Monday, July 20, 2015

Owen's Love Affair with a Guy Named "The Hawk"

I hail (for the most part) from a very small town in the North East corner of Ohio also known as NEO to those born and bred there.  We aren't very far from Cleveland, so many of us are supporters of Cleveland professional teams.  I was a big Indians fan growing up and saw a number of games in the old Municipal stadium.  When I got older, I moved to the National League, falling in the love with those 1990s Phillies, mullets and all.

Owen has grown up a big Phillies Phan.  One of the first things he could point out was the MLB logo and the Phillies "P".  He loves baseball.  But even more than that, he loves a very specific announcer of baseball......and it's not even for a team that we watch!

At some point the hubs introduced Owen to a guy named Ken "The Hawk" Harrelson.  He's the announcer for the Chicago White Sox....I know......the Chicago White Sox?!  Why?  Well, Hawk is a homer.  He refers to the Sox as the "good guys" and he regularly says "us" vs. "them" and "we" when talking about the team's actions.

Image result for Ken the hawk harrelson
The Hawk doing his job
He is very animated in his delivery of the events of the game.  He has his own brand of calls too.  When someone on the opposing team strikes out, he says "He gone."  When the Chi Sox hit a home run, he calls out "You can put it on the board.......YES!"  When the Sox win, he shouts "And this game is OH-VAH!"   Some of Hawk's more memorable calls and one of Owen's favorite videos is here.

Owen loves to watch YouTube videos of the Hawk and all his game calls.  But now Owen is taking it further.  When he reads his books about baseball, he wants us to do the Hawk's calls and will keep referring back to those pages where someone strikes out or hits a home run so that he can hear Dad's impression.

I'm not saying we're turning into Chicago White Sox fans, that is NOT going to happen........but the Hawk definitely makes the play by the play a lot more fun to listen to!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Goodbye.........Hello

We moved!  Finally.  For over a month, Solito worked in Colorado while we stayed in Minnesota.  Then we closed on our MN house and drove through parts of Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas to get to our new place in Colorado.  For nearly 2 weeks we lived out of a hotel, including a weekend trip to the NDSC conference.  I can't say it was super pleasurable, but we made it.  Our house closed last week and our things arrived over the weekend.  We spent the weekend organizing, unpacking, and making yet another list of things that we need to purchase or do for the new house.  To say I'm exhausted doesn't quite cover it.  But we are restarting our routines and I'm looking for new therapists for Owen and getting our documents together in order to register him for school.  We have NO more trips planned until Thanksgiving time and I am just fine with that.  We need some time to get ourselves together and just learn the lay of the land here.

Some pictures from our trip to CO........
At a cool restaurant in Iowa, our first stop

At the Omaha zoo in NE

At the Pony Express Museum in MO

A house where Jesse James hid out in St. Joseph, MO

Memorial chapel at D.D. Eisenhower's library, KS

A bomb shelter relic from the '50s at Eisenhower's library, KS

Watching Owen use an old phone was cool (Eisenhower's library, KS)
But I want to say this to our adopted home of Minnesota:
Thank you for........your beautiful summers, your harsh yet gorgeous winters, your abundant parks/splash pads/indoor play areas, your ability to road trip around the state and nearby to some pretty cool places, your awesome children's hospital that fixed Owen's heart.  But most of all, thank you for all the friendships we made there.  I met some people that I know I will be friends with for a lifetime!

Colorado has some big shoes to fill.  It is definitely gorgeous here and I love seeing the mountains when I look out the windows of my house, but I hope I can find some good friends here too.  I've been moving around since I was a kid, so this isn't foreign to me, but I think it gets a little more difficult when you're an adult.  Crossing my fingers that Owen will help me out a bit by making some school friends whose moms might be good fits!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Owen and the Wolf

Owen loves the zoo, has since he was a baby in the stroller.  However there is a statue at the zoo that has terrified Owen........the wolf.  It is quite realistic and I think he was afraid that the wolf would get him.  I would steer clear of it when he was stroller bound, but once he was able to walk well, he would run from the statue in fear.

Until this year.  Now Owen loves the wolf statue.  Every time we go, he HAS to have his photo taken at the statue.  Now he hugs the statue.  He has no fear of any statue and will actively walk up to them, be it the zoo, the store, the park.  Every little change shows how much he continues to grow up.

The evolution of Owen, his wolf, and the MN weather...........

First time touching the statue....not afraid!

These wolves are my friends.

OK, I'll take a pic with mom......I guess.

Another pic with mom?!

Very pensive.....I wonder if I can take him home with me?

This guy is my best pal!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Home

When I was growing up, my family moved a lot, mostly due to my father's naval career and attending both undergraduate and law schools.  We moved so often that I kept my very favorite things in a box in my closet, never unpacking it because I was certain we would move again.  I have shared rooms with sisters, had a room of my own, lived in a basement, lived on the third floor, shared a driveway, lived near a highway, in a trailer park, on a naval base, near a golf course, in an apartment, in the suburbs.  Probably the only place I haven't lived is in a big city.....I've lived near them, never in them.

Because we moved so much, I never truly felt like any place was considered home--that feeling that you are settled and comfortable.   That didn't happen until I went to college.  I loved Saint Mary's College the second I drove onto campus for Accepted Students Day during my senior year of high school.  The buildings and architecture had the Gothic, traditional feeling that I love and the tree-lined lane was breath taking.  Once I got over my freshman 1st semester jitters of trying to fit in, manage courses, and make friends, the feeling of being settled and comfortable took over.  By senior year, I didn't want to leave.  I cried after graduation because I knew that there was a chance I would never feel that way again.  I did, of course, but you couldn't have explained that to my 22 year old self at the time.

This past weekend, I went home.  I went home for my 15 year reunion.  I spent the weekend with a large number of classmates, getting to re-know them now as professionals, wives, and moms.  It was probably one of the most gratifying weekends I have had in a long time, outside of spending time with my own family.  I got to room with one of my very best friends, Lori, something we didn't do in college because we knew that we needed our own space at that time.  We laughed, we cried, we told "do you remember when...." stories, we ate mediocre dining hall food again, we went to our old haunts, we watched our class video and couldn't believe how young we looked, we walked the halls of the dorms in bare feet like old times, we met some of our classmates' beautiful babies and young children.  I loved walking around campus and seeing the beauty that I just didn't take in during my time as a student on campus; it was always there, but I just didn't have much time to fully appreciate it.  Reunion gave me that time to realize how much SMC had an impact on me and shaped me into the person I am today.

At the end of the weekend, I was exhausted and happy........happy to have been home and happy to be going back home to my life now.

Lori and I took the Bell Tower Tour
Best picture of the weekend!
One of the most peaceful places on earth:  the Grotto at Notre Dame
Lori, Aileen and I in front of LeMans Hall
Our class won an alumnae award and I accepted it on the class's behalf
Lori and I had a hard time giving Miss Grace back to her mommy, Aileen!
The beautiful masterpiece that is Church of Loretto!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Going from 0 to 90

About 2 months ago, I got a phone call from Owen's special education teacher, S.  She said, I think he's ready to move to real underwear.  The team is ready to give it a try.  He was going on schedule at school and at home and there were very, very few accidents happening.  We were still hit or miss with those pesky bowel movements, but I figured it was worth a shot, especially if the school team was on board.

These last 8 weeks have been life changing.  Really.  We immediately got rid of all diapers and pull ups, except for one bag of night time pull ups.  He is staying dry 4 out 7 seven nights now, which means we find ourselves recycling those pull ups a few nights in a row.

I went out and bought a bunch of packages of undies, figuring if there was a really bad accident, we'd just toss the offending undies in the trash.  I've thrown away 3 pairs total to date.  He might have TOO many pairs of undies now!  But he does have his favorites.......Superman, Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, Thomas.  He picks his own undies and clothes out now each day.  I think it's good incentive because he wants to wear them so he keeps them dry.

The whole BM issue?  No accidents in nearly 3 weeks.  He goes every night after dinner.  He even tells us probably once a week that he needs to go take care of business.  I haven't used a diaper wipe in 3 weeks.  I have 5 packages sitting in my linen closet unopened.  I may need to sell them.

Owen has gone from 0 to 90% potty trained since the school year started.  He's been working on the whole concept since he was 3 years old.  He finally gets it.  He knows what he's supposed to do in bathroom and how he's supposed to do it.  It wasn't anything magical, there were no treats, stickers, movies, shows, etc. involved.  He doesn't care about rewards.  But he does care about routine and he cares about getting to do things like go to class with his Kindergarten friends and go outside to play ball.  He knows that he is expected to use the bathroom before activities, before going somewhere, and before getting screen time on the iPad.  Those things are his motivators.

It all finally clicked for him.  I think we are on our way to being fully trained, day and night, very soon!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Things He Knows

I went to a children's mega sale recently.  I wasn't really there to buy clothing so much as I was there to buy books, Level 1 Readers to be exact.  Owen has been obsessed with books since he was an infant.  Both Solito and I are readers.....magazines, city guides, novels, historical fiction, maps, mystery novels.....we love it all.  There are books everywhere in our home--the coffee table, the kitchen table, the car.  Owen has 2 book slings, one in his bedroom and one in the living room and he has 2 bookcases in his closet filled to brim with books of all kinds.

Owen has shown a big interest in the Level 1 Readers for awhile now.  He likes more of a story, he likes seeing the punctuation, and running his finger along the words as we read.  We do a lot of point and show--point to this particular word to show me you know it.  His sight word vocabulary is getting quite good and I am constantly impressed with how many words on the other Dolch lists he knows now.  His teacher even started him on the 1st grade reading curriculum about 6 weeks ago.  I couldn't believe it when she told me that!

But there are other things he knows that I don't know that he knows until he shows me.

We were looking at a new to us book called "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" that is about the World Series in 1947, set to the lyrics of the song.  It's beautifully illustrated and it's very fun to look at all the pictures on each page.  One of the pages near the beginning of the book caught Owen's eye.

He kept pointing to the American flag and signing the word "talk".  I had no idea what he was asking me to do.

Then I watched his little hand go over his heart and I realized that he wanted me to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  I forgot that they do this every day in Kindergarten.  His K teacher said he knows exactly what to do and stands with his classmates every morning facing the flag.

So I started reciting the Pledge and he stood up!  And then he signed more and made me recite it 3 more times while he stood with his hand over his heart just like he had been taught at school.  Every night for the past week that book has been on his reading agenda and every night like clockwork he demands that I recite the Pledge while he stands.

The things he knows......that I don't know that he knows........what else is hiding out in that brain of his?


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Apraxia Awareness Day 2015

So apparently like everything else in the world, there is an Apraxia Awareness Day and for 2015, it is today.....May 14.



I think there are lots of people who don't quite understand what apraxia is, so I'll do my best to explain it and then talk a bit about how it personally affects Owen and his speech process.

There are 2 kinds of apraxia:  childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) and apraxia of speech in adults, which is often caused by a tramatic brain injury or a stroke.  Apraxia in general is a motor speech disorder.  A person diagnosed with this disorder has trouble planning their speech; they often know exactly what they want to say but cannot get their brain and their mouth/tongue/lips/oral muscles to work together to form the verbal output.

When a child is learning to speak, they get input from those around them with regards to how they are forming their words and sounds.  They often listen to those around them to hear how sounds are made and as infants they try to repeat those sounds back to their parents or other caregivers.  We know that children start with what are considered easier sounds to make--b, p, d, m--and then add harder sounds and eventually more syllables to form words.  As they practice this skill, it becomes less and less difficult to replicate and stored in the brain to be called up whenever necessary in conversation.  Children with CAS are more likely to struggle right here in the forming of sounds and syllables.  They likely never make those "files" in the brain that become automatic.  No one is sure why that happens, but most professionals in the speech therapy field believe that there is a large neurological component to CAS and that the brain and the oral muscles have a disconnect.

Another important piece of a CAS diagnosis is wide gap between receptive language (ability to understand language) and expressive language (ability to produce verbal sound).  Children with CAS tend to have a fantastic receptive language and truly understand the conversations around them.  Their expressive language is severly delayed, often by years, as in a 7 year old that can only make the sounds that would typically come from a 6 month old infant.

Diagnosis of CAS can be tricky, first because there is no one specific testing platform that can provide the immediate designation of CAS.  Even leading SLPs differ in their agreement with certain tests and the diagnosis itself.  There is specific training an SLP can take in order to be a specialist in the field of CAS and if you suspect that your child has it, it is important to seek out an SLP with that training.  There are specific techniques used to encourage oral muscle and motor skills in children with CAS.  Most diagnoses have several testing components involved, which include an oral-motor assessment (looking for signs of weakness in muscle, jaw, tongue, mouth), melody of speech assessment (seeing how a child uses syllable stress and intonation on words) and a speech sound assessment (checking out how well vowel and consonant sounds come across as well as any syllables and sound combinations).  Having difficulty in any one of these areas can lead to a speech disorder diagnosis, but having more than one of these issues typically leads to a CAS diagnosis.

Typically an SLP will not diagnose a child younger than 3 with CAS.  It is too difficult at young ages to determine CAS, especially if a child does not have a large expressive vocabulary.  For this reason, many SLPs will diagnosis and treat young children with articulation disorders and work to find improvement for them.  As a child becomes school age--5 or 6 years old--a CAS diagnosis is more likely to be determined because a certain level of speech production is expected by that time in a child's life.

What does CAS look like in Owen?  He wasn't formally diagnosed with it until he was about 4 1/2 years old.  His private SLP wanted to give him extra time because she has worked with many children with Down syndrome and with boys in particular, she knew that they often take longer to work on speaking.  A lot of that has to do with the fact that boys tend to be later speakers in general and Owen has always been a gross motor seeker.  He'd rather spend his day climbing up ladders than working on the perfect stream of words.

Once she suspected CAS, she began with the inventories I mentioned above.  She noticed lots of weakness in his oral muscle and tongue.  He would often have a hard time moving his tongue in the demonstrated ways during a therapy session or he might do it 1 out of 5 tries correctly.  Some of the exercises we work on at home involve moving his tongue side to side and touching the tip of his tongue to his lip.  These are necessary in order to form syllables which become words.

Secondly his intonation on sounds and syllables was totally off.  One day he would be able to make an m sound and then next time he was asked to replicate it, he couldn't.  His speech sound assessment was all over the place; again he would have certain vowel and consonant sounds one week and the next week he would struggle to replicate them one time.  His m sound in particular has come and gone over the last 2 years more times than I can count.  

Practice and repetition are big components to therapy practices for CAS.  It is important for a child to nail down the beginning sounds of b, p, m, d and then add vowel sounds to them.  We practice with mirrors and various word combinations all the time.  The more you practice, the better the sound and the facial recognition of the sound become.  Again, this is about helping the child make those sounds permanent in their repertoire of speech.  The foundation of sound has to be set before you can expect things like full words or sentences.

And that is why CAS is a tough diagnosis.  It takes a lot of work and for a long period of time you might not see any improvement or change.  It is also one of the reasons that lots of parents move their children to an AAC--augmentative and alternative communication system.  Owen uses his iPad with a specially downloaded app called Dynavox Compass at home, school, and private therapy.  We have pages set up for him for those specific locations that allow him to speak.  There are food choices, book choices, play time choices, and pages of routines like going to the bathroom or asking someone to play with him school.  It provides him the verbal voice that he currently does not have.  It doesn't mean that we have given up on verbal speech, but it does provide Owen with a way to be a part of the conversation and communication around him.

Some resources that you might find helpful if you suspect a CAS diagnosis or would like to discuss one with your SLP:

Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Facebook group of parents with children who have CAS

National Institute of Health on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication

AAC Institute

Uncommon Sense--fantastic blog written by a mom whose daughter uses AAC.  In the blog, she writes about their trials and errors with various AAC devices, how to implement AAC, and provides videos of both her daughter and son using AAC in every day situations.

To find a professional SLP with CAS training in your area, go here.

Articles/sites with AAC app information:
http://www.friendshipcircle.org/blog/2011/02/07/7-assistive-communication-apps-in-the-ipad-app-store/

http://assistivetechnology.about.com/od/AugmentativeCommunication/tp/Top-10-Alternative-And-Augmentative-Communication-Aac-Apps.htm

http://www.spectronics.com.au/article/iphoneipad-apps-for-aac

http://www.massmatch.org/resources/aac.php

Monday, May 11, 2015

6

Last week we celebrated Owen's 6th birthday.  I'm behind in posting about it for several reasons, most of which is related to our big move to Colorado.  On his birthday we found out we got the house we wanted in Colorado and the following day at his birthday party we found out that we had some offers on the table for our home in Minnesota.  Talk about a whirlwind!  On top of that, I'm still wrapping my head around him being 6 AND losing his first tooth on his birthday too.  It's been a bit of an emotional roller coaster these last couple of weeks!

Missing tooth!
I'm also kind of dazed that we are here.......6 years old, losing teeth, finishing Kindergarten in a few weeks.  I have said the last couple of years that I'm not ready for this and I'm still not.  He is growing up before my very eyes.  He is changing all the time--his likes/dislikes, his physical strength, his ability to try new things, his communication--both in terms of using his "talker" (iPad app) and his own sign language.  He points to himself and then to the item he wants all the time.  Owen lets us know more often than not that he is engaged in the conversation.  He knows what he wants, even if Mom and Dad don't agree with his choice!  :)

I remember looking at him when he was a tiny baby and thinking, I wonder what he'll be like when he's 5 or 6 years old.  I don't have to wonder any longer......he is there.  He's still a serious sports fanatic, book lover, and outdoor enthusiast.  His interest in Curious George has never been stronger, but his fandom of Elmo is waning.  Instead he is going full steam ahead with Thomas the Tank, albeit a few years behind his typical peers most likely.  We totally cleaned out a used book store of all of their Thomas Level 1 readers this weekend.  Now I need to learn all of their names since he is obsessed!

Age 1....so little!
Age 6...so big!
On his actual birthday, we went to the Mall of America.  We had dinner at Owen's favorite Italian restaurant.  Then we went to Nickelodeon Universe to ride the Log Chute.  We all got wet and Owen decided that he liked watching others ride it instead.  We also rode the carousel a few times and played some arcade games.  Owen won a rainbow slinky and he has enjoyed learning how to send it down the stairs at home.

Watching the log ride is better in his opinion
Of course we have to play some basketball!
6 is a very fun, but exhausting age and that was proven when we hosted his birthday party and 13 classmates came to the indoor park we chose.  They all had so much fun and they gave Owen the best birthday cards, many of them homemade.  He loves looking at them and pointing out their names (yes, he has that memorized too!).  He and I will treasure them for a long time.......it was absolutely a bittersweet time knowing that we won't be in 1st grade with them next year.

Owen did NOT want to be bothered while eating!
Owen and his buddy Alex
Blowing out that candle is hard work
The party goers!
I want time to slow down.  I don't want to imagine Owen as a 10 year old because I'm selfish and I want him to stay little forever.  I know that won't happen, but I do know that I am so proud of him and I feel very lucky to be his mama.  Happy birthday, little man!

Spring school pic.....such a grown up boy!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why a Carousel Ride Made Me Cry

To those that know Owen or have read here before, you'll remember that he has sensory processing disorder.  Sometimes he's overstimulated by things like noise and sometimes he is a sensory seeker where he needs input from something like a chewy.  I've written about SPD several times and what Owen's issues tend to be.

One thing he has never liked is being on a swing or going on an amusement park-type ride.  We tried a slow ferris wheel once at the Mall of America and he totally lost it--cried, screamed and even tried to open the ride door to get out!  So needless to say, we just avoid those things because we know he doesn't like them.

His occupational therapist has been working with him for several years to get him to ride on a swing.  This is the first year that he has wanted to do that.  He does it at school all the time now.  He comes home from school and wants to go outside.  The first request he makes when we get out into the backyard?  "Swing!"  He's even figured out how to swing on his tummy and twirl himself around.  This is HUGE for him.  He loves it.  I never thought he would but he's out there just about every day, swinging on his own.




Recently we went to the Minnesota Zoo which is about 15 minutes from where we live.  It's one of Owen's favorite places and we go there a lot.  They added an old fashioned carousel on the grounds of the zoo as you head out to the farm area.  When Owen saw it, he was so excited and watched as little kids climbed aboard the various animals to ride.  He laughed as it went around and around.  After a couple of times, we started to encourage him to walk with us to the farm.  He shook his head and stomped his feet.  I thought he wanted to stay longer, but then he grabbed Solito's hand and took him to the line forming for the next carousel ride.  I asked him if he wanted to ride the carousel and he adamantly signed "yes".  So I hustled over to the payment area (yes, one ride costs 2 bucks, everyone needs a ticket, including parents.  But if your kiddo is under a certain height, s/he rides free.)

Owen handed the gal running the carousel his coins for a ride with Dad.  He didn't want to sit on the animals, but chose the bench seat instead.  He loved it....laughing the whole time and waving to Mom.  I got a huge lump in my throat watching him enjoy the ride and tears started falling.  I didn't think he'd ever want to do something like this.  His sensory issues have always made him run away or cry when we would even come close to walking by a carousel or another type of ride.  Now he was delighted and my tears were tears of happiness for him.  Mom even got to ride with Owen and Dad took some photos as best he could.




Owen is really changing A LOT.  He is overcoming some things that I didn't think he would.  He is learning so much from being around his typical peers at school and I think just watching them has hepled Owen push his own limits.  We are learning to ask him more often what he wants to do or try because he is expanding his horizons and rather than hold him back, we want him to give things a try.  He is turning into a school aged boy (much to my chagrin sometimes!) and really coming into his own more mature personality and that is fun and exciting to watch.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring Break Travels

This year for spring break we decided to go out East and visit Philly/Delaware/Baltimore.  This time we actually got to do things that we have wanted to do for awhile but other family business had prevented us.

On the plane, Owen got his own seat without a car seat for the very first time!  He really liked having the space and he got to sit in the middle between Mom and Dad.  He is a great traveler.


We took Owen to his very first in person lacrosse game at Johns Hopkins University, Dad's alma mater.  It was a beautiful evening--we even went without our coats for a majority of the game, but coming from Minnesota means that lots of other places are always warmer!  Owen loved watching the game and got really excited whenever a team scored.  Several young boys found lacrosse balls buried in the snow in the end zones and they offered Owen one, which he promptly threw back to them.   Oh well, at least we know he's got a good arm.



The following day we met up with Owen's godparents, Anthony and Jackie and their 2 kiddos, Nicolo and Francesca.  We had a great brunch and went over to Port Discovery in Baltimore.  Owen climbed his heart out and got Mom and Dad to join in on the fun.  They had a cool water area where Owen learned about what floats and what doesn't.  What a really fun place!

Francesca, Uncle Anthony, Nicolo, Owen, Solito walking together!




Our next stop was Philadelphia........and the Phillies team store at Citizens Bank Park!  We took a look at the new merchandise and had to make some difficult decisions on what to buy--so many choices.  Owen got a new ball cap and some Phillie Phanatic books.   Owen really loves that statue in front of the park.



We had to stop nearby and get a cheesesteak and crab fries, ballpark and Philly staples.  I haven't had a real cheesesteak in a LONG time and the one I had at Chickie's and Pete's totally hit the spot.



Off to the Independence Hall and Liberty Bell!  Owen would have touched that bell if given the chance, but we watched him like a hawk and so did the NPS officer stationed right there.



I noticed a sign saying that Benjamin Franklin's grave site was nearby and oddly, even though I've been to Philly a gazillion times, I hadn't visited it before.  Owen got to throw some pennies to honor ol' Ben---"A penny saved is a penny earned!"



Our next stop was a factory tour of Herr's, which is a well-known and well loved snack company in PA.  The facility was only about 30 minutes from our hotel in Delaware and even though I love their products and had lived in the area for 10 years, I had never been there!  Owen loved this place--he likes machines and watching how things work.  We got to see pretzels being made, chips being sorted and flavored, and popcorn being bagged.  It was really fun and we learned a lot about the company itself, founded by Jim Herr in the 1940s and still owned and operated by his children.  We even got free hot chips fresh off the line.....clearly a win in Owen's book since he is a salty snacker.


We had an afternoon free so we decided to check out Longwood Gardens which was part of the DuPont family estates and is now an open to the public set of various gardens and fountains.  There was a beautiful orchid display in the main area and we walked the whole place, seeing herbs, bonzai trees, fruit, and lots of beautiful spring arrangements.  The find of the place was the children's garden which had been remodeled in 2008.  There are tons of water fountains, which is code for "Owen's heaven".  He even got use a paint brush to do some "water painting".  Just as we were getting ready to leave, he found a raining type fountain, looked at me, and stuck his head in it!  So we left the building with a fairly wet, but very happy child.




On our last day we hit up the King of Prussia mall which is considered the largest mall in the U.S. (currently).  This where Owen fell in love with the Easter Bunny.  We also spent some time having a good lunch at Legal Seafoods, playing in 2 different kids' areas and finding Owen a Chase Utley Phillies tshirt.


I wish we had more time to visit even more people, but there just isn't enough time in the day!  As much as I have enjoyed a slower lifestyle living in the Twin Cities, I totally miss certain things and certain people out East.  We got to have some good meals with some great friends as well during our trip.  We enjoyed spending time with you (Arnold, Angie, Tommy, Linda, Uncle Steve, and Dawn).  We hope we get back out there sooner than later to visit again!