Pittsburgh Visit with Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Boys on jeep 

We went to Pittsburgh this weekend to visit Mark’s family. 

We spent Friday evening at the home of Mark’s Mom and her husband.  Apparently it had rained heavily that morning, but the weather cleared up beautifully by the time we got there.  The older two were able to play in their vast backyard, and they even got out the battery-powered jeep for the boys.  Ben socialized, was in a GREAT mood, and finally fell asleep after supper.

 Jonny on stepsNana and BenIsaac with water pistolMark and Ben

We spent the rest of this weekend at Dawn and Dan’s home (my sister- and brother-in- law).  They have two sons a little older than Isaac, so our kids all had a blast.  The older ones played with toys, they ran through the sprinkler, they played with water pistols (Jonny wasn’t too happy when he got squirted as usual!) and of course they played lots and lots of video games.  Ben enjoyed all the commotion, and got to practice his sitting and rolling.  He got a little out-of-sorts on the last night away from home, but overall did very well. 

I bought myself a new purse/briefcase, bought Isaac some new all-black school shoes, and some fancy sneakers that look much nicer than mine.  We ate the best sushi I’ve ever had, and Dawn made her famous spinach and artichoke heart dip.  It’s really simple to make but soooo good!  I’ve written the recipe at the end of this post.

Boys at Pittsburgh zoo Ben at zoo

This morning we went to the Pittsburgh Zoo.  We got there at 9:30 am and already it was very warm.  Neither of the two older boys wanted to go (they were saying something silly about playing Mario Party 8), but by the end Isaac really got into it.  Ben slept for the first half of the visit but then he woke up and was alert and happy.  We especially enjoyed the new polar bear exhibit and the aquarium.  We left around noon, but didn’t get to see everything.

Mark and boys at zoo 

Now we’re back home and recuperating.  I think everyone will sleep well tonight!

Click below for the Spinach and Artichoke Heart Dip Recipe….

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PT and OT Updates, and Speech Therapy Evaluation

Happy Ben 

Yesterday Ben had a very busy day. 

He started at 10 am with his weekly physical therapy session.  In PT he works on his gross motor skills – rolling, sitting, and standing.  He used to hate PT when he was younger, but lately it’s been his favorite.  Yesterday was no exception – he was happy and cooperative with his therapist.  He is doing much better with sitting unsupported, but he gets tired quickly and doesn’t catch himself when he tips over…yet.  Here he is practicing standing and holding on to his Exersaucer.

Ben standing at saucer 

At 1 pm he had an OT session.  This one was a little different, because in addition to our regular occupational therapist, we also had a speech therapist and our family service coordinator visiting.  One of the reasons for the visit was to see whether Ben would benefit from starting speech therapy services.

Ben sitting

Ben was surprisingly still awake and alert for the afternoon visit.  We showed his OT how well he can grasp toys now, and she was pleased.  She worked on sitting some more, and she is impressed with how much his upper body strength has improved.  The speech therapist brought a brand new mirror toy for Ben to look at which he loved…

I just love that toy

She tried to get him to respond to his name, which he didn’t do for her (too interested in the toy perhaps), although he does for us sometimes.  We talked about his hearing loss, whether he tolerates his hearing aids (he does for now), what sounds he makes (mainly “aaaaaaaah” and blowing raspberries) and what our goals for him were. 

I told her that we’d be thrilled if Ben learns to talk someday, but what is more important for us is that he is able to communicate with us, and vice versa.  We talked about using sign language, pictures, and electronic devices.  It turns out that there is a place not too far from here where, when Ben is older, we might be able to borrow one of those devices to see if it would work for him.  We were very encouraged after talking to her, and so we’ll be starting twice monthly speech therapy sessions with her.

Ben standing

We have not been pushing Ben with resuming oral feeds lately because of the negative responses he’s been giving us.  His OT did manage to get him very relaxed on the floor, and was even able to put his spoon in his mouth!  As you can see, he was enjoying this, and fell asleep in the end.  So we will begin re-introducing oral tastes again.  Wish us luck!

Ben with spoon

Isaac’s Dental Checkup

Isaac at dentist 

Isaac had his very first visit to the dentist yesterday.  I know, I know, he’s seven and we should have taken him years ago.  For some reason we just hadn’t gotten around to it, but his school needed a form filled out by his personal dentist, so off we went.

Isaac at dentist 2

Isaac did really well.  He answered all the questions the dental hygenist asked him, and stayed very still for his x rays.  He liked the tooth cleaning (but not the scraping part).  Then the dentist came in, and double checked everything.

We got some very good news: NO CAVITIES!

It does look like he’ll need braces, though.  We’d better start saving up for those now!

Happy Birthday Isaac!

Isaac 7 years old 

It’s hard to believe, but my oldest son turned 7 on Friday.  It seems like just yesterday that I was bringing my first new-baby-bundle home from the hospital.  He has grown into such a (usually) good big boy.  In the photo above, he is wearing the brand new “Pirates of the Caribbean” t-shirt that his great grandma Rita sent him.

We had a small pirate-themed birthday party at our house for Isaac and a few of his friends.  I am so glad we didn’t invite more kids!  I had originally planned a couple games and activities, but in the end the kids mostly just ran around with toy swords screaming at the tops of their lungs (which was fine with me).  We had a few squabbles, and one of our young guests found some long-hidden silly string with very messy consequences, but fortunately we had no major injuries.   Mark made burgers and grilled chicken.  We had cake and ice cream.  We opened presents.  We didn’t have any good/easy way of suspending the pinata outside, so we just set it on the grass and let the kids have at it!

Ready for cakePinata

Overall, I think the kids had fun, and so did I.    I was pretty tired by the end of the day, even if the kids weren’t. 

Here is the present that Isaac has been asking for all week:

 Isaac with ocarinaOcarina

It’s a musical instrument called an ocarina.  It’s ceramic, and we first heard of these on the “Legend of Zelda” video game series.  Isaac was thrilled, and really wants to learn how to play it.  It’s pretty difficult, so we’ll see.

In other news, we now have a new range!  It was delivered right before the party yesterday.  It seems to work fine, but I am still getting used to not having the Jenn-Air downdraft.

Yesterday we also received our copy of the latest Harry Potter book!  I haven’t been able to read very much of it, but so far it is living up to expectations.  Mark has very graciously allowed me to read it first.  Fortunately I am on vacation for the next two weeks, so I should be able to finish it soon so that he can read it.   We’ll have to read quickly to avoid possible spoilers on the internet.  (Note to Aliyah – if you have read any spoilers, do NOT tell me any please!!!!!)

I’m Starving! Can’t this thing run any faster??!?

Pulling on tube 1

 Pulling on tube 2

Ben has just started pulling on toys and other objects alot recently.  He also has been rolling regularly from his back to his tummy (although he gets stuck when that happens).  We are thrilled to see these new signs of development.

The other day Ben decided to yank on his feeding tube.  He thought it was great fun.  We won’t be letting him do that too much because he might hurt himself or (more likely) end up in a pool of milk!  He also enjoys pulling doll hair (thanks for the red-haired dolly, Auntie Aliyah!), and any other toy with long skinny arms. 

He has been such a happy little guy recently.

Pulling on dolly hair


Cinnamon Raisin Bread 

This weekend was interesting.  I was in a rare bread-making mood.  I made a total of 6 loaves of bread: one oatmeal, one cinnamon raisin and four loaves of our favorite honey-wheat.  Our Jenn-Air oven has died, so all these were made in our 12 year old, $30 Wal-Mart toaster oven.  We had friends over to help us eat some of it on Friday, but we have plenty left over for the week.

We saw Ratatouille in the theater on Friday night.  It was definitely better than Shrek 3.  Jonny got a little restless, and it was a good thing I had his Gameboy tucked away in my purse.  He played it for the last 20 minutes of the movie, so everyone else got to enjoy it in peace.

Yesterday we babysat the twin daughters of some good friends of ours.  They are right around Isaac’s age, so it worked out GREAT – Jonny, Isaac and the girls ran all over the house with swords and shields and entertained each other for hours!  And no-one asked me to watch TV or play video games! 

Tonight is a different story.  Mark and our new church worship leader are downstairs right now working on some sort of musical thing (I’m not much good with music so I’m not sure what they’re doing), so my job tonight is to keep the kids out of their hair.  So I’m doing it the easy/lazy way.  Notice how Ben manages to turn like the hands of a clock, and Jonny can’t leave Ben’s little arm alone. 

Video games 1Video games 2Video games 3

Here are the links to the recipes for the Honey Wheat and Cinnamon Raisin bread: Read the rest of this entry »

Swimming Lessons

 Isaac pool 1

Today I was off work again, and I took Isaac to his swimming lesson at the local YMCA.  Isaac is definitely a beginner.  He had swimming lessons when he was about 3 years old, but at the time he was a little scared, and didn’t really take to it.  Now that he is older, he is more motivated and eager to take risks.  He has such a great time.

Isaac swimmingIsaac swimming 2

Jonny made friends with another little boy whose sister is in the swim class with Isaac.  The two of them played with toys and talked the entire time.  I am hoping that watching Isaac learn to swim will motivate Jonathan to participate in his preschool swim class this coming year (last year he refused to even get in the water!)  Ben loved looking at the kids and the water, but fell asleep halfway through the class.  He did get splashed a little at the beginning but didn’t seem to mind it at all.  I think he might enjoy an infant swim class. 

Jonny poolBen pool

At the end of the class Isaac was very reluctant to get out of the pool.  In the photo below we are getting ready to leave.  Note how close Jonny is to the edge of the pool.  For a kid who is supposed to be scared to get in the water, he did that alot today.

Before we left, Isaac jumped into the water from the side of the pool twice all by himself!  I was so proud.

Isaac pool 2