Friday, March 28, 2008

Theo's Five Friends

These are Theo's friends. He carries them from room to room, and you can bet your butt if one goes missing, there is hell until it's found.

They are:

Knuffle Bunny - You know all about him by now.
White Teddy Bear- A random Xmas present from a family friend from 2 years ago who was until recently just one of the stuffed animal collection.
Pirate-When Grandma Popcorn bought Max a toy at McDonald's I told her don't worry, Theo doesn't need one, too, he won't care. Theo immediately reached for Max's pirate and I said "Uh oh, get another one, get another one!"
Train- A souvenir Grandma Popcorn bought Theo at the Train Express Railyard we went to.
David-From the "Oh, David" series Theo cherishes.

This top photo displays the excellence of Joe's photography. Look at the perfect circle, from Theo's eyes to Knuffle Bunny's eyes and clockwise. The picture really makes you follow that direction- cool. The next two are mommy loves her cute smiling little boy photos.

Mooooooooooom, I Want My Own URL! I Want it I Want it I Want it!

Melody, my love, this is for you to read when you're older:

you know, kids grow up wired these days. a URL might not seem that important to us, but to the kids of tomorow, it's as central as the title of an article.

melody will grow up with an inferiority complex. "my mom never dedicated a whole blog to me like she did for theo. and even after she merely added me to HIS blog, she never even changed the URL. it's still howstheo."

the kids. they are wired and web-savvy. beware.

when she says that, I'll say: "But child, your brother is my first born and your father's male heir. It's only natural for him to get top billing and more love and affection than you. Be grateful you're alive, you wretch, in other countries they drown daughters."

that is brilliant. you should actually post my email and ur reply on the blog for posterity.if your daughter is as smart and witty and hip as i think she'll be, she'll appreciate this exchange.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Just Another Morning in the Orecchio Household

Bruce is in charge of "hunting" for breakfast (AKA waking me up), while Maow stands on the bookcase meowing at him and supervising. It's like they're prehistoric, cavecats? I should tell my little orange girl that it's 2008 and she's perfectly capable of hunting herself.

Bruce usually pokes and prods me at 7AM daily until I stir, but for some reason today he curled up in bed next to me and enjoyed a petting session. Well, this did NOT please his sister. She got on a nearby chair and started wailing at him, as if to say, "Bruuuuuuuuuuuce, stop fooling around, get her to feed us NOW!"

As for my third child...when I woke up this morning, I could hear pages turning. I looked over and saw Theo reading a book in bed. I wonder how long he'd been up reading. Isn't he the sweetest? He's such a good boy, we're so lucky.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Preparing for Baby

I’m in my third trimester now, so let the preparations begin! Grandma Popcorn and I shopped for Melody’s “coming home from hospital” outfit and got a couple other little things. We got a little sunhat and frilly, tiny socks…it’s hard to imagine feet small enough to go in them…the fun has begun!

Yesterday we prepared an area for Melody in our bedroom. Joe moved around all the furniture, and our room feels a lot bigger and more spacey now. I can’t wait to buy her crib and put it in her new spot! Both the cats and Theo were very interested when all the moving was going on. Maow was downright confused, sniffing everywhere and looking around with those silly wide eyes.

Theo was in the way, but he refused to leave the room because he was too into what was going on. He grabbed a broom and helped sweep while daddy worked. I told him that daddy was making room for his baby sister, and we were making a spot for the baby to sleep. He shook his head and said, “no.”

The biggest question I get from coworkers and acquaintances is, “How does Theo feel about becoming a big brother?” My answers vary; I usually don’t feel like getting into an explanation of Theo’s situation and how he doesn’t fully understand and blah blah blah. I wonder about it myself, though. I think he understands at least a little that there is a baby inside my tummy, but I don’t know if he can translate that into there actually being a baby whom he’ll meet pretty soon. And of course, the whole concept of having a sister is too abstract for him to comprehend, but he will sure love having a baby around when he meets her. We’re certain of that. He loves babies. I wonder what he’ll make of it when he comes to the hospital and sees a baby in my arms, especially when we tell him it’s this Melody person he’s been hearing about for so long. What connections will he make? What will go on in that gorgeous little head of his?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mr. Perfect Boy

On St. Patrick's Day we decided Theo was the perfect kid that evening. We went out for an Irish dinner with friends (Billy and Jonathan) in a Sunnyside pub/restaurant. Theo brought his train that Grandma Popcorn bought him at the railyard, which has become his favorite toy du jour.

At the restaurant, Theo went to the bathroom twice, and repeatedly asked for vegetables, particularly carrots, corn and broccoli. He ate his entire dinner, and afterward even ate a tomato! Joe and I puffed out our chests; it's always fun to look good in front of friends. Of course, we rewarded the good boy with ice cream. Here's Melody, kicking off her third trimester--literally!Yes, yes, we wore green, cuz I'm corny like that. But hey, at school they made green eggs and ham, which he really enjoyed!!

At home, the perfection continued. He was agreeable about going to bed, though of course he dictated which books were to be read and in what order, then he dictated what songs to sing, and my favorite part--he dictated the goodnight kiss.

Easter Weekend

For us, Easter is over! We celebrated this weekend since Aunt Pia was in town. This Sunday we can blissfully do nothing. What do you mean this Sunday is the day Jesus was resurrected and I'm missing the point? I thought Easter was about bunnies and eggs.

We spent Saturday with Grandma Popcorn in Joisey. She took us and Max (the five-year-old cousin) to see the Easter Bunny on the Easter Bunny Express. It's a train ride in Jersey, and it's cool because it's an old-fashioned train and there's a whole railyard with stationary trains and tracks where the kids can run around. Theo obviously loved that!

Theo was thrilled Sunday morning to learn we were going to see Aunt Pia. And Nonny, Grandma Ice cream, Uncle Elliot, etc...

We feasted at Nonny's, and decorated Easter eggs. Theo was adorable hunting for eggs around Nonny's living room and bedroom. He really got into it. He did a great job, finding every single one!

As you can see, he equally enjoyed He went around "tagging" us all with the stickers Grandma brought for him.

Theo also enjoyed dunking his bread pudding in his milk after seeing mommy do it. He's such a little monkey!

Joe in what I *think* is his attempt to be the dignified Easter Bunny.

After we left, Aunt Gloria drove us by the laundromat featured in Knuffle Bunny. We wanted to see how Theo would react, but we were all pretty curious ourselves to see it. Theo was only mildly amused, but after a few minutes after we left, he smiled and said "the same." He really internalizes things!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Update on School Search

On Monday I met with with the Committee of Special Education (CSE) to discuss the program Theo needed for kindergarten and the evaluation they had conducted at school in January. Believe it or not, I was not privy to these results prior to Monday's meeting.

The social worker, Rhonda, a very nice woman, had conducted (among other tests) an autism test, and concluded that he was on the cusp of non-autistic and mildly-autistic, but overall felt that calling him autistic was too drastic for his IEP (Individual Education Plan, where the kid needs to be labeled in order to be placed.) So his label instead is: Speech and Communication impairment.

Joe and I couldn't help but laugh; just when we were accepting the autism label someone else reverses it. Just goes to show it doesn't matter what the label is; Theo is Theo. This whole thing can be so subjective!! He still has his upcoming "degree of autism" evaluation, and this one will be much more in depth.

So, anyway, the label was moot in the sense that we all agreed on what program Theo needed for Kindergarten. A 12:1:1 class, which means 12 kids, 1 teacher and 1 assistant. He'll be getting speech and occupational therapy twice a week, as he does now. He'll no longer be needing physical therapy. For the past two school years he had PT once a week and did things like tricycle riding and swinging and jumping and throwing/catching a ball. He hasn't exactly mastered any of these things but he's good enough to not need the PT. His low muscle tone is more relevant to the occupational therapy, where they work on his weak pencil/crayon grip and his cutting/gluing skills, writing, coloring, etc... we do a lot of work on this at home and he's definitely improving.

After the meeting I visited an elementary school in Woodside, P.S. 151. My two local schools don't offer special education, unfortunately, so he'll have to travel somewhere a bit further by bus. But hey, he's used to the schoolbus and loves it anyway. He'll still be in our neighborhood, probably, just not walking distance. At 151 the assistant principal greeted me. I had spoken to him on the phone and he remembered me. He's a nice guy; he escorted me to the classroom, where I met Mary, the teacher. She was setting up gold dust around the room while the kids were at lunch so they'd come back and think they were visited by the leprechaun. I went with her to go get the kids from the auditorium; we stopped by the kindergarten bathroom on the way back and all the kids went. I took a peek and most of the toilets were unflushed...Theo's already ahead of the game! He wouldn't dream of not flushing, it's his favorite part!

Back in the classroom, the kids were awestricken by the gold dust and searched everywhere for the leprechaun. Even at storytime they were still sneaking peeks under the rug--so cute!! To be honest, I tried hard to find something off about the kids but I couldn't. None of them seemed like kids you think of when you think special ed. They were all entirely normal. Mind you, autistic kids don't go in classes of 12, they go in classes of 6 or 8. These kids must have had minor delays or ADD or something...who knows. But it made me happy.

So, I like this school but will be checking out others. We have a while before a final decision needs to be made, and then of course we have to actually get him IN to the school we choose, which may or not be hard. We'll see.

Update on Operation: No More Diapers

I don't really need to call it Operation: No More Diapers anymore, because diapers are history and have been since the day we started. (Except for the overnight pullups.) Maybe I should change the name to Operation: No More Accidents or Operation: Completely Independently Toilet Trained. :)

Mom and I had a mini triumph on Saturday; we were in Target for a good hour and Theo was in the cart whining the whole time. He was driving me bonkers; I finally asked him if he had to go to the bathroom. (I'd have asked him sooner but he went just before going in to Target.) He answered whinily, "Yeeeeees." I took him to one of Target's oh-so-clean stalls and and he let 'er rip. I stood there with my jaw on the floor as I watched him pee for 8 hours. OK, maybe not, but it was a good 2 minutes at least. This kid amazes me. Anyway, the triumph I spoke of is that he held it! There he was, upset for a whole hour, and instead of peeing his pants, he held it!! This was an amazing accomplishment. I still don't get why he wouldn't just tell me he had to go, but one step at a time, right? Naturally, afterward he was in a perfectly chipper and cute mode. Now that we were finished shopping and it was time to go home. D'oh!

All is Well With the Gymnast

I had my monthly doc's appointment yesterday and all is well! Melody swam away from the little machine that detects the heartbeat, so for about ten seconds we couldn't find it, which felt like ten minutes.

Everything is on track; I measured 27 inches (from top of belly to bottom) and gained about 14 pounds. My belly button is 3/4 of the way popped. Doc put me on iron pills because of my slight, slight anemia; I took those with Theo, too.

I do not speak in hyperbole; Melody is moving all the time now. With Theo I said the typical boy stuff like he was playing soccer in there, and with Melody, I call her a gymnast. I'm sure she'd make a fine soccer player too, but apparently her specialty is somersaults and flips.

I read that at 28 weeks dad can hold a toilet paper roll to my belly and possibly hear her heartbeat. Joe wasn't able to make it to my doctor's appointment yesterday thanks to work, but I told him it was one of those quickie five minute ones and it wasn't worth him coming anyway. I told him we listened to the heartbeat and he said, "Yeah, but I can do that with toilet paper." Good to know he's paying attention! Sort of...

Tomorrow I'll be 27 weeks and in my final week of the second trimester. Finally! I'm not good with patience and I'm ready for June to come NOW.

Froggie Eye Candy

Theo's teacher Grace made my day this morning when she emailed me this photo from Tuesday, which was Pajama Day at school. She sent me this photo as a response to my question, which was "how did Theo react when Elmo came to school?" Now this is what I call an answer!

Aw, and look at Lizbeth to Theo's left, with her Dora slippers. You mean I really get to dress up a little girl like that soon?

Theo was funny that morning; he was utterly confused when I was making him change out of his pajamas into...pajamas. "No bed!" he complained. I explained that everyone was going to wear pajamas to school that day, even Grace, and that he could bring Knuffle Bunny. And then he was happy.

Pajama Day was a celebration of reading. They made pancakes and read bedtime books like Goodnight Moon. I was excited to learn that Elmo was visiting school. Theo LOVES Elmo, it's his favorite part of Sesame Street, and every night we sing "Elmo's World" but change the lyrics. Like, "La la la la, la la la la, Theo's world, Theo loves his mommy and daddy too, that's Theo's world." He gets very silly and creative. The other day he sang "Umbrella world, umbrella loves raining and snowing too." Haha!

This one has nothing to do with Pajama Day, but I had to throw it in. This was Sunday...we got home after an exhausting but fun weekend with Grandma Ice Cream and family and shopping at the mall. He took a bath and didn't even make it to a horizontal position before passing out. I think it's funny that with the blankets he's wrapped in under there, he actually takes the shape of a frog.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Impressive Stream and Other Things

So, this is Open School Week. Joe and I conferenced with Grace today and a couple of other people who work with Theo (his social worker, therapists) and everyone was able to agree on one thing: Boy, can that kid pee!

Seriously, Theo's stream is nonstop. I could probably sing the Star Spangled Banner and finish it before he finishes peeing. I was wondering if I was the only one who thought so until his babysitter, Sharon, mentioned it and now the teachers brought it up! So it's official! He wins the longest pee award. He's totally going to hate me for this one day. I'll have to delete this blog when he grows up!

Next Monday we have a meeting with the CSE, the school board who helps place Theo in the right kindergarten program. I've been calling schools and of course, the closest ones to my house don't have the services he'll need. Groan. It looks like we'll have to travel further but hopefully still stay in this district.

Grace expressed concern that Theo isn't a behavior problem, and that means he might get overlooked in his new school. She said some programs have a tendency to pay attention to the kids who cause disruptances with their behavior. Theo is happy to just sit there all day, but that's not good enough if we want him to really learn and love school. I'm glad to know to look out for that, so I can stay on top of it and make sure he's getting attention.