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Journal Key:

Green = Steve | George = navy | Janet = Purple | Evelyn = Black

7/7/11 (Thursday)

Today at camp Cara's lunch was a meatball sandwich. She didn't want the roll but apparently she had three helpings of meatballs. And tonight she had her three hot dogs for dinner. So that's taken care of.

Owen had his therapy session at YBR today and his favorite person, Miss Gracie, got to be involved. We didn't hear much about it because as soon as Mommy got there to pick him up, Owen wanted to walk her out the door. Mommy is very good at walking.

I picked up Cara a little early. I was surprised because even though all the kids were watching The Jungle Book, a movie that Cara remembers fondly from many visits to Aunt Claire's house, she was still very willing to leave with me. We did some fashion-related drawing together (Cara carefully instructing me how to remove the markers from their slots, and how the eraser worked, and what colors needed to be used).

Then Owen got home and we wandered right over to his Playmobil toys and got busy with those. He was very happy to be back with his Playmobil toys. Even after dinner, we returned to them and it was hard to take him away. He did have some fun once we got upstairs though, because I stripped him down to his diaper and dipped just his dirty feet into the bathtub. He got a chance to walk in just his diaper up and down the hallway, over and over, which was very funny.

When he takes his bedtime bottle, he tends to try to rotate ninety degrees, and you have to watch him. But once he's done, he hands the bottle over, saying "All done." Tonight, after he'd done that, he also wanted to grab my nose. I let him have a few grabs before he went into the crib.

7/8/11 (Friday)

I had no idea that in this house we possessed the Greatest Book Ever Written. That fact was brought home to me this morning when I read The Animals of Farmer Jones to Owen. The book has lots of animals in it: we get to see each one, and each animal makes its signature noise and declares that it is hungry. Where is Farmer Jones? Why, there he is, in the field, realizing that it's dinner time. He feeds each animal; each makes its noise and says thank you. When I put this book away after reading it to Owen the first time, he started to cry. I had to read it twice more. He was rapt.

We had a playdate this morning with my friend from work and her little girl, who is a month older than Owen. They were definitely cognitive peers, and Owen is ahead of her verbally, but seeing her walking and climbing around really brought home how much Owen can't do. Leah could climb onto the play chairs at Cara's table. She could ride the ride-on toy. She could crouch down to get a toy. Owen is getting much more adept at walking around, but if he falls, he can't get up. As we come up on Owen's reevaluation for Early Intervention, I find that it's really good to get an idea of what he could be able to do, of what Cara was doing at his age.

The playdate was really nice, though. We'd anticipated parallel play, but the kids paid a lot of attention to each other. Leah likes to pick up small things and give them to people, starting with her mommy and then me, but at one point she started to give Owen his Playmobil toys. They played with puzzles together and watched each other a lot. The usual result of their mutual attention was competition over a toy, but it worked out. For a while, they even sort of had what Nicole described as a simultaneous relay race. Both of them were walking back and forth from us in the dining room over to the side door in the playroom, laughing. That went on for several laps, until Owen fell down and therefore was disqualified.

Owen went to YBR for the afternoon, and when we got home we got to read The Animals of Farmer Jones two and a half more times before Family Fun Night.

7/9/11 (Saturday)

Cara, Owen, and I went to Barnes and Noble this afternoon, and Owen had a real workout! He looked at a lot of books, but the best ones were the ones about animals. He keeps pulling out this huge Little People lift-the-flap book about the zoo, which I know he really likes; it's just hard to stomach the Little People. Cara sat and looked at more books while I took him to the train table. He said "choo-choo" and took an engine and held it on the tracks, and then, for no particular reason, he turned around and walked away from the train table. Cara had come in and she trailed after him as he wandered off among the aisles of toys; I watched from a little way away. He made a broad circuit and returned, very pleased with himself.

That was basically the way the rest of our stay went. I shadowed him around and around the toy department, off into the kids' books, over to the cafe, back into toys, back into kids' books, through the self-help section. For some of the time, as I followed him around the toy department, Cara was hurrying around the toy department and the kids' books, being followed by a pair of two-year-old twin girls. She was trying to shake them. Eventually she did, but it was only temporary. Owen found our stroller and he and I spent some time pushing it; he has no idea that it's an issue that he can't see around it at all. It was nice with the stroller, because I could steer. It was scary to think that, really, now, if I don't have my eyes on him, he could easily get lost. Of course, if he's sitting down and not near anything handy to pull up on, he's still stuck, poor thing!

We really had to wrassle over Owen's dinner. He did NOT want to sit in his high chair. He was happy to take small pieces of cheese from me and wander away while he chewed, toddling back for more. Steve heated up some chicken parm and broccoli, and I tried putting Owen in his chair. No. He sat on my lap and I tried feeding him with a fork. He had to hold the fork. We got into a rhythm: Owen would eat off the fork, and then I would wrest it from his grasp, insisting, "Mommy will help!", and I would load the fork again. Once he'd gotten the idea that the chicken was pretty good and maybe he should actually eat some, I put him in the chair and made him sit. He got over it. We shared the fork for a few more bites, until Owen realized that it was not the most efficient way to eat and just set to with his hands.

Lately, when we put Owen down, he's been really very sweet. He holds his bottle until he's finished, hands it to us, saying "all done," and then settles in. For Steve, though, he's added another step. Every time Steve's put him down lately, Owen's tried to grab Steve's nose after he's finished his bottle. Steve was eager to see whether Owen would want to grab MY nose tonight. No, he would not.

I think that, between us, we read The Animals of Farmer Jones nine or ten times. Boy, is that a great book!

7/10/11 (Sunday)

Owen waited until six to get up this morning, which is not as bad as it could have been. Usually one of the parents sleeps for a while after this, but we both got up, and Evelyn actually took him for a walk around the neighborhood.

We didn't have any particular plans today. Aside from a couple of chores we had nothing to do, and Owen's nap was somewhat abbreviated. The day was an incredibly long one, but it was nice. Ev took the kids out to the grocery store, and Owen was very good (we theorize he is back in the not-wanting-to-stay-at-home phase, although we're still keeping him away from restaurants for the time being).

He spent his times at home performing his favorite pastimes: playing Playmobil, reading books (mostly Farmer Jones), and walking back and forth between the living room and the kitchen, or between the play room and the dining room, laughing happily. At one point in the afternoon, he spent some time walking into Cara's room, where Cara and I were, and then walking out and down the hall, and then returning. "Bye!" I would say when he left, and "Hello!" when he popped back in, chuckling heartily at the great joke.

The kids had some time playing at the water table out back as well, which was fun. In the evening we brought some blankets out front and had some dessert. I brought out toys for Owen, but he was content to spend his time climbing up the little hill, then turning around and scooting back down it.

7/11/11 (Monday)

Steve was really horrified this evening. Poor Cara is sick, and she had a cool bath earlier. She'd gotten out her old bath toys, and we'd left them in the tub, so Owen got to take a bath with mermaids. He enjoyed it very much! He grabbed a couple of them before he'd even gotten in and walked around waving them. It was very easy to get him to settle into the tub. He really liked splashing with those mermaids; maybe he liked the way their hair flung the water around.

There was also Cara's big mermaid toy on the wall, and eventually he noticed that. I admit, I showed him how the little shower works. He stood up to play with it, messing around with the little water wheels, dabbling his fingers in the shallow pool at the bottom, putting his fingers under the flower shower, and even working the pump handle. I was amazed at how well he was able to squat down slightly to reach the low parts!

For the first time in a long time, I had to take him out of the tub before he was done playing.

7/12/11 (Tuesday)

We're still being forced to read The Animals of Farmer Jones, but the passion may be cooling. We don't always make it all the way through. We've settled into a nice routine, though. On every page of the first half, the book asks, "Where is Farmer Jones?" Both Steve and I punctuate this with hand gestures to express how mystified we are. Where could he be? I don't know whether either of us had noticed that we were doing this; I know I realized it when I saw Owen also gesturing. At the end, Farmer Jones waves good-bye to us. We wave good-bye to him.

Owen likes Clumsy Crab, too. He can identify lots of the sea creatures involved. At the end, when Nipper finally saves Octopus from being tangled up in seaweed and the realization dawns that his big, clumsy claws are really useful tools, Owen applauds with gusto.

Owen's favorite toy is still his Playmobil things. Cara and I brought them to the living room to try to keep him occupied while I made dinner. There was too much else going on for him to be truly engaged with them for long, but he did take out the furniture and put a cow and a zebra to bed.

7/13/11 (Wednesday)

Life is hard for poor Owen. He got to walk out to us when Cara and I got there to pick him up today, but then I stopped to get his things and he kept walking. He stopped a few feet from the door and stood there screaming. (This is the second time he's cried because I wasn't fast enough at getting him out of there. He really does love YBR, though!) He was unhappy when I picked him up, but he felt better when I let him get down to walk. He was happy walking up the block; he screamed when I had to pick him up to cross the street and get into the car. He was happy walking up and down the hallway after dinner; he screamed when he toppled over in the bedroom. He screamed when I picked him up to comfort him. He kept screaming when I put him on the bed to flop around. He was happy again when I put him down to walk up and down the hallway. There's a subtle pattern here.

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