"Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it."
~ Swedish Proverb, from Dr. Robert Melillo's book, "Reconnected Kids"

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A slightly slower pace...

So I've taken Dr. Pete's advice from last week to heart, and we've slowed down quite a bit, with great result. I've officially downgraded "Hurricane Aidan" to a Tropical Storm! We have still had a few hairy moments, but on the whole, he is much calmer and a LOT less intense. Thanks again, Dr. Pete! You ROCK!

Aidan has also had a great week at Brain Balance, earning three rewards out of four days! He is working SO hard, and I am so proud of his efforts. His first star came on Monday, and he earned a trip to the treasure box too! (He starts each session with 6 stickers, losing stickers for misbehavior or non-compliance. When he earns 20 stickers, he gets to go to the treasure box. He has done a GREAT job lately of keeping most, if not all, of his stickers each session!) Afterwards, we met up with Alana and the little boys at PLAY place for some fun!
IMG_0668.jpg


Tuesday, we picked up Alana and headed into Atlanta to the Children's Museum. The boys LOVE the museum, and we always have so much fun. The boys seem to discover something new almost every time we visit - this time, Aeson played with these very cool spinning magnets for quite a while!
IMG_0672.jpg

There was a special treat at the museum this week as well - TRAINS! There was an interactive and super cool train exhibit there, with tons of buttons that the kids could push to turn on lights, make planes fly around, and make all sorts of things move or spin within the display. They LOVED it!
IMG_0673.jpg
IMG_0674.jpg
IMG_0678.jpg


Wednesday, I had to take my van to the Volkswagen Dealership to have one of the sliding doors repaired. I realized at the dealership that I'd left my driver's license home in Savannah (BIG oops), and so getting a loaner car for the day was going to be a problem. Thankfully, Grandma Jean and Ange saved the day, locating my license and faxing a copy to the dealership for me (Thanks ladies, you are the BEST!) Instead of being at the dealership for 30 minutes, we were there for an hour and a half...Grrrr! Swapping out the car seats was quite a challenge, but a friendly VW employee entertained the monkeys on the bench while I did the grunt work. Going from my nice and spacious van to a Jetta for the day was no picnic - the kids could all reach each other and were intent on driving one another crazy, but we managed. Aidan earned another reward at Brain Balance, this time an apple, while Alana played with the little boys at PLAY place.
IMG_0679.jpg

Later that afternoon, Alana and Aunt Kris kept the little boys while Aidan and I returned the Jetta and retrieved the van. All fixed - even got the oil changed too...;) The great car seat swap was MUCH easier with only one monkey in the car - thanks Alana and Aunt Kris! Afterwards, we stopped at Yogli Mogli for a well-deserved treat!
IMG_0689.jpg

It was too late to swim at the pool, so the boys settled for a bubble bath in Gogi's tub!
IMG_0694.jpg

We had an awesome surprise for Aidan waiting in our mailbox when we got home - a sweet note from our neighbor, Lydia! Lydia is Aidan's girlfriend, and he misses her so very much - he was super excited to get his letter!
IMG_0684.jpg

He even made me photograph and save the envelope. Lydia wrote "Miss You" on the back, and put cute cat and dog stickers all over it! SO sweet!
IMG_0686.jpg

Aidan came inside with her letter, and immediately pulled out paper and markers to write her a note back. I was trying to get everyone ready for bed, and suggested he write her back the next morning. His response? "Mom, I can't do ANYTHING until I write Lydia back." Choosing not to pick this battle, I agreed to 10 minutes while I changed the little boys and got them ready for bed. Exactly ten minutes later, we were putting the finishing touches on the envelope - I DID have to put my foot down about not taking him directly to the mailbox to mail his letter. He finally agreed that first thing in the morning was fair - our postman doesn't come until after lunch time anyway! Look at what a great job he did, all by himself!
IMG_0685.jpg


Thursday was our last day with Alana for a whole week (she's at the beach right now with her folks for a well-deserved vacation!) She and the little boys played at PLAY place while Aidan had his session at Brain Balance. Afterwards, we joined them at PLAY place, and everyone had tons of fun jumping into the foam pit! Even Ash got in on the action!

We had another surprise waiting in our mailbox that afternoon - packages for the boys from Uncle Skip, Aunt Pamela, Colleen and Daniel! The boys ripped into their packages too quickly for me to get a "before" picture, but here they are with their new treasures! Thanks Uncle Skip, Aunt Pamela, Colleen and Daniel! ;)
IMG_0706.jpg
IMG_0708.jpg
IMG_0707.jpg

Later that afternoon, we went swimming with Alana and her friend Miranda (the "cousin stealer"), and everyone had fun! Look at how well Aidan is swimming now - he is getting better and more confident every single day!

That night, Alana and Miranda kept the sleeping monkeys and Gogi and I headed to the Dixie Tavern to hear Southern Ground Recording Artist Levi Lowrey play. It was awesome! After the show, Levi signed a CD for Aidan - he remembered meeting Aidan at a BBQ festival back in April, and asked how he was doing with Brain Balance! He was even sweet enough to say "hello" to my little man on video! Thanks Levi - you made his day!

Levi has a facebook fan page, a website (www.levilowrey.com), and an awesome new album called "I confess I was a fool" available on itunes. Please check him out!

Today, the little boys went to the Care Room at play (kind of like a Mother's Morning Out) which they love, and Aidan and I headed to Brain Balance. (We miss you, Alana and Gogi - hope you're having a blast!) I had a very informative meeting with Summer, the behavioral specialist at Brain Balance, while Aidan earned yet another star for the Brain Balance wall AND another trip to the treasure box! (I will give you all the details of my meeting with Summer next time - we are working on a system for home to target and eliminate some of Aidan's behaviors. I think it is going to help a lot, and I can't wait to get started!)
We counted all of Aidan's rewards on the wall today - he has ELEVEN! We put them all in a row for a photo, and he took the photo himself!
IMG_0721.jpg
IMG_0724.jpg

We took a dip in the pool here at our condo after dinner! I thought this was a funky and cool photo of Aidan!
IMG_0715.jpg

We even packed up and decorated a little surprise for Daddy - fingers crossed we can get it in the mail very soon! We miss you, Daddy!
IMG_0728.jpg


And finally, I told you all about Aidan's recent Bon Jovi addiction. Well, here's proof! Enjoy the belly laugh!


Much love,

Allie









Monday, July 25, 2011

A few random notes and thoughts...

"I feel the change going on all around me. It's strange, how I'm taken and guided where I end up right where I needed to be" ~ Zac Brown Band

We returned to Atlanta tonight from our whirlwind weekend in Savannah, and I am feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. It is amazing what a little quality time with the people that you love most can do for the spirit. Throw in some sunshine, a little sand between the toes, and a proud little man having the time of his life learning to surf, and it would be hard NOT to be happy!

We had a great dinner tonight with Aunt Gogi, Uncle Bill, Aunt Kris and Alana, and even got to swim for almost an hour! The monkeys are all sleeping like little angels, and I've completely unpacked and put away everything from our trip (definitely a first, I think!) I thought I would take a few minutes to update everyone on some things that I learned last week, and some positive and different things I have noticed recently with Aidan. This post may be a little scattered, so please bear with me!

First of all, I have added a couple of things to the blog that you may not have noticed. You can now post comments anonymously, without having to sign in to Google or any other profile. I have gotten a few emails and voice mails from friends and family expressing difficulty in commenting on the blog directly. For some reason, the "anonymous" feature was not turned on in my settings, but it's all fixed now. You can now just choose "anonymous" from the profile list and post away - we love reading the comments! Feel free to add your name at the end, if you'd like, as it will post as "anonymous" on the blog.

Second, I added a link to the Change Your Brain Foundation's website, and a few words describing this worthy cause and why I support it. If you haven't already, please scroll down and take a look.

Finally, I added links to two other blogs by fellow Brain Balance moms that I have met here in Atlanta. All of our kids are different, but Brain Balance is truly helping us all in so many ways. Check them out!

Ok, so back to Aidan...I met with Dr. Pete on Thursday of last week, mainly to discuss Hurricane Aidan! If you read my earlier "Hurricane" blog post, then you know that we had a really rough week and a half or so, behaviorally speaking. Aidan really was all over the place - intensely emotional, extremely angry and aggressive, very hyperactive, rude and disrespectful, and very blatantly not listening or following directions. All of this I have seen before (though not usually all at once, or nearly this intensely!) But he was also lying left and right, and being extremely manipulative where his little brothers were concerned, constantly trying to get them to do things they shouldn't. Frustrating, to say the least. As always, Dr. Pete had some answers for me, and some very helpful suggestions. Aidan is making great progress in the Brain Balance program, and very quickly. The behaviors I have been seeing are a necessary part of the process, and often the quicker a child moves through the stages of the program, the more intense the behaviors can be. Really targeting the right hemisphere and improving its function and connectivity with the left hemisphere is hard work on the body and uses lots of energy. At the same time, we had an extremely busy week and half, touring Atlanta with our City Passes. HE'S TIRED! And the more fatigued he becomes, the more intense his behaviors will become as well. We need to get back to our "regular" routine of something fun in the morning, Brain Balance, some down time at home, and maybe swimming in the evening. And he needs more fuel (read - food, particularly protein) more frequently throughout the day, and lots of water to help battle the heat. Hydration, fuel, and REST! (We put this new plan into place that day, and I noticed an immediate change - things were MUCH less intense and quite a bit calmer.) With regards to the lying and manipulating behaviors, seeing these behaviors is actually cause for high 5's at Brain Balance. Why, you ask? Well, lying and manipulation are actually extremely complex brain processes, governed by the right brain! If you think about what goes into these behaviors - knowledge that you've done something wrong, awareness of the consequence, and planning a way around the consequence (or setting someone else up to take the fall) - it requires a high level of brain function to lie and manipulate. The fact that Aidan is now capable of these more complex brain processes is great news! Now, I still have to deal with the behaviors as they arise, and there must be consequences. I MUST remain calm, cool, and consistent! (I'll be meeting with the behavior specialist sometime this week to devise a system to target and eliminate some problem behaviors.)

All in all, a very helpful and informative meeting - Thanks Dr. Pete! And while I was meeting with Dr. Pete, Aidan was working hard with Ms. jennifer and earning another star for the Brain Balance wall!
IMG_0584.jpg

Afterwards, we headed across the street to PLAY place for a while, and the boys had great fun monkeying around!
IMG_0589.jpg

I even managed to get all three of them in one shot! And so what if only one kid is looking my way...;)
IMG_0594.jpg

And after that, a treat at Yogli Mogli, our favorite hangout spot! At the rate Aidan is earning his rewards, I'm gonna need a bigger sorbet budget!
IMG_0596.jpg


That night, thunderstorms kept us out of the pool, so we brought out "The Box" and the boys made art projects!
IMG_0597.jpg

Aidan's focus and attention to detail is really improving. These were the flowers that I made to show them what to do.
IMG_0605.jpg

And here are Aidan's - with NO help from Mom! See what a great job he did!
IMG_0606.jpg

Ace and Ash made a flower too - can you tell which kid made which flower? ;)
IMG_0607.jpg


Aidan's drawing skills are improving by leaps and bounds as well. These are from less than a month ago.
IMG_0598.jpg

Now look at these from last week. I was especially floored by the cat drawing - he has never even attempted to draw an animal before, saying it's "too hard." He drew this in about two minutes, and I don't even think he was copying anything! Amazing!
IMG_0600.jpg


Another thing that I have noticed recently is that Aidan is extremely aware of his surroundings. The kid is becoming a human GPS right before my very eyes! He can navigate every turn (there are 5) between the condo and Aunt Gloria's house without missing a beat. And he is almost never wrong in telling me which direction to turn. He has learned where places we frequent are located, and even which side of the street they are on! When we get on GA 400, he'll say "it looks like we're heading into the city, Mom" and again, he's usually right. The boys LOVE driving on GA 400, because you have to stop and pay the "troll." Sometimes I correct them, but usually I just relish the giggle it gives me! Just last week, I got a fast pass for my car, so I don't have to stop each time and pay the "troll." The first time we used the fast pass, Aeson started yelling "STOP Mama! You forgot your quarters for the troll!" It was hysterical! It took me a full 5 minutes to assure him that I DID pay the troll, er toll, and I'm not really sure he was convinced!

Aidan has always loved music, and has constantly amazed me with his ability to learn song lyrics and sing melodies. We are HUGE Zac Brown Band fans, and tend to listen to a playlist I've made with lots of ZBB, Levi Lowrey, Sonia Leigh, and Nic Cowan (other Southern Ground artists we love), and he sings his little heart out in the car (he is SO my child!) He loves the Dave Matthews Band (again, my child) and frequently asks to throw a little Dave into the mix. Lately, he's been asking me to play the theme song from the Deadliest Catch all the time - Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive." Usually, I play the song, and then we go back to what we were listening to before. But on Friday, I played his song and everyone was in the mood for something different, so I let the whole album play. And I think we might have a SERIOUS Bon Jovi fan on our hands now! His new favorite song is "You Give Love a Bad Name" and all weekend long he has randomly busted out at full volume with "Shot through the heart and you're to blame, you give love a bad name!" He REALLY is my child! Oh baby, Mama's got some music to teach you! 80's and 90's hair bands? Yes, please! I may have a little rockstar on my hands, and I am loving it!

Much love,

Allie

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What a great day at Tybee!

"Gonna put the world away for a minute, pretend I don't live in it. The sunshine's gonna wash my blues away" ~ Zac Brown Band

We had the BEST day today, and I just couldn't wait to share the details! (Especially after my last blog post.) We are in Savannah for the weekend, and I found out that the Surfers For Autism had an event planned today at Tybee. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but we were very excited to participate. It turned out to be a whole lot more fun than I could have imagined, complete with friends and family, sand and surf, food, music, and lots of amazing kids having the time of their lives!

Surfers For Autism is a non-profit organization that travels to different beaches on the east coast, providing children on the autism spectrum and their families a fun day of surfing and other activities at no cost. The food was great, the volunteers were amazing, and the kids had an absolute blast!

Alana and I arrived around 11 am with Aidan, and met up with the Spencer clan! (So great to see y'all today!) Kim showed us the ropes, and we got Aidan all signed in and registered. Luckily, his group got to surf almost immediately. Waiting in line to get his board and coach was pure torture!
IMG_0614.jpg

Finally, he had his coach and his board. Before they hit the water, it was time for a quick rundown of the basics.
IMG_0615.jpg
IMG_0616.jpg

And into the water they went!
IMG_0617.jpg

Look at Aidan GO!
IMG_0621.jpg

As soon as he hit the beach, Aidan was ready to turn around and go right back out! And Alana was right there to help him. (I think she enjoyed herself today, too!)
IMG_0622.jpg

When his group's surf time was up, Aidan was one of the very last surfers out of the water!
IMG_0628.jpg


During the break, we grabbed lunch and Papa and Uncle Kyle showed up with a surfboard for the boys! Ange, Mimi, and the little boys weren't too far behind them. Everyone played in the water and dug in the sand. Aeson even wanted in on the surfing action.
IMG_0632.jpg

Look at that grin!
IMG_0633.jpg


Round 2 of surfing was TONS of fun! The amazing Dan Spencer was Aidan's coach this time, and my boy was ready to SURF! Coach Dan very quickly helped Aidan try to get up on his knees on the surf board.
IMG_0635.jpg

He rode all the way in on his knees! Look at how proud Aidan and Coach Dan are!
IMG_0637.jpg

Such a pro!
IMG_0638.jpg
IMG_0639.jpg

And then, HE DID IT! He got his feet on the board and stood up!
IMG_0641.jpg

And of course, there's a video too!

Thanks Coach Dan! Aidan had such a blast learning to surf!
IMG_0651.jpg


After his session was over, Aidan was nowhere near ready to hang up the surf board. So he and Uncle Kyle moved down the beach a bit and surfed some more! (The little boys, however, were tuckered out and headed home with Ange - Thanks Nanny!)
IMG_0654.jpg
IMG_0653.jpg

Of course, there is video of this too!

Aidan has talked about his day of surfing non-stop since we left the beach. He now wants a surf board of his own and surfing lessons. Uh-oh! Any takers? ;)

What a SUPER day! Here's hoping that the Surfers For Autism make this an annual event for Tybee! The boys had a blast and were totally worn out! I got WAY too much sun, and am beat myself. Long drive tomorrow back to the ATL, so I'm off to bed!

Much love,

Allie


There was an error in this gadget

The Brain Balance Motto

We Believe that Within Every Child Resides...

The Body of an Olympic Athelete...
The Brain of a Scientist...
The Mind of a Poet...
The Hands of an Artist...
The Ear of a Composer...
The Heart of a Saint...

NEVER Stop Believing That Your Child Has Unlimited Potential!