12.10.2015

Twinning

Linc


1. Linc is terrified of Santa Claus. We tried twice this year and it was a full blown screaming nightmare both times. We did not even get close to having him stand by him, let alone sit on his lap.
2. He loves to sit and read books. I love listening to him retell the stories and hear what stood out to him. Sometimes he will "read" to Sophie and it about kills me.
3. He tends to be a little bossy right now. Holding Sophie's hand to make her come to me when I call her, or "shushing" his friends if they are too loud, he very willingly takes his time outs and also enforces Sophie's punishments. 
4. The boy has a big vocabulary and is signing like a champ. He knows all his colors, shapes, can count to five (almost ten except that darn seven!), has several sight words and loves to point out letters as we cruise around the Target.
5. My favorite thing is how much he sings right now. Every night we have to sing at least three songs and he has started to really pick them up. We also taught them Jingle Bells this week and it is awesome. 
6. Stomping. It is here and it doesn't seem to be going away. Whenever he is mad or frustrated or trying to command Soph to do something he stomps his foot at us. He makes me feel like I must be a really mean mom because he can stomp that foot and sound so harsh sometimes. So I am really working on my tone and trying to teach him to be kind.

Sophie


1. Her little arms have started working together really well. For a long time her left arm would always be behind, or tense, or not stretched out, or just a little weaker. But now from her shoulder to wrist has really been doing well. Now to get those little fingers working for her!
2. Soph signs when she really wants something but she has been in a little bit of a stubborn rut not wanting to use her signs. We are super grateful for our teacher of the deaf that is making sign fun again and helping her get back to communicating.
3. She is OBSESSED with trains right now. Obviously, after I bought all of her gifts she decided it was a thing. Every time they earn a show she always wants to watch the Polar Express. She also raids the bookshelf and brings me all the Thomas the Tank engine books to read. 
4. Soph loves to rough house. All she wants to do is be flung around, held upside down. thrown onto a couch or be chased around the kitchen table. It terrifies me sometimes how fearless she is. When we were at the trampoline park she climbed up one of the platform to try and jump off into a big blow up blob thing. It is 10-12 feet off the ground and she was going full tilt to throw her little body off. I barely made the snatch in time!
5. Finally she decided to get into baby dolls. I bought her a cabbage patch last Christmas and she is just starting to play with it. I love watching her rock the baby and sign "milk" or sleep to it.
6. I think we have hit a record of eight days or so that she has not taken out her hearing aid. No panic attacks. No searching the car seats or couches or coat pockets. I'm grateful!

10.30.2015

Weekend Update: Salem, Plymouth & Cape Cod

A few weekends ago we took advantage of the last of the good weather. Last minute we booked a hotel and decide to go check some places off of our "to see" list. This included Salem, Plymouth, and Cape Cod.

We started off with Dunkin Hot Coco (the BEST!) which is basically a rule in the Catts house as soon as October 1st hits. Salem has been one of the big items on my list. The drive was crazy beautiful, the leaves on the east coast kill me every year. Salem was so much fun. It was like being in the movie "Halloween Town", everyone was dressed up and the town spent like pumpkin spice. Even the houses in the surrounding neighborhoods of the tourist area had their houses spooked out.


The Salem Cemetery and the memorial for the women burnt as witches. Most people find this place a little creepy but I LOVED IT. My senior thesis was on Puritan women and this place spoke to me.



 

This ship was a replica of a 17th century boat. Linc loved it and was running full tilt around the place. Sophie on the other hand just wanted to jump off the side into the water. She made my heart drop a couple of times, she is a fast little bug. 



The House of the Seven Gables was so pretty! I'm sad we didn't get to .o the tour but it was over an hour wait just to start the tour and the littles were never going to hang out in line for that long. So we did a little wiki research and took a walk around the outside. Next time!


We spent all of Saturday morning and afternoon exploring Salem and then headed to Cape Cod. We didn't have any specific plans for the Cape, other than seeing than Ocean and eating clam chowder. But as we were leaving the hotel Sunday morning Danny picked up a lighthouse map and our new plan formed. Lighthouse chasing.

We started in Sandwich at our hotel and followed the south coast all the way up to Provincetown, catching several lighthouses (and a couple of windmills) on the way. Our first windmill was in Chatham and the kids had fallen asleep. So me and D snuck out of the car to stand on the sand and breath in the ocean air. There is something really amazing about the ocean in the fall when the air is cold. It was one of those moments that will be in my memory for a very long time.


 








Our last stop in the Cape was Province town. And it was our favorite. It was exactly what you would imagine Cape Cod to be. Beautiful beaches, long docks, lighthouses, colorful beach houses, white churches, sail boats, small shops, and fresh sea food. We had such a great time just wandering the streets and popping in and out of shops. We also stopped for lunch and got THE BEST clam chowder I have ever had, while Danny had a lobster roll. Delish. 

My MIL collects the most beautiful things on her world travels. She just picks things she loves whether they fit her house or her style or whatever. It is a method that rings true to me so in that same fashion I bought some gorgeous sea glass balls hanging in sailor knots. I have no idea where I will hang them but I know I will always love them and think of that morning on the beach with my little family.




Our last stop was in Plymouth, which I have been soooo excited to do since the moment we arrived in New York. And it did not disappoint. We only spent a few hours there but it was honestly so powerful to me. It really is an insane feeling to walk around the town where America started. I was overwhelmed. We stopped and saw Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower (Replica), and then walked around the central part of town where every building has a memorial or historical placer to tell the history of the town. 




Our last stop in Plymouth and our trip was to this church. It was so amazing. This was the first Christian church in America. This church was the very reason the Puritan's crossed the ocean in the first place. It made me feel very grateful and very small as we wandered around it and the graveyard on the hill behind it. You climb a steep set of stone steps to get to the top of the graveyard and it is beautiful. It has a beautiful view of the bay and was beautiful with the leaves all on fire.

The east coast in the fall will always have my heart. 

10.20.2015

Twinning

Linc

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1. Linc is my favorite alarm clock. Sophie likes to rap her little fists on the wooden door when she gets up in the morning, but Linc just roars when he is ready for me.
2. He has decided he only wants to potty on the :big potty" instead of his training potty. Good for when we are out and about, difficult for when we are at home because then both twins have to take a turn flushing. It requires a lot of supervision.
3. Singing! It kills me! Linc has started singing along to his favorite songs (IE Daniel Tiger, "Touch 'em All Kirby Pucket", his potty song, and Popcorn Tree) and it melts my heart.
4. Has discovered that pulling a grumpy face when we ask him for a happy face is pretty funny.
5. Can't close his eyes on command. This is maybe my favorite thing right now. The face he pulls when we ask him to "go to sleep" is hilarious. It's like he is trying to get his eyebrows to cover his eyes instead of his eyelids.
6. Big Hero 6 is currently his favorite movie and he asks for it the minute he wakes up from his nap.
7. Walks in to a room I'm sitting in and just says "Hi Mom" and walks back out. Just checking up on me I guess.
8. Has taken to "slimming" aka swimming all over the floors. He lays on his belly and strokes his arms while his feet propel him.

Sophie

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1. Lost her hearing aid last weekend so her attention span has been a little off this week. But her signs are still coming along beautifully.
2. Has had a bit of a cold and has been a super snuggly babe this week, which makes for a happy mom.
3. Is always cold. She is a skinny, little thing so she is always layered up while Linc runs around in a t-shirt and underwear.
4. Has started undressing herself. I will leave the room with a fully clothed Sophie and when I come back she is 100% naked.
5. Loves to try on all her therapists shoes when they aren't looking. She also brings them their shoes when it's time to go, walks them to the door, and them stands at the glass door and waves to all her pumpkins before we can close it.
6. Loves the new Cinderella and gets so happy during the ball. She also chases her brother down to try and get him to dance with her.
7. Sophie loves to paint. She would be covered in paint at all times if I would allow it.

10.16.2015

Indian Ladder Farms

Indian Ladder Farms is a new favorite tradition (for the one fall we have left next year!). We went up a few weekends ago and had the best time. It was the most beautiful fall day, the air was crisp but the sun was still warm. By the time we went up to the farm Honey crisps were done so we went with Fiji and Kendalls. 

Linc was in absolute heaven when he realized he got to eat the apples. Thus he wasn't much help in the picking department. He would run up to a tree, pick one apple and then camp out on his butt and eat half the apple before he would stand up again. The processes repeated itself the entire hour of picking. Sophie on the other hand just wanted to pick the tiny apples, or the over ripe. rotting apples, or the apples others had already taken a bite out of. It slowed down the picking but I kind of adored her for it. 

We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting the farm animals and eating apple cider donuts. I think it will always be a perfect fall memory. 














^^^^^Be still my heart



Team work lugging that heavy bag around!



We ended up getting a half a bushel of apples and I didn't think we would ever eat them all but we totally did! We made applesauce, and the kids ate two a day, and I even made my very first pie from scratch for Danny. He looooves apple pie so it was his General Conference treat. 

10.12.2015

Liberty Ridge Farms

We woke up Saturday ready for some fall festivities. Starting off the day with Dunkin Hot Coco and bagels, we made a stop at the library to return our books. Of course our old Subaru decided to die and leave us stranded. A friend came and picked us up and we made it home to our rental because our van is in the shop. Lucky us! So our festivities started off later than planned but we were committed and headed up to Liberty Ridge anyway.

Liberty Ridge was crazy beautiful! It was a lot bigger than I expected and the kids loved it. We went on a trolley ride, walked through the Bunny Town (a miniature wild west that bunnies live in), went down big canvas slides, played in the corn crib, picked pumpkins, made our way through the corn maze, and ate a half pound of farm fresh french fries. It was really fun day with the family and Liberty Ridge felt like October captured into one perfect space.

A few pics from the Iphone that are poor quality but favorites anyway!

 

I'm so glad we took the big camera so we got some good quality shot of the twins that move a mile a minute!




The kids went down these slides on their own but they are so fast I didn't dare even try to take a picture, but it was hilarious. Sophie sat up perfectly rigid with a huge grin, and Linc looked like he was competing in the luge. He was a little nervous.


Sophie lost her hearing aid on this trip! I'm so bummed. Her insurance covers one replacement but I was hoping to not have to use that up quite yet. She is usually really good about wearing it until the earpiece starts to get loose. The changing of ear pieces is a tough game because it takes about three weeks to get one back. I think we learned our lesson and will finally give in to the alligator clip and see if she will keep it on. 



This is Linc's favorite pose. For some reason he thinks he is being a puppy and starts panting. Maybe he thinks his hands are puppy ears?


I almost died when I realized Danny had never been in a corn maze! I spent most of my Jr.High life freezing my butt off in corn mazes while trying to act cool so I could walk by my crush and pretend I wasn't scared. The kids thought it was awesome and we only got lost once.


The kids were so happy to get to pick a pumpkin. We will be painting them for FHE tonight so wish us luck. Lincoln HATES when his hands are dirty and Soph wants to roll around in paint whenever we get it out. 

And again, I think hoe grateful I am to live in a world with Octobers!! The east coast leaves are going to be in my heart forever. 

10.07.2015

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

A medical update for the Sophster. Mostly for my own journaling purposes because no matter how hard I try I never write in my notebooks so I'm going to try out the blog again. 

A little Sophie recap since it has been a while: Hearing

Soph was born with a severe loss in her right ear and no loss in her left ear (July 2013).

She started using a hearing aid for her right ear around eight months old (Spring 2014). It didn't seem to make a huge difference, which wasn't surprising since the loss was so severe that audiologist warned us that it might not help. 

Sophie had an ABR (sleep deprived hearing tests) every four months of her first year with no changes.

Then in September of 2014 we had Sophie do another ABR while she was sedated for her MRI her neurologist ordered. The result of that test was difficult for us. Sophie had lost hearing in her good ear which left her severe in the right and moderate in her left. A pretty big jump. The CMV diagnosis always put Sophie at high risk for hearing degeneration but we had our hopes up that the anti viral would prevent it. (also the MRI revealed nothing, it was just a yearly check up).

Sophie's audiologist set her up with a hearing aid for her left ear and for three months we tried out using both aids full time. It took a while to figure out that the hearing aid in her right ear was causing a lot of distortion and making it more difficult for her to focus on speech. With the help of our speech therapist we decided to drop the hearing aid on the right and just focus on her good ear.

In August of this year, Soph was old enough to start doing her hearing tests awake in a booth. After her first awake test, she didn't have enough of a response for anything to be certain so they ordered another sleep deprived test. She was too old to do sleep deprived but I really didn't want to sedate her again so we tried it out. here we found out that Sophie has regained some hearing in her left ear!! Words really can't explain getting that kind of news. It's life changing for Soph. Even IF she loses more later this time with better hearing will give her a better foundation for learning to talk.

Since then we have just kept working. Sophie's therapy line up currently:
Speech Pathologists 4x a week
Teacher of the Deaf 2x a week
Occupational Therapist 2x a week
Physical Therapy 2x a week
Special Needs 1x a week

For a grand total of 51/2 hours of therapy a week. I know it sounds like a lot to some (and not much to others) but we have found a good rhythm with our team and our family. Honestly, I don't know how people raise kids without a whole team. They are a huge support to us and it's amazing to have the kids so engaged in activities and learning so much. We include Linc in all the sessions, he doesn't even know they are for Sophie. 

Sophie Update: Neuro

Sophie had brain condition called PMG (small folds of the brain) that was caused by the CMV virus. The PMG is what causes her developmental delays.

She has a few cysts on her brain, a few in locations that need to be monitored which is why she has MRIs done on a yearly basis. So far, nothing has changed and the MRIs look good.

Sophie had an EEG two weeks ago. Her neurologist was concerned she may be having small seizures at night. The concern came from a bunch of small instances adding up. Sophie has poor oral control which makes her drool a lot and slow down her speech, she has had a little tremor in her right arm occasionally, as well as a few "freeze up" moments twice this summer where she didn't respond to me for about 10 seconds. It could all be nothing but we did an EEG just to make sure no seizures were happening. We are still waiting on those results. 

Sophie Update: Development

Sophie is my miracle. So far she has kicked down every door our original "diagnosis" put in our way. She walked at 18 months instead of five years old. She eats like every other kid, she sleeps amazingly well, she is sassy and stubborn and full of crazy. Just like I hoped she would be.

Her only real delays at this point are speech and oral. Sophie signs a ton, understands what we are telling her, and takes instructions unless she is being atypical disobedient two year old. Her oral delays make drinking from a straw, talking, sticking out her tongue really difficult. But we continue to see progress and I'm very hopeful she will talk to us one day. As her speech therapist explained it, Sophie is trying to do a puzzle where she can't see the larger picture and all her pieces are white. That is what her hearing loss and oral motor skills do to her. It is amazing all she has accomplished. She has a resilient, determined spirit and for that I am grateful. 

She also has a little delay in her left hand. We are working on building strength in that arm and a little more finesse in her fingers but she has made a lot of progress there as well. 

All in all, I'm just grateful. I've grown a lot these past two years, most of that growth hasn't been easy or pretty but I just try to take it one day at a time. Learning to be grateful for the small improvements and not worrying about twenty or even five years down the line. We have seen so many miracles and I become more assured every day that Sophie is living the life that Heavenly Father wants her to. 

10.06.2015

Potty Training

General Conference weekend was a stressful one. We decided to potty train the kids since we would be home all weekend, genius right? Oh, wait. That means every 20 minutes you have to go through the whole "potty" routine with stickers, treats, singing, timing, and cleaning up messes. Not the most conducive environment to hearing the words of the prophets. 

The first day Sophie did pretty good. She has a will of iron and by day two she was very much over doing what we wanted. I gave up on her mid-afternoon Monday. Linc had a rougher time the first day but continued to progress and today he is back fully clothed with no accidents! (We used the naked three day weekend approach.) Let's hope this holds up. I'm actually grateful for the way it worked out. I've been really stressed at the idea of trying to take the twins anywhere with both of them newly potty trained. So now I will be able to just focus and worry about Lincoln and then try again with Soph over Christmas break. I'm not worried about it and I figure it was a good introduction for her.

Potty Training is really a weird thing for me. I can't believe the kids are old enough to be in this stage of life but I REALLY can't believe that I am. Using words like "potty" and "pee pee" and singing "potty songs" makes me feel like a peppy Barney mom. They feel as foreign to me as Mandarin Chinese, they just don't feel right in my mouth. But we do what we have to, don't we?


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