Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Woo Hoo!

Someone actually read my blog! I got my very first comment yesterday from "followthatdog" at ! I've been reading her blog for a little while along with a ton of others. The Redneck Mommy, Her Bad Mother, Whiskey in my Sippy cup,, Boobs Injuries and Dr Pepper....and many many more. I try to read most of them every evening when I'm putting the Gabe monster to sleep.
Thanks for the comment! Hope to get more soon!
Hopefully everyone has a great 2009.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tomorrow is New Years!!

Still can't believe how fast this year has gone! Having fun chasing kids, and working out towards my goal of losing 100+ lbs. Here's some pics of my African grey, Nintendo. She is a 28yo(or around there) bird that was my best breeder, and is the only one of my birds I was able to keep. Also a few pics of my cockatiels.
1st pic: Shorty the dog, currently 4yo, a shepherd and mastiff mix. 2nd pic: Blondie, a lutino pearl female. 3rd pic: Fudgie,cinnamon pearl pied male. Blondie and Fudgie were two of my baby tiels that I hand raised. 4th pic: Emma, she's a emerald female split to whiteface.
5th pic: Parents of Fudgie and Blondie, on left is Spice a cinnamon female, and right is Woody, a pied male split to whiteface, lutino and cinnamon.
And of course, last pic is my baby, Nintendo! She is very sweet, but will bite if she wants down or if she doesnt like you! She was wild caught at about a yr or so old, back in 1980. I bought my breeding pairs (3) about 4 yrs ago, and had to sell them when we got foreclosed on and had to move. Only allowed 1 dog and 1 bird here.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Almost 2009

I can't believe that the year is almost done! How did it go so fast would be the question of the day. This year has been a whole lot of firsts for us as a family, and starting over, trying to do things right this time.
1) We got foreclosed and moved twice
2) I had to sell my parrots (that I used to breed for extra money to pay bills)
3) Gabe got about 70% potty trained! (if I could just get him to wear undies 70% of the time...)
4) We started home schooling the kids. But this time we put thought into it and bought curriculum, and (gasp) we're sticking with our plan!
5) We learned to make due, when Tyson was closed for those 2 months or so, and learned what we can get by without.

I've been a godmom for 19mos. Adrian was born on May 16, 2006. I was there when he was born, and was the first to hold him and gave him his first bath. We have him most weekends, and sometimes during the week. He's walking and trying to talk some now. To him, I am Tee-Tee, and Mike is My-My. LOL. We picked him up earlier today, and will have him until whenever mom and dad want him back.
I'm also adopted auntie to Austyn (7, he's 8mos younger than Gabe, almost to the day), Lilly(4), and Skylar(3). In fact, we go pick up Austyn at 4 today, and he'll spend the rest of the week here more than likely.
And I have blood related nephews and a niece too. Austin is 8, Daniel is 8, David is 7, Christopher is almost 5, and Brianna just turned 2 back in October. Austin, Daniel and David are my sister Jaime's kids(Austin is her stepson), and Christopher and Brianna are my other sister's kids.
I'm trying to plan our New Years get together, it will be us and the kids, and the 2 extra kids, and maybe my adopted brother and his new "friend".

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Got a phone call this morning that a friend of the family passed away this morning at 5am. He was taken in to the hospital a week ago Saturday and had a heart attack. He was released on the 23rd, and celebrated his 50th birthday on Christmas Eve. He was taken back to the hospital last night, not sure if he had another heart attack or not yet. The call was made at 5am that he went home to heaven this morning.
Now I'm wondering when the funeral and visitation will be. Hope my next post is better than this one.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Man am I sore!

Just started working out recently with the Total Gym, and am doing 45 minutes at a time now. My body is rebelling and telling me where to go! So far I've only lost 2 lbs, but hey 2 is better than none! Been drinking lots of water, about 2-3 liters a day. Plus of course my coffee, because I'm not human without it.
So far the kids are doing well, we have a lot of things that we are working on right now, and James wants to do some Unit Studies. We are planning a unit on the Solar System, and one about Rome and the gladiators. Caitlin wants to do a unit on different types of cats, and Caleb hasn't decided what he wants to do.
On another note, our basement is leaking, so I spent today washing clothes and rearranging the basement to make sure that our stuff wouldn't get ruined or wet. I moved the shelving units from one end of the basement to the other and got Mount Laundry contained. Then Mike wet vac'd it and I mopped. We got 5 loads of laundry done today, and have 2 more loads in right now, so tomorrow is fold it and put it all away time.
We are looking for a place sometime after spring gets here, but are in a lease until July 31. I hope the next place we find has some counter space! Course a first floor laundry would be awesome too! We've decided to look within an hour of where we live now, which opens up a lot of possibilities. That gives us: Janesville, Milton, Fort Atkinson, Johnson Creek, Whitewater, Watertown, and Jefferson, plus probably a few others that I can't think of right now.
Still trying to figure out how to get traffic to my blog, haven't had much time to do much of anything lately though, but I have a few minutes here and there to post. I'm going to try and post every day, hopefully that will keep me motivated.

Friday, December 26, 2008

New Years Goal!

I've decided that my main goal for the new year is to become healthy by losing some of this extra baggage that I've been carrying for the last 11 years (no not the husband lol). I am twice the weight I should be for my height. Not a good thing with a family history of cancer, heart attack, stroke and diabetes.
I bought a glucose meter a while ago, and have been keeping track of my sugar levels. I have pretty much cut out sweets, and pop. I'm relearning what portion sizes are. I want to be happy with my body. I want my husband to be proud to be seen with me in public, and my kids. But most of all, I want to be there to see my kids grow up. I've come to realize that I can't do Gabe or Caleb any good, or Caitlin or James, if I don't take care of myself.

I'm going to stick with it. It's going to get hard, and I'm going to want to quit, but I know I have to do this.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Been AWOL for a while!

LOL, long time no blog! Been very busy, dealing with the kids' school, and the kids themselves. We're all doing fairly well, just some minor bumps in the road of life.

Gabe has developed a real phobia about school, and school has been unwilling to change his placement. He hasn't really progressed in the last few months at school, if anything he's regressed in some areas. We made the decision a few weeks ago to pull the kids from public school and homeschool them. So far, so good. Their last day was the 18th, which was their last day before winter break (the 19th was a snow day!). We're working on phonics and numbers (and alphabet lol) for Gabe, and regular curriculum and phonics for reading for Caleb, and a regular curriculum for the other 2. Caleb is behind in reading (kinder level at 2nd grade), so I think that the extra reading and phonics will do him a world of good.
James is looking forward to learning more and catching up to the grade he should be in, or at least getting closer. His reading is coming along fine, and that is what held him back in public school.
Caitlin is doing fine, with her it's more of a behavior/attitude thing. She doesnt think it's fair that the 2 younger boys are doing different work than her. Her reading is at grade level, just a little behind (public school uses a letter system: she should be at an "H" or "I" level, but is at a "G").

Gabe is learning his letters, slowly, but learning. We have hooked on pre-k, and jumpstart pre-k and a couple other jumpstart cd roms that we are using with him. He knows his colors, shapes, and some numbers. And so far these letters: A,W,R,M,U,C,D,u,x,b,g,a! Thats major for him! The public school has been trying to teach him the alphabet for 2 1/2 yrs, and thats as farther than they've gotten.

More later, trying to get Gabe to fall asleep, it's quarter after 10 and he's still going strong!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Been A Busy Couple of Weeks!

It's been crazy around here! My little sis is finally moved down to Missouri. The kids are still being kids. Got their progress reports, all pretty good. James got great grades. His uncle promised him that if he got all good grades he'd buy him a Nintendo DS. So guess what he brought over for James on Thursday? Yup, a DS. And 2 games. Sonic and a Star Wars game.
So of course that means that the other kids wanted to play and are a little upset that James got something. So off to EBAY! We have won 2 auctions so far, and are bidding on 3 more, for games and accessories.
Thats all for now!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Some Pics Of The Kids

(top row)
First pic: James, age 9 in this pic, still looks about the same now at almost 11.
Second pic: Caitlin, age 8 in this pic, looks about the same now at 9, just longer hair.
(bottom row)
Third pic: Caleb, my blondie and Caitlins twin, also at age 8, and about the same now at 9.
Last: Gabe, who looks more like Caitlin than Caleb does, about age 6, looks almost the same at 7, longer hair and has big boy top and bottom teeth now.

These pics were taken just before the 07-08 school year started, Caitlin had just got that haircut.
More later!

Grrrrrr...One Of Those Kind Of Weeks!

Ok, first off, thank god it's Saturday and there's no school! Wednesday Caleb woke up with hives all over his entire body -- literally from scalp to the soles of his feet. So we went to the Dr., got a script for Prednisone, and directions to do a baking soda bath and give the Prednisone and benadryl along with tylenol for the fever he had. Thursday he still had the hives, so he was still home from school. Friday we went for allergy testing and of course that went well, he wouldn't let them near him, so we'll have to reschedule that. Long story short, the hives are gone, and we don't know what caused them.
Then yesterday, my computer cord decided to have an issue of it's own. As I was surfing the net, my cord started to smoke and spark, and it melted! It's covered under warranty, so I'll have a new one by Tuesday or Wednesday. Nothing more than a mild inconvenience, but it makes it harder to get online and post. Still waiting to see if anyone finds my blog, and if anyone has found it, waiting to see if they leave a comment or anything.
Not much else going on, except that the prednisone has really done a number on him. He's been hyper as hell and mouthy on top of it. Last night was a 2 hour ordeal, where he was throwing himself around and screaming. I really was worried that he may hurt himself. He threw everything within reach and was kicking the wall and the window, was throwing himself down on the bed and the floor. He's only got one more day to take it, but I'm still going to call the doc on Monday and tell him about last night. I want it documented in his records that he has a reaction to prednisone. Will post more when I get my new power cord.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Woo Hoo I Have Internet!!!!

Yes I am FINALLY back online at home! No more having to run elsewhere to log on and check email. About damn time too!
It's Monday, and we all know what that means. Anything that can go wrong, will. So far, so good. Got up on time, kids dressed on time. Good there. Got to school on time, and everyone in their classes on time. Good there too. Got into the Dr.s office without having to wait 10 yrs, and managed not to have the school call me for any of the kids. Good there as well, so now I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I figured that someone would be reading this by now, and maybe even leave a comment or two by now. Guess not. Weird, cause the last time I set up a blog, I had comments and readers by the end of the first week or so. But hey, I figure that people are busy, and maybe I need to link to another blog or something. Which of course I'm at a loss as to how to do that...

Guess thats it for now, maybe I'll post more later. Hell, who knows maybe I'll even post a couple of pictures.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Back To School Night...and pondering the past

Well, Thursday was interesting. The kids had their first field trip of the school year, and went to a magic show of some sort. Some guy named Tim Horton, or something like that. From what I hear it was a good show. And Thursday night was Back to School Night. Got to meet all the teachers and have pizza and all that. James' teacher seems waaaaay too perky, lol, the kind of girl you might tell to lay off the coffee. Caleb's teacher is very understanding, she has done wonders with him, and used to be a special ed teacher. Caitlin's teacher is good, but young. Caitlin likes her though, so that's good at least, I just can't believe how young the teachers are getting. It seems like they get younger every year. Gabe's teacher is ok, but I'm not sure that he's really engaged and learning anything in class. I have met the teacher for the self-contained class, and found out that I already knew her from my days at McDonald's. She used to work at the school by where I worked and would stop by everyday.
I've already told her that if things don't work out with the current placement, that her class would be the other alternative. I think there are only about 6 or so students in her class currently, so the size wouldn't be a problem for him.

They're all doing well in school now, and are adjusting to the new routine. My internet will be up and running on Monday. My baby sis is not only pregnant, but moving to Missouri. One of my best friends is moving back here from Washington State after she has her baby in March. Life's been kinda chaotic, but all in all not too bad. I figure writing is cheaper than therapy, so what the hell.
I had wanted to write when I was younger, and talk about my childhood and how it sucked. About being a teenager, and first loves and all that. But it never happened. Instead of going out and experiencing the world, I got pregnant. Then I got married...and I was just stuck that way, kind of in a rut, not sure which way to turn or what to do to make my situation the way I wanted it. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade my kids for anything, but some days I wish I had waited, that I could go back and re-write it and see how things would be if the little details of my life were just changed a little bit.
I had planned on joining the Army after I graduated. Worked hard on studying for the ASVAB, a test that I would have to take to get in, and on being in shape to pass any of the physical requirements that I would need to pass. I thought that it would be what I would do for a career, that I would become a Medical Specialist, and then go for further training and become a Special Ed teacher or something along those lines. But it didn't happen. Instead I found myself drawn to a man that I still don't really know. We met at the grocery store where he worked (and I shopped, lol). I was 17, and he was 18. His family is the type that always does stuff for each other, and knows exactly what each other is doing. He had never dated, and was totally unlike any of the guys I had ever been with before. All of a sudden, I was making plans that included him, and for a while I thought that meant still going into the Army, and moving him with me.
That Christmas, he asked me to marry him, and I figured that we could marry after graduation in June. I turned 18 in January, and we found out in February that we were pregnant. Needless to say, that shot the whole idea of going into the Army.
We married over Spring-Break in March. March 21st to be exact. James was born in October. In October, when he was a year old, we found out we were pregnant again. On January 18th, the day after I turned 20, I found out it would be twins, and that at least 1 of them was a girl. Caleb and Caitlin were born at the end of May, 2 weeks before their due date. And 22 months later, Gabe came along. I had my tubes tied then, thinking that if I didn't we'd probably keep having them 2 years apart or so. I felt let down after that, almost like I was supposed to have more babies, but had rejected fate or something. I still have days like that, maybe that's why I always "borrow" friend's kids for the weekend.
We've had LOTS of ups and downs. We've had times where we barely spoke and neither one of us could stand even being in the same room as the other. We've bought a house together, and went through foreclosure together. We've moved 8 times, nine if you include moving downstairs after the tenants moved out of the house we bought. We've been through 3 births and 1 miscarriage. And through 11 years (almost 12) of marriage.
I won't lie, it hasn't been easy. There have been a lot of days where I have wanted to be single, and once or twice where I actually thought that was it I wanted a divorce. It's been a long road, with many potholes that we've had to bump along. But most of it has just been easy enough to go along with the flow.
Enough for now, next time maybe something about my teenage years, when kids were wild and crazy...or maybe just crazy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Our Week So Far....

Well, Monday I went to the new school to see how long it would take for the kids to be started at the new school and register them and all that. I was told they could start Tuesday, and that they already had picked out which teachers that they would have. Ok, fine, saves gas and will be an easy transition right?? NOT!! Even though we have been talking about the possibility for a couple of months (ever since we got ready to move), and have emphasized that it was a possibility, someone was bound and determined that HE was NOT going! And it wasnt Gabe! It was Caleb!
He wouldnt get out of the van, then he wouldnt go into the class to meet the teacher before school started, then he wouldnt go in period, even when the bell rang...see a pattern there??? It took me until about 10:30 or so to be able to leave! He had a complete meltdown, crying screaming and all that until I finally got him settled in the Sped teacher's office. He could be heard all through the first floor of the school! The Sped teacher is an angel, without him, that tantrum/fit/meltdown could have lasted a LOT longer. He was so upset that he was hyperventilating and drooling and everything. Not a good situation, but on the plus side, he is doing MUCH better now.
Gabe did well, he only had a few issues with going to the new class, and he does still say he's going to go back to his other school. They gave him a new chewy tube, so he wouldnt eat his shirt collar, and he's getting into the routine.
James and Caitlin are doing great, of course, as they seem to adjust the best to all this.
And on a completely unrelated subject...I'm going to be an aunt again! My baby sis just found out that she is pregnant again, about 7 weeks along according to the pregnancy calculator.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Long Weekend!

I'm soooooo glad that they go back to school tomorrow!!!! Mike goes back to work tomorrow, he's had the last week off for vacation with school starting back up. Fun for him, not so much for the kids. Friday was interesting, I had Adrian (my godson) and my 4 and my little sister and her 2 kids! Too many kids!
On another note, Gabe's special ed teacher met me on the playground on Friday when I got there a little early to wait for the kids. She wanted to let me know that the school is having to transfer some students, only the ones with open enrollment, and that Gabe was the only one of mine that would be transfered as they had too many first graders. Not happening, I did not work hard to get them all at one school just to have one transfered out to another school! So, tomorrow, after I drop them at school, I have to run over to the school closest to us (the one they'd be going to anyway if they weren't open enrolled) and find out what I need to do to get them set up over at the new school.
Yesterday we pretty much just sat around and cleaned house and stuff. Today though we went to "Heritage Days" which is basically a bunch of tours of the old mill and horse rides and stuff. Gabe's favorite part was the bee display, and he got to taste the different honey's that the farm makes. We also bought some honey with a piece of honey comb in it, and some whipped honey. So good! He did pretty well, only problem was getting free of one of us and running loose among the other people. Caleb and him were also enthralled by the blacksmith demo that they had too. It was amazing to watch them watching him work, it seemed like they didn't even blink most of the time that he was working. We got to watch him make a meat fork, a bottle opener, and a fork/spoon combo that had the fork on one end and the spoon on the other. It was a great day!
Not looking forward to the drama of moving to the other school, and I found out that the school that they're at now doesn't even have a copy of his eval's from Waisman Center yet, and I gave the school at least 4 copies already over the course of the last year or so. Messed up situation there, to say the least.
We'll have internet a week from Monday (on the 15th) and then I might actually be able to post everyday! Or at least whenever I feel like it instead of having to wait until I have a chance to go somewhere that has internet. Grandpa Dave is coming home tonight, so hopefully next post will have info on how it was down in Louisiana while he was there this past week!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Back To School

Wow where to start! Busy Busy Busy! The kids started back to school on Tuesday, 1/2 day thankfully so Gabe did fairly good. Wednesday was a full day, and a little more challenging. I got to meet Gabe's teacher and the Special Ed teacher that will be working with him and Caleb. Gabe seems to really like her, which is a plus. Also met Caitlin's teacher, in passing, and will get to talk to her tonight at back to school night.
Saturday we all took a trip to Milwaukee( about 80+ miles one way), and spent time dropping Grandpa at the airport, and visiting with Aunt Rae, Uncle Pete, Aaron and Uncle Kevin. We spent the entire day there, finally getting home at about 8pm (we left at 7 am). On the way home, my van nearly died on the interstate going up hill. Not Cool!
So, now we not only need a fuel regulator, and O2 sensors, but we also need fuel line to replace where it's crimped, and tie-rod ends, inner and outer on BOTH sides. It's fun going out of town, cause that's when you find out what all's wrong with your vehicle, lol. But we did get back in one piece, and no one got hurt in the process. We had a lot to talk about on the way back, as Mom and Uncle Kevin were going through some of Grandma's (my mom's mom) stuff and he let mom take home a bunch of pictures and letters and things.
I think the kids had a good day all in all, because we only had 1 or 2 meltdowns all day. We even got to stop in at the little museum at the airport.
Sunday wasnt too bad, we mostly sat around and recuperated from Saturday. Monday wasnt bad, we had a birthday party for Mom, who turned 49 on Tuesday. Jaime made her a cake shaped like the Playboy Bunny. You should have seen the look on Mom's face! Priceless!
We also had a cook out on Monday, and had Phil down, and Jaime and her kids, and Roberta and her kids, and one little neighbor boy, who's name escapes me. That means at any given time on Monday, I had 9 kids at my house! Talk about busy.
All this craziness kind of seems normal most of the time. The kids are adjusting well to school. No one's trying to kill each other (yet, lol) and no one's had homework yet.
Back to school night is tonight from 5:30 to 7, hopefully I only hear good things about the progress...course on day 3 of school it's usually a little early for progress already.
Next post, hopefully some more about school...who knows!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Our Basic Day...

This is from my other blog, "Our Adventures In Autism" that I can't access because the email I used doesn't exist anymore. It recounts how our days usually go, at least as of this last school year.

A Bubba Kind Of Day

So heres how a normal day (school day) goes with Bubba.
6am: Wake from my dead sleep and hit the snooze, Bubba was up at 2, and is sleeping soundly beside me.
6:15 - I'm up, and getting the other kids moving. James and Caitlin dress themselves. I dress Caleb, and send him to the living room to put his shoes on. Time to tackle the Gabe (aka Bubba).
6:30 - I half carry, half drag Bubba down the stairs, and deposit him on the couch. Then comes the chore of dressing. First, off comes the pull-up. His teacher insists that he wear undies to school, which is fine, because for some odd reason, he accepts potty at school as part of the routine now (go figure with like 2 months of school left!). Then undies go on, then socks, and yes it has to be the same way everyday, and heaven forbid I forget and do socks first, or shirt! Next is shirt, then pants, then shoes. Give Caleb his meds, and Bubba a cereal bar. James and Caitlin are finally dressed, so I motivate them to get breakfast.
7:15 - I send James out to start the van so it will be warm when we go out.
7:30 - Time to leave for school(s). Drop James, Caleb and Caitlin at their school, and then head out to Bubba's. Bubba goes to a different school because the one that the other kids go to doesn't have special ed classes.
7:45 - Finally get Bubba out of the van, after listening to him tantrum for the last 15 plus minutes and coaxing and practically begging for him to calm down, mommy's right here. We walk up to the school, and wait where he lines up.
8 am - The bell rings, and I hope to God that he will go in without me, but I know it's not gonna happen without a fight. And I'm right! So in we go, and I help him off with his coat and things, and hand him his stuff to hang up. As he goes in the coat room, I wave to the teacher and she nods and smiles as I hurry out the door. I hit the outer door, and hear "where mommy? where mommy go?"
8:10 - It usually takes about 10 minutes for me to escape, because he knows, or seems to know, what's going to happen next. But the funny part is, he always, ALWAYS, does the exact same thing, down to how slowly he walks. It's like he choreographs it exactly, down to the step. Amazing!
So I do all my running, my visiting and stuff. And before I know it, it's 2:30 and time to head to Bubba's school to pick him up first. (Gotta get there early to find a parking spot!!)
2:51 - School is out! Herd him to the van. Wrestle him into his carseat, and hurry to buckle him before he can escape.
Then we rush the 4+ blocks to pick up the other kids.
Home by 3:15, and we start homework.
Dinner around 6-ish.
7:30 - James and the other kids get out their clothes for school, and I approve or deny what they want to wear (no you may not wear shorts in 10 degree weather!). I get out Bubba's clothes. And in between all this, try to potty him every 1/2 hr to an hour.
8:30 - Bedtime, easier said than done. Put James, Caleb, and Caitlin to bed. Bubba hangs out with me on the couch, no TV, til he passes out, which is usually around 9:30-10:00. Then off to bed for me about 11 or so, and wake again at 2-ish when he comes upstairs.

At least he's regular!

This year though, they are all going to the same school! Only one school to stop at, one place to unload and re-load. One school to expect phone calls from. One open house night to go to. Wow I may not know what to do with all that extra time, might have to take up a hobby.

When They Were Little.....

It's been interesting looking back at how much progress Caleb has made since we got the diagnosis at 2 1/2. He was a lot like Gabe, in the sense that we knew he was different from the moment he was born. He was an alert baby, always wanting to be held and be where the action was. The only problem was that being where the action was invariably overwhelmed him to the point where we were reduced to taking him to a darkened room to calm him. He was an up-your-butt-24/7 kind of baby, always wanting mom, no one else would do.
Caleb was a headbanger and a hair puller and a hand biter. He would put anything in his mouth, rocks, sand, dirt, and his favorite-the string fringe from his blanket, which he would pull out and eat. He was always very fond of high pitched noises, and often preferred to scream and screech. Even with him having speech therapy and learning sign language, his preferred method of getting someone's attention was to stand or sit in the middle of the room and scream or screech at the top of his voice.
When he was evaluated at Waisman Center in Madison, in 2002, we had already pretty much figured that they were going to say autism. He knew a few signs, and only had a few words. He had strange behaviors, and needed things to always be the same. We, at that time, only wanted to have a label that the school district could work with, and wanted to know what kind of things we could do to make things easier for him and help him learn. He entered the Early Childhood program at 3, when he aged-out of the Early Intervention program. He had a hard time at first, and cried a lot, was always upset when it was time to get on the bus and upset when he came home. He finished his first year, with Caitlin in an adjoining classroom, and had actually started to progress a little. Their second year, they were sent to another school, still together and this time in the same class. They were both having problems adjusting, and were upset going to and from school. James was also having some trouble in his Kinder class that he had just started. He had trouble with rhyming words and matching sounds and such.
So, in February of 2004, we decided against the teachers wishes, and pulled the kids to homeschool. I figured it this way, we could work at their pace without all the anxiety and drama, and we could make progress. After a year and a few months, neither one of the twins knew any of the alphabet or could recognize their names on the board. They could not count and did not know their numbers. So thats what we worked on first. We learned numbers and letters, and it took time, but they learned their names and how to write them. First, middle and last. They learned to write their address and phone number. And to read simple words. All three together, learning the same things.
We had fun! We went to the library, and for walks. We went on trips to Milwaukee and Chicago, to see the museums and the Shedd Aquarium. They started to like learning again. We probably could have done more academic stuff, but we were so caught up with everything else that writing and reading kind of fell by the wayside most of the time. My Grandmother was sick and in the hospital and not expected to recover. She had fallen and broken her hip, and also had a heart attack. If they had been in school, they wouldn't have had the opportunity to spend time with her and say goodbye. A month later, Aunt Rose, my grandmother's sister, passed as well. Then Mike's grandfather was diagnosed with colon cancer. He was diagnosed in August, and by January he was gone. Again, if they were in school, they wouldn't have been able to spend as much time with him. They got to treasure the moments that they spent with grandpa before he left us.
By March of 2006, homeschooling had come to a standstill. We were dealing with our grief, and trying to get thru all the issues that having 3 deaths in 6 months will give you. So, we talked to the kids, and decided that putting them back in public school would be a good option for now. So we went to the district and had them tested for re-entry into the system. Wow that was fun, NOT!!! James should have been in 3rd grade, but since he had issues with his reading, we would do his work together. That meant that he could not read the parts of the test that they wanted him to. So when they decided where to place him, they put him in 1st grade instead of 3rd. The twins they stuck in Kinder, figuring since there was only a month and a half of school left they could get familiar with that and got to kinder the next year. Which of course meant that since James was supposed to be in 3rd, but was placed in 1st, and would re-do 1st the next year, it meant that he was 3 years behind the kids that he went to Kinder with. And the twins would have been 1st graders, but were placed in Kinder, and re-did Kinder that next year, putting them 2 years behind.
Gabe was the fun one to test. He was just turning 5, and went thru the Kinder screening, which made it quite clear that he had special needs. He then was sent for a whole slew of Special Ed testing, and we got a referral for Waisman Center for him as well. He had a whole stack of papers at the end. It told us that at 5, he functioned at an 18 month level in most areas with a ceiling (high) level of 30 months. It really hurt me finding just how far behind he was. I knew he had some delays, but comparing him to the twins, he seemed ok. His Dr. never mentioned being overly concerned to me, but while we were testing, he sent the school a form stating that he was showing "significant delays and concerns in all areas". It was definitely eye opening. He was placed in the Early Childhood program, making an exception for his age (because kids usually age out at 5, and go into a regular Kinder program, or and EC-K kinder class). So he was placed with a group of 3 and 4 year olds, even though his abilities were below most of theirs.
Gabe went to Waisman Center in October of 2006, missing school for 2 days for the evaluations, and on October 26, he was formally diagnosed autistic. His follow up appointment where we would see the speech pathologist and psych and all that and have his cognitive assessments done, was May of 2007, where he was diagnosed with a ton more issues. "No soft palate movement, insufficient closure of the velo-pharynx, highly nasal speech, hypotonia..." and of course, "Mild mental retardation with a full-scale IQ of 53."

Gabe has come a long way, as have the other kids. He still has a long way to go, and may never fully be independent, or live on his own. But that's just something that we will have to deal with when we get there.

Thats all for now, next post, an average day in our life.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where to Begin....

If someone had told me when I was younger that I'd have four kids and be married 11 years by
the time I turned 30, I would have said they were crazy. But here I am, almost 30, four kids and a hubby.
If anyone had told me that autism would be involved in my everyday life, and that developmental delays, IEP's and all that go with them would be normal for me, I'd also have said they were nuts. But again, here I am, two of my boys have autism, one also has mental retardation and other issues. Three of the four have IEP's , all are in mainstream classes, some with support, some without.

It's been a long road, and it stretches far ahead. My oldest, James, was born seven months after we married(no thats not why we married*grin*). He weighed in at 8lbs 10.5 oz, and he developed right on schedule, and the only concern we had was that his lead was elevated at a year old. We had the Dr. see him right away and within 6 months his lead was back to normal. When he was 19 months, we had the twins.

Caleb weighed in at 5lbs 15oz, and Caitlin weighed in at 5lbs 1oz. They were healthy and good size, and Caitlin only had to be under the warming lights and have a little extra oxygen for the first few hours. Caleb had torticollis, so we were showed how to position him, and given gentle stretching exercises to help with the tightness in his neck.

The twins both had developmental delays, which everyone kept telling me was normal for twins. They started therapy with the Birth-to-3 program at 7 months, and had physical, occupational and speech therapy. It was slow going with the therapy. Caitlin first sat unassisted at 12 months, and finally walked at 22 months. Caleb was a little quicker, sitting at 10 months and walking at 19 months.

About the time that Caitlin was taking her first steps, baby #4 was here. Gabriel weighed in at 7lbs 5oz. Caitlin took her first steps three days before her baby brother was born. He was a different kind of baby, always wanting to nurse, and be held, and he NEVER seemed to sleep more than a half hour at a time. Little did I know, this would be important later.

Caleb was always different, and was diagnosed as autistic in March 2002, and diagnosed with ADHD in July of 2004. He finally potty trained at about 6 years old, though even now, he still has at least 1 accident a week. We'd had concerns about Gabriel as well, as he showed many of the same signs as Caleb, and October 26, 2006 he was diagnosed as autistic as well. Then another blow, he was diagnosed as mildly mentally retarded, with an IQ of about 53. He still isn't potty trained as of this point, but does try now, and wears underwear most of the day. It's a big thing for him, going from pull-ups full time, to one or two accidents a day!
Caitlin has been a puzzle for the most part, she grows very slowly, and the Dr's don't know why. She's had test after test, all come back normal. She's a year and a half delayed in bone growth, and at 9 years old is about the size of the average 6-7 year old. She is a little slow, academically wise, and is going into 2nd grade instead of 3rd or 4th like her age-mates. For the longest time, she wouldn't eat, and even now has textures that she can't tolerate. She's been diagnosed as failure to thrive, small for gestational age, constitutional growth delay, and bone growth delay.
Caleb is also going into the 2nd grade, but with the problems he has, he needs a lot more support than she, and is farther behind socially as well. Caitlin is reading at a mid- to late first grade level, where Caleb is reading at a mid- to late kindergarten level. Quite a difference!
James is going into 3rd grade, he should be going into 5th, but he is also behind in reading skills, and reads at grade-level rather than at age-level.

Gabe is a whole other ball of wax. He spent a year in a regular Early Childhood class, and then a year in Early Childhood-Kinder class. His current level of performance puts him at about an early Preschool (3-4yo, depending on the area) level. But, that is up from his initial evaluation, which had him at an 18-30 month level, depending on the area. He will be in a split reg-ed and spec-ed class, with the instruction tailored to his level.

Both the boys still have speech, and Gabe also has PT and OT.

I guess that's the beginning, next post to follow when I have a few free minutes when the kids are sleeping.