Monday, May 18, 2015

Game Ball

Maddux's softball season will come to an end tomorrow. It's been a season of ups and downs for sure. Between the freezing temperatures and the rain, it took quite a while to really get started; we weren't able to consistently practice or have games until after Spring Break. Also, Maddux isn't always as focused as we'd like. That is not to say she isn't performing well enough - that's not at all our concern. She just tends to forget why she's at practice (to learn, not play follow the leader), and she often loses her equipment/uniform (both at practice and at home).
But she's excelled as a softball player. This girl is just athletic all around. She makes solid contact with the ball every at bat. She throws well, and her head is IN the game. (When she's focused, that is.) She has made many really great plays throughout the season, even though they haven't all resulted in outs. When she is positioned at pitcher, Maddux tends to pay so much attention that she knows where to run with (or throw) the ball without even checking in on the runners...she's really impressed us.
Today Maddie showed that level of focus again. She played a great game, both at pitcher and catcher, and in the last inning, made a crucial out. The game was tied with the bases loaded. When the ball was hit, she hustled to it and sprinted to home, tagging the runner at the plate and preventing the winning run from scoring. Game ball for Maddux...winner winner, chicken dinner.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Therapy Update

Ruby is going to yet another speech therapist (that makes three). This one focuses on the actual sound production of each letter/sound rather than words. She will also be helping me with some eating/feeding stuff. Ruby eats fine to those of us that don't know what to look for, but if you dig a little deeper, her chewing motions and her tongue thrust could use some improvement. Instead of chewing with her back teeth to break down her food, Ruby tends to squish and mash with her tongue and general mouth movement.

Tongue protrusion has always been one of my biggest stress-factors with Ruby. Recently we've been working with a few newer oral-motor tools to try and help with that. One is plastic flutes/whistles that helps strengthen her overall mouth. The one Ruby has really taken to is a red one; she can often be found around the house blowing the heck out of that thing. The other is a small plastic 'chip' that she puts in her mouth and it helps remind her to keep her lips together. I can honestly say it is helping!
Last week we had the evaluation with this new speech therapist which lasted two and a half hours. Ruby did great, considering, especially since she was strapped into a chair the entire time. One bonus for her was when the therapist pulled out a bright blue Dum Dum lollipop and did some things. When she was done, she let Ruby finish it....big time.

In general news, Ruby is still as vocal as always, but no words that others may recognize yet. Many word approximations and signs still incorporated in her communication. One area she is improving noticeably is when she needs something, she will tell me "Mama (verbal). Help (sign with random talking)." We've heard a "yesh" (yes), "goddit" (got it) and "hep" (help) in the last few weeks.

Physical Therapy:
Ruby is walking and fast walking everywhere, including up the driveway. She still keeps her hands in an 'on-guard' position, but will put them down when I remind her. She is also carrying things while walking....mostly small toys, books, soccer balls, and anything that doesn't weigh more than her.
Some of the exercises we are working on include hanging from a bar (to help her upper body development since she's not crawling anymore) and deep (DEEP) squats. That is something Ruby does pretty well actually; she will squat down and play often, standing back up without any help most of the time.

Occupational Therapy:
We don't meet with our PT specifically for this, but it gets worked in during some PT sessions. Also, there is an OT at Gigi's that chimes in with great ideas for Ruby. Recently we've been working on sorting objects by color (she does pretty well until she's bored and then she loses focus and interest). Our next step will be to sort them by shape or 'type' (animals, foods, etc.) Ruby is also stringing big beads or pasta onto shoelaces....another area I was unaware she could do at all until we showed her and she picked it up the first time.

We are almost two, so I've been working with Time Out. Yeah....we will be working on that for a while. She doesn't get it, or thinks it's a game, or both. And the word "no" is sometimes met with her hurrying to do whatever she is on her way to do. (To be fair, sometimes it's met with intentional walking away also.)
Asking for help on her own, without me prompting her, is a huge thing. She has done that several times in the last few weeks and I LOVE it.

Ruby is climbing into and out of any chair she can. Sometimes it's her small lounger that the kids got her for Christmas, sometimes it's her car seat, sometimes it's the couch. Whatever it is though, she giggles the whole time.
Ruby shows us continually that she 'gets' things. She listens and picks up on stuff that I'm not even trying to teach her. When I took her for a haircut last week, the beautician gave her and Maddux each a paper cup of animal crackers. When Maddux was done, I threw her cup in the trash. About a minute later, Ruby finished her crackers and crossed the room to the trash can where she threw hers away. We haven't worked on the concept of trash or throwing things away, but that girl doesn't miss a thing.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Spelling Bee

Continuing with the trend of our kids surprising us by excelling at something we didn't even know was 'a thing', Maddux qualified for the finals in the Second Grade Spelling Bee last week! Apparently they had a class spelling bee and the winners advanced to the finals, held today.

In true Maddux fashion, when I asked her about it after school (because I got an email from her teacher informing us that she won - shocking since I didn't even know about the class bee), she lit up and said, "I know...crazy, right?"

And in true Maddux fashion, when I asked her if she wanted to review some tougher words yesterday after school, she told me there was a list for her to practice with. I told her that was perfect, and to go get the list. (Likely sighing), I reminded her that the Spelling Bee was the next day at which point she smacked her forehead with her palm.
So Lehr, Ruby and I got to the school just before the Spelling Bee was to start. Eli asked his teacher if he could attend (only the second grade was invited to watch with the parents), so he joined us too. The students filed in and the finalists sat in 20 chairs facing us (10 classes, two kids each). Maddux looked so nervous....lots of fidgeting.

The lead teacher explained a few rules first and then started right away. The main rule was to not clap each time a student spelled a word correctly, but rather if/when they missed one we would applaud them for their cumulative effort. That definitely helped cut down on the time!

A few rounds went by with all students spelling correctly. Then a few dropped off slowly. Suddenly there were only about half of the kids left and the word "omit" was given. I think that word took 4 kids out! Maddux's toughest words were knock, chocolate, public and deny (the word that took her out). It was cool to see her up there, mouthing the spelling of the words the other kids received. When it was her turn, she'd stand up and sway back and forth while she spelled the word in her head and out loud. Afterwards, I realized how much attention she was paying to everything; she told me that when the person before her missed "knock", she had to think fast because they spelled it the way she would have, but when she heard they were wrong, she thought "knock...knife", and remembered the 'k'. (Her words, not mine.)

She lasted 45 minutes in the competition, and it only went two more rounds after she left. She got a little teary when she received her applause, but I reminded her that she didn't even prepare for this contest, yet she came in 4th in the entire 2nd grade. Imagine if she put forth some effort! We were all so proud....especially Eli!

Tuesday, May 05, 2015


Maddux's softball season has finally started to take off. After a long line of canceled games and practices due to cold weather and torrential rain, I think her team is starting to get into a rhythm now.

Lately Maddux has been playing some Pitcher and Catcher. But unlike most kids this age, when she plays Catcher, she doesn't just sit on the ground or on her knees and wait for the ball to fly by her. She hops up in a Catcher's stance and really tries to stop the ball.
Maddux has had her share of great plays infield also. When she's playing second, she runs the ball to first. And if she realizes she won't get them out, she turns and immediately runs to the next place there is a runner....all without checking first. (She knows where the runners are before the ball is hit.) Loving the focus on this girl who is sometimes anything but focused.

And as we already knew, Maddux is speedy as can be. She has no problem getting on base, and when the girls run laps, she is often leading the pack.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Poster Contest

About two months ago, Eli was given the assignment to make a poster about Benjamin Franklin. He did all of his research and prepared to start putting his final project together just as one of our snowstorms hit. As luck would have it, we already had the poster board at the house, so Eli was able to spend 4 days working on the poster at his leisure. He really did it all himself, outside of some of the gluing. The idea for how to present and all of the research and typing was 100% him.
The final touch we had to add to the poster was an identification paper on the back. I don't remember now the info we needed to include, but apparently that was for the purpose of entering the poster in a contest. During the week that the kids turned their posters in, the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution came to each school to judge the posters and chose 3 winners from each school. Last week they announced the winner and Eli got 1st for his school!!

He was SO excited and we could not be more proud. We also could not be more shocked! Eli put a lot of work into the poster, but this assignment really was a 'non-event' in our house, and Lehr and I didn't even realize it would be part of a contest. Unfortunately, because his poster will now be sent off for a statewide contest, I can't even take a picture of it to show you!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Maddux Says The Darndest Things

Not much set-up needed here. Just another absolutely awesome exchange with my daughter as she prepared for her shower a few minutes ago.
"Please be careful when you take my hair band out. That part still kinda hurts from my bruise."
"What bruise?"
"You remember when i walked into the wall?........well, actually, there are probably lots of them up there because, yeah, well, you know."

I do. That girl walks into walls often. (And, yes, I've had her eyes checked.)

And then she followed that up with a conversation about her Field Day plans for tomorrow. I asked her if she had to partner up with a classmate. She answered yes, but that she wasn't sure if she got to pick her partner or if her teacher would pick. As expected, she told me that if she got to choose, she would pick D (her best friend). I jokingly asked if she thought she'd get to be partners with D if her teacher picks (the two are often in trouble for talking). She laughed and said, "No. Mommy, this is play partners, not 'be quiet' partners.......If it was that, I couldn't be partners with ANYone."
She speaks the truth.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Therapy Update

I recently realize something. Even when Ruby isn't racing towards her next milestone, she is still moving in it's direction. Sometimes slowly and silently, so much so that I don't even recognize it at first. That girl....she's amazing.

What can I say....she's all over the place! Ruby is walking constantly, pushing herself to go further and faster everyday. She still fatigues and will 'drop' to a seated position when her legs run out of steam, but she is never down for long. Her walk is so fast sometimes that I would almost call it a run. Ruby is also riding/pushing around her new bike. She can totally get on and off of it by herself too, which takes more balance than I thought she had.

Ruby is currently able to sort colors, sometimes even with differing objects. She plays this game with me where I think she understands that the red ball and the red button are both red, but she puts one of them in the yellow bucket just to test me. It's all in the way she gives me this sneaky look as she does it, as if to say, "Your move, Mommy." We are also working on threading big wood beads and pasta onto a cord. She does pretty well with that most of the time.
Random signs keep popping up because Ruby is very interested in mimicking these days. She will sign "cow" and "horse" and "cracker" and a few others, even though they don't have a lot of every day relevance for her. She is making more word approximations when we read books together too....that is very cool. Finally, Ruby is starting to follow 2-step directions. (Ex. Pick up the egg and bring it to me.) To be fair, most of these directions are very predictable and related, so they may not be a fair test. That's to say that when I ask her to pick something up and bring it to me or pick up the cup and put it on the table, the secondary action is often an assumed action after the first. But I'm still giving Ruby credit.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cleaning Lady

That girl.
In the last few weeks I have often found her trying to break into the cabinet under the kitchen sink. That's where we keep a big bucket of white rags for the inevitable spills that come from life with three kids (and meals with Maddux). She will reach in and grab one and then take off, randomly wiping spots on the floor or cabinet doors.
It's almost like a security blanket of sorts because once she gets ahold of one, she doesn't want to let it go. I love it. I love it. I love it.
Of course the day I choose to take photos of this cleaning-love, she is wearing a dress-up 'gown'. Very Cinderella-esque.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dinner with Grandparents

While Grandma and Grandpa were in town, Eli and Maddux begged them to go to Ted's Montana Grill. We seriously never go there (maybe twice in their entire life?), but when my mom comes to town, Eli insists on it out of tradition. (Kind of a self-fulfilling prophesy.)

This year it was all four of them, and Maddux and Eli dressed up in their new clothes and all for the occasion. I have been assured that the kids were very well-behaved and chatty in a very awesome way. A few nuggets I heard about afterwards:
  • Maddux asked Grandma, "Can I get the $15 bacon buffalo burger?" I can only imagine that this comes from a conversation I had with them recently about manners when someone else takes you out; we discussed the importance of being aware of how much things cost so as to not order the most pricey thing on the menu.
  • Eli commented to my parents and Maddux that the waiter was great, "He is seriously the best waiter I think I've ever had!" My mom encouraged Eli to tell the waiter, to which Eli refused, likely out of embarrassment. So when he returned to the table, Maddux said, "You are a really good waiter!" When he thanked her ('little lady'), she said, "My brother was going to tell you, buuuuuuut (quick look at Eli, who is embarrassed) he didn't."
  • A conversation about Ruby came up and both kids raved about her as a little sister. Eli said she was the best little sister in the whole world. Maddux said she just loves her so so much. She said something to the effect of, "I know she has Down syndrome, but that doesn't matter cuz she is the best best best." Both kids talked a little about DS with my parents and confessed that they both worry sometimes that people will make fun of her. That's another conversation we've had recently, but I didn't realize it was weighing so heavily on their minds.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

80's Day

Eli and Maddux's school has gone into spirit day overdrive. There are dress-up days all of the time right now. And I love it!

Today was 80's day, which I didn't even realize until the kids came home. Eli started talking about it during snack....he started formulating his plan about a boom box to wear on his shoulder.
By bedtime, Eli had made a cardboard boom box, created a blingy necklace, and gathered his clothes for the morning.
We didn't have as much creativity surrounding Maddux's get-up, but I think Lehr did a smash-up job of fixing her hair, 80's-style.