I’ve Got Wheels!

Ben doesn’t walk yet, and I suspect that it will be a few years before he does.  Because he is so small, we’ve gotten away with transporting him most places in an umbrella stroller.  After all, they’re lightweight, ultra-portable, and cheap.

Lately, however, we’re starting to realize that they aren’t such a great long-term option for Ben anymore.  He is getting bigger, and his posture isn’t the best in an umbrella stroller.  Also, they are sometimes hard to steer, and they force the adult pushing them to adopt a slightly stooped posture (which is hard on the lower back).  We did have a larger Jeep jogging stroller, however the seat back is broken, and it was rather bulky and cumbersome to use.  Ditto with the double stroller that we have – it’s just not practical to take most places, and Nate is just not interested in riding in a stroller anymore.

The physical therapists at Ben’s school suggested that we look into getting him a more durable wheelchair or stroller.  We went with one of the local medical supply companies, and they came out to Ben’s school one day, measured him, and gave us some options that would fit his body.  His therapists at school recommended the Convaid brand, so that’s what we got a Convaid Scout.   We placed the order several months ago, and it finally came in on Monday!

The representative from the medical supplier came out to help us adjust the straps, etc.  At first Ben wasn’t too sure…

…but then he decided that he definitely liked it!

He was proud to show off his new wheels at school on Tuesday.  Nate was happy to demonstrate how easy it is to push.

So far, we really like Ben’s new wheelchair/stroller.

It is lightweight, folds up quickly and easily, and fits in the trunk of either of our vans.  It rides higher than an umbrella stroller, so it’s easier on Mom’s and Dad’s backs.  And it steers wonderfully!  The big boys love to push him around in it.  It is also “transit ready”, which means that it can be strapped on to Ben’s bus for transportation to and from school (via the red rings visible in the photo above).  We think we will start sending Ben on the bus this summer, so we’ll see how it goes.  We got Ben’s pediatrician to fill out a handicap parking permit for him, but I have yet to mail it in.

We were fortunate that between our private insurance and Pennsylvania Medical Assistance, we had no out-of-pocket expense at all.  It also appears that because Ben is so little, we’ll be able to use this wheelchair for awhile.

Of course, I’m still hoping that Ben will walk someday.  I suppose time will tell, but for now I think we have a good solution.

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Happy Easter!

We have been continuing to enjoy unseasonably warm temperatures in central Pennsylvania.  I’m not complaining.  We had the most gorgeous Easter weather in recent history, with temperatures that were over 80 degrees!  I seem to remember snow on one miserable Easter weekend not too long ago, so I am thrilled about the heat.

We went to church and arrived just a little late.  Usually it’s not a good thing to arrive late on Easter Sunday.  We ended up parking miles away from the front door, but we did find somewhere to sit in the sanctuary.  Church was good, Nate and Ben behaved themselves in the nursery, and the big boys had candy in Sunday school.  Then we went home.

I decided to do a small Easter egg hunt in our yard this year, mainly for Nate.  Since he’s not yet two, I just scattered the eggs around and really didn’t hide them.  But we found that the big boys had trouble finding brightly-colored eggs that were in plain view.  Go figure.

I wondered if the big boys would be interested in gathering eggs, and guess what!  They still were!

Ben doesn’t eat candy, so we got him an Easter pinwheel instead.

Later that evening, we all went to the park.  We took Isaac’s bike (which he has outgrown) and tried to get the big boys used to the idea of riding without training wheels.  I hope this is the year we finally get them to learn how!

Ben loves being outside.  We’d like to bring his gait trainer to the park the next time we visit.

Nate was fascinated with these railroad ties for a few minutes…and then he became more interested in the small stream that runs through the park.  Why is he always interested in the one or two areas that are unsafe for babies??

I’m not sure why Jonny’s face looks like that.

Because we spent so long at the park (and because I had a great Easter afternoon nap!) I ended up starting dinner late.  The boys had noodles and chicken nuggets for dinner, and Mark and I didn’t eat our Easter ham for dinner until nearly 10 pm!  Oh well.  Maybe I’ll be more organized next year.

Welcome, Spring!

This weekend was chilly, and today was rainy, but what gorgeous weather we had last weekend!  The temperatures got up into the 70’s and we were able to get out and enjoy the sunshine.  I had the day off last Friday, so while the big boys were at school, Mark and I took the little ones to the park.

Ben and Nate both went on swings and slides for the first time!  They had an awesome time.  We really should go to the park more often.  They both took good naps that day.

Nate’s an old pro with slides now.  His Sunday School class at church has a little slide in the room and he’s so thrilled that he doesn’t mind me leaving him there during services.

On Saturday morning, Isaac had a piano recital.  After the recital the boys were able to run and play outside for a bit.  Saturday evening we were invited to some friends’ house for dinner.  The beautiful weather continued, and the boys were able to play with their friends in their large fenced backyard until after dark.

Nate was given this balloon by someone during Isaac’s recital.  We hoped it would keep him quiet.  It didn’t.

Jonny thought he’d try his friend’s skateboard and found it was harder than it looked.  In any case, his friend told him that he shouldn’t be skateboarding in his “handsome clothes”.

Nate found the chip bowl:

I am SO glad that winter is over!

February 2010 Update

For a while I wondered if Iwas done with this blog altogether, but since it’s something I enjoy doing (and it helps keep my family in Trinidad up to date with what the kids are up to) I decided to start blogging again.  It has been so long since I last posted that I decided that I’d do another update.

Isaac is 9 and in 3rd grade.  He does GREAT academically, but if you ask him, he always says he hates school.  He loves video games, reading (especially manga and other graphic novels a.k.a. comic books), and playing the piano.  He doesn’t always enjoy the songs his piano teacher assigns, but often plays songs from the Legend of Zelda video game series just for fun.  Since I don’t play any instruments, I’m always impressed to hear him play the piano.  Isaac also plays soccer in the spring and fall because we make him.  He is a wonderful big brother to Ben and Nate (but just manages to fight and disagree with Jonathan on a daily basis!)

Jonathan is 6 and in the first grade.  He does fairly well in school, but is one of those kids who has trouble sitting quietly at a desk all day.  He does well with his schoolwork, however, and is an excellent reader.  He is an active kid who enjoys running around the house, playing video games, helping me cook desserts, and building with Legos and K’nex.  He is definitely a snuggler, and even now loves to sit on laps for hugs and kisses.  He talks non-stop at home (just like at school), and says such funny things sometimes.  I took the photo below after he asked me to give him a faux-hawk just like Ben’s.

Nate is 19 months old.  Wow.  I’d forgotten what it was like to have a “typical” toddler in the house.  Nate started walking at around 14 months, and since then we haven’t had a spare moment to ourselves it seems!   He is very sweet but manages to get into all sorts of mischief.  His favorite pastime lately is scattering things everywhere.

He enjoys emptying the contents of the dishwasher onto the floor.  He puts silverware into the trash.  He puts chalk into the bathtub.  He hurls toy cars and hard wooden blocks at our heads.  He sets the oven to self-clean.  He loves playing with DVD and video game cases, so we decided to get a cabinet that mounts on the wall.  Did that help?  Nope.

Thank goodness he has stopped splashing in the toilet for fun!

Nate says quite a few words as well, but still resorts to screaming when he’s frustrated or bored or tired or hungry.

Benji will be 4 at the end of April.  How time flies!  He still has a sweet, quiet, easygoing disposition and is such a joy to have around.  He loves playing with toys that spin, or anything long and skinny that he can hold in his “big” hand.  He weighs around 28 lbs and is in 2T clothing.  He has gained nicely in the last 6 months and is starting to look rather chubby!

Ben gets around by rolling or “army crawling”.  He can get from a lying to a sitting position by jamming his little feet under a heavy piece of furniture and sitting straight up with his strong abdominal muscles.   He can stand and use his arms for support on furniture, but he will throw himself backwards without warning, so he can’t be left in that position by himself yet.  He has been doing much better in his gait trainer, and finally seems to get the idea that he’s supposed to propel himself forward.  Nate also loves the gait trainer.

Ben still wears hearing aids and glasses, but is getting more opinionated about whether he wants to wear these or not.  I suspect that his glasses are a little uncomfortable these days because he’s grown so much in the past year and also because a certain little brother chewed the pieces that fit behind his ears.  In any case I think he’s due for a new pair even though his prescription hasn’t changed.

Ben is still g-tube fed, and is still very resistant to oral feeds.  Every so often, he changes his mind and willingly eats and tastes food that I’m feeding Nate, but that only happens once in blue moon.  We keep working with him, but it’s discouraging at times.

The biggest change that has happened with Ben over the past few months is that he has been attending preschool 3 afternoons a week!  We were so anxious about him going to school, but it has turned out to be wonderful for him.  He attends a local preschool for children with special needs.  The class is very small, and he has lots of one-on-one attention.  He loves going, and is full of giggles when Mark takes him in.  He has PT, OT, and ST at school, and they also work with oral feeds.  He also has circle time and playtime just as “typical” kids would in preschool.  He’s one of the smallest kids at school (if not the smallest), and everyone loves him!  I think I’ll have to do a post just about Ben’s preschool.

Ben continues to be wonderfully healthy, and we’re thankful for that.

Mark and I are doing very well, but we are tired all the time it seems.  I still work full time and Mark is home with the boys full time.  We still enjoy cooking together, and trying out new recipes.  “Santa” brought us a new TV and a PS3 this Christmas, and we’ve both been enjoying playing “Dragon Age Origins” after the kids go to bed.  We’d like to go to the CdLS conference in Dallas this year and are still working out the logistics of that.  We’re also planning a trip to Trinidad this summer…if we can get everyone’s passports organized!  We already struck out once; we got caught in a traffic jam on Friday afternoon and ended up not being able to get the boys’ done.  Maybe this week.

Hopefully I can keep this blog updated on a semi-regular basis.  We’ll see.

Where has the summer gone?

Good question, since today is the first day of fall.

Let’s see…we visited our family in Pittsburgh and went to a very cool museum…

Jonny Isaac Stegosaurus

Ben digs the dino bones

We visited Washington DC for a day…

Washington Monument

And the next morning visited Mount Vernon and learned all about George Washington…

Jonny and Isaac Mount Vernon2

We took a brief trip to the Jersey Shore (which the older kids LOVED even though the water was much too cold for my Caribbean sensibilities.  Ben agreed.)…

Isaac and Jonny Cape May

Babies under rain umbrella

Meanwhile, Jonny turned six…

Jonny 6th bday

Isaac turned nine, and Natey turned one.  Isaac decided on hermit crabs for his birthday present…

Isaac and Nate

Isaac and hermit crab

Mark had a birthday this summer too, but I forget how old he is!  😉

Benji had his last home-based Early Intervention sessions with his awesome therapists, and got to visit his new preschool…

Benji preschool

…we played too many video games, learned some new piano pieces and read a couple of Narnia stories and Charlotte’s Web and tons of books for the school reading list, cooked with lots of fresh veggies from our local CSA, and before I knew it fall was here, and I hadn’t updated my blog in months!

I hope everyone had as much fun this summer as we did!

One Sunday Afternoon…

We actually had sunshine!  We’ve had so much rain this June that I’ve been wondering if it’s really summer!

We got home from church, had lunch, and decided to have the big boys turn off the video games (after all, they can do that if it rains), and play outside.

First, we got out the bubbles.  We got Jonny a Zome Tool Crazy Bubbles set for his birthday (because I am a chemistry geek at heart), and it really is very cool!  It’s neat to see how the bubbles form within the structures you build, but then the wind takes over and it acts just like a large traditional bubble blower.

Tetrahedron bubbles

Both big boys loved it.  Nate giggled every time  there was a long stream of bubbles.

Jonny with pentagon bubbles

We got out the Slip ‘n Slide for a bit.  The big boys enjoyed it but the water was frigid!

Jonny slip&slide

Isaac slip&slide

The babies watched intently.  I know from past experience that Ben doesn’t much care for the cold water.  I tried Nate and got an almost identical reaction.  Can’t say that I blame them.

The spectators 2

The big boys practiced their gymnastics.  Mark and Isaac tried to teach Jonny how to do a cartwheel.  I think he almost got it.

Isaac handstand

Jonny cartwheel

Mark and the big boys even washed both vans!  By the end of it all, Ben fell fast asleep in the grass.  He really does like being outside.

Ben asleep in grass

I am really hoping that this summer we can spend more time outdoors.  We are actually going house-hunting over the next few days.  We are hoping to find a home with a bigger, safer yard for all our boys to play outside more.  Wish us luck!

Has it really been a month?!?

Soccer photo

More like six weeks!  I haven’t posted at all for May – I don’t think I’ve ever missed an entire month since I started this blog.  Since this is my “journal”, I feel obligated to at least mention where some of the last month has gone…

Isaac recital

Isaac has just completed second grade.  He has also finished his soccer season with lots of improvement in his soccer skills and attitude (for the most part).  He’s doing GREAT playing the piano, and genuinely enjoys playing.  Everyone but Mark (who was horribly sick with food poisoning) went to hear him play in his spring recital.  Even my dad was here at the time, which was a blessing since he was able to help with Ben during the recital.  Ben and Nate were big fans of  Isaac and his classmates; both enjoyed the music, but were a little loud and had to be escorted to the back of the concert hall!

Jonny's sixth birthday

Tonight we all went to see Jonathan in his kindergarten concert which was so cute and very entertaining.  Jonny turned six on Saturday, and we had a great birthday celebration at home, and one of his friends from school was able to spend the night.  He has come a long way since he started kindergarten – he is reading very well, and his behavior in class is much better than when he first started.  Jonny and I put together a time capsule of his kindergarten year as part of a class assignment, and I really enjoyed doing that with him.

Ben at dinner

Benjamin is doing great, still has healthy and happy as always. He turned three at the end of April, and we celebrated by going to the beautiful Hershey Gardens for a walk and some photos.  After that, we went out for dinner.  Ben had a great time being out with the family.

Hershey Gardens

We still struggle from time to time with getting him to leave his MIC-KEY button alone, so these days we usually have him in overalls or an ace wrap over his belly.   We’re still working on oral feeds.  For about a month we took a break and didn’t really push the issue at all, partly because I felt it was turing into a power struggle of sorts. We restarted in the last week or two, and there have been good signs of progress.  Ben has actually started opening his mouth for the spoon, has been mouthing toys and objects more, and has been willing to take tastes of foods or drinks that other people are having.  I am cautiously optimistic, and hope that this new curiousity about food continues.  I hope he realizes what he’s been missing out on!

Nate dedication

Nathaniel is 10 months old, and growing by leaps and bounds.  We had his baby dedication on Mother’s Day.  He definitely outweighs Ben, and this week he officially has surpassed Ben with his gross motor skills.  He now crawls forward (after a month of crawling backwards and getting stuck in tiny corners), and can now pull to stand.  He is such a social boy and isn’t happy unless someone is either holding him or helping him to stand.  He loves Ben’s therapy sessions and seems to think they’re for him…Mark is constantly having to corral him during therapy.  He now shuns baby food, and loves to eat whatever we’re eating.

Let’s see – what else…

Graduation

My dad stayed with us for a few weeks in May.  The yard never looked so good, and he helped out immensely with the dishes and the boys.  I’m afraid he spoiled Nate terribly!  😉  My sister Aliyah graduated from college.  The ceremony was outdoors, and we all attended, and then all went out to eat afterwards.

Mark and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary at the end of May, and my awesome sister- and brother-in-law watched the kids for us so we could have a rare evening out (we went to a restaurant called “Eleven” in Pittsburgh.  The food was amazing!)  What an awesome gift.

Anniversary dinner

Well, let’s hope I do better with blogging this month.