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Monday, June 30, 2014

A Cartoon Illustration of the Logic of "Wait & See."

For years, parents have gone to their pediatricians and family physicians to express concerns about their child's development.  And for years, doctors across the nation have told concerned parents that they should, "wait and see" before seeking further evaluation for children who are showing delays.

I could drone on forever about the different reasons why this is C-R-A-Z-Y, but instead I took the liberty of drawing a few cartoons to demonstrate my feelings on the matter:

A doctor saying:
Is about as smart as any or all of the following: 

I'm pretty passionate about the matter because we have seen first hand the massive difference early treatment makes.  As most of you know, my son Craig started speech therapy at 18 months, intensive floortime at 28 months, and 24 hours a week of ABA therapy a few months before his 3rd birthday.  

For those of you wondering, no, this wasn't easy: we had to rearrange our lives to accommodate therapy schedules, move states, and spend thousands upon thousands of dollars in co-pays.  All that being said, I'm NOT complaining. 

In fact, I'm very pleased to announce that just last week Craig's therapist informed me that, due to his continued progress thanks to early intervention, they are ready to start the process of slowly phasing his therapy program out.  

In simplest terms, thanks to early treatment Craig has caught up, his therapy will be ending soon, and will he will now grow up to be an independent adult. 

Now, as irreverent as my illustrations are, Autism Speaks has a great video that essentially sums up what was Craig's future will likely be due to his doctor refusing to "wait and see."  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Becoming Homeowners




On June 2nd, Bob and I became homeowners for the very first time.  Those who know us well (or just read our blog regularly) know that this is....

1 - Our first place with a yard
2 - Our first place with multiple floors 
3 - Our first place that is 100% totally above ground

Needless to say, we're really excited (enough so to take a super corny picture at the final walkthrough):
Immediately after signing the papers at a title company (that apparently also supplies reading glasses), we set about ripping out the old carpet, installing new flooring, re-painting, removing/repainting baseboards, replacing outlets with tamper resistant ones, building frames for mirrors, and so on.  
Because I'm incredibly stubborn and my parents instilled a strict "you do all housework yourself no matter what" kind of attitude in me, the only professional we hired the whole process was an electrician when an outlet happen to have one too many contradictions.  For those who speak, "home improvement," it was a split GFCI outlet, without a GFCI receptacle, with 6 non-standard colored wires, including a gold non-grounding wire.  Yeah, don't act like you're not impressed. 

Thankfully, Craig was more than happy to help with the simpler things.  My parents came to help too... but my mom and dad don't look quite as cute as Craig when painting...so I don't have any photos of them to share.  
Of course, Craig did need to take frequent breaks.  His favorite was napping on the hammock while under a cardboard box.  
Right after we made the offer on the townhome, I told Bob, "You know...the first thing I'm going to buy is a hammock."  Of course, two days later, this little number went on sale.  Taking it as a sign, I bought the hammock and it sat in our car from that day until the day we closed...because we didn't have a place to put it in our apartment. 
Naturally, doing all these upgrades meant that our car constantly looked like a Home Depot for the past month...
Yes, that is flagstone in the back of my car.  Yes, I did take my super tiny car to a quarry to buy it.  Yes, I did get a lot of strange looks from the guys in super-sized trucks. 
It also meant that I got the chance to use a table saw.  That, in turn, meant that I had the chance to see how quickly a piece of wood can become a bullet on a table saw.  Thankfully, our bed is VERY strategically place.  

Now, after all that time, energy, and work, I have a lot of really awesome before and after photos to show off. 

So, drum roll please!!!!

Craig's Room Before:
 Craig's Room After:

 Bob's and my room before:
 Bob's and my room after:



 Upstairs bathroom before:
 Upstairs bathroom after:
I'm still not in love with what I did to the cabinets, but I'm going to make myself live with it for a while
Living room before: 
 Living room after:
Note the new grout around the fireplace, childproofed stairs, new outlets, added shelves,  wall anchored future...yeah...I really went all out. 
I am still trying to figure out what floor covering we can use on floating stairs....there aren't that many options.
 Kitchen before:
 Kitchen after:
Yeah, it's a small kitchen.  However, my stance on life is summed up on the sign in the window which reads, "I only have a kitchen because one came with the house." So, a large kitchen isn't exactly at the top of my list.
After watching us draw guide lines on the flooring, Craig took it upon himself to "help out" by drawing on our kitchen cabinets.  On the bright side, those are really good circles. 
And this is the downstairs bathroom.  I only show this picture so you can see the color of paint that was everywhere before.  While I don't mind it in a small bathroom, I wasn't a fan of it everywhere (my apologies to those who picked the color).
One of my favorite changes is the entryway (sorry, no before picture here).  It's kind of small area, so I added more floor space through transforming a closet into a cubby by removing the doors, taking out the hardware, adding some shelves, putting in some hooks, and painting the inside. Ta-da!
 
 Again, I don't have a before picture, but here is our backyard now.  We tore out all the patchy grass/weeds and put in mulch and flagstones.  Besides being a ton of work and requiring a lot of water, I have a significant skin allergy to grass....so it just didn't make sense for us.
Because we're total dorks, we even put a weeping angel in the backyard (yeah....it's a thing that you'll get or you won't). 
 Here is another shot of the yard and....our new dog COOKIE (yes Aunt Tammy, I stole your dog's name...it's just an awesome name).  I tried to get a better shot, but he just wouldn't hold still.  Cookie is a 57 pound, lap-dog, brindle boxer, who we're guessing is about 4 years old.
 While Craig LOVES LOVES LOVES his new dog, our cat HATES HATES HATES him.  She is constantly looking over her shoulder.
There really isn't any need for this however...Cookie is dead-set terrified of Nacho (notice him running away in terror when Nacho just looks his way)
We're really working hard to help the two get used to one another.  I know they can be friends once Nacho realized that Cookie isn't here to eat, maim, or terrorize her.  

The past month has been the busiest I've EVER had, but we've taken it in stride, laughed at our mistakes, and goofed off with some friends....like when Bob and a family friend put Craig's giant moose in the front seat of the moving van...
 
Now that most of the work is finished (I still have 2 week, 1 month, 3 month, and 6 month project lists I'm working my way down), we get to enjoy our new home!  

Besides fully above ground windows, more than one toilet, and a tornado shelter (otherwise known as a crawlspace), our apartment has a lot of other great things too: quite neighbors, tons of storage, more square footage than we've ever had, an awesome stone fireplace (for the girl who has always dreamt of living in a log cabin) and fantastic natural lighting:

Monday, June 2, 2014

Happiest Place on Earth

Most people think that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth.  These people have clearly never been to IKEA.

Living proof that Craig is my son comes through our shared love of the blue and yellow store.  While there, he'll run up to random strangers to proclaim his excitement at just being in the building.  Yesterday morning, Craig enthusiastically drew a picture of Ikea (yeah, he came up with this idea on his own).
While Craig doesn't understand that IKEA clearly holds the best collection of home decorations on the planet, he does love the large elevators, escalators, travelators, ice cream, and adjacent airport.  It literally contains everything he could dream of (except motorcycles).

While in Salt Lake, we had an IKEA just minutes down the road.  Now, it's a 3 hour round trip.  Despite this, we still visit about once a month.  Why they won't build an IKEA closer to us exclusively for our family is just well beyond me....

On the flip side, the bane of my existence is a closed Ultimate Electronics store in north Denver.  The building is painted exactly the same as IKEA.  So, naturally, Craig always thinks it is an IKEA...it causes a lot of problems.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Moving Up In the World....Literally

Seven years ago my husband and I got married in Logan, Utah.  However, since (much to my dismay) I can't predict upcoming events (those crystal balls on Amazon.com don't work after all), we didn't know what our future would hold.  I can tell you that we certainly didn't think that we would spend the next 2,555 days living underground.

Oh yeah, that's right, Bob and I have never lived in a fully above ground apartment.  Ok, so that's not technically true since our very first apartment was on the 2nd floor.  However, seeing as how that apartment ended up being contaminated with meth, we were only there a week; so I don't think that counts. 

Don't get me wrong, I've loved all our homes and miss them.  While each one was very technically a "hole in the ground," the metaphorical sense didn't apply (with the exception of the meth apartment obviously).

That being said, I literally screamed with delight when I drove by this yesterday!
SOLD!
In less than a week, Bob and I will sign the closing papers and we will own a townhome.  Not to brag too much, but we're getting a fenced yard with a deck and everything!

After we sign the papers, we'll be undertaking the massive task of repainting and replacing all the flooring.  Before and after photos will follow shortly; be prepared to gasp as you marvel at my decorating ability (seriously, I already have a detailed and measured diagram of the living room mapping out where each and every piece of furniture will go).

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

First Full Year of Preschool

Yesterday Craig completed his first full year of preschool.  Of course, he finished in his typical goofy-fashion by break-dancing during a slideshow rather than sitting still like the rest of his class...
...and while Craig refuses to sing along with cutesy songs like the tiny turtle named Tim, he is SUPER serious about his letter sounds.  In fact, despite being the youngest in his class (which contains two age groups), he is one of the most advanced (yeah...I just had to get that little brag in there). 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Determination, Independence, and Creativity

Lately Craig has become much more independent.  While some mothers cling to the days of a crawling baby who will cuddle for endless hours, I'm not one of those people (maybe because Craig would never cuddle to begin with).  Instead, I take pictures of Craig's naughtiness.  I'm sure that this only rewards his bad behavior, but I'm willing to risk that to document his pure awesomeness.

Recently Craig has...

1 - Used any means necessary to get a soda
Trust me when I say, "ANY means necessary."  On a regular basis, Craig will go to the fridge, bring me a soda, and ask, "Mom?  Do you want a soda?" as he hands it to me.  This isn't exactly out of his love for me; he simply can't open a soda himself.  So, he plays the long game: Craig knows that I NEVER turn down a soda.  He also knows that eventually, I'll have to put that soda down.  When that happens, Craig will create a distraction and then guzzle as much soda as he can.

When this standard plan fails, Craig will find other means....like....stealing a random one from someone who isn't looking.  Oh yeah, this does actually happen.  Yesterday while shopping at a local craft fair, I found it necessary to walk to to a booth owner and say, "I'm so so sorry, but my son (who is just getting over the stomach flu) just drank your soda."  She was very sweet about it, but I still bought a few things from her to make up for it.

2 - Discovered a fascination with household appliances
Craig loves to use our handheld vacuum to help clean up Nacho's spilt cat litter.  I'm actually pretty excited about it (one less chore for me).
However, I'm less excited about Craig's new love to put metal in the microwave....

3 - Discovered how a number of things work
Like, learning how to open an umbrella while I'm driving
or....
How to pull the mattress off his bed when he should be napping.  Apparently, that wasn't quite enough entertainment for Craig however; he still found it necessary remove the fitted sheet and tear apart his waterproof mattress cover.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Don't let my son's AWESOMENESS disrupt your lunch

While sitting at the Costco food court I was watching Craig drink his "soda" (lemonade from the soda fountain) and regretting buying Costco's not-so-new-and-improved sushi (trust me - it's not nearly as good as the old stuff), a pretty awesome miracle happened: Craig hugged me!  I even have photographic proof:
He wasn't sick, tired, scared, or trying to get out of trouble; he just wanted to show me affection and chose to do so.  This doesn't happen...well...EVER!  


Prior to intervention, Craig never sought comfort from us...ever.  He didn't calm down after scraping his knee if we held him, he didn't seek affection when he had the stomach flu, and he most certainly didn't just sit and cuddle during family movie time.  Honestly, Bob and I thought that we weren't "effective" parents and that if we knew how to comfort him the "right" way, our son would like it when we hugged him. 

Fast forward a few years later....now Craig regularly shows us affection and seeks us out when he's hurt, scared, or excited.  Yesterday he even asked my help to "pick nose."  By that he actually meant, "Please remove the popcorn kernel that I somehow got stuck up there cause it HURTS!" 
Mission Accomplished!
But possibly better than that, Craig will purposefully engage in behaviors to make us smile.  Like inventing a crazy dance at Costco while those around us are eating lunch and pretending not to notice us....
...or, in standard 4-year-old fashion, Craig will engage in carefully planned comic behaviors thinking it will get him out of trouble...like when he balances a half eaten flavored marshmallow bunny on his head after hitting the wall with his Hammer of Thor...