February 27, 2014

Be My Valentine, our trip day 1

I love Valentine's day. It is still my favorite holiday.
Even though I did not get around to making our traditional candy bar cookies. Sad.
I was too busy packing and preparing for that fun trip we went on.

All of the kids made their own Valentine's.

Kyler spent so much time on folding and coloring these cool Valentine's for the boys in his class. He stuck a candy inside each finger puppet.

 He decided to go with hearts for the girls.

Kacin made hearts for everyone.

Perry and Layla also decorated hearts with dot stampers and pens. It was so sweet hearing Layla name off each of her little friends as she decorated each heart. Perry passed out Valentine's to his friends at school.

Layla heard the boys talking about their valentine's day parties at school so she kept asking me when her party was. I caved and invited two of her friends over for a "party" to eat a snack and make a valentine and play.

I got to go in and help with Kacin's Valentine's day party and dropped by Kyler's party.

I was in charge of the game--Valentine's pictionary

On Valentine's evening we watched a friends kids for a short time and held our very own Valentine's Day Olympics. We just played games like heart bean bag toss, musical hearts (stand on felt hearts instead of chairs), pictionary, name that famous couple with three clues or less, etc. and announced the winners as receiving gold, silver, and bronze. The three competitive older boys here were very good at keeping track of which medals they "won" in their heads. And Kacin awarded himself a medal for eating the most at dinner.

We said good bye to those friends and sometime between 7:15 and 7:30 we hopped in the car and began our journey to California. We traveled about 4 hours and stopped at a hotel in Salem, OR.

February 25, 2014

Home Again

Who would've ever thought it would feel so good to be doing laundry and dishes and vacuuming? After 10 days, it's just so nice to be home again, to have a little bit of room to spread out, and to be moving around again. My body isn't very good at sitting still so that 20 + hour drive was hard.

I promised a few years ago that I would never make that loooong drive again, but Eric was insistent that we save some money and drive instead of fly. And I actually think I'm glad we did it that way. It was kind of nice all cozy in the car watching movies and spending time together. Yeah, we had our moments of craziness, but we survived those, and overall it was a good experience.

We watched a lot of movies while driving. A lot. So many so that at one point a movie went off and we told the boys to put another one on and Kacin said "Do we have to watch another movie? Can't we just look out the window for awhile??" I was a proud mom in that moment. Or maybe I should've been ashamed that we were feeding them movie after movie.

We lost a crib sheet and came home with a hotel bed sheet. Ooops. If only we knew in which of the 6 hotels we stayed in that we made that swap.

The hardest thing was lugging in and out all of our stuff every time we stopped at a new hotel  (2 nights down there, one night in Cali then switch to Disneyland hotel, then two nights home). Note to self: next time pack everyone's stuff for a couple of days together in one bag, instead of bringing in all of everyone's individual stuff for ten days.

Except for the first night in which Layla allowed us to only get a few hours of sleep, everyone was so tired that they slept pretty well.

I didn't take pictures at any hotels, but we went swimming four or five times between all of our stops and that was a highlight for the kids.

I am so glad that we got to go on such a great trip together! I'll share our adventures as soon as I finish unpacking and get us settled back into a life of homework, appointments, naps, cooking, cleaning, and working.

February 11, 2014

this week

Perry said the closing prayer in primary on Sunday. I love to hear him pray. He has the pattern down (but unfortunately still has an aversion to all male words--still won't say daddy, poor Eric--and says "heavenly mama".) He begins his prayer then names everything he is thankful for, or that he sees., then ends with a clear "Amen". We never know for sure what he's saying but it usually includes the word "car". It is wonderful to hear him pray.

Layla says sweet prayers, too. But the boys have the hardest time staying reverent when she prays. Last night they broke out in giggles and couldn't stop when she prayed "thank thee for the lights" twice and then prayed for just about everyone she knows "Hannah in her house, and Abby house, and Josh"etc. You can bet if she knows you she has prayed for you. Isn't that the sweetest thing? A good example to me to pray for the individual people in my life.

Kyler thinks that since he is ten he doesn't have to be in pictures anymore. He is wrong, but he keeps fighting me on it whenever the camera comes out.

The boys school play is about a month away. They are both cards. They have practices two or three times a week. I love to hear them singing their songs, even if it is "Off with their heads!" for their scene with the Queen of Hearts.

We had dinner at a friends house on Sunday and they have a dog. We now know that Perry is terrified of dogs! Oh man, did he scream and cling when that dog moved or came close to him. I actually think he has a fear of all animals. We were walking together to get the mail one day and a bird flew out of a tree and slightly overhead and he grabbed my leg and screamed then, too. I don't want him to be like me and have a fear of animals his whole life. Poor kid. Kacin, on the other hand, loves animals, especially dogs. We will probably never have a dog though. Poor kid.

Layla does this every day.

She packs and repacks food and clothes and whatever else she finds "for our trip" into lots and lots of  bags and moves them to various locations in our house.

Perry joined her on her packing when I pulled out the suitcases.

Some more of Layla's packing.

Perry fell asleep with his red sunglasses on.

February 7, 2014

The Meltdown

The meltdown happens nearly every day around here, with varying levels of intensity and duration, and sometimes multiple times a day.

Perry has made sooo much progress since I met him a year and a half ago. I am thrilled about that. Eric and I celebrate his steps forward. It was so exciting the other day to hear him say his own name while looking at family pictures together! He's trying to communicate and interact more. He is using more words. We are seeing more functional play. I am happy with this.

But there are moments, those meltdowns, that are so, so hard. Really hard.

I hope that someday I will be glad that I wrote about this because it will only be a faint memory and I will laugh at this time in our lives. But from what I've read, children with autism sometimes continue to have meltdowns through their teens, or maybe even adulthood.

Meltdown's around here look like this: a trigger {being told no, moving his bike when he didn't want it moved, can't find his keys, overwhelmed--sensory, etc.}then spitting, biting (people, couch, toys), throwing himself around, head banging, hitting, scratching, screaming, crying, knocking everything over, throwing anything within reach.

It can get really scary.

Sometimes you can catch it and recenter him by distraction or a comfort item, but sometimes you just can't, and many times it escalates too quickly.

These meltdowns are not just tantrums. When tantruming a child will look around a bit to see if getting attention, won't hurt himself, and will stop as soon as goal achieved. During a meltdown a child doesn't care if anyone is watching or not, doesn't consider safety (not even of self), and will continue until they tapper off slowly. If a child wants a cookie and is told no, the tantruming child will stop if the cookie is given to him. The child who is having a meltdown will continue even if the cookie is given to him.

Today, while at gymnastics, I was able to successfully ward off two almost meltdowns. A lot of times I can tell he is about to lose it (wandering more, dumping/throwing toys, spitting), but I have to be on my A-game and, like I said, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Today I saw the signs at gymnastics and gave him "chewy" (sensory chew object), which he refused at first, and led him to an area without other kids to give him space. He then took chewy and was doing well again. At the end of class, I saw him out of sorts again and helped him get his sippy cup and gave him chewy again. He sat in my lap until he was calm and could join in the last few minutes. It worked.

I prevent whenever I can--with routines, music, new toys, his comfort keys, picking battles, chewy, snacks, weighted backpack, etc.

I catch it whenever I can--holding him, blankets, redirection, chewy, giving him space, etc.

But I just can't always stop it. Many times at home I feel like we are all in a bit of danger when he meltdowns. Things get thrown and knocked over and people get hit. Right now our best plan during a meltdown is to remove him to his room. Which means that while removing him I will most likely get bit, hit, scratched, head butted, hair pulled, or all of the above. It takes a lot of energy to get him to his room. And then his room gets destroyed by his banging and throwing.

We have tried a lot of things, but now we are looking into weighted blankets, other things to chew, safe holds, earphones/music, etc. If any one out there has experience with this and suggestions we will take them!

With all my heart, I love this boy. I'm just not a fan of the meltdowns.

February 6, 2014

3rd Grade Lunch

This sweet boy of mine invited me to have lunch with him at school yesterday. Thanks to the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, the whole city shut down yesterday and went to the parade downtown, so Eric had a low key day working from home and I got to go to the school and spend time with my boy. And hear from some of the girls in his class about how he teases them. :)

February 4, 2014

Countdown to the Trip

She's counting down the days until our trip (our family's sealing in the temple, and disneyland :) ).

I thought I learned from Kacin not to mention anything about a trip until right before we leave, but somehow I let it slip about going into the temple, and seeing Mickey Mouse, and riding rides, and playing with family. Now multiple times a day she asks about our trip or gathers stuff and puts into a bag for our trip or yells that she wants to see grammy and papa and ride rides with Macie. I don't think she realizes our trip also means 20 hours in a car.

February 3, 2014

Super Sunday

Everywhere I looked last week I saw the Seahawks blue and green, 12's and flags, super bowl, super bowl, super bowl . . .

My boys have watched maybe 4 football games in their entire lives (and those games probably weren't even the Seahawks), but last week they talked about the players like they've been avid fans following the team for ages. Just about every conversation had something to do with the Seahawks.

By the way, the football fever was the perfect segue for a family home evening lesson about being encouraging to each person in our family, being happy and proud when someone else does well, not competing against each other, but cheering for each other (go team Allred!). We pulled out a cheerleading skirt to try on and everything. The boys were a little frightening in that blue skirt, but do you know how cute Layla was yelling "Go, team, go! Allred!" and pumping her fist?

Anyways, yesterday was super bowl sunday. At the beginning of our marriage, Eric and I committed to each other that in order to help us better keep the sabbath day holy we would not watch TV on Sunday. And we've stuck to that, even on super bowl sunday.

With our state's team in the super bowl and all the excitement about it bursting from our boys, I wondered if we should make an exception this time and go to the super bowl party we were invited to or watch the game from home. Eric and I agreed though that once you make one exception it's so easy to rationalize another and another. And we've loved how Sundays go without tv. It made it so easy that our boys didn't even ask about watching the game because they already know what our family does.

With this on my mind and a twinge of guilt/wonder about making the right decision for our family, I began noticing all the things I love about our Sundays. We got a little extra sleep in the morning. The kids (like Kacin, too!) read books. Eric and I made final preparations for our primary lesson. We got ready for church. We spent a nice three hours at church. We came home and ate a lunch (a very snacky lunch in honor of the super bowl--chips and dip, yogurt and apples, taquitos). We read aloud a chapter from the Hobbit as we cleaned up.We played with some toys and cleaned up some more messes. Layla and Perry napped. We played a board game together.The boys played another board game together while Eric and I did nothing and talked. We went on a short walk. The boys got creative with some markers and construction paper. We had dinner. The kids danced and sang to the Frozen songs, on repeat over and over. There was some wrestling. And we ended the day with a game of hide and seek in the dark. It was so relaxing and low key and we got to spend lots of quality time together doing a variety of different things. And that's why I love our sundays.

(I write all these posts for our family record and the blog book I create each year , but I know I have like 5 people out there who read this blog, so please don't think that I think that it is bad to watch the super bowl, K? :) I just wanted a record for my family of our little life while this was fresh in my mind.)

Floating around on facebook or something is a post about some siblings who, as adults, recreated some of their childhood photos for their mom. This would be a good one for that someday:

:) :)