Monday, June 28, 2010

A little bit about ABM so far...

As some of you may remember, in the first week of May we took Avery up to Sterling, Va, to try out a new therapy. Months and months ago, someone who had come across my blog emailed me and offered to send me Anat's book Move into Life in exchange for a review of it on my blog. Pretty much everything I read in the book made sense to me, but I wasn't sure how exactly to use it, since the book itself is aimed towards adults, and all the exercises in it instructed you to think about how things feel, and I just wasn't sure how to actually apply that to Avery. However, along with the book, I had also received some DVDs with clips of Anat's work with children, including children with cerebral palsy similar to Avery's. Seeing these really got me excited about trying this method. I looked up the nearest ABM practitioners on the Anat Baniel website and found Carla, who has been working with children for 40 years and has been an AMB for Children Practitioner since 2003. And even though that's 3.5 hours from us, we have some family who live only 30 minutes away from her location, so it was perfect!
I do not have the pictures and videos from Avery's first few sessions, since I left them on my brother-in-law's computer, but when I get them I will post them. One of the things I found most exciting about watching Avery during those first 3 sessions was the level of focus on her face, and how you could see how much she was paying attention to what was going on, and how it felt. Also, she looked so happy the whole time too! She really seemed to love 'playing' with Carla, and felt comfortable and relaxed with her very quickly.
Last week Avery and Gabe went up there for 2 days of therapy. On Monday she saw Carla at 9 am and 4pm, and then again on Tuesday at 9am and 12pm. Gabe got several videos of Carla explaining what was going on, and the theories behind what she was doing. Unfortunately, it's quite difficult to hear what she's saying in some of the videos because there was a fan going, and because Gabe's phone isn't always the most reliable video camera.

You can sort of see that a lot of what the therapist seems to be doing is feeling what's happening when Avery's body moves.

Here you can see how much Avery enjoys the therapy.

Here she talks a little bit about how ABM isn't about making your body do things it's not ready to do, but rather helping your brain figure out why moving certain ways is good. She didn't like some of the stretches we've been doing with Avery, particularly the 'whale' stretch, apparently, because it was making her body do things with knowing why exactly. And it's not about verbally explaining to her that the stretch could help her muscles work better, but it's about helping her body understand that if she moves in this particular way, it's a great thing because it helps her do this. I hope that makes sense.... When I went to those first 3 sessions with Avery, Carla talked a bit about how healthy babies learn to lift up their heads, roll, sit up, crawl, cruise, walk, etc, through spontaneous learning, not through forcing their bodies to do things. They experiment, they discover their hands and their feet, and they learn bit by bit how to move and react to gravity, etc. She talked about how movement and learning should be a joy and not a struggle.

Interesting to listen to if you have the time.

Standing up.

There is a lot more I could, and will at some point, say about the therapy itself, but for now I'm just going to talk about some of the changes we have seen.
After the first sessions at the beginning of May, the main changes were just little things like noticing that for a week or so afterwards, Avery was paying much more attention to her feet. She touched her lower legs and feet a lot more than she normally did.
The changes in this past week since she got home have been more noticeable. Since she got home on Tuesday night, these are some of the things I've seen:
  • On two different days, I left Avery on the toilet upstairs, while I went downstairs to take something to the kitchen or something, and when I came back to the bottom of the stairs I found Avery grinning down on me from the top of the stairs, proud of herself because she had got off the potty all by herself!
  • On Saturday I took Brogan out of the bath and got him dried and dressed while Avery was still playing in the bath. As I walked past the bathroom I told Avery I was just going to go check on dinner and then I'd come back to help her finish up in the bath. A minute or so later I heard Avery calling and saying that she was ready to get out of the bath, so I told her I'd be there in just a minute, but when I got to the bottom of the stairs, Avery was crawling out of the bathroom and excitedly calling, "Mommy! I got out of the bath all by myself!" Avery has never even attempted to climb out of the bath by herself! Earlier in the week I had helped her climb into the bath a couple of times, and had been surprised by how little help she had needed, but when I had offered to help her climb out she had refused, saying it was too hard and that I needed to pick her up.
  • After I put Brogan in bed on Thursday, I knocked on Avery's door and told her it was time to go brush her teeth and use the potty. Avery opened her door, standing up, and I offered her my hand to help her walk to the bathroom. She refused and said "No, I want to walk by myself" and she put both hands on the wall and side-stepped across the hallway until she reached the corner, and then she asked for my hand, because the corner was "a bit tricky".
  • On Wednesday morning the children and I were playing out in the carport. Brogan was in his little car, and Avery was riding her tricycle. Then Brogan decided that he wanted to play in the van, so I opened the door for him and helped him climb in. Of course, Avery then wanted to play in the van too, so I went over and took her off the tricycle, and held one of her hands to help her walk to the van. She was in a hurry, so, still holding only one hand, she practically ran all the way across the carport before she started to lose her balance a bit and steadied herself by using her other hand to grab hold of my arm.
I think that in general, Avery is feeling quite a bit more comfortable in her body, if you know what I mean. I think that she is starting to feel more confident about what she can do, and that she is experimenting.
I am still excited about ABM, and we will definitely be going back again at some point. We just have some scheduling issues to deal with now, since we're getting a bit closer to baby time.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Since we've been home...

  • We spent the entire first day home in our pajamas, recovering from the long, exhausting journey.
  • The next day, Monday, Gabe was back at work at 6am, and I had a prenatal appointment at 9am. Luckily my friend Michelle was willing to watch my jet lagged little ones while I went to my appointment, and I was out of the office by 9:15am :)
  • Monday afternoon Brogan got sick with some sort of stomach virus again. It was really bad. Like, no-diaper-could-hold-it bad. And then he started throwing up to, but only in the evening just after he'd gone to bed. Yep. Pleasant.
  • Wednesday morning I got the bug too. It was awful. And Gabe was still working. And the Avery started throwing up that afternoon too, so it was not a fun day in the Andersen household. Not at all.
  • Thursday, both Avery and I were feeling considerably better, but Brogan was still having diapers from hell, and he was getting noticeably skinnier.
  • Friday I took Brogan to the doctor, and he told us to carry on with the mild, dairy-free diet we were already doing, told us to go get some Imodium, which we did, to expect him to start feeling better within 2 days or so, which he did!
  • The silver lining to this sickness is that banning regular food from Brogan seems to have been the key to unlocking his appetite! He has never been very interested in food at all, but then all of a sudden, when he wasn't allowed to have it, he finally wanted it!! So ever since he's been better he's been eating really well! He's been finishing what's on his plate, and sometimes even wanting seconds! This is a big deal for him!
  • Friday morning I went to the hospital bright and early for a gross orange sugary drink, an hour of waiting, and a blood test. I failed the test, so next week I have to go back for the 3 hour fasting test. Joy of joys. So I've had Gabe hide all the chocolate we bought in England, and I'm trying to eat better and get some exercise, because I really don't want to deal with gestational diabetes!
  • By Saturday, we were all feeling almost completely better, and it was clear that Gabe had managed to avoid the sickness altogether, we decided to enjoy some time outside in the sun.

  • The next day, Gabe and Avery headed off to northern Virginia after church, because Avery had 4 more sessions of Anat Baniel Method therapy scheduled on Monday and Tuesday.

  • I will talk more about that in my next post...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

England Trip Final Week!


Sebastian, Jenna and Noah were still at my Mother's house, so we took the children into Wareham to feed the ducks at the river.
After all the nice weather we'd been enjoying, we had a gray, rainy day, so we dressed the children up in coats and sat in a little sheltered area by the river.

Then the seagulls showed up too, which was fun because they catch the bread out of midair :)

The car that Naeem had given Brogan was an amphibious one, so the boys decided to take the opportunity to test out its aquatic abilities :)

For some reason the ducks didn't seem too excited about eating the piece of bread off the top of the car...

Felicity took the day off work to spend it with us, and we (Me, Felicity, Gabe and Avery) went into Wareham again with the intention of getting fish and chips for lunch. But it was damp and gray again, so we decided to go to a pub for lunch instead. Felicity and Gabe played a game of pool, and then we decided to go somewhere else for lunch instead...

We went to Nellie Crumb! This is where I had my first ever job - waiting tables for 1.90 pounds an hour! For about a month and a half I think :D SOrry about the bad picture Gabe and Felice, but mine's pretty bad too:

Gabe and I had full english breakfasts for lunch, and they were scrumptious! Felicity had macaroni cheese, and Avery had a cheese sandwich. Gabe and Felicity also got a can of coke each, which, we found out when we got the bill, cost a hefty 2.75 pounds each!! CRAZY!

In the afternoon, Avery spent some time with Grandma, and Felicity, Gabe and I took Brogan to Poole Park. He loved it because there were birds....lots and lots of birds!

Gabe liked chasing the birds too :)

After the birds, he also enjoyed playing in the play area for a little while too :)

Brogan came down with some stomach virus on Tuesday night, and had a day at home with Gabe and I on Wednesday. He was pretty sad, and needed lots of love and attention all day, poor thing. He still tried to play a little bit though - he'd be lying on one of us, and then without moving his body would every now and then just start tickling our tummies and saying "tikkatikkatikka" It was very cute and pathetic! Avery went into Poole with Grandma where she spent some time with Great Grandma and Grandad, visited Grandma's Aunty Barbara, and then got treated to lunch at Pizza Hut! So she had a lovely day!

Thursday was Sebastian's birthday, and although Brogan was feeling a lot better, we thought it would be best if he stayed home again, so Gabe, my Mother and Avery went up to spend the day with Sebastian and his family.
An olive tree.

Avery loves the bunny :)

Upside down Noah!

Jenna's sister and her husband went over for dinner in the evening, and I was home by myself until 11:30pm!! They had a fun day :) I got a lot of packing done, which was good because we had a busy last day ahead of us...

On our last full day, I met up with my old school friend Gemma and her children! We were going to get together at the park by my mother's house, but it was sort of wet and gray, so she just came over to the house and we caught up a little bit on the last 10 years :) Her children are adorable, and they're both about the same ages as Avery and Brogan!
My Grandma and Grandad came over for lunch, and after that Gabe and I took the children to visit Nana - my great grandma!

Last time I saw Nana was at Sebastian's wedding 4 years ago, and my father and Granny were both there too, so we were able to get a picture of Avery with her mother, grandfather, great-grandmother and great- great-grandmother!

The closest we came to getting Brogan to stand still for a photo :)

After Gabe's hike the previous week, he had insisted that he had to get down to the shore again before we left, so we took a detour on the way home from Dorchester and found our way to Kimmeridge! Getting there was a fun little adventure in itself, using a map to navigate through all the tiny little back roads :) I'm glad I got to do some driving this time around, and it was really my first time driving in my home country since I didn't get a driver's license until after Gabe and I got married!
I thought Kimmeridge would be a fun beach for Gabe to see, since it isn't like the other beaches he had seen since we'd been in the country. Before he'd even seen what I wanted him to see, he loved the beach because pretty much all the rocks seemed to be perfect skimming rocks, so he was very happy :)
The children loved the rocks too! Avery liked watching Gabe skimming, and liked seeing how far she could throw the rocks into the water.
Brogan liked sitting as close as possible to the water and dropping the rocks in.

I didn't really want to walk all the way across the rocky beach to the big flat rocks, so I sat and threw rocks with the children while Gabe ran all the way over to the other side. Can you see me and the children in this picture?? We actually had a lot of fun just sitting there - the tide was coming in and we saw lots of little rock shrimp things trying to jump away from the water. And of course the children loved throwing rocks and were happy to sit there the whole time Daddy was gone!

This was why I though Gabe would enjoy seeing Kimmeridge Bay. It has the big shale cliffs, and then this big, flat, wave-cut platform. There are lots of rock pools and fossils too.

The cow wouldn't eat the grass Gabe offered it....

When we got back to Grandma's house, quite a few of my family members were there to spend one last evening with us before we headed back to Virginia!
Well, Saturday was..... a very,very long day! Sebastian came and picked us up to take us to the airport(s), which meant that he had to leave his house at about 4am I think! And then he noticed he had a bald tire, so that had to be changed before we could leave, so we were cutting it close! Gabe and Brogan (thankfully Gabe had managed to get Brogan switched over to his flight, which meant that we were both flying with one child -I don't think I could have survived the day if I'd had both of them!!) had to be at Gatwick by about 8am, and Avery and I then had to get to Heathrow for our 10:05am flight, so we were cutting it close! In fact, we got to the check-in desk at 9:06am, and they had just closed the flight!! But we got through of course. Then when we went through security they swabbed Avery's walker and apparently found traces of explosives on it (!!!!), which slowed us down even more! They swabbed it again and of course it came back clean, but it meant that by the time we got through security, we had about 30 minutes before our plane was supposed to take off, so I had to pick up Avery and her walker and practically run all the way to what must have been the furthest gate!! It was exhausting! But we made it :) Once we were on the plane, however, there was some problem with the pilots window (the warm air that blows on it wasn't working...something like that), and that was enough to make us too late for our connecting flight at JFK. Anyway.....I don't really want to go into all the things that went wrong that day, suffice to say that by the time we got home at 2:30am we'd been travelling for 26.5 hours. But on the positive side, both the children behaved very well, all things considered!!
Brogan on the plane. There was a family with a little girl about his age sitting right next to them, so that apparently helped to keep him entertained during the long flight!

When Avery and I finally got into Ronald Reagan airport (although we were supposed to fly into Dulles...long story), she had fallen asleep on the connecting flight. She was so exhausted that she
stayed asleep as I picked her up, carried her off the plane, put her in the wheelchair, she got pushed all through the airport including elevators, etc, we collected our luggage, and then I picked her up out of the wheelchair and put her in this chair! It was a long day....!

What an excellent trip it was though! Of course, there were still lots of people I didn't get to see, and the time just went by far too quickly, but it was fun- and family-filled and we all came away with some wonderful memories :)

Sunday, June 06, 2010

England Trip Week 4


On Tuesday night some friends came over for dinner, and Brogan became instantly attached to Katie! He likes most people, and isn't shy, but for some reason, he wanted to be with Katie constantly, and was even happy just to climb up and sit quietly on her lap for ages, which isn't like him! He's not usually a "sit quietly" kind of boy...!


Amy, Talitha, and Felicity surprised me with tickets to go see Wicked in London!! They had been to see it in New York before they visited me last year, and raved about it the whole time they were at my house, so I was super excited to see it! We drove up to pick up Aunty Maureen in the morning and then took the train into London.

So there were six of us all together, and it was such an amazing day! The show was amazing! I loved every second! (Sorry about the pictures girlies, these kinds of shots are never the most flattering...!)

Thursday was a very exciting day for us! It was the day that we were picking Daddy up from the ferry port to enjoy the rest of the trip with us! Gabe flew into Paris on the Monday morning (which I'll have to ask him to write a quick post about), and on Thursday he got a ferry from Cherbourg to Poole, where Avery and I were waiting excitedly to meet him! Can you see how excited Avery is?? When Gabe got off the little shuttle just on the other side of this fence, Avery was so excited to see him and was jumping so much that her skirt fell down :D

Brogan has just woken up from his nap when we got back to Grandma's house, and he was also extremely happy to see his Daddy :)

Snuggles :)

We spent an hour or two down on the beach with Great Grandma and several of the Furbank families :) Great Grandma treated all the great grandchildren to ice cream cones, and they were very happy little children :)

Brogan wasn't interested in the ice cream at first, but once he was convinced that it had plenty of sugar and not much nutritional value, he knew it was worth his time...

...and he was a big fan!!

Brogan splashing in the waves with Daddy.

Cute little Megan :)
Early on Friday morning, my brother Sebastian and his brother-in-law Steve showed up to take my husband away!! They went on a hike from Lulworth Cove to Weymouth - about 11 miles, I think they said. It was pretty much the perfect day for a hike! Beautifully sunny, and a nice breeze.

Meanwhile, back at home we were busy getting ready for my sister's wedding reception, which was happening the next day! In the evening we met up at the church and set up all the tables and decorations (which looked really lovely, by the way), before heading over to the Furbank's for a "hen night" doing pedicures and manicures and eating chinese food :)


Saturday was the big day! It was a lovely reception, and Eveymartine and Naeem looked so happy together :)

There was lots of great entertainment! Gabe even got to borrow a banjo :)

Avery looked beautiful in her special dress, and she even had a pearl necklace and black and gold bracelets as a present from Aunt Evey, which she loved :)

Gabe, Josephine (and bump!), Brogan, Naeem, Eveymartine, Avery, Valerie, Jenna, Noah and Sebastian.

I love these pictures which my cousin Matt took!

After the party was over we went back to my Mother's house and got the children into bed. While we did that, Gabe, Sebastian and Naeem went off to the beach to play volleyball with a bunch of people from church, and poor Eveymartine got quite distressed about having to be a part from her husband for all that time!!

It was a full house that night! Every room was being slept in besides the kitchen and bathrooms :D
Naeem had brought presents for the children and for Gabe and I, since it was the first time we'd met in person, which was very sweet of him! He got a very nice tie for Gabe and a beautiful turquoise scarf for me. The children were in bed so he couldn't give them their presents, but we saw the magnetic play center he got for Avery (which she loves), and the daddies "tested out" the cars Naeem had got for Brogan and Noah!!!

Gabe and Sebastian got along really well.....maybe a little too well....!!!

Eveymartine and Naeem opened some wedding presents.
We were going to have a bonfire out in the garden that night, but we were all just too exhausted after our long day!


 After church, Brogan and Noah got to watch their daddies play with their new toys outside :)

In the evening, the Furbanks and the Silsbys came over, and we went to Kingston Maurwood (?) for a walk.

It was beautiful! And again, we had lovely sunny weather! It was quite breezy, but not cold, and it was just perfect!

Brogan got to spend some more time with his new favourite person, Katie :)

Beautiful :)

Eveymartine and Naeem.... so sweet and in love :)

At the end of the walk was this steep hill, and Avery loved climbing the mountain! It was quite the climb, but she insisted on doing it all by herself, and she did too! Lots of times in fact!

Avery, Noah and Brogan loved sliding down the side of the steep hill :)

On the way back, Naeem carried and Avery and pushed Brogan almost the whole time I think! We kept on offering to help, but he refused! It was really nice for the children to have the weekend to get to know him a little bit, and Avery especially loved him :) I think he will always hold a special place in her heart for spending an hour building lego houses with her on Sunday afternoon instead of taking a much needed nap with his wife :D She insisted on driving with them when we went on our outing that evening :)
After the walk, we all went back to my mother's house again for rice pudding, which was delicious :) And so much fun!

After everyone else had gone and the children were in bed, Gabe and Sebastian built a bonfire out back and burned some of the wood which needed to be burned. We made smores with chocolate digestives and marshmallows :)