Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Leaps and Bounds

What a week!

I'd prayed that this week was coming.

In the past I'd noticed that when we had really, really rough periods of time they were often followed by huge leaps forward in development for Mae.

The last month has been tough.  Through it all I kept telling myself that we must be in for some sort of milestone in the near future.

But as one week turned into two weeks and then three weeks and finally a month passed I began to feel less confident about what was going on.

On Monday I wrote about how Mae was wearing jeans.

Today she showed one of her therapists a hair tie.  After her therapist showed Maggie her (the therapist's) hair pulled back Mae finally held still while her own hair was pulled back into a pony tail. A few minutes later when the hair tie fell out she let me put it back in a little tighter.

We were giddy.

It had been two years since Mae has tolerated any sort of hair tie in her hair.

I snapped this picture about four hours after putting her hair up:

But the day was still young and Mae had another surprise in store for us.

Today we were celebrating Sadie's Name Day (for her middle name, since there isn't a feast day for her first name) and she said she wanted "a feast."

She settled on helping me roast three Cornish Game Hens that I had found on sale a while back and had kept in the freezer.

I knew that Sadie would eat a lot, that Patch would eat a little and that Mae would likely to refuse to touch the meat portion of dinner.  She'll usually only eat meat if it's bacon, and more recently she's tried small amounts of hot dogs or pepperoni, but usually won't go near meat that isn't totally processed (which means that for the most part she doesn't eat much meat).

She was fascinated when she saw the roasted bird and immediately started poking at it.  And then she tasted it.

The next thing I knew she'd eaten a drumstick and was hard at working polishing off most of the bird by herself (they're small, but not that small!).  I was giddy and didn't mind having something else so that she could have as much as she wanted!

It's Wednesday and Mae's worn jeans, worn her hair in a pony tail and tried a new food.  I can't wait to see what the rest of the week holds!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Big Moments for Our Littlest Girl

Last week Patch was playing with letter tiles at the dining room table.  Mae kept slipping over from her therapy session in the other room and stealing tiles away, one at a time or sometimes by the handful.  

After a few minutes we realized that she had swiped all of the letter I tiles off of the table.  

Then she put them in a neat little stack, of about six tiles a couple of inches tall, and she held the tiles between two fingers and said "ice cream" and then pretended that she was eating an ice cream cone.  

Because "I is for Ice Cream" is something they would say during therapy when she'd put together her ABC puzzle (and the I has a picture of ice cream on it).  

I love her imagination.


She wore jeans today.  For the first time in a long, long time.  In fact I'm pretty sure that the last time she wore jeans was when she was James' age.  And they were white:

Ever since she's had an opinion about clothes (so just about always) she's had strong opinions about what she's wanted to wear.  And what she's wanted to wear has been rather particular.  For a while it was her Superman costume and red boots.  Then it became princess dresses, followed by mermaid costumes and lately, tutus. 

 If I wanted her in long pants then I needed to make sure they couldn't be taken off (thus the backwards sleeper was introduced), otherwise they'd be on the floor in a few seconds flat.  

Last Thursday we had hysterics because I told her she needed to wear pants when it was below freezing outside and we had to walk to the hospital.  

Today I went downstairs and picked out a long sleeved shirt and a pair of jeans in her size.  Then I brought them up and put them on the table and pretended like I didn't really care if she put them on.  I walked away and watched out of the corner of my eye as she rushed over to look at them.

She quickly brought the shirt over so that I could help her put it on and I picked up the pants and held them up and she put them on too.  Then she picked out shoes and I practically held my breath as I waited for her to decide she hated the outfit.  

But she didn't.

She looked at them for a long time and then wore them for the rest of the day.  And when she wanted to wear them to bed I let her because You Guys!  She's wearing jeans!  

Why I Support Early Intervention

Someone wrote a comment last night that I think was supposed to be mean.  It was hard to tell.  They got so wrapped up in their own bluster that Paul's comment to me, upon reading it was: "Well... That's barely literate." and we both came to different conclusions about what exactly the person was ranting about.

However I was immediately thankful that the anonymous person had written in because for twenty seven days I've been turning over various autism posts that I've meant to write in my head, but this has been a month of rushing and hustling from place to place and at night I'm often to tired to write at all.

It's still April though, and this is one topic I don't want to miss writing about this month.

When I first started out as a parent I was certain I could do it all on my own (with Paul's help of course).  There wasn't anything that life could throw at me that I couldn't handle.

I'd read those posts that still flitter through my Facebook feed daily that told horrible, stomach twisting stories about social workers and doctors seizing children from families, for no reason whatsoever, or maybe just because they were homeschoolers and I would shudder at what they'd gone through.

I have to admit that those stories made me less likely to ask for any kind of help and more likely to try to hold it altogether on my own.

And for a while I did.  Sure Maggie was a handful at two, but I was sure she'd grow out of it.  I mean, she didn't have any words, but Sadie didn't have any words at two either and she was talking non-stop by the time she turned four (albeit with major problems with enunciation that likely came from eighteen months of monthly ear infections that we took her to the doctor for over and over again).

By the time she was almost three though, alarm bells were going off in my head.  Something wasn't "right."  And try as I might I didn't seem to be able to help her.

I began to realize that whatever we were facing, whatever I needed to do to help her was beyond my capabilities at that moment.

She was still two when I filled out a form online and sent it in to Early On.  We received a letter a month later saying that she was too close to her third birthday and we'd been referred to our school district for evaluation.  That was two years ago.  I have never received any assistance or help from our school district, despite reaching out to them.

I was still praying they'd help us four months after I first filled out that form when Mae's doctor told me she was 100% certain that she was autistic and gave me a county phone number to call.  Community Mental Health acted fast.  They evaluated her three times in as many weeks.

I fretted that she'd done so well when we were at those meetings and evaluations there was no way that we were going to get help of any kind.  She'd been on her best behavior.

They came back and told me that she was definitely "autistic" and at that point "more severely than other children on the spectrum her age."

Our lives were about to change dramatically and the idea of that change was very scary to me.  I'd been used to being on my own with the kids, walking to parks and museums every single day of the week to make Paul's long hours at law school pass more quickly.

Suddenly we had therapy sessions six days a week.

But as I watched Mae with her therapists I realized that they could help her in ways that I couldn't (even though I was going through an intensive training program at the local university at the same time).  And as time went by I also realized that they cared about her and wanted what was best for her and were willing to advocate for her just as I was.

Does that mean I've completely handed care of her over to all of the people on her awesome team?  Absolutely not.  I've sat through hundreds and hundreds of therapy sessions in the last year and a half.  In fact it's only recently that I've felt comfortable enough to allow her to go to the center for six hours a week, so that I'm able to get the other kids to their sessions and appointments too.

Yesterday's commenter said: "Somebody has swallowed a heckuva lot of Kool-Aid to presume that doctors, nurses, evals, and specially-trained special education specialists are the only people to be trusted with the welfare of our children."

And I guess in a literal sense I agree with him.  They aren't the only people to be trusted.  But sometimes they are a crucial part of the puzzle.  

Sometimes caring for your child involves the a humbling moment of realization that you need outside help and then taking the steps to ask for that help and advocate for exactly what your child needs.  

I'm a huge supporter of seeking help early now.  Catching problems early and getting help can mean far less therapy further down the road.  That's why I had Patch evaluated for a speech delay and why I brought up my concerns about James having a gross motor delay.  I know that Patch's one speech session a month (which involves training for me) is likely to save us lengthier, more frequent, and more expensive speech therapy sessions down the road.  

I hope that getting James physical therapy now will mean that he starts hitting his milestones on time and doesn't need other sorts of help later on.  

That's what early intervention is.  It's help when kids are small that hopefully will mean they need less help dealing with certain problems in the future.  

I've read many, many books.  Most nights I save articles about speech or occupation therapy or sensory activities I can do to help my kids.  But I've realized that my training still, at this point, falls short (someday if I have the time I would love to get a speech or OT degree) and I'm still not able to help her as much as her team of therapists can on a daily basis.  

Being a parent means wearing a lot of hats.  Sometimes one of those hats is advocate.  

I advocate to get my daughter the help that I can't give her.  

And I hope, Anonymous person on the other side of the computer, that if you're ever in a position where your child or grandchild needs that kind of help, you'd be willing to do the same.  

If you're a parent out there who has a concern about your child not saying enough words or meeting milestones ask your doctor if they're worried too.  If you have a gut feeling that there's a problem don't be afraid to push for answers.  

Hearing a diagnosis can be hard, but it can also be the gateway to getting the sort of help that your child needs.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

WIWS: Last Weekend in April Edition

One of the first things I said when I woke up this morning was "So how about one of us go to the 11 o'clock Mass and one of us go to the 5:30 Mass?" because I just wasn't up for a week like last week.  Paul, also likely remembering last weeks antics and probably hoping to actually receive this week, agreed immediately.  

And so I took Sadie to the eleven o'clock Mass and it was just as peacefully wonderful as I imagined it would be.  

Now for the What I Wore Sunday portion of this post (for more head over to Fine Linen and Purple).  
Today I wore one of my favorite Thred Up dresses (it's always best to wear silk when nobody is going to be spitting up or wiping their faces on my dress), with a leather jacket that belonged to my grandmother, one of my eternity veils (there's a tutorial if you ever want to make your own), and some snow boots since we were walking to Mass and I didn't want to walk in heels, there an home.  

Here's the dress minus the jacket:

It was a little windy when Paul snapped the photos for this post:

Sadie actually wore one of my pink eternity veils all through Mass.  She wore it with a jacket that used to be mine and one of her favorite dresses:

While these three stayed home with Daddy:

Moments before I took this picture she leaned over and poked an actual bumble bee with her finger.
It didn't sting her.

For more WIWS head over to FLAP!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Why I was thrilled to hear her ask "Why?"

Maggie was not happy about having to put on clothes over her bathing suit when we headed out to OT yesterday... but with the 20-something degree temp with windchill it was a necessity (she was going to get to go swimming when she got there... now I know to hide the bathing suit in her bag until we get there).

She was furious about the putting on a jacket and pants... but there was an upside to the dressing difficulties.

She asked me "why?" three times while I was getting her dressed.  As in:

Me:  "Come on, we need to put these on before we can leave!"
Maggie: "Why?!?!?!?!"
Me:  "Because it's really cold outside."
Maggie:  "Why?"
Me:  Because it's freezing and I don't want you to get cold."
Maggie:  "Why?"

Okay, so I probably didn't do the best job directly answering the "why's" but 99.99% of my energy was going towards getting her to keep the pants and jacket on when she was pretty certain that was the worst idea ever.

Her therapist told me that she said "why" during therapy yesterday but at the time she wasn't entirely sure it was intentional (although it was appropriate).  It seems that it was!

In case your wondering why this seemed like such a big deal (so that yesterday I found myself telling everyone from the psychologist who diagnosed Mae who I ran into at the autism center, to her OT and Speech therapist and ABA therapist, because yesterday couldn't have been any busier if it tried... we walked over 11 miles going from appointment to appointment), it stood out in my mind because asking if the kids use question words comes up a lot in various appointments (I'm guessing because question words are abstract and can be more difficult to express) and for Mae the answer has always been no.

So I'll just be over here savoring every single little "why?" and hopefully doing a better job answering them when I'm not failing at convincing her that in order not to freeze jackets are actually good things.

And now for a little video I took a little before 7 am yesterday when we were waiting for OT to start:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Six Months

James had his six month well baby check yesterday.  He had jumped back onto the growth curve in weight from the 25th percentile back up above the 95th.  And his height had stayed above the 95th percentile.  And he was his super smiley self:

As we anticipated, this happened:

So he was referred to Early On for an eval since he appears to have a gross motor delay.

And now for some James giggles:

And now for the six month version of Name that Baby.

I cannot believe he's already this big.  Where did the last six months go?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Patch's Favorite Picture

Yesterday Patch kept trying to take my phone and so finally I opened it to Facebook and began showing him pictures of himself when he was tiny.  

He was fascinated with the fact that the baby he was seeing wasn't "Buddy" and after pointing several times and telling me that it was, he was delighted and would laugh each time I said "No, that's you!  That's Baby Patchy!"  

When we came to this picture he looked at it for a long time and was quiet:

Then finally his face lit up and he looked at me and said:  "I shaking!  I shaking!" in an excited voice.

If you have kids who love Team Umizoomi you may know what he was talking about.

Patch is a big Team Umizoomi fan and his favorite part of Team Umizoomi is the end when they play this song and he runs around saying "I shaking!  I shaking like crazy!" and doing a little Patchy Dance:

Apparently Patch thought he was "crazy shaking" when he was a teeny tiny newborn.

And that idea made him very, very happy.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A Day in Our Homeschool: 2nd Grade Edition

Our school year is a little different (in terms of position on the calendar) from most school years.

For one thing we started Sadie's kindergarten year the week after her fifth birthday.  She was adamant that she needed to start school the moment she turned five and since I'd already purchased all the books we were going to use I gave in.

That first year ran from June to April and when we finished her last day of school I planned on having a break before first grade.  It quickly became clear, however, that that wasn't going to be a good idea for us.

With Mae working with a therapist across the room, the idea of having Sadie free to flutter around the downstairs quickly became a problem.  And after she asked me why Maggie "got to do school" for the fifth time the first Monday she had off, I was ready to pull out her new school books and get started.

First grade ran from April 2014 until April 2015, which brings us to last week.

A week ago we began second grade.  It wasn't a dramatic switch from the previous year.  Sadie had finished most of her first grade books at various points during the first grade year and so, for most subjects we've been doing second grade work for a while.

Last year I wrote a post on what a day in our homeschool looked like and what we do for each of our subjects.  Today's post gives a glimpse of what we're planning on using this year.

Reading and Spelling:

During kindergarten and at the start of first grade reading lessons were often a struggle.  That is until we identified a midline crossing problem and I realized that there was a dramatic difference in how Sadie's was able to sound out words depending on where the book was positioned on the table.

Since discovering that little piece of information Sadie's made steady progress in reading.  We've continued to use The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, but we supplement it with Explode the Code 3 (which finally arrived after being back ordered for months) and Beyond the Code Book 1: Comprehension and Reasoning Skills.

For spelling we use the Spelling Workout workbooks, and she's currently on Spelling Workout Level B .

We also use Bob Books for reading practice, along with various princess themed readers that she gets now and then as a treat.

Copy Work and Memory Work:

After her reading lesson Sadie copies a poem or quote in a notebook.  Then she recites the poem that we're currently working on three times, which helps her to memorize it quite quickly.


We just moved on to Singapore Primary Mathematics Level 2A.  Singapore Math has really clicked with Sadie.

And I have to admit that one of the things that I love about this program is that it perfectly matched out pace for the school year, so I wasn't searching for something to add and buying new books midyear because we didn't zip through and finish the math program in five months.

It was just the right balance of difficulty and lesson length each day.


For history we use The Story of the World.  We're still on the first book both because we got side tracked and spent extra time on the lessons that we did, reading some of the longer suggested texts, and also because this year for us the focus was really heavily on reading and overcoming the mid-line challenge, knowing that in the future (like this year!) as reading gets easier we'll be able to spend more time on subjects like history and science.

I'm hoping that as we have more time to spend on history we'll be able to finish book one and book two this year.


Our science approach, at this young age, is pretty hands on with lots of field trips.  We've already visited the botanical gardens tree times in the last month (at Sadie's suggestion) and yesterday's walk involved her asking me more questions than I could answer about photosynthesis.  There's also a nearby kids' science museum that we go to and the zoo is another key piece of our science program these days.

There are so many different books that we use in both science and history that it would take paragraphs to name them all here, but since Sadie's interest at the moment is pretty heavily garden/plant based the book that I plan on using heavily this year is Green Thumbs: A Kid's Activity Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening (Kid's Guide).


This is the one subject that I wish I wasn't teaching myself.  Sadie needs speech services, but since our insurance doesn't cover speech that should be covered by the school district, and our school district has told us "nope, we won't take her... here call this number" (which no one picks up or calls us back from) our speech situation is still in limbo.  I have registered us a homeschool, which according to the man at the Department of Education I talked to will legally require them to provide services, but I was also told that by the time everything went through they'd be rolling it over into next year (again).

So I took matters into my own hand and after some searching discovered this book.  It's a home study speech program and I'm hoping that between this book and the time I'm spending with Patch's and Mae's speech therapists getting help learning to help those two, we'll be able to make some progress while we wait for things to be ironed out with the various districts that handle these particular resources.


I am planning on purchasing the second grade set of Faith and Life books.  We finished the first grade set halfway through the school year.

We're also moving on to this Bible , which is the same one I had when I was little, after reading last years children's Bible through more times than I can count.

Other Subjects:

Our city offers quite a few really reasonable programs (think $10 for three months of classes) and we've taken advantage of them this last year.  During first grade she took homeschool art and acting classes (according to Paul the acting class was hysterical to watch), and I'm hoping they're offered again in the fall.

She's also currently gearing up for her first ballet recital and once a week she attends a karate class with Paul.  Twice a month we attend her AHG meetings at a local parish where they've done everything from dance classes to sewing to cake decorating.

At the moment cooking is probably the subject that she's most interested in and she begs for a "cooking lesson" just about any time I walk into the kitchen.  We finally made a deal that we will make one recipe a week from the book she picked out at the book store (Silvana's Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Kitchen: Timeless Favorites Transformed) and I have to say that after she made the first recipe (thin mint cookies) I am really, really impressed.

 The best cookies ever.

We've also discovered that Sadie is a big fan of the Dover "How to Draw" books.  Especially this one.  She basically spent the entire week we had off from school pouring over various How to Draw books and drawing flowers and princesses and castles all week long.

That's this year's plan in a nut shell!  I'm excited to see what 2015-2016 has in store for us!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

On Barely Not Crying at Mass

Oh yeah... this was supposed to be a WIWS post!
This is what I wore.
For more WIWS head over to FLAP!
We left Mass early today.

I was done.  Paul had just whispered "so what do you want to do?" and I could tell that he didn't want to leave but I whispered back "leave right now" and somehow managed not to burst into tears.  

It had been a rough half hour and I didn't have it in me to make it for another forty minutes until the doors opened up and we all tumbled back out into the sunlight.  

Maggie's been going to therapy two days a week at her therapy center.  She loves it there.  

In the mornings she waits by the door, hoping she's going to go out to play in the colorful playroom with her new best friend.  

She has a best friend.  

And this is where it gets complicated.  

For all the ups and downs we've dealt with, Mae's never been violent.  But she has a new friend and apparently her friend has "behaviors."  And Maggie thinks these "behaviors" are hilariously funny.  

So she laughs before she runs up behind me and hits me and when I tell her no she hits me again and then hits herself, hard, still laughing (as if to show me "look Mom, don't say no!  It really is fun), trying to get me to take up this new game that is apparently very, very attractive to my sensory seeking girl who has a very high threshold for proprioceptive input (in other words her joints need lots of input and she tends to think that things like getting hit by a swing and thrown ten feet should make her laugh instead of cry).  

Ignoring it isn't working.  Sternly saying no isn't working.  In fact, nothing that usually works seems to be helping at all.  Do I pull her out of those two days at the center, taking away the one friend her own age that she has?  If I wait will these behaviors continue to increase and become second nature?  Will she be a good influence on her new friend?  If I pull her out will they stop?  

Now you're probably wondering how this relates to Mass.  Or maybe you aren't, but I'll tell you anyways as I get to the point of this post in a round about way.  

Mae was having a good day at Mass.  She was sitting next to me in her stroller quietly, cuddling her mermaid doll, occasionally reaching over to squeeze my hand.  

Another mom brought a cute little toddler out of Mass and set her down on the floor.  She toddled over and looked at Mae.   Mae loves babies and toddlers.  Her face glowed when she saw the little girl looking at her.  

"Girl!" She shouted and started to squeal.  

"Yes, she's a girl."  I whispered the words.  "We need to be quiet right now, remember.  We're in Mass."  

The words didn't get in.  The squealing turned into loud, loud laughter as the little girl came closer.  Paul, who'd had his hands full with Patch, came over to try to help.  I stepped between Mae and the little girl as she walked up and tried to stand by Mae's feet and I looked over at her mother who'd glanced over and was now looking forward, apparently having decided not to act.  

After ten minutes of trying to redirect Mae, of trying to keep the little girl away from her for her own safety (Mae loves babies... Mae also doesn't know her own strength so any interactions with very small people need to be seriously monitored and managed) and trying to hush Mae's excited giggles and squeals I'd been hit may thirty times and was done.  

The little girl toddled away and tried to touch someone's empty car seat and was immediately reprimanded.  

I kind of felt like tearing my hair out.  It was very obvious that her daughter trying to stand two inches from Mae was causing huge problems for our entire family, that Mae had been sitting quietly until her daughter came up and stood right in front of her for ten minutes and nothing was done, but touch someone's car seat and she snapped into action.  

And so when I got slapped one more time I was done.  I was frustrated and tearful and James was now awake because of the commotion and done.  The little girl was still toddling to and fro and would likely be over with us again within a few moments and I just couldn't stand there for a moment longer.  

We left before the homily ended.  "It was obvious, wasn't it?  That I was trying to keep them apart?  That she should have done something?" I said to Paul as we waited for the light to change so that we could walk home.

"It was obvious."  He agreed as we crossed the street and I complimented Sadie on how well behaved she'd been.  

Later at home I began to turn the attempt at attending Mass over in my head.  

And for some reason another memory kept butting in.  

I remembered a day at Pediatric Rehab when a boy came in for his first appointment.  He was maybe eight or nine years old.  He wasn't as small as Maggie and wasn't nearly as easy (if it can be called easy) to contain.  

It was clear that it was his first day there, because his mother and father were buried under a mountain of paperwork and were checking off boxes and filling in insurance numbers, but right away, I could sense their apprehension. 

Their son seemed to be on the spectrum and they were nervous, and he was nervous, and while they checked boxes they tried to contain his movements and any time a child tottered by to look at the fish tank I could feel their stress level climb from five seats away.  

Sadie, who seems to think of herself as the personal welcoming committee of the waiting room usually flutters around talking to everyone.  She colors on the chalkboard and points out fish, gets coloring pages for other kids and hands out crayons and talks and says things like "it was lovely talking with you today" when her OT comes to find her.  Sometimes the other kids talk back and sometimes they don't and it doesn't really phase her because she's used to talking to someone who doesn't really talk back.   

"Come here," I told her a few times that day as her bubbly friendliness began to turn in their direction, because even at the distance I could tell that she was too close for their comfort and I wished that there was a secret handshake or sign, or even words that wouldn't sound as terribly awkward as they sounded in my head to let them know that in a way I understood. 

So mostly I sat frozen, wishing I could say something or do something to ease the incredible feeling of tenseness and finally not saying anything at all.  

I have a daughter with autism and I didn't know what to do to help.  

And I wondered if maybe that's how the other mother felt today.

With her squeals and sounds it becomes more clear every month that Mae isn't a typically developing almost-five-year old.  

Maybe that other mother was worried if she hurried over and snatched her daughter away that we would be offended by the movement and be upset.  There are so many articles and posts about how moms with disabilities wish you would treat their kids and maybe her common sense told her to let her little girl play with this little girl who was a little bit different (and outside of Mass I would be all for that!).

Or maybe she was just oblivious and happy that her daughter was being quiet while she was standing by our family.

Either way, we survived (if you call leaving half way through surviving).  And tomorrow I'll be making a few phone calls so that hopefully we can begin addressing this new "behavior" which I will be praying is incredibly short lived... At least so far it seems to be limited to me.  I hope it stays that way.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A Day of Princesses

A few weeks ago we were invited to a little event on the children's floor of the hospital.  Miss Michigan 2014 and five other contestants were going to be visiting the kids and there would be nail painting and cookies and coloring and crowns.  Both girls were invited by their OTs, but as the day approached I almost forgot about the whole thing.

Yesterday I saw the flier during Mae's session and called in our RSVP... and then I finally told the girls about our plans to go.  Sadie was thrilled.  She immediately began talking about getting dressed up to meet "princesses."  

This morning the enthusiasm spread to Patch (who loves getting dressed up and loves saying "hi" to every woman we walk past when we're out with the stroller) and he was waiting by the door until it was time to go.  

So we loaded up the stroller and were on our way:

We were some of the first to arrive.  Sadie got her nails painted by Miss Sunrise Side:

Patch was suddenly super shy.  But that didn't stop him from gravitating towards the bowl of beads.  This picture was snapped before he added another couple dozen necklaces to his ensemble.  Then I helped him return them to the bead bowl (he kept a few of his favorites).

Sadie was thrilled to meet Miss Michigan when she arrived.  They even practiced a few ballet movements together:

James ended up being a big Miss Michigan fan:

In fact, he was pretty thrilled by all the cuddles that he got by the end of the day:

He hardly ever lets anyone hold him like that these days!

And Patch stayed pretty shy right up until the end when he finally went and sat next to one of Miss South Central Michigan.  

Even Maggie, who spent most of the time racing around taking in all the sights and sounds, slowed down long enough to sit and color with Miss Michigan and Sadie.  

And finally it was time to head home.  All of the kids had a good time and all of the ladies were so good with all of the kids!