Our Family

Our Family
"These are the children God has graciously given to me. (us)" - Genesis 33:5

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Tripp Trapp

Here is Ethan doing what he does best at the table...making a mess. Sometimes the food actually gets into his mouth, which could explain why he is still under 30 lbs...but hey what do I know.

From day one, Ethan has never been the easiest child to feed. Nursing him proved to be more difficult than the emergency c-section I had to bring him into this world!

Since then, he has been known as my "full-body extreme eater". He doesn't seem to be concerned with how messy he gets while eating, and certainly doesn't notice where all of the food goes once he is covered with...ie: the chair, the table, the floor, anyone who comes within a 2 foot radius of his "go-go-gadget arms"! You get my drift.

Well, we had gone shopping with my sister on Saturday to look at baby cribs as her and her husband are expecting their first child in October. My parents were there as well, because they wanted to purchase the crib as their baby present to them. So, off to Tiny Tot Land in Manchester. A rather crowded store with more baby stuff than Babies R Us could ever hope to carry, just not as well organized! However, we stumbled, (almost literally) over this chair that they sell there. It's made by a company called Stokke, and it's called the ZinderZeat also known as the Tripp Trapp. I've seen this seat before and come to find out it's been around for 30 plus years, mostly in Europe where it was originally sold. The company changed the name from Tripp Trapp because they found that us silly Americans weren't as willing to buy a chair for our children with this name...not sure why (hee-hee)! Anyway, they changed it to the ZinderZeat. Now that has been widely accepted in this country they are changing the name back to the Tripp Trapp.

Sorry for the back ground on the company, but it was confusing at first when I noticed the same chair with two different names.

So, I asked Ethan's therapist about this chair as it is supposed to help align the spine which is better for digestion and comfort while eating. It also helps with the fidgety child. For those of you who have witnessed my child eating a meal at the table, fidgety doesn't begin to explain his table etiquette.

Anyway, these chairs don't come cheap and after much searching we found that the price was the same where ever we looked. So, off to Tiny Tot Land to let Ethan pick out his chair. I was tempted to give him the choices of natural colors to match the kitchen table, but decided that if we truly want him to use this chair and enjoy it, I should relinquish my choices and allow him to pick his color. As you can see from below, Fire Engine Red is most definitely not one I would have gone with, but he appears to enjoy it.

How has it worked so far? Well, although he is still messy when eating, so far we haven't had as many dropped spoons, and spilled bowls. We are hoping that maybe we can give him regular cups to drink with now that he isn't squiggling around so much. As you can see it has a 5-point harness on it. Many of you may look at it as a problem on a 3 1/2 year old, but again for those of you who know him...he's fast. He can reach across the table, and jump down from his seat with lightening speed. Hence the spilled cups of milk and the dumped bowls of food. I'm hoping that the harness will only need to be used for a short period of time until he gets used to sitting on the chair to finish a meal. That's the other difference. It now takes him less time to eat his meals. It would take him forever to eat because he was constantly rearranging his body at the table to get comfortable. Now, that he is comfortable, he eats at a normal speed, and finishes what's in front of him. Granted we've only had the chair for 24 hours, but if it is any indication of what we can expect for his behavior at future meals, I will strongly recommend this chair to anyone with a child who is antsy at the table, or who is on the smaller size for most high chairs, or booster chairs. The website gives you a ton of information and it is : www.stokke.com . Check it out. Happy eating!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Well, there are all kinds of brushing.

First we have the ever popular toothbrushing. With toddlers/preschoolers, it always becomes an olympic event. Very rarely do they hold still, remember to spit and not swallow, keep their curious tongues out of the way, and to look in our general direction so we can try to see what we are doing!

Second most popular would be hairbrushing. As most of you may have noticed in pictures, my children have buzz cuts. We have found it is a cheap, (I do them myself) and easy way to maintain cleanliness. Especially with my children. I've been known to call them "full body eaters". They really could be hosed down after each meal. Regardless of his lack of comb-able hair, Ethan does like to take my hair pick and try to brush his hair. I think he likes the feel of the pick against his skull!

Another favorite would be paintbrushing. Ethan would dip and paint with the little paint brushes all day long if I let him. Unfortunately, my house would then be all brown, (his favorite color so far) and the paper would be quite clean. He likes to express himself on other mediums, not just boring paper.

The form of brushing that I am now getting to isn't known by most people. It is used on children with SI Dysfunction as a way to give their muscles the input and stimulation they need, so that the child doesn't have to find another way to do it, which usually ends as a dysfunctional way.

We take a little surgical brush and every two hours we proceed to firmly press the bristles on Ethan's skin in an up and down motion, starting with his arm. While trying to continue to touch him we move to his back, and then to his other arm. From their we move down to one leg and then the other. If you start on skin then you need to do all skin. Otherwise you just go over the clothes, (as in long sleeve and pants). The process takes about 2-3 min. and 85% of the time, he absolutely loves it. After we've "brushed" him, we then follow up with compressions of his joints. We call them, "tens, or boom-booms" because when doing them we either count to ten while doing them, or say "boom-boom-boom" with each compression. Basically all you do is stablilize the joint on either side, for instance if your doing his wrist, you would hold his hand with one of your hands, and his forearm below the elbow with your other hand and compress the joint together about 10 times. Then you move up to the elbow, then the shoulder, then do the other arm, etc. Basically wherever there is a joint, you would want to do the compressions. Again this entire process only takes about 5 min. Or so from brushing to compressions.

So, how is it working?, you ask. Well, really well. We went to Maine this weekend to visit our friends who have 5 children...Age range 10-3months. Four boys and a girl. Needless to say, when we add in our active little guy, it becomes quite loud and active in the house. Generally fights break out in any situation such as these, but in the past it has usually been Ethan hitting, pushing, taking toys or items from the other kids, and just basically being a little....well you get the picture.

Not this weekend. Saturday we managed to remember to brush him every two hours, and despite the fact that he never napped nor did he ever have quiet time, he got along fantastically with everyone. We didn't have any incidents of hitting or any of his usual behavior. It was amazing.

Then came Sunday. Ethan had about 4-5 hours where the brushing just didn't happen, and it showed. At one point he took a piece of paper from his friend Henry who really wanted it back. Every time Henry tried to get it back, Ethan would run away from him. Henry tried asking nicely for it, Ethan just ran. Then, in an impulsive move Ethan crumpled the piece of paper into a ball right in front of Henry. Well, Henry was rightfully upset, and by the time I came in to intervene, (my hubby was out, and Joshua was being quite clingy) Ethan was in tantrum mode. I asked him to pick it up and apologize to Henry, he just kicked the paper. I told him to sit down in the chair, because he needed some time to cool off, and he took a swing at me. I picked him up to put him in the chair, and he just started hitting me, no matter what I tried to do.

While this was all happening, my friend Cheryl and I were chatting in the kitchen. As the scene played out, Cheryl looked at me and asked if he had been brushed lately. I looked at the clock and realized that he hadn't, and by the time we had the situation "under control", I knew the end result of this catastrophe was SI, not 3 yr. old behavior. What started out as a three yr. old game, ended in a SI meltdown.

So, I got him in the chair, and as I was brushing him, could see in his eyes that he was calming down, and could then listen to me. He just wasn't hearing me before, and when I touched him to get him into a seat he just reacted to his space being invaded. I could tell he felt bad, and didn't know quite what to do, so he went to Henry and apologized several times, even brought the paper back to him. After that, things went well again.

So, for those of you doubting Thomas' out there, who may believe that children shouldn't be labeled, and that those of us who do get our children treatment for SI Dysfunction may just be looking for something that isn't there, I say the proof is in the pudding...Ethan pudding that is. I don't put a patch on him that says "I have SI Dysfunction don't push my buttons". He just is. And if we can help him through it with "therapy" then so be it. Wouldn't you do whatever you had to do for the sake of your child's wellbeing too?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Yes, the wonderful world of boys. Rough and tumble, trucks and dirt, loud noises and lots and lots of active play. Now, that our youngest boy, Joshua is more mobile (very fast crawler) we are noticing a bond between the two boys form.

Ethan has become very protective of his brother. He's always watching out for him. He loves to hold on to him, and is always willing to "carry" (drag him by the neck) him out of harm's way! Usually out of the bathroom or off the porch since those are off limits to Josh.

The other side of that of course is how quickly the tables can turn. One moment playing as nice as can be, and the next Josh has tire marks on his forehead because he dared to touch a tractor that Ethan had no intention of using until he saw Joshua go for it. Ah, siblings. Being the oldest of three girls myself, I can remember such incidents, but it's different with girls and boys. There's no pause, whining, or trying to figure out the best revenge. It's swift and harsh, whap upside the head, or a toy tossed directly at the offender. Boys don't think on it and sneak up on you later. They deal with head on, at that moment.

Which brings me to my next topic. Hugs. Ethan as I've mentioned before is in therapy for SI Dysfunction. His therapy is once a week, but for the past two weeks due to vacations and other doctor's appt.s we haven't been able to go...until today. It was so nice to touch base with Jessica, his therapist, again and make sure that my sanity is still in check. (For those of you keeping track, my sanity is never in check, but hey it's worth a try:)

One of his senses, tactile, is very much a problem for him. It's difficult for him to sort out what kinds of touch he likes. He's a very affectionate child, with me, but when it comes to others invading his personal space...lookout! It's like a cat being attacked. He becomes very defensive and irrational, and will lash out at the offender like he's the worst enemy in the world. It's in fact called sensory defensiveness, and it's the only way he knows how to deal with the stimulation at that moment. He does it most often with his dad and his best friend.

Here's an example:

This is Ethan's bestest friend in the whole entire world! These two are inseperable, they've known each other since they were only a couple of months old. When they are together it's like a whirlwind of activity. Sometimes good other times not so much. Part of that is certainly just being boys. The other part is definitely from Ethan's inability to control himself.

Jamie is the best hugger in the world. He gives you a great big squeezy kind of hug, that lasts. Ethan can't take that kind of hug, most of the time. For him it needs to be on his time and under his conditions. As you can see in the picture, Jamie was able to sneak in a little arm wrap, but within seconds, Ethan was brushing it off. However, a little later, Ethan is the one trying to give Jamie the hug. Usually it's brief and not a hard squeeze.

So, I spoke to Jessica about this, and she suggested what Jamie's mom and I already established. (See sometimes we're pretty smart moms!!) That Jamie should ask Ethan if he can have a hug, and Ethan has the option of saying No Thankyou, or Yes, a quick hug. On the reverse side of that, Ethan also needs to ask Jamie too, because if he wants his space respected he needs to do the same thing. I know sounds like a whole lot of words for two little 3 1/2 yr. olds, but we've seen it work. Jamie asked Ethan if he could have a hug, and Ethan said No thankyou. About 2 minutes later Ethan asked Jamie for a quick hug, and they did. Jamie was excited to be able to hug his friend, and Ethan was happy that his space wasn't overly invaded. They were both smiling...success.

The good thing is it gives us some insight on to how Ethan interacts with Joshua sometimes. Josh is very snuggly and will crawl up to Ethan wanting to just be next to him, and Ethan will kick him or push him away. But if you give Ethan his space, he is the one going up to Josh and giving him love and affection.

So, now is when I tell you this is my life with boys. It's all I've known for 3 1/2 years, and it has been quite the learning curve. However, we had an ultrasound this past Friday, and found out that the little one we are expecting in January will be a little girl. We are so very excited. She will be a wonderful addition to our growing family. Mike and I can't keep the smiles off of our faces everytime we think about her.

Poor thing...she's in for it!! :) But hey, who knows, maybe she'll be the one to teach these boys a thing or two!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Kidney Beans

Ah yes, the magnificent kidney bean. Packed full of nutritious vitamins, minerals and what have you. But, did you know they aren't just to eat anymore?

That's right. They are also great fun to play in!

Well, at least 24 pounds of red kidney beans in a rather large rubbermaid container, anyway!

One of the fun things Ethan looks forward to doing at his therapy is of course play in the ball pit...really who wouldn't?...but his second favorite is the bucket o' kidney beans. So, we went and bought said bucket and said amount of kidney beans. Throw in a few toys and wahla, we have an instant bucket o' fun!

He is allowed to play in it only once a day right now, because otherwise he would spend all day in there. So, we usually give him about 20-30 min. a day to have at it in his "kitty beans" as he calls them. (That's pretty good considering he was calling them coffee beans.) From morning until night it is the question of the day..."Mommy can Ethan play in my kitty beans?" My answer, "okay honey how about after breakfast?" His response while eating his breakfast, "Mommy can Ethan play in the kitty beans?" My answer, "what did Mommy say just a few minutes ago?" His response while refusing to take his vitamins, "after breakfast".

A few precious minutes of silence...and then..."Mommy when can Ethan go in the kitty beans?"

So, this is my day. The good news though is it has added one more item in my list of toys and/or activities Ethan can lose when his behavior is unacceptable. It is one of the more effective ones for now.

Even better is the fact that Joshua gets a kick out of just watching his brother play in there. As you can see we gave Josh a few minutes of play time in the bucket and he absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, he is still in the "gotta put it in my mouth" phase and can't be trusted with the beans. So, for the most part he spends his time growling and screeching at his brother to make more noise with the toys and the beans from the sidelines. He's so supportive! :) He doesn't mind so far, and until he stops trying to eat the beans, he won't be allowed to play in them for a little while.

What is the point of this bucket full of beans? Well, it helps Ethan with his tactile sense mostly. Right now, Ethan is very particular about where the beans are. For instance, he doesn't mind his hands touching them, or even his feet, but he doesn't like his legs buried, or his clothes covered. He stands up every few minutes to dust them off of him. He loves to pour them from container to container, but doesn't do much else. We try to encourage him to look for buried animals, dinosaurs etc. We have cars and things to try pushing through the beans with. It's a developmental thing that we have to work on, that's also fun for him. So, he has no idea that we are trying to teach him, which is nice.

There are many more activities that we can do with Ethan and as his therapy continues we'll be able to adjust his play time to what he's enjoying and learning the best from. Unfortunately we don't' see Jessica until the 15th due to vacations and schedules. However, we've already seen improvement in the way he plays in the beans, he now lets us pour them over his head...occasionally. :) Hey, it's a start!