Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Sneak Peak

Twas the night before Halloween...

Kayla had plenty of ideas this year of what she wanted to be for Halloween. Her list of choices:
- a fireman
- an animal rescuer
- a dinosaur
- a super hero
- a knight

Interesting choices for a girl...there was definitely no princess, fairy or butterfly on the list! So we settled on the fireman costume...and for Lauren - well at least she got a new costume and not a hand-me down from her sister. A duck - somehow I think that suits her!

Kayla and Steve did their annual pumpkin carving. This year Kayla thought it would be neat to add Mr. Potatoe Head hands and feet..what a great idea! The treats are by the door, the pumpkin is outside, and the costumes are ready by the door....

Monday, October 17, 2011

Falling Down

So I was thinking I'd just like to go back to the mountain top and live together in the clouds as a family. Life would be so much easier, relaxing and fun. Sunday mornings is like living in the clouds - the girls come into our bed in their PJs and just play around. The room is still dark as the sun often has not fully risen yet. Lauren is laughing as Kayla shares and then takes away her blanket from her. Kayla lets Lauren play with her hair which garners a few more laughs and smiles. Lauren loves poking at Steve's sleeping face and Kayla loves just sucking her thumb, snuggling with her blankie and feeling secure in a bed full of warm bodies. We hang out like this for half and hour or so and its a little piece of heaven. Kids are perfect, everything (including thumb sucking) is acceptable. In dim light and a comfy bed, Lauren and Kayla are both in their comfort zone. We watch homemade videos together, Kayla and I sing along to the songs and have fun pushing and rolling Lauren around on the bed.

Then the day begins, the lights come on, and the magical moment just vanishes. Then its back to reality. Lauren continues to baffle us and there are still alot of puzzle pieces missing. Her diagnosis is now global developmental delays but even that doesn't really answer questions around some of her quirks or idiosyncrasies like how sometimes she sees people and things going on, and other times she seems completely oblivious. How sometimes she responds to other people and more often than not, there is no response. How sustaining eye contact is hard, but when you sing to her its easier. How she knows how to wave but she won't. The list goes on and on, and while I continue to try and "figure it out", my darling husband always keeps the motto - Lauren is just Lauren. So after I pour the hundreds of hours digging and obsessing over this little girl, I think I just need to take a deep breath. A nice deep breath.

I need to stop focusing on the can't and the won't, and start focusing on the cans. I keep telling myself this, buts its definitely harder said than done. Especially when we are always surrounded by other toddlers its definitely a mental task to keep a positive and optimistic frame of mind. Steve is great at this, he never compares - or so he tells me - and of course I shouldn't either. But even without the comparison, I know in my heart that something is not right and it pains me to not be able to "correct it". Yes there are therapies, but for the most part, I know that most of this has to do with genetics and going back to an earlier post, I'm an engineer who believes in nature over nurture. Perhaps I am undermining her, but maybe that's my way of preparing myself for challenges to come. So yes, I'm frustrated that I can't do more, that I don't have any control over the "situation", that I am trying everything and yet feel that we are hitting a ceiling cap in some areas already.

I look back and the last 3 September/October/November months, I always fall down - just like the leaves I guess. Must be the weather, gloomy outside and gloomy inside. The back-to-school September momentum drives me to anticipate "great things" and when no progress is evident, it sucks. Yes Lauren is happy as ever, but when you can't even get a kiss or a wave out of it, it just plain sucks. But she did look at me today and give me a big smile in the car.....and she did eat a banana on her own while I drove her to school....and she did climb up on the trampoline herself for the first time today and did 3 bounces....

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain"

How true...I really need to learn how to dance, especially in the rain.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Apple Pie

In search of buying an apple pie for Thanksgiving dinner, we stumbled upon this farm which lets kids make their own apple pie. What a fantastic experience for the family, we plan on making it a yearly tradition.

Making Apple Pie with Kayla Choo from Kate Law on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October Update

So its been a month since school started for the two girls and boy has it been busy. The kids are up at 7:25am and its pretty much go go go until bedtime. Lauren's school is an hour's drive away, meaning we are out the door no later than 7:35am. While she eats her toast and fruit in the car, we work on vocalizing and babbling in between bites. I enjoy this alone time I get with her, because it's usually the only alone time we get. Of course I do most of the talking and singing, but I think she enjoys hearing my voice (hey who wouldn't?). After work, Lauren has therapy appointments, Kayla some homework, and both girls have swimming once a week. I've been playing tennis and Steve is playing hockey at nights, so we both let out a sigh when the girls are in bed at 8pm. 

2 kids is definitely keeping us busy. Our biggest challenge is keeping up with the girls to dos. Lauren has so many therapy exercises, it gets overwhelming trying to fit her homework in every day while still letting Lauren be Lauren. She's 2 and has an appointment calendar and rolodex much bigger than mine. While we want her to get in as much therapy as possible in a day,  Lauren often refuses to cooperate and just wants to cuddle and be held. Its come to the point where we will now even strap her in her booster seat to get her attention and focus on the activity otherwise she simply just walks away from us.

With Kayla it's quite the opposite. We just want Kayla to relax and chill, but she's always go go go. She's always wanting us to work with her on her reading, writing, math and french - even when she has no assigned homework!..Yes Kayla makes me write out math questions for her to answer just for fun and likes to play spelling and rhyming word games. She has no issues keeping focus or attention on a task and can be left on her own to play, colour or read. At 4.5 years old, she has a social calendar and a large roster of friends that makes me jealous. 

Lauren's personality is definitely showing through a lot more now. She's definitely loves being held and carried. She is now refusing to come down the stairs on her own and will sit on the steps and pout until someone picks her up...which is driving me nuts!! She loves squealing aloud while she's walking around the house with a toy in her hand, loves taking all the laundry out of the laundry basket, loves playing with the cordless phone and tv remote and still enjoys grabbing and pulling on Kayla's hair. While her development is still at a turtle's pace, she is becoming more her own person, and is definitely learning to use her voice to express discontent, her eyes to show interest, and her hands to explore (or not explore). We are currently working with Lauren on choice making - which seems easy enough - but is a huge struggle for this little girl, vocalization, imitation of sounds and gestures, problem solving with puzzles, throwing and kicking a ball  - just to name a few! Yes the days can be long, and what comes so naturally for most is work for Lauren, but then I snap a picture like the one below and just SMILE at my little CUTIE. 

This is my all time new favourite pic - also because my house looks so clean!!

Lauren is doing the best she can, at her own pace and in her own time. I think most of her struggles has to do with her unique genetic make-up. She actually is different than neuro typical kids, her chromosomes are different, and hence her output is going to be different, we don't know, because there are only a handful of kids (like under 30) that are documented with a similar genetic composition as hers. Its a rarity and we won the genetic lottery on this one. Some kids have fewer developmental challenges and more medical challenges and others the opposite.  I am thankful that Lauren is healthy medically as I cannot imagine what it would have been like if we had to deal with medical issues ontop of everything else.

What most toddlers can do naturally and easily is a challenge and struggle for Lauren. It is heartbreaking and frustrating to have to watch her work so hard to do simple things, but she's getting there, in time and in practice. If you watch her, you can really see she sometimes that she is "processing", that her brain is churning and churning to make sense of something before she decides to take an action. Its almost like she wants to say "don't rush me, I'm thinking about it".  I think I might get her a t-shirt with this slogan on it for Christmas!!

As we approach Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, I'll sign off this post with my thanks:
- I am thankful for my wonderful husband Steve for his strength, love and humor
- I am thankful to have generous and loving parents and in-laws who have been helping to raise my two girls to be the best they can be
- I am thankful that I have two beautiful girls who get along so well and are such good friends to each other
- I am thankful that Kayla has filled our lives with humor (like her Dad), laughter and energy
- I am thankful that Lauren has filled our lives with nonsense babbling (like her Mom), smiles, and a "keep calm and carry on" attitude
- I am thankful that our family and extended family is healthy, close, supportive, and just plain old happy

Happy Thanksgiving!

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