Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thankful For

As Thanksgiving approaches, several people on Facebook have been making daily posts about things that they are thankful for. If you asked me what I am thankful for - there are so many things - but the biggest is my kids.

I really am a lucky girl to have 2 beautiful, healthy, and amazingly charismatic kids. Amidst all the daily chaos and craziness are so many sweet and happy moments.

This time last year I was sad that Joey and Carlee were not the best buddies that I had hoped for. Joey was still having a hard time adjusting to having a sister, but now their relationship is SO MUCH BETTER!! There are definite brother/sister moments, but the instances of "best buddy" behavior increases every week.

Yesterday they were both playing dolls together. It was super sweet. Joey was pulling his doll in a wagon and Carlee was pushing her doll in a stroller. Joey was in charge of the pretending, and Carlee was following right behind him as they took their dolls for walks and fed them their bottles. It's moments like those when I stop, smile, and thank God for the two of them.

Having healthy, typically developing kids is such and amazing blessing and something I am lucky not to take for granted. Because of the years I spent teaching children with autism, the learning that "just happens" and that most people take for granted is incredibly amazing to me. I am so very thankful for this perspective. Every time Joey models something that he saw - only once - in one of his elaborate play scenarios or Carlee walks in and spits out a brand new word I am truly amazed.

As I write this, I am thinking of a million other things that I am thankful for - but that would make for a very long blog. So to end, most of all, I am just thankful to have so many things to be thankful for.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


A few days ago, we started a simple token system for Joey. We are hoping that earning tokens toward a prize will help to manage some of his, let's call it - aggressive behavior - toward Carlee.

I took some data for about a week and determined that most of Joey's unwanted behavior toward Carlee - taking toys, pushing, pulling hair, tripping, etc. - occurs during times when I am not able to completely attend to them. So my options are to never cook dinner or fold a load of laundry, ignore the behavior and let him torture her, or try to change some of the behavior!

I chose the third option because the first 2 aren't working out so well for me!!

There are two parts to my system. First, trying to arrange situations where Joey is less likely to engage in unwanted behavior. (The behavior analyst just took over my mom voice for a sec!) For example, if I am going to be cooking dinner I can either let him watch TV, give him a project to do at the table so Carlee is free to roam and play, or let them him play out on the driveway because this tends to produce less unwanted behavior). Second, I am giving him tokens for playing nicely with Carlee. He also earns tokens for following directions because this brings about a lot of stress in my life too.

The deal with the tokens is that he has to earn 10 to get the prize. Right now, I want him to earn the 10 each day. Eventually we will space it out longer so he is not getting prizes every day!!

The "catch" for him is that if he hits or otherwise harms Carlee then he looses all of the tokens and has to start over again.

So day one was fabulous! He was SO SWEET all day! Day 2 was, um, not so good. He never had more than 3 tokens before he lost them all. So today, on Day 3, he is still working toward those Buzz Light Year PJ's from yesterday! And he has been doing pretty well today! No hitting so far, but definitely still trying to push her buttons some.

The funniest part of this whole thing is watching him try SO HARD to earn a token!! Here is a video of Joey and Carlee eating breakfast this morning so you can see how hard he tries! :)

Now, Carlee can certainly feed herself a bowl of cereal, but he pulled her over, took the bowl, prompted her to say "more" and then would feed her. After doing this for a few minutes he says - "Mommy, I'm being nice to Carlee!!"

Friday, October 14, 2011


Just a quick note to track Carlee's words so far - she is 16 months:

"Woof Woof" - for dog
"Eow" - for cat
"eh eh" - (quack quack) for duck
"eh-huh" - yes
"oosh" - shoes
"Eaes" - ears
"Be" - belly
"e e" - drink
"eehuuh" - out
"ee oo" -peek a boo
"uh uh" - up
"ta-oo" - Thank you
"iye" - bye
"inc inc" - binky
"eers" - cheers
"ing ing" - swing
"nooeh" - no

Aside from her many words, she likes to say "one minute," and/or "be right back" by putting one finger up to her nose. Then she waves goodbye, runs away, and comes back with a big smile on her face. It is her favorite game right now and it is SO CUTE!! Joey usually joins in and the two of them run around screeching in delight when they see each other around the corner.

She also goes over to her high chair to indicate that she is hungry, claps her hands and pats her legs whenever she hears music - the girl LOVES music, and hops up and down if you tell her to "hop." She is also trying to figure out how to run, but really it is just a fast walk right now.

She loves to hide in the cabinet where we keep the trash cans, and often throws her most treasured possession in there for safe keeping! I am constantly finding shoes and sippy cups in the trash can! :)

Oh, and she plays baseball with an upside down bat!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


It's been almost a week since we went to Disney and I think the kids are finally caught up on their sleep and we are back in a normal routine!!

I have posted a video showing the pictures of our trip. There are of course a lot of them but hopefully the music helps them to pass quickly!! I love taking their pictures at every moment to capture their excitement and remember every piece of the trip!!

The flight to Orlando was great and the kids were very happy. It helped that Joey and Carlee were separated that we had several adults and older kids (Julia) to help out!

We spent the afternoon on Thursday getting settled into the hotel and ordering pizza for dinner. On Friday we were all up early and out the door by 8 am. We loaded into the 15 passenger van and headed to the Magic Kingdom. The kids all had a blast!! Joey met Mickey Mouse and loved the Buzz Lightyear ride! Carlee's favorite was the Dumbo ride - although she liked watching it go around while we waited in line more than actually riding on the ride.

Saturday was Animal Kingdom which was fun for the kids as well! Joey went on a rapid rivers type ride and thought it was hysterical when the water splashed up on him. He also got to meet Pluto and Goofy (who he calls "hot diggedy dog"). Aside from all the neat animal excursions and rides, we also saw the Nemo Musical.

Both park days included a parade of characters at the end of the day which both kids loved watching. At the Animal Kingdom parade Carlee was clapping to the music and waving to all the characters!

Sunday we took it easy and went to church and the pool. Then that night we went to Downtown Disney and ate dinner at the T-Rex Cafe as well as walked around. The Lego store was Joey's favorite, and Carlee loved dancing to the music!

The trip was such a blast and we made SO MANY awesome memories! The best part about it was that we got to do it with Noni and Popi and the Sallusti crew! I love when we are all together with the family and Joey and Carlee get to hang out and bond with their cousins, whom they adore!

A big THANK YOU to Noni and Popi for the trip of a lifetime!!

I can't get my video to upload to the blog so you will have to follow the link below to see it:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Joey's First Day of Preschool

So the day for Joey and I to part finally came today! :) He had his first REAL day of preschool today. Last year we did a program called Creative Parenting, which was a one hour condensed preschool with your mom - but other than that Joey had never been to school. No mother's morning out, no gym daycare. Aside from the occasional babysitter - Joey and I have been stuck like glue for the past 3 years.

So needless to say - this was a big step for him. And me.

Given his history, I expected today to be very difficult, but he actually handled it very well. I was so proud of him!

He started off the morning by telling me that he didn't want to go because he would be scared and he would cry. But when the time came to get in the car he grabbed his "pack pack" and ran out excitedly.

When we got there, we waited outside on the benches for a while and chatted with other early birds. This is when he started to look nervous (as you can see in the pic below). Then they opened the doors and the mass chaos of drop off began.

The hallway is a little narrow and Joey's is one of the first classrooms, so all the other kids and parents were streaming past us in a mass of people. He couldn't get to the hooks in the hallway to hang his back pack up quickly, so by the time he did all of the other kids had gone in. And I would say about 80% of them were crying. So as soon as he hung up his bag and knew it was time to say goodbye the tears started.

I gave him his kiss and hug and launched him into his teacher's arms. Then the door was quickly closed behind him. I could hear his screams above everybody else. And like a naughty parent, I lingered in the hallway and waited until I didn't hear him screaming anymore. Then one of the teachers came out and asked me to leave. :) I told her who Joey was and she said that she had just had a conversation with him about snack and that he wasn't crying anymore.

So I left. With tears coming down my face.

By the time I got to the car I had pulled myself together and Carlee and I drove home. It was a very quiet ride!!

Of course I was early to pick him up so I spied on him on the playground. He wasn't crying but wasn't running around enthusiastically like some of the kids. I could tell he was a little out of sorts being alone so that made me tear up again.

When the door opened for him to leave he ran out and said "Mommy, I cried a little bit. Can I still have a lollipop?" I guess he wasn't too traumatized!!

Once home he told me the following things about school:
1) "I cried a little bit."
2) "I sat on the fish." (his spot on the animal rug)
3) "I ate goldfish for snack."
4) "I played with the trains."
5) "On the playground I rode a bike." - when I asked if he played on the boat (Noah's Ark) he replied "Yes! There is a tunnel underneath, but I didn't go under cause it looked scary."
6) When I said that he gets to go back on Thursday he said "No mommy, my teachers said I can't go to school annnnnymore!"

So it sounds like he had a good day, but I have a feeling there will be some more crying on Thursday. And possibly for the next few weeks. But I am happy that he recovered quickly and I know that although he is shy and reserved at first, once he gets comfortable he will be able to enjoy school and have a great time!

Here is his name on the door and a darling picture of him and Carlee hugging that melts my heart!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Joey and Carlee are really growing up. This sounds corny to say, but when you step back and realize how fast things go you wish you could freeze time. My friend recently had a baby and we were all at our usual Einstein Bagels get together with the kids. As I watched her juggle her son and her newborn, I felt like it was just yesterday that I was doing that. But it wasn't - that was 15 months ago!!! I can't even believe HOW FAST these past 15 months have gone. The kids have grown up in a blink!

Joey and Carlee both had check-ups on Friday. Here are there latest stats as well as what is going on in their lives.


Height: 38.5 inches
Weight: 31 pounds

Joey just had his 3rd birthday! Amazing! I can hardly even remember 3 years ago!! He is doing SO MUCH now - I can hardly keep up! He has the most amazing spirit. He is fun, silly, and crazy all the time! The kid likes to have a good time and make everyone laugh. He is ALWAYS on the move. As long as he has an activity to do, then he is fairly well behaved. But if I have to attend to something other than him and he isn't occupied - forget it!! He is still the needy boy he has been since he was born. Still really attached to me and still super jealous of Carlee's place in our lives.
Joey and Carlee definitely have their moments, but lately he has started to be very sweet to her as well. I think it is helping that she can walk and communicate more with him. They laugh at each other and make silly faces and noises with each other. Joey gives her a zillion treats and snacks, and even helped her eat her cereal the other day. The sweet, loving side of Joey is definitely there and definitely a huge part of him. Joey continues to be very smart and a constant sales man! He listens to everything people are saying even when you think he is not paying attention. He remembers the littlest details from long ago and can charm just about anybody. As tough as he is, he is a true joy to be around and constantly makes me laugh.
As his vocabulary is continuing to develop he is saying the funniest things. For example, the other day he told me "Mom, read the instructions and that might help you out." This was after I told him I couldn't put a new toy together until Carlee took her nap.
He is also smartly figuring out how to get things he wants by making things up. He will ask me for a snack and if I say no, he'll respond "but daddy already told me I could!" If I check with Chris, 80% of the time Joey never even asked him! He tries to negotiate EVERYTHING and will wear you down until you give in. Or if you don't give in - get ready for the fake cry!! :)

Joey is about to hit a big milestone in his life as he gets ready to start preschool. He is already telling me that he wants me to stay with him because "I will be scared and I will cry." I am hoping that the transition for him is not as rough as I think it will be. It is going to be a MAJOR step for him to go somewhere without me, but he is ready for school. His mind needs the new stimulation as he is starting to get bored at home.
Joey got a new bed for his birthday which we finally set up last night. I will post pictures of his big boy room soon. It looks amazing! Of course, I got tears in my eyes when he jumped in bed last night - he is so grown up now. :(
He also got a bike with training wheels for is birthday but he has not actually been given it yet! We have had so much going on that Chris and I have not had time to set it up yet!! Soon though, we will bring that out and have fun teaching him how to ride it!
Joey has only been three for a couple of weeks and already he is doing so much! This is going to be a big year for him and we are excited to continue to watch him grow!!

CARLEE - 15 months

Height: 32 inches (90%)
Weight: 22 pounds 5 ounces (50%)

Carlee also has had a big explosion. She is walking exclusively and chatting up a storm. Her communication and play skills amaze me! The things she can do at 15 months are so far ahead of where Joey was at this age. 2nd child or girl? I don't know -but likely a combination of both! She has several words and sings songs that to me are understandable by the inflection in her voice. She can tell you with accuracy if she wants something or not - "ye huh" and "no." If it is time to go somewhere and I tell her to get her shoes she walks over to the shoe basket, picks out a pair of her shoes (always a matching pair) and brings them me! Speaking of shoes, she LOVES shoes!! She is constantly playing in the shoe basket and taking shoes on and off. She also loves to wear bracelets and is basically always carrying around a doll. These "little girl" things melt my heart and I love that she is a princess.
She likes to sing songs and play peek-a-boo. She always wants to be outside and would give her left arm for 5 minutes on the swing! She has fabulous play skills - she stacks up to 7 blocks and then knocks them over with delight, she organizes and puts things away for fun, she gives her dolls hugs and sucks of her binky, and she likes to throw and chase balls. She can entertain herself for LONG periods of time (as long as she is not interrupted by an un-named big brother), is independent and confident.
She also is quite demanding and like any toddler prefers to have her way. She lets you know when she is not happy with a situation or wants something you are not giving her with an ear piercing yell.
Carlee is at that wonderful age where everything she does is cute, new, and exciting. She can basically do no wrong right now! :) She loves music so I am going to start her in a music class while Joey is at school on Tuesdays. I'm looking forward to doing an activity with just her and giving her some special time with mommy!

Here are a few recent pics of the two little gems in my life..

Joey being Joey


Longwood Gardens

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Remember When

I am constantly amazed by Joey's fabulous memory! It always takes me by surprise when he talks about some distant event that happened ~ I don't know why but I guess I just didn't think a two year old would remember some of the things he does. But apparently the younger you are the more space you have to hold all of the little details of your life.

So tonight at dinner, Joey and I were talking about a play date he and Carlee had today. While we were at his friends house, they had a piece of furniture delivered. So Joey says to me, "I played trains, I played light saver bad guys, Kyle's daddy made me a hot dog, I had a Popsicle, and the box came - just like when Daddy's new chair came!" I was floored. The "box" he is referring to is the furniture that was delivered and "Daddy's chair" is a recliner that was delivered for our living room almost 8 months ago. I guess the furniture delivery truck was really exciting and worth remembering!!

So then, as I am cleaning up dinner and he is having a Popsicle for dessert (yes, his 2nd of the day!) he asks if he can get down from his chair at the table. I tell him he has to eat his Popsicle at the table. He replies, "Mommy, member when Daddy let me eat my Popsicle and walk all around?" Yes, Joey - but tonight you still have to eat your Popsicle at the table!! :)