Monday, December 14, 2009

1 + 1 = ?

Morgan had a math assignment where she had to take the numbers 1-9, draw pictures representing each one (one cat, two clouds), add one more to the picture and then write out the math sentence. For some reason, she just wasn't getting that the answer is always going to be the next numerical number. For example, to figure out 7+1 she would start counting from one. I kept explaining that it would be 8 because 8 comes next. Then she got to 9. While drawing 9 figures she lost count of how many she had already drawn. I told her to count what she had. She counted four. I asked her how many she still had to draw and without skipping a beat she replied five.

So... was she just bored with the simplier equation and therefore not concentrating or what?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A New Artistic Medium

While at a restaurant, Morgan entertained herself in the following way. She took out her gum and stretched it across her napkin. Then she took the pepper and shook it all over her gum. Then she took the salt and shook it all over her gum. When asked what she was doing, she replied: making an art project.

Now that's using an unusual medium!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Denver Art Museum Rocks!

While my parents were in town for Thanksgiving we went to the Denver Art Museum. Being an art minor and seeing the artist emerge from Morgan, I've been wanting to take her here for a while, but I also didn't want her to get too turned off by "a boring art museum". I had no worries. This museum is beyond kid friendly.

First of all, you can pick up a free backpack or art tube that contains different activities for the kids to do through out the museum. Morgan was overwhelmed by the choices (design an African mask, make special googles to help you hunt for foxes in an exhibit, make a cowgirl) so we passed on the backpack this time.

Even without the backpack there is plenty to do, just look for plaques with Seymour the mascot and you will find a kid friendly activity such as combining different African musical instrument to make a song, playing cowboy bingo, playing an Eye Spy Memory Game, creating your own postcard or scrap art, and building a sculpture as seen below.

Currently, there is a temporary exhibit called Embrass that has some really neat modern displays. My favorite was Chamber. It's a big room with projectors all around. At first, they project moving pixels but then the pixels turn into different words. These projections move through out the room. Some seem to flow out air vents and back in through a door. It's really neat to see. Morgan liked being in front of the projector and covering herself in pixels.

Hands down, Morgan's favorite thing was Tobias Rehberger's bungee room. It's an area filled with bungee cords where you try to push and pull your way through, finding little clearings along the way. You can't fall down if you try! We visited this spot three times between other exhibits. Morgan was having way too much to stop and take a picture so Gigi posed for me.

There are also spots to stop and rest and listen to music related to the exhibits.

We were there for three hours and only saw the first building. We did go to the second building to find the Kid's Corner but we were disappointed. There isn't much to do here: a matching shell game, a few costumes to put on, some blocks to build and a coloring sheet. We didn't stay in this room long. Next time we will just stick to all the activities in the main museum.

And Morgan's already asking when the next time is. It will definitely be sooner rather then later.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tactile Play Gone Bad

Part of Morgan's therapy is to have lots of tactile play with things such as shaving cream, paints, and beans. Instead of just using her hands, she is supposed to use her feet since those seem to be most affected by her hyper-sensitivity. The thought is that the more exposure she gets, the more she will be desensitized. Here is what happens when you leave her unsupervised.

You have to give her huge props for being so thorough. She's managed to cover ever inch of the floor.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


She said no to the speaking part. She was really torn between doing it and her fear of the unknown. She was worried about: where the musical was going to be performed, what the stage was going to be like, who were the other kids that had speaking parts, would they be on the stage the same time as her, would she still be able to sing with the rest of the class. It was too overwhelming for her and she told the music teacher she would like to pass this time. The teacher told her that I needed to send her an e-mail letting her know I agreed with Morgan's decision. Morgan and I discussed things and came to the conclusion that she would decline the part this, but would like to be offered a speaking part at the next play, once she had an idea of what this part would entail. The teacher was very understanding and said that she would keep Morgan in mind for next time. I'm sure she would rather have her back out now then have a crying, panicked kid clinging to the curtains on performance night.

Friday, November 20, 2009


The kindergarteners are putting on a school muscial in December called A Bear-Y Merry Holiday. Morgan's class will be the Panda bears, so she's supposed to wear black and white. Luckily, Gymboree is carrying a Panda Holiday line. I got her this shirt with a black velvet and tulle skirt. Doesn't that work out perfectly?!

While practicing Morgan's song, she was singing Pandamonio. I spent way too long aruging with a 5 year old on whether the word was pandamonio or pandamonium. Nothing like a five year old telling me pandamonium didn't even make any sense. I finally had to tell her to ask her music teacher what she was supposed to be singing.

We also found out that Morgan was picked to be one of the four kids with a speaking part. We were thrilled but also surprised. This is the same girl who hides behind my legs, clings like crazy and grunts when a stranger says hi. She does, however, perform in front of all the parents in gymnastics when they have exhibition week so at least she has some experience. She's still not 100% sure she wants to do this. We told her she could think about it for a few days and then decide, but once she makes a choice next week, it will be final. Her lines are:

Quick, open the doors and let them all in! Then, at last, the fun can begin.

She already knows them fairly well so I think she'll do it. Her main concern about doing the lines was 1) being on stage by herself (which she won't) and 2) that she would still get to sing the songs with everyone else (which she still will). Will see next week what she's decided.

Monday, November 16, 2009


We enter the Center where Morgan is starting her therapy. When the therapist comes out, Morgan drops to the floor, rolls up into a ball and hides behind my legs. Any other time I would have felt embarrassed. I would coax her out with words about how inappropriate her behavior is, especially for a five year old. I would cringe that others were looking at my child, rolled up on a dirty floor and judge her, judge me. But not here. Here this is par for the course. They've seen it all before. The therapist gets on the floor and puts her head down too, peaking out once in awhile to grab Morgan's attention. It works and Morgan swings to the other side of the pendulum. She's jumping on the therapist, whom she just met. She's racing down the halls. She's distracted and diorganized. From 0 to 60 in a couple of seconds.

But once again, here it's OK. Here it is expect. Here she belongs.

The Princess and the Pea - Part 2

Remember the story about the Princess and the Pea? After too many mornings of tears and frustration over getting dressed, the Queen finally called the town doctor for advice on how to deal with this behavior. The Queen and King were at their wits end on stopping this defiant behavior. And that is when the doctor informed them that the Princess had Sensory Processing Disorder or SPD.

What is SPD? It's a neurological issue where the body has difficulty processing information from the five senses, the sense of movement (vestibular system), and/or the positional sense (proprioception). It's like walking outside into the bright sunlight after being indoor and your first response is to squint and block the light with your eyes. After a few seconds, your body adjusts and you are fine. But for people that are over-responsive, their body's don't adjust. A misplaced seam on a sock can cause severe discomforted to the point where they can be writhing on the floor in literal pain. A pencil dropping on the floor can sound like a canon going off. And then there are those who are under-responsive to stimulation. They might not respond to a normal voice command, they might not notice smells that others complain about. Thirdly, SPD can manifest itself in seeking behaviors. A Seeker might intentionally fall on the floor or bump into items. A Seeker might crave "squishy" activities. Usually a person with SPD has a combination of these main elements.

Morgan's main diagnosis is tactial overresponsiveness, auditory underresponsiveness with vestibular and proprioception seeking.

She hates to walk on grass barefooted, claiming it's too itchy.

  • She never liked playing in sandboxes.
  • She complains that her seatbelt is too tight - even when it isn't.
  • Hoodies, jeans, zippers, buttons, tights, socks, shoes and boots bother her.
  • Her hair, shirt sleeve or shirt collar is always soaking wet from constantly chewing on it.
  • She is constantly jumping on the furniture, crashing against the floors and walls.
  • She inappropriately climbs on, clings to and enters other people's personal space - often accidently hurting someone.
  • Once she gets excited, it appears as if she's lost all control of her body - she doesn't know where her limbs stop. She often trips and flops around.
  • She spins constantly.
  • She often sits upside down (hanging from the couch) and likes to be flipped.
  • She has frequent, intense tantrums that last for an extensive period of time.

The list could go on and on but you get the gist of it.

I was a member of an online parenting community for the first several years. There was a group of us that had what we called "High Needs" children: children that needed more attention, more redirection, had more frequent and more out of control tantrum, and had excessive energy. Children that just didn't seem to be as easy to raise as the majority. I have since found out that two other kids from this group have SPD. I would not be suprised to find out that more of them have this.

I'm learning a lot as we go through this process and I'm excited to learn more. I'm just another mom who's trying to navigate my way through the world of SPD.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Birthday Party Times Two

This weekend we had two birthday parties to attend. The first one was Saturday night for our neighbor Madison. The kids (and adults) had a blast jumping around.

The second party was on Sunday at the gymnastics school for Morgan's daycare best friend Taralyn. This was the first time the girls got to see each other since they started their new (and different) kindergartens. Despite going to bed late the night before, Morgan awoke two hours earlier then normal on Sunday. To say she was excited to see Taralyn was an understatement. To add to the excitement, Ellie was also at the party. These three girls are exactly alike and despite being apart for so long, they were all three saying the same phrasing and using the same mannerisms.

The three moms agreed that we would have to get the girls together more often.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What I Did On My Fall Break: By Morgan

Each student got a chance to tell the class what they did over Fall Break. Did Morgan pick swimming in the ocean? Watching the Mayan's dance? Perhaps snorkling? Or feeding the fish off the pier? The winning answer:

"I went to Minnesota and drank Sprite"

Looks like we could have saved ourselves hundreds of dollars and ten hours of flying. Are you kidding me???!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mexico Recap

We had a wonderful time in Mexico staying at the Barcelo along the Mayan Riveria. The Barcelo is made up of five different resorts all in a row. While we were there, only two were open. Between the economy, the flu scare and the drug wars going on at the border, not many people were traveling to Mexico. It was dead. The bad thing about this was that two of the pools were closed as were most of the restuarants and buffets. The good thing was that there was no issue finding an empty chair on the beach, no lines at meal time and you could always find a desserted area to escape to.

We don't have many pictures of the trip since the days consisted of: eating, going to the kid's water park, eating, going to the beach, eating, going to the regular pool.

The kid's water park was great. There was lots for the kids to do, the water was shallow through out and Mark and I could relax along side it while Morgan made friends.

So it would only make sense that Morgan would prefer to the regular pool where she's unable to touch, can swim enough so that she's a danger to herself and needs to hang on one of us at all times. No relaxation here for the adults!

She tried snorkling for the first time and was a natural. The girl who can only swim a few feet and then frails around in a panick when she has to take a breath out of the water could swim the length of the pool with a snorkle in her mouth. It what a length it was! She would just slowly flutter along, as relaxed as could be.

We took a half day trip to Tulum. You can tell that Morgan was extremely excited to be here.

To her credit it was extremely hot and humid but still, she managed to put on the performance of her life time. After we had a Coming to Jesus talk with her and she calmed down, we stopped in the shade for a rest where there was another family having this conversation:

Father: I don't know why we bother trying to give them new experiences. They don't appreciate it and it's just a waste of money.

Mother: We should have just redone our kitchen instead. I mean look at them!

Mark and I exchange knowing glances and we moved on feeling a bit better knowing we weren't alone in our situation.

Morgan perked up a little bit when she got to get up close and personal with the local iguanas.

But it wasn't until we were back at the beach when Morgan really felt happy again.

Despite being pummetted by waves, she enjoyed Boogie boarding while Mark and I played goalie. One of stood between her and the ocean so she didn't get sweeped out and one of us stood between her and the beach so we could pick her up when she flounder around too much.

The grounds were beautiful with lots of lizards and igunana to see.

This is one of the many angels through out the courtyards outside the rooms.

Each afternoon Morgan was excited to discover what kind of towel animal the cleaning crew left behind.

We even got in a few rounds of putt-putt golf.

We made friends with a family from Mexico City who had two daughters 4 and 6 years old. Morgan asked the mom if she was Mexican. The mom said that she was half Mexican and half Chinesse, then asked Morgan what she was. Morgan shrugged her shoulders and stated "Regular". Looks like we'll be having to work on that one!

I think Morgan understood that she was in a different country and it was good for her to experience a different culture. She kept asking how to say different things in Spanish and wanted to know if they were going to celebrate Halloween. We explained to her about the Day of the Dead and was able to show her examples of what they did.

When we got home, we were faced with quite the climate change. Denver had received two feet of snow and was 20 degrees. Too bad Mark only packed flip-flops on the trip! We arrived home safely with our car stuck in snow, half in the driveway half in the street.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lost in Translation

This weekend we leave for Mexico. Morgan hasn't been very excited about the whole thing even though we explained we would be at the beach and swimming pools most of the of the time. She loves the beach and she loves to swim so I was a little confused to why she wasn't more enthusiastic.

This morning, as we are on the way to school with snow on the ground, bundled up in winter jackets and hats, she makes a comment. I can't remember the specifics of the comment but it made me realize something. At that moment, I realized that she thought it was going to be snowy and cold in Mexico. And what fun is the beach going to be in the cold?

When I explained to her that it was still summer weather in Mexico, her level of enthusiasm shot straight up. She's now thrilled to be going and can't wait to hang out on the beach.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Parent Teacher Conferences

We had our first Parent Teacher Conference for Morgan and it went much better then expected. The teacher does notice that she has issues sitting still and she is annoying her classmates during circle time by sitting too close, poking them and hugging them too tightly. But the good news is that, despite these issues, she's learning and thriving. She is proficient or advance in all areas, excelling in the reading and writing department.

Unfortunately, for her report card, she did receive partially proficient in her writing. Nowadays, report cards are based on an assessment (test) given on a specific day, not on their overall ability that the teacher observes through out the weeks. So... if you have a stubborn little girl like we do, who decides on this particular day that she doesn't want to complete the assessment, you wind up with a partially proficient score. When she was writing her story, she drew herself and a lion but didn't not add details to show that she was at the zoo despite her teacher's coaxing. Below the picture she wrote "I WEN TO THE ZOO AD SW A LN" (I went to the zoo and saw a lion). Her writing is considered advanced but because she did not include details of the "where" in her picture (even though it was in her writing), she was marked down. The teacher told us that she usually completes the who/where/what requirement but since this was the assessment, there was nothing else she could do about the the report card score.

Welcome to the Public School System!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Silence - Wordless Wednesday

Since things have been so chaotic in our household the last few weeks, I thought we could all use a few rare moments of silence.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Morgan is always picking out things that are blue because "it's my dad's favorite color". She goes to the doctor and gets to pick out a sticker, she picks the one that is blue. She picks a blue swim noodle at swim class and proudly announces to the teacher her dad's favoritism. Blue M&Ms are put to the side to save for dad.

Some day she's going to be crushed when she finds out his favorite color is really green.