Monday, October 5, 2009

Acting Out the Story

The one-year-old's favorite book at the moment is Sandra Boynton's Blue Hat, Green Hat. The book features a turkey who can't seem to put his clothes on correctly. Each two-page spread has several animals with different colored articles of clothing (blue hat, green hat, yellow hat...). The last animal is always the turkey, and he always has the clothes on the wrong body part--pants over his head, coat on backwards, socks on his hands, etc. This weekend the one-year-old starting putting socks on his hands, shouting "Oh NO", and giggling. Just the same way he acts when we read the book.

Two-syllable words

In addition to ice and pie, I heard the one-year-old using two syllable words for this first time this weekend. He said "puppies" while we were reading one of his favorite books (Elmo's World Puppies), and "water" when I asked him what he wanted to drink.


I got my hair cut last week. I hadn't gotten it cut for quite a while, so it was a fairly dramatic change. Apparently it was a dramatic enough change that the eight-year-old noticed. All this weekend, the eight-year-old kept walking up to me, usually from behind, and rubbing my head. It reminded me of the first time we had our golden retriever shaved. For a week or so afterward, he kept poking the dog's coat. It was as if he needed tactile proof of what his eyes were reporting.

Friday, October 2, 2009

New words

The one-year-old (who will turn two next month) is expanding his vocabulary at a rapid clip. Since I saw him on Wednesday he's added two new words: ice, and pie.

Scary moment

I have the boys with me this weekend. When I picked them up from their mom's, she mentioned that the eight-year-old had been having some trouble at school this week. She'd taken him to the Dr. because she thought it might be from sinus problems. He has a history of tantrums and head-butting that often goes away when we give him anti-histamines, and he had run out.

Shortly after we leave her house, the eight-year-old goes berserk in the back seat, hitting and head-butting the one-year-old who is strapped into his car seat next to him. I pulled over, jumped out, and yanked the eight-year-old out of the car. He was extremely agitated, hitting me, and trying to head-butt the parked cars. I called my ex and said that I needed help. The eight-year-old had gone nuts and I was afraid to put him back into the car next to the one-year-old.

She came and got him. I drove the other two, and she drove the eight-year-old. Then we traded cars for the weekend. So I'll have the mini-van, and can put the one-year-old and the eight-year-old in different rows where the eight-year-old can't reach the younger one. I remember being worried about the risk of this, but this is the first time since we separated that it's actually been an issue. I hope it doesn't last. The eight-year-old isn't big enough to ride in the front seat legally, and I can afford to buy a new vehicle with three rows of seating to keep them apart.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Playing dress up

I had the one-year-old this evening. He likes to play with shoes, taking his off and putting on other people's. On multiple occasions he has put my shoes on, or the twelve-year-old's. Tonight, in a new twist, he wanted me to tie the shoes after he had put them on to his feet. Then he walked around with a big grin on his face, struggling to avoid tripping over the shoes. My shoes are huge on him--like clown shoes at the circus.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Surprise requests

I got two surprise requests from my oldest son last night.

When I picked him up from his mom's house that he wouldn't be able to go to Boy Scouts tonight because "I have to finish my homework." Now, I'm not going to argue with him when he wants to do his homework. In the past years, we pretty much concluded that getting him to do homework was a battle that cost us more than it was worth. But I hate to see him missing Boy Scouts, and I certainly don't want to see skipping Scouts for homework become a regular thing. Scouts is one of the few activities that we've found that really gets him excited and engaged. And now I've gone off and signed up for Wood Badge, in which I make my own long term commitments to Scouting. Hopefully we can get him to do his homework early on Mondays.

The other surprise came when I asked him what he wanted to do for his mother's birthday (which is Wednesday). He said maybe we (he and his brothers) could give mom a break by coming over to your house for an evening. I'm sure that his mom would really appreciate that. I hadn't expected him to suggest something that was going to impose a personal cost on me though. But I don't want to turn down such a genuine and well-meant idea. So I'm going to be going along with the idea. I hope she appreciates it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wreaking havoc

I took all three boys last night, as a favor to my ex. Normally I only have one on Wednesday nights (I alternate between the two younger boys). It amazes me how quickly they can mess things up. The oldest one threw up in the bathroom (I think he coughed too hard, he has a really light gag reflex), used paper towels to wipe it up, and then tried to flush the paper towels down the toilet which clog it up. Meanwhile, the youngest one was in the living room where he managed to rip loose a strip of carpeting that was tacked to the step -- my living room is one step down from the rest of the house. Surprisingly, the eight-year-old didn't make any major messes during the evening.

I had the eight-year-old set the table again, and just like last time the one-year-old was insistent that he be allowed to set the table also. I let him take his own plastic plate, fork, and class to the table. It continues to surprise me how much he wants to "help". Not used to that from children.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Setting the table

I've been working on teaching the eight-year-old to set the table for meals. He seems to grasp the concept, but it still takes a lot of prompting to get plates, silverware, and napkins into the right place (I'm not having him do water glasses yet). Tonight I had him set the table for dinner again.

The one-year-old saw what we were doing, and he wanted to help too. He REALLY wanted to help. So I gave him his plastic plate, fork, and a napkin to take over to his high chair and put on the tray. I'm continually amazed at how the one-year-old imitates and wants to be a part of whatever his older brothers and I are doing. I remember hearing that kids were supposed to be like this, but my two older one weren't. Especially the eight-year-old. At this age he rarely even seemed aware that other people were doing things at all.

Turning twelve...

The eleven-year-old turned twelve yesterday. We had a family birthday party for him at Round Table Pizza, like we've done for years. We made repeated requests/suggestions for a birthday event with friends, but he didn't seem to want one. I'm kind of sad about that. I hope it is his autism showing up and he really didn't want one, and not a case of him being too uncomfortable to tell us what he wanted to do and figure out who to invite. I can imagine him choosing not to have a party because he was too anxious about deciding who to invite, or afraid no one would come. Hopefully I'm projecting that.

At the pizza place, the one-year-old and the eight-year-old were both constantly running away from the table. They both liked to go to the video game alcove and sit at the racing game, playing with the steering wheel. The one-year-old has recently started requesting the "race car" shopping carts when we go to the grocery store. Then the eight-year-old started going out the side door to grab leaves of the plants growing outside. He went to the bathroom a couple of times. One time he came out with his pants and underwear down around his ankles. I yelled for him to pull up has pants and started over to him. By the time I caught up with him he was out on the sidewalk. He had pulled up his underwear, but his pants were still around his knees. While I was out chasing the him, the one-year-old (who is actually 22 months old now, so almost two) managed to get the side door open without anyone noticing. When we realized that no one knew where he was, he was climbing down the stairs, heading toward the sidewalk on a very busy street.

After we got everyone inside, I said "now I remember why I stopped trying to take them places by myself." My ex-wife's mother (is there a correct term for my relationship to her now? Ex-mother-in-law?) said that when she and my ex took the younger two to Cannon Beach, Oregon (while the twelve-year-old was off at Boy Scout camp) they had a lot of trouble with the boys running off in different directions.

Glad to know that it isn't just me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The one year old and a guinea pig

Last week my ex and I decided that the guinea pig should come to live in my house. The one year old is fascinated with the guinea pig and wants to carry it all over the house. He dropped the pig and not one of her teeth out. My ex was afraid greater injury might have occurred as well. If Mini (the guinea pig's name is Mini Cooper) is at my house, a one-year-old will have far fewer opportunities to pick her up and cause damage.

Tonight was the first night that the one-year-old came over since Mini moved to my house. He was very excited to play with her. I let them take her out of the cage. He would sit and pet her. Then every minute or so he wanted to pick her up and move her somewhere else. I got some very cute pictures of him sitting next to the pig, or with the pig in his lap. Every time he picked it up he would start to walk off and I would tell him if you're going to hold that pig, you have to sit down.

Finally I just gave up, sat down on the floor, and held the pig on my lap. The one year old would point to places where he thought she should go, but he didn't try to move her will be interesting to see how he does with her all this weekend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Walking in the woods

I had the eight-year-old this evening. We went out for a walk in the neighborhood. There is a small gully with a stream running through it separating the neighborhood I live in from the adjacent neighborhood. There is a wooden bridge across it. We almost always cross that bridge.

Today, since it was just the two of us, I decided to take the eight-year-old down the path into the gully. We walked along the stream. We crossed over it and back several times. I was amazed at how sure-footed the eight-year-old was. He's like a little mountain goat. I think he'd love going on hikes in the woods. I'll have to be watching for any trips he could go along on with the eleven-year-old's Boy Scout troop.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Random weekend observations

The one-year-old sees barbecue sauce as a universal condiment. Last night at dinner not only did he dip his chicken strips and french fries in barbecue sauce, he also put sauce on his apple and watermelon slices.

The eight-year-old seems to have narrowed his dietary horizons again. This weekend he has refused things he used to eat. Most of his calories have been from chicken strips/nuggets and toast.

There is a very fat cat in the neighborhood. We've seen him several times while out on walks. The one-year-old loves cats (and dogs, and basketball hoops). This particular cat will stretch out on the sidewalk and roll over, showing his tummy. The one-year-old sits down on the sidewalk and pets the cat. It's very cute.

I bought a new book that the one-year-old loves. Blue Hat, Green Hat, by Sandra Boynton. It features an elephant, a dog, a moose, and a turkey. Each 2-page spread shows them with various articles of clothing, and the turkey always has his on wrong (upside down, socks on hands, shoes on head, etc.). I must have read it twenty times this weekend.

This afternoon I got the eight-year-old to play with the mega-blocks with me for a while. We built a tower and then took it apart. I showed him how we could stack blocks on the big truck, and he built another tower. He seemed really engaged and happy. I remembered a couple of other things we used to play with together. I'm going to buy a Connect-4 game before his next weekend here.

I need to get some sort of swingset/playset for the back yard. When the eight-year-old doesn't have something outside to climb on, he starts climbing the furniture. This weekend I have found him on top of the fridge, jumping up and down on the toilet (he broke the wax seal that way a few weeks ago), and trying to climb the glass doors of the shower stall. I should have done it while my parents were here so I would have had more hands for putting it together.

The one-year-old and the eight-year-old seem to have some sibling rivalry going. I've seen the one-year-old hit the older one several times, and the eight-year-old keeps touching/grabbing the one-year-old's head and face in ways that he doesn't like. I guess it's not that surprising. In behavioral/communicative terms, their on about the same developmental level. Physically though, it is a huge mismatch.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Scout returns home...

Saturday the eleven-year-old returned home from a week at Boy Scout camp. I went to pick him up and had both my parents, the eight-year-old, and the one-year-old with me. As soon as the one-year-old saw him get out of the car, he ran over and demanded to be picked up. The eleven-year-old held him for almost fifteen minutes, until the second truck showed up that had his backpack. The eight-year-old wouldn't get out of the car at the parking lot, but when we got back to my house climbed all over his older brother. It was obvious that both the younger ones were very happy to see their brother again.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Head-banging toddler

On Friday my parents and I took the one-year-old and the eight-year-old to Seattle Center for the afternoon. We spent quite a while hanging out by the International Fountain. The eight-year-old was fascinated by the streams of water (the fountain has lots of spigots and nozzles and they are synchronized to the music that is played). The one-year-old loved the music. He is a very enthusiastic dancer. He seemed especially fond of Nirvana's Entertain Us. He would bob his entire body up and down. It's quite a sight to watch your toddler do head-banging dance moves to Kurt Cobain.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


The one-year-old (now twenty-one months) loves books. He regularly brings books to me and wants me to sit and read them over and over. Last Sunday, I was getting tired of reading the same books over and over, so I took the one-year-old and the eight-year-old (the oldest was off at Boy Scout camp) to Half Price books. I was hoping to find some Sandra Boynton board books. Her books are fun to read, and almost all the Boynton books we had are at my ex-wife's house.

We didn't find any Boynton. I did find a board-book of Polar-Bear, Polar Bear, which we had and the one-year-old always loved. I showed it to him, and he plopped down on the floor and started paging through it. I kept looking and also found a copy of Good Night Moon. We went over to the music section so I could look at CDs. The eight-year-old stood next to me while I looked. The one-year-old sat down on the floor and started "reading" his new books. I saw multiple people grinning at him as he sat there. I wish I'd thought to take a picture.

Boy Scout camp

The eleven-year-old is off at Boy Scout camp this week. He was excited about going, and didn't seem at all reluctant or concerned about going off for a week without me. For the past 4 summers he's gone to Cub Scout camp, but I was always along. The only thing he showed any anxiety about was tying his boots. The hiking boots are the first shoes he's ever had that had to be laced up. He's always worn velcro or slip-on shoes. He hasn't mastered tying them in a bow-knot. He ends up with a granny knot or a square not that he has trouble untying.

I was talking with some of the other parents of the first-year scouts after the convoy left on Sunday morning. One of them said their son had been crying the previous night about going off by himself. One of the parents with an older scout said we'd be impressed at the change in our sons when they got back after their first year at camp--they would be noticeably more mature and responsible. One of the other first-year dads said he be thrilled with just a less-immature and irresponsible son. I said I'd be happy if my son could tie his own boots properly.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fishing Trip

This weekend the eleven-year-old and I went on a fishing trip with his grandpa (my ex-wife's stepfather) and grandpa's sons and other grandsons. The eleven-year-old was able to spend the weekend horsing around and joking with his older cousins (three boys aged 15,14, and 13). He didn't seem strained or awkward, and I didn't get the sense that the older boys were just putting up with him and would have preferred not to have him around.

It was really nice to see. Five years ago, I wouldn't have expected him to reach that point. I remember taking him on a Cub Scout camping trip when he was six. He was basically glued to my side. During free times the other boys were running around, but he sat next to me in the dining hall tracing pictures from some favorite books that he had brought along.

He's come a very long way in the last six years. It's wonderful to behold.


I had all three boys at my house the weekend of the 24th. At one point, I was working on getting the eight-year-old to build a tower of megablocks (think very large legos). If I handed the blocks to him one at a time, he would stack them up. The one-year-old was watching and wanted to participate. It sill surprises me when he does that. I heard that kids were supposed to do that, but I never saw it with the older two. I gave him some blocks to hand to his older brother.

We finished building, and I went off to do something in the kitchen. A few minutes later, I noticed the one-year-old toddling from the eight-year-old's room into my room with a megablock in each hand. I followed him. I found the eight-year-old sitting in the rocking chair in my room with a tower of blocks in his lap. The one-year-old handed him the new two new blocks, which he added to the tower. I stood and watched while the one-year-old carried in all the blocks and his older brother stacked them.

I think this is the first time I've seen the eight-year-old engaged in any sort of cooperative play with toys with another child. He wrestles with the eleven-year-old, and he will sometimes play with toys when directed to them by an adult. At one point during his ABA therapy we devoted many weeks of therapy to trying to teach him how to play with a toy car, blocks, and a doll. At school this year they were working having him play at the same table as another child--not interacting, just tolerating the other kid's presence. I can't remember seeing him play with toys with another child.

Until now.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Zamp in the lamp

I had the boys this Sunday. I had bought a set of Dr. Seuss books for the one year old. I was reading "A Wocket in My Pocket" to him, and when we came to the page about "the zamp in the lamp" he ran over to the lamp and pointed up under the shade. It was adorable.

A couple of pages later came "the woset in the closet". I suggested that he go look in our closets to see if there any wosets, and that his oldest brother might help him look. The two of them trotted out of the room to go check the hallway closets.

It was very sweet.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

First Sentence!

Last night the one-year-old spoke his first complete sentence!

We've been a little concerned about his speech. Because both of his older brothers have autism, he is part of a long-term tracking study of children with multiple siblings with autism. At his most recent evaluation, they said that his receptive language was extremely good (85th percentile), but his expressive language was quite poor (10th percentile). They recommended speech therapy.

He's been doing speech therapy for a month or two now. He works with the same speech therapist that worked with the eight-year-old. One of the things the speech therapist recommended was prompting him to repeat words and sounds frequently.

I've been making him tell me that he wants to get down from his high-chair after meals. Normally, he makes the sign for "all done." He's been using this sign for at least six months now (he is twenty months old).

Last night after dinner, he handed me his plate. He tried to stand up, but the tray of the high-chair was too snug for him to stand. I said to him "what do you say?" I was expecting him to sign. To my surprise, he looked at me and said "I'm all done."

I was so excited that after I got him out of his chair, I called my ex-wife to tell her about it.

So now his speech is something that I'm not as worried about.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Weekend Experience

I had all three boys this weekend. It was the first time that the 18-month-old stayed over Saturday night. His mom kept him Friday night. Friday evening the eight-year-old was getting restless. So I took him out and dropped some mail off at the post office. Then we went over to the pet store to look around a little bit. He was totally in love with the aquatic plants. He paid some attention to the fish that was way more interested in the tanks that only had plants. I was kind of perplexed by that at first. Finally, I decided that it was because of the flowing water between the tanks. I think that was what was so interesting to him.

The eight-year-old has had lots of problems with constipation lately. He seems to be over that now. He pooped his pants so many times that we had to go out and buy more underwear Saturday evening.

Sunday morning the eight-year-old woke up at 4 AM. He never went back to sleep. His noise woke the 18-month-old up about 6 AM. The day started a great deal earlier than I would've preferred. The 18-month-old was crabby a lot of the day.

The most distressing thing that happened all weekend was the eight-year-old climbing over the back fence. He's been dragging a chair around the yard for about a week so that he can reach branches to pull leaves off (pulling leaves off plants is his favorite activity right now). I've been worried that he would realize he could get out this way and now he has. I'm going to have to be much more vigilant when he is outside. I've been looking at various GPS locator systems. I may have to invest in one now.

It's fun to watch the 18-month-old expand his vocabulary. This weekend I heard him say "oh no" for the first time. He also said "uh-oh" and "uh-huh". I see him infrequently enough that those things stand out.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Many Changes

I haven't posted on my blog for a long time. One of the reasons is that I'm in the middle of getting divorced. When the ex-to-be said she wanted to separate it caught me by surprise, although on reflection it isn't so much of a surprise. I won't go into the details, that's not what I want to focus on.

I moved out about six weeks ago. I have all three boys every other weekend, the 11-year-old by himself on Monday nights, and on Wednesday nights I alternate between the eight-year-old and the 18-month-old. The adjustment has been tough for all of us. For me, this is my first time ever living alone. I've always at least had a roommate. The house is very quiet when it's just me. Sometimes that's nice, sometimes it's not, but it always feels weird. I assume that eventually I'll get used to it.

I had the eight-year-old this evening. He was really upset for a while when he got here, but once I got some food into him he calmed down. We outside and ate dinner. he was sitting in the rocking chair again. He does a better job of staying at the table and eating when he sits in the rocking chair. I may have to move it into the house come winter.

He engaged with me really well after dinner. He was dragging a chair around the yard, smiling and giggling. I took several pictures of him, but I didn't manage to catch the smile. We played "I'm going to get you" for a long time. We ran back and forth across the yard. He was looking back over his shoulder at me. I haven't managed to get that level of engagement for quite a while. I don't think it would happen if the 18-month-old had been here with us. It's hard to focus on the eight-year-old when the 18-month-old is around.