Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lots about Lotte

If you're a newcomer to the Tripped Up Family you may have the idea that all we talk about is triplets and autism. In fact, I heard that same comment from my teen a few months ago. Can you say OUCH?! After that comment, I've been making a conscious effort to minimize the amount of time my teen hears me talk about autism. It's not like there's not plenty to talk about in her little area of the world too.

New York trip
Top of the Rock
Lotte enters her senior year in high school in the fall. My eldest - my only for 12 years - my first baby girl will be heading off on her own very soon. You can imagine all the plans and busy-ness we have going on right now. She is 1/2 way through her driver's license coming of age process, working a summer job, taking the ACT test, auditioning for theater productions, and starting college applications and planning college visits. She just got back from a drama club trip to NYC over Memorial Day weekend and, of course, had a really hard time coming back home. They saw two Broadway shows, Newsies and Once, participated in two Broadway workshops, and enjoyed Manhattan, Chinatown, and more. For the mom who's never been to NYC, I'm still jealous.

Superhero fun
Central Park
Her recent audition earned her the Soupy Sue role in Urinetown the musical playing at RHS on Aug. 15-17. I've collected some photos of what else is up in her world. She's busy enough that sometimes I think she actually lives at school, not at home. I wouldn't change any of it for the world though. (Please visit Gayla's page to see other photography work.)
March Hare in Alice in Wonderland
Credit Gayla Fox Photography
"You enjoyed our singing!"
Credit Gayla Fox Photography

Sweet 16 - A woodland tea party
Footloose - An adult in midst of church scene
Credit Gayla Fox Photography
Cinderella's Mom in Into the Woods
Credit Gayla Fox Photography

Sleeping Beauty in Into the Woods
Credit Gayla Fox Photography

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Wildtree "Get Your Grill On" Freezer Meal Workshop

If you are anything like me, than you're always looking for ways to make getting dinner on the table easier and better for your family. That's why I'd LOVE to have any local West Michigan readers (or those who may be in the area on June 26, 2013) to come and check out Wildtree products with me at a freezer meal workshop/party. It sounds like great fun and what's better than having pre-prepped grilling food in your freezer ready to pull-out for dinner?

What are the meals? I'm glad you asked!

Asian Ginger Beef Tips with Spicy Slaw 
Herb Grilled Chicken and Fire Roasted Veggies
Agave BBQ Country Ribs
Cheddar and Garlic Turkey Burgers
Savory Grilled Tilapia
Rodeo Blue Cheese Burgers with Grilled Onion Strings
Herb Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Angel Hair Pasta
Hickory Grilled Rodeo Chicken
Rancher Grilled Steaks with Blue Cheese "crowns"
Grilled Asian Ginger Chicken Skewers

*These are your dinners - you can make any meat substitutions you wish.

If you're interested at all, then you need to get cracking because registration is due by June 12

Plan ahead and make dinner a breeze. It's so easy! Come on over to my friend Jenna's house in Rockford, Michigan and prep 10 healthy dinners in about 1 1/2 hours that you'll take home and freeze. Pull them out later to thaw and cook whenever you need something for dinner!

What's Wildtree? Wildtree is an organic food company that offers all-natural spice blends and oils free of preservatives, additives and chemicals - all you need for simple, healthy meals in a short amount of time!

Here's how it works. Register and pre-pay $75 by June 12 for a package of Wildtree products. Next, Jenna emails you a quick list of meats and veggies. You do a little advance prep and then head over to Jenna's house on June 26th. Your Wildtree package will be waiting for you along with recipes, instructions, and FUN! You'll go home with 10 meals PLUS products and recipes to make the meals AGAIN!! Each meal is designed to feed 4-6 adults - for under $3 per serving!

Simply RSVP yes to Jenna at (616)883-6060 or jennamichalsky@gmail.com and she will contact you for payment and info. Workshop date: June 26th at 6:30 pm. Just think....you'll have 10 meals ready to go! Why wait? RSVP today and you'll be on your way to simple, healthy meals in minutes!

Registration Deadline: June 12th

*Disclosure: This post is partially sponsored by Jenna Michalsky as I will receive a discount on the Wildtree product required to attend the freezer meal party. Additional discounts will apply if readers of my blog also attend the party.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Little Keeper Sleeper - Review

What the Pinkalicious room is supposed to look like
when trundle is pulled out and 3 girls sleep there.
Notice the lack of "brown art" - it's by design.
I'll never forget the first time it happened. I don't even know what to call it. Diaper exploration at naptime? Brown art? Creative painting? (Actually I've since learned the official word that doctors, therapists, behaviorists, teachers, and others use is smearing).

The problem

Last summer while all 3 of the triplets were off school, I DESPERATELY needed them to take afternoon naps or at least play nicely in their bedroom without my intervention. Maybe even play long enough until they eventually fell asleep for an hour or more. I got used to the idea that "napping" really sounded a whole lot more like jumping on the beds. It didn't matter, I needed the time. What I ended up with was not "naptime,"  however, it was more like playtime at the zoo and left a decidedly barn-like smell and sight. The once pretty pink room, complete with sun bonnet quilts, pink drapes, and all manner of stuffed animals and books, had been streaked indiscriminately with brown - EVERYWHERE.
Angel triplet shows off her flute
to Tripped Up Daddy while wearing
 her cozy Little Keeper Sleeper.

I wish I could say that it only happened once or that it only happened with one triplet. Unfortunately, we had different variations of it with both Angel and Princess triplet. Princess tended to smear if she could get to her diaper area, while Angel just wanted to be naked and wasn't getting the idea that a potty chair should be used instead of bed, floor, chair, rug, etc. All attempts to outsmart them were failing, and we still had three weeks before school would start back up again. I thought I would lose my mind. I sought advice from everyone and learned it's not an unusual occurrence for even neurotypical toddlers, but can happen more often and for longer with kiddos who have autism or sensory integration issues.

The solution

Princess: We used a lightweight, footless sleeper put on backwards so the snaps were in back where she couldn't reach.  We were able to find a cute one at The Children's Place. Since she only needed at nap time, we could get away with just one sleeper. (However, after a mishap last night, Princess triplet will most likely be getting at least one Little Keeper Sleeper of her own.)

Angel: The Children's Place sleeper failed with her because she could stretch it out and shimmy out of it. In fact, she never unfastened the tabs on her diaper either, she simply shimmied that down as if it were a pull-up (no matter how tightly they were fastened). We finally broke down and bought two specialized sleepers for her, after a week, we purchased two more.

Back full-length zipper, 3 snaps,
and non-stretch neck

Little Keeper Sleeper

At $25 a pop for a simple sleeper, you might think we're a little free with our cash here in the Tripped Up Castle, but honestly I'd do it all over again - and I have, more than once. The Little Keeper Sleeper is not just a simple sleeper, it's a major stress reliever because of its patented design. The soft jersey knit cotton makes your kiddo comfy and the backside zipper is secure. Topping off the zipper are 3 ingenious snaps, guaranteed to keep even the most masterful child from unfastening it. For me, the best part is its non-stretch neck. With a mechanical genius like Angel triplet, she's learned to shimmy out of almost any clothes at all by simply stretching out the neck. (This is the same child who only recently was still able to squeeze her body through a kitty door and get into an area of the basement that's not child-proofed.)
Cute embroidered bear on left front

The Little Keeper Sleeper is perfect for special needs kiddos like mine who haven't mastered the judgment calls of potty training yet, but have the skills to make a mess. It's offered all the way up to a size 10 and in two different striped colors. They also offer three different styles - long-sleeve, footed; long-sleeve, footless; and short-sleeve, footless.

The feet wore out WAY TOO SOON!
Before you think this review will be nothing but glowing, I do, indeed, have some issues with the Little Keeper Sleeper. First, don't bother purchasing the footed style. We purchased two of that style and within 3 wearings the non-slip grip on the bottom had snagged and with a little more laundering the feet were an absolute mess. I never complained to the company about it because everything else was working great, and I knew how to easily put ankle ribbing on to make them footless sleepers. The other issue I have is while it is a lightweight cotton sleeper, it's still not the greatest option for 80 degree weather, and unfortunately, summertime does not mean an end to the behavior. Even if they offered a shortie version with tight shorts that ended just above the knee it would be helpful for the hot nights. Lastly, although the striped sleepers are cute (and certainly better than the original plain light gray color - can you say convict?), it would be nice to have other color/style choices as well.
White cuffs at ankle
work just fine,
after feet wore out.

For those of you who are saying, "why don't you just potty train your kids, then?" Well, it's not exactly that simple. This is part of a long process. We will be potty training soon, but the process will not be easy or work the same way as with neurotypical children (which, by the way, wasn't at all easy with Sunshine triplet anyway). We're going to need the support of our ABA therapists, OT therapists, speech therapists, and teachers as we work on these daily living activity goals like toilet training. In the meantime, we have to avoid poor judgment situations for our own sanity.

Overall the Little Keeper Sleeper gets a thumbs up from me and if you have a similar struggle I definitely recommend purchasing one or more (just not the footed style). Are there other homemade options out there? Sure, duct-tape the diaper, put diaper on backwards, cut feet off other footed sleepers and put them on backwards, put diaper on backwards then duct tape it, then put a swimsuit bottom over top of it all - there are plenty of ideas. I like this one because it's a streamlined solution made for the problem. And, we NEVER have an issue if Angel triplet is wearing her Little Keeper Sleeper - that's definitely worth it to me.

*Disclosure: Little Keeper Sleeper has not provided me with any money or product for this review. This review is simply my perspective after using a product that's helped make the Tripped Up Castle a little more happy and a lot less stressful.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Selling extra diapers?!!

Where we are
I recently saw a photo of a big box of diapers for sale on a Facebook post from a local garage sale group. The title was "Selling Extra Diapers - my son potty-trained faster than I expected." Looking closer, I saw they were Pampers and I love a deal, you know. Unfortunately, they were a size 3. A size 3! I haven't seen a size 3 in this house in well over a year. I used to get excited about the Pampers Gifts to Grow program. Now that we're on size 6 diapers, there's nothing much on the reward list we don't already have, so we just get coupons for more diapers, and that's not exactly exciting.

Back to selling diapers. That mom doesn't need any diapers for her son anymore, at all. I almost cried. I am definitely not THAT MOM, and not just because I don't have a son.

I can't even imagine how it must feel to be able to say I don't need diapers anymore. In fact, I'd love to be able to say "she's potty-trained" for any of my triplets and know it means a process that's actually finished. While Sunshine triplet really only has accidents at night now, those accidents often include number 2 just as often as number 2 ends up in the potty. (Okay, I lied, we just had a Number 2 accident and it's in the middle of the day).

Potty training = nightmare

Sunshine triplet's night-time wear
Potty training is an absolute nightmare with triplets, especially when two of the trio have autism and are significantly delayed with milestones. Okay, I lie. I haven't really even tried much with Angel or Princess triplet, just some basic introductory stuff to the potty. My goal has been to get the neurotypical triplet trained which would magically make it easier for me to deal with the other two, right? Potty training my neurotypical triplet has been hell, and I've been afraid of what it will be like to really concentrate on it with my autistic daughters.

My experience with potty training in the past is minimal. I used to think it was just perfect experience, now I know better. Lotte was about 3 years old when her dad and I finally started the divorce process. Potty training, while I thought about it briefly, was rejected as not a good thing to pursue until some of the instability of her world disappeared (is that another way of saying I was lazy and didn't have a clue as a first-time mom?)

Anyway, Lotte practically potty-trained herself. She came up to me one day and said, "Mommy, I don't wear diapers anymore." I replied, "Really? Okay then let's go get some big girl panties for you." One trip to the store, 2 packages of brand new underwear, 1 set of training pants with plastic pants for over top and 2 weeks of practice. Potty training was done, finished, complete - EVEN AT NIGHT! Oh, did I tell you that she was in daycare full-time back in those days? Yeah, in retrospect her potty-training had absolutely NOTHING to do with me and EVERYTHING to do with a really fabulous daycare Mama. (Don't ask me how long it took for me to realize that).

Anything and everything

We have 15 pair of training pants
ready to go right now
for Angel and Princess triplets
Back to the trio - Lotte would be so happy if I would quit discussing her potty training after all. I should tell you that we tried absolutely EVERYTHING with Sunshine triplet, and I do mean EVERYTHING. Rewards worked enough to get her to sit on the potty, but honestly I spent over a year just trying to get her to go number 1 in the potty. I have never met anyone with such a bladder of steel. The girl could hold it for 12 hours if she wanted - even with me pushing fluids as much as possible. She would simply wait until she knew she would be wearing a pull-up to go (like at night). School was as frustrated as me, well, maybe not quite, they usually only had to change one diaper/pull-up a day after all. And they certainly don't pay for them.

In the end, what worked for Sunshine, you ask? Well, it was a little meanness and the use of an old summer camp prank that actually did it. Here she was, just before bed, sitting on the potty jiggling her legs and screaming "I want a pull-up," when Tripped Up Daddy said, "tough." "You have to sit and you have to go here. We're staying right here and you're safe, but you have to go on the potty, not in a pull-up." Then he pulled out a dishpan, filled it with warm water and stuck her bare feet in the water. Within seconds, Sunshine triplet surprised herself by going pee in the potty, and not just a little. She had been holding it for hours after all. That was the moment when she finally realized there was nothing to fear about using the potty, at least for number 1. Then within days, she self-initiated bathroom time and she's only had a number 1 accident about 3 times total. That was about two months ago.

The lessons

Church NextStep Toilet Seat

So what have I learned? Well, I wish I would have realized it was fear and not really stubbornness that was the issue with Sunshine. I also realized she had almost been at the same point about 6 months earlier, but I gave in to the frantic screaming and fear by letting her have a pull-up. Had I instead stayed strong, she ultimately would have broken through and succeeded, saving us months of anxiety and frustration. I also wish I had found Potty Training Concepts a whole lot sooner. I think it would have been an invaluable resource. I wish I would have chosen a specific method of potty training that I agreed with and stuck with it. Sunshine triplet enjoys structure, maybe even more than her two triplet sisters with autism. If we had chosen a specific structured approach to the whole process and stuck with it, I think it all would have been easier. Instead, we were way too busy trying everybody's suggestions, the doctor's, mother-in-law's, friends, family members, teachers, etc., that I think it simply confused everyone, especially Sunshine. Last, while potty chairs are fine, I strongly recommend using a potty seat on the actual toilet, like the Church NextStep Toilet Seat.

Where we're headed,
sooner rather than later
we all hope.
What can I apply to the next two triplets for potty-training? Ahhh, now that's an interesting question. At this point, we will be working very closely with the girls' new ABA therapists and OT therapists regarding the process. While I've found many plans out there and even recently went to a seminar specifically for toilet training kiddos with Down syndrome (and other disabilities), I still am not sure what method is the best. Stay tuned, though, I'm sure we'll be learning a lot soon because toilet training is definitely on the goal list for both Angel and Princess triplets.

If you have any advice, I'll sure listen, because like I said, potty training stinks (even for singletons who don't have autism) and obviously I'm no expert on all of this.