This little man is the cutest, sweetest little ray of joy in our lives. I just love seeing what he's going to do next. Spontaneous hugs, please and thank yous, questions and observations, and of course a spirited mind of his own are all things that I enjoy about him every single day. And- I won't lie- he's got a bit of an evil streak too.
This kid is friendly. He says "HI!!" and "BYE!!!" to everybody and everything he runs across.
(more to come later)
We had Drew's birthday party on July 3rd, which if you do the math is more than 2 weeks after his actual birthday. One, he didn't know the difference and he didn't notice, and two: we wanted to wait until his cousins and Aunt Dawn and Uncle Doug were all in town for our annual Week of Fun. And fun we had! It was worth it to wait so long for his party.
The theme this year was Thomas the Train. I guess it never gets old. And now Parker is really into it too. So we have 2 kids all about trains at the moment. Some time in June I took Drew to iParty and let him look around and see what he might want for his party. He had no idea what I was asking him to pick out, so he was all grabbing Minnie Mouse plates, football cups, hawaiian leis, and all kinds of stuff. Finally I just said, "what about Thomas? Isn't that nice?" And of course he said yes (he would have said yes to anything) so I made the executive decision. He was excited.
Kind of had to compromise on the cake..... I could have gotten him a Thomas sheet cake from the grocery store and had it be nasty, or I could have gotten him a delicious cake with a less-specific theme on it. :) You know what I went for. She did a nice generic outdoorsy scene on the top so I could have room to plunk a little train in the middle of it. It worked!
We did a pinata this year for the party! It was fun although nobody wanted to take a whack at it except for Drew (and Parker got in a few licks too). Finally it broke open and everybody helped pick up the shower of candy (I don't remember if it was the plastic bat or the golf club that got it open).
Drew secured the loot and ran it back to safety.
And lastly, one of Drew's presents was a big boy bike! I didn't think it would be possible, but as it turns out you CAN make my child's head look even BIGGER with the addition of a helmet. And that would be an Age 14+ size helmet. He's so sweet on his bike, he's still very cautious about it and is kind of afraid to ride it because he's afraid he'll get going too fast. But he's practicing on it a little at a time and seems to like it. Just needs to get used to it.
So I've kind of created a monster lately with providing desserts and treats to the kids after supper..... but trust me, ONLY if they've eaten their supper (this is only really an issue with Drew) and only in small amounts. Parker always eats his supper, but with Drew it's more of a challenge. Anyway, oftentimes we buy the nasty cupcakes at Hannaford for an after-dinner treat when we're doing our grocery shopping. Parker easily knows the word "cake."
So for Drew's birthday I thought about getting him a special treat and my first thought was to take him to the grocery store to let him pick out a specially decorated giant cupcake that they sell. But then I was like, "UGH. Nasty. Who wants that for their birthday?" And just wait!!!!! Here in Manchester we NOW have our own NEW cupcake boutique bakery!!! WE'RE IN THE BIG TIME NOW!!! Apparently every town in the world has a cupcake bakery, and finally New Hampshire has caught up to the trend (I think 10 years late is pretty average for this area, given Olive Garden, Target, Kohls, Hobby Lobby, Chipotle, Ulta, etc)
I thought, let's take Drew to Queen City Cupcakes! I've been following them on Facebook since they opened on Cinco de Mayo but because they sell out every single day, I can never get over there in time each day. However, on Drew's birthday we had the time to make the nearby mother-son trip over to Elm St. to visit the cupcake store that we've heard so much about. I do live in Goffstown, but downtown Manchester is only 10 minutes away. Nice!
We got there around 1:45 and time was on my mind, because I knew they could seriously be sold out at any moment. They had FIVE flavors left for the day. And after going inside and seeing the shop, I am not surprised! It is SO SMALL in there. It's quite amazing, really, how such a great buzz has been created from within such a tiny, nondescript shop. But I won't lie: These cupcakes are FANTASTIC. There is no display case, no interior decorating, no design, just a few tables and a kitchen. But clearly they have put substance before form because these are great recipes they have. No doubt about it.
These cute white paper floral chandeliers are adorable and not the first time I've seen them in a cupcake bakery! They must be a trendy thing in the cupcake community. They're from IKEA and I saw them at Delicious in Greensboro when I was there in April. They sure are beautiful.
I bought a six-pack of cupcakes of the flavors they had left for the day: carrot, red velvet, hawaiian, almond joy, and two peppermint--one of which we ate there in the shop. It was fantastic!!! I have never tasted a more moist chocolate cake, and the peppermint flavor was really high quality, being both light and long-lasting. It hit high up in the nose rather than coating the tongue with some cheap breathmint-like flavor.
Good stuff.... and the Hawaiian was my absolute favorite!!!! I'm kind of a sucker for ANYTHING with coconut in it. These aren't fancy-decorated cupcakes but more of the homestyle variety....... but the ingredients and taste are so obviously high quality. Fantastic!!!
It's time for an update about Drew! He got his autism diagnosis on March 14th, and according to the Autism Speaks website, the first 100 days afterwards is a key period of time for gathering information, arranging resources, and developing an action plan. Here we are in mid June, pretty much at the 100 day mark, and I can't even tell you what a different place we're in now. A better place. A place of hope and optimism!
One thing that is really amazing, is that no matter how much you don't want your child to be labeled "Autism," it truly does open up a lot of doors and windows of opportunities and resources that would otherwise not be there. It was like they sent the calvary. Suddenly our lives are filled with even more teachers, therapists, doctors, and other professionals, and it's a wonderful thing.
Most notably is the addition of Drew's new private speech therapist, Cass! We are so thrilled and thankful to have her working with us. Our previous speech therapist, Annie, who worked with Drew from age 2-3 is now in private practice with Cass, and together their practice is called New England Pediatric Services. Cass is all. about. working with kids with autism, and we've been amazed in the 6 weeks or so that she's been working with Drew, all the insights she has given us about how he is, and why he is the way he is. We're learning so many things weekly about how the autistic brain is hardwired differently than a typical kid's is, and every week when she leaves Dave and I are like, "A-HA!!!! That makes total sense now." There are so many things, I can't even tell you, that now we're realizing have all been because of autism, that make him do the things he does, or in other cases, NOT do the things that we expect him to do. It's wonderful to have someone come every week to talk to us who is knowledgable about ASD and we can ask questions of. Priceless, really.
Another great outcome of the whole thing is even more services for Drew at his preschool. Even before the diagnosis they obviously knew a lot about him, and what his needs were, and probably everybody suspected ASD for him anyway. ;) But now he's got a new IEP in place for the coming year, with speech therapy, sessions with the special educator, 1:1 time with a classroom aide, and new.... for this year: occupational therapy and the development of a sensory diet! We're really excited about this part of it and can't wait to see what she comes up with for Drew.
We even had a pediatric dietician come out to our house in April to evaluate Drew and his diet. Apparently selective eating is a common thing for kids like Drew and the concern is that the rigidity with routines can get worse over time if not dealt with early on. LUCKILY she said Drew has a lot of strong points and his diet isn't as restricted as we think it is, and he's getting most of his nutrients, despite not eating many fruits, vegetables, and not too much meat. This kid would happily live on milk and pretzels if we let him. But anyway, we switched him to Flintstones complete vitamins because they have iron in them, rather than the gummy vites he was taking. And found ways to get more calories into him..... and as a result he's gained about 2 pounds since April!
Next up is Drew's 4 year well visit with his pediatrician..... hopefully she'll tell us we're doing a great job with getting him as many services as we can. I even called ahead and made sure they scheduled us for plenty of time for talking during his appointment. Those well visits are SO quick, and it's hard to have time to voice any concerns you have in that brief amount of time. I know we have a lot to talk about, so it's best to call ahead and make sure they block out the time for you. They love it when you do that! A little tip from me to you....
And at his fourth birthday..... he's really blossoming. We're so excited at how many things he's understanding, and communicating. His speech therapy is really paying off. It's not so much actual "speech" because his articulation and vocabulary are just fine, but it's more his communication that is being developed. He has had so many delays with language and communication development, and it's exciting to see all of that come forward in leaps and bounds. We're starting to see negative phrases, and questions, and appropriate responses to questions now..... and there's that great satisfaction of KNOWING that he knows what I'm talking about when I talk to him. There's not so much blind repetition of TV shows now, it's actually HIM talking and thinking and forming sentences and wanting to know information. He's really amazing.
He's so sweet. There's really something inside him that has driven him probably his whole life, and it's that desire to please and be kind and do things for people. He's very much a kind and gentle soul, and he loves to obey the rules and do things the "right way." He's affectionate and caring, and looks out for Parker and wants to help Mom & Dad however he can. It's often surprising how he'll drag Parker's high chair over to the table for suppertime, and get out a juicebox for him, and take the straw wrapper off and put the straw in for Parker, totally on his own idea.
It's not all perfect and probably never will be.... we still have times every day when he shuts down, gets stuck in a repetitive rut, pulls out the dishwasher racks and does that weird scanning thing with his eyes repeatedly, can be difficult to redirect out of a fit, asks for milk 100 times in 5 minutes, can't settle down for more than 2 minutes at a time, constantly asking for things back and forth between the family room and the kitchen, being strangely tired and lethargic at random times of day.... and always always always asking for things. Oy. That gets old. I remember that question in the evaluation for autism--something about Does your child only ever ask for needs/wants and never just makes friendly conversation. YES. That was true for a very long time, and is pretty much mostly true even now. It gets old so fast... first thing in the morning, no Hi Mom. Just want juice, want tv, want cheerios, want this and that and all kinds of things. All day long. Every 2-3 minutes.
But our good progress is coming regularly now! We have hope and optimism. He's doing great and we have lots of fun things planned for this summer. He's going to have a blast.
Even though it was about two weeks after his actual birthday, Drew still had an awesome party! We waited until his cousins were in town so that he would have more people to come to his party. It was so much fun! We decorated the screened porch in a Curious George theme, with streamers, tablecloth, balloons, plates & napkins, etc.
I was a little nervous about doing Curious George because even though it's Drew's favorite, he sometimes gets a little weird about seeing his favorite characters outside of the tv. In fact when I first showed him his plates and napkins, he ran away from them, so I was like "oh boy here we go....." But we didn't force him to mess with the stuff, and once we started decorating the porch he was really into it. Here we are starting on the streamers.
And the star of the show (besides the birthday boy) was the CAKE!! Again we asked Amanda Champagne to do his cake, and once again she knocked it out of the park. It's so cool to see what she comes up with. All I asked for was Curious George, and it was such a surprise to see what she chose to do with it. I had thought about telling her not to do a big monkey since I thought it would freak Drew out, and it was like she read my mind because it was only a small monkey and a big yellow hat. PERFECT. Drew kept remarking about the yellow hat, and the big tree. He LOVED IT!
Drew had such an amazing week playing with his cousins and I know he was really happy to have them here for his party. There were kids running around everywhere in the sandbox, kicking balls around the yard, blowing bubbles, pushing around wheelbarrows and ride-on toys. It was awesome.
And LOOK at this picture. This is Drew, OUR SON, actually sitting down in a purposeful fashion with other children. Unbelieveable. He did such amazing things this week, actually engaging with other kids, talking more, singing spontaneously, smiling more than I have ever seen him smile..... it was just wonderful. He really thrived with having other kids around and I'm so sad that it's over with. I can only hope that he has this much fun once he starts preschool in a couple of weeks. He really needs some friends.
It's hard to say which was his favorite gift..... I was very pleased with the quantity of gifts. He already has so many toys that we can hardly get through the living room, so I didn't want piles of gifts for him. Everyone was so great about it, and Drew was given a small amount of very well-chosen, thoughtful gifts and it was absolutely perfect. He really loved everything. And it wasn't too much.
Around 8am this morning I sat at the table feeding Parker his breakfast, and Drew was in the living room watching Curious George and I was thinking that at this exact moment 3 years ago I was strapped to the table in the OR getting a c-section. I was VERY happy to be sitting right where I was. Then I went in the living room and held Drew for a minute and got all weepy. Sweet memories, but I'm so glad those days are long behind us.
Since Drew's party isn't for a couple of weeks, I still had to get him his own cupcake. He doesn't understand anything about a birthday, all he knows is that it means birthday cake. In recent weeks we've been to two birthday parties (one of which was Parker's) and they had cake, so that's what a birthday is, right? I told him that he was now THREE, and held up three fingers. And he did the same, but kept on counting. "three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, six minutes!!" I let him have it.
His present this year is a sandbox! Big fun! It was an instant hit. It actually keeps him interested for almost an hour or more at a time. It's one place where he can dig freely instead of in mom's garden. Dave got him some little miniature dogs and he LOVED that, kept placing them around in the sandbox and saying "Dog show day!" like the episode of Curious George. He loves him some dogs. He would cuddle them in his hands and say "ooohhhhh it's so cute!"
Where do I begin to describe this little guy and who he is becoming?
He has an amazing memory and can remember the tiniest little details. Anytime we go to Target he still always asks me "go see two dogs?" because that's where we were when I first told him we were going to visit Karen's dogs. So now he thinks that first we go to Target, and then we go to Karen's. LOL.
One time we went to BJ's and as we went in I told him (mostly talking to myself) that we were here to get baby wipes and sausages. So we picked up the baby wipes, and then he goes "sausage!!" And pointed to the other side of the store where they keep them. Which was very helpful to me because I get amnesia the second I step into a store and forget why I'm there. And we can never leave a store without him reminding me to get Pepsi, which Dad is very thankful about.
He's getting easier to take places because he's more flexible about doing things. I used to never take him to the grocery store for the longest time because he would scream about wanting to go look at this or that, and nothing else. But now as long as I give him enough time to look at the lobster tank, and go around and look at all the fruits & veggies, he's fairly well content to ride around the rest of the store and let me do my thing.
One thing is for sure: he is obedient. He may not LIKE it, and he may whine and fling himself on the floor for a second or two, but that kid will do whatever we ask him to do. Like I always tell him, "you don't have to like it, you just have to DO it." He knows when he does something wrong, knows when he's gotten caught, and a couple of times even put himself in time out, which is soooo funny and all we can do not to laugh or let him see us giggling.
We've started an unhurried potty training routine, and ever since early April he goes to pee in the potty right before bed, and before he gets in the bathtub. A few times he's actually asked us "go pee!" and he runs over and goes on his own. But it's pretty sporadic and inconsistent. I guess we'll get there eventually. :) This summer I suppose we should start getting serious about it, but we're perfectly happy with him in diapers. LOL So much easier.
Another thing we may as well get around to is getting him out of his crib! He's still in his crib, and doesn't know any differently. We have the toddler rail ready to put on his bed and convert it into the toddler bed. But MAN do we not want to do that. I dread having him wandering around his room all night. Hopefully that obedience thing I mentioned will come into play and he'll stay in bed. I have just been enjoying sleeping through the night for a while now and am NOT ready to give it up again!
He's still pretty good with Parker although he doesn't really interact with him much at all. They fight over toys a lot of times, but that's about it. I think Drew has adopted a "you leave me alone, I'll leave you alone" policy with him.
We're so excited for him to start preschool! It's really going to help his socialization more than anything else. He knows all his letters (and their sounds), numbers, colors, shapes, body parts, animals, foods, etc. I think once he gets used to it, he's going to have a blast. Can't wait to shop for a little backpack for him!
It looks like he may be permanently blue eyed. We've seen no signs whatsoever of his eyes turning hazel like Drew's did and they've stayed a clear blue so it looks like he's taking after his dad for that. It's just yet another way that he and Drew are completely different.
He's just about weaned so we're pushing the liquids. His favorite by far is still our usual diluted orange juice but he's also liking water if it's ice cold. He doesn't like milk much right now but I'm determined to make him accept it so he'll be getting a lot of that.
He's still cruising around on everything he can hold onto, and is more and more reaching out for things and letting go, maybe even taking a shaky step or two. He's been known to stand for a few seconds if he doesn't think about it. Favorite activites are: driving the hot wheels cars all along the floor, crashing through all the pots and pans in the cabinet and pulling aaaaalllll of the plastic containers out. He loves pretty much anything with wheels that he can drive around. Pulling the cats' tails is a big enjoyment and going around to pull all the cords out of the plugs is a favorite pastime (unless I can get there first to stop him.) He loves to play with the telephone because it beeps and lights up, and he presses it to his ear. He also tries to put hats on his head, and sunglasses on my face. Too cute.
He's discovered the outdoors, and will crawl madly around the driveway until his feet and knees are scraped up. He'll even go into the grass although it tickles and feels weird, but he'll do it if it means he can chase a soccer ball. He loves to ride around in the 2-seater wagon with Drew, and go for walks with Mom in the stroller.
His birthday party was on Sunday and we had a great time with that. My mom came up to visit us and to be here for his birthday, and Dave's parents came over and we had a great supper from Luisa's and then cake and presents afterwards. What a great day for it, it was 85 degrees--on May 2nd! I could hardly have the cake out on the screened porch before it started sweating. I sure hated to cut that cake, it was just SO awesome. But luckily we did, because it was delicious too! Yellow cake with lemon filling--absolutely yummy.
Parker was so awesome with his cake. He actually dove right in and ate it all, and smeared it all over himself. LOL. Just like a normal baby! haha! We are still laughing about how Drew puked at the very sight of his little cupcake, so it was a lot of fun to see a baby have fun with his cake and enjoy it.