Saturday, April 29, 2017

First Dance

Eli's school held their annual middle school dance last night. I wanted to volunteer as photographer, but at that time, Eli had not yet brought the dance up, so I wasn't sure if it was even on his radar to attend. So I asked him, and he seemed fairly interested. I suggested that he might check with some of his friends to see if they were interested as well (since he was telling me that no one had talked about it). The week before the dance he said he was going, so I signed up as well. He had to convince his best friend, Drew, but they both got dressed up very willingly.
Eli chose red pants and a cool plaid shirt. He wore a white belt and skater shoes with it, and on the way out, he grabbed a hat. Not sure where he gets his style, but I like it. A lot!

The night of the dance, I drove the boys since I was going to be at the dance as well. I took them out for a burger first, and we ran into many other 6th grade boys at the restaurant (all dressed up). I think this helped get the boys a little more comfortable with the whole thing (even though they both spilled food on their shirts). By the time we arrived at the school, they were chatty and excited.
The whole dance was very fun, very innocent, everything a middle school dance should be. So many of the kids danced the whole time, taking occasional breaks to snack, go to the photo booth, or play some random games around the room (corn hole, connect 4, etc.) Boys and girls danced, but not really together, but it was all ok.
As I drove the boys home, they both couldn't stop talking about how much fun it was. I think their first school dance experience could be considered a success!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Grandma & Grandpa Visit

We wanted to take the big kids to NYC without Ruby (nothing personal!), so we flew Grandma and Grandpa here to hold down the fort while we were gone. That turned into an extended stay to hang with the big kids over Spring Break, fortunately. Eli got to take Grandpa golfing once or twice, hit balls once or twice, and play in his yard course countless times. (It was literally the ONLY think on his mind all week, and he reminded us often.) Maddux and Ruby and Grandma had lots of fun coloring, playing outside, going to parks...we did it all. Weather (severe weather!) kept us inside a few days, but we still had our fair share of outdoor fun.
Ruby loved Grandma and Grandpa being here too. As much as she always asks for "Gam-pa!" when we face time them, she gravitated towards Grandma Cathie plenty. In fact, when Grandpa slept in her room one night, she woke up in the morning and said, "Gramma?". When she saw it was him, he tells us that she put her head back down and went to sleep, maybe disappointed.
Another Ruby story: she dropped the "Grandma" title. She started the week saying "Gramma Caffee", but after a few days that was shortened to "Caffee", which she would call from anywhere in the house to find her favorite playmate. She had no time for Lehr or I (or even Maddux) while they were here; she was very focused on commanding them to 'come. sit. (eat. play. whatever)' the entire visit.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New York, New York

Just as we did for Eli when he turned 10, we gave Maddux an extended weekend trip for her first two-digit birthday. It was not as easy to pick a destination for our girl; Eli's love for history made DC an obvious win. Lehr and I ultimately decided on New York because of all of the sights and sounds (and food!) it has to offer. I think we picked a winner.
Because we have had some crazy weather in Atlanta this spring, our flight (meaning our trip) was impacted. The week before our trip we had bad storms and tornadoes. Then things calmed down for five days before picking up again big time. Two days before our flight was to leave, we had severe storms and winds to the point where many flights were delayed, rerouted or cancelled that afternoon. So when we arrived at the airport for our flight (two days later!) they were still sorting out the aftermath, meaning over 700 flights cancelled, just that day. Ours was one of them. Because Lehr is quick to recover, he hopped on the phone and stuck it out for 3-4 hours on hold to get us on the next available flights. Unfortunately that ended up being a full 24-hours later. And because our trip was already a short one to begin with, that forced our hand to extend our trip by a day also (meaning the kids missed two full days of school).
Once that was behind us, we had a great time. Just the big kids went with us; NYC is a little harder to navigate with a stroller and a toddler, and we wanted to cover a lot of ground and let Maddux see as much as possible. That first morning, we were in Grand Central Station by 9am. Not too shabby!
The weather was cold and really windy the first two days, but we walked enough to keep ourselves warm. We visited the 9/11 memorial (which includes a water feature that was shut off due to the high winds) and the museum the first day. The kids handled it all pretty well, not getting upset by the images and videos. We were not plugged into the audio tour though, and I think that helped them keep it all at an arm's length distance from affecting them too much. That night we went to Ellen's Stardust Theater where actors frequenting Broadway playbills keep their lights on by serving food and entertaining patrons with Broadway tunes. The wait was insanely long (just over 3 hours!) but the kids really enjoyed it.
The next day we hit the Freedom tower, where we got to take an elevator up 100 floors and walk around the observation deck. This was REALLY cool. The kids enjoyed looking out over the city and seeing all of the buildings from the top. We then went to Central Park (another favorite of theirs mainly because of the cool acrobats and music we saw) before going home to change for a Broadway show. We chose School of Rock because we knew Eli and Maddux would love the cast of kids. They were amazing. AMAZING! These kids not only nailed the acting and singing and dancing, but many of them also played instruments live on stage. This was the best thing of the whole trip for both kids. After the show, we walked through Time Square so they could see all of the lights and screens at night. Another favorite for Maddux (lots of those, obviously!).
The last full day, our main goal was the Statue of Liberty. Maddux's one request was Lady Liberty, but we could not get ferry tickets from the Manhattan side. So we rode a small ferry over to Jersey, then caught the Ellis Island ferry to the statue. We did not go up inside of the structure, but we walked all around and got to take in her beauty from the outside. The kids loved all of the boats and trains we took that day. That night we walked the High Line. This was probably my favorite! The elevated trail was a great way to enjoy the awesome weather that night, and grab food along the way. We ended at Chelsea Market where we had more food before walking through some neighborhoods on our way to the subway.
The final day we only had until noon before we had to head to the airport. I wanted to walk the Brooklyn Bridge with the kids since that was the most enjoyable thing I remembered from my brief trip a few years ago. We ended at a pizza shop in Brooklyn before taking the subway under the river back to the hotel.
We covered a lot of ground. We ate a lot of good food. We took the subway, the ferry, uber and a cab. We visited many neighborhood playgrounds/parks. We ate lots of good food. We saw a totally different way of living from what we're used to in the burbs. We ate and ate. (Did I mention the food?) The kids had a great time and Maddux thoroughly enjoyed herself.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Therapy Updates

It's been a while...my blogging takes a hit when we get busy. And, as humans, we get busy.

Ruby is still rocking and rolling at the local public school special needs pre-K. She loves her school, but she has become a little too comfortable as certain less-than-desirable behaviors are often present. Mostly it is not sitting/staying put during story time and not maintaining her personal space. We are working on it. (Story of our life!)
Aquatic Therapy
Ruby loves it. We started this a few months ago, but had some hiccups with Medicaid and insurance. We are back now though, and Ruby couldn't be happier. For those that don't know (I didn't), Aquatic Therapy can be used for PT, OT, speech...you name it. For Ruby, it's mostly PT, but also a little OT. She and her therapist move around the pool, using platforms and ankle weights and a variety of squeeze toys to engage core muscles and use the water for resistance and also balance support. After just one session I noticed some improvement in Ruby stepping over structures/thresholds. And just this week she jumped with two feet simultaneously (while waist-high in the water, on the platform) for the first time EVER. I have spent countless hours working with her on this skill on trampolines and curbs and all raised structures...who knew water was the answer!

Speech
Rock-n-roll. Ruby's speech is not clear, but her vocabulary is growing daily. And she strings words together so much now! Her latest and my favorites are:
  • "Got it" (Ruby says this when she is working on something and you try to help her..."I got it".)
  • "faster" (Ruby says this when you push or pull her down the hill in a wheeled mode of transportation.)
  • "Caffee" (This is what she calls my mom. The big kids call her 'Grandma Cathie', but Ruby obviously feels that is a big formal because while she can say a version of 'grandma', she intentionally drops it for my mom.)
  • "Baby. Want read? Ok."(This is an example of the conversations she has with her baby dolls and stuffed animals around the house while I'm making dinner.)
OT
At school Ruby works with an Occupational Therapist twice a week on specific tasks related to fine motor skills. She is getting so much better at controlling a writing instrument (usually a big crayon) to loosely trace lines and make round shapes. She is also stacking blocks and stringing beads with much more control and skill.