Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The Individual Medley

The IM. It is both older kids' favorite event. The madness that is 25yds (or meters) each of butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle. Most kids we know kind of dread it, but my two crazies love it. Lehr got a short video of each of their last swim meet IM swims.
Notice that Maddux is not wearing goggles...it should come as no surprise to everyone that she has misplaced them yet again. She crushed most of her events that night; imagine if she'd had her gear with her!

Monday, June 08, 2015

Speech

We are cruising through the preliminary lessons with our new speech therapist! While Ruby is not necessarily saying any more words, she is moving her mouth in new ways and giving a few new sounds. Her biggest 'new thing' is her 'ooo' and 'ohhh'. She gives a great pursed lip position and will even say long and short o's. We also taught her to blow, as if blowing out a candle, just in time for her birthday. One day while practicing that, she actually whistled!
Today Ruby worked on all of the vowel sounds and added a consonant to them (both before and after). Nonsense words, but these are all building blocks. The therapist was so impressed with Ruby and kept commenting on how much she takes in during the session.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Swim Season

Seriously our favorite season every year. Even though the kids never opt to participate in year-round swimming, for 6-8 weeks every summer, they go into a swimming frenzy, soaking up every lesson, every stroke clinic, and every second of their pool time, instructional and otherwise
Both kids are in their 'younger' year of their age brackets, meaning they should be doing just 'ok' (based on previous seasons). However, they are both crushing their previous times! Eli always gets a little serious, practicing little things to shave seconds off here and there, but now Maddux has gotten into the spirit of competition too and she really seems to care.
One thing that has helped them so far has been friendly competition with someone else on the team. Eli loves going head-to-head with Drew (his BFF, lest you forget). While they both have strengths in different strokes, they still push each other in every event they swim in. Eli finished in front of Drew by about a hair last week and he practically jumped out of the water after he found out. And Maddux and Maggie have swam together for years (Maggie is AMAZINGLY fast) but this year, Maddux is really trying to beat her.
So far, it's all friendly, and it's working. Between Monday night and Wednesday night last week, both Eli and Maddux shaved seconds off of each of their times, even though Wednesday's meet did not have diving blocks (meaning their times should have been a little slower).

Here are my two fish at the meet last week. Notice Maddux leaving the blocks late EVERY time. She said she couldn't hear the horn at all. (Note, she still crushed her times, even with her 1+ second delay each event.)

Monday, June 01, 2015

Freedom by Bike

We've been taking the kids mountain biking since before I was pregnant with Ruby, and both kids have always had an interest in riding around in the street. Recently though, Eli has noticed a few kids his age riding bigger bikes with gears. As he's navigated the trails, and the hills in our neighborhood for that matter, he's started to realize the reason for those gears. A few weeks ago he started talking seriously about saving up for a mountain bike with gears. A few extra chores put him over the amount he may need (combined with his savings) to buy a used bike. Because Lehr is an awesome dad, he combed the Craig's List ads and found a few that would work. After one fall through, Eli found a seller that would let him come test drive.

Eli is in LOVE with his new bike. As he's now able to ride through the neighborhood with more ease, he wants to explore more. Our rule has always been just our street, but Eli worked hard over the weekend to earn some trust (and put in plenty of practice on the new bike), so he had his boundary extended a bit. He's gone on a few bike rides through the neighborhood with his friend, Drew, and he's gone on several solo ventures too. Eli always brings his walkie talkie (with me at the other end) and his watch. When he leaves for his ride, and when he comes home, he is absolutely beaming with excitement and pride. I think he is so impressed with himself that he can bike that far (physically) and that he's grown up enough to do it on his own.
Maddux is also in the new-bike club. Drew fixed up and gave Maddux his old bike, which is the perfect size for her. (Sidenote: he told his mom he wanted to give it to her because she (Maddux) always gives other people things and tries to make them happy. Love. Him.) Maddux has not quite earned enough trust to leave our street, but she is still enjoying the new found abilities she has with her geared bike.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Beach

We surprised the kids with a long weekend trip to the beach upon finishing the last day of school. The night before the final day, we were eating dinner and I commented how on Friday (the first non-school day) I wanted to just hang out at the pool all day. Oh, and wouldn't it be cool if Daddy could take the day off and hang out with us. We played around with that for a minute or two and then Lehr told them he would, but only if we went to the pool at Watercolor.

Of course, they nodded and said yes (thinking it was a joke, but yay that Daddy was staying home). Then Lehr told them he was serious, that he wouldn't join us unless we went to Watercolor. I told them we should pack our bags then, because I wanted Daddy to go to the pool with us. It took several minutes for them to get it, but they were beyond psyched once they did.
We left first thing Friday morning so that we could make it to the beach just after lunch. Ruby LOVED the ocean...she stood on the shore with the waves tickling her toes for a long LONG time. Then she was in and out of the water a bunch, in the sand a bunch, and then stayed awake until we rode to dinner, walked around, and then came home. In fact, she fell asleep on the bike ride home and slept later than we expected the next day...her body didn't know what to do with all of that natural PT!

Lehr rented a surf board for the weekend, so the kids were up and down on that several times, and out with the boogie board several times, and with the innertube several times. In fact, they didn't leave the water much! Ruby stayed sand-side most of her time, but was very happy to float in the ocean when Lehr would take her. (I'm not as water-happy as the rest of them.)

We rode bikes, went to the beach, rode the waves, ate ice cream on our deck, built sandcastles, went to the pool, ate dinner on the beach, played shuffleboard, walked Seaside, found new pools, ate fish sandwiches, went to two farmers' markets, rode bikes some more, ate breakfast on the porch....I don't think we could have fit more into our weekend trip if we tried!





Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Speech Therapist

Ruby started with another speech therapist last week. For those counting, that makes three that we check in with regularly. (She has one through Babies Can't Wait, one who is a speech therapist and also a T21 mom, who we see monthly-quarterly, and now the new one who is myofunctional.) I know....sounds kinda crazy. We really think Ruby is in a state of big potential surrounding her speech, and all three therapists attack her speech in very different ways. They also get different results from her. I don't mean that when they ask her to say 'yes', she answers differently to each therapist. Instead, one is great at getting her to slow down and focus on the individual sounds, one is great at keeping her pushing ahead and giving word approximations, etc.
So here we are, with a myofunctional specialist who is focusing on individual sounds produced with the correct form. So far Ruby loves her (maybe because she ended our evaluation with a lollipop!). We spent over two hours with her the other day going over what Ruby does and does not do and what our initial goals are.

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

Speech:
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.

Behavior/General:
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

Softball

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.