Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Teddy's Tree

We went to cut down our Christmas tree Sunday. I had the carrier around my waist, but we helped Teddy walk as we looked for our perfect tree. At one point, we let go of his hands, and he took right off toward a tree. He reached out and touched it with a huge smile on his face.

We had 3 out of 4 looking for the photo. That's respectable.

As it turns out, that's the tree we got, partially because it was the tree Teddy chose. AJ helped cut down the tree, and we headed home. Thankfully, Teddy was willing to take a snooze while we did most of the decorating.

AJ loved the tree trimming experience!

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to give Teddy the opportunity to help decorate the tree because I think he'd love putting ornaments on the tree ... and then he'd pull them off ... and put them on ... and pull them off ... and somewhere in this process the tree would topple over. As long as it didn't maim or kill Teddy, he would think it's hilarious.

So we took the approach that it was best if Teddy didn't see us touching the tree and we instituted the "no touching" rule. (Oh, that's funny! Like Teddy follows rules!) On the bright side, we've made it 48 whole hours with the tree still standing.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving ... Is Over

Get it? I'm wishing you a belated Happy Thanksgiving ... and I'm happy Thanksgiving is over.

The boys and I headed over to my folks' farm Wednesday afternoon. We spent a fun afternoon playing in the snow, building snowmen and Teddy getting 4-wheeler rides with Grandpa. We enjoyed ice cream for dinner, following my family's tradition that whoever gets a deer while hunting has to buy ice cream for the entire group (including the non-hunters). AJ listened to stories with Grandma Goose, as he calls my mom, while I stayed with Teddy until he fell asleep. Then AJ went to bed without a peep, and I played cards a bit with my family before heading to bed.

Snow much fun!

Then the fun began. Teddy woke once, and settled back down fairly easily. But when he woke again, he wouldn't settle down. What resulted was at least an hour of fairly quiet flopping around, sitting on my neck, kicking me and constant adjusting. The real problems began when he discovered two things:
  1. There was a door that led out of the room.
  2. AJ was sleeping on the bed right above him.
The first discovery came when I finally gave into the urge to use the bathroom (partially to give myself a quick break from Teddy and my increasing frustration). The second came when Teddy began screaming when I wouldn't let him leave the room, and those screams woke up AJ.

So between 4-4:30 a.m., I took Teddy out to the car to give AJ the opportunity to fall back asleep. After I had a meltdown (because I'm guessing I'd been up with Teddy since probably 2 a.m.) while Teddy contentedly played in the car, we took a quick drive around the block to give Teddy a break. Well, that backfired because when we went back in the house, I found AJ sobbing quietly.

Apparently, AJ saw the car lights leave and thought we were leaving without him. My brother got him calmed down to quiet sobs, and I consoled him while Teddy was all excited to see AJ. AJ offered to sing Teddy a song to make him fall asleep, so AJ serenaded us with Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Needless to say, that didn't work.

At 5 a.m. I took both boys to the car to hang out until others in my family awoke. The reason we were in the car is because there's no place to easily contain Teddy and keep the boys fairly quiet without waking the whole house or chasing Teddy everywhere. It's simply so much harder to have Teddy anywhere than home because our home is as Teddy-proof as any place (aside from a padded room) could be, and there's space to go with him.

Car selfie at 5 a.m. Yippee!
I was quite happy when 6:30 a.m. rolled around because it meant I passed my adorable children off to my folks and went for a 5-mile Turkey Trot run with my brother. My patience was recharged when we returned since it had been depleted during the hours of 2-6:30 a.m.

Who doesn't want their picture with a turkey?

Dinner was another struggle with Teddy, though, because he does not sit well in regular chairs and is still refusing high chairs. I ate after I finished feeding him (no big sacrifice there ... Whole 30 doesn't make Thanksgiving the feast it normally is). During the meal, two glasses of wine were spilled (one because AJ's LEGO tower fell). Then AJ almost stuck his arm in the Cool Whip on his pie. While I was trying to prevent that mess, I flipped the entire piece of pie on the floor, Cool Whip side down. Oh, this was after Teddy stole my 94-year-old grandpa's cane and whacked him in the head and shoved the cane in the pumpkin pie. I do believe comedy of errors is an accurate description for our meal.

As I told a friend, I enjoyed spending time with my family, but the rest of the holiday sucked. There's always next year. Maybe we can top this year ... or the year we were at my folks for Thanksgiving and got everyone puking ... or the year Teddy decided not to go to bed until 3:30 a.m.

I think it's safe to say that Thanksgiving is not quite my favorite holiday.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Widows' Weekend

In Wisconsin, hunting season is a strong tradition. Although I've hunted in the past, I don't sit still well at all, so I hadn't hunted for most of the years prior to having our children. (And now with children, sitting alone in the woods for hours on end suddenly sounds much more appealing.)

Every year, though, I'd make my way to my parents' house with the boys usually after opening weekend and spend the week there until Thanksgiving evening. We'd bake, cook and entertain our family and friends who were hunting. This year, though, is the first that the boys are in school, so that week-long stay isn't really an option (that and Teddy's genetics appointment in Milwaukee Wednesday morning).

So we spent this weekend (known as Widows' Weekend because of all the men hunting and wives left behind ... although plenty of women hunt) hanging around Oshkosh. There was a Grinchmas celebration yesterday, so we spent the better part of our day enjoying that.

Really talented face painter!

We went to breakfast with the Grinch, and both boys enjoyed it thoroughly in their own ways. AJ thought he was all cool eating the roast beast (ham), and Teddy played under the tablecloth, tried to kick the table over, tried to knock his chair over and still enjoyed the food.

This is how you eat, right?
 We got our picture taken with the Grinch, and Teddy was not a fan. He broke down in tears, even on my lap. I may have been laughing, and AJ was keeping his cautious distance from the Grinch. If only Dave were in the picture, I think it would be our Christmas card photo.

One of my favorite pictures of me and the boys!

Then AJ got his face painted while Teddy checked out the coat room. There was no one in the coat room, and it worked out perfectly to let Teddy do his thing while AJ got his cool Grinch face painting.

Teddy hanging in the coat room.

After a break at home for a nap (since we were all up before 5, Teddy kindly obliged and took a snooze) and lunch, we headed into the chilly weather for a horse-drawn wagon ride. The line was long and slow, but both boys were perfectly content watching the crowd, the dancers and everything else. I was impressed ... and thankful ... they waited so well for nearly an hour. The wagon ride was everything AJ hoped it would be, and Teddy had fun, too.

It was in the 60s the day before ... 30s for the Grinchmas celebration.

Sometimes, when Dave is gone, it's worth the extra effort and hassle to do these things to make the days more enjoyable. I know that means I should take the boys to the Children's Museum today, but we'll see if I'm up for that challenge. I already managed church, which is a rare feat, especially 1 adult to 2 children. Despite Teddy wiggling around, crawling under the pew, walking around the front of the pew and laying on the floor ... in addition to standing, sitting, eating snack, drinking his drink, being held and everything else ... the lady behind us afterward said the boys were well behaved and did great. I laughed and apologized for the entertainment we provided, and she said she'd much rather we be present than stay at home. That kind of encouragement makes it much easier to struggle through the service, and I'm grateful for it.

Now, when will Dave be home? I mean, it's nearly 10 ... a.m.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Teddy Decided He's a Big Boy

About a month ago, we began talking about transitioning Teddy out of his high chair. Our challenge was to find a way to get him up to the table where he still had the support (and confinement) of a 5-point harness. Ideally, we wanted something that helped him to contain his food as well, similar to the tray of his high chair.

We put in a request to a donation closet looking for some sort of a positioning chair that might help with the transition. Nothing was readily available, so we waited and debated other options.

Well, apparently Teddy was listening to those conversations.

Last weekend, he began screaming mid-meal. We thought he bit his tongue or maybe had a sore tooth or perhaps was simply too exhausted to function. We pulled him from his chair, snuggled him and put him down for a much-needed nap.

When it came to supper, he began crying as soon as buckled him in his high chair. Uncontrollable crying. When we placed his tray in front of him with his food, he put his head on his tray in tears. He wouldn't touch his food.

We examined his mouth and found nothing. We checked his body for marks, bruises or sore spots and looked for any signs of his chair or his straps hurting him. We eventually held him while feeding him, which is not an easy feat.

Fast forward to the next morning, he ate sitting on a regular chair just fine because we were doing a casual snacking breakfast. Any time we placed him in his high chair, the screaming began. So we got a booster seat, thinking that would be a great way to get him at the table and keep him in place for meals. No dice there. Same instant screaming.

We pulled the booster seat off the chair and pulled his high chair off the chair. He immediately climbed into them and scooted around the room. Great, apparently they're not for meals. They're more like vehicles to ride.

Nothing but class in our house.
We had two days of instant screaming at meals, even when we placed an ice cream sandwich in front of him, if he was in his high chair or booster seat. So, finally we gave up and placed him at the table with a plate.

And he smiled and ate happily (and messily). He sat up extremely straight (for a good portion of the time) and stayed on his chair (a portion of the time) and smiled like he was the coolest thing on earth.

Nothing hurt in his high chair. Nothing was physically wrong. He simply decided he was a big boy who was going to sit at the table like the rest of us.

Ironically, we got an e-mail that same weekend that a positioning chair was reserved for us. We still picked it up. We haven't tried it yet. I'm not too optimistic that Teddy will consider it a viable option, but we'll see.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Struggles of Speech

Teddy's the strong silent type. As in, he's rarely vocal. (And he's extremely strong for such a child with hypotonia. That kid has grip strength.) Teddy first babbled right around Easter with bababa and mamama. Since then, he's been hit or miss with his babbling. We struggle to understand his communication, and it's been a slow process.

We've been approved for speech therapy since Teddy was about 18 months. Speech has always been the last therapy to get approved. It was the first to be denied. It was the first denial to be appealed. And it was the first appeal to be won.

When Teddy got BadgerCare, Wisconsin's Medicaid program, approval for therapy got more complicated. Now both our primary insurance and secondary Medicaid must approve the therapy. Teddy gets the lesser amount of therapy approved. If primary approves 5 visits and Medicaid approves 3, Teddy gets 3 visits.

Apparently, Teddy starting school makes things even more complicated. He gets OT, PT and speech therapy in school, but I was told he could continue to receive outpatient therapy as long as he is working toward different goals in both settings. That seemed simple enough considering there's plenty of opportunity for Teddy to learn and develop, right? Apparently not because that gives insurance yet another reason to question and possibly deny his therapy.

Teddy's last speech visit was September 16 when his authorization expired. His therapist had everything set to go and submitted right away. Now, nearly two months later, he's approved for speech therapy. He gets a whopping 3 visits between now and mid-February.

Yes, after 2 months of waiting, he gets to see his speech therapist three times in three months. Then we'll go through this whole process all over again.

I'm not sure the point of this post other than to express my frustration with the medical system. Taking Teddy to multiple therapy sessions is not one of my hobbies, believe it or not. However, I recognize his therapists are educated professionals who are experts in their respective areas, and I am not. They have different ideas, techniques and approaches. Their assistance has helped Teddy make tremendous progress.

Good thing both OT and PT authorizations expire this month. I mean, who really wants to be approved for therapy during the holiday months?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

We Have a Herd of Reindeer

Last month, I somehow managed to order two sets of rain boots from Amazon instead of one. Woops. Then, we magically had an Amazon order show up that I couldn't really remember ordering. (Dave said he was going to take advantage of that magic order by putting a new camera in the cart that magically orders itself.)

So imagine my panic when 10 inflatable bouncy reindeer arrive at my door, instead of a lone reindeer. I had ordered one reindeer for Teddy as a Christmas present ... not an entire herd! At least that's what I thought. As quickly as my children would allow, I was digging through my past orders on Amazon to make sure I hadn't somehow managed to order 10 instead of 1 ... sneaky extra 0.

Thankfully, I had ordered and paid for one. After contacting the company that we received one box of ungulates instead of one, we were told the herd was ours. (OK, they actually said to donate them to a charity of our choice, which is where most of them will go.)

I think Teddy will enjoy his reindeer, and it's a perfect way for him to work his core muscles, which still need a lot of work. Sitting on this forces him to balance, much like many of the exercises he doesn't enjoy in PT. In fact, I'm thinking one of our herd will be donated to the place where he goes for therapy, so other children can have more fun than doing sit-ups.

Aside from horns to hold onto, this also attracts the AJ brother to play with him. These are not intended for multiple riders, but I do know from personal experience with a green cow version that my two children will cram on one critter. It's sort of like bull riding rodeo-style. Ain't nobody going to last 8 seconds.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Swim Class

Teddy absolutely loves water. He's always super excited to go swimming in a pool (or splash in it or drink the delicious chlorinated pool water). So I was excited to find an Adapted Aquatics class through the YMCA for something like $40 for 10-12 classes. This class is specifically designed for people with disabilities ages 3 and older. What I didn't realized when I enrolled Teddy is that his teachers would be students at the local university, UW-Oshkosh.

This Adapted Aquatics class is a course that students take as part of their physical education curriculum to learn how to adapt their teaching style to different disabilities. Teddy is matched with two students who are his teachers for the entire semester, and they work with him for an hour in the pool each week. Teddy is the youngest child in the class probably by a few years, but he's also one of the happiest. I swear he has a smile on his face most of hour (except when he's slurping up some pool water). Teddy was one of the last to leave the pool this week and kept trying to guide his teachers back to the pool instead of coming to me.

 "Seriously, guys, the pool is right there! Where are we going? There's still water right there! Oh, hi mom."

Playing peek-a-boo with his teacher.

I won't lie. Part of the reason I love swim class is because I'm not in the water with Teddy. I'm happy not to get almost drowned because he's half my height and is a lot to manage for a full swim class (so it helps he has two teachers). The other part is swim class gives a whole hour that I get to watch how much fun Teddy has without having to be the one responsible for his safety. That's a rare, rare thing because if I'm around Teddy, I'm responsible for him. Swim class is the chance I get to just enjoy the fun my child is having, laugh at his silliness and be amazed at new things he's doing. And I get to see how much fun everyone else is having as well without my focus solely being on Teddy.

His teachers are amazing with him!

I think this class is a wonderful experience for the UW-Oshkosh students and a true benefit for the those receiving the lessons. Kudos to whoever created this class and to all those who continue to make it a reality.

Check out Teddy making a basket!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cousin Love

Although Teddy's been walking for months, he's really been gaining confidence and control in the last month or so. His cousins were amazed when they spent last weekend together up north.

His youngest three cousins enjoy playing with Teddy, and they all get along fairly well. They're fairly tolerant of Teddy being Teddy, stealing their food, inserting himself into others' personal space, etc. The cousin closest in age has taken to saying, "He's so cute," which is pretty funny coming from her.

Even the cousin who has the least interest in Teddy commented, "Teddy's walking!" That might be a bad thing for him because that means Teddy can invade his personal space much easier.

As his oldest cousin Dakota was falling asleep one night, she was talking with my mother-in-law. She said she was so proud of Teddy because he could walk. She said he's still a bit "wiggly," but he could really walk. It's so neat to see the support they have for Teddy ... when they're not complaining about him destroying things or hiding in a bedroom to play LEGOs without his interference.

Also, this weekend Teddy managed to climb the ladder to the slide, position himself correctly and go down the slide feet first all by himself (with an adult standing nearby as a spotter). That was pretty impressive to witness. It's amazing how far he's come!

Teddy was diving through the line ... true Teddy fashion.