Friday, December 28, 2012


So I have to apologize again. Apparently Blogger has had some problems with picture uploading.  I kept waiting for it to get fixed but it hasn't yet so I had to upload the roundabout way.  It has taken me forever to try to get these pictures up here!  I will try to get the rest of my incredibly late blogs up soon!
So the DeCarlo family had Christmas a little early while Uncle Craig, Aunt Kristi and Lauren were in town.  It was so much fun getting to see them and play all day long!
The kids all got great toys.  Alaina happened to be napping so she missed the flurry of paper and tissue paper but it was probably better that way.
Travis is completely into rocks so he got lots of rock books and rock boxes and rock kits. 
Justin loves Aunt Kristi! 
 After opening presents and lunch and taking a nap the gang went to the park.  You notice Justin is wearing different clothes?  That is because he had a little accident while he was napping and I spent the afternoon at the laundromat while everyone else went to the park.
Before Craig, Kristi, and Lauren headed back home we got another family picture.  We didn't really plan the colors but it worked out okay, except for Alaina.  I think I'll have to take the blame for that.  She spit up on her pretty dress and I didn't plan a pretty alternative.  It's a learning process!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Justin Update

I have been meaning to post some of Justin's amazing accomplishments.  He is learning a lot of great new skills and I am so proud the progress he is making.
  • A few months ago Miss Sarah gave Justin some pictures with picture/word cue cards.  It was to help Justin put together two word phrases like "brush hair"  and "kick ball".  It didn't take Justin long to figure them all out and even go beyond the phrases she invented.

He has been using two word phrases for a while and now Sarah gave us homework to begin trying to get three words at a time out of him.  Even if it's just adding "please" after "want help" or something like that.  It has gone really well! I think I can even say that Justin now has the expectation of being understood.  That is a completely different approach which puts the onus on us to try to understand.  It's is still work, but fun because we get the chance to experience what's going on in his little head.  It turns out to be quite a lot!
  • Sarah has also made Justin a couple of these books for him to read.  She puts the pictures at the bottom and he reads the simplified version.  He really seem to enjoy them.  He can be like Travis.
  • Miss Caroline left to start her own office in Austin so Justin has a new OT therapist, Miss Jenna.  They have been working on writing and tracing lines, shapes, and letters.  He gets the gist of the pattern, but he can't get the corners yet. 
  • Justin has been doing some projects at therapy.  This was the ornament Justin made for the tree.  He's working with regular scissors and he's struggling with the opening and closing motions.  The loop scissors he has just need to be squeezed to cut, so this is the opposite motion.  He cut this candy cane all by himself!  And then he put the beads on himself too.

This was the Thanksgiving project.  It's a "feather" that describes what Justin's thankful for.  We ask him this question a lot and this is his usual answer so I wasn't surprised!
  •  Miss Penny helped Justin meet a huge milestone:  He can jump!  He can jump forward, straight up, and even off a 12-inch step.  He still doesn't land with his knees bent every time, but he's made great progress.  And he can pedal a recumbent tricycle.  He started with a tricycle that used both hands and feet, and now he is transitioning to just feet.  He can't keep the motion going for very long, but he's doing better.
  • We are learning that Justin has a very good memory for the things that are important to him.  He learned quickly that birthdays mean presents and that even Jesus birthday meant presents for him.  He knows that Pop tells him stories and gives him apple juice, and that's what he asks for as soon as we get to his house.  And we had better be careful about what we promise because Justin will hold us to out word!
  • And a potty update:  Whew, it doesn't seem like it's been 5 months since we started this process.  I really hoped we would be done by now, but instead we seem to be regressing.  I wash at least one set of his sheets every day, plus one or two pair of underwear.  I finally gave up and bought pull-ups for nights.  I am not sure what is so hard about nights when he was doing so well, so until we figure it out I am taking a break from daily laundry.  It seems like any little thing gets him out of whack and the first thing we notice is accidents.  And he even has had some accidents during naps.  I had to wash ALL of my in-laws bedding when we had our Christmas celebration.  Comforter down to mattress pad.  I am just glad that's as far as it went.
  • CPAP update:  He has figured out how to take it off and he does.  Frustrating.  He will even get out of bed and turn it off sometimes and other times he just takes it off and lets it blow.  So he gets to play on the ipad if he leaves his mask on all night.  A lot of times we have no idea, but fortunately (or unfortunately) he has no idea either.  I think that's part of our problem.  We need to make it harder to come off and we really can't.  It's kind of a catch-22 with the potty problem.  (He can't make it to the potty if the mask won't come off.)  He has been sick so he hasn't worn it all the time and I have noticed a difference in his level of alertness.  I think that's a good confirmation for us.
  • Justin really wants to do everything Travis does.  That's usually a good motivator for learning so we really like that.  Justin likes doing school with Travis and is trying to learn letters.  He runs and climbs to keep up with Travis.  But then there are the times when we have to say no.  Travis is great at soothing Alaina and he gets on his hands and knees over her and talks with her and when Justin tries to imitate him he ends on laying smack on top of her!  Still struggling to figure this one out.
  • Justin is still very much a little boy.  When he gets hurt or sick or he is sad or tired, he needs mommy and even though he is older than Alaina, he doesn't understand when I can't hold him.  He has started biting his nails and I worry it's because he is not getting the attention he needs.  Maybe I just worry too much!  :)
  • We saw some family over the holidays who we don't see very much and they commented on how much progress Justin has made over the past year.  (The last time they saw him.)  Oh my goodness!  What an encouraging word.  I so needed to hear that from someone who really truly noticed!  It's hard to step back and look that far to see, but God planned those words for my ears on that night.  He is amazing, let me tell you!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gingerbread Houses

Part of our holiday tradition includes making gingerbread houses. I found a great kit that has both a small house and a train so both boys got to make and decorate their own thing.  Even though Justin can't eat the gingerbread, he still really wants to decorate.  It seems as though the best part is actually the docorating anyway.  After assembly, I would squirt a strip of icing and Justin put on whatever candy was closest.  He got some peppermints, some sweet tarts and some small balls.  It turns out that gingerbread house decorating is a very good OT activity!
Travis was much more methodical in his approach.  He begins by trying to duplicate the picture on the box and when it doesn't quite work out he starts going his own way.

Both the train and the house turned out beautifully!  They had a ton of fun too.  A great holiday adventure!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Singing

Travis and Justin sang in church on Sunday.  The kids sang "Away in a Manger" during the worship service.  Justin has been practicing all the hand motions and adding a word here and there.  He loves to rock back and forth with the rhythm.  Travis is a pro since we have been listening only to Christmas music in the car since Thanksgiving.  (I think the CDs we have might only have about 17 different songs total.)  Justin is obsessed with "We Wish You a Merry Christmas".  And the Muppets version is his favorite.  Travis is taken with the song "Christmas Shoes".   Who would have thunk it?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cookie Day 2012

This week I made cookies!   I have been plotting and planning and it all came down to this:

It seems rather paltry after some of my previous Cookie Day creations, but it was mostly me this year (Randy did lend a hand wrangling the kiddos and managing other household during so I could bake).  I think I am getting more methodical in my approach to cookies.  I have my categories (bar, drop, and refrigerator - I have abandoned cut out/shape cookies for a few years or until I get more help) and I make my selections.  I attempt to balance my chocolate/nut ratio so don't get too lopsided in my choices.  I always try to include at least one meringue (a gluten-free option for Justin), one mint, and one citrus (orange or lemon) just so it can be a little break from the pure sweet.  And of course, every year is all new cookies.  I think I may have set the bar pretty high for myself, but so far I enjoy it.  Kind of like Meat Day. :)

I made 10 different kinds of cookies this year: 2 bar, 3 refrigerator, and 5 drop.  That includes raspberry chocolate meringue, (My mom's cousin gave me this recipe and it is SO good!  But I am very thankful for my stand mixer!!) pistachio jam bars with homemade jam (My mom and Travis' creation - I highly recommend doing this at least once with kids who love pb and j sandwiches.  Travis understands so much better why he cannot have his favorite sandwich every day for lunch...), and ricotta cheese cookies (LOVE the cakey consistency of these!)

I had to bake over a couple of days but it all worked out really well.  It was all worth it when I get to deliver tins filled with yummy treats to my neighbors and to Justin's therapists.  The ladies at therapy said they look forward to it, it's the best day of the year, and better not be out sick on cookie day! And I enjoy going to my neighbor who is going through cancer and the other neighbor who went through cancer with my mom.  It gives me a great opportunity to enjoy a fun visit with them.  Cookies are good food!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Live Nativity

Our neighbors hosted their Live Nativity program this past weekend and our family was able to participate in the fun!  This is the fourth year that they have lived across the street from us and every year we help out a little bit more.  This year we helped with snacks for the cast and the guests and we offered our talent.  I am pretty sure the snacks were better received than the talent!
They read the Christmas story from Luke and the cast moves along with the reading.  It runs for two hours and the cast changes every half hour to give more people a chance to participate and to give people a break from the hot lights!  This year it was really warm and the lamb got especially hot (you can ask Travis)!  Every year they add something else to make it a little better. This year they bought a huge light kit. (You can see it in the last picture.) They have great costumes and very entertaining readers to make it a special event for everyone.
I made popcorn and lemonade for the people watching the program.  We were going to have hot chocolate but it got too hot.  It was good we had lemonade!

Here we are watching from across the street.

We have a very progressive thought when it comes to casting.  Travis' shift had all female shepherds!  Doesn't he make a cute lamb?

We got assigned the last half hour of the night.  That was from 8:30 - 9 pm.  Wow, is that late when it comes to my kids who are used to being in bed by 7 pm.  I was Mary, Randy was Joseph, and Alaina was baby Jesus.  (Like I said, progressive casting!)  Travis took our picture since he was the only one left.  Didn't he do a good job?

And now for the rest of the story:  Justin was having a very bad potty day and he peed in the underwear about 5 times before the show began.  I was using the stroller outside so that I would have someplace to put Alaina when I was helping with snacks and costumes changes.  It ended up that Justin sat in the stroller most of the night, except when he peed in his underwear and we had to go and change his clothes. Which he did and we did at least another 5 times during the show.  That's not counting the times we actually made it to the potty.  I had no idea what was going on but it was quite a debacle.  We ran out of underwear and moved on to pajama bottoms.  I ran out after the last clothes change just in time to head across the street and put on Mary's outfit.  It was extremely late for Alaina and I knew she would be upset and I had planned to grab her pacifier to help make it through our half hour.  With Justin's issue I forgot to grab it and I headed outside knowing it was going to be bad.  Before we even got into the stable Justin needed to go to the bathroom again so Randy took him inside and I went out and said to start without him.  Randy came out in time for the second reading and Justin was back in the stroller with Travis watching him and us watching them both.  We didn't even make it through one reading when Travis "snuck" up in the middle and said Justin was crying and he needed us.  So Randy went out to get him and I ended up having to stand up with a screaming baby.  Every time the kings came to offer their gifts I had to reassure them that her crying was not at all a reflection of her opinion of their gifts!  So Randy was holding Justin (crying) and I was holding Alaina (crying) and we were both standing up bouncing.  And Justin peed all over Randy and his Joseph costume.  We were quite a sight!  I was sure we were going to be fired by the time it was over but instead our neighbor came up and said, "That was hysterical!  You guys were great!  I will e-mail you some pictures!"  Thanks.  I think?

Later that night Justin woke up vomiting and with a fever, which lasted the rest of the weekend and into Monday.  I gues we know now that when he cannot control his peeing he's on his way to getting sick.  And when he is sick all he wants is mommy and Alaina is in one of her mommy phases so it was a tough day for ALL of us.  We're glad that one is over!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Party

The place where Justin gets his orthotics threw a big Christmas party for all the kids.  They gave little presents and goodie bags to all the kids and they had games, face painting, crafts and lots of food!  The great thing about living in Texas is that we can do outdoor activities even in December.  They were able to block off part of the parking lot and set up a bounce house, a basketball game and several tables for eating.  Ours boys love bounce houses and since they were doing a really good job of monitoring how many people were jumping, Justin felt like he could really jump. 
And jump he did! 
He really enjoyed himself.  Can you tell?? 

Daddy and Alaina watched and I got a great smile out of her!  A little freaky with the snowman looking over their shoulder...

We even got a good picture with Santa.  Alaina smiled for this too.  I was so impressed! 

Eating our goodies.  How is it that no matter if you just ate a meal you can still eat chips? 

Travis got his face painted for the first time.  Afterwards he said it only hurt a little bit, but he kind of liked it!  Justin wouldn't let anyone touch him.  He thinks it will hurt.  It took forever before he would let us put temporary tattoos on him.

This was their tree.  You can't really tell, but it's decorated with orthotics, even at the top.  And the red Christmas card is from our therapy place.
It was a really enjoyable evening. The boys had a great time.  Our orthotics place does a lot of good for the kids.  We don't have a lot of choice when it comes to orthotics and I am so glad that this is the place we get to go.  Most of the kids who were at the party wear orthotics (duh!) and they range in ability from mild to severe problems, even kids in wheelchairs. They closed down the bounce house for a while and let the parents take their wheelchair-bound son into the house and "bounce" him.  When there are bounce houses, the kids with special needs have difficulty participating because it's aways such a wild and chaotic place to be.  This time it wasn't like that.  Someone even said something to the owner of the company, thanking him for doing something for "our kids".  He was a little surprised because he hadn't really thought of it that way.  He was just doing something nice for his clients.  But to his clients it was so much more.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Some Thanksgiving Pictures

So I told you that we got some cute pictures at Thanksgiving but I couldn't post them, so now here they are:
No need to explain this one!
Justin was "reading" his card, just like big brother...

Travis likes to hold Alaina and this was post-nap so the flower wasn't reapplied yet!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Six Months

Alaina turned six months this week and it is amazing how fast the time has flown by.  She is now a fairly confident sitter (except when her brother "helps"!)  She tops out at 13 lbs. 6 oz and apparently she hasn't grown any since her last visit so we're going to chalk that up to the "expert" methods they employ to measure babies!

She is still very much a mama's girl and she doesn't enjoy sitting down by herself.  She likes company!  Alaina spends a lot of time getting mauled by her brothers and she is becoming one tough cookie!  She pulls hair and bites on chins and she's not picky whose!

Halfway to One!

(I solved my picture issue temporarily.  But FYI it's still me posting, not Randy!)