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Journal Key:

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

12/22/11 (Thursday)

Owen had PT with Karen today, at home, for the first time in about a month! We were all very happy to be getting back to routine. I showed Karen the report from the high-risk clinic, which I personally didn't think had anything useful on it--in fact, I can barely read it! She was able to make out a lot, and I was able to remember what they thought about some of them, and all of a sudden we have a lot to do in physical therapy!

The clinic noticed that while Owen can kick, it's really just because he can understand the concept of kicking and walks into things with his foot; he's not kicking, per se. He still runs with his arms up sometimes. I also had asked Amy, the therapist there, whether I should get rid of the ride-on toys we have, and she said not to. Owen can't ride on them yet, but surely Karen can get him to.

Today, we worked on developing Owen's core upper-body strength, which will help stabilize him as he runs so that he doesn't need to put his arms up. First, Karen went and got a big exercise ball from her car. She brought in a baby toy, one of those things where you put big colored rings onto a central stalk. She held onto Owen and rolled him over the ball, so that his hands touched the ground. She gave him a ring and he could put it on; he'd do two of them and she would roll him back for a quick break before bringing him back up. He had to use one arm to steady himself and the other to work. He was working hard! He did it for a while with his Playmobil animals, too, putting them down their slide. We also had him work on a puzzle lying on his tummy on a couch cushion.

Then Karen bounced Owen on the ball. She sat with the ball between her legs, and she sat Owen on it, holding him right at his hips. He sure liked bouncing! After bouncing him a bit, she tipped him oooooover to one side and he had to work to keep himself upright. Then the other side. And diagonally. Then alllll the way back, and he had to sit up and give her a hug--he's never given me a hug on command, but Karen points out that the alternative to hugging her was to feel as if he were falling over backwards.

Steve and Cara got home while Owen was playing hide-and-seek with us by taking his candy cane with him into the dark bathroom and pulling the door as far closed as he could. There was much excitement. When things calmed down, Karen mentioned that one thing that would help Owen would be if he would do a wheelbarrow. After Karen and Cara demonstrated, when it was Owen's turn he took a few little steps. Karen held him up on his thighs rather than back at his feet. Cara also got to demonstrate walking on a little soft balance beam Karen had brought, and she got to bounce on the ball. Owen got to run around and shout things, while they both showed off for Karen.

12/23/11 (Friday)

Today, as luck would have it, Owen got to see both of his early intervention therapists. In the morning, we had a scheduled visit from Robin. It was her first time meeting me and one of the only times she's come to our house (usually she visits him at YBR). I think poor Robin was a bit disappointed because Owen apparently didn't do much of what he usually does with her. It makes sense, as she said herself, since we were at home instead of at school and he was with me, which is very out-of-the-ordinary. Mostly he sat and stared while she tried to lead him through some songs, and she very forcefully got him to make a little foam-sticker picture with Christmas stickers. She tried some color-matching cards with him, which he wasn't too thrilled about. We spent some time building with Cara's erector set toys. Robin asked him if he wanted to do something or other, and he immediately responded "No," as is often his habit. "He never says 'No' to me!" Robin said, aghast. It was fun anyway--I know that Owen's language is really exploding, so it wasn't so upsetting that he didn't show off.

We spent a lot of time today playing Playmobil, which was nice. Owen's style is to let me set something up and then come along with a person or an animal and viciously knock it all down. We also did a lot of playing with my old Batman action figure today--Owen likes to dismember him. He had a meager lunch, an adequate nap, and right after he woke up I got a call that Karen, his other therapist, wanted to do a makeup session.

Owen was very unhappy when he woke from his nap, and what he really wanted to make it all better was to watch youtube movies of animals. I was determined not to give into him on this, but I did partially cave and turned on the TV so we could watch an episode of the Backyardigans. So he was fortunately not crying hysterically when Karen arrived.

Karen did a lot of the same things with Owen that she did yesterday. Some of the things he wasn't too crazy about doing. But I did see him walk up the steps basically without having to hold onto the railing, with one-handed support from Karen, which I didn't even know he could do. (At one point Karen enticed him upstairs by asking him to show her his room. He excitedly took her upstairs and into Cara's room: "Cara-oom!") And Karen also tested his running skills by chasing him back and forth from the living room from the kitchen, which he got a big kick out of. The important bit was that he ran without his arms raised.

In the afternoon Ev arrived home and called hello to us from downstairs. "Karen? Karen?" Owen guessed. Later when he learned it was actually Mommy, he was looking out the living room window and started saying "Bye Karen! Bye Karen!"

We all went to pick up Cara and then had dinner at Chili's, where Owen correctly identified his pineapple and alternately ate his dinner and played with Batman. Now we're planning on rounding out our Family Fun Night with a movie. Tomorrow, as Cara has not tired of reminding us all, is Christmas Eve. Ho Ho Hanta, Hooray!

12/24/11 (Saturday)

Saturday saw the beginning of our Christmas marathon! We spent the morning tidying the house and doing the laundry, and as soon as Owen woke up from his nap we got on the road to Middletown. This year, for the first time, we slept over there, starting some new traditions so that post-GiGi Christmases will still be special.

There are always lots of things to see and do at Grandma's house, but this time the most fun Owen had was with a bowl of walnuts that was on the coffee table. The neigh-neighs were still fun and stuff, but the walnuts were clearly better. He would take them out and carry them around, he would bring them to us, he would line them up and then knock them over. I would bet that there will be walnut surprises turning up in that house for quite a while.

While we ladies worked on the pierogies we had been too exhausted to make last weekend, Grandpapa, Steve, Cara, and Owen painted dreidels. It's very easy to tell whose is whose. We also remembered, later, to light the menorah, in a spirit of multiculturalism. The guys took the kids outside to sprinkle magic reindeer feed on the lawn, but by the time Owen and Steve had walked down the stairs Cara had fully sprinkled. They did get to see the first star.

Everyone opened a couple of presents after dinner, and soon it was eight o'clock. We got Owen into his new pajamas, which had been one of the presents I made sure he got, and he was Batman. He hadn't realized that they were Batman pajamas, but when he saw himself in a mirror he realized that he was pretty cool. He was very excited, but he eventually became mildly concerned and explained to Grandmama that he was really Owen, not Batman.

A little after eight I took him upstairs to Cara's room, where the pack-n-play was set up with his blanket and his lion. We read a couple of books and I put him down. He was a little undecided about the whole thing, but there was no screaming; he just talked to himself for at least half an hour. A little after nine, Cara went to bed in her sleeping bag on a mattress on the floor next to her bed, because everyone else was camping out.

Steve and I slept on the couch in the living room. We could hear any noise the kids made, and at quarter to two Owen woke up. I think he'd have gone back to sleep at home, but instead he sat up and was looking around when I came in. I took him downstairs to the office and he sort of snuggled in my lap. He and the Schmutz and I hung out for a little bit, and then I explained to him that Cara and Daddy were sleeping and the three of us went back upstairs. I put him into his bed, and he sat up. I lay down next to him. He thought about it and lay down. Cara woke up a little and headed for the bathroom, the cat got comfortable on her sleeping bag, she came back, and I decided he needed to get closed back up downstairs because he was clearly thinking about attacking her feet. Owen was still lying in his pack-n-play, thinking things over. I said good night and took the cat back downstairs. Everyone went back to sleep quietly.

12/25/11 (Sunday)

Around seven, we were downstairs and had discovered that Santa had come! (Owen at some point started telling people "Hanta hown," apparently because he was coming to town.) Owen found a little activity book that Cara had gotten the night before and settled in to read it, while we tried in vain to convince him to open presents.

For Cara, it was the year of Lalaloopsy. She received the much-coveted crazy hair doll as well as about seven of the tiny dolls, with a ferris wheel and a school bus for them to ride on. She also got a bed tent and a Madame Alexander doll. Owen, when we finally got him started, was very happy with his new toys. He loves his pillow pet, a big neigh-neigh. He loves Monkey George, a big plush George with the yellow hat on. He loves Monkey George, the little wooden monkey driving a little wooden car. He had fun playing with the Batman and the transformer that Steve got him. He enjoyed his Fisher Price "Zoomimals" playsets--we've had some of the little wheeled animal toys for a while, but they're much more fun when they have little ramps to run down. And to round out his vehicles, he also got an exciting Hess truck and car.

We got to spend some time playing with our new things, but then it was time to get on the road again and drive to Pennsylvania and have Christmas at Andrea's house. At Andrea's house, Lily had some very fun toys that all the kids liked playing with. For one, she had a big train table (which we realized was very fortuitous, since we just got PJ's train table at home). Both kids liked playing with that, though Owen saw it as more of a landscape on which Lily's set of neigh-neighs could romp. Lily also got a little drum kit, at which (to the exasperation of most of the grown-ups) all the kids liked banging away. And of course the kids had many more wonderful toys and clothes to open.

The highlight of the visit, for me, was when Griffin and Owen started doing their own sort of peek-a-boo. They would run to the front room, slap one of the arm chairs there, jabber a little, then run down the hall and into the kitchen, turn around, and repeat the process. Most of the time Griffin got to the front room first, and waited gleefully for Owen to appear, when he would point and laugh. It was the first time I can think of that they really played together. It was very cool.

After a long day, we piled into the car with all of our stuff and drove home. Owen had his giant pillow pet in his lap. He had been extraordinarily good for all the driving and all the unusual circumstances, and he made it almost all the way home before expressing his displeasure at the last car ride. When we got home again at last, all he wanted to do was go and play with his Playmobil people. Even after we showed him the wonderful new train table that was in the same room with the Playmobil people, it was many minutes before he was willing to move over to it and check it out.

12/26/11 (Monday)

Since it was the day after Christmas, we spent a somewhat lazy day today. Cara stayed in her pajamas (her exciting new cupcake pajamas) and we mostly messed around with our new stuff. Mommy and Cara cleaned out Cara's closet and somewhat reorganized her toy drawers. Owen moved his Playmobil people onto the train table and spent a lot of time wreaking havoc. His playstyle is considerably different than Cara's and involves a lot of bludgeoning. On more than one occasion the train track was ripped up and pieces were thrown. Evelyn says that she will teach Cara how to drive, so I get to teach Owen...hmm.

In the afternoon Owen requested his neigh-neigh film, so I put it on. He had had a short nap and so was willing to actually sit there and watch a great majority of the movie, just sitting on the couch, without my even having to fast forward to the scenes with the horse. It was a great eating day for Owen because he could finally go back to eating yogurt ("hodirt!") again, thanks to a trip to the supermarket. He happily scooped up heaping spoonfuls, maybe 60% of which actually got into his mouth.

12/27/11 (Tuesday)

Today was our Hanukkah dinner! By an interesting set of circumstances, when I went to pick up Owen, Grandpapa came with me. Owen seemed very surprised to see Grandpapa get into the car with us! Then we went home and Grandmama was there too! "There are a lot of people here," I remarked to Owen. "Hi, people!" he said. (Earlier at YBR, Robin his therapist asked the other children to say "Bye, Owen!" Owen said: "Bye, Owen!" As Owen left, he was telling everyone that "Hanta came!")

We had a lovely dinner. Owen had a big bowl of apple sauce and a tiny little bit of latke, which he sort of ate. Then he was handed asparagus spears. We don't usually give him the whole stalk, but he took it and just munched it down. It was nice. When he went up for his bath, he grabbed his book The Christmas Mice and boldly declared, "I read it!" Then he opened it up and said something like "Hanta coming!" which is a pretty good summary of the first page. Then Grandmama read him a lot of books, until he decided it was time to go back downstairs, and Mommy had to come and give him a real bedtime book.

12/28/11 (Wednesday)

I would just like to remark on how good Owen is about going to bed. When we slept over at Grandmama's house, he didn't balk. When we put him down for naps, he's usually good. Last night, he had Grandmama read to him for a good twenty minutes. Then he decided he wanted to go back downstairs and see all the action that he knew was going on. Claire and Grandmama and Grandpapa were over. There had been presents. I came up and picked him up and said no, and he was very unhappy and did his best to express it: he flailed around and hollered. Then I brought him into his room and put him down. He picked out a book, Five Little Ducks, brought it over and let me read it to him, and then lay down quietly when I put him into his crib. Even with all of us having a good time downstairs, he was following his routine.

He followed his routine this morning by waking up some time before six. We hung out downstairs, playing and watching Tangled, and we had a good morning. Somehow, though, after Steve was awake, Owen managed to fall and bang the side of his face against the base of the basement couch. He was pretty upset, so it must have hurt. In a few minutes, we could see how much: he had a bump the size of a grape right over the socket of his left eye. We attempted to ice it, but Owen preferred to take his chances. Miss Sandi was very impressed when I dropped him off.

I was hoping for a dramatic bruise, but when we got there to pick Owen up he looked very normal.

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