Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Lauren turns 4

Its hard to believe that Lauren is 4. The size of a 2 year old, this peanut toddler loves to eat, jump on the trampoline (a new milestone!), read books, listen and dance to music, play with baby dolls, loves to wear dresses, and is always full of smiles. Happy Birthday Lauren!

Lauren 4 Year Birthday from k8 law on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Cruise 2013 Video

Thought I would share our recent trip to Miami and our 6 day cruise onboard Carnival Breeze. Enjoy the video!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lauren : Egg Hunt, Kayla : Tooth, Kate : 36

We did our annual easter egg hunt this year with some friends at a nearby park. This was the first year the kids hunted for eggs in a field.

As Lauren is still a very slow runner, if you can even call it a run (its probably closer to a speed walk), Steve lifts Lauren up and scoots her to the field

Good ol' daddy helps Lauren look for eggs in the field

Lauren was very hesitant about picking up the eggs. Not sure if it was a sensory thing to the grass or a visual thing with the eggs blending in with the grass or just because "its a new activity and I don't want to do it cause you are pressuring me to do it". All Lauren wanted to do was to stomp on the eggs.

Eventually she picks up an egg and examines it, realizing its just a plastic egg.

 After 20-30 minutes, Lauren finally "gets it" and starts to pick up the eggs and places them in the basket!
 We've now been doing easter egg hunts in our home, and Lauren loves looking for the eggs that Kayla hides.

Kayla lost her first tooth last week

 Sunday mornings in my bed...smiles, laughs and warmth, while Daddy sleeps and its 10am....

For my birthday, Steve bought me and the girls matching dresses. What a sweet idea. This was the first time he has bought clothes for the girls ....and he got their sizes right! 

Happy 36th birthday to me!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Weekend Getaway to Rochester

Some pictures from a recent trip to the Children's Museum in Rochester, New York. The kids had a great time and Lauren surprised us all by exploring a lot of areas on her own and trying new activities as well. Kayla's favourite part was the grocery shopping at the mini Wegman's grocery store and Lauren enjoyed Sesame Street.


I had brought up the question of whether Lauren might be autistic at her developmental assessment last year because she seemed to be exhibiting some autism red-flags like no expressive speech, no social interaction, poor communication, seems to be in her "own world" at times, etc. At the time, the developmental pediatrician did a developmental assessment and a partial ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) and concluded Lauren would not receive a diagnosis of autism based on the fact that she did not exhibit any behavioural traits like walking on tip toes, lining up cars, flapping, etc. The developmental ped did agree that Lauren had a lot of the speech and communication disabilities that were similar with kids that had autism, but this alone was not enough for an autism diagnosis.

As a follow-up Lauren went for a full ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) exam 2 weeks ago. Some of the testing elements I remember from a year ago. I remembered when she was 2, the report remarked that Lauren did not show any joint attention with parents. There was a table full of toys in the room, and during the assessment Lauren walked straight to the table and proceeded to play for 20 minutes or so, without once "checking in" with us (i.e. looking at us, bringing a toy to show us or coming over to us and taking us to the table). This time, a year later, same table with the same toys, she walks right up to the table, takes a toy and immediately brings it over to us to show us! She then went back to the table, played a bit and came back to us to "check-in". Long story short, her communication skills have improved since last year. She is pointing alot more, showing us things and using her eyes alot better to get our attention and to communicate. The assessment and report concluded she does not have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She is diagnosed with global developmental delays (GDD) which was already known to us.

We weren't really surprised with the final ADOS report. As her communication skills have improved and she is beginning to show more social interaction with both adults and kids, I think my initial thinking of autism was due to the developmental delays. My primary reason for inquiring about whether Lauren might be autistic was more to do with therapy options and schooling options than the actual diagnosis. There are specific therapy approaches such as ABA and IBI which are often used with autistic children and that have shown great success. To receive such therapy and/or to get government assistance for this therapy, you need a diagnosis of autism. Also, in Toronto, there are specialized schools and kindergarten programs available only to autistic children.

We spoke to the developmental pediatrician at length about Lauren. We know she is severely delayed in expressive speech, but I am happy to say we are starting to hear some word approximations and attempts to imitate verbally! When we ask Lauren what her name is, or we tell her to answer "say Lauren", Lauren will say "La-len". Well kind of. Its only really us that hear it and she doesn't articulate well so sometimes it sounds like "La-La", other times "La-en". But at least its a first step! So we've been working with Lauren every day, asking her what her name is, and of course what her sister's name is, and my name. We haven't worked on "dada" because she can't do "D"s. Its funny though, even though we know she can say "mama" as she will babble it now and then on her own (without meaning), and we know show knows how to make the "m" and "a" sound, she cannot say "mama" when we ask her what my name is. She uses her tongue and it sounds like "nana". I think she has a hard time with motor planning of her mouth and tongue, to get her mouth and tongue to coordinate, to do what she wants it to do. We have also been singing alot of nursery rhymes with her and she is starting to fill in some of the basic sounds like in Old McDonald: e-i-e-i- O. She will say the "o" part. She has also started to imitate "uh-oh". Part of the challenge is she only has a few consonants/vowels under her belt, so you can only make so many sounds with the same letters.

Overall the development report stated that Lauren has a really happy and easy going personality and the pediatrician said that was something we should be thankful for. Steve and I absolutely agree, as I've read and talked to other parents who also have kids that are special needs, but they also deal with behavioural issues like hitting, biting, and punching..and one mom actually showed me the bruises on her arm from her child!! So we are absolutely counting our blessings on Lauren's happy, easy going, lovable personality. We were told that Lauren will continue on her own path and will do things in her own time. Over the years, we have become more accepting of this, and while we know Lauren will need help along her journey, we know we have a really good support system of family and friends who are always there for us and supporting us.

I've finally stopped the comparison to friends who have 2 typically developing kids around the same age as Kayla and Lauren and the wonderment of what life would have been like. Its been mind over matter, but also as we have friends and family members going through difficult times with health, we know that we should be thankful for what we have today as life can always take very unexpected and sudden turns. Lauren and Kayla are happy and healthy and that should matter more than whether they are able to pull off their own socks, tie their own shoes or make a lasagna co-operatively.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Update on Lauren

Lauren is coming out of her shell and is becoming more social, not only with family members but also with her friends. You can see that she is really trying to interact with other kids by giving hugs, tugging on their arms and holding their hands but I think its coming off as socially awkward because she's 3.5 years and this type of gesturing you often see much earlier on in age. Plus the fact that she isn't talking and thus can't say "let's play" makes it difficult for friends to interpret and understand. While I'm thrilled that she is trying to reach out, its also hard to see other kids turn the other way or not understand her gesturing. So for now, it looks like the peers who understand her the best are those who either just know her, like her sister and cousin, or those who are much younger and seek the same type of social interaction. Her school teacher also mentioned that Lauren gave another child a ball at school in attempt to initiate play and they were over the moon when they saw this. I too was completely shocked. At best Lauren parallel plays, but I have never seen her initiate play with a peer without specific direction to do so. Another proud moment.

We got a copy of Lauren's report card from school and according to it, Lauren is doing well. Well, let me re-phrase, Lauren is doing well compared to Lauren. Her teachers only evaluate Lauren against Lauren, and not against her classmates or other children the same age as Lauren - so when they look at Lauren now compared to Lauren in September, they report she has made many gains. I guess when you look at it this way, it's always going to be a positive report...which I guess is good because I already know what she's not doing, so its nice to hear what she is doing. Lauren is starting to learn her colours and shapes. They are also starting the ipad with her for communication. Lauren is engaging more with her peers (which I too have noticed), is more vocal (agree), and is completing basic puzzles (completely in shock). Lauren can recognize her own name (shock again), is mastering her PEC book (can believe), and is starting to like the tricycle (...interesting..). We talked about Bloorview and her teachers are hopeful she'll get in. We find out in April/May. We need to continue to work on her focus and attention, it is still very short. They have now put up a blank 3 sided project board around her when she is working on her tasks and they report this has helped her to focus at the task at hand. They also tell me that her learning style is definitely repetition, repetition, repetition. Same activity, over and over again, until she completes it.

Summer camp is coming up again, and I'm planning to sign Lauren up for a Social and Communications Camp. Sounds nerdy, yes, but they focus entirely on social and communication skills. Last year, after 6 weeks, they saw no progress with Lauren's willingness to interact or communicate with any of the other campers. Hopefully this summer will be different. One can only hope.

Other than the update above, Lauren is doing well. Happy, smiley, drooling (what's up with that again?!), and eating like a champ. She continues to love to bounce to music and is addicted to carrying purses, bags, anything with handles around the house. We started taking her to gymnastics on Saturdays and the only exercise she willingly participates in is the trampoline. Everything else is like screaming murder. Obstacle course, nope. Bar, nope, beam, nope. trampoline - yes. hopefully it will get better, 6 more weeks to go...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kayla Turns 6

Happy Birthday Kayla! Dressed all in pink (her choosing), she celebrated her 6th birthday at school with a Valentine's dance and popsicles and strawberries for her classmates. It was just 6 years ago that Kayla was born, weighing only 5lb 12. I remember her feet being as small as my thumb and we were able to cradle her head in our palm with her feet shy of our elbows.  She was the our firstborn and the first grandchild to the family. She was an awful eater for the first few years and we had to use distractions of tv, music, silly faces, puppet shows and toys just to get her to eat. Thankfully, she has grown out of this stage and is now a much less picky eater and she enjoyed having sushi, udon noodles and a shirley temple tonight for dinner.

Its hard to believe Kayla is already 6. Where does the time go?? If only we could put a hold on time. I would love for Kayla to stay 6 - its such a fun age. She's old enough to be independent, to ask thoughtful questions, to want to learn why things work a certain way, but at the same time she still tells me every time she has to go pee (even when we are home), still needs me to feed her (unless I want a half eaten meal), and likes to be carried up the stairs every now and then - all reasons to still baby her. Love her, love her, love her.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Lack of Blogging

I apologize for the recent lack of blogging. Not that there isn't a ton to write about, but just finding the time to put all my thoughts on paper has been a struggle. First I got addicted to sewing and spent my time working on projects, then it was Christmas crafts and projects, next it was Christmas and since the holidays are now over, I've been planning Kayla's birthday party, painting my bedroom, catching up with friends, planning summer camp schedules and Spring activity schedules for the kids, planning for the kid's school for September and thinking about planning a family vacation. When do I ever get a break?

The planning for school for September has been taking up most of my time as of late. I think we are almost 100% sure Kayla will be attending French Immersion school in the Fall for Grade 1. So we'll be pulling her out of Montessori where she has been for the past 3 years and putting her into the public school system. Its going to be a huge change (maybe more so for us than her), as school starts at 8am and finishes at 2:30pm...which we can't wrap our heads around how Kayla (and us) are going to wake up so early, and everything in Grade 1 will be 100% French including math, music, gym etc....and we don't even know French! But what we do know is that Kayla is very strong in languages and she currently enjoys learning French at the Montessori. Also, the French Immersion program can only be entered into in Grade 1, so we figure she should try it out, and if she doesn't like it, we can always put her back into the regular public school. 

Lauren schooling has also been on the top our agenda these recent weeks. The options for her are the local regular public school, where she would be starting Junior Kindergarten with some extra support in the classroom or Bloorview Childrens Rehab Centre, which has a JK/SK/Gr. 1 program for special needs kids. We went today to meet the intake team at Bloorview as they wanted to meet Lauren. As we walked down the halls at Bloorview, you definitely felt that it was a very loving and warm environment, however it was tough seeing toddlers with varying challenges, and of course the physical challenges and disabilities being more notable. I saw kids as small as Lauren using walkers of varying sorts and using other physical apparatuses (I'm not even sure what they are called) to get around. I saw a child, maybe 6, crawling, as she became frustrated with her walker and therapist. We met with the co-ordinator, an OT, PT, and ST. They had Lauren engage in some play and Lauren did really really well...actually I thought she probably performed to the best of her capability at the interview...which was a huge surprise for Steve and I. Lauren was engaged the whole time, didn't cling onto us and interacted with the therapist and us. She did some good joint attention with her eyes, and then the ST sat her down and gave her a few instructions which she followed nicely. The ST used Lauren's PEC book and asked Lauren to select an activity, which she selected ball, and Lauren proceeded to throw the ball to me, Steve and the therapist one by one (never seen her do this before). Lauren also selected the Hungry Caterpillar book and when the ST asked her to point to the caterpillar, she got did so correctly, and when the ST asked her to point to the ice cream, she also did it all of this was a huge shock for me, cause I read her that same book almost every week before she goes to bed, and when I ask her to point out certain objects, she just randomly points to anything in the book!! Maybe I need to change the tone in my the ST did have a very calm, SOFT, gentle tone...unlike me...harsh, overbearing, commanding...

Overall the interview went well, Lauren did really well (maybe too well) and they all loved Lauren - now its more of a question whether she will be a good fit for their program. Its a very small class ratio, 1:6-8 with 2 teachers and an OT/PT/ST - so really almost 1:2 or better. They would likely place Lauren with similar peers (i.e. communication disorders) such that they can work together on common goals. The school follows the same curriculum as a regular JK class and they have music, art and swimming. They would bus Lauren in from where we live (about a 45 minute ride) with school starting at 8:30 and finishing up at 3:00 or so. We are excited about this potential opportunity and I think if we get accepted we will most likely take it, try it out, and if it doesn't work for her, we can always move her to the regular public school board. We find out in April/May. Cross our fingers.

Its ironic how two sisters could be on such opposite poles with their language and communication skills. One is clipping at a pace that probably puts her at a grade 1/2 level and the other is crawling so slowly even her younger cousin, who is not even 2, is passing her by. Nevertheless I'm happy that Kayla and Lauren have found some common ground for communication and understanding. Its not about the words, what you say and what you don't say, but more about the winces and smiles, the twinkles in the eye and the gesturing of sorts and the hugs and kisses. Yes it does hurt to see Kayla laugh and giggle with her friends and cousins as they share secrets and jokes and know that Lauren cannot do the same (and as my Dad would say "not just yet"). But, thankfully, those tears and heartaches are far and few between. We continue to focus on the positives and the many improvements she has made the last few months, the last year. 

Which reminds me that I really should continue to post pictures of her most recent "inchstones" - the most immediate ones that come to mind are:
- Lauren fed her baby without being prompted
- She undid the zipper on her own ski jacket, took it off and put it away
- Lauren took off her own pajama pants almost completely on her own (I had to help her get it over her bum)
- Lauren lets me floss her teeth at night
- Lauren is handing picture cards to non-immediate family members and adult friends and requesting items
- The pre-school has told me she is able to recognize her own name....not sure if I believe that one.

Will definitely post some pictures soon.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Christmas 2013 Holiday Video

After many sleepless nights rifting through photos and videos clips - at least now the holiday video is done and the girls will have another video to watch on my iphone during dinner time at restaurants and on saturday mornings at the breakfast table. Another project to check off my list.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Holiday 2012 Photo Collage

Photo memories of this past Christmas and holiday season.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lauren Skates - Video

Lauren cried hysterically the moment we snapped on her helmet, but after getting use to it, she enjoyed herself on the ice. We couldn't be prouder. This was only her 2nd time on the ice this winter, and she adjusted quickly to her new environment and shoes.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy 2013

Its been a whirlwind of a Christmas. I'm working on a video which I will post shortly, but in the meantime, Happy 2013 from Kayla and Lauren in their matching holiday attire. We wish you happiness, smiles and peace.

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