Saturday, November 30, 2013

Parker's Second Birthday

Whew, what a day!  Parker birthday was so much fun, but this mama is tired from all the prep work.  Jimmy and I "woke" Parker up together this morning.  We gave him a very enthusiastic "good morning!"
After a quick family photo and snuggle...

...we had breakfast as I was baking his cake and getting dinner ready.  I also had a bunch of decorations to get ready.  I chose a robot theme many, many months ago!  If you remember his first birthday, I have a tendency to go overboard.  I had a great idea for invitations and they turned out perfect!  I never would have been able to make them without my Silhouette.
I made his birthday banner a few weeks ago, so we just had to hang it.  I realized now that I never took a picture... It is basically the same as last year, except the letter were wrapped in aluminum foil and I hot glued nuts, bolts and washers to them.

I made a gear chandelier out of our kitchen light.  Kind of whimsical, I may leave it up for a while.
 Next was fuel cell labels for the beverages.
 And a small sign for the snacks.
 Parker's favorite meal is breakfast so it seemed to be a great idea to have breakfast for dinner!  I also decided that waffles find of look like circuit boards, which robots have!  I used this waffle recipe and everyone loved them.  I was expecting a bunch of leftovers, but there are hardly any.  We had all the toppings you could ever want: strawberries and cream, powdered sugar, syrup, peanut butter, nutella, chocolate chips and sprinkles. We also has cheesy hash brown cups inspired from this recipe and sausage.

 Clean plate club!
 Next was presents.  Parker got so many neat things.  His cousin Paul loved the Busy Car Book.  It has a wind up car that drives on the pages.
 Here he is enjoying 3 of his gifts: Nebraska hooded sweatshirt, Sesame Street shoes and VTech laptop.  He really loves the power button on the laptop.
Finally time for cake!  I made a gear cake with Rodney Copperbottom figures.  He is from Robots, an awesome movie if you haven't seen it!
 Make a wish!
Happy Birthday Parker!  I am so proud to be your mom.  I can't wait to see what the next year brings!

Parker is 2!

This sleeping little munchkin is TWO right now. Can't wait to have fun with him today!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

First of all, I'd like to share some of the people I am thankful for this year.  2013 is a year we will never forget and will always look back on.

I am most thankful for my wonderful husband, Jimmy, and our son, Parker.  Jimmy puts up with all my crap and rarely complains.  I REALLY married up.  I am a demanding person and often have a short fuse.  I am working on becoming calmer, but it's tough work.  Parker is such a blessing to us.  I always knew I wanted to be a mom and he made that a reality.  We have put him through so much over the last 3 1/2 months and he has been such a trooper.  I can see his yearning to learn.  I am so proud to call him my baby.

I am also thankful for our amazing extended families.  We have had so much love and support from everyone.  They have listened to our woes and comforted us through everything.

We also have an amazing circle of friends that have surrounded us in prayer and love.  They have often been an outlet when I needed to vent or offered encouragement and hope.

I am so thankful for the amazing team of doctors and therapists we have met over the last several months. They are opening our eyes to things we never could have seen.  They are helping Parker communicate and cope and learn.  Many of them feel like a part of our family.

There are so many things to be thankful for this year, but I will leave it at that.  We had a fun day with both sides of our family yesterday.  And we ate WAY too much food.  We are on pie duty each year, but didn't have to do any of the real cooking.  We started with lunch at Jimmy's parents place.  I love getting together with his whole family and watching Parker play with his cousins.

So many fun toys to play with!  The helicopter is his favorite!

Turkey, ham and all the fixings!
It's always hard to get a good picture of more than one kid, but they are all cute.
Parker with 3 of his cousins
Parker was really intrigued by Izzy (on the right) this time.  I think it might have been her glasses, but I am not sure.  He just kept staring at her!

After stuffing our faces with stuffing....there was dessert, FOUR desserts.  Pecan, banana cream and chocolate pies plus pumpkin bread pudding.
I think we were all ready for a nap after that, especially Parker!  We headed over to my parents to put Parker down for his nap.  We had a delicious meal that I forgot to photograph, all the standard fare!  We have a pool tournament every year that I always look forward to, unfortunately the Herrmann's are not very good.  This was the 6th year and Jimmy had the first break.
 It was an all ladies final, my brother's girlfriend Lindsay versus my mom.
 Lindsay came from behind and won it all!
Parker also got some good snuggle time in with Uncle Sean and Grandpa.
Parker is not a snuggler so it melted my heart to see his sit with my dad for a while.
I hope you all had a great holiday and had the opportunity to spend it with those you are thankful for.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Piano Master

Parker is getting very good at playing the keyboard app on our iPad.  He is using individual fingers instead of whole hand movements.  This is really exciting because pointing is an important skill that we are working on.  Here is a quick video from tonight.
We have a big week coming up!  I am so excited for a holiday/birthday weekend!  We are also getting 6 whole days off of therapy!  I love seeing Parker learn and progress, but it will be nice not going to the clinic so much.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Birthday Party at Edinborough Park

We found time for fun this weekend amidst some of the craziness.  Parker was invited to his friend Simon's birthday party.  We showed up a bit late because of Parker's EEG, but made it in time for cake and presents.  The party was at Edinborough Park, an indoor playground.  I have heard about it so many times so I was very excited to go.  Simon and Parker are only a few days apart in age, it is always fun to see those two together.  We also got to see several of our other friends from our ECFE class last year.
Happy Birthday Simon!
Simon's awesome parents, Derek and Shannon, are geeky like Jimmy and myself (totally a compliment and they know it!)  I knew I wanted to make some fun gifts for Simon that highlighted the geek factor. 
I saw both of these on Pinterest and had to recreate them with my Silhouette and heat transfer vinyl.
That's the formula for force if you didn't figure it out.
Simon is also expecting a little brother or sister.  I got them in on the fun too.
It was such a fun party.  We stayed a little while after to play since we had missed that earlier in the afternoon.  After a bit of coaxing Parker finally went down the slide all by himself!  Such a cutie!
Hopefully we will have a chance to come to this park again soon!  Thanks again for inviting us Simon!


The 3 month wait for the neurologist finally ended a week and a half ago.  Parker's head circumference hadn't changed for almost a year so we were being referred for testing.  He has no other specific symptoms that doctors are worried about.  We met with the neurologist, who was amazing!  I expected nothing less from a man who gives a lot of bad news for a living.  He was extremely supportive and encouraging.  We didn't have many questions because we don't really know what to ask.  The doctor did a basic exam and reviewed the files sent from Parker's initial evaluation.  He did agree that it would be a good idea to do some additional testing to make sure Parker's brain is growing and developing properly.  We were scheduled for an EEG and MRI.

Prior to this I knew little about EEGs.  Here is a quick excerpt from Wikipedia:

Electroencephalography (EEG) is the recording of electrical activity along the scalp. EEG measures voltage fluctuations resulting from ionic current flows within the neurons of the brain. In clinical contexts, EEG refers to the recording of the brain's spontaneous electrical activity.

A standard EEG is done with the patient lying still in a clinic for 20-40 minutes.  Overnight ones are also given for patients with sleep problems.  They are also used to test for seizures.  We have never experienced "episodes" of any sort.

We did an ambulatory EEG.  Parker has the leads hooked up at the clinic on Friday afternoon.  He had a backpack with the recording device that he had to carry with him for a full 24 hours.  It weighed over 2 lbs. (10% of his body weight) so I was not surprised he was tuckered out!)   I did a lot of research about ambulatory EEGs, but didn't find much.  The video below has pictures and clips from our experience.
We won't have any results for at least a week, maybe longer with the holiday.  I am a little worried that the data won't tell us anything.  Parker went through a lot of stress to do this test and it would be disheartening to know it wasn't worth it.  He has a few marks left from the leads and a "hickey" on his neck from removing some tape.  We have several more weeks before the MRI, that will be another adventure.  While I am eager to learn more about Parker, I am also yearning for the day when we will just have our regular therapy to worry about.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Grandpa's Birthday

I can't believe it's been a week and a half since I posted!  Life just keeps getting busier!  A little over a week ago we went out to eat for my dad's birthday.  We went to Buca di Beppo, which is SO tasty!  It's always fun getting together with my family to celebrate.
 Pasta and bread are some of Parker's favorites as well.  He probably ate more than I did!
I forgot to take a picture of the gift I made.  I saw the t-shirt below and knew that I could recreate it with my Silhouette and heat transfer vinyl.  It turned out really good!  I will have to take a picture the next time he wears it.  I hope some of you know what Runza is!

Happy Birthday Dad/Grandpa!  Looking forward to celebrating many more!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Happy Tears

In the 3 months (from Friday) since our Autism journey began I have not any happy tears. Tonight was the first (of many, I hope.) About a week ago I mentioned how much better Parker has become during bedtime prayers. I always go directly into prayer after singing "Jesus Loves Me." Without noticing, I didn't do that tonight. Parker was in my lap, he grabbed my hands and put them together. It took me a moment to realize what he was doing, then it took my breath away.  He has done similar things in the past, but it meant so muh more this time. Prayer is becoming part of his routine. Hopefully it will now forever be an important part of his life. Parker is my perfect little blessing from God and I was given an extra little gift tonight. That moment has more than made up for all the angry and sad tears from the last few months.  "Mom" is my favorite title, by far!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Functional Play!

This mama is so proud!  We are finally starting to see more functional play!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Quick Therapy Update

We are 2 weeks in to double therapy on Tuesday and Parker seems to be adjusting well.  It will be interesting to see if being there 3 days a week will affect him more.  I also wanted to share some highlights of progress we are seeing.  Some of these may be directly related to therapy and some may be due to a heightened awareness that Jimmy, myself and Parker's caretakers now have.

We are 2 months (!) into speech therapy.  Prior to starting, Parker would only make noises to communicate and most of the time we were not able to figure out what he wanted or needed (if he was trying to tell us something at all.)  He is now communicating to us through actions and directing us to what he wants.  He will grab at my shirt or hand to indicate that he wants me to come with him.  The following places are where he currently communicates wants/needs:

The back door: wants to go outside
The gate in from of the stairs: wants to play in the basement
The storage ottoman: wants a new toy taken out
The fridge: is hungry or thirsty

This has significantly improved our ability to understand him.  I am so excited to see what other things he starts to show us.

His overall understanding of the back-and-forth aspect of communication is also greatly improving.  He is more easily recognizing conversation.  He is sitting still for a few different activities, which has never happened in the past.  We always sing "Jesus Loves Me" before going to bed.  I have often rocked with him while singing this.  If he isn't in my lap when I start singing, he will immediately come over and sit down.  He has also become a rock star at prayer time.  I have always put his hands together in the common prayer position, but until the last 2 weeks he has always pushed my hands aside.  I was so excited last week when he let me hold them for the whole prayer.  He is also starting to recognize "Amen" as the end.

A few other fun things:

- New consonant sounds, "g" and "b"
- His eye contact has also started to improve, even with less familiar people.
- He is playing with toys purposefully more often.  We still see a lot of focused play, but it is getting better.
- He is REALLY close to waving goodbye.  At least, I feel like he is.  I wave goodbye every day when I drop him off.  He was disinterested for a long time, but now waits for it.  Yay!  I will probably be a crazy ball of tears when he actually does it.

That ended up a bit longer than plan, but I guess that is a good thing.  I hope you are all having a fabulous week (even in snowy, cold MN!)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Family Date at the Mall of America

We spent this evening at the Mall of America.  We like to get out there several times a year if possible. We aren't shoppers, but we love to walk around.  Plus, there are dozens of dinner options!  We also got a few free ride tickets for Nickelodeon Universe.  I thought it was a great chance for Parker to try some rides!  We started with the carousel.  He got antsy waiting for it to start, but enjoyed once it began moving.
The ferris wheel was his favorite, BY FAR.  He was staring at it while waiting on the carousel.  Jimmy has a fear of height, as evident by his expression below!

The last ride was the Diego Rescue Rider

Here is a video of our rides!  I can't wait to go back again soon!