Our Family

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

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Autism Speaks

I received this link from a friend who knows some of what we go through with Ethan. Obviously his level of autism is extremely high functioning, however it is still there. I was finally able to watch the video...a warning...it may make you cry...it's just so beautiful.

Then I saw the very same link on another blog that I visit frequently, Danielle Bean. So, I figured I would post the link here as well, so that when you can spare a moment of your time, you can watch this beautiful video. It is an easy way to do something for children with autism.

The band Five for Fighting will donate 40 cents to children's autism research for each time this video is viewed online: What Kind of World Do You Want This is for real. Who knows whose life you could change in just a few minutes.

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Five Firsts

We've been going through some great...and not so great...changes here in the Ouellette family. My kiddos are all growing up so fast, it's hard to keep up with all the changes. So, here are a few of the most recent "firsts" for some of those changes...enjoy!

1. Rebekah is standing and cruising. She will stand right up in the middle of a room, and shake her little butt, with the biggest, proudest smile on her face. If she is holding onto furniture, or a wall, she'll cruise, but hasn't dared to step out on her own...although she isn't far away. You can see it in her face...she knows what is next, but can't quite figure out how to make her legs move like everyone else. At the rate she's going she will still beat our her brothers who were 15 mos. (Ethan) and 16 mos. (Joshua) old before they began to walk...slugs! :)

2. For the first time in months, Mike and I were able to sleep in our bed...by ourselves. Granted it only lasted until 1 am, but it's a start. I'm not complaining about Joshua being in our bed all these months, he's been a nice bed warmer on these cold nights!! However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep Ethan in his own bed, when he knows his brother is "allowed" to sleep with mommy and daddy. The words "it's not fair" keep ringing in the air, and I know it's just the beginning. Needless to say, we decided to take up on an offer of a crib mattress that was being given away by a friend, and place it on the floor between the bed and the wall in our room. It fits perfectly, and Josh was very excited about his little nest...until around 1 am, where in my groggyness I vaguely remember the words, "mommy, up, up, up, up, bed, bed, bed...pwwwease??" We'll see how tonight goes, but it's a great start in the right direction.

3. One word for you...THUNDERSTICKS. Yup! We "won" a bunch of them at Hannaford last week when we were trying to pick up a few things with all three kiddos. At least my hubby was there to witness first hand, why I don't take them grocery shopping anymore!! :) Anyway, they absolutely loved the idea of being allowed to beat these two sticks together to make an awesome noise. Of course, they figured out you could make similar, if not better, noises by beating the sticks on each other...but we knew that going in...and they are now only allowed to use them for 10 minutes at at time. Can we say over stimulation??

4. Joshua is discovering his imagination. He's never been a big fan of having anything on his feet, and the first time we tried putting these monster slippers on him, he screamed!! That's why it was so surprising when I turned around to see him strutting his stuff, with monster feet. The trick?? He put them on over his other slippers. That's the only thing I can think of. However, he thought it was great to stomp around the house, and growl...because that's what you do with monster feet...right??

And the best first ever...Ethan actually helped me make play dough!! He's never really been interested in "cooking" past the initial dumping one cup of something into a bowl...then he'd be done. He not only dumped into the bowl, but helped to measure out all of the dry ingredients. (We still won't let him near the stove!!) Anyhow, Ethan was the only one who ever really used play dough and that was before we were gluten free. But since we were diagnosed, we gave away or sold all of our play dough as well as the "tools" that go along with it. For those of you who don't know play dough is made with wheat flour, and even though most kids won't eat it, it gets under their finger nails, so that when they do eat something, or put their fingers in their mouths, they will then ingest it. So, I finally took the recipe and made it gluten free! Ethan couldn't wait to get his hands on it...Josh wanted nothing to do with getting his hands on it. He wouldn't touch it, until I gave him a spoon, which he then used to beat it, and scoop it up to move it around. We'll see how well it stores for, but I plan on making some green and blue as well.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

GI Checkups

It's hard to believe that another 8 weeks (well more than that due to snow storms and rescheduled appointments) has come and gone since their last medical checkup with Dr. Hofley. None-the-less it was a good day/bad day kind of appointment.

Joshua is doing awesome now. At his last check up he was at 22.5 lbs. but has jumped up to a whopping 24.03 lbs!! That's huge for him...generally he gains ounces to maybe A pound. Plus he grew a little more in height by almost an inch. We both believe it is largely due to the lack of dairy in his diet...to the point that she wants him 100% dairy free for at least the next month. We want to see if it further helps his sleeping issues, and diaper issues, as well as continue to add to the weight gain. He's had some really nasty, foul diapers which could be due to a number of things. We replaced his soy milk so that won't be the issue anymore, but he's still having enough dairy that although his asthma is at bay, it may still be enough to cause some digestive issues, or sleep issues. Not to mention that fact that he just survived yet another ear infection. In any case, we will do some blood work on Monday to check his CBC, zinc, TTg (celiac blood test) check for lead and Hep B. I guess some kiddos with digestive issues are having problems with their vaccines "sticking". We are also able to wean him off his Prevacid with hopes of weaning him off Zyrtec as well. It will be nice to continue to drop off some of the meds he's been on.

Ethan, not so good. He didn't gain any weight or grow any taller since his last visit. And for the first time ever, I had a small glimpse into what life may be like for people with low functioning autism. Throughout most of the appointment today, I had to restrain Ethan, full body, due to his yelling, hitting me, head butting, pushing his brother, and other extremely over stimulated activity. Even Dr. Hofley noted that he was much worse today than ever in the past. We've noticed more autistic behaviour in the past couple of weeks as well, rigidity, anxiety, lining up all of his vehicles in nice straight rows, (for those of you who know Ethan he's a rather destructive player, piling up toys so he can scoop and dump them...everywhere), and falling apart at the seams over a change in his schedule. Basically, all of the progress we had made over the past several months, falling apart in the past couple of weeks. Thank God, we have Dr. Hofley...she pointed out to this very exasperated mother that dairy may have a part in all of this. Ironically, Ethan has increased his dairy intake over the last couple of weeks. He's been eating at least 2 bowls of cereal with whole milk for breakfast, lots of cheese, and asking for a cup of milk with his dinner every night. We were psyched because he's NEVER been a big milk drinker and were happy that maybe he would really start some serious weight gain. Hehehe, no more. He will also be 100% dairy free for the next month. She wants to see if we notice any change, and if we don't we can participate in a double blind study she's been providing for families to determine if milk is really the issue with regards to behavior. Interestingly I mentioned that when we started Rebekah with yogurt we began to notice that she would cough repeatedly every time afterwards. Dr. Hofley wasn't surprised and said that since we now know that Joshua definitely has a problem with milk, it isn't out of the realm of possibilities that the other kiddos will have their own issues with it as well.

So, where is the silver lining in all of this?? Well, fortunately for us, most of our gluten free packaged foods happen to be dairy/casein free as well. The only problems we run into now are cheese and milk substitutes. A few of their favorite snacks like pirate booty, and their arrowroot cookies will have to go as they have a lot of milk ingredients. Our fall back lunch-on-the-go of cheese sticks wrapped in turkey/ham slices will also be a thing of the past. Plus, it's going to be real tough if not impossible to find any kind of substitute for mac and cheese...the "if all else fails we can make mac and cheese for all three kiddos" kind of meal. But, since we've been doing a mostly dairy free diet for Josh, we don't have to make too many changes. It just makes things that much tougher when we go somewhere. That whole "at least we can have the veggies, sour cream dip, and cheese slices" when we go to someones house has now become "mmm...veggies".

Monday, January 14, 2008

Growing Pains

It may be tough to see, but it was a little project we did this past Friday. I wanted to see how all of their hands compared to each other, and to "make their mark" in time so to speak. It is simply amazing how fast children grow...even the "slow growers" like my kiddos.

We have noticed a big difference in Joshua's growth since we cut out dairy. He is an eating machine now. I can't keep that kid full! He will have a waffle, and 2-3 bowls of cereal for breakfast now!! We stopped using soy milk, thankfully (I'm not a big fan of soy products) and have switched him over to almond milk. He still hasn't needed to use his nebulizer, but we've also noticed, due to his sudden interest in eating us out of house and home, he is putting on some weight at an astonishing rate. (Again, astonishing for my kids!) We will see just how much on Thursday at his GI check up, but he not only feels heavier, he looks a little chunkier!

He's even beginning to catch up in clothing sizes. He's around the 18-24 month mark in clothes, which is still smaller than his "age size" of 30 months...but much further ahead than before. Just last month he was still wearing 12-18 month pajamas!!

We're still having some bowel issues that his primary care doc. tells me is normal...but I can't see how having "blow through your clothes" diarrhea every other day, several times a day is normal...but hey, I'm just a mom! :) Needless to say, it is a question we'll be asking his GI on Thursday. It is one of the reasons we cut out the soy in his diet. It is known to cause diarrhea. He hasn't had soy milk for well over a week now, but still the bowel issues...we'll see.

In any case, my incredibly white, pizza faced, smiling boy is an amazing kiddo, and we are constantly astonished at the new things he is learning to do. His vocabulary has become quite impressive, although we still find it hard to understand what it is he's saying. He still has some sleeping issues, but at least we can put him to bed (in our bed) and still go downstairs and enjoy some adult time without him banging his head until it's black and blue or screaming so loud he could wake dogs in the next town over.

It makes us wonder what challenges Rebekah will bring to the table for us...hmmmm :

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Happy New Year to all of you! We welcome 2008 with great joy and excitement for whatever may come.

As I had mentioned before, we were waiting to decorate our tree until Christmas Eve. So, on Monday night, before we went to Mass, we decorated. The kids loved hanging the ornaments on the trees, and even Rebekah had her little hand in it. Granted it was mostly with UNdecorating the tree, but she was still participating.

Ethan really enjoyed seeing all of his ornaments. Being 5 years old, he has received one from us every year of his life. However, he also has some on the tree from his godparents, friends and relatives. He was quite content trying to hang them all in one place. He kept calling it "Ethan's branch". Good thing it's an artificial tree, otherwise it many not have held up under the weight!

Anyhow, we are now at the end of our Christmas celebration as today is the Epiphany of the Lord. We have been able to light our tree and enjoy it's beauty for the past 12 days, and even though I'm sad that we have to take it down, it's nice to be able to do a little winter cleaning.

Ethan is having a hard time with not only putting the tree away, but also with putting the advent wreath away. We've been using it up until last night, but with 4 white candles to help him understand that we've still been celebrating Christmas...that it isn't just one day. (We put away all of the decorations yesterday except for the tree, which will come down today after Mass) I think he enjoyed the lighting and blowing out of the candles more than the meaning behind them, but we hope to continue the tradition to instill in him the true meaning of the season.

"Epiphany Day itself commemorates the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem to worship the Messiah and bring Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:1-12). Since the earliest days of the church, these wise men have been considered to be representatives of all the peoples of the earth. By means of a miraculous star, God showed them that Jesus was born to be not only the King of the Jews, but the Lord and Savior of all nations." - www.stpaulskingsville.org/epiphany.htm

I have a hard time grasping a lot of the meanings of the season, and am still learning myself. It's been a blessing to have the opportunity to learn more about our Catholicism while homeschooling Ethan. Most children can grasp the unimaginable pretty easily, I think. However, someone with Asperger Syndrome may struggle with the abstract more than others, and instead can deal much better with the literal world. So, Mike and I have been trying to find ways to teach Ethan many abstracts in a literal fashion. It's a challenge to say the least, but it's so rewarding. For example we always say grace before our meal, but during these past 12 days we've been adding a prayer in celebration of Jesus birth. Even though our Advent wreath has been put away, Ethan still shouted out at the end of grace last night, "Rejoice, Jesus is born!"