Nov. 2012

Monday, December 31, 2007

8 Month Old Mess Maker

Eli turned 8 months old yesterday. The month of December was a busy learning month for him. At the end of November he was starting to sit up by himself. By mid December he was starting to properly crawl (His previous way was belly flop style). And before Christmas he started to pull himself up on furniture. Now he is making a lot of messes around the house, and too young to pick up after himself yet. The past couple of days he is standing more upright and starting to let go of things. It won't be long before he is walking. He is extremely proud of himself, as he has been with all of his new accomplishments. He loves going into his sister's bright pink bedroom and pulling down the magnets and blocks. With all of Eli's new activity his cute rolls are starting to diminish. He has been holding steady at 24 lbs for the past month and half.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was a lot of fun for us. We went to our church's 4:00p.m. service and then stayed afterward for our kids to participate in the 6:30 p.m. call to worship. This year the call to worship was a living nativity done by the kids with carols woven in to tell the story. Isaac was a shepherd and Prema signed "Silent Night". We had spent weeks going to church teaching some of the kids how to sign the song. There was a dress rehearsal for Isaac to practice being a shepherd. But no matter how much preparation, you never know what you are going to get until the big moment.

Isaac came out first, totally adorable. He is fascinated with Mary right now, so when he saw the little girl dressed as Mary with a real baby he tried to walk up to see her. There was a whole row of poinsettias in-between he and her, so one plant was crushed in the process. Then when it was time for Prema to start signing, Isaac walked to spot where he could see and started to try and sign himself. Prema knows the signing really well, but didn't keep up with the rest of us during the performance because she was too busy watching the people.

Isaac seeing Mary for the first time. What excitement.

Prema signing "from" in the verse "Glories stream from heaven afar." The others are at the part "afar".

Isaac signing too!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Forever Indian

You can take one out of India but you can't take the Indian out of them. This is Prema dancing (Indian style) in her dress up clothes ending in true Indian style staring at the camera.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Garbage Days

We have our garbage collected twice a week here in Florida. It was strange to me at first being a Northern girl; I didn't realize the need. After a few very warm summers I now appreciate the routine. Isaac likes it for another reason. Almost every Wednesday and Saturday when we hear the garbage truck approaching our house, Isaac runs to the driveway to meet it. While he was potty training or playing in the mud at his construction sight Isaac often greeted them in his birthday suit (naked). The men began to wonder who this kid was, energetic, cute and naked. One day we told the men his name and since then the garbage men seem to love seeing Isaac and he the same. Now every visit begins with the driver honking the horn and the other man jumping off to give Isaac a high five. The last two times they have both gotten down from the truck and given Isaac a can of soda (thankfully caffeine free). A few months ago Isaac's Grandma Cullum took a picture of Isaac meeting the garbage truck and sent a letter with the photo to someone in the promo department. In response they sent Isaac his own model garbage truck complete with mini garbage cans. The truck is meant to sit on a shelf and not be played with by a 2 year old so some parts have fallen off. It still works as Isaac's truck and my weed collector.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Dentist Bans the Nuks

Today we took Isaac and Prema to the dentist. It was Isaac's first time going to the dentist and he did great. He had x rays, teeth polished and a flouride treatment. When the dentist came in to check his teeth, she said "he is still using a pacifier or thumb, right?" Yes that is true, Isaac is a nuk fanatic. When he was about 7 months old he started using 3 nuks at once; one in each hand for stroking, and one in his mouth. When he started talking we only allowed him to use them in his room during nap time, bed time, in the car, and when he needed to calm down. There have been some occassional times when he has been allowed to use them when we cuddle and read stories or when he would sneak them out of his room and we wouldn't enforce the rule. But since our return from the dentist, Isaac has quit cold turkey. The dentist said to wean him off of the nuks soon because he is sucking them so hard that his top teeth are moving in his mouth more starting to cause an under bite. If we stop now it can self correct itself and there is less likely he will need braces for that problem in the future. I explained to Isaac that Dr. Staves said he couldn't use the nuks any more because they were hurting his teeth. In the past when I have said he can't have more medicine or drink milk at night because Dr. Gadea has said so, he takes it very well and goes with it. So I figured with Isaac's new fascination with the dentist and taking care of his teeth ( he flossed the entire ride home) that he should just try quiting cold turkey. So we came home and threw all the nuks in the garbage. It worked for naptime and now he is doing it for bedtime. It takes him a little longer to fall asleep but I am really proud of him. I knew it had to come some day. We thought about doing it when he started talking but with Eli's arrival we put it off in hopes of making that transition smoother.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hats off to Shriners

Yesterday we took Prema to Shriners Hospital in Tampa for an orthopedic evaluation. This has been our third visit to a local children's hospital for something with Prema. Our Shriners visit was awesome. The place doesn't feel, look or smell like a hospital. The staff is very nice, efficient, knowledgeable and happy to work with you. And in just one visit we Prema had an x ray taken, examined by a PT and nurse practitioner, and molded for shoe inserts in 2 1/2 hours for free. We go back at the end of the month to pick up the inserts and then again in 6 months for follow up. It was recommended that Prema has private PT for the next 6 months in addition to the PT she is receiving at school in order to build up her strength and balance more. Thank you Shriners!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Back and Running

We got our computer back today and its awesome. Apple not only repaired the computer (something to do with the heat sink, but also installed an entirely new keyboard and screen casing. It feels new, it looks new and all for no charge; our extended warranty coverd the cost (yes I am aware that we paid for the extended warranty but that was cheaper than what it would have cost us for the repair). Its late so I'll have to post some pictures another day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Technical Difficulty

We started having some problems with our computer last week. We took it to the Apple store in Tampa on Saturday and they have it for the next 5-7 days for repairs. Hopefully its not related to water and then our warranty will cover the cost. Until then we thankfully have a laptop we can borrow from Kyle's parents so that I am still in touch with the world.

All my photos are on our computer so I'll have to wait to post those next week...but here are some updates without the photos

Eli has been sitting up or a week now. He sat up himself last week Saturday for the first time himself in front of all of us. Now he is a pro and trying to get the hang of the crawling. He does a lot of forward belly flops and is pretty fast at moving that way. Now he is also trying to pull himself up on things. He seems to get his back end confused between crawling and standing up at times.

Isaac is still entertaining us with football and his half time shows. He has been attending the Largo HS football championship games the last few Fridays. He comes home with a hoarse voice. He still loves the mascot the most. He is also into learning different Christmas songs. His favorite is the Little Drummer Boy. He wears his own drum and beats it while the song plays. It is very cute.

Last night Prema bought her first Christmas presents for Isaac and Kyle. I showed her some options in her price range $4 and then she chose the items and paid for them herself with her extra chores money. Afterward she was confused thinking that we had the money in our pockets and not that the store kept it in exchange for the gifts. Now she has to work some more for Eli and my gift. She likes working for money but doesn't want to do her family chores for free first. (we require daily family chores be done first and then extra chores can be done for money if she wants). Last week I also started pulling out of school a bit. I sit outside Prema's classroom while she works 1:1 with her teacher. She has been worried and has come to check to see if I am still there every day. It is quite the adjustment for her.

We have our Christmas tree and are making fun Christmas projects off and on. So far snowflakes and garland for the kids' windows. We may tackle a gingerbread house, but I'm not sure yet.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Daddy David Cullum

Lately I have been calling Isaac by his full name "Isaac Russell Cullum" quite frequently as his challenging 2 year old behavior tests us often. Isaac confirmed this morning that I have been using it a bit too often.

Isaac brought a regular size football into our bed. Kyle took it away and put it up where Isaac couldn't reach it until Isaac got down from the bed. As Kyle left for work, Isaac said "Daddy David Cullum where did you put that football?" Isaac knows he is not allowed to call his dad Kyle. wow...he is really smart.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cute Pics

Isaac, Daddy and Grandpa Cullum entertaining us

Isaac posing like Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam with cuddling with the boys


We had a really good Thanksgiving. We started the day waking at 5:30 a.m. for the Turkey Trot in Clearwater. Kyle, his mom, and his brother ran the 5K (3 mile) race and Kyle's dad with the boys and Prema and I completed the 1 mile race. There were droves of people. It was fun seeing some crazy outfits (turkey's, pilgrims, etc) and hearing some live music as we ran. Prema tripped twice, once at the start when a boy clipped her heels, and as we approached the finish line in the stadium as she turned to see her Grandma Cullum cheering her on. She loved running with all the people. We are definitely thinking of making it a tradition.
After the race we came back to our house for a breakfast of champions: pancakes, eggs, bacon and coffee. Then our kids and I took naps while Kyle and his brother Sam went bike riding. We finished the day with a great turkey dinner at Kyle's parents house with a little bit of football and Discovery channel for entertainment.
On Friday we went to Kyle's Grandma Cullum's house for another Thanksgiving meal. Isaac loved playing football with the big boys and following around his buddy Isaiah.
This thanksgiving we had a lot to be thankful for:
1. Friends and Family near and far that continue to support us in raising Prema and the boys with prayers, words of encouragment, a listenting ear, time, and help around the house.
2. our therapist for all of her parenting and attachment ideas that are helping Prema and our family heal. and her persistance with us even in our despair and negativity at times.
3. Physically health
4. Isaac and all the ways he makes us laugh nd Eli for upliftung us with his sweetness and cuddles
5. A successful beginning to a new school year for Prema. We are greatful to the teachers and staff for all of their accomodations. We are also thankful for the Family Center on Deafness and all their support in helping Prema learn lanaguage.
6. Prema continuing to allow us to love her a little bit more one day/ week/ moment at a time. For teaching us more about unconditional love.
7. All the resources we have come across to help us on the road to healing.
8. A trip to Wisconsin in Sept, Miami in November and Thanksgiving celebrations with little to no setbacks with Prema's behavior.
9. Healthy, strong, and smart boys
10. Each other for lifting each other up when the other is down and continuing to help one another fight for our dreams of a happy, healthy, family.
11. and everything else I could mention...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

"You Can't Play Football...'re a girl." Isaac has now begun to make gender seperations. Last week he was playing football with his Grandma Cullum in our backyard. Generally he is the one man show when it comes to pretending to be at a football game. He will start off playing the game as a football player, switch to being the mascot and cheerleader, perform the halftime show as a musician and color guard member and then finish it off as a football player again. However, this particular afternoon Isaac and Grandma began both playing the game tackling each other. Then they performed the half-time show together. But once the show was over Isaac told Grandma she needed to stay in the band and couldn't be a football player again because she was a girl.

Since this incident he has also made the distinction that Prema is not allowed to play with his toy helicopter because she is a girl. However his logic only applies to others when he wants to do something and doesn't want the girl to do it also or instead. Isaac the boy is allowed to play and do anything whenever he wants to (according to him) whether its playing with dolls, wearing nailpolish, etc. Its interesting that these distinctions are made so early in life. I had read before that children know gender, race, and religious distinctions before they are 3 years old. Even having read that it is still suprising to me that our son has already decided what are girl things and boy things when we have allowed him to do so many "feminine" things.

It has been a lot of fun watching Isaac "play football." Ever since he attended his first University of Southern Florida football game he has been in love with the game. He runs around the house with or without a football in his hand and falls on the ground pretending to be tackled, making passes and scoring touchdowns. He also loves and is terrified of mascots all at the same time. He likes to pretend to cheer for his favorite teams (Largo Packers- high school, USF Bulls, Florida Gators, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) as if he were their mascot. I try to make him be a Badger fan singing "If you wanna be a badger" and "varsity", having him watch Bucky Badger video clips on You Tube, having him and Eli wear Badger gear, and having the Badgers at least tie or win any of his favorite teams when we pretend. However Isaac will only sing "If you wanna be a badger then come along with me". He hasn't started shouting "Go Badgers Go" like he does for all his other favorite teams.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Way to Go Sam

This weekend we traveled to Miami to watch Kyle's brother Sam compete in the Miami Man half Iron Man Triathlon. For those of you who might not know, the triathlon starts with a 1.2 mile swim, followed by a 56 mile bike and ends with a 13.1 mile run. Sam completed the race in 4 hours 56 min. He finished 2nd in his age bracket and believes he has qualified for the national championships and possibly the world championships. He finished 41st overall.
It was quite inspiring to watch all the participants. Kyle, his dad, the kids and I were able to see Sam twice during the running portion in the Miami Metro Zoo. Sandy and Sam's girl Amber were at the start and transition points watching him. Way to go Sam!!! You can see some bike pics by linking to the web above and checking out results.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Happy Birthday Kyle!!

Today, November 6 is Kyle's 29th birthday. Happy Birthday bebe! Thanks for being such a good husband and dad. We love you!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Move Over Bob...

...The Sound of Music is Isaac's favorite thing now. SInce his first viewing of the musical movie last week his Bob the Builder machines have not been ona long break. His pretend play has become replays of his favorite movie scenes. With Isaac as Liesl, Eli as Gretel and myself as Maria we have marched on the hills singing "Do a Deer" . I think I, "Maria", have been married a dozen times. We continue to put on the puppet show over and over again. And Isaac has "carried" Eli to bed many times in the renactment of the party scene singing "So Long Farewell". When Prema pretends with us she prefers the boat scene when everone falls into the water and Captain pulls off one of he kid"s head scarves. Its fun having Isaac enjoy something that I have always loved. Now are car sing a longs are music I enjoy instead of "Bob the Builder, Can he Fix it". I am sure it won't be long before Bob comes out retirement again once the Sound of Music goes back to blockbuster. Isaac is wearing his Bob outfit today and requested that we rent another Bob movie this morning.

Eli 6 months old

On October 30 Eli turned 6 months old. At his doctor's appointment on Friday he was 23 lbs 8 oz. Dr. Gadea called him "the bank" since his last incident with the penny. At six months he is already scooting all around the house backwards. He will often get stuck under a chair or bed. He is also already rocking back and forth on his hands and knees. At his doctor's appointment he rolled over on the table and showed Dr. Gadea his new skill with a huge smile. He is very proud of himself.
Last night we moved him to his crib. Being extremely tired parents we never transitioned him to a crib like we did with Isaac. Now that he his waking up in the middle of the night "practicing" his new skills and kicking Kyle so much its time to move out of our bed. And now that he is eating solid foods at least twice a day we are also trying to get him to at least go 8 hours in the middle of the night before feeding. But I can already tell Eli is not going to give up easily. He loves to nurse far more than Isaac did. He will literally try and "tackle" me until he gets his fill. So we'll see how it goes.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Celebrating Fall Harvest

We're not much for Halloween, although the kids do know its coming soon. Is it me or are the Halloween decorations becoming more evil and scary? We went through Wal-Mart the other day and came across a dressed up skeleton lifting its head off its body. Prema screamed and luckily Isaac didn't see it. We can't even walk through our neighborhood without seeing skeletons with shackles and things hanging "dead" from trees. When Kyle runs with Isaac through the neighborhood he has to go certain ways to avoid certain decorations. It would be somewhat fun to dress up the kids and get some candy, but not worth the scares that will last for longer than the day.

So instead we have celebrated the fall harvest with our apple and pumpkin cooking and ended with some pumpkin carving on Saturday. Our pumpkins sit next to our dinning room table and are lit each night during dinner until the kids go to bed. We were only using a regular kitchen knife so our designs were limited (I wanted Prema's to have a silly face, but scary is what we got).We'll most likely stay inside on Halloween and keep our lights out so as to not attract any scary looking costumes. We've got enough evil and scary things in the house already (RAD and all it brings out of us) we don't need to invite in any more.

An Inconvenient Truth (movie)

very well done, definitely worth watching.


Well I am now officially 30 years old. It was a few days of celebrating the big day, which was October 27. On Thursday night we had our celebration with Kyle's parents. We ate some delicious fall foods (breaded pork chops and baked squash) and ended it will molten chocolate cupcakes. I was gifted with the book Peter and the Wolf along with a recording of the story that includes the orchestral piece. I was also given an apron from Hawaaii. Last year Kyle's mom Sandy purchased reusable hats and masks to mark each birthday celebration visually to help Prema make the connection. Hence I am sporting my birthday suit (apron, hat and mask). Its fun.
Friday evening Kyle planned a nice date at an Italian restaurant and dessert at the Candy Kitchen for ice cream. We ate the ice cream on the beach.
Saturday we took some mini trips around town for pumpkins, Subway, and playtime at the park. Saturday started out somewhat bad as Prema seemed determined to ruin the day purposely knowing it was my birthday. Sometimes the whole, I will hurt my new mom syndrome gets pretty old and hard to play down, especially on your birthday. She also continued to insist it was "her" birthday several times. Eventually it got a bit better with carving pumpkins. Then we had a blast at the park and that took away all the stress from her defiance in the early morning.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A year of Therapy

This last Friday Prema and I were picking up palm tree seeds that fall once a year. As we bent over in the sun I began having flashbacks of one year ago. Last year mid October we began watching hours and hours of Reactive Attachment Disorder therapy by Nancy Thomas. (check out links on our side bar) As we watched each video we finally felt like we were beginning to understand Prema. We knew her behaviors were not like any "normal" child. Although some behaviors may seem "normal" at first glance, the intensity and duration of her behaviors are far beyond what any healthy child would do.

After watching the entire series of videos and reading a couple books we began our therapy at home. We knew that it was going to take a complete change in our life style. In Prema's situation she looked like an 8 year old, but was only emotionally functioning like an infant. She did not trust our authority at all; for the adults she loved and trusted before hurt her. She constantly was wanting attention almost always being extremely clingy. She would hug anyone she saw for the first time. She was not able to regulate her moods always becoming overstimulated. She was extremely hypervigilant always trying to figure out what was happening in order to protect herself. Until we started therapy it was like a wild animal had been let out of a cage. She was constantly touching everything, picking Isaac up and trying to carry him, falling all over the place, wetting her pants, and not able to sit still.

One year later we are not where we thought we would be, but we have made progress. We thought that Prema would be "healed". I am not competely sure what I envisioned a "healed" Prema would be. I can guess that there were visions of love, obedience, joy, fun, and "normal" family life. And so for the hope of those dreams we began the journey of healing. twice a week therapy sessions, endless books and tapes about new parenting strategies, conferences and research of additional options (Brain Gym, Play therapy, vitamin supplements, Neurofeedback, etc). rewatching Nancy Thomas videos. countless changes in plans. homeschooling. hours and hours and hours of discussions about "what went wrong just then", "how could it have been done different", "is this even working", "is this even worth it" , "how much more can we endure" ,etc. A year later we still struggle with intense anger, disappointment, and grief for the past, present, and future of things not "normal". We wonder if there will ever be a "healed" Prema and now a "healed" Cullum family.

But...unlike a year ago we do have a daughter that has been tamed. She can sit still and learn when she wants to. She can communicate with us. She is choosing to obey a good majority of the time. She is asking for hugs, head massages, and cuddle time with mom. She no longer hugs strangers and even looks at mom to see if she can talk to them. She asks for permission to play with things, touch things, etc most of the time. She helps around the house. And most importantly, she is beginning to love us and we are beginning to love her.

Making it Fall

So the weather has not been cooperating much with creating a Fall mood. We're still sweating and dodging for shade most days. Sunday was overcast but super muggy. So instead I have been trying help the kids expereince fall through nothing better than food.
Every weekend we have made something different. We started with apples. We have made caramel apples, apple crisp, and homemade applesauce. Last weekend we used a pumpkin. I was trying to help Prema understand that the pumpkin in the can is really from a pumpkin. (Its hard to know if she really understands things: language barrier thing) So I decided to actually make pumpkin puree. What a process. We had to gut the pumpkin, bake it, remove the skins, puree it and drain it. Then throughout the week we made pumpkin chocolate cheese cake, pumpkin applesauce raisin muffins, and pumpkin seeds. We still have a ton of pumpkin left so I think we will make some pumpkin bars and bread. Its been fun. Thanks to Kyle the draining of the puree went much faster. He has a way about simplifying processes and getting the same result in the end.

Anyway...please cool weather come. It would help with the baking temps too.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

At Last...

The penny came out of Eli this morning. Yippeeeee!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Protect Thyself from the Little Ones

Clearwater Marine Visit

Today my mother-in-law Sandy and I took the kids to the Clearwater Marine Center. We had a great time watching the sea turtles and dolphins. All of the turtles and dolpins have been rescued and are being rehabilitated at the marine center. Some of them will be released back in the wild and others will remain at the center for life. We got to see the famous dolphin "Winter". The kids loved her and talked about her all night.

Fishing as a Fam

Last weekend we all went fishing at one of our local park. The Kiwanis Club supplies the poles and worms. We just had to show up to fish. Kyle caught a really small fish. It was great for the kids to celebrate the catch and touch it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Penny in His Tummy

These kids sure are keeping some blog posts interesting. Last week Tuesday morning I was getting ready for the day in our bathroom. The kids were on our bed a few feet away. In the few seconds between glances to check on them Isaac grabbed a penny off my night stand and put it in Eli's mouth. In an attempt to get it out Isaac stuck both his fingers in Eli's mouth and Eli ended up swallowing the penny. I witnessed Isaac's two fingers in Eli's mouth and the cry that followed. By then it was too late. Immediately I asked Isaac what he had done and he said, "I put a penny in Eli's mouth," very calmly and matter a factly. I began to panic. And I do admit using a very loud voice telling Isaac, "You can't put anything in Eli's mouth, we have told you this before." Isaac then proceeded to say, "Don't yell at me, mom". After a few minutes of collecting myself and holding Eli realizing that he was fine; I became grateful that I was holding a breathing baby instead of a choking baby. I remembered the time my brother had swollowed a penny himself when he was little as I was counting my change. I remembered all the endless days of searching his stools for the penny and figured that was all that needed to be done as long as Eli wasn't choking.
The next day I became a little worried since Eli had not pooped yet. But later that day he filled his diaper nicely and I began the search. The next day I did the same. A couple of times Eli would burp and I wonder if the penny is creating some weird chemical reaction inside. After he had pooped the second day and wondered how a penny bigger than the size of any of his poop was going to come out, but figured out bodies are amazing things it will all work out. Then my mother in law became a bit concerned with the same thing being that he is only 5 months old. I called the doctor on Thursday and they too said that this typically happens to children that are at least one year old so we would need to go and get an x-ray.
Friday afternoon we headed to the hospital for an x-ray. The penny is in the stomach area which is good news. We need to keep feeding him lots of fruits and water to encourage bowel movements and search thouroughly. Until the penny passes we need to get x-rays every week to make sure that it is progressing toward the exit door. But if Eli shows any signs of discomfort we need to get him to a doctor immediately. So we'll let you know when we celebrate the finding of the penny.
Isaac did get a nice discipline for his actions. He talks about putting the penny down his brother's throat frequently. He wants to see the x-ray of the penny. And even though it was a bad thing to do...I am proud of Isaac that he told the truth right away.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Jump, Jump, Jump Eli

Hope this puts a smile on your face!!

Building with Dad

Isaac also said to really cute things today: When I asked him about what he had on his shirt (our church name and a cross) he said "Oh its church sticks." and when he woke up from his nap and came to sit on my lap he said "this is cozy".

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Gifts that Support the Poor

I know it is only September, but I have already begun to think about what I want to give as gifts this Christmas. I thought some of you might be interested in hearing about items that you could purchase for this holiday season that support the poor.

Asha Imports is a free trade company that is selling various products made by the poor. Sari Bari blankets and Freeset jute bags are made by women who are working for freedom from the sex trade in Kolkata, India. Last year the documentary filmCalcutta Hilton was released about the work that Freeset is doing. We have both a blanket and several bags and love them.

Word Made Flesh Lima and Romania are both selling Chrismas cards made by kids who live on the streets. Profits go to helping WMF continue to minister to the needs ogf the children.

This post is dedicated to Kristin. Happy Birthday girl. Keep up the good work in the "dirty city". We love you!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Zoo and Other Things

Today we had a nice family visit to our local Lowry Park Zoo. I forgot the camera, so we don't have pictures. We had a good time. The monkeys were awesome swinging on the ropes and playing with each other. The elephants were taking a bath in their waterfall. The giraffes were eating. The new tiger cubs were playing with their mom. The kids were great and had fun watching all the animals.

Isaac's nose didn't come out as bad a we throught. It is still a little swollen and a little black and blue. He doesn't complain about it at all, but talks about trying to "float" a lot.

Prema's school transition has been hard on everyone. Prema has so much to adjust to that it is very overwhelming. She is struggling with the lack of 1:1 attention, peer interactions, number of new people, etc. Her teacher is doing an excellent job of trying to make adjustments necessary to help Prema pay attention and feel safe. The boys and I were struggling with the amount of time I was having to be away 5 days a week. So for now we have created a 3 day school week 3 hours per day to benefit everyone. We have increased her OT and PT to twice a week and have her classroom time down to 1:1 and a little bit of large group instruction. Everyone is doing better with the changes. We'll keep it this way for a while until everyone feels more settled with the current schedule.

Tonight Kyle and Isaac are going to a USF football game with Grandpa and Grandma Cullum. Isaac is already preparing himself for the noise level requesting ear plugs. Hopefully I will remember to give them the camera so that I can post some pictures this weekend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Hurt Nose

Isaac decided that he wanted to try to "float" over Grandma Cullum. His attempt was unsuccessful when he landed on the floor and slammed his nose into the bottom of the couch. ouch! Isaac wants you all to know that we called Dr. Gadea and asked her what to do. The office was closed so the nurse told us to ice it, give him Tylenol, and call tomorrow with an update. We sure hope it's not broken.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I Love Fall!

Fall seems to finally be arriving. The temperatures are lower and the humidity for the most part is less. For the first time it really is feeling like fall for me here in Florida. I usually miss my Wisconsin fall with the beautiful rolling hills decorated with the fall colors. However fall here and fall there can both give you great weather to spend hours playing at the park, making homemade candy apples, and watching movies with some popcorn.
Below are the pics from this weekend: Isaac on the slide at the park, Eli's first time swinging, Prema's first time making candy apples, and Isaac's first time eating candy apples. He loved them..can you tell?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Isaac Is Now Sporting Underwear

Isaac has had 2 successful days wearing underwear without any accidents, even during nap time. For the last month or so he's been running around naked whenever he is home practicing using the toilet. At first he would dash to the toilet when he was inside. When he was outside he would either choose not to come in and decide to "water" the plants/grass instead or wait till the last minute and loose it on the way in. Gradually he got better and better always coming inside to use the toilet and no longer needing to dash. So this week we've been offering him a choice to wear underwear or a diaper when he leaves the house. He has chosen underwear each time and has warned us when he needs to use the bathroom with plenty of time. I am quite excited and sad at the same time. We used cloth diapers with Isaac and currently are with Eli, so I am happy to have less diapers to clean out. I am sad that time seems to be moving way too fast watching him grow.

Update: Isaac talks about the fire alarm serveral times every day. He shares the story with anyone that may not know yet. He seems to still be processing the whole event still.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Isaac Dismissed the Congregation

Truth. He didn't say the departing "Go in Peace to love and serve the Lord." Instead he pulled the fire alarm during the closing announcements. We sit in the far back of the church to try and stay as discrete as possible. Trying to avoid the stares from intrigued people wanting to watch Prema and I sign and Isaac saying and doing cute things. Eli started crying so I turned to try and calm him down. Isaac stood in his chair and pulled the alarm directly above his head. I stood up and tried to tell Father that it was a false alarm, but I also didn't want to shout. The whole church knows who Isaac is as he has interrupted church before. As a baby he would gleefully babble during silent prayer time and Fr. Mike would hear him and start laughing giving Isaac an "Amen". As a toddler in the beginning stages of talking he would shout "Fr. Mike, Fr. Mike" until Fr. Mike would acknowledge his presence. And as a well spoken 2 year old Isaac has echoed Fr. Mike's enthusiastic talking at times in hopes of being like Fr. Mike. So I am sure all woudl be somewhat amused in knowing Isaac pulled the alarm I couldn't bring myself to shout the news and allow all the stay in their seats (not sure if that is even legal). However, as I tried to keep Isaac calm as he realized what he had done and Eli still asleep in the car seat, some nice messengers quietly notified Father that Isaac had pulled the alarm. Isaac was very scared. He began crying. Once all was clear to return to church, I took Isaac to see the firemen and had him tell them that he pulled the alarm. He told them with confidence but quickly started asking to go home. Then I took him to Fr. Mike to say he was sorry. He nicely apologized and then started to cry. Fr. Mike gave him a hug and told him he forgave him. I was thouroughly embarrassed since one year ago Prema pulled the alarm at church too while I was in the office working. Now the other two just need to encourage Eli to do the same. But as we left Fr. Mike responded "hey don't worry, we're just making memories." That is certainly true. Isaac told the whole story to Grandma and Grandpa Cullum the minute he saw them. And later today Grandpa Cullum asked Isaac if he wanted to go and see the fire alarm at a restaurant (joke). Isaac got really nervous and said "No I just want to go home". So I think that he has learned a huge lesson in the least harmful way.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Home Again

We got home Monday evening but it has been quite crazy since our return. We had a good time in Wisconsin. All of the kids did very well flying. Prema did much better overall than her last trip to Wisconsin. Everyone loved seeing the kids. The wedding was nice. Both Matthew and Megan looked good and happy. Here are Some pictures for you to see some of the highlights.

We managed to have ice cream at the Union with my good friend Leah. Prior to our ice cream we ate pizza at Uno's where Kyle and I ate on our own wedding night. The campus was buzzing with students as their first week of classes. It was fun to walk around State Street, a definite people watcher heaven.

After ice cream we visited the Henry Vilas Zoo. They just received 2 new giraffes that week after the other 3 died. We enjoyed watching the orangatang sit and stare at us while swatting flies away, the badger pacing back and forth, and the prairie dogs digging their holes.

Friday afternoon we enjoyed some great mexican food with my family.

Friday evening was the rehearsal dinner. My mom had 2 ice cream cakes with deer hunting and fishing images on them for my brother. Isaac LOVED the cake. His piece was huge and he spent 5 minutes concentrating on eating every last drop. When he was done the green frosting would not come off his upper lip.

The wedding was fun. It was neat to watch Isaac and Prema expereince their first wedding. They loved the toasts, the food, and the dancing. Kyle was absolutely awesome dancing away with Prema. You should have seen him do the twist and chicken dance with her. It was funny and adorable. Isaac lit up the dance floor with his moves. The boy has rhythm. He was the entertainment of the evening. It was pure joy watching him enjoy himself.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Wisconsin Bound

My brother Matthew is getting married on Saturday. So tomorrow afternoon we will make the trip to Wisconsin to celebrate with him and Megan. We are a bit nervous about flying with all three kids. Even through Prema is older she usually makes our travel the most difficult; especially flying. Even if we tell her that we are flying to stay for a short while and will return home again she never fully believes us until we make it home. Until that time she is hypervigilant and constantly worried about what will happen next. She is already asking every time we leave the house if we are going to Uncle Matthew's wedding now. Last time we went to Wiscosinsin we came back to endless weeks of bad behavior.

But once we are there I look forward to a hair cut and hopefully a fishing trip for the kids with my dad. I am also hoping for a moment to hang out at the Union eating ice cream with the kids. The weather report is not looking to good for nice late summer temps for sitting outside at the Union next to water, but one can hope.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Joyful Moments of Today

Eli had not pooped in a couple of days. This afternoon he finished nursing and I sat him up. His face changed color and expression several times while he did the deed. And once he was all done he squealed in excitement. It was really funny. He continued to joyfully babble the entire time I changed him (a long process for such a little dude). I wish you could hear his high pitched squeals. They are very cute and uplifting.

Prema did really well at school again today. She tried hard and is doing a good job showing how much language she has learned. It was fun watching her succeed with all that she has learned.

Isaac wore underwear today (per his request). He played outside for a while before coming in to tell me he needed to use the bathroom. He undressed himself and went on the toilet. It was the first time he has never had an accident in his underwear.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

4 month old brute (Eli)

born April 30, 2007 8 lbs 7 oz

now 4 months and 20lbs 8 oz (1 week ago). Wow-za!
But he sure is sweet and cuddly. He loves to roll over but only towards the left. He is starting to try to roll to the right. He likes pulling his nuk out of his mouth and trying to reinsert it. Prema and Isaac love him and he loves watching them.


A Successful School Day

Prema started school today. She spent a 1/2 hour in physical therapy and a 1/2 hour in her new classroom. Everything went well. The teachers and other staff have done a great job reading up on the resources we have given them about RAD. They are also very amenable to me tagging along and jumping in with behavior management technique suggestions. Tomorrow we will go again for a 1/2 of occupational therapy. Next week she will begin spending more time in the classroom along with continuing the PT and OT.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Random Things

The kids are finally getting over their colds. Eli is the only one that turned into ear infections. I took him to the doctor Thursday morning and he is starting to come around today. He hates the medicine. At the doctor's office he weighed 20 lbs and 8 oz. He will be 4 months old on the 30th. The nurses were laughing.

Isaac woke up last night after a bad dream about dog food. This is really funny to me. Whenever he is around Thompson we catch him eating and drinking out of the dog dish like he is a dog. We also find him nibbling on the dog bones from time to time. We've tried telling him it tastes bad but he doesn't agree. A week ago in his sleep he shouted "dog food" and then last night he said he had a bad dream about dog food. I am very curious how these dreams are being played out.

I had a successful whole day alone with the kids as Grandma Cullum is hanging out with Sam for his triathlon. Thankfully the kids were very well behaved. Prema got her chores done. We had a good hour at the park, trip to eat lunch with Kyle at the office, and a grocery store adventure. I realize that other people have 3 kids and do alone all the time, but if I did that things would crumble at this house. The few hours I am home alone with the kids each day, I sometimes find myself creating new lyrics to familiar tunes about managing a 20 lbs baby who loves to be held a lot and two 2 year olds (one physically, one emotionally) throwing tantrums , testing boundaries and feeding off each other when they can see my stress level increasing by the minute. It is not a recipe for continuing to be patient and calm.

Kyle and I have gone 2 weeks without eating ice cream. This is our weakness. If you live anywhere near a Publix grocery store and have tried their ice cream/ frozen yogurt you know why. Delicious!!! and quite a cheaper alternative to the ice cream stores. It became a nightly habit when I was pregnant with Eli and had to stop once we realized that we were not going to get any thinner by eating it. We've both been really good about exercising and Kyle has done amazing at eating healthy. I'll post another time about all this.

love to all

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Transitioning Back to School

Today we had a HUGE meeting about Prema's return to public school in the Deaf Education program. HUGE not only in size (15 plus people in attendance), but also in importance for our family and her future. We had been feeling that Prema needed to return back to school for academics to give myself and the boys a break from her and also for her to be around other deaf people. However, we also know that Prema is not fully attached yet and therefore we still need to keep her environment small and limited in the the number adults she is around. We came with our 4 goals to have Prema's therapy and academics be at school, but still giving her enough time at home to work on her attachment and be with family. The other important piece was the fact that Prema's test results show 10.5 year old normal deaf child but her academic abilities are lower than kindergarden level. Therefore we wanted her placed in at least 2nd grade but still having her academics focusing on the lower level skills she has yet to aquire. The meeting was a big success. All of our goals are going to be met. Prema will be attending school 3-4 hours a day depending on the classes schedule. She will be in a 2nd grade classroom. And we have made a schedule to try and eliminate as many changes in environment and adult interaction as possible. We are going to begin on Wednesday August 30 with a transition plan of at least 2 weeks where Prema goes only for a few hours a day with me shadowing. Gradually she will increase her time at school and without me there until we meet her permenant modified schedule. Keep us in our prayers as there are going to be some big adjustments for everyone involved (Prema, Isaac, Eli, Grandma Cullum, Kyle and me, teachers, etc).

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Braces in Our Future

Today I took Prema to the orthodontist. If you have ever seen Prema in person there is no doubt that she is need of braces. However we were not sure until today what that would entail. It was quite an enlightening visit. The doctor spent an entire hour with us for a FREE consultation. We even got to bring home a panoramic picture of her teeth. The picture reveals the full truth. Prema's teeth are a mess. She has a lot of permenant teeth fixing to come in, but one baby teeth that doesn't want to come out to let the other in. Hence there may be at least one tooth extraction in a year. The permenant tooth that is trying to come in is making its own paths around the baby tooth right into the neighboring tooth. Mind you Prema has already had oral surgery in October to remove an extra tooth that was trying to come in between her two front teeth. Besides Prema's crooked teeth, she also has an asymmetrical jaw and an under bite. We were advised to wait until all of her permanant teeth come in before beginning treatment. At that time a better assessment can be made about if additional things (like breaking the jaw) need to be done to help her. Ultimately getting the jaw in line would help Prema close her mouth. Currently she has her mouth open all the time and only closes it if we remind her. Even then she struggles to keep it shut for long. So thankfully we have at least another year before we begin to consider fitting Prema with braces, but we probably need to start saving sooner. ugh!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Good/ Bad Bee

I've been having a good time playing a little game with Prema and Isaac during cuddle time: Good Bee/ Bad Bee. It was an idea Prema's therapist gave me for some fun during our cuddle time. I changed it to be Bee with a good choice or Bee with a bad choice since we are not bad or good people, but instead all good people who make good or bad choices (a.k.a choices we might not be happy with the consequences later). I cradle the kids in my lap and hold a bee (thumb and index finger together or a stuffed bee) and tell them a short story about the bee. If the bee has made a good choice the kids let him in to tickle them. If they bee has made a bad choice they swat him away. Isaac has gotten to the point where he likes to either tell me the story about the bee or he wants to change the bad choice into a good choice so that he can let him in. Its been a great way to reinforce their choices in a light hearted way. Every time I have cuddle time with one of them; they both request the game. So if you have any kids I highly recommend spending a little time to pull them up close and give it a try.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tests are Normal

We got the results of Prema's tests today. Her MRI, EEG, and chromosome test all came out normal. No seizures or brain atrophy. This is very good news.

A Taste of the Real Deal

Eli started eating cereal this week. He is basically just tasting it once a day and isn't quite sure what he thinks about it. His first feeding was fun with lots of "conversation" from the little guy. He's been a lot of fun....talking up a storm, laughing, and loving his ability to roll over and hang in the johnny jump up.