Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Potty Training Update

Potty training continues here in Momma's household.

It hasn't been an easy task, but I've now accepted that the potty training in one day method isn't going to work for my daughter. I hoped, I mean REALLY believed it was the answer I searched in vain for, but like most made-for-tv offers, it didn't live up to its promises.

Potty training started in earnest two Saturdays ago (or is it three? I'll have to check the date on the last post. Time is slipping away so quickly....). Emily woke up dry; I took it as an omen that she was going to be fully trained by that evening. I brought her into the bathroom and asked her to sit down on the training potty. Earlier I moved her potty so it faced the wall, which was decorated with a new poster I made using a number of PECS images. Usually the PECS images are black and white, but I colored in the most important one, if you know what I mean. Used bowl if you don't.

Anyways, I sat Emily down and explained the pictures to her. She looked at them with interest as she nibbled on the candy I provided to make potty time party time. She sat for a while calmly; then suddenly, she wanted to bolt. Keeping in mind she still hadn't gone potty for the morning, I sat her back down. She started shaking her head no; her body language was that of fear. "Yellow blankie! Pink blankie!" she cried. I gave her the blankets, her bunny, her juice, and then held her in a tight hug to imitate swaddling. And then it happened.

Emily made her first ever Pee Pee on the Potty!!! My initial exhilaration was quickly hampered by the fact Emily, as she went, kept saying, "Oh no! Oh no! Pee pee, oh oh!". Oh no is right! She thought she was going to the bathroom in the wrong place, and she was so upset and embarrassed. I had to act quick to set it right. I got up and started dancing and singing, Nora came running and joined in, and soon it was a potty party. Popsicles for breakfast didn't hurt to promote using the pot either. She was then placed in a very pretty, very purple, pair of Dora the Explorer underwear.

Training continued for the rest of the weekend with some notable successes and failures. Emily hid behind the compost bin to pee outside, poor purple Dora panties. She used the toilet of 3 times on Saturday and three times on Sunday. She has woken up dry every single morning since we started.

The failures, however, were even bigger. On Monday Emily started to have many more accidents in the house, probably because Ryan wasn't here to help me keep an eye on her. On Tuesday, when we went to sit down first thing in the morning, Emily refused. She pointed to the potty and said in a deep, serious voice, "Terrible". Oh my, for someone who doesn't speak much that said volumes. I didn't push the issue. The following day, I found her in the corner squatting. I put her on the potty, and she bit me. She left teeth marks in my arm.

Emily's therapists advised me to stop potty training and start again when the time seemed right. After another week of just watching her behavior, its become apparent that she doesn't want to eliminate when anyone is the in room with her. So that is where we are at now. I almost never ask her if she needs to use the bathroom, and I wait for her to tell me. Sometimes I find the evidence that she has used the potty and then did a bad job cleaning up after herself, which is almost worse than diapers, but this is the path we've started on and I'm not going back.

In the last seven days, I would say on average she continues to use the potty 2 to 3 times a day, and always when she wakes up. Just today I started again asking her if she needs to use the bathroom, to mixed results. When asked, she still gets angry. But, when I found her in the bathroom having trouble trying to sit on the big potty, I helped her up and guess what!! Today Emily took her first deuce and it was the first time she used the big potty! A number two two-fer!!!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cousins Come to Visit

While this post is incredibly late, I still wanted to get these pictures out there because they're so darn cute!

My sister came to visit shortly after we returned from Florida. It was a nice opportunity for Renee and I to catch up and talk about life after Grandma and Grandpa, but more importantly, the cousins got to have a long overdue play-date. Nora was sooo excited to have someone to dress up with, and Emily even joined in the fun. For Emily to put on clothes, rather than take them off, is noteworthy in and of itself! My nephew Xander was also very well behaved, and we all sat on the floor and played with blocks. It made me very happy to see how well all of the kids got along. That's what the summer is about. Well that and Ollie's!!!

The best part of the day (besides the girls finding out that the TV was back) was taking my niece Layla for her first ever Ollie's Custard Cone. See, where I live, Ollie's is a right of passage. You can't actually live in this town and not be crazy about this custard. I've been to Italy several times and I can tell you Ollie's is just as delicious as any gelato I've had, and believe me, I've had a lot. To share it with someone that's never had Ollie's is special indeed. I hope you enjoyed it Layla! I know my Raspberry Truffle was delicious.

I think in this instance, the pictures actually do a better job of telling the story than I can, so please check out the link below.

Cousins go to Ollies

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Box is Back...

This is what it looks like to win the lottery.

Of course Nora and Emily didn't win the lottery, but as far as they are concerned, something just as wonderful happened. Ryan and I allowed the TV back into our home. While they were sleeping, he placed it back into the empty cabinet. It stayed their all the next day, unnoticed. Then my niece Layla, who was over for a visit, asked us, "Where is your TV?" Nora replied that we didn't have one. "Oh really?" I asked. "Nora, why don't you go and open the doors..." It was even better than winning a golden ticket. As long as I live I will never forget the smiles and jumps of joy.

In retrospect, the act of taking it away for 6 months and then returning it has been a positive step. I simply had to let go of the idea that we HAD to live without the TV, that I can be a good mom and let them have a little entertainment now and then. What choice did I have, really? With the onset of summer vacation, and the increase in my work schedule, I had to find an activity that both girls could enjoy when its too hot to play in the yard (or when I have to shower, for that matter).

I should clarify something at this point, the box is back but not the TV. Basically what the girls have access to at this point are DVDs that I've screened for content. I'm still very fussy about what they watch and how much they watch. I will not expose them to countless acts of violence, endless commercials, and plot lines that focus on self-centered motivations. Everything they see is designed to teach good morals, has an educational value, and is filled with music to help Emily learn to speak.

They are also, for the most part, on a timed viewing schedule. No more days filled with TV from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. Officially TV time is from 3 until 5 pm, although on occasion it has been from 9 until 11 if something is scheduled for the afternoon. No one is allowed to eat in front of the TV, and even though it could be visible from the dining room, it must be turned off for meals. Because it was gone for so long, I almost never get an argument from either girl about these rules. They accept it as the way it goes, at least so far.

The best part of all is that unlike in the past, the TV is helping Emily gain some new verbal skills. All of the shows she likes, from Dora the Explorer to Little Einsteins, have a number of songs that repeat in every episode. Emily has learned the words to most of the songs, and those words are beginning to pop up in conversation. Instead of simply asking for toothpaste, for example, she asks for Dora Dora Dora the Explorer paste. When I go to drive off in the van, she and Nora yell, "Blast-off!" Just today she pointed at my coffee mug, which has a picture of a mountain, and said, "Look...mountain!"

I don't mind the girls watching their two hours of TV a day, especially since they are both up for 12 to 14 hours at at time. There is still plenty of time for running, for reading, and for play. Once school starts, I may feel differently, and put it back in the basement for another retirement period. But, in the meantime, I too think I might take advantage of having the box. While I haven't done so yet, I'm sure there's a movie or two Ryan and I would like to watch after the girls go to bed. Twilight, anyone?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Somethings gonna give...

Oh please don't let it be my sanity! Wait a minute, its 10:36 pm and Emily just busted into the office. One moment please while I put my child to bed...

10:37 and Emily is back in bed. Let's see how long this lasts.

This wasn't how I planned on starting this post, but its a perfect summation of the past few days. As I look around the house, I see laundry and dishes piled up everywhere, children sitting mindlessly in front of the TV, ungraded papers taunting me, meditation cushion collecting dust. Don't even get me started on the bathroom remodel and the garden.

I wonder where and when did I go wrong? What was the straw that broke my back? And how am I going to get back to good? (Well, listening to Matchbox 20 is a start). But all jokes aside, I am really feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps the reality of being a working-mom with no daycare and a special needs child living in an 80 year old house is starting to catch up with me.

10:46 Emily is out of bed again, if you'll excuse me.

Now its 10:48 pm, and I suppose I need a plan. Because feeling like this isn't accomplishing anything. And the plan???



Let's see...

10:49 I suppose I'll start by putting Emily back to bed.

And if you're wondering, its now 11:02 and I've put Emily to bed three times in the past 12 minutes and changed her diaper.

I'll open the floor to comments here at 11:03. Seriously. There has got to be someone out there that knows what they're doing. That person is NOT me.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Potty Training Blues

I try really really hard to be as laid back as an over-worked, over-caffeinated mom of two kids can be. Life isn't about being serious. If you're not having fun you're not doing it right.

But I have to be honest. I am NOT having fun when it comes to potty training. In fact, its been the complete opposite. I've been reduced to tears over the past few weeks as the diapers and the wet sheets and the poo-poo on the floor continues to pile up. Literally. I'm at the end of my rope, I'm down to the last resort, and if it doesn't work I really don't know what to do.

Emily began to show an aversion to wet diapers prior to her second birthday. She was probably 19 or 20 months old when she started chucking her poop diapers onto the hallway floor. At first I read this as a good sign, that she would be potty trained by her second birthday. I pulled out the training potty, the book that has a sound-effect flush button, and some high expectations. Those of you that follow this blog know none of this worked.

Emily understands that dirty diapers are yucky, and so she simply takes them off. Its worked in the past, why change the routine? At one point in the year I started dumping the poop out of the diaper into the toilet to illustrate where it actually goes. This resulted in a VERY GROSS month long period in which Emily would also dump the diaper into the toilet. It was gross because if she missed, she scooped them up with her hands. How we didn't have any trips to the hospital for E coli poisoning ins anyone's guess.

I kept the potty out but didn't push the issue, following the old adage that they'll go when they're ready. Well an entire year has passed and I'm still cleaning accidents. I decided a few weeks ago to try the potty training in one day method, which involves allowing the child to run around in the yard in nothing but a T-shirt for the entire day. Mom feeds the child lots of salty snacks and juice to really get things flowing. The child is supposed to have an accident or two, freak out, and then use the potty which is conveniently located near the juice and snacks.

The plan sounded perfect, and all was in order to proceed, when the torrential rains and 60 mph winds rolled in. Not a problem, I thought. I'll simply keep her in the kitchen. She can't possibly get into that much trouble. I got her to sit on the potty many many times, but had no luck. I turned around to pour a cup of coffee when she had the first accident. I was making peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches when she had the second accident. She pooped on the floor behind my back when I was cleaning up mess number two. And then I ran out of paper towels, and it was only 11:30 am. UGH.

That was a few weeks ago. We are going to try again this weekend. I figure our schedule is working for the most part, so maybe potty training will too. I have a few things going for me that I didn't have last time. (1) The weather is looking good (2) Ryan is going to be home to take care of Nora and make all of the food so I will not need to turn my back from Emily (3) I have stocked up on paper towels and (4) Per Shelly and Sue's advice, I am going to make a picture book of how and when to use the potty with photos from our home.

Point number four seems really gross to me. I will have to invest in a color ink cartridge because I will die at my own hand before I have a picture of a used toilet bowl printed at Walgreens. However, PECS has worked in the past to teach her words, so there is no reason to think it won't work in this instance. Oh my goodness, the things we must do for our children.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Speech Therapy: An Overview

Now that Emily is three years old, there are going to be some major changes to her therapy routine. Since her birthday is in the summer, however, we won't begin to see those changes until the fall. Why? Well, even though Emily has officially "aged-out" of the Illinois Early Intervention system, she can continue the same services through private insurance. While this costs a lot more for us in terms of having a weekly co-pay, it is worth every penny. I can't even begin to quantify the number of positive changes I see in my daughter because of the love and one-on-one attention provided by Shelly, Sue, and Angie.

One thing I have wanted to do, as the weeks of therapy have turned into months, is to keep a weekly record of her progress here on the blog. As you know, this never happened. What can I say? I'm a busy lady. So, what I've decided to do instead is to write three separate entries that provide an overview of the progress she has made and continues to make. This week will focus on speech.

Emily continues to see Miss Shelly for speech once a week for 30 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of combined Speech and OT. For the past few weeks, Shelly has been training Miss Kate, who joins in on the sessions. Here's a sampling of what they have all done together:

February 18: Verbalized "Ready, set go!" sounded like "Webby-de-doe!" using a See-and-Say.

March 11: New words in her vocabulary include "Orange, cookie, cracker, want ball, thank you, down, up, in, ring" (all thanks to PECS, the once hated now loved communication device).

March 25: Words used while playing with a tow-truck included "uh-oh, oh-no, stop, and again". (Boy toys like cars and trucks continue to fascinate her).

April 8: Spontaneous sentences while playing with a race-car ramp and Little People barn including, "How about cars? Where is cow? Get the barn". (Again these are pretty hard to understand. Shelly and I hear it but I wonder who else would?)

April 22: Starting to learn colors! (Mom is thrilled. This is black coffee, Emily. This is light brown chai tea latte. Mmmmm....)

May 5: Played with wind up toys. Able to name animals on request including dog, cat, frog, butterfly, caterpillar, lady bug, and dinosaur. Even said, "Dog, please" and a few other two word combos. Working hard at home on the word please. Other words at home include, "I like ice-cream!" and "Stuck!". (Everything that doesn't bow to her command is stuck).

May 19: Emily had a hard time being evaluated. Spontaneous language included, "Ok ma", "Right down there", "Baba drink", and "On top".

June 9: While playing barnyard bingo and Nerf rockets, Emily said, "Reach!", "It's my turn", "Look I picked yellow!", "Kate turn", "Ouch!", "There it is", "Oh look!!! A cow!". Can count to 9.

When we started with Shelly in January, Emily had a total of 15 to 20 words in her vocabulary. She barely used those. Today, the difference is amazing. She knows the names of toys, animals, and colors. She can make requests using both please and thank-you. She can tell you her opinion, as "like" and "yuck" are also mainstays of her vocabulary. Everyday she is beginning to use more sentences and less one-word requests. Pretty soon I am going to have not one, but two VERY chatty little girls!

To see more images from Emily's time with Shelly, Sue, and Kate please click on the image below.
Emily's Speech/OT Therapy