Thursday, May 27, 2010

Sensory Processing Disorder

Well, it's official! Ryker's Rykeriness is explained! I talk a lot on here and everywhere about how Ryker is destructive and clumsy and rough with everything. It always seemed so weird that he would be so persistent with hurting things and breaking things that people cared about when he's inherently such a sweet and loving boy. I couldn't understand why I was needing to instruct him on things like getting off the yelping dog's head or stop breaking apart Raelin's tower as she's crying and pleading with him to stop. Or why he kept crashing out of his chair into a crumpled heap on the floor. I couldn't understand why, despite YEARS of consistent coaching and disciplining, he was STILL hitting things/people with sticks and throwing rocks. And why was pain, God's natural teacher, not having the normal impact on him? He just never seems to learn from pain. I give him a hug and he's right back at it, no more careful or wary than he was before; no change in behavior at all. And it seemed odd that at almost 5 years old, he's still taking a 2-3 hour nap daily. There are also lots of days where I have to say, "Okay, Ryker, just STOP MOVING!" because the amount of motion going on when I'm trying to accomplish something is dizzying! Lots of these things independently could be chalked up to him just being a boy or being 4 years old, but when you put it all together, there just seemed to be something "off." I finally ran into a friend about three weeks ago who mentioned a few things about her boys that raised a red flag for me and I started asking questions. She pointed me in the direction of Sensory Processing Disorder and a book called The Out of Sync Child. I read it and it explained EVERYTHING I've always felt was "off" about my son. I got in touch with the right people at Ryker's school and they had someone come out to observe him for a day. She saw lots of SPD symptoms and referred us to an occupational therapist (who is a SPD specialist and is GREAT). We had an assessment today and it went great! I'm learning a lot and we are gaining a lot of understanding about Ryker; about why he has been so hard to handle in certain regards (especially when he's tired). And we're learning what we can do to make all our lives easier. Ah! It's so nice to have answers! And to feel like the ways in which he's difficult aren't my fault or his!

For those of you interested in what SPD is, basically it means that the brain misinterprets normal sensory information (touch, sound, movement). There are several types of this. Some people are over-responsive, feeling bombarded by sensory information (not Ryker). They feel hyper-stimulated by the feeling of their clothes, wind, light, noise, etc. They end up seeming fearful of experiences most of us don't bat an eye at. Others (Ryker) seek out intense sensory experiences. They stomp, bang, crash, hit, etc. This is Ryker in a nutshell. Others have difficulty with motor skills, like writing, kicking a ball, imitating movements, balance, etc.

So Ryker's main area of difficulty is with the sense called proprioception. His brain doesn't process correctly where he is in space, so he bumps into things and bangs things and hits and throws so that he can get a sense for where he IS. If he crashes into the table, well, now he knows where his body is. If he hits something with a stick, he can figure out where his arms are. So he's constantly seeking out deep, heavy input to learn where he is and what his body is doing. The solution is to offer outlets for these things (opportunities to hammer and to stomp and to hit APPROPRIATE things) so that he can have those input needs met and therefore become more regulated. Over time, he will learn to function in a normal range instead of a hypo-sensitive range. Regular input will start to be enough for his brain to process and formulate a more appropriate response (for instance, a few weeks ago, he sat on Zuma's head. She started yelping, but because of the way his brain misinterprets senses, he didn't process that HIS behavior was causing her pain and that the appropriate response is to GET OFF! So if we help him learn to regulate himself, he will start to process things the right way and formulate the correct responses).

I have a lot more reading and learning to do before I feel like I really have a handle on this whole thing, but that's the long and the short of what I've learned so far. I also have a lot of reading and learning to do before I feel equipped with enough ideas and tools to be able to redirect his behavior appropriately. But for now, we are going to try encouraging pillow fights (Raelin gets to start it whenever he's being antagonistic or ruining her games), wheelbarrow races, building specific things (not just arbitrarily hammering nails), pushing and pulling heavy things, playing catch with different sized balls, etc. These will all help to meet his needs for sensory input and create for him a "sensory diet." On the other end of the spectrum, to help Ryker calm down, the OT suggested a swing in his room (wouldn't every kid LOVE to have that sort of prescription!) and a short yoga routine. So, here we go! I hope we get some good results from all these ideas! I'll certainly keep you posted about how Ryker progresses over time.

Per Gina's Request

Another Ryker quote relayed to me by his teachers at preschool:

"It's a unicorn. See the pointy part? That's the uni."

Other preschool quotes (not quite as great at the unicorn one, but still very Ryker-y):

"I love blood. I'm a vampire!"

"I want to play husband and wife. I've been waiting to play it for 100 years!"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ryker quote

You think you're kids are so smart when they start talking about genetics and then:

"...And if you have good enough pants...or can live to be 100!"

I sure hope I can find some jeans that are as good as my genes!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Love this video!

I wish I knew how to edit videos, but I don't and I probably don't have a program to do it anyway. So the end is rather uneventful, but the first 20 seconds or so are great! Oh, and she dancing to the chime sound my phone made when I hit record. My intention was to get a video of her babbling away like she had been for the previous 10 minutes. She decided to dance instead.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I LOVE KSL!!!!! We found ZUMA!!!

We found Zuma!!!! I meant to put an ad on KSL at the beginning of last week, but I made fliers and forgot to post an ad. Today when I made my rounds to the pounds in the area, one of the employees reminded me to try putting an ad on KSL so I did that today and I just got a call from a family in Lehi who found her last Monday (I'm amazed she survived the night, being such a little thing. Though, she is feisty!). The husband works here in town and he's going to meet us in the morning! Yay! I guess this is also something I'll miss about Utah when we leave; I don't think people would try so hard to find a lost dog's owners in another place. Especially when they really liked the dog--they asked if we would be willing to sell her. I told them we planned to breed her in the next year or so and that we could keep their info sell them one of her puppies. We can't wait to see her! She and Cooper are going to be so happy to see each other too. Cooper's been barking more than usual with her gone, so I know he misses her too.

The Zoo

Ryker's school is awesome. His class is perfect for him and his teachers are amazing! And the school takes care of the whole family, not just the student. They check in on us regularly, make sure we're doing okay, and give us info on resources we would qualify for (food stamps, HEAT, WIC, etc.). This weekend they offered a trip to the zoo (for free! I love free)! Gina and Toby and Russell came too and we had a great time! (Brice, unfortunately, missed it because he had a scout camp out. He was bummed--he's been wanting to take the kids to the zoo for a while now.) It rained and hailed on us at lunch time, but otherwise was perfect. We got to see lots of cool animals, including a baby elephant and a rather amusing orangutan (he was performing acrobatics for all the onlookers).Look at that mouth!
I don't know what it is about this giant elephant statue, but the kids all love it! They could play on it for hours and not see anything else and be perfectly happy. I think we should build one at the nearest park...
Always have to get pictures on the statues...
This made me laugh! Giraffes are so strange!
And apparently we came on a day when this big horn sheep was in the mood for a little attention! He really seemed to be enjoying getting rubbed and petted!
I was a little concerned about the kids having their arms inside the fence like that because if the animal startled, he could easily ram them and break their arms. But how often do you get to pet a big horn sheep! So I decided it was worth the risk--he seemed docile enough... I'm crazy, I know.
Alaina is so funny about animals sometimes. She is SO interested and intrigued, but a little fearful too. So she'll go up to them for a second and then retreat. Or she'll wiggle and fight until I take her over to the animal, but then she hides in my shoulder. This time, she got brave for a second and I caught on camera! Lucky shot!
Uncle Toby posed this picture and I think it's a great one!

I wish it was easier to get pictures and to see into this habitat. The tigers are amazing (I think they might be my favorite), but I can never get very good pictures and their enclosure has lots of levels and hiding places. I saw more of them this time than I ever have before, but I didn't get any spectacular pictures. Which is too bad because it would be cool to have a better shot of this guy munching on a leg of lamb (or something).

Random goings on, sad news, and belly pics

One of our neighbors gave us a basketball hoop. (We have great neighbors around here! I can't tell you all the wonderful things they do for us!) Raelin LOVES to play basketball! She is such a natural athlete. I love it. You should see this girl run! One day she went from little toddler girl run to nearly perfect form. And she is FAST! Ryker likes to have Brice stop a little ways from home so he can get out and run the rest of the way. Yesterday, both kids got out on our way home from church. Brice clocked Raelin at over 11 miles an hour. In church shoes.

All the kids like to help Daddy mow the lawn.
Brice built a shed and a deck and some other things for a family in Provo and they have TONS of birds all around their property. We were sitting under a tree eating lunch and we saw this:
Baby birds are so stinking ugly that they are cute!

Yup, definitely my daughter!
No doubt about it.
Here's my most recent belly picture. My sweet friend gave me a gift certificate to Motherhood and I got this cute shirt! So nice to have cute maternity clothes! It helps me not to look quite so much like a whale. I'm not huge, but my belly sure is! And it's getting bigger every day. Brice says I've almost graduated from basketball to beach ball. It's true.

I love this face:
But it was a sad day. We went up the canyon last Sunday to take the dogs for a hike. But they were out of the car before the kids and we just weren't ready. They, however, were, and they bolted. I took the kids on a little hike while Brice drove around looking for the dogs. Finally, it got time to get the kids home and to bed so we left our # with the nearest campers and also with the camp host at the campground lower down. And we left my t-shirt in the turnout where we'd parked because a houndsman had told me that a lot of times, dogs will sniff out their owners when they're done gallivanting, so if you leave something that smells like you and come back for them later, they will be within calling range. So we put the kids to bed and then Brice went back up to search for the dogs. Cooper was curled up in a ball right by my shirt! But no Zuma. Brice and William and Cooper hiked miles, and now that Cooper was checking in, he was allowed to run laps around them, covering a TON of ground. If Zuma was anywhere in the area, Cooper would have found her and she would have followed him back to Brice. Meanwhile, I was chatting with my sister online (we're such losers) and I told her about losing the dogs. Her hubby decided that they were going to go help look, so they got dressed (it was after 10:00), hopped in their car and came down from Lehi to help find out dogs. They brought their dog with them, hoping that she would be a help. When Gina and Toby got up there, Brice and William had just lost Cooper. Again. So William took our car back down to my shirt and he was there waiting again! So William and Cooper went home and Gina, Toby, Brice, and Sadie (G&T's dog) continued the search. No luck. I've been up the canyon a couple of times this week trying to catch the campers that were there that night to see if they had her, looking for her, and posting fliers. I've also been to the pound several times (which is where I'm headed this morning as soon as Alaina wakes up). No luck. We're pretty sure that she got picked up by someone or else our little search party would have found her. Now we just have to keep hoping that whoever has her is decent enough to try to find us. I miss her...

A recipe everyone should try

Caribbean Black Beans with Mango Salsa.

This is a favorite around here! It's fast and easy and everyone we've made it for loves it (including kids)! And it's mango season. So I thought I'd share. The amounts are always a little bit different based on what we have on hand, but it always turns out great, so tweak the recipe according to what flavors you like best.

1 T olive oil
1/2 onion (~1 cup)
2 t fresh minced garlic
1/4 C water
1 1/2 t fresh minced and peeled gingerroot (or 1 t dried ground ginger)
2 cans (~15 oz) black beans--drain one can only
1/4 C orange juice concentrate
1/4 t salt
2 T chopped fresh cilantro

Ingredients for salsa:
3 mangoes, peeled and chopped coarse
4 T chopped fresh cilantro
4 t orange juice concentrate
2 t cider vinegar

** We like this served over rice. Get that started first, then make the beans and salsa.

1. Heat oil in skillet. Add onion and sauté until tender
2. Add water, garlic, and ginger. Cook about 3 minutes.
3. Add beans, OJ concentrate, and salt. Bring to boil.
4. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
5. Add cilantro

6. Meanwhile, combine chopped mango, cilantro, OJ concentrate, and vinegar.

7. Serve beans over rice, topped with salsa.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Yup, I'll admit it. I COVET this crib! Isn't it just beautiful!! I found it listed on KSL (why do I torture myself by looking at things I can't have?!) and it was just the most awesome crib ever! Any of you in the market for a crib?If you are, you should get this one. That way I can come visit it in person.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Camping and cooking

It's been a fun and busy week! They opened one of the gates in the canyon, so we can go up and use the day use areas, but free camping is not open yet. So we went somewhere else to camp this weekend. But the day I found out the canyon was open, we went up for bratwursts and s'mores. It was SO fun! Brice and I both get so excited to be out there cooking over the fire. You know, we may not do a great job of keeping our house clean or mowing the lawn (and I'm sure our neighbors can attest to that! Sorry, guys! We need a new lawnmower...) or teaching our kids to do chores or dozens of other things that most families just do, but I LOVE that we are a family that gets outside and spends time away from the hustle and bustle of city life. I'm glad my kids will know how to build a fire before they know how to sort laundry or change the sheets on a bed. I love that they know a lot about animals and trees and waterways and the life cycle (they found a dead cat by our picnic spot) and that they don't know much about Dora the Explorer or Spongebob. Obviously I don't expect this to be everyone's way of living, but it sure makes me happy that Brice and I both love to take our family out for a campfire dinner or a walk in the forest.
(Love the hair, Alaina!)
I'm sure lots of people would balk at the thought of a spur-of-the-moment trip up the canyon for dinner and s'mores with three little ones in tow, but I love that we all get excited and find it worth the effort to drop everything and go. And I love that we almost always have the stuff on hand to make it happen.

Alaina kept going towards the road and not listening to Brice or me when we warned her to come back. Eventually the distraction/repeatedly removing her thing just got old (it doesn't work with my kids anyway--they are much too determined and they don't forget what it was they were after) and Brice scolded her (I recommend clicking on this picture to enlarge it and see Alaina's little "I'm in trouble" face better).
While it's extremely effective at this age, it is also so pitiful when she gets all sad and cries. But so cute and funny at the same time.

This weekend we went out to Five Mile Pass to camp with Gina and Toby. My parents joined us the next morning. Toby and my dad brought their ATV's and we all got to ride and play around the campsite and eat good food. There's just nothing better than camp food. At least, not in this family. For dinner we had foil dinners and they were fabulous as always. Definitely a favorite! Poor Alaina was SO tired! She hadn't had any naps to speak of that day and she'd fallen asleep about 5 minutes before we got to the dirt road, which woke her up. So she was kinda fussy about being put down. I love baby carriers! They are a lifesaver! Dinner gets done and the baby stays happy!

My sister brought a big pad out of my dad's RV for me and Brice to sleep on. This late in pregnancy, sleeping at all is a stretch, so sleeping on the ground was not going to be much fun. The pad was AMAZING! I don't think I've ever had such a good night's sleep camping! And I didn't even have a pillow (I always forget pillows).

Alaina did great; she'll be a pro camper like the other kids in no time. She slept well, ate well (duh, she always eats well!), and stayed out of the fire. She got good and dirty though! The dirt there was really fine and it clung to everything! What a mess!

For breakfast we had pancakes, bacon, and some really yummy eggs that Toby made. When my parents got there midmorning, my dad started making pineapple upside-down cake and Brice had bought a fresh pineapple which he sprinkled with brown sugar and roasted over the fire. Mmmmm... So good!

We had also planned bratwursts for lunch, but the cake was good enough! So we had bratwursts for dinner at Gina and Toby's house. Stew was planned for dinner, but we just saved it for a different night.

The kids (and grown-ups) had a blast riding the ATV's. I even went out for a while! I'm kinda a party pooper about riding. I think I'm a little intimidated by ATV's and motorcycles and the like. But they convinced me to take Toby's out for a spin and I have to admit, it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be!

By about 2 or 3 in the afternoon I was getting sunburned and needed to rest more comfortably. This weekend has been a bit of a turning point in this pregnancy. I've just gotten to the point where my belly is too big to sit comfortably for long and laying down is not much better. But I at least need to trade off. But I'm also always hot when I'm pregnant, so laying down in the tent in the middle of the day was not an option. So we got things packed up and headed home. I think the kids and my dad were about done too.

Brice and Raelin and Ryker went to our house to get new clothes for all of us for Sunday while Alaina and I hung out at Gina's house. Alaina and I took a bath in a HUGE bathtub! I came up to the top of Alaina's chest when she was standing up and she LOVED it! I don't think she stopped talking or laughing or bouncing for a good half hour. She was so brave--no fear about going under the water!

We spent the night at Gina and Toby's house and in the morning, Brice made strawberry shortcake for Mother's Day. Then we went up to my cousin's baby blessing. Afterwards we had homemade Cafe Rio-style burritos that were amazing! We headed home for a bit of a rest before my parents joined us at Gina and Toby's house for a BBQ chicken dinner and a little Mother's Day celebration. What a fun weekend! And, of course, everything revolves around the food. I'm still full!

And just for fun, here's some random pictures I took of Alaina's yogurt mess:
It was worse before she gave up on the spoon and just used her hands; a lot of the mess that was on her face from trying to use the spoon got pushed into her mouth when her hands took over. But she's just SO happy about it!
And here's the finished product on the playhouse Brice and Toby built last week. The homeowners painted it and added all kinds of fun accents. I didn't get any pictures of the inside because it's too small to get a good perspective, but it is really something! They textured the walls, painted, put in fancy light fixtures and carpet and painted a paw-print trail all over the walls. Some serious BYU fans! It turned out so cool! I really wish it was in a better spot for picture taking, but it's too close to the fence.