Maybe it's because last week was so horrible with all the barfing and the pooping of the liquid, but this week with the kids was really good. I had fun!
Update on all of us sickies: We all had what was most likely rotavirus. I got terribly, horribly barfing, dehydrated sick last Wednesday. I actually called D and said he had to get over and spot me in case I lost consciousness. This was probably an exaggerated fear, I wasn't really in danger of passing out. It's just that the last time I had a really bad stomach flu, which was years ago, I totally passed out on the bathroom floor. The next thing I remember was waking up and seeing the bottom of my then boyfriend's chin and the sky as he was carrying me through the parking lot to the ER. I'm such a sexy date sometimes. This was all probably exacerbated by the fact that I had just gotten out of the hospital a few days earlier with a kidney surgery and a stent holding my ureter open had fallen into my bladder and caused an infection. But since then, every time I throw up I think I'm going to pass out any second of dehydration. I'm weird that way. I make these asinine associations with things that have nothing to do with each other and then can't shake them.
So anyway, D spotted me while I barfed. I was okay within 24 hours, but then he got sick. Aaron was sick on and off throughout the week. D took a few days to get well. I'm telling you all this because of the most amazing thing: After being surrounded by all our puke and whatever else for a week...Naim never got sick. Not even close. He is Amazingly Healthy Superhero Man. That makes me very happy, though, because I don't think I could have handled one more puke mess.
This week it was just me and the kids most of the time all week. And for the first time in weeks, we were all healthy at the same time. We had spent several days stuck in the house together and finally were able to get out. I went back to the gym after missing a week. This gave the kids time away from me and time out of the house. I could really tell that they needed that. They were just happy and fun almost entirely from morning till night. We did lots of stuff, coloring and little games and play-doh and some little sticker workbooks that they like. We "cooked" together. I had them making jello and apple juice (from frozen) and macaroni and cheese and simple stuff like that. I always try to sneak some vegetables in the mac and cheese. And I just put some frozen mixed veggies in this batch--itty, bitty carrots and peas and corn--and wouldn't you know that Aaron ate around every single vegetable. He is still incredibly picky, but Naim has been on an eating spree and eats everything I put in front of him. I think he is growing bigger than Aaron now.
For the first time alone without my dad, I took them for some walks around the neighborhood without the stroller. I guess I have taken them around my block before by myself, but this time we walked to D's house one day and to a playground today. They both hold on to one of my hands. It has worked okay so far. They do a good job.
This may sound weird but walking with them like this reminds me of walking with my guide dog. Part of it is just the constant presence of having a living thing attached to you all the time. That gentle pull on your left hand is just something that gets built into your muscle memory after you do it for eleven years. And the feel of the pattern of their footsteps. I walked about one step for my dog's two, and it is about the same pace with the kids, just slower. And part of it is that we make sure we stop and curbs and stuff, which my guide dog always did. And then pause when we go up the opposite curb. Every once in a while a kid will refuse to go my direction. I use a technique I used with my dog when she would stall around (usually not while working). I would just keep walking and she would get uncomfortable being left behind and catch up after a minute. This makes me a little nervous to do with the kids. My neighborhood has nearly zero traffic during the day and I don't go more than probably 8 feet until they want to catch up. I just stand there and wait and finally they come when they see I'm not going to give in. It is about a billion times harder to get twins to go the same direction or to catch one if they decide to go opposite directions. So just waiting and not turning around and fetch the other one makes the one you've got with you stay on track as well. It is something we are still working on, so we are a long way from going stroller-less in the world outside my little neighborhood. But they did surprisingly well this week. And it was really nice out, so we had some nice walks.
Yesterday, we went to our little art class at the children's museum. On Tuesdays it is clay and "sculpture" and on Thursdays it is painting. It is a drop in class, so my goal is to go a couple of times a month. We have to take the train and get there by ten. The whole thing from my house to the front door of the museum takes about 45 minutes. But everything on public transportation takes that long, so that really isn't bad at all. The class is a bit like a preschool. They have a little circle time, then they have art stations that they rotate through, then they wash hands and go back to the circle for a snack and a book. The book is usually something about art, but I can never hear/see it so I don't know what exactly. Then they go next door and have a little music class. Then I usually let them play in the museum for a half hour or so, and then we head home. It is a nice little day for them, they really like it.
It is a lot of work for me though to supervise them. Parents have to supervise, there is only one staff member present and about 10 kids in art and about 35(!) in music. Let me just say that 45 minutes is an endlessly long time to supervise two kids to paint. Like, and make sure they don't hurl paint trays across the room or what not. I am way more exhausted than them by the end. Aaron can do his own thing, I just need to watch to make sure he doesn't spill something or steal another kid's paintbrush or something. Naim is tougher. He gets freaked out if he gets paint on his hands, his clothes, the floor, the (covered) table. I'm trying to get him to loosen up about it. But I usually end up just letting him clean up as he goes, because that is what makes him happy. He usually lasts about 30 minutes and then I let him wash his hands and play with puzzles in the circle area instead of paint. I'm doing these art classes for Naim, so he can work on his hypersensitivity to texture, and messes. As I've said before, the kid is a wee bit spectrum-y. I still think there is a chance he might grow out of some of this. I hope it doesn't get worse. That is what I'm trying to prevent. The other excellent thing about these classes is the kids make a big mess and I don't have to clean it up! Yea, Children's Museum!
I have to say that I feel really stupid now that I wasted my money on Gymboree classes last year. They were horribly expensive for a 45 minute class, which is why we quit. They don't do anything there that the children's museum doesn't do, and the children's museum does a ton more. A year membership for the kids and I costs $75, compared to I think it was over a hundred dollars per kid for just ten 45 minute classes at Gymboree. And Gymboree had this crazy-ass rule about not letting me (anyone) supervise both their children at once. You had to either bring an extra person, or take the family class which was geared to kids 6 months to 5 years. Chaotic. The museum art classes cost a whole $2.50 per kid at a drop-in rate. Plus the music class is free, plus all the other stuff they have there (plays, puppet shows, tons of different play areas, and the best part--a big train set!). You do end up seeing some of the same moms and kids there, too. So there are some chances to make connections. Gymboree didn't make it that easy to talk to other moms because the teacher was always screaming at hyper pitches. Anyway, this is all to say that I think Gymboree is kind of a crock. And that the kids and I are having fun in their art classes.
What else? When I was working in Child Life, I made some connections at Boys Town Hospital in Omaha. (I went to high school across the street from Boys Town and we had a lot of boys town kids in my classes, so this is actually a way back school connection.) Anyhoo, She sent me a bunch of DVDs made by Boys Town institute that are ASL-ed classic children's books. Cool, cool. This guy signs the story and then shows the illustration of each page. The guy is a character. He has one of those mustaches that probably has another name but I call it a "Colonel Mustard" stache. It like winds around his cheeks like a beard but his chin is shaved. Anyway, Naim is just freaked out fascinated by this guy. He goes back and forth from panic to wonder at him. Sometimes he stands in front of the TV and just starts signing like crazy with his whole body. He isn't really signing anything, he is just pretending to, but it is hilarious. Other times, he covers his eyes when the guy signs and then uncovers them when they show the picture. He really likes an Eric Carle one about a chameleon.
I have a whole 'nother post in my head about the kids and socialization and their status as sorta KODAs (Kid of Deaf Adult) and what that might mean for them. But I have to save that for another time. But I really think they need to be around more signers. I would love to find a KODA group for them where they could be around kids who sign, or even a group of deaf kids with hearing parents--but so far, no can find besides a few camps. We probably will take a class next year with the homeschooling coop called beginning sign. They will probably know most of the vocab already, but at least they will be around other signers besides mom and Rachel from Signing Time, who they also call mom. Now we have Colonel Mustard, so that's good, too. They are starting to see that the rest of the world doesn't sign. I really want them to know some signers.
Speaking of Rachel from signing time, if I ever meet her, I'm going to thank her for helping us figure out this your turn/my turn business. This whole taking turns business is finally starting to sink in to their heads. Its one of those things that you wear yourself out talking about and think they will never get and then finally they do. I'm not saying they always take turns, by god no-not in a million years. But they know what I mean when I say it. And they know how to do it. Signing Time has a song about Please/Thank you/Share/Your turn/My turn and all the corresponding signs. They love this song and they love the your turn/my turn signs. Sometimes we just play a game where we take turns doing the sign for taking turns. All kinds of fun. And Naim says and signs thank you all day long whenever I hand him anything. I know he doesn't quite get it because he also tells me thank you when he hands me stuff. But it is really cute.
One last cutie thing I want to remember. When Naim puts his pants on in the morning, we have started to have to do this whole elaborate farewell to his knees. Naim has a very special relationship to his knees. He used to be in love with his elbows. In fact, I have several pictures of Naim's elbows that he made me take. But elbows recently gave way to knees. And we have to say, "Bye knee! Bye bye, other knee!" when we are pulling up his pants. And then we have to kiss them. He does and I do and sometimes even Ernie and Elmo do, too. And then, what a joy it is at bedtime when he gets reunited with his knees. There is lots of kissing and hugging there as well. Hey, they are really cute knees, I must admit.
Oh, now I don't feel like I've written enough about Aaron. Must always keep it equal! Aaron is just verbal word boy. He repeats everything I say with near perfect enunciation and learns words faster than I can keep track. We have little conversations all the time where he tells me stuff. I was so excited the other day because he is actually starting to tell me stuff that happened at daycare. I asked him what he played the other day, and he said something I didn't understand which sounded like Hi-EEK. I didn't get it at first so he goes over to the corner, plants himself against the wall, counts to ten, and then says perfectly, "Ready! Not! Here I Come!" Oh! Hide and Seek! We never played that, at least not the ready-or-not part. So he actually understood that I was asking him about daycare and told me what he did. Whoo hoo, what fun.
Okay, that's it. Just thought I'd tell ya that parenting is fun!