involved in toilet training. Luckily, during my last talk with Grace, I brought up the issue and she offered. I spoke with Marta, Theo's sitter, too. So now we're all on board, and it's official -- underwear only from now on.

This weekend had many ups and downs. We have about 5 or 6 wet underwears as a result, because no matter how many times I reminded Theo to go in the toilet, and no matter how many times he actually went, he still managed to wet himself in between. How much pee does this kid actually have? I'm reminded of when he was a little baby. I'd take him to the doctor, and he'd pee on the nurse a good 3 or 4 times while she was weighing and measuring him, then he'd pee a couple more times on the doctor. I remember them commenting that they'd never seen anything like it!

As for the ups...Theo stayed dry on both of the outings we went on over the weekend, the first of which involved a bus ride and a bottle of water. I took him to the bathroom at Starbucks, and after he used the toilet, it was mommy's turn. I took one of those paper toilet covers, set it down, and sat on the toilet. He produced his best and funniest sentence yet:

"No mommy, don't put butt on the napkin!"

Another major triumph...for the first time, he told me he had to poop in the toilet--and then did! In the past, he's only gone when we've sensed that he had to and sent him to the bathroom. This was the first time he felt the urge on acted on it. When he can do that with the urge to pee, we'll be golden! Er, bad choice of words there, sorry.

This is exciting. Difficult as the process is, failure is not an option. After all, Theo is "old," he'll be starting a new school soon, and there's a baby coming. A baby whose diapers he'll be changing. ;)

Superbowl Fun

Theo helped me peel potatoes for our mashed potato football field. He continues to be my favorite sous chef!

It's meatballs vs. shrimp in the Orecchio superbowl. Bruce tries to intercept the shrimp in this exciting play.