Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sheridan's 2nd BDay Party

I love this photo.  John Michael's buddy, Sheridan, celebrated his 2nd birthday at his home last Saturday.  It's such a joy to see these two together.  When they first met, John Michael used to make Sheridan cry.  It didn't take much.  Maybe it was the age/height difference at the time.  We don't really know.  But today, they're on a more even playing field with both of them motoring around on two feet and playing nicely together.

Sheridan is one amazing little guy.  It's hard to believe he just had open heart surgery a couple months ago!  Such a healthy boy and fast healer.
It's funny, but John Michael is sometimes left-handed/footed and sometimes right-handed/footed.  I've seen him do both with ease, but more often he uses the right side.  Interesting...

John Michael loved all the different play stations that Sheridan's mom, Lisa, set up in the backyard.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a photo, but John Michael had brown paint on his shirt, shorts, and two stripes on his right cheek resembling war paint.

Another fun station.  Water play with floating wine corks.  Hmmm, I wonder how many bottles of wine Lisa and Gary had to drink just to have enough supplies (corks) for this one?  LOL!

The afternoon wrapped up with music from Music to Grow On, the music therapy group many of us use.  John Michael LOVES his therapist and is super active in his private, weekly lessons.  But in a group setting, this is typical... he stands in the back and just watches.  Sheridan and some other friends were all over it.  I love seeing Sheridan standing and walking. 

Other stations included sand, dough, colorful plastic balls, and a blanket for pre-walkers.  But my favorite of all was where you could make hand or foot prints of your little one.   On the left, are Luke's footprints and on the right, John Michael's multi-colored hand prints.  Isn't that too cute?!?!

The cake was also amazing!  It was based on The Itsy Bitsy Spider.  You can check it out at Lisa's blog.

But the most touching part of the day was that Sheridan's dad, Gary, was in the hospital and Lisa still pulled off an amazing party.  If you're the praying type, please pray for Sheridan's dad for a speedy recovery!
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Monday, August 23, 2010

Lithia Park in Ashland, OR

Ashland, Oregon, is only about 75 minutes north of Mt. Shasta, CA, where my parents live.
It's a gorgeous Shakespearean / college town just north of the California/Oregon border.

John Michael had a blast at Lithia Park. Can you tell what was his favorite thing to do?

Nic and Greta "chilling out" by the stream.

Anna and Greta doing the same.

I sometimes wonder if the kids will still be close when they're grown up.  I can only hope this is a glimpse in to the future.  And it's moments like these that make my heart smile!

Nic, Anna, and Greta enjoyed it, too. Here they are outside the Shakespearean theatre courtyard waiting to hit the local ice cream shop.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Traveling to Mt. Shasta (all 7 of us!)

This is how we travel   :-)
With 7 people now occupying every seat in my Honda Odyssey, it's great when the 3 youngest are asleep at the same time!  (No, I didn't drug them!  LOL!)  Can you see Luke's reflection in the mirror?

After a 6 hour trip (it should only take about 4 without kids!), we finally arrived in Mt. Shasta City.  John Michael loved playing on the bridge my dad built for my parents' yard. He spent most of his days going up and down this bridge.

 Such a big boy!

My Mom has always had an incredible green thumb.  Here in the front yard, John Michael and I explored and found an old rail car amid the daisies, pine trees and fruit trees.

John Michael and I collected a few apples for the horses on the property behind my mom and dad's place.  He decided to take a few bites out of one of them.  While this one looked good to me, most of the apples are wormy, and this was no exception. Luckily, John Michael was tired of the apple before he got to the "bad" part.

North Shore of Lake Siskiyou.  John Michael loved feeling the rocks and water.

Several long logs floating in the water made for some fun water play.

The kids were in heaven here -- we thought it was pretty nice, too!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Feet and Food -- "JM-style"

Feet, feet... wonderful feet.  Oh, the many, many feet you meet...
(I know, I'm starting to sound like a Seuss book, but really, there are so many different kinds of feet, even amongst my own children.) 

Nic has seriously huge (size 13!), flat feet, great for swimming; Anna has strong soccer and tennis feet; Greta has gymnastics feet that can kick high with a graceful arch; Luke has long, slim baby feet.  But John Michael has the softest, chubbiest feet with short toes, a cute little sandal gap AND a Simean crease to boot!  I LOVE this boy's feet.  I must kiss his bare feet at least once a day.  Like other parts of his body... his neck, his cheeks, his arms... they are so soft and smooth.  Like butter, only better  :-)
Now for the food...  Greta has taught John Michael the fine art of dining al fresco and nibbling on all kinds of "seasonal", plastic fruit.  I love how well they play together and the role-playing she teaches him.  Here, he's showing off his pot of fruit while holding a fork in his teeth.  Yes, he knows how to eat properly with a fork, but he sure can be funny sometimes.  I love his crossed legs, too.  The ultimate in relaxation.

Ooooh, a juicy strawberry!  (minus the juice and the mess!)

I will seriously miss having Greta here every morning to play with John Michael as she prepares for her Kindergarten career next week.  I guess I'll have to start eating more plastic fruit and dining al fresco while barefoot.  OR better yet, we'll need to invite some of his buddies to come play.  Sounds like a plan...
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

2 years of Music Therapy...

John Michael has been fortunate to have the same music therapist since he began in June 2008. 
He was only 7 months old when he began and would sit either in my lap or in a Boppy.  By September that year (see above photo), he was sitting unassisted and really enjoying music therapy, still needing hand-over-hand assistance while working on strengthening his left arm which he didn't use as much. 

It's so funny to see photos of him back then... he was so chunky!

Today, two years later, he greets Carly at the door, sits down and is ready to play. 
The triangle makes some cool sounds...

The tick tock block sounds cool, too, but mostly he likes to stick the mallet into the hole.  He still loves the rainbow scarves and says "Ben bow" for rainbow, but his repertoire has expanded greatly since the early sessions.  He loves the Slippery Fish song and The Wheels on the Bus..., playing instruments, imitating sounds, anticipating movements and words, and all the sounds that go with music.

I cannot say enough about Music Therapy and its importance for John Michael's learning.  It works on fine motor, gross motor, coordination, vocal imitation, blowing horns and harmonicas, listening skills and so much more.

Here, he's signing "LOVE" for "The Daddy on the bus says, "I love you."

Just last week, he said "Vuv Yoo" as he was waving to me while his babysitter was taking him and Greta for a ride in the wagon.  My heart just melted!

Here's another Music Therapy favorite.  Eric Carle's Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?
The music therapy interns embellished each page of the book with fur, feathers, yarn, curly hair, etc., to make a very cool touch and feel book.  I've already promised our  Ds Sisterhood that we would get together to make one of these for our kiddos, too.  Soooo  fun!

Last year, funding for Music Therapy services were cut so we had to either quit or opt for private pay.  It has been well worth the money and definitely John Michael's most anticipated therapy that carries over into our everyday lives.

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