Monday, October 31, 2011

Note to Self...

Take feel-good-family-holiday picture BEFORE trick or treating exhaustion and sugar crash hits next year.

I married a brave, brave man.

This is Why...

...prolonged squib silences are always investigated with camera in hand.

Hadn't seen Pudge in awhile...heard a whimpering coming from the dining room.

And an unsettling silence after Pudge and Biggs went into Pudge's room to play revealed...

I'm pretty sure climbing into the dolls' bed was Pudge's idea, since she's certainly not the one playing the role of chunky contortionist.

If Biggs had a dollar for every time in his childhood this girl is going to get him into trouble, he could pay his own way through college.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Step Up for Down Syndrome 2011

We are so blessed to have such amazing adults and children in our lives.  For those who were there...and those who were loving us from afar...thank you so very much.  You mean the world to us.

Sweetest thanks to all our supporters, near and far!

See you next year!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More Good News, Bad News

The good news?

Thanks to Aunt Ranelle and Uncle Gale, LC looked particularly fabulous for school today.

Complete with fancy panties.

Fancy always puts Pudge into a jumpity disposition.

The bad news...

I forgot it was "Wear Your Costume to School" day.

So, Pudge's costume was "neglected toddler" during this morning's Halloween parade, rather than the cartoon dog we'd intended her to be.

Luckily, her sweet teachers showered her in sugary loot all the same.

Sorry, Pudge.  We'll get 'em next time.  And meanwhile, we have oodles of Kit Kats to help ease our sorrows.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Purposeful Play in Plastic

I've recently become addicted to transparent plastic containers.  Love 'em.

Love.  Them.

And, for 99 cents for a bin with a lid, what's not to love?

But, in order to justify to my husband the quantities in which I've been purchasing them, I thought I'd better demonstrate a few of their delicious uses in our house.

The first...and most toy organization.  Something I've mentioned before.

Their transparency makes them great to use without a label, since the squibs can see what's inside.  But, since we're also working on upping the squibs' language skills, it's also super simple to label them with corresponding picture cards Pudge and Biggs can use for requesting.

For quite a while now, I've had over-sized building blocks on the squibs' wish list.  I think they're dynamite to have for stacking, building, proprioceptive input and pretend play.  The problem?  We have a minimal amount of space to store forty of these goodies.
But, have no fear!

Platic containers are roughly the same size as these building blocks.  And, if I remove their lids to store them, they fit inside one another and take up next to no room.

Even better?

Thanks to their versatility, we can make an ever-changing collection of sensory blocks.
These are just a few of our umpteen blocks, but you get the idea. 

You can stuff 'em full of anything.

We have seasonal boxes, which are GREAT because...besides being visually unique...their contents of colored leaves, mini pumpkins and hedge apples also give them different weights. 
 Heavier boxes mean heavier work and more proprioceptive need to tell which blocks are most popular in our toy room.
One (obvious) word of caution...these blocks aren't super tricky to open.  Which is fine for us, since I choose their fillings based on their tactile sensory values anyway.  But I DO have plans to fill a few with colored rice and small objects that will be sealed shut with hot glue.  Because...for 99 cents...I'm happy to permanently seal a few.

Every week, Pudge's early childhood specialist and speech therapist from our local school district visit the house to work with LC.  I adore their visits, since they're terribly clever and I always learn something new.  The next two uses for my precious plastic are activities that Miss Linda and Miss Lori introduced to LC.  I just modified them a bit to justify my container collection.

We use plastic containers for working on Pudge's matching skills.

I put strips of velcro on the bottom of a plastic box. 
(I especially love that the box is still fully functional for storage, so I can actually store matching items and cards in the box we use for this.)

Then, I use the velcro to display a laminated picture of the item that I want LC to match and give her various options to choose from.
 (Okay, who's goin' in the box?  Any volunteers?)

I especially like that I can make this activity as challenging or simple as necessary.  She can choose from two or ten items.  She can put the item in the box or match the card to an item I've placed in the box. 

I'm a big fan of endless possibilities.

The final plastic container idea is especially genius if you want to do something similar to a picture exchange system but DON'T want to make a gazillion picture exchange cards.  This activity has been huge for us in allowing LC to participate in self-directed activities but still reinforces her attention-to-task skills and following simple one and two step directions.

The set-up is as follows:

Three containers...three colored labels...

three activities that are chosen by ME to work on three specific skill sets.
(Here, we're working on stacking and pulling apart, color sorting and animal matching.)

Next, we lay out a visual plan, using the colors from the bins and a final, highly-desired activity card.  A card representing "free play" can also be used as card #4.

LC takes the first colored card from the line and matches it to the corresponding color box.

Then, she carries THAT activity box over to where we're working

The activities in the box aren't self-directed.  They're meant to be done with interaction from me to strengthen skills where she needs them.  Because they're beneficial for her, she can continue the activity as long as she's interested, but when she becomes dis-interested, she has to quit on MY terms.  (Usually by me saying, "Let's do two more and then we'll clean it up.")
Right now her time with activities lasts anywhere from two to five minutes.  Not stellar, but it's great to have consistent, multiple opportunities to positively reinforce her when she sees a task through to completion.

When a woman comes home with thirty plastic shoeboxes, she needs all the explanatory reasons available to her, so I'd love to hear yours! 

How are your own plastic containers (or other cheapity items) working for you in your play time at home?

Monday, October 24, 2011


When nap time threatens to cut into the time allotted to fill his daily Chee-tos quota, there's no need to worry.

Biggie's quite an accomplished multi-tasker.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Saturday Blog Hop...

We're participating in hopes that we'll stumble upon some new blogging buddies. 
Click the link below and find out how you can join us!

21 Levels of Weird

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Biggie doesn't eat.  We scream through attend weekly feeding therapy but the only food Biggs is currently willing to eat without a tantrum is Chee-tos.  And that.  is.  it.

Sharing that information does imply that Jace isn't willing to eat anything.

And that's simply not the case.

Biggie eats a wide variety of things.  With emphasis on things.

And I don't mean he puts them in his mouth.

I mean he puts them in his mouth...
and bites pieces off...
and chews...
and swallows...
and goes back for more until the thing is gone.

So, while Biggie's goat-like eating habits are NOT a characteristic of his extra chromosome, I thought I'd share a list of 21 snacks Biggs willingly and eagerly consumes...

1.  crayons
2.  ziploc bags
3.  magic erasers
4.  toilet paper
5.  paper towels
6.  tissue wrapping paper
7.  kleenex  (paper is clearly his favorite food group)
8.  rocks/gravel
9.  velcro
10.  aluminum foil
11.  grass
12.  dirt
13.  sand (he's no longer allowed to spend prolonged periods in the sandbox)
14.  construction paper
15.  candy wrappers
16.  human hair (this ended up in a trip to the pediatrician when he had too much hair in his system to digest.  barf.)
17.  tape
18.  sponges
19.  paper money
20.  magazine pages
21.  plastic shopping bags

He's a weird one.  100%

And it certainly explains why any requests for Chee-tos made by this kid are happily met. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Drama

Last year, there was a grand debate between Justin and myself over suitable Halloween attire for the children.  I had a brilliant costume combo selected which was vetoed weeks before the holiday even hit.  While they did go on to look acceptably cute, I was worried that we'd have another great debate again this year over the squibs' Halloween garb.

Until we took our first costume test run.

Sorry, Justin.  No WAY are you talking me out of these.

WW: Pudge in Pudding

Monday, October 17, 2011

Squib Management Tools

I've mentioned before that mass-produced baby books are pretty useless around here, since they really don't reflect my children's accomplishments or the rate at which they achieve them.

The same can be said for dayplanners.  I've tried a variety of calendars, dayplanners, and mom-specific organizers, but none were set up to provide me with a system that organized the information I was using on a daily basis.

So, rather than invest in yet another planner, I invested in this:
It's a 7 hole puncher from Franklin Covey.  This little guy lets me make my own planner pages and organize them inside a standard 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" planner.

Some of the pages are dedicated solely to myself:  grad courses, online billing records, grocery shopping, menu planning, etc.

But many of the pages are dedicated to the squibs.    I thought I'd give you a peek into those pages of my planner, in case any of you were in the same organizational pickle I was.

I have a monthly view calendar printed on cardstock and color-coded to organize each family members' commitments.

I have a weekly calendar (that I use less than the monthly).  It's also color-coded and allows for more in-depth notes about my own plans for each day.

My favorite sections are those that are most unique to our family and what I am most interested in keeping records about.

We have a section dedicated to information about Pudge and Biggie's classmates...

...and contact information for each of our therapists and teachers.

Behind each monthly calendar is a section for that month's therapy notes for each squib.  They're divided into weekly appointments and each therapy has an area for notes and observations from that week's therapy or school session.  

One of the most helpful elements to the planner are the sections related to medical information organization.

There is a section for medical contacts that keeps our specialists' contact information handy and also records the dates that the squibs have been seen.

There's also a section for each squib devoted to pediatrician visits.  Since we generally make at least 15 each year, it helps keep one appointment from blending into the next.

Each squib's section starts with a growth chart that lets me immediately see how they're doing compared to our previous visits...

Then, there are pages to prompt me into asking stuff I always forget to ask and writing down the stuff I always forget to remember as soon as I've left the darn doctor's office.

Finally, at the front of the planner, I keep detailed medical records for each squib that are signed by their pediatrician.  (If you don't have something similar and want it, just ask your pediatrician to print out whatever medical records are provided by the office for children in child care facilities or day care.)  It's handy to have in an emergency and easy to leave with a babysitter or friend if the squibs are spending a few hours under someone else's supervision. 

 Hope you enjoyed your planner peek.  I'd love to hear if you have sections in your own planners/organizers that you find especially useful!