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.

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.

Snippets…

isaac-soccer-3

isaac-soccer-2

On Saturday, Isaac scored his very first goal since he started playing in the AYSO Under-10 division!   He really has been making a good effort, even though it has not been easy for him.  We were so proud, and so was he!

jonny-soccer

On Tuesday the weather finally cooperated and Jonathan actually got to play soccer!  He was so excited since his last two games were rained out.  He did great, had a blast, and scored a few goals.  When someone asked him if his team won, he replied, “There’s no winner.”  I’m glad that he enjoys the game at this stage without needing to keep score.  And we were thrilled that he was able to burn off some of that extra energy.

me-and-ben

Ben has had a few trips to our friendly tertiary care center.  He has been picking and pulling at his MIC-KEY button, so last week we saw his g-tube nurse.  We have determined that the tube size is appropriate, but we think he has a mild yeast infection at the site.  We are treating him with some Mycolog ointment, but I’m not so sure it’s doing much good…he succeeded at PULLING OUT HIS MIC-KEY BUTTON for the very first time a couple days ago.  For now we’re continuing the ointment and keeping his belly bound with an ACE wrap.  Poor Ben.  I hope he stops messing with it so he doesn’t have to sweat all summer.

Today we went to  have Ben’s hearing aids adjusted.  He got new molds, and I told the tech about the severe feedback (whistling) we were getting.  She had a neat device which actually was able to cancel most of the feedback (I’m not exactly sure how it works), but Ben will finally be able to wear his hearing aids again.

little-boys-soccer-game

Lately, Nate has been doing lots of new things.  He has begun teething, rolling over very well in both directions (finally catching up to big brother Ben with his motor skills), trying to crawl on hands and knees and really wants to learn how to pull to stand.  He has been learning how to feed himself and has been scarfing down those little Gerber fruit puffs like lightning.  But he has also been sooo needy these days and cries if you just stand up…before you even have a chance to leave the room!  He really loves Ben and enjoys playing with Ben’s face, hair, arms, feet, etc.  Ben usually tries to roll out of the way, but this week he really seems to be noticing Nate and interacting directly with him for the first time.

big-brother-little-brother

BTW, Mark found these neat shirts for the little boys at Toys ‘R’ Us to help everyone see that they are not twins.

ben-and-nate-hockey-stick

Ben turns three tomorrow, and Nate is 9 months old.  Right now Nate officially outweighs Ben.

I suppose it won’t be long before they won’t seem like twins anymore.

When it rains…

nateyneb

What an eventful week!    My husband Mark also blogged most of this, so my apologies for being repetitive.

Nate has been sick for the entire week.  Initially he had just a fever and a nasty cough, but by Monday night he started wheezing.  We took him to see the pediatrician on Tuesday.  The pediatrician diagnosed a viral syndrome, and started Nate on albuterol nebulizer treatments.  We did those faithfully, but on Thursday Nate was definitely worse.   The pediatrician started him on some oral steroids, and thankfully they seem to be helping.  But Nate hasn’t been sleeping well, poor thing, and neither have we.  During the day, he wants to be held and carried everywhere, so we also haven’t been getting much done around the house.

Tuesday was Ben’s preschool evaluation, but that will merit its own separate post.  Hopefully I’ll get to it later this week!

olds

Meanwhile, for the last week and a half, my car (my previously trusty 1995 Oldsmobile) has been overheating.  On Wednesday we took it in to our mechanic to have it looked at.  Unfortunately, the problem was more expensive to fix than we anticipated.  We decided that night not to repair it, but to replace it.  After all, the car is 14 years old, and has been becoming less and less reliable with each passing year.  I just hated the thought that it might leave me  stranded somewhere on the Interstate.

montana

The very next day, 0n Thursday I drove our van (1999 Pontiac Montana) to work.  About a block from my office it made a noise and it seemed to me that the accelerator wasn’t as responsive as it had been a just few minutes before.  I convinced myself it was just my imagination.  However that afternoon when I went to leave, I discovered I had a major problem.  It wouldn’t go into reverse AT ALL.  The transmission was fried.  So I was stranded at work, and Mark was stranded at home.

A kind co-worker dropped me off at the mechanic so that I could pick up my overheating (but at that time still driveable) Oldsmobile from the mechanic, and I made it home OK.  Unfortunately, I made the mistake of driving it to work on Friday.  It became dangerously hot on the way home that night, and I ended up returning to my office and getting a ride home from a dear friend of ours, who left her Lenten fish dinner to rescue me.   How embarassing!

So in a few days we had gone from two vehicles to zero.

The van was towed to our bemused mechanic, where it will undergo extremely costly repairs.   After all, we can’t afford to replace two vehicles in the same year, let alone in the same week!  On Saturday, Mark bummed a ride from our next door neighbor to the local car rental place so that he actually had a vehicle to use to go car shopping.  (We really like the rental car, BTW!  Isaac and Jonathan were extremely impressed; they’d never been inside a brand-new car before!  I’ve certainly never driven a car this nice.)

nice-rental-car

Anyway, on Saturday Mark bought us a used van to replace my car, while I stayed home with the boys.  We thought it made more sense to buy a van because there are now 6 of us in this family, and I can tell the Montana probably won’t hold up too much longer.  I hear the new van is very nice, and I’ve seen photos, but I won’t see it in person until it is delivered to our house tomorrow.  I hope it knows it has to last us for YEARS AND YEARS!!!

I hope this week is less eventful.

Adjusting

This was my first week back to work after a too-short 8-week maternity leave.  Work is OK, but it certainly has been a challenge adjusting to life as a working mom of four.   And of course, Mark is adjusting to being the primary caregiver of four young boys!  We used to have a fairly predictable routine, but all that has changed with Nate’s birth and Jonny starting kindergarten.  The kids are having a little trouble adjusting to this new life too this week.

Isaac is doing great in second grade so far.  He is a good, obedient student, and we never have to worry about his behavior at school.  He seems to enjoy his class, his friends, and he seems to like his new teacher.  He and his friends play with these Bakugan figures at recess (apparently it’s the new cool toy for second graders), and he is always pestering us to buy more of them.

Isaac is playing AYSO soccer, and moved up to the under-10 team this fall.  He’s not too happy about the change, because the game has suddenly become more challenging.  He says he wants to quit the team, but of course we told him that he can’t until this fall season is over.  We have tried to remind him that he felt the same way when he started the under-8 team two years ago, and by the end of the second year he was really enjoying the game.

Jonny started all-day kindergarten, and it has definitely been a huge adjustment for him, since his preschool last year was just three mornings a week, and was decidedly unstructured.  Jonny is an active, gregarious child, so his teacher is already having issues with him talking in class when he shouldn’t be.  Poor Jonny.  I really want him to enjoy school, and I don’t want him to be labelled as a problem child in kindergarten.  Maybe we should have waited another year before starting school.  We’ll give it a month or two and see how he does.  I suppose we can always pull him out of kindergarten if it doesn’t work out.

Jonny is also playing soccer this fall, and he’s having a BLAST!

Ben and Nate are adjusting to each other.  They’ve been hanging out in their double stroller during soccer games and practice…

Adjusting isn’t always fun.  I can’t wait until we settle into a good NEW routine.