It's early here and everyone is still asleep. I decided to steal some time to update this old blog and drink my coffee. We are in the mist of summer around here. Kids are home, Riley's work schedule changed from 6:30-3:30 (love love love), swimming, karate, art class, library time and just plain crazy relaxing. So much to tell.... So I'll back up a little. :)
My twin-a-roos turned the big TWO in May. I don't even know how this is possible but it is. I love them from the top of their golden heads to the bottom of their adorable little toes. It amazes me how they can be so alike but so VERY different. Brennen has a constant smile and is the life of the party. He prob puts miles and miles a day on my floors racing all over. He never messes with anything but he knows this house inside and out. He is also my blanket boy. Always has to know where it is and love on it. He isn't much for toys. He loves chew toys and rattles but he is way to busy for toys right now. His favorite show is Tek the Tracker on BabyFirst TV as well as he likes Harry the Bunny. For some reason this adorable show with three mice scare him crazy. We are talking full on screaming, panic and tears. As soon as that comes on we turn it real fast so he doesn't get so upset. The guide doesn't tell us when it comes on so it's hard to judge it sometimes. At his last well visit he weighed 24lbs 11oz and was 35" tall. We FINALLY made it to the 10th percentile and kicked the 5th percentile to the curb. That was a hard feat because they are very picky eaters and would rather just throw stuff overboard than actually try it. I have to add either butter/olive oil/avocado to just about everything or give them really high fat Greek God Yogurt because they are so active they need all the fat I can get into them. A week before his well visit he had woken up at 4am for some mama snuggles and while sitting on the couch I was watching him with his blanket. He has this certain way he "hooks" the silk around it. Then as I peered closer I realized the reason why is he has a locked thumb. I instantly googled Trigger Thumb and felt bad because as many times as I've caressed those tiny hands this was the first time I had noticed. I messaged Granny later that morning and she came over to see for herself and also felt bad because she to never noticed. At his well visit our pedi suggested we take him to a pediatric orthopedic hand surgeon to have it looked it. I made the appt with her but we can't get in until Sept 2nd. It isn't painful to him so I was ok waiting but I never realized that there were so few pediatric hand surgeons. We will go see what she has to say and if we need to we can go to Dallas for a second opinion although I would prefer to stay local and I have always been happy with Cooks. The other thing is they aren't talking. They babble a lot but I have tried everything I learned with Brady and Ben on speech. Including giving them chewy tubes to strengthen their jaws, brushing the insides of their cheeks lightly to stimulate/strengthen their tongue (if you brush one side the tongue moves to that side and it's like exercise and using bubbles to get them to sign/talk. No nada, nothing. They just smile and giggle. So after talking to our pedi I made a referral to ECI to get an evaluation to see if they need some extra help. I really think being a preemie is most of it but our pedi says that stops at two, although on many levels because I am around them all day I beg to differ. They have always done things on their own time table. Now for Barrett Buglet. Barrett would be content all day if he could just lounge in your lap. He LOVES to be held and is very mello. He has got the best grin and giggle when he is tickled. He LOVES Brady and I often overhear Brady say, "How is my Bear Cub?" Just melt me! Now Bear loves toys! He will play and figure things out. He loves to open drawers and cabinets. He never pulls anything out, he just opens them, closes it and leaves. I don't have anything down low that could hurt him and I only use Shaklee Non-Toxic cleaners. Barrett is NOT a blanket boy. He likes them in his bed when its time to sleep and that's it. He doesn't need to carry one around the house because he would rather play with his toys. He was 24lbs 9oz and 35 1/2" at his well visit. They are neck and neck with each other. Thankfully he doesn't have a trigger thumb. ECI will evaluate him too because him and Brennen are exactly alike on the speech issue. I am a little down about this because we have just tried so hard and I didn't want to go through another speak adventure..... 5+ years with Ben and while we aren't doing private anymore he is still getting school services. More on Ben in a minute. For the twins birthday we decided to keep things simple simple this year. Riley took off the day and while all the kids were in school we had our own little celebration with them. We had planned to go the Botanical Gardens to let them run and play but unfortunately the rain foiled our plans. So we went to Blue Mesa Grill and had some lunch, picked up a cake at the bundt place, and stopped at the Dollar Tree for some birthday decorations. Riley took me to Kendra Scott and I picked out some Blue Lace Agate earrings to mark their 2nd birthday!! Then later that night we had dinner and cake/icecream with all the kids and Riley's parents. We gave the twins the cutest fisher price learning chairs. Barrett is in love and Brennen is like SIT? I'm to busy for that! lol
An update on Ben: I can't remember how much I shared in the past on Ben but he truly is my special boy. Him and I have walked many roads together to overcome being exposed to Risperadol in utero. We have always known that he was on the spectrum but we had no idea where. We hated to have him formally diagnosed with anything at such a young age so we just always kept that in mind that he was on the spectrum. We also did countless hours of OT, PT and Speech to help him be successful. This year we hit a rough patch because school has such higher standards for lower grades. He would just physically shut down and refuse to do work. So after much discussion with his teacher we requested many formal testings through the school while we waited for a private child physiologist to become available. It was a long school year waiting but we FINALLY have our testing appointment on June 29th and this means we will be able to get him more help at school. The school physiologist and our private doctor both think he has high functioning autism. On one hand I am sad for him and on another I am so happy we finally have an answer to help and understand him better. He is the most amazing beautiful child and I can't imagine not having my Benny. He has taught me so many things and because of him I have developed patience/empathy like you can't believe. Such a relief really to be at this crossroads. He is loving summer! This is the first summer he is really into reading too and my reading reward system helps. They earn money for every 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 minutes read and they make sure I sign their log afterwards. I have a big sign up that we keep their running totals to see who is going to win first prize (that person gets an extra $5.00). We use their tablet timers for accountability. At the end of the summer they get to go spend their unspent gift cards, granny money, chore money and reading money. They love end of summer toy shopping!
Brady's turn: Never in my life have a met a more tender hearted giving sweet child. He loves and tries to mother everyone in this house. He worries when Ben is upset over something. He worries if the babies are sleeping longer than normal. He soothes others if they are hurt or can't find something. He tells me all the time how much he loves me and his dad. He always says, "Mom I love our babies so much." His actions speak far volumes above his words though. He can be reading and a baby will be right there with him. This school year was a rough one for him too because the amount of work was insane! We can thank the stupid STAAR testing and them testing two grades above grade level. Our kids would learn so much more if they weren't teaching to a test. Ya, can you tell I don't like this test. I have written so many letters our representatives about this and I was thrilled that Pearson was let go! Lots of changes for school coming ahead for the Stewart household (more on that in Brit's update). Brady is entering the fifth grade and this is his last year in Elementary. I am so sad about this because that means my son is growing up. We have to do open enrollment at their current school so I am happy he will finish in one place. He won't be going into a school district though for 6th grade and one hand I'm petrified and on the other relieved that he can learn at his own pace and not to a TEK standard. Brady is LOVING Karate. I found place nearby that is for homeschoolers and all the kids can take it together for a very reasonable price. Well, all the kids were in it but Ben decided he couldn't do it. Too much touching and it stressed him out. So he stays with his granny/babies during their karate lessons.
Now my only daughters turn, Miss Brit...... I need to back up a little. When we did open enrollment for her to the feeder school we knew there was a GREAT chance they would have no room for her. So that meant after much looking and decision making that she would need to go to our district middle school if she didn't get accepted. She didn't get accepted so we had enrolled her in our middle school. There were good and bad things about this school. The good was it was across the street from our house and it was easy for me to get to her with babies and such. That was the ONLY good thing about this school.We had so many problems. It took them two plus months to get her education plan in place and only finally did when we told them get it going or we're calling our attorney because LEGALLY have to give her this. They had to erase all her test and quiz grades for two months because they weren't given to her by the parameters her dad and I set up for her with the diagnostician. Things were finally moving along and sometime after Christmas we hit another snag. Just a little back information. Britney has static encephalopathy which in a nut shell is an unspecified brain injury. She was diagnosed with this around the age of 6. It is from all the abuse she sustained as a baby from her birth family. Which means that even though she is 13 sometimes she isn't and she still has a bunch of catching up to to. To give you an example, when she was 6/7 her doctor told us that she was only coming in at a medium age of 3 yrs 8 months old and that it would take years for her to catch up to her actual age. She also has a hard time advocating for herself and is very literal. She also has a hard time with long term memory. So if you were to ask her if she had a good Christmas she would smile and say yes but if you asked her to give you details she can't. She also has a hard time with size perception. We have a big fridge and a bigger dorm type fridge for extra milk or cold drinks. If I said, "Hey go put this in the little fridge" she would stand between the two fridges trying to figure out which one is which. So now I tell her to go put it in the black or white fridge. Unfortunately, the kids at school took of advantage of this and bullied her to no end. We noticed a few things but then I got a call in April that changed everything. I'm not going to give major specifics but I will say that those little punks were not classy kids in the least little bit. They talked to my daughter with the filthiest of language and torturing her with sex questions. When she came home and told me everything that was said to her you just have no idea how angry we were. I'm so thankful her and I are so close for her to tell me these things. Besides the language and nastiness (for example asking her if she wants to be raped or how many ***** does she think she wants at one time) they talked in Spanish to her as she changed and used the word "peto" many times. You can look up peto, it's not nice. She was having a really hard time so we talked to the school counselor and got her enrolled in art therapy to work through everything that was said Plus this summer she is doing an all girl art enrichment activity for 8 weeks. She had such a hard time because she is used to being liked by everyone but being called "white girl" and all the other things took a toll. The last straw was when she came home and told us that a friend of hers said that a group of kids planned to beat her up after school the last day as she walked to our car. I don't know if that would have happened but after the year we have had why chance it. We tried to make lemonade out of lemons but we were done! Thankfully there were only two days of school left and we withdrew her immediately! We joined the Texas Homeschool Colliation Association to cover us legally and sent certified letters to the school. I still haven't figured out all the specifics but I am now a homeschooling mom to a 7th grader. I joined a homeschool local group and went to their yearly planning meeting for the entire fall/spring semesters. We have field trips planned to museums, theaters both in Dallas and Fort Worth, aquariums, book clubs, and holiday parties. I also enrolled her in a private fine arts academy for choir because I didn't want her to have to give up the one part of school she loves. She should continue with Karate in the fall after this summer course as well. Riley and I are attending a Home School workshop in July too. The plan right now is to learn doing this with Brit this coming year and then Brady can slide into homeschool too because my sweet blond tender boy is NOT going to that middle school. He will be an instant target and we are not going through this heartache again. She is excited about being at home and I am too. I think it will give us lots of time together and she will still have social interaction with other kids. I won't lie I'm terrified but the great thing is I think she will learn more this way without all the fluff. Also, here therapist thinks its a great idea for her. We are also waiting for an appointment with a neuro phychologist to get some further testing on her now that she is older so that we can know the full extent of her brain injuries so we can help her even more. Just a little bit about her, she is loving karate and is a girly girl who loves makeup, jewelry and clothes! She is so excited that she no longer has to wear uniforms!
So as you can tell this is why my absence from writing and updating has been great! My life is so busy trying to make sure all the kids needs are met and shuffling them from appt to appt. Despite all the craziness life is so good and we are all so happy. We have some fun things planned with the kids coming up. Monday is Riley's birthday so of course there is a small party. Then we have a trip planned to the Dallas Aquarium and a trip to Great Wolf Lodge! We decided to do local trips because with small toddlers it's a little difficult.
Here's some pictures: