Happy First Birthday, Ben!

Ben and Me at Feeding Clinic 

And what a busy birthday it was!

The weather was sunny and gorgeous.  Ben had a 9:00 am appointment at our favorite tertiary care center for a Feeding Clinic evaluation.  Since the drive is more than an hour long, we all needed to be up very early.  We meant to get Isaac dressed for school and put him on the bus, but he awoke wheezing and coughing.   The wheezing did clear up with his inhaler, but I was uncomfortable sending him to school during an asthma flare if we were going to be out of town.  So we decided not to send him to school at all, and he ended up coming with us.

Ben had a very good initial session at Feeding Clinic.  The director of the program (who is a very gentle, soft-spoken person) spent a long time talking with us and getting Ben’s medical history.  Then we put him in a high chair (for some reason Mark chose a “manly” pink bib for him) and the director of the clinic fed Ben a mixture of apple, carrots and mangoes.  Yummy!  Ben ate a little bit with a minimum of gagging, and no choking.  Apparently Ben has what the director calls “a pathologic tongue thrust”, and we will have to retrain his tongue not to push things out of his mouth.    But he was pleased with how Ben did overall, and we are all hopeful that we can transition Ben to oral feeds soon.  We will be working with Ben about 2-3 times a day with oral feeds, and hopefully have him scheduled for a swallowing study in the next few weeks.

Ben Feeding Therapy 2Jonny at Feeding ClincIsaac at Feeding Clinic

The older boys occupied themselves with toys and video games during the long feeding session.  The clinic has a very relaxed, kid-friendly atmostphere, and I was relieved that the older two weren’t bored and misbehaving.  After the Feeding Clinic we all went out to breakfast at the local Friendly’s.  I ate far too much! 

Ben carseatMark and JonnyIsaac and Me

Then we went to Lancaster, PA to visit their Barnes and Noble bookstore.  We don’t have one of these near our home.  The boys had a blast, and we bought a lot of cool books, mostly about space and the solar system, which Isaac is really into these days. 

During Ben’s feeding session this morning, we had a revelation: the high chair at the clinic could recline, which would be a great feature for Ben with his limited trunk strength.  We’ve never had a high chair like that even though Ben is our third child, so we went to Toys R Us to buy him one.  We figure he’ll get years of use out of it.  While we were there we also got him a cool brand new Exersaucer, but we haven’t assembled it yet.

New High Chair

We came home just in time for Ben’s physical therapy session.  He wasn’t too happy at first (he had fallen asleep on the ride home and hadn’t taken a morning nap), but he cheered up thanks to big brother Jonny.

Jon and Ben floortime 

We had such a pleasant day spending time together as a family (FYI: Isaac didn’t wheeze once while we were out!)  I had worried that having to go to the same teaching hospital where Ben was in the NICU almost exactly one year ago would bring back nothing but painful memories, but today wasn’t like that at all.  I think that in many ways this has been the longest, most difficult year so far for our family, but today was all about sticking together, enjoying each other, and having hope for the future.

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It’s Finally Done!

After several months of hard work by Mark (and with help from Aliyah and another good friend of ours) our dining room is finally complete!  It looks so cool and so different.  It used to be extremely dark and gloomy.  Now it is anything but. 

Here is how the room looked before.  These were taken at Isaac’s birthday party almost 2 years ago:

Before 1Before 2

We went with a Caribbean theme.  Here is the inspiration for the colors in the room (my mom gave me these a few years ago):

Inspiration for room

We also bought these colorful prints from a local Tobago artist when we went there on vacation a couple of years ago.  Mark bought the frames and matted them himself:

Mauvais Langue Print

And here is how the dining room looks now:

Room 1Room 2

Last night we had a small dinner party to celebrate Ben’s first birthday, and to thank our good friends who helped us so much in those difficult first weeks after Ben was born.  We got to use the brand new room for the very first time!  Ben was content for most of the evening and watched us eat from the vantage point of his swing.  We did have cake and ice cream.  I put just a tiny amount of ice cream on his lips.  He wasn’t fond of the temperature (turned his head away as soon as the ice cream touched him), but he didn’t complain about the taste.  Among our guests were twin girls Isaac’s age – the kids entertained themselves the entire evening.

I am SO glad that we no longer have to sit in the cramped kitchen for family meals anymore.

Hearing Aid Check

Ben in Carseat 

Yesterday we made the one-hour trek to our favorite tertiary care center for Ben to have a hearing check.  Unlike the last 2 or 3 hearing tests he has had so far, this one did not involve sleep deprivation, thank goodness.  Just try keeping an infant in a carseat from falling asleep during a boring one-hour drive!  Not easy or pleasant, I can tell you. 

This test used behavioral responses to sound to test hearing.  They removed his hearing aids and first tried to put little I-Pod-like earpieces in his ears.  He didn’t like that, so they tried to put conventional headphones on.  That didn’t work either, so instead they just projected the sound into the room itself.  Ben did pretty well – he was able to turn his head towards the source of the sound at the higher decibel levels without his aids.  The audiologist thinks that his hearing has remained fairly stable over the last four months.  We’ll be repeating the test in another six months.

While we were there, they were able to make new earmold impressions since his current hearing aids keep falling out.  It was nice of them to do that for us today to save us from having to make a second trip to their office.  After we came home we found that they’d left a phone message on our answering machine asking what colors we wanted the earmolds to be.  Apparently you can have them made just about any color you can think of.  I think we’ll stick with blue and red so we can tell them apart.

Isaac was in school as usual, but Jonny came with us and was a very good boy.  The weather was beautiful again.

In other news, Ben has recently discovered that he can reach his little right arm with the left.  He thinks this is alot of fun.

Ben Both Hands Together

Mark is making very good progress in the dining room.  The wooden floor is gorgeous!   We are (and by “we” I mean “Mark”) applying the last coat of polyurethane today.  Hopefully it will be dry enough for the company coming over on Saturday evening.  I hope it doesn’t smell too chemical-y.

A Weekendfull of Boys

Boys

Drum Sander 

Mark has been refinishing the dining room floor.  The floor sander is large and extremely noisy (shakes the house to its foundation), so for most of this process I decided that I would keep all three boys out of the house entirely.  The job was supposed to have been completed on Saturday, but actually Mark didn’t get done until late Sunday evening.

But I had such a great time entertaining the boys!

On Saturday morning we watched Isaac’s soccer game.  I’m not sure who won since they don’t really keep score at this level.  The weather was perfect; a far cry from last week’s game.

Isaac soccer game 2

Then we went to Target (my favorite store) so I could buy some sunscreen, a salad spinner and other necessities.  We had lunch at McDonalds.  Ben started to get fussy, so we went to the park.  Ben got to ride in his stroller and really enjoyed himself. 

Ben in Stroller 

He watched the two big boys at the swings.  Then Isaac and Jonny saw some harmless honeybees, got scared (even though I assured them that the bees were only interested in flowers), and sat with me in the shade and ate the snacks we got at Target.  Ben loved the fresh air and gave us lots of “audible smilies”.  I really need to figure out how to capture those on video and post them on this blog.

Boys at swings 2 

(When Mark saw these pictures he said, “Jonny doesn’t swing on the baby swings anymore.”  Oh well.)

We stopped at EB Games and got 3 new games for the boys’ Game Boys because I wanted to make sure they didn’t fall asleep on the drive back – worked like a charm.  We went to our local creamery to have some delicious homemade ice cream and to buy milk.  

Boys at swings 

We bought Daddy a vanilla milkshake to go and came back home.  The floor still wasn’t done.  Mark decided to call it quits for the day.  We ended up eating out at one of our very good local Mexican restaurants.  Here are Jonny and Isaac playing video games while they wait for Mark to get ready.  I didn’t get done with dinner in time to go to Aliyah’s Orchesis recital. 

Gameboys

As you can imagine, we had NO trouble getting them ready for bed that night!

Jonny tuckered out

Ben in new spring outfit

That’s Ben’s new outfit that he wore to church this morning.  Today wasn’t quite as much fun for Jonathan and Isaac since after church and lunch at Wendy’s I took them to the grocery store.  Mark made good progress with the floor and now it is ready for staining.   We are supposed to have company for dinner on Saturday night.  Here’s hoping the room is ready by then!

Welcome Back, Spring!

Dandelions 

We have had almost 2 weeks straight of unseasonably cold, damp weather.  Early last week we even had snow flurries!  Today the weather finally turned beautiful again, at long last.  It also coincided with one of my three-day weekends which made it even better.

Mark was supposed to be sanding and refinishing the dining room floor today but he wasn’t feeling well.  He also had quite a bit of preparation to do, so he won’t do the sanding until tomorrow.  Which means that all 3 boys and I will be spending most of the day out of the house – the sanding machine is deafening.  We’ll see how good I’ll be at entertaining the brood all day – it should be interesting.

Instead we did some shopping and housework, prepped the room for sanding and I did laundry (it seems ALL of my clothes are dirty).  Shortly before Isaac’s bus was due to arrive I took Jonny out for a walk to meet him.  He enjoyed the stroll and even stayed still long enough to take some pictures. 

Jonny and Tree

After we got Isaac from school, he changed clothes and we went to the park for about an hour.  We weren’t there ten minutes before Isaac fell and hurt his back.  I was still unloading a couple things from the van when he came running back inside and demanded to go back home.  I told him that we’d just got there, and he didn’t have to play if he didn’t want to, but we were all going to enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.  He sat next to me on the bench for a few minutes, then walked around gloomily for awhile. 

Sad Isaac 2Sad Isaac

Then he felt better and spent the rest of the time happily playing with Jonny.  Ben enjoyed watching the kids and the trees.  He still is not fond of direct sunlight on his face.  Jonny had a blast running around and playing.  He found another little boy his own age to play with.  I was glad that Jonny was wearing bright orange because it made him easier to spot when he tried to wander away!

Ben at ParkSo Bright Outside

It turns out that Jonny’s new friend had an older brother who has autism.  I chatted briefly with their mom.  I’ve found that having a child with special needs can be isolating at times – it was nice to be able to talk with someone who understands some of the challenges.   I hope we see them in the park again sometime.

We got home and had New York Strip steaks (cooked medium rare, of course) hot off the grill.  Delicious!  We made chicken for the boys. 

I’m so glad it’s warm again!

One Busy Saturday

Cat burglar Isaac 

This morning was Isaac’s first soccer game of the season.  I had hoped that by now we would have been well into warm spring weather, but this morning was COLD!  We bundled Isaac up and we all went.  Poor Isaac looked like a cat burglar when we were done with him.  He had a good time even though the other team won by a huge margin.  Ben didn’t like the cold at all, so he and Mark watched from the van.  Jonny stayed out with me for most of the first half, but then he too retreated to the relative warmth of the van.

Jonny at soccer game Dad and Ben

After the game, Jonny and I went grocery shopping.  I had fun but Jonny was bored and let me know about it. 

 Can we go home now

After I got home with the goods, I had barely enough time to grab a bite to eat and get ready for work.  At work I was busy and never really sat down for more than a few minutes at a time.  Then I came home and made supper (another great recipe from Cooking Light, served with rice, sauteed green beans and this awesome salad – I omitted the pine nuts).

Now I am finally ready for bed.

Mark is making great headway in the dining room with all the painting.  I am itching to post pictures of his progress so far, but he has forbidden me from doing so until the project is complete.  Spoilsport!

Thanks Lisa!

New Necklace

If you know me at all, you’d know I am not a jewelry person.  (Even my mom says I’m “boring”).  But I couldn’t resist buying this beautiful necklace from Lisa recently.  I love it!  I wore it all this evening.  Jonny and Isaac were thrilled to see their names on it too.  Jonny kept asking me to sit down so he could climb in my lap and play with it.  I think I’ll even wear it to work!  I might even be inspired to wear some earrings with it…  😉

*My mom asked if it was made of copper.  Actually it’s silver, but we have lousy lighting in this room.*