True Mom Confessions

I don't watch TV with my kids. I watch just enough to know what is objectionable but I rarely sit down and watch, say, the Imagination Movers. TV time is Mommy Time.

I carry crayons with me all the time and allow them to color on the paper at the dr's office, etc. This saves me time, money, sanity and lugging around loads of coloring books.

I cloth diaper because I hate taking out the garbage.

Camille's birthday week

We started off Wends by hearing, "Today is my birthday!" Yes, it is!

I made a cute little pink ballerina backpack to carry her dance clothes in. For someone who has never machine quilted beyond "stitch in the ditch" I was SO PLEASED with how the free hand quilting came out! It looks cute and she likes it.

Anyway, she got that first thing so she could use it for dance and, after dropping Joe off, I treated her to a smoothie at Starbucks. (She likes the one at the mall better.) We went out for lunch at CiCi's and I (mentally) got all nastologic about how I used to take them there for lunch and we had plently of time- no school, no swim lessons, nothing to worry about. Part of me missed that but part of me also realizes that I will have that "back" when Georgie and Cheesie are together. And, then, part of me DOESN'T want that back, as I AM looking forward to being the MotherofFour! and all the big kid stuff too.

After swim lessons and Olivia the Pig on TV, we had chocolate fondue for dinner with lots of sugary dipping solutions. Yum!

Thursday we took a cookie cake to school and she was the Star of the Day and showed everyone her "all about me" poster. It's at home- she wouldn't leave it at school! (Side note: Camille did 99 percent of the work on her poster and it looks like it. i found the pictures, read her the information and wrote some of the words on it. It was fairly clear on some of the other posters that the mothers/fathers really helped out. Alot. Ahem.)

Friday we had her party. I was in a grumpy mood and dreading it. I mean, me and 14 kids, possibly by myself? Plus, I had had a headache all week that lead to Adam picking up from kindy and dropping Camille off at school. I was tired and worn out.

It went SO AWESOME though, in spite of the Stupid Front Desk People. 30-45 minutes in the play room was just thr right amount of time. They colored on the paper on the tables, had cupcakes and she opened presents. There was much screaming over the Littlest Pet Shop and Polly Pockets... I think we have entered THAT stage, lol. They all played hard and then we went home for a (reheated) dinner of lasgana. She was too excited to eat much and played with the LPS all night. She slept hard core, not waking up to her brothers running around this morning!

Ah, four. :) She's an awesome kid.

The Princess is Four!

Four! When did this happen? Four! Such a big girl number, so much older than three and ready for kindy next year. This is the first, last and only time we will have a four year old princess in our house and we are savoring every minute.

She's wonderful, smart, maturing and strong willed and we wouldn't have it any other way. She can write her name, fold laundry, clean up toys, swim and dance with abandon. She thin but strong; I see her growing into a small, leggy young woman with big blue eyes that will bring some lucky young man to his kness.

She surprises us sometimes with what she understands about faith and religion. I think she will be a strong, faith filled woman- at least, that is our prayer for her. I think what ever job she picks will need a blance of compassion, thinking on her feet and adreniline- something that will make us so proud AND sent us over to church to light every candle in a prayer for her safety!

I wanted a daughter. I would have been happy with another son and, indeed, I can see now how three boys will be a perfect fit for our family. Yes, I would have also looked towards the pink side of the store but my friends have girls and my cousin has daughters and I would have indugled them. I will admit that I wanted a daughter for all the materialistic reasons: pink clothes, dresses, hairbows, American Girl dolls and someone to do my nails with.

I also wanted to name a little girl for my gradmother and she is. Camille Julia is named for Helen Julia. Camille was inspired by a character in a Bond movie so there she is: named for a Bond movie and my grandmother and for those of you that know or knew both, that sums up Cami!

Camille fills all the materialitic reasons for a little girl and, most importantly, all the deep, soul searching, wonderful reasons for wanting another child. She made Joseph a brother and made us a cozy family of four.

It's been wonderful to reflect on her birth story with her as we prepare for the birth of another baby. As I tell her about the day she was born, how Grams was here and we had popcorn and watched TV while I was (unknowingly) in early labor, I am aware the how and what I say will shape her view of pregnancy and childbirth. My mother taught me that it is normal, natural and nothing to be afraid of; I want that gift for her too.

And her birth story is so HER. Labor kept starting and stopping until I finally went and went with a vegence. Contractions were five minutes apart from the get go and once she was turned into the proper position, she was OUT. That's Camille- she will dawdle and drag her feet until SHE makes up her mind to do something and then WATCH OUT!

Happy birthday, Princess. We love you!

Overheard: Georgie

Georgie is hugging my belly (and pointing to it happily when I am using the bathroom... nice) so I said, "Where's the baby in Mommy's belly?" He pointed and said, "ridere!" (right there)

After playing "beep the belly" for a minute, I said, "Does Georgie have a baby in his belly?" and he said, "Yaaaaa!"

Suffering:Joseph Cardinal Ratizinger

Seewald: We are used to thinking of suffering as something we try to avoid at all costs. And there is nothing that many societies get more angry about than the Christian idea that one should bear with pain, should endure suffering, should even sometimes give oneself up to it, in order thereby to overcome it. "Suffering", John Paul II believes, "is a part of the mystery of being human." Why is this?

Cardinal Ratzinger: Today what people have in view is eliminating suffering from the world. For the individual, that means avoiding pain and suffering in whatever way. Yet we must also see that it is in this very way that the world becomes very hard and very cold. Pain is part of being human. Anyone who really wanted to get rid of suffering would have to get rid of love before anything else, because there can be no love without suffering, because it always demands an element of self-sacrifice, because, given temperamental differences and the drama of situations, it will always bring with it renunciation and pain.

When we know that the way of love–this exodus, this going out of oneself–is the true way by which man becomes human, then we also understand that suffering is the process through which we mature. Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human. Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people; he becomes hard and selfish.

http://insightscoop.typepad.com/2004/2010/01/the-question-of-suffering-the-response-of-the-cross.html

I have alot of thoughts on suffering and redemptive suffering but none of them are coherent, I feel like I am getting a cold and I need to go sew.

Marvelous Music



Awww, music melts the hearts of many...
not to mention brings a smile to so many faces.

Musical melodies mingle their way throughout
our spirit leaving lifetime imprints on our
soul and brain.

My child, Matthew, has complete Agenesis
of the Corpus Callosum. Matthew loves music!!
Many children who have ACC can benefit from
music.

Music has the ability to speak to us on a level
that words alone cannot penetrate. It has the
potential to open the door to a whole new world
of learning through gentle rhythmic persuasion
and captivating creations that invitingly inspire
a child or adult to explore many things that they
may not otherwise do.



There have been many studies and research done
on music and the brain. In addition, there have
also been books written on the subject. One book
in particular is written by a Neurologist:

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks, M.D.

It's much more fun to 'learn' your ABCs while
singing...



Music has the potential to help a child in very
specific areas where perhaps no other method is
helping. Some of these areas may include:

achieve goals in school
overcome a sensory issue
behavior issues
calm and soothe
transition time
learn body parts
teach self-care
encourage language
and so much more.



Most kids from the time they are very young
adore music, songs, singing, toys that
play music, dancing, and musical instruments.

The diagnosis of Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum
has a very broad range of effects. While there
are some similarities seen in people who have ACC,
each person can be affected very differently.

Many kids who have ACC require A LOT of repetition
to learn something.

Over and above the impact that ACC may have on a
person's life, a key note and of utmost importance
is that each person is first and foremost a unique
individual.

When a child has Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum,
it is common that some kids may be sensitive
to some sounds and loud noises. Kids who have
ACC may also have sensory issues.

While putting this article together I became
aware that there are some kids who have ACC
who are not so fond of music, who react in a
negative way to music and who don't like certain
songs or types of music and anyone singing.

Mom to 6 year old with hypoplasia of the corpus
callosum, cerebral palsy, optic nerve hypoplasia
writes:


"Luke has never liked slow music, some lullaby's,
or hymns at church. In fact, we don't go to
church on a regular basis because of this. I
know we need to keep trying, but it can be
really stressful. He hasn't gotten through a
school Christmas program w/ out crying either.
Even in pre-school he didn't like when they
played things like, London bridges falling down,
or musical chairs. He likes up beat music and
playing w/ musical instruments. Loud noises
bother/scare him too. I'm sure it's a
sensory thing."

In response, the Dad to 18 year old with ACC
replies:


"Matt couldn't take fireworks, now he loves them though
he still gets startled at the first one. We used ear
protection for him and it made it much better. It's
funny how he hated anyone singing when little
and now is in chorus at school and choir at church."

This same Dad goes on to say:


"Matt never got to sleep easily. We bought a battery
powered tape player that had really really calming
lullabies on it. He would listen to that every night.
My wife was really into music (trumpet player in the
marching band, piano, guitar, chorus). She found Raffi
and discovered the kids liked it also. Soon, Matt
would go to sleep with nothing but Raffi. He would
watch/listen to any songs with well defined words.
Unfortunately Matt still finds it difficult to go to
sleep without music playing! In elementary school
about (4th grade) my wife got him playing the trumpet
and he hasn't stopped yet. Dizzy Gilespie he isn't,
but he's not too shabby. At church he thought it
would be great fun to join the teen choir, so he did,
and he likes it. In his junior year at high school
we signed him up for chorus and he likes that. He
likes any music that he can sing to, even Phantom!

Well he is a senior now, and when high school is over,
he wants to learn the piano! "Why not.", I say."



Raffi video clip: "Banana Phone" song


In a recent online discussion with parents who
have a child with Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum:

Mom to 6 year old with hypoplasia of the corpus
callosum, cerebral palsy, optic nerve hypoplasia
writes:


"Is there an instrument you would recommend over
another for someone that can mainly use one hand?
Luke is affected by Cerebral Palsy on his right side,
he uses his right hand as an assist. Fine motor
skills are really tough for him. He needs assistance
dressing, toileting, opening things, and cutting,
etc."

Suggestions:

1st Mom writes:


"He could learn quite a bit on the piano one-handed;
there have even been one-handed professional pianists.
Harmonicas are good for anyone who has breath control--
no fine motor required.

When my kids were young, I got them rhythm instruments
and Native-American-style drums."

2nd Mom writes:

"How about a tamborine?
Maybe a harmonica?
Cabassa or bones?? Shakers??"

Mom to 6 year old who asked the instrument question
replies to 2nd Mom's suggestion:


"Those things he does play and tolerates fine.
The harmonica is a little tougher for him bc of
the lack of breath support - but he can blow it
a few times before tiring. It's actually good
therapy for him. That's the thing, he actually
likes playing musical instruments - more in a
"play" like setting. So maybe as he gets older
he'll be able to participate in a lesson, or group
type format?? I'm also wondering if once he's on
proper medication (he has recently been diagnosed
w/ADHD), if that will also help with some of his
sensory issues."

In addition to music helping a child learn,
there is also the option of music therapy.



What is Music Therapy?

The American Music Therapy Association
website definition states:


"Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-
based use of music interventions to accomplish
individualized goals within a therapeutic
relationship by a credentialed professional
who has completed an approved music therapy
program."

It is my experience through my child's
endeavors with music therapy that it is a
fun-filled, creative, playful interaction
with music that happens to include some
awesome learning experiences and amazing
achievements right before your very eyes.

Each child's experience with music therapy
will be as unique as that child. There is
no typical music therapy session.

A music therapy session may be explorative play
with instruments for one child, adaptive music
lessons for another child. It may be very specific
goals to help yet another child achieve or overcome
something in particular by using music. Music
therapy is definitely not limited to these
particular descriptions. Truly, these scenarios
don't begin to touch the surface for the many
possibilites through which music therapy can
play an orchestrated part in a child's life.

When you search for a Music Therapist, it is
important to choose a trained Music Therapist
who is board-certified. The credentials
MM, MT-BC will appear after their name.

MM, MT-BC stands for Master of Music,
Music Therapist-Board Certified.

Take your time and try a few different Music
Therapists with your child to find a musical match
that is harmonious for everyone.

Some Music Therapists offer a complimentary,
short music therapy session. This allows you to
get an idea of what it's all about and a feel
for the experience as well as an ability to
observe the interaction taking place between
the Music Therapist and your child.

How to Find a Music Therapist

Is your child, who has ACC, struggling with
conventional music lessons for piano, violin
or other instruments?

Do you wish that your child could take music lessons
and want to explore the possibility of your child
learning how to play a musical instrument but have
concerns due to their cognitive skills, attention
span, behavior issues, physical challenges, sensory
issues or developmental delays?

You may want to consider the option of seeking a Music
Therapist. Music Therapists typically have more
experience working with these types of situations in
children who have special needs and they may be able
to offer alternative ways to help a child learn to play
the piano, violin or other instrument.

Learning to play a musical instrument can help build
a child's confidence and self-esteem.

I take my child, Matthew, who has Agenesis of the
Corpus Callosum to music therapy.

Matthew is 16 years old. He is significantly
developmentally delayed in all areas and
functions at the level of a very young child.

We tried a couple different music therapists before
we found Matthew's Music Therapist, Marion. She is
truly a blessing. She opens her musical heart and
meets Matthew in many ways...welcoming him as a
unique individual. She is always observing, always
ever so patient, gentle to nudge, very respectful
and she provides him with a variety of sounds, songs
and instruments to explore. Some of the instruments
Matthew has been able to experience hands on are:

djembe - pronounced: jim-bay (African drum)
several other types of drums
piano
guitar
clapping rhythms set to a song
flutes (wooden)
lyres (stringed instrument)
cello
chrotta (cello-like instrument)
tone bells and other bells
and more

Matthew really likes playing the djembe drum and
other drums. The sounds and rhythms that come
from a djembe are quite a moving experience. In
fact, a couple of times his Music Therapist
spontaneously included Mom and Dad to join in on
the drumming along with her and Matthew. All I can
say is...Wow! I loved it and Matthew's energy level
went through the roof as he came alive with excitement!!!

djembe video clip sample:


When we began music therapy with Matthew I chose
not to set specific goals but rather to leave
the door open for a natural rhythm and flow to
take place and see what may come. I am truly
glad I made this choice because, as a result,
I have seen some very beautiful musical magic
take place.

Some of Matthew's musical accomplishments include:

1. Playing the cello. I snapped pictures galore
hardly believing what I was seeing; my child sitting
in a chair, holding a cello like the member of an
orchestra, and making beautiful cello music. With
one finger Matthew explores the different cello
strings and sounds they make. He also strums the
strings in quick motions using all of his fingers
at once. He experiments with his own creative,
musical rhythms and sounds. His Music Therapist
will often sit across from Matthew with her cello.
She strums along while she sings a song. She lets
Matthew lead and copies what he plays. She also
encourages him to copy a simple rhythm she plays.
Mimicking is something Matthew is learning through
music. At this time he prefers to take the lead but
he is making progress and will sometimes mimic what
his Music Therapist plays on the djembe drum and
other drums. Matthew will continue to work on
mimicking on the cello and other instruments. He
is learning to use a bow to make music on the
cello. Holding the bow with precise finger
placement coupled with keeping the bow moving
across the cello strings is difficult for Matthew.
He must not mind though because he keeps trying.
His Music Therapist is patient. She helps him
hold the bow properly, gives elbow support and
guides his hand when needed and she ever so
gently repositions his fingers as often as needed.
Playing cello with a bow helps strengthen Matthew's
fingers and improves his fine motor skills and
coordination while he's busy having fun. This is
truly a treat and one that allows much opportunity
for a variety of learning to take place.

2. He played guitar! Typically Matthew's Music
Therapist puts the guitar on his lap to allow him
to strum the strings with his fingers. She sings
a song while Matthew is strumming and she will often
strum it as well. Recently, she gently placed the
guitar and strap over Matthew's head so he could
hold it in a natural guitar playing position. At
first, he wasn't too sure if he would tolerate this
newfangled way to play but the next thing I saw was
my child turn into a young man sitting there holding
a guitar and strumming it with his fingers. With
hand-over-hand help from his Music Therapist, he
strummed using his thumb. Then he strummed the guitar
with his thumb a few times all by himself. He also
experimented with making sounds on the guitar in
some of his own explorative ways. He held the guitar
for the first time just like a natural and nearly
brought tears to my eyes. I had a burst of many
happy emotions all at once. It was a moment that
I will cherish.

3. Wooden Flute - HUGE accomplishment!!
Let me back up and tell a little story behind
the scenes that led to this marvelous Matthew
accomplishment. Matthew's Music Therapist
invited us to her housewarming party. It was
a musical gala and people were asked to bring
something musical to share. We were blessed
to attend this party from the moment we
stepped foot in the door. There was so much
talent inside the walls of her brand new home
and they were being christened with one melodious
surprise after another. Djembe drums were
chanting; the booming rhythms bouncing through
your being, beautiful cello music, young girls
singing catchy tunes in the key of acapella.
Another very young boy played a guitar solo
and sang (a song he wrote himself), Marimbas
playing marvelous melodies right before our
eyes--encore, encore! (Matthew loved marimbas)

Marimba sample video clip: (not from the party)


We were thrilled to be privileged to witness this
spectacular happening. It was a sensational show
for our senses; one we will always remember and
did not want to end. Matthew was mesmerized by
each and every single performance and loved every
minute. One in particular spoke to his soul as
he watched intently and listened to the man who
played a Shakuhachi (Japanese) flute. At Matthew's
next music therapy session his Music Therapist,
Marion, remembered his fascination with the
Shakuhachi flute and she already sat out some small
wooden flutes for Matthew to try. My first thought
was to cringe (and I did) because Matthew has huge
aversions to foreign things going in his mouth.
If it's not a spoon, his typical soft foods, a
hard plastic chewy or his fingers then he will make
known immediately the fact that it will not come
near his mouth. I quickly tried to tell his Music
Therapist that he doesn't like things going in his
mouth...and one, two three....I watched her lovely
wooden flute fly high above her head in the air and
land on the floor behind her. Embarrassing! And
then...we tried it again!?! We did? It took a team
effort of Marion, Mommy and Daddy to encourage
Matthew and the second time the flute came gently
to his lips he blew...and made a sound on the flute!!!
He only recently learned how to blow when he was
fourteen. I couldn't believe my eyes seeing him
actually allowing a foreign object to his mouth
and then blowing on the flute and waiting to hear
the music. At the next music therapy session he
did even better. His Music Therapist sits off to
his side and plays her own wooden flute. She stops.
It's Matthew's turn. The first couple times I
brought the flute to Matthew's mouth and he would
blow while I used my index finger to move quickly
up, down, up, down, covering and uncovering
the one hole in the flute allowing a bird-like
musical sound to escape. Soon I was able to
gently touch the flute to Matthew's hand in his
lap. He reached for the flute then quickly closed
his hand around the flute holding it with a closed
fist grasp. I helped him bring it to his mouth to
blow and play the flute. From then on he held
the flute AND brought it to his mouth when it was
his turn to play. Perhaps the third time will be
a charm and Matthew will use his own finger to move
it up and down on the hole while he blows? I strongly
believe that this enormous, gigantic accomplishment
for Matthew came about as a result of seeing the
flute player and the motivational music factor it
had on him. I am very excited to try using a wooden
interval flute with him at home and explore the
possibilities of a recorder, kazoo-(he loves the sound)
and harmonica with him. My hope is that this ability
to bring musical instruments to his mouth will carry
over into his feeding/oral issues and help open up
the possibility to explore and try other things to
his mouth.

Shakuhacki (Japanese) flute video: (not from party)


4. Piano - Matthew has a very light touch with
his fingers. When he first began going to music
therapy he barely made a sound when touching the
piano keys. He has already improved his finger
strength and has learned he needs to strike the
keys more firmly to make sounds. He is also using
both hands to play sometimes. Recently he used
all of his fingers with a more firm all at once
flat down on the keys position instead of striking
the keys with his pointer finger(s). He uses the
reflection of himself in the black, shiny piano as
additional input. He watches his pointer fingers as
they climb up slowly like a roller coaster then he
points them on their downward descent toward the
keys for a beautiful, striking musical finale. It
is hardly the end for Matthew's piano fingers
though because he moves right on to a new musical
masterpiece. He is experimenting and learning each
time he plays the piano.

Matthew is learning very valuable lessons that
musically meet his developmental level and particular
abilities. The door is open to infinite possibilities.
With gentle nudging, encouragement and the freedom
to explore on his own he is making progress. Plus, he
is learning so much and having so much fun learning.
I will always keep the door open to what he can do...



Through the help of a terrific Music Therapist
that I found online, Rachel Rambach, creator of
Listen and Learn Music and her generosity to
freely share her songs with kids, Matthew is
learning even more using music as a teaching tool:

1. Sunny Day - This song helped him learn to say
"a ya ya ya ya". We are working on him
learning the "L" sound so he can say
"la la la la la". When singing this song with
Matthew he listens and knows exactly where to
begin singing to the "la la la la la" part in
the song.

Sunny Day by: Rachel Rambach

2. Ugga Bugga Boo -This song helped him learn to
say "boo" and with much practice and encouragement
he will sometimes say "boo boo boo". Matthew is
non-verbal.

Ugga Bugga Boo! by: Rachel Rambach

Songs help teach a child. A song can create a
musical pathway to learning that brings alive the
lesson.

When you combine a song with a musical instrument,
you are heightening the learning experience and
opening the door for a wide variety of teaching
possibilities that can be very specific to your
child's needs. Plus, they are having fun and are
engaged in the learning process because it's fun.
We have a few musical instruments at home and
have gained a few more once I began homeschooling
Matthew. They include:

Casio keyboard - light up keys to teach a song
Remo kids percussion drum
mini tambourines - Jingle Joe song
castanets - great to develop fine motor control
rhythm sticks - Tap Tap Your Rhythm Sticks song
maracas
toys that play music

I sing simple made-up songs or say rhymes to help
teach my child, Matthew, something he is working on
learning. He catches on more easily if he hears the
lesson in a song/rhyme. Once he has mastered learning
something through a simple song or rhyme, he is
then able to recall it by simply hearing the word.
If he does forget then I will simply begin
to sing the song that first taught him and he
recalls it usually fairly quickly. He may require
a quick hand-over-hand reminder.

Learn Body Parts: A rhyme/song I used
that helped him learn "nose":

tickle your tummy
tickle your toes
wiggle your ears
and beep your...nose.

I used this rhyme with Matthew when he was younger
to help teach him "nose". I used the rhyme in
conjunction with hands-on tickling Matthew's tummy,
his toes, wiggling his ears and then would beep
his nose. Eventually, I was able to move on to
saying "touch your nose" or "where is your
nose?" and he would touch his nose. Even today
if I say the rhyme, he remembers. He will wait
until I say "and beep your......" (I pause)
and without the word...he is touching his nose.

Song I made up that helped him learn "knees"

knees knees knees
if you please
can you, can you
touch your...knees?

I used hand-over-hand to help Matthew learn
knees with this song. He has not mastered it
completely yet. But now instead of singing
it everytime I have been able to move on to
asking him: "where are your knees?" He still
forgets "knees" sometimes but all I do is begin
to sing this song, it triggers his memory and
when I sing "touch your....knees" he may need
one time of my hands bringing his hands to
his knees but then the next time I sing the
song or I ask him, he will touch his knees.

There are many wonderful, musical learning avenues and
adventures to explore when it comes to incorporating
music into your child's life and it does not necessarily
have to cost a lot of money. In fact, there are methods
that cost nothing but your time and creativity.

One simple, quite effective method is to borrow children's
music CDs and other musical selections from your local
library.

Another one of my favorites is to make up your own simple
rhymes/songs tailored specifically to your child's needs
to teach them, through music, what you are working
on learning. It can be as silly or serious as you like.



What if music could help your child learn:

new sounds: Singing Sounds by Cathy Bollinger
words-verbal language
counting: chicken count by: Jack Hartmann
using both hands while drumming or playing piano
coordination
fine motor skills
listening, memory and mimicking skills
social skills: Friendly Words by: Rachel Rambach
a variety of things through:
Tunes That Teach by Cathy Bollinger
and so much more...

Is music motivational in your child's life?

Let's take a musical journey and explore the
ways that music plays a positive part in the
lives of some children who have Agenesis of
the Corpus Callosum.




Mum to 4 year old with ACC writes:

"Lorenzo loves music. He changes completely when he
is listening to music he prefers. He has got some
language problems but when he listens to music he
starts to sing perfectly. He even knows the exact
lyric at the exact time. If he listens to just a small
part of the song, he knows what the song is. Is amazing.
He doesn't speak English or understand it, but he sings
in ENGLISH!!!! He loves Michael Jackson, he sees his
videos all the time. He loves Grease too and he watches
the entire film in English and understands it. He has
been in a music environment since he was born and it
has been great. He is doing Music Therapy. He dances
excellent too. I think music can help children with
disorders of the corpus callosum (DCC) to reach many
things."

This same Mum goes on to write:

"Sometimes when he listens to classical music he
creates some lyrics!!! (I can't understand what kind
of words he is saying but I'm sure they are lyrics he
invented to that melody). It happens when he is watching
Baby Einstein videos."



A Teacher and Mom to a young adult
who has partial ACC writes:


"I taught school for 35 years, and often
recommended music lessons for students, for any
and all children, but especially kids who were
gifted or had learning issues. It is an area
where a child can always be challenged (either
a lot or gently, whatever the need), and
where s/he is not being compared to others.
Learning to play music has been shown to improve
academic skills, concentration, and memory. In
addition, it offers unique social opportunities.
And it has many additional benefits for people
with midline anomalies, as it often involves
two hands doing very different things at the same
time (piano, violin), as well as adding the
reading and listening components.

If you can find the right teacher, a child can
pursue individual tastes, and maybe even expand
them. There are all kinds of methods, like playing
by ear, sight reading, and different ways to learn
music theory."

This same Teacher and Mom goes on to write:

"Some children need to be encouraged, pushed, or
gently prodded to learn, while others need to be
held back a bit to ensure mastery. You can play
for perfection or just for fun. The right kind
of teacher can meet any of these needs.

You can play music alone or in groups. Group
playing adds another layer of complexity to the
learning, as students have to listen to others as
well as themselves in order to make music.

There can be an element of competition in learning
music, and that's good for some kids. But with
individual lessons, a child can be compared to no
one but him/herself, and that can be a great
advantage as well.

Music lessons can really broaden a child's knowledge
and appreciation for many types of music, which they
might not ordinarily be exposed to. My kids recognize
and like many kinds of music, and I think that alone
was worth all the money we spent on instruments and
lessons.

Curiously, playing with others was a real strength for
my child with ACC. Her violin and piano teachers
provided lots of experience playing with others, in
duets, ensembles, and accompanying others. Her piano
teacher, especially, also found lots of places to play
in public for both community service and confidence
building. She was the perfect teacher for her. When
she found that she could not memorize even the simplest
of songs, she always let her perform with her music.
If you don't find a good match the first time, you can
search until you do. There are a lot of creative music
teachers, just like academic teachers, who enjoy the
challenge of working with students who have unusual
strengths and weaknesses."



Mom to 12 year old with ACC writes:

"Celeste loves music. Always has. Classical, kids, rock...
you name it. She has always required music to sleep.
She sleeps usually with Mozart or Beethoven. I never
thought she would be able to play music. Mostly because
neither her father or I have any musical ability
whatsoever! She showed in interest in piano last fall
and we jumped on the opportunity. I have been amazed
at her ability to play! She is a little slower learning
mostly because she stresses so much about not doing
everything perfectly."

When I inquired if ACC has an impact on Celeste,
her Mom replied:


"As for Celeste, well, we just recently discovered
her ACC. She has been slow to learn to read, to learn
to tie her shoes, to learn to do almost everything.
And to tackle something like music....well the thought
of it intimidates me! Celeste is very unsure of herself.
She rarely tries anything new and quits most everything
she tries. I was amazed she even wanted to take piano
lessons. Discovering her ACC was tough at first but it
did make so many things make sense. I no longer was
frustrated that she struggled so desperately to
accomplish what her sisters do in a day...literally.

"Also, it took a while to find a piano teacher who
would be patient and go at Celeste's pace. To listen to
her sit and play is truly music to my ears!"



Mother of 12 year old with ACC writes:

"We have used music with Azeez since he was
born. We always carried musical toys or had
music playing in the background. It was the
one thing that calm him and motivate him.
When he had his sensory issues music played
a large part in helping him get over them.
We would sing nursery rhymes and also have
his musical toys with him to distract him
from the things that would bother him.
Azeez listens to all kinds of music english,
hindi, arabic etc. Later we started using
music to motivate him to learn skills that
were hard for him. Even now when he is in
pain or is not feeling good I put some music
on and it helps him deal with the situation.
The school has put him in as many music
classes as possible so that he can practice
drumming and playing instruments.

About 3 years ago I started looking for a
music therapist because of Azeez's love for
music. This has created some amazing
opportunities for him. He started off banging
the drum. It has helped deal with his weak
motor skills in his hands. Now Azeez is able
to control the movements of his hands. Through
the therapies we also found that Azeez would be
humming at the same pitch as the song and when
the therapist would change the pitch of the song
Azeez would change to the pitch the therapist
is using. We also find Azeez is more vocal
after each music session. When he comes home
he has so much to say (in his babbling way).
I wish I had found the music therapist earlier
because it has made such a difference in
Azeez's life."



I hope that the information shared here will
provide insight and inspire you to explore how
music may strike a chord and open the door to
help your child who has Agenesis of the Corpus
Callosum learn in a positively flowing endless
variety of ways.

Music & Music Therapy Links:

American Music Therapy Association
How to Find a Music Therapist
Songs for Teaching
Chicken Count song lyrics & info
Raffi-childrens music
Singing Sounds CD by Cathy Bollinger
Cathy Bollinger-Rivanna Music-song clips
Octave Music Therapy, Marion Van Namen, MM, MT-BC
Listen and Learn Music, Rachel Rambach, MM, MT-BC

I invite you to comment and share the ways
that music has helped your child and I very
much welcome any input from music therapists
teachers or music teachers as well.


If you would like to receive a hard copy
of this article please E-mail me.




Note: Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum is a congenital defect. A child who has ACC (or a corpus callosum disorder) is born with it. Agenesis = missing or absent. Therefore, a child who has ACC is completely missing their corpus callosum. The corpus callosum is the largest commissural pathway in the brain consisting of over 200 million nerve fibers and allows for communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum has a very broad range of how it can affect a person.

A very special thank you to each one of you who gave permission for me to quote you in this document and for your willingness to share information about your child who has Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum.

A heartfelt Thank You to Matthew's Music Therapist, Marion, for your incredible patience, perceptiveness, your gentle touch, your very beautiful musical abilities and for so graciously sharing your incredible variety of musical instruments with Matthew.

Another heartfelt Thank You to Music Therapist, Rachel Rambach, creator of Listen and Learn Music for your beautiful gift of music and for freely sharing your songs with Matthew and so many kids, for the ideas I get from your blog and for the wonderful custom CDs and personalized songs you make for my child, Matthew.

walking, walking, walking

Master Georgie, Jedi King of the House, has decided that walking is indeed a cool thing to do. He took his first solo steps about a month ago. Just this past week, he has been toddling around the house and within the past few days has picked walking over crawling.

He's soooo cute! He holds his fists up and has a giant grin on his face! He still walks with a limp, like a tiny drunken Jack Sparrow. But he is soooo proud of himself and loves it when we say, "Yay Georgie!"

He's talking more. He likes to point and say something that sounds like "right there." Of course, mama/mom comes out, although with the odd "baby" and "dere" (there.) Adam thinks he has heard "dog." "Brabra" (brother) and "baba" (bottle) are his favorites. And, man, is that kids addicted to his bottle! He has a habit. I saw a onesie that said, "I drink until I pass out" with a picture of a bottle on it. I would so buy it for him and pose him with his empties... but the largest it came was 12 months!

My little big dude.... getting to be so much a toddler and not a baby!

28 weeks

Today I am 28 weeks.

Today I am in the third trimester.

In nine weeks, I will be 37 weeks and no one will stop labor.

In ten weeks, I will be 38 weeks and no one will consider him to be preterm. Barring a medical emergancy, the baby will come home with me.

In ten weeks, he will be able to suck, swallow and breathe. He won't be too sleepy to nurse. He will hold his own temperature.

In ten weeks, my baby will come home with me.

In ten weeks, he will breathe, alone, on his own with the help of a mecanical ventilator.

He. will. breathe AND come home with me... in ten weeks.

I can make it ten more weeks.

What a hippie preggo mama wants

I will be 28 weeks tomorrow. Tomorrow, I will have both feet planeted firmly in the third trimester. Today is one of those rare days I have let go of the fear of being pre-term and embraced the fact that, yes, I might make it to 37 weeks.

I thought about my birth plan and what, if this kid is full term, I want.

Most of it is basic, the things people used to argue with me about but have come to accept (grudingly, bewilderingly but accepted) that I do: a hep-lock instead of an IV, external intermittant doppler monitoring, no pain medication, freedome of movement, pushing in whatever position I chose.

Some of it are things I have never considered before: not breaking my water until I am, say, 9 cm and the ONLY thing keeping me from pushing is a bludging bag of water; pitocin done slowly and risen slowly (ie, you will "pit to distress" me over my dead and rotting body); delayed cord cutting no matter the gestational age, a pump rented to me BEFORE I leave the hospital.

Then there is the dream that I only did once- laboring at home as long as I like, until I feel the need to leave. (Or my wise doula looks at me like I have ten heads and tells me it is time to go NOW.) I am not scared of an unplanned, in the hallway homebirth. I am not scared of birthing in the car. I am woman, hear me roar- the only thing that truly scares me is something happening to my baby.

Every time I vision this birth, it is dusk on a cool late winter/early spring day. It's about dinner time. The house is quiet and I can hear children playing outside in the rapidly melting snow. Everyone is sick of winter and ready for spring to be here. I think it is March.

I am alone or maybe only with my doula. Adam is nearby but not in the room and I am always, always in our soaking tub. I know my mother is here and she is with the older kids- I get the feeling they are headed to my in-laws. I feel like labor will be slow but steady, not the INSTENSE birth Camille's was or the OMGHECOMINGNOW like it was with Joseph. I think it will be LONGER but not LONG.

I think it will be dark when we finally head out. Maybe midnight. I think I will be far along when we get there but not super far, maybe 8.

The numbers 3 and 11 stick in my head. Whether this will be his birth DATE (March 11), birth TIME (3:11) or birth SIZE (3 pounds, 11 ounces) I don't know.

I would like my children to be there in early labor but every time I picture it, it doesn't picture "right." With Georgie, I would try to picture laboring in front of the tree, which I really wanted to do, and it never pictured "right." I could never focus on laboring at home. In the end, I never did labor at home.

I don't know how much of is wistful thinking or based on my most recent birth experience. (The process with Georgie did begin around dinner time, I always spend alot of labor in the water, and I've given birth at night three times.) I don't know how much of it is realistic (most mothers seem to begin labor at night, when they are relaxed and safe). In the end? As long as I get my take-home baby, I don't care.

In the end of the end? His birth story will be wonderful because HE will be in it. It will be HIS. Joseph's was more than I ever imagined, Camille's was so unpredicatable and Georgie's labor was... easy. Mellow. Cheesie's story will end with HIM and when he comes home (weeks, days or hours), he will be OURS and we will have another sweet baby to love. And, in the end, that's all this preggo mama wants... her little boy.

Balance

Everyday, I walk on a tightrope, a delicate balancing act.

If I stay on the rope, I have a balance. If I fall off, I land on one of two extremes, "no worries at all, everything is normal" and "lots of worries, nothing is normal."

It is a delicate balance, this, the line between what is normal for me, a three time mother in her fifth pregnancy in six years, and the woman who had a late-term preemie 14 months ago and must be hyper aware of anything that goes amiss.

What is the balance between a few contractions here and there, knowing that the uterus is a muscle that, like all muscles, contracts and knowing the warning signs of pre-term labor?

What is the balance between knowing that in the third trimester cervical fluid increases and the signs of a bacterical infection?

What is the balance between prepareing for my son's arrival and not getting things together too soon?

I am 27 weeks and walk this balance everyday. I struggle with wanting everything ready now, wanting his and Georgie's room decorated, wanting a dresser to put the clothes in... but not wanting to come home to a house decorated for a baby but no baby in my arms.

I struggle with knowing that I will make it to 30 weeks... but how far after that, I don't know.

There's the balance between wishing it were April and I was ready to give birthanysecondnow and knowing that this is my last pregnancy and savoring every minute of it. (Because it has been my easiest pregnancy, physically, but my hardest emotionally.)

Every week I am closer to 30, when contractions began with Georgie but stopped and started, and 35, when my water broke. I don't know how I will handle being 35+1. It will be a Sunday and I expect I will be on edge most of the day.

There's a balance between wanting to be a homebody and knowing I can't park my butt on the couch for who knows how long.

It's a hard tightrope, a difficult balance but one I must and do walk... and will walk, until my baby comes.

I was rockin until 9 am

I should have known something was up when the oven started smoking.

I got up at 6 am- against my will but I was showered, dressed and had my hair in curlers before 7 am. I popped G into his booster with frosted mini wheats and proceeded to make Oatmeal Blueberry muffins. I fed the kids and put the muffins in the oven.

The oven was smoking adn Adam figured it was due to spilled and dried oil on the bottom. Now maybe a smart person should have turned off the oven (OIL! FIRE!) but I finished the muffins and pulled them out to cool.

(I ate three. They are GOOD.)

Upstairs I dug through the bag from the junk drawer that I had cleaned out in a "clean out your junk drawer" challenge and found the oven manuel. To note a noteworthy event in and of itself, I READ THE MANUEL and then put the oven on to its clean feature.

With the oven happily cleaning, and diapers in the washer, Georgie and I found paper the size of some pictures I want to hang and taped them to the wall. Least you bow to my brillence, I read this in "Good Houseskeeping." I labeled the papers with what photos would, in theory, hang there and happily (abit somewhat crookedly) to the wall.

I defrosted the chicken for dinner AND altered the recipe a little my maninating the drumsticks in the dressing. I know, I was so cool, right? The only thing that would have made me super mom would have been having the kids help me with dinner.

I gave Georgie his bottle while watching Mindless TV and he fell asleep. I then found the paint chips for the dining room and taped THOSE to the wall. Now in addition to seeing where FOR SURE we want pictures to hang, we can make SURE of the paint color we want. (Nothing is worse than buyers remose except painters remorse.)

Back into the kitchen to screw around while the kids watched "Chuggyton"... and I hear a grinding from the laundry room. The machine is flashing an error signal. Did I meantion I had DIRTY, POOPY CLOTH DIAPERS in the washer... and they were stuck on RINSE?

(I know, I puked a little too.)

I called a friend and prefaced the call with, "What is the nasiest thing you can have in your washer when it breaks?" Sadly, Georgie was napping so I couldn't run the (nasty, soaked) diapers up to her place to wash them and we were running on opposite sceds today.

When Georgie woke at 10, I made the call to go to my in-laws. (Mooooooom!) They are out of town and I HATE HATE HATE running to people's houses without premission. I do operate on the "Would I mind?" premise and the answer is no, of course not. But not everyone thinks that way. Yet here I was, with soaked diapers and no shirts for the week (I was supposed to start our laundry that day!) AND wet sheets from where Georgie's diaper had leaked that night! I packed up the kids for swim lessons, a load of laundry, disposies in the diaper bag, wet diapers, and laundry soap (I need to use a Free and Clear for our skin) and went on our way.

Why, yes, we did stop at Chik Fil A! How DID you know? And I did, in fact, treat myself to an ice tea.

At the in-laws, I set the kids up, made sure the water was on and loaded the (smelly, wet) diapers into the washer to rinse. As the kids and I ate (and, yes, I ordered a super healthy lunch for me and still had some nuggets), I washed diapers on super hot and rinsed them. We left for swim lesson and came back to finish the diapers and my clothes. (I tramatized my toddler by tossing in his Mickey Mouse #2 and Boniga Monkey, who fell in mud. Adam informed me Boinga Monkey is not ment to go int he washer. He is when he falls in the MUD!)

I have been having stink problems with my diapers and need to switch laundry soaps. They are dry and clean but still stink slightly.

I cleaned up their house, lugged home wet laundry and checked on the oven. I wiped out the bottem, as per instructions, and preheated the oven for dinner. The kids watched more TV. I think their brains are coming out of their ears!

Adam got home and checked the washer. It chose to work. Since dinner was taking its slow time, I pulled out the leftover Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo from dinner the night before.

I notice the oven is NOT 425 degrees, like it says. The washer stops working, Georgie starts fussing (only one nap!), and I take him upstairs to put him to bed.

Adam dismantled the washer and found that the pump is broken. I guess after 2-3 loads a day for six years, I'd be brokent too.

We check the oven, stop the timer and re-start it. It preheats properly and cooks tonights dinner. I am glad tomorrow is Tuesday and our super busy night- dinner is already done!

Now the oven is making noises. My friend asked me on FB if anything in our house works. We have a microwave and toaster oven. We have heat and hot water from the tap. We have cable, two TVs, our DVD and Blu Ray players and one working computer.

Our dishwasher is still broken (but is int he mail!)

My computer is broken and since we just spent 150 on a new washer pump, it will be next month before it is fixed.

The washing machine is broken.

The tire on my jeep stroller is still broken.

The garage door was on the fritz but fixed... the only FORMALLY broken thing in this house!

I don't want to say it but... what's next?

Traveling with small children

(Let's pretend the house is clean, the laundry is done and the children have not watched 4 hours of TV today. Come on, now, use your imagination!)

I recieved an e-mail from my aunt today about doing an 85th birthday party for my grandmother. This is awesome, as she totally deserves a nice dinner with her family.

The problem for us lies in the fact that Nana really isn't up to traveling and she lives in Brooklyn. I like Brooklyn. Some of my favorite people live in Brooklyn. I would love for my kids to visit Brooklyn again. BUT...

Have you ever traveled with four kids? Okay, well, niether have I but I have traveled with two and three and... ugh.

Getting ready for the trip begins about a month in advance when I go through their clothes, books, toys and make lists of what we will need to bring with us, what I need to buy and so on. A few weeks before hand, I purchase all the goodies we will need- new treats for their backpacks, food for the trip, clothes they might need and so on.

Let's say we're leaving on a Thursday. *At least* the Friday before, I begin doing laundry. Clothes I want them to wear are pulled out. I check to make sure everyone has enough underwear and if we have bathing suits and a swim diaper. If we are gone for a 5 day trip, everyone needs six changes of clothes plus jammies (and I pack extra of those for the kids who are in diapers). Sometimes I know we can do laundry; other times, I have to plan on NO laundry facilities.

ALL laundry needs to be put away. Dusting commences, as does cleaning out the fridge and eating up the perishables. Mac and cheese again anyone?

Bedrooms get cleaned, new sheets put on the bed and the day or two before we leave, rooms are military clean and toys are put away.

No matter how we travel, every kid has a backpack with toys, books, and a couple treats to snack on. They have to carry their own backpack. Everyone has a lovey, usually a toy/stuffed animal and a blanket. If we travel by car, they bring a pillow.

The diaper bag MUST have enough diapers to get us to our destination plus extra for accidents or delays. I carry a change of clothes for the babies in the diaper bag, a massive package of wipes, hand sanitzer, snacks, one sippy per sippy-taking kid, and a few items for myself, like breat pads, "female supplies," lanolin, etc.

We figure we will need two large suitcases this time. I don't care WHAT Adam says- we can't all fit into one suitcase anymore.

If we travel by car, we have sodas, water, fruit, fruit snacks, granola and candy to use as bribes. We also have a DVD player, DVDs, my MP3 player or Zune (for me... yeah, totally), and MAYBE reading material for Mommy. MAYBE.

By plane, we have four car seats, a stroller, a baby wearing device, a small amount of snacks for everyone, the DVD player, a limited selection of DVDs, the Zune (for me... yeah, totally) and MAYBE reading material for the adults. MAYBE. (The car seats come with us in the car, duh, but they aren't the PITA that they are in the plane!)

Oh, and do we need the pack and play?

So now we are at Wends. The night before, all kids are put to bed in clean jammies and Adam and I pack the car. When we travel to WI, we leave at butt o'clock, letting the kids sleep in the car.

By plane, we are up and dressed and heading to KCI hours before our flight. (Our guess is that it would cost 4-6 grand for all six of us to travel to NYC.) We have to deal with uninstalling car seats, unloading the van, keeping track of kids, checking in and going through security to make sure my (will be) 19 month old isn't carrying scissors.

And if you have to potty... use a diaper. All of you. Adults included!

(Actually, I understand and don't mind security but it is a pain!)

In the plane, we have to strap kids into their seats, deal with ears popping, boredem, potty breaks and entertainment while trying to squeeze into the bathrooms to help them, paying 10 dollars for a glass of ice water and changing diapers in my lap. And pppplleeeeease don't blow out!

Now to CHANGE PLANES!

Let's pray the plane is on time. I give a whole day for travel and we if arrive in time to do something in the evening... bonus.

We would have to rent a car and we can no longer split a rental with someone or mooch off one of my cousins since we all only fit in a mini-van.

The hotel... checking in isn't a big deal, although when we travel by plane we have more STUFF since we can't leave anything in the car. However, getting kids to sleep in a hotel or any strange location... not easy. Also, we need a larger room with a bed, a pull out couch and room for a pack and play. I think this summer the boys will share a bed, the baby will be in the pack and play and Camille will be on the floor. Adam and I like to think we'd share a bed but, honestly, Cheesie will likely end up with me, Camille somewhere and Adam in the car! (I'm kidding about the car thing- I think.)

Then there's the cost of food. Most hotels have a free breakfast. Lunch and dinner are not free. Snack time might be free, IF we brought enough snacks to last us the (theortical) four days we are gone. That is harder to do with plane travel but not with car travel.

Okay, have you stopping twitching yet?

After a fun filled (in theory) four days, we head home. Let's add another day for travel with kids coming down from sugar and fast food highs and having their every whim induldged by grandparents, great grandparents, assorted aunts, uncles, cousins and two parents who need them to sitdownbequietstoprunning and staywhereyouare.

And let's pray the newborn is a good traveler who handles new people and faces well!

Okay, now I am twitching!

We get home to a nice clean house (see! Method to the madness!) where I have to wash four days worth of clothes, unpack and put away new toys or clothes, have the kids unpack their backpacks, clean out the car, get the suitcases put up and detox everyone from getting their every whim catered to, fast food, junk food, no exercise and probably too many DVDs.

Did we have fun?

Yes, we had fun with the family (in theory). However, I think 2008's back to back traveling in July and Aug is too fresh in my mind. Plus, after the birth of every kid I have had something MAJOR happen. At 6 weeks PP, I traveled with newborn JOseph to a wedding in WI. (Best trip, actually, because he slept alot and so did I- in the car!) At 6 weeks PP with Camille, I went to my parents house and then at four months we went to a wedding in Brooklyn. (Camille was a horrible traveler but did hold it together for those two events!) At 6 weeks with Georgie, I was packing up a house to sell. This birthday party will happen 8-10 weeks PP with Cheesie... and I honestly don't know if I want to travel. I want to GO but I don't want all the work. We MIGHT be able to afford for me to go, with the baby, but I don't know. It would be nice to not have to travel... but, like I said, I'm delusional.

(At least I know it, though!)

Mommy- Cami date night

I had a little date night with Camille last night. Adam and Joe went to an Adventure Guides event in Parkville and we were alone. I had made a nice lunch so I didn't want to cook. I was totally craving chocolate cake and didn't want to bake since the dishwasher is STILL out of commission, so we went to Cheesecake Factory.

(Yes, alone, preg, with two children on a Saturday night. Hey, no one said sanity was my strong point!)

We only waited 25 minutes and, at the end, someone offered me their seat. It was so sweet. I was getting a little annoyed- it was clear I am preg and does a healthy 10 year old really need to sit to play his video game? Really? I keep trying to tell myself that maybe they have a health condition you can't see... but, yeah, that only works so much.

I know the waiter was all excited to see the preg woman, thinking I would order tons and leave a big tip... well, I did leave a nice tip. We ordered the sliders and a side of fries then the Godiva cheesecake! She was so excied for the cake she did a little song and dance routine in the booth! Lol. We were sitting near alot of young couples on date night and you know we scared them. (This too will be you after nearly 8 years of marriage.... bwahahaha!) When we were finished, I asked the waiter to pack it up and she nearly went with him to make sure her cake was fine! (Can you tell she was waaaay tired?!)

I'm taking Joe out next... maybe mini golf? We'll have to see!

Saving money

Adrienne and Gary recently brought new living room funiture. It looks great, honestly. Because of this, they had a coupon to La-Z-Boy Galleries for 50 dollars, good only for two days. Because they need nothing (their words) and they are out of town, they gave it to us to see if we could use it.

Honestly, we need nothing. Okay, we need dining room funiture... after the summer, when Adam repaintes. We maybe need another lampr for the playroom. I'd love a love seat for the living room but that is impractical right now. Pictures... I prefer to decoratein family photos. But for 50 free dollars? Worth a look-see.

We went their this afternoon with two kids full of donuts and one very tired Georgie. He slept through the majority of the trip and we went in search of any item around 50 dollars to spend the least amount of money out of pocket.

I found a dining room table I like and got some ideas for a china cabniet. I like basic things, I think, and love the black/white/red color sceme with other accent colors. We didn't find a lamp;all were about 300 dollars and not ones I want in a playroom. We looked at decor for the house, specfically for things on the mantle. Our mantle is over six feet long and the space between that and the cieling is about four feet. (Totally guessing.) We have a Holy Family statue there now and several frames but nothing on the wall. We didn't find anything we liked but ended up with three thick candle sticks/stands. They were steeply discounted and had a discount off that price. With our 50 dollar coupon, we paid 20 dollars out of pocket! I need to buy candles for them and we are moving them around to decide how to arrange them (they have wide bases and our mantle is narrow) but they look great!

(I love knowing what I like and don't like. Adam and I tend to way overthink purchases but we hate spendng money and having buyers remorse. Plus, I spent alot of time over the year decluttering and the last thing I want or need is MORE clutter. I am not a knick-knacks person; I like Nativities and people can always add to our manger scene but anything I have to DUST... ACK!)

We found Camille totally has a future is sales. She loved talking to the sale people about their job and "helping" them. I don't think they were too thrilled, though!

Yesterday was a good day too. On Friday or Saturday I did the grocery shopping for the upcoming week and a) remembered why I have Adam do it and B) spent only 60 dollars for the week! This was with impluse buys too, like the SteamFresh veggies on sale for 99 cents, some sippy cups for Georgie and Nuvia at Aldi's. (A type of natural sweetner.) We're eating well this week too, so I'm not skimping on quality or quanity. I just hit the sales at the right time!

Sign Language--My First Signs



This is a favorite sign language video of my
child, Matthew, who has complete Agenesis of
the Corpus Callosum.

We have owned the Baby Einstein-My First Signs
DVD for several years and I like it as much
as Matthew does.

Even though this video demonstrates and teaches
beginning signs and Matthew knows a lot of them
he still chooses this video and loves watching
it.

Part of the video is set to classical music.
Plus Baby Einstein-My First Signs DVD gives you
the option to learn sign language in English,
French or Spanish
.

What I love about this particular sign language
video is that Marlee Matlin, Actress from the
movie:
Children of a Lesser God demonstrates
each sign. Marlee Matlin, as most of you know,
is deaf. She is quite expressive in speaking
with her eyes and her whole body as she brings
to life and demonstrates each sign being taught.
I loved learning sign language from this video.

Baby Einstein-My First Signs DVD is divided into
four categories:

Family
Meal Time
Play
Bed Time

and teaches 16 words:

kiss, mommy, daddy, baby, milk, cereal,
eat, drink, play, help, friend, ball,
sleep, bath, story, blanket.

See for yourself:





Check out your local library to borrow the DVD
or you can purchase it new or used from Amazon.
You can also find it at a local store near you.

Previous Sign Language posts

26 weeks

The short version:

No weight gain

The "big baby" card was played (b/c of the weight I have gained) and I laughed. God love him, Georgie was and is big because he began big. I measured 2-4 weeks ahead with him the whole time. I think this baby will be smaller than he was.

The SPD comes and goes.

I'm more tired and even the one cup of coffee I can now tolerate isn't helping.

My progestrone was normal so I am off that for the time being.

The baby must have changed position because I can button my coat better!

4 year WCC- Camille

Camille is about 33 pounds fully clothed. She did awesome for the dr and the nurse was impressed with how well she knew her shapes. I was concerned about her habit of eating ice and the fact that she lives off dairy, carbs and sugar. She also looks pale but I don't know if that is my warped perception since she's naturally lighter than I am. We went ahead and did a blood draw for anemia. She was NOT HAPPY about that or the two shots she got!

It's anal but it works

I have a large calendar (Amy Knapp) that has a space on it to plan dinner and lots of space to write all our activities. Every week, I look at what we have to do and plan dinner accordingly. I also plan what baking I have to do. For example, next week I have one day I am super busy so I am pulling something out of the freezer. I have one day that will either be a crock pot meal or eating out because we are super busy and have to be some place within an hour of karate ending. It's anal but it saves money (Adam shops on Sat or Sunday and only buys what we need for the week) and time and we eat better too.

In case you are dying to know:
Saturday: Ravioli bake (crock pot) and salad for lunc; leftovers for dinner
Sunday: chicken and veggie alfredo (homemade sauce and super easy)
Monday: one pot chicken and potato bake with some sort of fruit
Tuesday: Crock pot dijon pork with a veggie side OR CFA Kids Eat Free night
Wends: saucy cheeseburger buns (a cheesy version of sloppy joes) from the freezer and maybe a salad
Thursday: Pancakes/eggs with fruit or smoothies
Friday: Cheesy 2 meat meatloaves and salad

Can you tell I am terribly UNcreative when it comes to sides?!

I also plan out what day I am going to do laundry. I used to just wait and sort and wash everyone's on the same day. With five people, that kept the laundry constantly going and we always had baskets of dirty laundry waiting in our bathroom. Lately I've been assigning everyone a day (and it varies from week to week depending on needs) and doing their laundry that day. I am still doing two loads a week; either darks/whites from one person or a load per person plus towels/napkins or diapers. I don't always get it folded and put away that same day but you can wear clean and wrinkled (but not dirty!). So far, it's been easier on me and I feel like I accomplished something everyday vs still having MORE laundry to do the next day. Hey, it is SUPER anal but much easier!

ACC-Listserv E-Mail Support Group




Finding support from other people who know
from experience what it's like to walk in your
shoes is an absolute blessing!

Join the ACC-Listserv

The ACC-Listserv is an e-mail support group
that was created by Gary and Kathy Schilmoeller
who are also the co-founders of the ACC Network.
They have two grown sons, one of which has ACC.
The ACC Network is the first place I received
information about ACC from back when my son,
Matthew, who has complete Agenesis of the
Corpus Callosum, was very young.

After many years of helping people all over
the world, The ACC Network is no longer operating.
However, they still have the ACC-Listserv
E-Mail Support group available to anyone who is
interested in joining in on discussions about
various topics concerning ACC.

The ACC-Listserv is a place where you can
address your concerns, fears, worries, where
you can ask questions, share victories,
achievements, share your thoughts and feelings
and receive support from others who understand.

It can put you in touch with hundreds of
people all over the world who can relate
to you.

It could be a great way to address your
concerns, questions and receive a variety of
input, tips, suggestions from many parents
who are also dealing with specific areas of
concern that you are dealing with.

If you are the parent of a child who has
ACC, an adult who has ACC, the caregiver of a
person who has ACC, a therapist, teacher,
grandparent, family member or anyone else,
I encourage you to consider checking out
the ACC-Listserv. Everyone is welcome to
join.


Join the ACC-Listserv

spoiled

I've been getting up at butt o'clock (515 am) to go swimming. I went last Tuesday but the JCC was closed due to the cold (????) on Thursday. I did get to the mall to walk o n Friday so I wasn't a total putz.

Well, I moved up a lane, which isn't bad considering I have been swimming on and off for years but not with a team since 1999! The coach wants me to breathe more often, which is quite a change from when I was an age grouper and was yelled at to breathe LESS. I really like the coach and he has been telling (nagging) me to walk more. I need walkin' shoes and I have to be careful. The SPD is here but not NEARLY as bad as it was with Georgie.

I was a little late this morning. mostly because there was no one at the front desk to buzz me in. I had to crawl under the gate. Stop laughing!

I got about 30 minutes in. The most I will be able to swim in a morning is 45, as I have to be out of the pool but 630 to shower, change and get home to let Adam off at work. He's amazed it takes me so long to get ready but, honestly, a shower, shave, hair wash, make up, drying my hair a bit, getting my slow old fat body dressed... aren't you impressed it takes me ONLY 20 minutes?!

I came home this moring to my fave breakfast- whole wheat english muffins with two eggs, some cheese and two mini bagels and "coffee." (A little coffee, alot of creamer and milk!) I feel so spoiled and ready to take on the day.... or maybe just the dishes. Can't have too many goals. ;)

Does anything in this house work?

Broken: the handle on the washing machine
the dishwasher
the wheel on my single stroller.

Was broken:
my garage door

We had the dishwasher looked at. I am SLIGHTLY ANNOYED at the company. They came out to tell us what we already knew: it is leaking and everything but the motor is broken. Since it is about 15 years old and gets daily use (if not more!), they THINK our home warrenty company will replace it. I think it would be mightly stupid to repair a dishwasher that has been around since I was in junior high. Then again, I'm not sure about the brains of home warrenty companies!

The garage door was fixed, which is awesome. Hopefully, the infamous home warrenty company will pay us back for getting it fixed. He also said Adam's side should be looked at. Joy but I hope it breaks in the spring when the weather is perfectly nice and he doesn't have to drag kids out in 20 degree weather to get them in and out of the car!

Overheard: swimming

(Disclaimer: I'm slightly paraphrasing because I don't remember it word-perfect and I forgot the exact reference chapter)

Hanging on the wall of the pool this morning:

A parent is bound to teach their child a craft. Some also say, to teach their child to swim.
Babylonian Talmund

Music, Motivation & Mentor



A very heartfelt story was shared several months
ago by the mom of, Kevin, a boy who has complete
Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum in the ACC-Listserv
support group I belong to. With her permission
I am posting it here:


"Just wanted to share something with all of you. Kevin
has always been interested in music. He tried playing
in the band when he was in the seventh grade, but after
a semester, his band director took aside and told us
that he was not able to play in the band. He said that
he just didn't have enough coordination to master the
instrument. We had been told by his drs. that
this was probably going to be true when he was diagnosed
at 8 yrs. old. So, we weren't surprised. His twin
brother played the tuba all through high school and
Kevin started being the football trainer and continued
all through high school. Casey, his twin, is not C-ACC
like Kevin.

Casey became interested in playing the guitar when
he was in high school and got pretty good at it by
teaching himself. Kevin wanted his brother to teach
him how to play also. But Casey didn't spend a lot
of time teaching him and got very frustrated. so that
was ended quickly. Now at 22 yrs. old Kevin met a
friend that is in a band who is looking for a guitar
player. He told Kevin that if he wanted to join he
would teach him to play. The first advice he gave him
was to buy a left-handed guitar. He started giving
Kevin lessons once a week. He has been teaching him
for about 3 months now. I heard Kevin playing the
guitar in his room today and he was excellent! He
has surpassed his brother's guitar skills. What a
thrill it was to listen to him play.

Moral of the Story: Never limit what your child
cannot accomplish because a dr. said it wasn't
possible. I am definitely guilty of that. But I am
working on it."

Cherry, mom to Kevin, C-ACC, 22, Casey 22, and David, 26

Fabric shopping

I had an appointment today and did a little shopping before hand. It was funny- with Joseph, taking him out shopping alone on a Saturday wouldn't have been relaxing or a treat. Now with Georgie, it is! Lol. (The older two were with Grandma and Grandpa and Adam was at a hair appointment.)

I brought some California Baby Wash. It's all natural and fragrence free, etc. I am not sure why LEAVING things out makes it cost MORE. It was 18 dollars for about 19 ounces. Total sticker shock since I normally buy the off brand of Johnson and Johnson's. But his skin has been soooo bad I am switching to free and clear or all natural versions of laundry soap and his body wash.

While there I looked for wall stickers for his room. I want brown, green and blue dots. Do they have them? NO. Pox on Target!

(I did find a super cute dino hat and easy on mittens on sale. Yay! Too bad his big ole noggin is too big for the super cute monkey hat I saw!)

After that I went to JoAnn's and found the perfect fabric for Cheesie's flannel rag quilt. I have solid brown, green and blue and a print to match each one. I will have to post pictures of the brown fabric- it's retro, adorable and full of jungle animals. I want to buy yards and yards of it but I'm not sure what I would do with it!

I also checked out their 50 percent off Wallies section. No dots for boys or ABC's for the bathroom. But if I was having a girl? I could have a field day! (I did price the wooden letters I want for over their beds...)

We had a good day... wore the Georgie out but it was fun. I've already started to get the squares ready and any leftover flannel will be for wipes.

Overheard:Camille and Vulcans

Cami: Mommy, my blanket is dirty. You need to wash it.
Me: Honey, I don't think your blanket is dirty and it just came out of the wash.
Cami: No, it's dirty. Joe GOT A HAIR ON IT!

****
Camille: I don't like football. Football is BORING. Mommy, can we go to the mall instead? Please?

Oh, I love her. I so love her. I forsee many Sunday afternoons happily spent at the mall while all the men folk watch football. My mother in law watched the kids today and took Cami to the nail salon while she got her nails done. She treated Camille, even though she (MIL) normally paints her nails. Camille LOVED it. LOVED. She apparently sat still and waited for them to dry. She asked to go back and I said the salon is a sometimes activity but Grandma can paint her nails anytime. I then promied we would go back this summer before we go to a wedding.

***
Me: I'm pretty concvined Vulcans exsisted and came to Earth and intermarried with humans. Over time, the characteristics of Vulcans disappeared and became the race we know as ENGINEERS!

Blog Access

I blog for a variety of reasons: I like it, it is a wonderful record of the children's daily life and to keep family and friends updated on what is going on. While I enjoy reading blogs (I read "The Sphors are Multiplying" and pop into MckMama's on occasion), I mostly read the blogs of friends.

Recently, it has come to our attention that people were sharing my old blog address with people I don't know and that electronic photos of our children have been passed around. This bothers us. Alot.

Currently, this blog is under invitation only, which means I must add your e-mail address to the list of people who can read this blog, you will recieve an invite (check your spam folders!) and then need to set up an account and password. I don't like doing this, because it is a pain for all involved. But I need to know who has access to information about the daily lives of my kids.

I am also asking people NOT to post photos of our kids for the time being. My normal computer is getting fixed so photos from the holidays have been non-exsistant for anyone. Adam and I will decide if we want photos on the blog. I will likely keep the photo sharing site updated.

And finally the obvious- don't share your password for this site with anyone. I know it's a DUH but I need to cover my bases while this is being sorted out.

Preschool Daze

I can't believe it is already time to enroll Camille in preschool for the fall.

She has two options for next year: cont at SMA, our parish, or the public peer modleing program. (She would be a "typical" but there is nothing typical about Camille!) I enrolled her, easy peasy, in the public school option. We won't know until the spring if she has a spot, so I went ahead and filled out the forms and check for SMA because I want her in a preschool, period, and we like SMA alot.

The PS program is more convient for me. I would, hopefully, drop her off after lunch and pick her up when I went to get Joseph in the PM. (I want her in a PM class so we can do stuff in the mornings and then I can chill while the babies nap in the afternoon. It will be way more convient for her and me but we saw how well THAT worked this year!) It is a four day program, which I know she is ready for.

BUT I talked to one of the teachers at church and was NOT impressed. I didn't haress her or anything. We had met her husband and he saw us and said, "Oh, these people are considering PS for preschool next year, honey," and she talked to us. She told us a little about the program (sounds fine, nothing mind boggling but nothing alarming either). I asked her about the pre-K program, since Camille will be closer to five than four in the fall. I said, "Is that an option for a Jan birthday or is that for the kids who will have turned five and just miss the K cut off?"

"It's for the kids who just miss the K cut off or those little darlings whose mommy's can't bear to send them to kindergarten just yet," she said, rolling her eyes.

I made a joke and said, "Yes, and some kids who meet the cut off aren't ready for kindy just yet," and sighted Joseph who was not ready for 3 yo preschool but was ready for kindy.

Not impressed. Don't make wise cracks about the parents to another parent. Just don't.

SMA has been really good for her. I've seen her learn alot and she's experienced alot of spirtual growth and knowledge that impresses both of us. She likes going to the church for their tours (to learn about the articles of Mass, baptism, etc) and her teacher has been awesome. It is only a 3 day program (and she IS ready for four days) and more inconvient for me in terms of pick up. I'm not too worried about the religious ed, because she'll be in CCD again, etc. But a big part of me does not want to rock the boat and I want to keep her where she is happy and learning.

If it were up to ME, I think I would keep her in SMA. All this could be a moot point, since they might not have a spot in the public school for her. I'm sure either one will work out and I would transfer her if I thought there were any problems at either school.

I can't believe we have to start thinking about the spring and Aug when there is several feet of snow on the ground, school is closed for the cold and I am not anywhere close to having this kid!

Snow Daze

We're on Day Two of no school here. School started back up on Tuesday and he went just fine. I got in two days of swimming, the kids started swim lessons and karate.

Then, yesterday, they canceled due to an "impending" snow storm that would start at around 2 pm.

My bad. Does school start at two? No, it does not!

Thankfully, BVRec was still open. Joseph did an excellant job of playing with some new friends while Camille had dance and I fussed that our "low expense" month was getting MORE expensive because she seriously outgrew her tap shoes!

After that, the weather was still fine so I went to get my eyebrows done and then we went to CFA for lunch. They have Berenstien Bears books in their kids meals! Once again, G ate his whole meal, minus some of the apple chunks. That kid eats more than his almost four year old sister!

Around 1215, it finally began snowing. It got heavier during swim lessons but nothing I couldn't drive in and I don't like driving in snow or ice. We came home, put G down for a nap and chilled for the rest of the afternoon.

IMPENDING storm? Or closing for COLD, like today? Okay, seriously, this is STUPID. I understand closing in the rural areas that might not get plowed, where it could be dangerous for the bus drivers and the kids have a long wait for the buses. But we live in the middle of the suburbs. Very few of the kids at Joseph's school ride the bus. Most drive and will not get frost bite walking from the drive into the school, even if they were naked as a jaybird and soaking wet! Adam keeps waxing on about the kids at the bus stop. Um, most kids have a communal stop in front of a house. If I were that person who lived in the house, I would let the kids wait inside for the bus. Plus, God invented these lovely things called gloves, scarves, hats and mittens. In conjunction with a jacket, they keep you fairly warm. (Adam said, "Well, some kids might not wear them." So you close school because so kids are too cool to bundle up? That, my friends, is called DARWIN.)

I vividly remember waiting for the bus in front of my house in a full body snow suit. It was pink with purple elephants knitted across the front. The only person I pitty was the teacher, who had to deal with a bunch of second graders and all their snow gear!

So, yeah, I think closing for an "impending" blizzard that would start at the end of the school day is stupid. I think, in our situation, closing for simple cold is stupid. I'm not mad about having the kids home- we're going to watch too much TV, bake bread, banana muffins and clean bathrooms.The Many Small Minions are learning the fine art of hand washing dishes because the dishwasher is broken. And MAYBE I will get Georgie's toddler bed set up. MAYBE.