Monday, December 31, 2012

sensory bins - winter theme

back before i ever considered homeschooling i started reading homeschooling blogs.  (i should have taken that as a predictor of things to come).  i stumbled across a few different blogs as i perused the internet (avoiding pinterest because i know how quickly i would become addicted to it) for craft/activity ideas to keep my boys busy.  one blog i have enjoyed is 1+1+1=1.  the author of the blog, carisa, offered fantastic ideas for sensory bins.  after reading through a number of her posts i felt confident in creating my own version.  the process was simple and inexpensive...and the different themes i've created over the past year have kept my boys entertained.  i do not use my sensory bins as a part of our homeschool curriculum, rather i pull ours out and change things up when the boys just need a little something different to keep them occupied.

sensory bins aren't necessarily associated with sensory processing disorder(although maybe i should have taken that as a predictor of things to come as well).  i'd venture to say every preschool across america has some sort of sensory table - sand boxes and water tables, tubs full of rice or beans.  i believe the concept is to involve the five senses in children's play allow for hands-on exploration.  my mom, a career preschool/kindergarten teacher, daycare director and, now, trainer for headstart, explained one example to me - that playing with sand, specifically, helps to develop kid's fine motor skills and is a great precursor to handwriting.  there may be direct connections for some of the other common sensory table contents as well but overall when a child plays with a sensory bin their senses are involved in seeing, hearing, feeling and sometimes even smelling the objects with which they are playing.  here's an article that explains the concept a bit more.

since our friend juliana has been coming over to play with us she has seen and played with two different themed sensory bins and commented that she'd like to pass along the idea to the mom of another "friend" she "plays" with.  her comment made me think that posting some sensory bin ideas on my blog may be beneficial.  so ya go!  

this winter themed bin was the very first one i made back in january 2012 and i recreated it again last week.  our beautiful colorado winter weather occasionally offers up days when it's too cold to go outside.  and harnessing little-boy-energy without going outdoors can be tricky.  as you take the lid off the rubbermaid bin you find sandwich bags filled with cotton balls.  homemade snowballs perfect for an indoor snowball fight!  if you squeeze all the air out of the bags those suckers really fly!  i borrowed this idea from harrison and graham's preschool where the annual christmas party always hosts a huge cottonball fight inside the gymnasium.  at ages 5.5 and 4, the "snowballs" are currently my boys favorite part of the winter-themed sensory bin.

this is what you'll find underneath all those cottonball packages.

a bed of white and blue sea glass (purchased at michael's), fuzzy pom poms (dollar store), and large clear glass gems (dollar store).

i always provide some type of bowl and some type of spoon for sorting (or just scooping and dumping).  these particular bowls were from the dollar store, 3 for $1.  the tweezers in the background are learning resources brand purchased at a long time ago and the measuring cup is from my kitchen.   

on the other side of the bin i provided different size styrofoam balls (dollar store) and toothpicks for building snowmen or snowflakes.

i always TRY to hold some items back and add them later to maintain interest and excitement in the sensory bin.  this week i added two different size white pom poms that were left over from another craft project.  they were purchased at michael's

here's graham, in his knight costume, having fun with the sensory bin.

other sensory bins themes i've created over the past year (and will post about as i recreate them in the year to come): valentine's bin, construction bin, easter bin , gardening bin, fourth of july bin , straws and scissors bin, outer space bin, build-a-monster bin.

i hope this post encourages you to put together a sensory bin for your home!  i'm very thankful i stumbled upon carisa's website and took the time to learn about this great play idea!

**updated to add i have submitted this post to the spd blogger network.

Friday, December 28, 2012

skiing with a sensory kid

 us.  on the condo's balcony.  in the morning before we drove home.

we had a truly lovely and fun time with jeremy's family in steamboat springs, colorado last week.  it was such a pleasure to see and spend time with everyone and it was a joy - sheer joy - to watch our boys learn how to ski.

the beautiful snowy view the condos on the other side of the pool and hot tub.

harrison and graham are both excellent skiers.  they both picked it up without any trouble at all.  it must run in their genes - from their dad, not from me.  harrison, especially, was such a pro.  before lunchtime his second day of ski school he was already parallel skiing and doing j-turns.  we were all so impressed with both boys - but just couldn't believe how much harrison was able to learn in such a short time.

this was very thrilling and heart-warming to me because the first morning we dropped the boys at ski school i walked back to the condo in tears.  i was deeply concerned for my sweet sensory boy.

 this was not even half of the gear that was typically strewn throughout the hallway.

winter sports typically involve dressing in three layers - the wicking layer goes on first, followed by the warm layer and, finally, the water/wind proof layer.  simple enough.  the tricky part is trying to put all those designed-to-keep-you-warm-in-zero-degree-weather-layers on while inside a toasty warm condo.  then walk in ski boots, while carrying skis, down to catch the shuttle (working up a little sweat), step up into the toasty warm shuttle and ride to the base of the mountain (getting sweatier), walk in ski boots from the shuttle drop-off to ski school registration, and, finally, continue to carry skis and helmets and goggles and mittens (really sweating up a storm now) to the kids vacation center where you will leave your bundled-up, excited children for the day.

before we even stepped out the condo door harrison was complaining that he was too hot.  before we even boarded the shuttle harrison was complaining that his hot chillys sleeves were bothering him.  before we even arrived at the kids vacation center harrison was complaining that his sock was crumpled up inside his boot.  harrison's excitement was waning, his smile was son was on a downward spiral of unhappiness.  i was worried. 

as we walked inside the ski school i noticed how crowded and loud and chaotic it was.  harrison doesn't like loud noises.  he does better in peaceful environments.  he has a hard time interacting when there are that many people around.  i was more worried. 

when i realized i would not get an opportunity to talk to their instructor, to say, "it will really help harrison if you let him know what to expect...", i became really very worried. 

i put on a brave face, kissed their foreheads and told them to have the time of their life.  then i walked out the door.  and the tears came quickly.

my overwhelming concern for harrison was compounded by feelings of guilt about the complete lack of concern i had for graham.  ha!  can't win either way, i guess.  jeremy hugged me and repeatedly told me "he'll be okay...they'll both be okay".

and of course he was right.  but it wasn't until four hours later that i was able to see it for myself.

 harrison in the blue helmet, graham in the green.  riding up the magic carpet.  their coach, dave, is walking up the hill.

after joining meme, papa, jeremy and his brother zach at the base of the mountain for lunch, we all headed over to the ski school area to watch the boys.  they had just gotten back from a gondola ride all the way up to the summit and back, made complete by getting to eat chocolate chip cookies while enjoying the view. 

 harrison skiing down the hill.

they were happy!  they were smiling!

then i watched in amazement as they rode up the magic carpet and skied down the bunny slope.  again and again and again.

 graham skiing down the hill.

they were having fun!

there were some sensory things i noticed about harrison: 
1) he had his coat completely unzipped.  maybe he was hot.  maybe the collar was bothering him.  maybe he was too distracted by other things to notice.  but when i asked him if he wanted me to zip it up he told me no. 
2) he did not want to wear his mittens.  my own fingers were painfully cold from taking photos without gloves on.  his fingers were bitterly cold to the touch and deep red, almost purple in color.  yet, when i implored him to put on his mittens he refused. 
3) he continually picked up snow from the ground and ate it.  he skied down the hill while eating snow.  he rode up the magic carpet while eating snow.  he ate chunks and chunks and chunks of snow.

 harrison riding up the magic carpet while eating snow.  this was just before his mittens started bothering him.

but ya know what, even with those three little things - things probably only his mother would notice - he was kicking the pants off the rest of the kids!  he had no trouble fitting in with his group.  he had no trouble listening to instructions and doing as he was told.  he certainly had no trouble skiing.  his instructor repeatedly praised him and his ability.  it was just as jeremy said it would be - he really was okay...both harrison and graham were!

 graham riding up the magic carpet.

after we made their ski school reservations i wondered...what if they don't like it?  what if we have to force them to go back to ski school the second day?  we've paid all this money...

turns out they both loved skiing.  that's an understatement.  they LOVED skiing!  they didn't want to stop skiing!  which delighted us all.

one thing jeremy and i have noticed since day two of our trip and since being home:
1) harrison has not been chewing on things.  this is big.  typically, that's one of the main ways harrison's sensory struggles present themselves (that's why he was eating all that snow on the first day of ski school).  at home we see him chewing on his shirt collar, chewing on his shirt sleeves, chewing on objects (toys, bottle caps, straws, blankets), chewing on snacks and gum.  apparently, his body seeks out that oral stimulation because it's calming for him.  simply put, chewing on things helps harrison's body organize and process the sensory input he receives.  and it gives him more sensory input.  you can click on this link to read more.  harrison would fall into the HYPOsensitive catergory. 

as our dear OT friend rachel ottley told us, that's why you might see adults who smoke, constantly chew gum, bite their nails, keep a toothpick in their mouth...lots of people have oral sensitivities.

what's interesting to me, though, is that harrison has not needed to chew on anything since our ski trip.  we are fully expecting to see this habit return.  and that will be okay.  but it helps me understand further just how connected everything is.  i'm assuming harrison's body received enough sensory input from all the extra activity he was doing while we were away that he just doesn't need to chew on things right now.  harrison did a ton of heavy lifting, everything from wearing all those extra ski clothes and heavy boots to carrying his skis and our luggage, pushing and pulling heavy doors...and he exercised his body so much including using a ton of balance to ski.

i can't wait to talk to harrison's therapists about this.  it gives me hope for the future!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Look out, Steamboat! Here they come!

We just happened to get some snow yesterday.  1-2 inches maybe.  I was pleased not only because we are going skiing in a couple days and have been praying for snow in the mountains (the ski areas got lots!), and not only because we needed the precipitation, but because it allowed my boys to play around in their new ski gear. 

And play they did!  They asked me to get out the sleds which they used to scoot down the little slope in our front yard and to pull each other around.

 They jumped off the retaining wall again and again.  These boys have no fear.  

I, however, had fears that Harrison especially would feel uncomfortable in his helmet and goggles.  He did come inside twice to complain about the chin strap but it either stopped bothering him, or he became accustomed to it, or he decided to grin and bear it.  Whichever the case, he continued playing outside for more than an hour and had no more complaints!  I was thankful the snow allowed them both the opportunity to get familiar with their new snow clothes.

They picked out their helmets.  Blue for Harrison, green for Graham.

Can we just be honest for a moment?  These two are pretty stinkin cute!

Oh my.  I can envision capturing a photo like this of a 16-year-old Graham.  I'm not ready for him to grow up.

 When they finally came inside I made them practice getting all their gear off by themselves.  And I made them practice going potty with their ski pants on too.  I know.  I'm crazy.  I'm a crazy mama who can't stop worrying about how her children are going to make it through all-day ski school.  In reality they'll be just fine and they won't miss me at all.  Sigh.

The best of brothers.  The best of friends.  The best of skier dudes. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Interview with the Boys

On January 11, 2011, when Harrison was just 3.5 years old, I posted an "interview" I tried to conduct with him.  You can read about that HERE.  Last night I asked both my boys the exact same questions from that interview two years ago.  Here's how it went:

1) What is something Mommy always says to you?
Harrison: Don't play with your food.
Graham: I love you.

2) What makes Mommy happy?
Harrison: Going to the Children's Museum.
Graham: That we don't fight.

3) What makes Mommy sad?
Harrison: When the Christmas ornaments break.
Graham: That we fight.

4) How does Mommy make you laugh?
Harrison: With a joke.
Graham: When an octopus grabs you.   


5) What was Mommy like as a little girl?
Harrison: A Cat.
Graham: A skateboard.

Clearly, they must not understand this question.  Last time I asked Harrison his answer was "a house".

6) How old is Mommy?
Harrison: Um...35
Graham: 100

7) How tall is Mommy?
Harrison: 9 feet
Graham: 30 feet

8) What is Mommy's favorite thing to do?
Harrison: Cook.
Graham: Eat.

Fairly accurate.  At least the eating part.  

9) What does Mommy do when you're not around?
Harrison: Clean the house.
Graham: Stay at home.

Very accurate.  I lead a boring life.  My idea of a good time sans children is going to the bathroom without interruptions.  No knocks on the door.  No fingers reaching under the door.  No Matchbox cars driving under the door.  No whining from the other side of the door...

10) What is Mommy really good at?
Harrison: Quaking.
Graham:  Board games.

11) What is Mommy not very good at?
Harrison: Remembering stuff.
Graham: Making fishing poles.

12) What is Mommy's favorite food?
Harrison: macaroni
Graham: tacos

I do believe they were projecting their own favorite foods on to me. 

13) How do you know Mommy loves you?
Harrison: Because you give us hugs and kisses all the time.
Graham: Give us hugs.

These answers gave me very happy smiles!

14) Where is Mommy's favorite place to go?
Harrison: McDonald's
Graham: Old MacDonald's



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Who Am I? - the "i stumped you" edition

As our family was driving home from Meme and Papa's house Sunday evening I initiated a game of "Who Am I?" in an effort to keep Graham from falling asleep.  I didn't want him to take a snooze at 5:30 which would fool his body into thinking he wasn't ready to go to sleep at 7:00.  This mama will do just about anything to preserve the 7:00 bedtime.

I gave clues first: I'm small and nocturnal.  I have a bushy tail and when I'm scared I make a really skinky smell. 

Both boys yelled: Skunk!

Graham was up next: I have four legs and live in the water.  I have a big face and small ears.  I have a small tail and a big winky.  Can you guess who I am?

I guessed a turtle?  Jer guessed a shark?  Harrison didn't know what to guess. 

Graham: I'll give you a clue...I'm a hippo!

Jeremy: Oh man, Graham, you stumped us!

Graham: Ok, I'll go again.  I have two legs and I climb in a tree and I have a back.  Can you guess who I am?

No one had any guesses.  I mean, could you come up with any guesses?

Graham: I'll give you a clue...I'm a bear!

Harrison: GRAHAM! Bears don't have two legs!  They have four legs!

Graham:  But they stand on two legs so I stumped all of you!

Harrison: Let's play Simon Says.

We did switch to playing Simon Says for a while, which was going swimmingly until one of my children, who shall remain nameless, said, "Simon says touch your vagina or your winky."



Jeremy and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows and I quickly reprimanded, "Simon does not ever say to touch private parts!"

Lord help me.  

Monday, December 17, 2012


 my two precious boys.  photo taken by leslie norgren, november 2012.

"The flags are at half mast today," Harrison noticed as we were driving to school this morning.  On Mondays he attends the Homeschool Connection, a one day program for home schooled kids offered through our county's public school system.

Jeremy and I purposefully had not mentioned anything to the boys about Sandy Hook.  The timing of this tragedy is ironic for our family as it was just Thursday night, before we turned out the light and rested our heads, that we finalized the decision to send Harrison to public kindergarten starting in January.  This is a decision that has weighed heavy on my heart for quite some time as we've been navigating the best options for Harrison.  I am a worrier by nature and I don't ever lack for reasons to worry.  But Friday morning I was confronted with a brand new reason to worry and my mantra quickly became "home school forever!"

As we went about our weekend I became sure of a couple things - it would not benefit my children, especially my very-smart, feels-everything-deeply, internalizing-everything, anxious-about-what-might-happen Harrison, to know that it was mostly children who were killed.  And it absolutely would not benefit him to know it happened in a school!  I was also certain Harrison would notice the flags at half mast come Monday morning.  (It was just my mommy instinct.  Why does he have to be so dang observant?)   

As the weekend progressed I became increasingly aware that I wouldn't be able to shelter my children forever.  And, now, here we were.  The Monday morning drive to school.  The moment when a little piece of my children's innocence will be taken away.

"Yes they are, son," I replied, bracing myself for the question that would come next.  And then, before I was ready, he gave life to the word... "Why?"

I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, selecting my words carefully. 

"Well, last Friday there was a man who did a very bad thing.  He used a gun to shoot some people and they died.  It happened in Connecticut, which is a long way from here.  The families of the kids and adults who were shot are very sad.  And the whole country is very sad about what happened.  So we fly the flags at half mast to show honor and respect to those who were killed and to show love to their families."

Keep breathing, Rachel.  Try not to cry.

Graham asked, "Did the police take the bad man to jail?"

"No because after he did a terrible thing and hurt those people, he used the gun to shoot himself.  So he died too.  He's dead now so he can't hurt anyone else, but he's not in jail."

Both boys were very quiet.  Harrison finally broke the silence, "Kids died?"

"Yes, buddy, and their families are so sad especially because it's Christmas time and they won't get to celebrate Christmas together now.  But ya know what?  Do you remember what Advent means?"

"To come," Harrison answered.

"That's right.  And who are we waiting for?  Who's coming?"


"That's right, bud.  We are waiting to celebrate when Jesus was born, when he came into the world!  And do you remember why we light the Advent candle each night during dinner?  What does it mean?"

"I don't know."

"The candlelight brightens up the room, it helps us see!  The candle reminds us that Jesus is the light!  We are waiting for Him to come, to be the light, to brighten up our dark world.  You see, sometimes bad, sad, dark things happen but we need to remember that Jesus was born to rescue us from all of that." 

"Okay," was the boys' response.  It was the only thing left to say, I suppose. 

At this point we needed to unload from the car and run inside.  I needed to leave Harrison inside that building with his classmates and teacher.  And would you believe I did it?  I did it without thinking about it!  I did it without thinking about it after we had just talked about it!  I did it because that's all we can do. 

We act on our instincts of faith, hope and love.  We act on our ability to trust, to find the good in others.  We continue on with the knowledge that we cannot give in to the fear, we cannot let evil win.  We move forward, even when it's scary, believing that God is in our midst.

As I walk into Harrison's new public elementary school this afternoon to deliver his enrollment form it will be one step in the right direction.  One step that shows I will not lie down in worry and fear.  One step that proves I am choosing to trust.  I am choosing hope.  I am choosing faith.  I am choosing to believe that God is good and that He loves my two precious boys more than I do!

I am choosing to be a warrior instead of a worrier. 

I am choosing to see the light. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gift Idea for a Second-Time Mom - The Busy Box

One of the things I struggled with most after we brought Graham home from the hospital (aside from his constant crying for nearly five months) was how to keep Harrison occupied while baby brother was nursing.  At 19 months old, Harrison was constantly on the move!  He wasn't yet old enough to be unmonitored or play by himself, to understand why Mommy couldn't play with him, or to sit still for 20-30 minutes at a time.  Who am I kidding?  Graham took 45 minutes to nurse!  And that was a-okay with me because it was one of the few times he was actually quiet!  But it caused frustration for Harrison and, in turn, me as I tried to balance the needs of each of my sons simultaneously.

Watching videos helped but Graham nursed roughly eight times a day and Harrison had zero interest in watching that much television.  Snacks helped too but I couldn't always coordinate Graham's feeding times with Harrison's snack times. 

Finally, a friend suggested putting together some "special toys" for Harrison that were only allowed to come out when Mommy was nursing.  Further, she recommended purchasing a variety of things and to rotate them so that the activities/toys stayed new and exciting.  I went to the dollar store and to Target's dollar spot and stocked up on inexpensive things that I hoped would keep him occupied and out of mischief while I nursed Graham.

In the end, Harrison enjoyed his "special nursing toys" and it made feeding times so much easier for me!

One of my friends is currently pregnant with her second baby, due in January.  Her first-born son is a busy, busy boy!  I thought she might like to have a box of items in her arsenal for those times she just needs her sweet ball of energy to occupy himself for a moment or two, so I put together a Busy Box for her.

It included some store-bought items:
A basket full of darling finger puppets, purchased at Ikea. 
The Moon Shines Down by Margaret Wise Brown
Ribbon-wrapped burp cloths for baby.

Then I added some items I made at home.

 This plastic container began it's life housing cashews from Costco.  I simply wrapped it in green and white paper to make it a bit prettier.  Now it holds large star erasers which can be used to dump out and put back again. 

They are fantastic for stacking - see how high you can build your tower!  They are great for counting - let's make piles of five!  The are fun for playing hide and seek - hide five of them around the living room and let your child find them.  Then they can hide five for you to find.

And the kid-friendly tweezers are awesome for developing fine motor skills - let's see if we can pick up the stars with the tweezers!  (The star erasers were bought online from Oriental Trading Company and the tweezers are Learning Resources brand, purchased online at Amazon).

 Another sheet of coordinating green and white paper covered this hot cocoa tin.  Now it stores sheets of paper and a variety of stickers.  What kid doesn't love using stickers?!  Often kids (my sons included) tend to stick them everywhere except the paper, but let's not forget the point of the Busy Box...I was just happy Harrison was keeping himself occupied.  I honestly didn't care that I had to peel stickers off the hardwood floors later. 

This is simply a paint tray and pony beads.  (Purchased at Target and the Dollar Tree, respectively).  Dump some beads into the center of the tray and they can be used to sort colors.  They can also be used for counting.  An older child could string them, too. 

This was formerly a McCormick's Taco Seasoning container.  I filled it with straws and two types of chenille stems - regular and fuzzy.  Simply dump out the contents, replace the lid, and try to put everything back inside through the holes in the lid.  Again, this is good for developing those fine motor skills.  The straws are much easier to get into the holes than the pipe cleaners, so there's some problem solving skills involved here too. 

So now my friend has at least five new activities to pull off the shelf when the occasion calls for it!  An inexpensive, yet meaningful and functional gift!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Catching Up

I have not had the opportunity to post anything for the past few days.  Here's what's been up at the white house...

1) Jeremy came limping through the door this evening, apparently having hurt his ankle.  When it comes to not feeling well you know how men can sometimes moan & groan and whine & complain and bitch and fuss and gripe and grumble?  Oh, you weren't aware of that?  Well.  That's what my sweet husband was doing.  I gave him his dinner, helped him hobble over in the recliner, placed an ice pack on his ankle and covered him with blankets.  At this point Graham asked, "why did Daddy sprain his ankle?"  I replied, "I'm not sure if he sprained it.  It's just hurting."  To which, Harrison commented, "maybe he got a pommel horse." 

If a pommel horse is a really bad case of's.worth then, yes son, that's exactly what your father got.

Of course I know he meant to say charlie horse.  I just love when they do those word switcheroos.

2) One day last week as Graham and I were driving back home from school he was telling me about his morning.  He explained that Teacher Mary said they were going on a sleigh ride with Santa.  I understood what he was saying - every year at the preschool Christmas party the kids hop onto a make-shift sled that is pulled behind an electric wheel chair and they cruise through the school hallways.  This year, though, Mary was telling the kids that they get to go on a REAL sleigh ride!  Outside!  With Santa!  Graham seemed excited about this but then he got very quiet.  The next thing he said was, "Mommy, I'm scared to go up in the sky."


3) Last Friday Jeremy and I had our intake appointment at the STAR Center.  Basically, she asked questions about Harrison and then told us what they have to offer, how their processes work and gave us a tour of their facility.  It went well and we both feel like we are headed in the right direction and have confidence that our son (and our whole family as parent education is a major portion of what they do) will benefit immensely from the therapy they provide.

4) On Saturday morning we woke to discover our kitchen light decided to turn off for the night and never switch back on.  Not a problem, really, as I hated that builder-grade florescent fixture and had been longing to replace it for ages.  But when we removed the fixture to find the builder never installed a light box.  Rather, he hammered an unnecessarily generous hole in the ceiling and left the wiring hanging through the drywall.  Lovely.  Thus began the Light Fixture Project of 2012.  So, off to Home Depot we went in search of a light box, a couple drywall patches and a light fixture.  I will spare you the details other than to say this: the project is complete and we are still married.  BUT, Home Depot, if you're reading, I highly recommend staffing a full-time marriage counselor or mediator in each store.  Amen.

5) The boys left to spend the night at Meme & Papa's house Saturday afternoon.  God bless Meme & Papa!  I was able to get all the Christmas gifts wrapped and ready for Christmas morning.  That means every present is out of it's packaging, assembled, loaded with batteries, and all trash has already been hauled off.  There is nothing - not one thing - Jeremy and I need to do that morning.  The boys can wake up and play with their new stuff while we enjoy a hot cup of coffee without having to reheat it six times.  THAT's the best Christmas gift in the world!

6) The Ornament Casualty Count is up to five.  Fortunately, this most recent injury was minor.  He's already been sutured up and sent back to the front lines

7) I was so proud of Harrison this weekend!  He did a great job of identifying what was bothering him and actually using his words to tell us what was wrong.  Jeremy had music playing loudly while he was working on the Light Fixture Project of 2012.  Harrison was trying to search for Highlights Hidden Pictures and he was having trouble finding a slice of pie.  He said, "I just can't concentrate with all that music!" and then got up to turn the volume down.  Sure enough, he sat down and was able to find the slice of pie. 

We are learning that Harrison struggles with Auditory Processing.  (There's some really great information about that HERE).  So in that instance, the background noise was just too loud for him.  He wasn't able to focus on his task while the music was at that level. 

Other times, though, the Auditory component comes across differently.  For example, Harrison has always been able to hear the ice cream truck minutes before I could.  A couple weeks ago we were outside at a local winter-themed event.  We were waiting in line for a hay ride and Harrison said, "here comes the tractor."  He was able to hear that tractor well before I was able to.  And again tonight while we were playing at the neighbor's house there was considerable ambient noise - music was playing, my friend and I were chatting, Graham was flying a noisy helicopter, and the boy's little playmate was making screeching noises when Harrison said, "I hear a knock."  We all got quiet and, sure enough, they knocked louder and we all heard it the second time.

I am excited to learn more about this Auditory piece of Harrison's Sensory Puzzle.  We have scheduled an evaluation for him (the next step in the process at STAR) and part of that evaluation is an in-depth auditory assessment.  Mind you, this is not a hearing check.  This test concentrates on how well Harrison is able to focus or filter or perceive what he hears.  Again, I'm still learning.  But as I do I find it more and more fascinating!

I think that's it for tonight.  As my boys always say (when they are playing with walkie talkies)...

"two-four.  over and out"

Instead of ten-four.  Love those switcheroos.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Evaluation - continued

This is a continuation of a previous post...all a part of my attempt to document our journey with Sensory Processing Disorder and how it affects our son and our family.  To read the first part click HERE

I thought of two good examples to share that may help you understand the not-quite-normal behavior we see in our son.  Both occurred the weekend Rachel was here to evaluate Harrison.  Specifically, she was observing us during our homeschool time on Friday morning.  I believe Harrison was unsettled (in sensory-speak this is called dysregulated) by having Rachel in the room.  It may not have been her presence at all - it could have been any number of things or it could have just been an "off" day - but, whatever the case, my sweet boy wasn't having the best school day.

I gave Harrison a handwriting page - simple tracing, and then writing, of the letter L.  He started out okay but he did NOT want to complete that worksheet!  Is that a big deal?  No.  But rather than telling me he wanted to do something else...or saying "i hate handwriting"...or mentioning that his hand is tired...he crumpled up the paper.  You see, when Harrison becomes "dysregulated" the first thing he loses is his language.  In that moment, he didn't have the ability to TELL me what he needed (to stop the handwriting activity).  Instead, he used an ACTION to express himself. that time did I know that's what was happening?  Nope.  Not a clue.  I saw the crumpling of the paper as defiance and disobedience.  I was frustrated that he didn't just finish the dang work page!  It wasn't until Rachel educated me on what was REALLY going on that I began to understand that Harrison's actions are much more than just actions...they are indicators of his feelings...they are the language he is comfortable using. 

They are his words.   

Here's another instance:  That same morning we moved on to reading time.  I try to incorporate at least 20 minutes of reading time into our school day.  Mostly I read aloud but Harrison does a good job of reading smaller books, too.  Once again, while Rachel was observing reading time, Harrison started out attentive but quickly lost interest.  And, once again, he was not able to TELL me that he was 1) tired of listening 2) hated that particular book about leaves 3) needed to get up off the floor and stretch 4) was bored.  Instead he used ACTIONS - in this case, he pretended to be a walrus - to avoid dealing with the situation.  It was easier for him to create a silly distraction (being a walrus) than to simply tell me he didn't want to read anymore.

Again, I had no idea at the time that Harrison was trying to speak to me through his behavior.  Again, I thought he was just being inattentive and disobedient.  That's why I call Rach the Autism/Spectrum Whisperer - she is so great at reading and interpreting behavior!  And she's great at educating clueless moms like me about how to start doing the same! 

Later that Friday night Rach and I went out to dinner.  It was while we were there that she gently began explaining what she had observed in Harrison and her professional opinion regarding what type of help our son needed.  Some of what she said confused me.  Some of what she said touched me.  And some of what she said broke my heart.  I'll share about that next time. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Ornament Casualty Count and other ideas

We've sent two more ornaments to the Kitchen Counter Trauma Center for a current total of four casualties.  Unfortunately the last two victims sustained injuries that were fatal, so off they've ascended to the Great Christmas Tree in the sky (also known as: the trash can).

Speaking of ornaments, on Sunday the boys and I made cute handprint ornaments to give to both sets of grandparents as Christmas presents.  I am not going to post the photos here because I don't want my mom or Meme to see them.  I will, however, link to the blog where I found the idea.  (Grandparents are NOT allowed to click on the link!  Wait.  Grandparents can click on the link, just not MY children's grandparents.  Had to clarify.)  We made slight adjustments to ours and I really love how they turned out!  If you are looking for a gift idea, they were very easy and fun to make.  And if you live in close proximity to me I have supplies left over and am happy to share!

These peppermint candy wreathes that hang from our dining room chandelier are one of my very favorite Christmas decorations.  Harrison and I made them four Christmases ago.  Even though he was not yet two years old at the time he was very good at unwrapping the candies and placing them in the ring of a tiny pie tin.  He was also good at eating the broken pieces!  I simply put them in a 250 oven and watched closely until they melted.  Each season when I lift them from the storage bin I say a little prayer of thanks that they have held together to sweeten up our December for another year.

A new decoration this year was this beautiful advent calendar, lovingly handmade by Meme.  Last year I emailed her an image (I have absolutely no idea where I found that original idea) of a very similar advent calendar and suggested it would be a fun sewing project for her.  Heh Heh Heh  :-)

Little did I know she actually started working on it and surprised me with it last weekend!  The boys have loved lifting the ornaments from the pockets and attaching them to the tree.  One of their favorites - a cute penguin - took a fall and was sent to the Kitchen Counter.  Thankfully, he was a resilient patient and recovered beautifully.  He is now back with his family, tucked away safely in the plaid pocket of the advent calendar. 

No doubt I'll be back later with another ornament casualty update!

Monday, December 3, 2012

just a list

1) why is it that anytime we are in a hurry to get out the door one of my children spills something? and it's always a multiple-towel-sized spill which also requires a complete change of clothes for at least one family member.  anyone else experience this?

2) my boys have no idea what radio is.  we have a station here that plays only christmas music during the holiday season.  harrison's favorite song is feliz navidad (this annoys jeremy to no end because, god forbid, our boys should like anything spanish) and every.single.time we get in the car he asks to listen to it.  i tried explaining that we don't get to choose which song comes on next.  i told him the dj decides.  (although that's really not true these days).  this hasn't kept him from continuing to ask.  the other day, before we even got in the car, he asked "mommy, can we listen to feliz navidad?"  i said, "harrison, what did i tell you about that?  who decides which song gets played on the radio?"  he replied, "the jaminator."  ha!

other favorite requests from the boys are frosty the snowman, i want a hippopotamus for christmas, rudolph, up on the house top and jingle bell rock

3) harrison knows how to multiply.  at dinner we have a rule that the boys have to try one bite of everything on their plate.  our other rule is that they are not allowed to say YUCK.  if they say YUCK they have to take two bites.  for the most part, they police themselves - especially first-born harrison who enjoys nothing more than remembering and enforcing the rules.

1 YUCK = 2 bites.  so, 1 YUCK x 2 bites = 2 bites.

harrison was able to tell me how many bites graham would need to take if he said YUCK 5 times, 4 times, 6 times, 3 times, etc.

then we changed the equation to make the consequence 3 bites.

so, 1 YUCK x 3 bites = 3 bites

he was still able to compute how many bites graham would need to take if he said YUCK once, twice, thrice...what's the "ice" for four and five and six?...see, clearly, the boy doesn't get his math skills from me!

anyway, he wasn't able to tell me how he figures it out.  i can see him counting in his head (he does not use his fingers).  i kept asking him what he pictures in his head when he's counting and how he keeps track of the numbers.  his only response was "i just count silently".

maybe this is normal.  do other 5.5 year olds know how to do this?  of course, his father and i think he's a genius.  genius, i tell you!

4) we had graham's preschool parent teacher conference this week.  he's a normal little boy, pretty much middle of the road as far as development goes but he, too, was advanced in math! 

5) they get their brain smarts from their father.  they get their street smarts from me.

6) my "preparedness" in buying christmas gifts for the boys so early has bitten me in the butt because now, of course, they have asked santa for completely different things than i bought.  harrison asked for a toy robot.  graham asked for a toy dinosaur.  so i guess i better start round two of the gift hunt!

7) i think that's all i got for this morning.  i'm supposed to be using this time to lesson plan for the coming week.  ever the procrastinator....

The Evaluation

I ended last time by telling you that our friend Rachel Ottley came to our rescue.  She, literally, flew in to rescue us on a United flight from Tulsa.  :-)

Her plane arrived on a Thursday afternoon so I took the boys along with me to fetch her at the airport.  That's not a chore for them as they love going to the airport because they get to see lots of planes taking off and landing.  We parked, went inside (also fun for them) and began searching for Rachel.  I hadn't seen her since my wedding day eight years prior (Jeremy and I had seen her husband, Tim, many times over the years, but we hadn't seen Rach) and was really, really excited that she was actually in town!

After a bathroom break (I told them to go before we left the house but they never listen), we finally connected, hugged, got teary-eyed, and then I introduced the boys, both of whom were fairly quiet.  We walked to our car, loaded up and headed west toward home.  I don't recall the topics of conversation or how involved the boys were in the discussion.  At some point, though, during that 45 minuted drive Rach whispered, almost to herself, "it's mild" or "it's very mild".  I can't remember exactly.  Maybe she didn't say that at all...maybe that's just what I heard...but when I heard it, I didn't ask any questions or ask for any clarification - I simply carried on with the conversation.  But I did wonder if she was saying it to reassure me...or to reassure herself.

You see, I'm sure it was a bit unsettling for Rachel to have to be the bearer of difficult news, if it came to that.  But, as I told her, I would MUCH prefer to hear the truth from a trusted friend (someone who cares about us) as opposed to a therapist we just met and only interacted with for a few hours.  I am so grateful to her for being willing to set aside any uneasy feelings and "what if" thoughts and do the hard thing - tell us what is going on with our son.

We got home and showed Rach around the house.  We ate dinner.  We caught up on life.  Basically, she just enfolded herself into our lives - our mundane lives - and observed what happened and how Harrison reacted to what happened.

On Friday morning she went along with us for all the usual activities - drop off Graham, drive home, do school with Harrison, pick up Graham, lunch.... - all throughout this time she simple observed, interacted with both boys, tried debating with them (not agreeing to/with everything they say like I apparently do!), and asked me questions here and there.  It was on the way home from picking Graham up from school that Friday that Rach asked, "do you realize Harrison's not responding to you?"  My response to that way, "What do you mean he's not responding to me?"  I didn't understand the question.  I just didn't see it.  She said, "I'm going to keep a tally.  I'm going start keeping track of how often he responds to you."

That was the beginning of my eyes being opened. 

That was the moment I was awakened to a new reality.

She started recording Harrison's responses and I started noticing his lack of responses.

For example - actually, it's very hard for me to give specific examples.  I know they help you all understand this situation better.  I totally get that!  It helped Jeremy and me immensely when Rach pointed out specific things Harrison was doing, or not doing, AS HE WAS DOING THEM!  But, in hindsight, it's difficult for me to remember those instances.  I'll do the best I can. 

Here's what I can tell know when your little ones are itty bitty (before they can talk...actually, even while they are in the womb) and your pediatrician suggests talking to them?  Talk all the time.  While you are changing their diapers, describe what you're doing.  When you are in the car, chit chat about your day.  When you are making dinner, tell them what you did wrong and how you have to trash it and move on to Plan B: microwave popcorn.  Read to them for 15-20 minutes every day.  While they are in the get the, talk, talk. 

I did all that. 

Turns out, though, I was so busy talking I never noticed Harrison wasn't responding.  I would ask him a question, he would stay silent, and I would simply carry on with the conversation or try to ask a different question or switch to a different topic or (and maybe this is worse) I would INFER his response and answer my own question for him!  And, even then, he wasn't responsive enough to tell me if my conclusion was wrong or right.

I'll try to recreate a scenario for you:

Me:  Harrison, what was your job at school today?
Harrison:  (silence)
Me:  Did you do the calendar?
Harrison:  (silence)
Me:  Did you check the weather or were you the line leader?
Harrison:  No.
Me:  Did you pick up the carpet squares or pick the music?
Harrison:  Pick the music.
Me:  What song did you choose?
Harrison:  (silence)

This type of "conversation" would go on with me continuing to guess and Harrison continuing to tell me very little.  Now that I write it out it sounds so incredibly frustrating.  And exhausting!  And to think I had absolutely no idea that this wasn't normal. 

That's because this WAS our normal!  Until Rach revealed to me how UNnormal this is.

To give perspective here's how a similar conversation would go with Graham:

Me:  Graham, what was your job at school today?
Graham:  Well...Cayden checked the weather and Jolie was the line leader and Brooklyn picked the music but she choosed (Graham always uses correct grammar) a girl song so I didn't want to dance.
Me:  But what was YOUR job, buddy?
Graham:  I did the calendar.  Today is Monday, December 3rd.
Me:  Did you eat your snack?
Graham:  Well...I drank all my apple juice and ate half of my granola bar because my tummy was full and I couldn't finish it so the teacher put it in a bag for me to bring home.

See the difference?

Yeah, kinda hard to believe I didn't.

to be continued...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where do they get this stuff?

Interesting the things little ears hear...and the things little mouths repeat. 

Last year, after watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, my children took to calling each other stupid.  Today, that word has mostly disappeared from our house thanks to a threatening bottle of apple cider vinegar waiting to be swished in the next mouth that utters it.  

Since watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving last week the boys have started saying "he's all yours, Priscilla" and "you sly dog".  Of course, with Graham, that's pronounced "he's all yours, Pwis-si-wha" and "you swhy dog".

I guess, according to Harrison, Peppermint Patty says "you sly dog" to Charlie Brown and Marcy says "he's all yours, Priscilla" to Peppermint Patty.  My boys don't necessarily use the phrases in the proper context: 

Harrison: You did a great job riding without training wheels, Graham.  You're such a sly dog!

Graham:  (angry, yelling) Be quiet, Harrison!  It's all yours Priscilla!

The other phrase they've started saying is "listen, woman".  And, yes, they know how to say it in context:

Me: Harrison, come inside and put this puzzle away.
Harrison:  Listen, woman! ...

Me:  Graham, it's time to come upstairs and put your jammies on.
 Graham:  Listen, woman! ...

And, no, I don't have to ask where they learned this.  I know first hand.  They are simply modeling what they see and hear their father doing.  In fact, the other day Jer was standing there when I asked Harrison to do something and he replied "listen, woman" and his father laughed!  Now if that isn't the way to encourage bad behavior, I don't know what is!

Now, I don't want to paint my husband as a chauvinist.  But he kinda is.  You think apple cider vinegar will work on him?  Hmmm...

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Christmas Decorations

Well, I finished decorating the tree yesterday evening and we already have two ornament casualties.  Let the tally begin!

During the holiday season I keep a tube of super-glue on alert at the Kitchen Counter Trauma Center.  Boys + Christmas ornaments = lots of super-glued fingers for doctor-mom.  If I was a gambling woman I'd bet we'll treat no less than 15 patients this year.  

I have a confession to make - you are going to think I'm an awful mom.  Please try not to judge.

Here it is: I did NOT let the boys help me put ornaments on the tree.

And it's not because I was worried they would break things.  It's because I have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Ornament Placement OCD.

In fact, now that I'm looking at the above photo, I'm feeling some hypertension about the letter H.  It's hanging too low for my liking.  And there's too much of an empty green patch above it.  As soon as I finish this post I'll rehang it.

Seriously, people.
It's a legitimate syndrome, you know.  The symptoms appear when provoked by offers of decorating help and, worse, daring to help without asking and, even worse, when decorating does not go as planned.  Symptoms may include grouchiness, bossiness, sneakiness and profuse sweating.

Here's the bad part: The boys kept asking and asking if they could help.  I kept telling them no.  Then when I finally conceded and handed them a few non-breakable ornaments to hang, I lectured them within an inch of their lives about where they were allowed to hang them.  And then after they hesitantly hung them, I rearranged them anyway.

I know.


The entire time I was doing this the narrative in my head went something like this: Rachel, this is not a big deal.  You are stealing their joy.  They just want to help.  What's the harm in having 6 snowflakes right next to each other?  

You will be the only one who notices that the puffball snowmen aren't facing forward.  

Why are you so bothered when all the birds are facing the same direction?  That's how birds fly, Rachel!  Just let the little birds flock together!  Your children are going to grow up and have ornament OCD just like you.  Stop the insanity!

But I just couldn't stop.

I wish I was one of those moms who give their kiddos free reign over the tree decorating.  I am so envious of them!  And I'm certain their trees look beautiful!

But not as beautiful as mine.

I know.


I ought to check myself into the Kitchen Counter Trauma Center.  Maybe sniffing the super-glue would help me relax!

Monday, November 26, 2012

the road less traveled

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Next Chapter - Part Two

To read Part One click here.

Our son's full name is Harrison Ottley White. Let me tell you how we chose it.

After my 20-week pregnancy ultrasound showed we were expecting a son the search for names ensued. I had lists and lists of boy names which dwindled quickly because Jeremy applied his power of veto to most of them. From the get-go he was very much in favor of the name Harrison. It was a name he had always liked. I liked Harrison, too. It's a fine name. But as my womb grew to accommodate the boy kicking inside me, I kept coming back to a different one - the name Ottley.

During the year Jeremy and I met, began dating, got engaged, planned a wedding and got hitched I worked for two guys, both named Tim. Tim Cook and Tim Ottley. Most everyone referred to Tim Ottley as just Ottley, so I did as well. People had lots of different names for Tim Cook – tim, tc, tmc, mr. cook, bigness, mother f*cker – but I called him Cook. (that last one was a term of endearment used by one crazy-lady business associate from NYC. She spoke to me in the same loving manner, “What the f*ck, Mother F***er! Where the f*ck is that Mother F***er, Tim Cook?!” It always made my day to transfer her calls.) So I worked for Cook and Ottley.

A funny side note: Tim Cook had a daughter named Rachel, Tim Ottley had a wife named Rachel, and they both had an assistant named Rachel (that would be me). There were a lot of Tims and a lot of Rachels.

I loved both Cook and Ottley. I still do. They were great to work for, made me feel like part of their family, taught me so much (both professionally and personally) and opened my eyes to some wild and crazy things. Things like flying first class, shipping luggage via overnight FedEx because it was too much hassle to carry, being in charge of getting a band, crew and gear to NYC during a blizzard, being on a tour bus, being back stage, being the only non-naked female at a party. But those are stories for another time.

That was a special time for me because I was falling in love with my husband. But falling in love with him was all the more fun because I was so very happy with my life and felt fulfilled in my job. At work, during that year, Cook and Ottley left an impression on me. So it only makes sense that I would want to name my son after one of them!


What? Are you thinking that's kind of weird?

I suppose, looking back on it now, maybe you're right. But at the time I did not think it was odd at all. I just really, really liked the name Ottley! I was adamant about calling my son Ottley and no amount of veto power was going to remove it from my list. While Jeremy and I were still in name negotiations my girlfriends would ask which names we were considering and I made no qualms about replying,

“I really like the name Ottley”


“Ottley. O-t-t-l-e-y.”

“Where does that come from?”

“It's the last name of a friend I used to work with.”

Then the responses would vary...

“Oh. How nice.”


“Cute. You could call him O.”

It never crossed my mind to wonder what others might think of my choice. No one - not my friends, not my coworkers, not my husband, not my family – commented that it is unusual to name your son after “a guy I used to work with”. If they had any strange thoughts about it, they kept them quiet. Truthfully, if anyone had spoken up, it wouldn't have made a difference. It simply came down to this:

I had my heart set on calling my son Ottley.

I certainly didn't worry over how Tim Ottley's wife might react to the idea. (How terrible of me! Can I claim baby brain for my complete self-centeredness?) If I had taken the time to think about it I may have realized the slight awkwardness. Can you imagine Ottley saying to his wife, “Hey Honey, remember my old assistant? She wants to name her son after me.” Oh man! Putting myself in her shoes, if Jeremy came home and said that to me, I would definitely wonder what in the world had transpired between them to make her want to name her son after my husband! Is my husband worthy of that honor? Absolutely! But I would still question it! What wife wouldn't?

Was Tim Ottley worthy of having my son named after him? Without a doubt. He is a man who, for many reasons, is more than deserving of that honor! But, as it turns out, things aren't always as simple as having your “heart set” on something. What God showed me when I was lying in the dark that night is this: I didn't simply like the name Ottley and I didn't simply name my son after “the friend I used to work with”.

Harrison Ottley White was named with purpose.  And he was named to honor someone else too.

Someone Harrison would need. Someone who would care about him enough to want the best for him, to be the best for him. Someone who would become our angel, sent to us in times of trouble. Someone who would show us the light.

God told me “this is why you named him Ottley” because he was reassuring me that all along, before Harrison was even born, he would hold our son dear. And all along, before Harrison was even born, he knew who our son would be and the difficulties he would face. And all along, before Harrison was even born, God had the perfect person in place to help him overcome his struggles. And all along, Harrison would share that person's name.

"This is why you named him Ottley...because it is Rachel Ottley (Tim's wife)...your lovely occupational therapist friend...whom I have perfectly gifted...before Harrison was even help him and you through this hardship".

Even now I weep at God's amazing, incomprehensible, provision.
He is so gracious. He is so good. I am so thankful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Next Chapter - Part One

This post is a continuation in the story of our family's journey with Sensory Processing Disorder.  To read the previous parts of the story click here first, and 2nd, and 3rd, and 4th, and 5th.

I'm actually writing this next portion of the story out of turn.  What should come now is an explanation of how Rachel (our occupational therapist friend) flew out, stayed with us, evaluated Harrison, informed us regarding what she noticed, and advised us on how we should proceed.   And I promise I will get to all that.  But there's something you should know first.

It's a realization I had.

Thoughts come to me at night...when the house is quiet...when I am at my most peaceful.   I get impressions of things.  Phrases that repeat.   My heart feels heavy.  I feel urges to pray.  Sometimes I cry.   This does not happen often.  But when it does I feel comfortable saying that, in these moments, I am hearing the voice of God.  It's not a literal sound, of's more of a feeling.  But it's a feeling, I am certain, that comes from outside myself – or maybe it's from deep within?  That made no sense, but what i'm trying to say is this:

It's a feeling, a thought, an impression, that would not normally occur to me.

It's an idea so far beyond my scope of understanding that I can't fathom it.

It's recognizing that there is always a bigger plan – a greater story – and that I am only one thread within a giant patchwork quilt, which God is piecing together as he sees fit.

And, usually, I'm left knowing – deeply knowing – that everything is going to be alright.

I believe, with my whole heart, that this is the way God speaks to me.

At least that's how he spoke to me that night – Friday night, September 14th - the night Rachel explained what was going on with our sweet Harrison.

I was alone in the dark pondering my son and the sensory issues he struggles with when a very specific thought came to me.

“This is why you named him Ottley.”  "This is why you named him Ottley."  "This is why..."

And I immediately began to weep.

You see, I've written in the past about the importance of a name.  Let me tell you about Harrison's...

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

follow up & a joke

i thought i'd share some updates...

1) miss erika was happy i stalked her and tracked her down.  her new salon suits her much better - very rock & roll.  oh, and her hair is now dark brown and red. 

2) my friend erica is still my friend despite the fact that i unknowingly spread germs to her family.  my cheeks turned red and became hot as i talked to her about it over the phone.  oh, the humiliation.

3) the photos leslie took turned out great!  and i did cave and order christmas cards.  it's just not christmas without cards!  but we are still going to figure out a way to give to others this christmas season.

4) we haven't seen our friend juliana for the past two weeks and i'm doubtful she will come this friday as it's the day after thanksgiving.  basically, if we don't see her this friday, that will be only two out of six weeks that harrison has had therapy.  i really love having juliana come to our home but we are anxious for a more intensive form of therapy.  that's part of the reason we are trying to get into STAR.  it's our understanding that their treatment model is the best.  and juliana will still be our therapist at STAR, too.  if you think of it, please pray that we are able to get in!  please, oh please, oh please.

5) some of you have expressed an interest in being able to "follow" this blog.  or to receive my postings via email.  i realize it's hard to remember to check here regularly.  honestly, though, i can't figure out how to set that up.  anyone out there knowledgeable about these things???

6) we are considering montessori schools for harrison for first grade.  and, of course, we have to figure this out now because choice enrollment starts on january 7th.  anyone out there knowledgeable about montessori schools and which ones in our area are good???

7) anyone?  anyone?  bueller?  bueller?

and, lastly, i'll leave you with a joke.  harrison likes to tell this one...

how does a farmer count his cows?

with a cowculator!

hahaha.  get it?  a COWculator!

oh my.  yes, indeed, these are the kind of jokes - much worse than this, actually - that are par for the course around here.  usually it's more like this...

knock knock.

who's there?


elephant who?

elephant mommy!

hahaha hohoho hehehe (graham slaps his knee and rolls around on the floor because it's


knock knock.

who's there?

um, harrison.

harrison who?

harrison had to go poo-poo.

hahaha hohoho hehehe (graham AND harrison roll on the floor with knee-slapping laughter)

and, once again, i'm left guessing.