*** I wrote this draft back at the end of April. I'm posting it now because I don't want to forget. ***
Ben is getting big and he's learning so much. I want to remember the ways that he's grown this year.
I dropped Ben off for preschool this morning and watched him walk in the classroom. He sat next to his teacher and she told him that this week they are working on the letter "X." She showed him an X, then gave him a piece of paper with 9 letters on it (3 or 4 were Xs) and told him to find all the Xs and circle them. He did. He found the correct letters without help, and circled them (widely - he can't quite manage a small circle yet).
This morning, he signed the alphabet to me - in order - on his own. Because he wanted to.
He can JUMP.
On Tuesday at Little Gym, he chose to climb the stairs to the balance beam, and then he walked all the way along it (with me holding his hands). This is big because when we started these movement classes, he would avoid the beam at all costs. Balancing takes a lot of core strength, and it's hard for him.
He can also hold himself up and swing on the bar.
He's no longer afraid to do a forward roll (although he still needs support to do one).
He can make toast. (With supervision!) Ben really wants to do all the cooking. He loves to crack eggs and stir them for scrambled eggs, and he wishes that I would let him use the spatula (by himself)
to move them around in the frying pan.
He loves mirrors. Anytime he sees his reflection, he has to stop for a smile and chat.
He loves to stop and smell flowers.
Ben is doing all sorts of stuff, but this is what I want to remember from the last couple of days.
Here's a photo of Ben admiring his reflection at Easter. I think he's about to open a miniature Snickers. Note the chocolate already on his shirt. :)
And just for kicks, here are all 3 kids at Easter. This is pre-chocolate.
For the last two years, we have taken our family vacation at the very beginning of summer - either immediately after the last day of school ... or we've taken the kids out a couple of days early. We drive 6 hours to Houston, stay in a hotel, and have Ben attend some kind of doctor's appointment. Last year, it was cardiology (where we got the amazing news that the hole is closing and surgery is not exactly off the table, but teetering way on the edge). This year, it was a visit to the Down syndrome clinic.
Ben did great. It's always a little discouraging to hear the results of evaluations ... especially in expressive language. But ... it's OK. The therapists and doctors there are very good. They enjoyed interacting with Ben and had lots of good things to say about him. They also gave us a referral for a sleep study and an ENT. I just have to decide if it's worth it to drive 6 hours to Houston or if we should do those visits locally.
As a side note: we totally got stuck in Houston traffic on the way to the appointment and Ben threw up his breakfast in the car. It was an exciting morning. Fortunately, I had brought a change of clothes for him, and we managed to arrive on time. Whew!
And then - off to Hawaii!
Another side note: it's probably not a good idea to fly with me. I keep encountering delays! This time, we got stuck at LAX for an extra 4 (5?) hours. But we made lemonade: we met some other families with little kids and had our own mini preschool camp at an empty gate.
We stayed at the Disney Aulani Resort for the first several days and had a wonderful time! We played beach games, paddled a kayak, swam in beautiful pools, and just enjoyed hanging out as a family - including Emmett's mom and dad, plus Emmett's sister Jen, her husband and their boys. The cousins had a pretty good time together.
I thought I should reboot the blog with a couple of pictures from my phone. I just picked some from the past few months that make me smile. (1) Kids at the doctor's office. They are a goofy bunch.
(2) Brothers snacking on the couch and watching TV together.
(3) Ben keeps changing the photo settings on my phone. We took pictures after school the other day, and he kept making faces.
(4) We had a big movie in the gym (it was supposed to be at a park, but it rained) for World Down Syndrome Day. Super fun.
(5) This boy loves to smell the flowers outside the therapy office.
(6) Corrie has decided that she's into wizards lately. She's wearing her own wizard clothes - Emmett's tshirt and shorts (cinched REALLY tight around her waist). On the table behind her, you can see all her nail polish bottles - otherwise known as potion ingredients. She also devised a wizard costume for Ben - knit hat, Dad's tshirt, and a paper Gandalf beard.
We've been busy with many things - and enjoying most of them. :)
School let out on Friday, December 19th, and the kids have had the past two weeks off. We had our own personal Christmas on Friday night. Our little family does a celebration together every year before we travel. It's too hard to take big gifts with us in the car, and it gives us the chance to read the Nativity story together and have our own mini-tradition before the chaos of travel and activities with extended family and friends. Then things kicked things off with a bang at the RGVDSA Christmas Party on Saturday the 20th. The plan was to go to the party all morning, go home, load the car, and take off for Mississippi on Saturday afternoon. No go. Evan started complaining about his head while we were at the party. Emmett took him home while Corrie and Ben and I stayed for the fun. By the time we got home, Evan was burning up with fever and knocked out on the couch - not the ideal condition for a cross-country drive. So instead of starting off for Mississippi, we took an extra day at home. Surprisingly, it was awesome. Not for Evan. He had a fever and a headache and chills and pain. But the rest of us felt good. I made delicious sugar cookies and brownies and white chocolate cranberry cookies. We watched Christmas movies and soaked up the downtime together. On Monday, Evan's fever was gone and we finally drove to Mississippi - made it there around midnight. Best part of the drive was listening to our "Kids Playlist" on the Ipod - lots of Disney and Phineas and Ferb, with a surprise right in the middle: we all rocked out to Bon Jovi "Livin' on a Prayer" and it was EPIC. The next few days were full of fun: Games! Men (Emmett and my brothers Derek and Mark) versus Women (Mom, me, and Arthi). The only game the women could win was Sequence. The guys killed us at Cranium, Pictionary and Poor Man's Taboo. Highlight of Cranium: my brother Derek imitating Zsa Zsa Gabor, "I zink I have an accent. Zis is not the accent." Cousins! Jake and Corrie explored all of the area around Grandma's house. They formed a Nature Explorers Club and wrote essays about all the foliage they collected. Olivia followed them around, and Evan would go running up and down Grandma's hill. South Texas is flat, so Mississippi's rolling hills and tall trees are super exciting for the kids. Christmas! Evan has been asking for a BB gun for a few years now (just like A Christmas Story) and this year he got THREE. All Airsoft - he has some friends who play in our neighborhood and he's been wanting to participate. It was sobering to see him all loaded up with guns. I wish we lived closer to family. My brothers are some of the funniest people I know, and it would make my heart happy to see them more often. *** More posts about Christmas to come. Those posts will include pictures. ***