Saturday, June 30, 2012

James Tricked me AGAIN!!!!

Okay, he was safe this time but usually the
crashes are because of him!!
Okay, we all know the drill.  You hear a random crash and you call to the person who is the closest to tell you what has just happened.  Yesterday, I heard a crash upstairs in what I thought was the loft area where I assumed James was.  That was the last place I knew he had been so he must still be there, RIGHT???!!!  "James, what was that crash?"  ""Uh, I don't know."  "Where are you, James?"  "Uh, I don't know. I think I am in the bathroom."  "What do you mean you think you are in the bathroom?  Is there a toilet, sink and tub?  Your voice isn't in the bathroom, so where are you?"
Okay, a little information may be helpful here.  We have a VERY open concept home!  Part of the living room is two stories.  The downstairs is also completely tiled as is a lot of the open space upstairs. Noise carries beautifully!  The perfect home for us to keep an ear on James.
Since my son couldn't give me a definitive answer, I sent my daughter up to investigate where he was. She confirmed that, yes, he was in the bathroom. Doggone open concept house! It and James fooled me again! I never did find out what the crash was. Probably a cat. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

Mom is Exhausted so Daddy Dabbles in the Blog Pool........

As Sarah has noted, the summer has been in some ways awful for James. He has always had a tendency to test the edges of what's allowed, but lately he has also been testing the top, bottom and center! Sometimes it seems like every time one problem is gotten under control, another is revealed. He has made great progress over the years since his diagnosis of classic autism in overcoming the hurdles of his condition and fitting in to the alien "neuro-typical" world. This has happened primarily because he has had a wonderful and knowledgeable advocate in his mother, who found and secured for him great support services that kept moving him forward even when parents and educators alike were at wits' end. But take away the daily structure that channels his impulses and focuses his attention, and watch out! In its absence he has been manifesting what can only be describes as full-blown ADHD (not clinically diagnosed yet but we are on the way!).
Yesterday morning we took him out of town to a clinic that tests children for this condition and educates parents on the same. There was a long wait, and he did not take it well. As the waiting room filled up with other children and parents he became interested in a game a neighboring child was playing on his parent's phone. Sarah turned over her own phone for him to game on, but it was to no avail; he wanted to play what the other boy was playing! Soon he was actively trying to wheedle a "turn" and was very unhappy when we told him no! Throwing things, attempting to leave, head butting and hitting Daddy when prevented (Sarah, at this point said, "Just give us the diagnosis so we can go home!!) -- oh, it was a grand old time! I have seen him with a group of "normal" children and be the best-behaved child in the group; here, with a group of kids suspected of ADD/ADHD and other mental health concerns, he was easily the worst! Fortunately, he was not AT his worst. Still redirectable, and at least he wasn't screaming.

When the time came for parents and children to file into their two separate rooms and sessions he calmed down. With things finally happening, interest in the proceedings took the place of boredom-born misbehavior. While the rooms were not soundproof enough to mask really loud noises, we didn't hear a peep out of him the whole time, and when it was time to go he was happy and smiling, and even shared a high-five with one of the adult coordinators. For our part, we got a lot of good information, even if the questioning on our child was rather perfunctory in comparison to that on others. This last concerned us, as it appeared to indicate a feeling that his autism diagnosis covered all the bases and no additional one was necessary. We as his parents are not looking to slap labels on him but we need the educational community to get a clear understanding about just who they are educating and the best ways to do it.  We know other families whose children have multiple diagnoses through the same insurer, and the appropriate diagnosis for a given disorder can be vital in getting proper treatment. Would any doctor decline to diagnose a patient's pneumonia because he knew that patient already had, say, AIDS? Of course not; the fact that the latter might have contributed to the former would not prevent him from treating the illness actually presenting itself! But while all physical ailments get their due, mental/emotional ones are all too often lumped together. There may be trouble ahead on this one.

*** Sarah did minimal editing and adding some political correctness.  She also created the image.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Beautiful for a Reason!

We have recently gotten a very small fish tank and fish.  Well to be exact, a betta, 2 guppies and 2 frogs.  I got this because of a story my daughters boyfriend told about why they have fish.  They keep fish tanks around their dining table so that the younger children at the table longer (well it stated a few years ago as the "younger children" are now old enough to sit without the draw of the fish TV).  I figured we would give it a try, as I will try anything to keep James at the table for a reasonable meal duration.  It worked for a while but it also drew the cats to the table for all meals!  The cats love to play tag with the feisty frog (one frog passed away shortly after we got it home, it never swam right, so it likely was not well when we got it), and watch the fish swim around.  They love the tank so much that we had to put it in the downstairs bathroom during the night to protect the fish from any cat antics while we are sleeping.
Well, yesterday morning it happened... And it happened bigggggg!!! We forgot to put the fish in the bathroom during the night and the tank got leaned on and over it went!  My husband woke up at 4AM and discovered the disaster.  Wet table, empty tank, not a fish, frog, or cat in sight.  He expected the worst but was relieved to discover the betta on the table in a betta sized puddle and he quickly righted tank and placed him back in the water.  While one guppie didn't survive the trauma, the other one did, but obviously was not right and died within a few hours.  The frog was no where to be found.   We had heard from the pet store  that these frogs are notorious for getting out of tanks and being found in other places.  Well, this amazing frog must have had a tracking devise because he found his way to the cat water bowl which is about 25 feet away from the table!  So from our original tank, the betta and the frog were left and it was clear that a larger tank was in order and a necessity!!
We now have a 3 gallon, half moon shaped tank that has a permanent home.  It has disco lights and bubbles for extra fun (for us at least!) The betta hasn't come out of the corner where the filter lives and the frog is constantly hiding in the tank plants.  However, their new tank roommates have been super busy exploring their new environment.  We have a small catfish type "shark" and three beautiful guppies (blue, orange and yellow).
James commented on how pretty the guppies were yesterday to his sister.  She told him that it is very common for the males of a species to be beautiful.  He thought for a second and then said, "oh... to get the girls to want to marry him!"  Yup, my 8 year old has figured out one of the great mysteries in relationships.  They start so young!
One of the activities done in most elementary schools is Star of the Week.  This is a chance for the kids to shine for a week and the others in the class to tell what they like about each child.  James' teacher had each student write a letter to the Star of the week as a writing exercise.  We got the completed book after all of the Stars had had their turn.  It is a wonderful book and testimony from his classmates and we will cherish it.  One entry stood out.  It was written by a young lady who James really likes (I mean REALLY likes!!) I am paraphrasing here, but, basically she said that he was handsome and she loved his eyes.  James gets the eye comment all the time from just about anyone he comes in contact with.  Let's face it, the kid is gorgeous! Oh boy, my husband and I are going to have our hands full when he gets older, although the girls loved him when he was little too!
Now... 8 year old
Then... 2 1/2 years old

Such a sweet face and caring, green eyes!  The brown mop of curls doesn't hurt either!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Memories........... Oh, That is from the Wrong Musical!

We watch a lot of musicals in our family!  My kids know all of the music from many of the popular musicals from the time they have been alive (RENT, Phantom of the Opera, Hairspray...)  They are also exposed to fun favorites from my husband and my childhood as well as our parents time (Godspell, Singing in the Rain (this one is celebrating it's 60th anniversary this year and Fathom Events is showing it on 7/12/12 in local theaters (theater locations here!) , Meet Me in Saint Louis, State Fair, ...)
Anyway, a few days ago, my husband put Mary Poppins in the DVD player.  James isn't really familiar with this one but he loves music and dancing so my husband gave it a try.  James was enamored by the melodic songs and fun magic that Mary Poppins uses while watching the children.   It was fairly close to James' bedtime and he was obviously tired.  He was certainly enjoying the movie but had already retrieved his pillow and blanket from his bedroom.  We got to the point of the movie when Mary Poppins was putting the children to bed after a busy day in the chalk picture.  They were too excited to possibly go to sleep and she sings her magical lullaby.  James was very interested to find out that I used to sing the same lullaby to him when he was a little baby and toddler.  He was disappointed to find out that he no longer was "fected" by the music as it didn't put him to sleep like it did Jane and Michael.

Today I choose to find my bliss that my family loves musicals as much as I do and it is something we will always have in common.  We will always have music even when we are not together it draws us closer and is the glue that keeps our very special family together. Enjoy a wonderful musical with your family today and make some memories.

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Picture is Worth 1,000,000,000,000,000 Words

Yesterday, I got upset with James for closing his cat in a drawer. Poor sweet kitty was crying when I finally found him. His reaction, was, classic James... "I guess now I just need to DIE!  You want me to DIE just like I want to."  "No, I don't want you to die, I want you to be nice to our cats and all animals." James is all about extremes!  There is no middle ground.  There is nothing between being in mom's good graces and dead.  He stomped downstairs and came up a few minutes later and threw my Mother's Day gift from 2009 at me.  I thanked him and he said nothing as he walked away.  Upon closer examination of the bookmark, I saw that he had added a pen drawing to it.

I have placed it next to my pamphlet I wrote about Autism to remind me that, yes, James has Autism (you can find the pamphlet here: Autism pamphlet).  He is impulsive and doesn't think about consequences.  I have placed it here to remind me I never want to break his heart again!  Sweet little man couldn't find the words to tell me that he was sorry for disappointing me.  Sometimes sorry just doesn't fit the bill.  I have removed the broken heart as a symbol of healing.  Sometimes moms need reminders that kids are kids and they are all works in progress.

Message received little man, just keep the kitties out of the bureau drawers.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday.......AH............I Hope it Never Ends!!

Sundays, have always been my favorite day.  They are the beginning of the new week and all of the mistakes from last week are simply a distant memory.  However, James has another transition to a new camp this week.  It is chess camp, 1 hour a day Monday-Wednesday this week and Monday and Tuesday next week.  Chess is certainly a preferred activity and it isn't as physical as Tennis camp.  It is indoors so, the manic summer weather we have won't bother him.  It is perfect!!!! Yet why am I so nervous about Monday coming?  Well, my loving husband in his helpful way decided to practice chess last night with James and James lost the game.  I cringed while I listened to James scream, "I am never going to Chess Camp!!!!! NEVER!!!" UGGH... Sometimes the greatest help is not to help!
So tomorrow, I need to drag James to a camp that I know that he will LOVE.  Good thing he will have his aide there to help him through his emotions and find his zen spot while play his favorite game with other kids! Wish me luck as I need to fill up more of his day and we are tackling reading chapter books this week.  We have a bunch of Pokemon chapter books that James picked out so I hope it won't be as horrible as I am anticipating.  My motto for tomorrow is plan for the worst and rejoice that I was prepared!! UGGH, I am already exhausted just thinking about it!
Oh Bliss are you there????!!! Olie Olie in come free!!!!! Please don't hide from me I need you more than ever.  Oh Bliss please come out to play!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Angry Bird to the Rescue

Mattel® Angry Birds Knock On Wood Game - Online OnlySo, all week, James has been working on a contract to get this fun Angry Bird game.   The first two days at camp he succeeded in getting his check for earning swimming and having a good day at Tennis camp.  Wednesday and Thursday, not so much.  He was devastated and wept on Wednesday, but, on Thursday, he had decided that he would never get the game and we should take it back to the store.  Matter of fact and that was it!  NEVER gonna get it EVER!!!!!!!!!                                                         
Yeahbut (See how I snuck that in?  This is the most heard expression in my house), on Friday... he had a great tournament, and finally got the game!!!!! We had fun playing it with him and it really is a great Autism resource.  I remember when James was little, one of the things he hated the most was the block imitation.  This game makes it fun!  He built just about every castle and never tired of reconstructing them as the Red and Yellow Angry Birds knocked them down.  Took an hour to play a game, but James loved every minute! Well worth the money at the store!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Best Recipe all Summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

First .... no cooking for mom!!!!!!!!!!!
Second... James got a trophy for not giving up even when he wanted to at Tennis camp.
Third.... Lunch out with my favorite Broadway Twin (my daughter) at one of our favorite Thai places (James calls it the "T Store")
Fourth... Got to see the new movie Brave and James was being watched by one of his favorite babysitters in the theater so mom didn't have to worry about him (this is a great way for the family to go out to the movies, make it part of your respite hours and leave the  worry up to the respite worker while you enjoy the movie)
Fifth... nice supper at the mall with the kids
Sixth... got a call during supper from hubby saying he is on the way home!
Seventh... made it home safely.
Eight... FINALLY got to take off my shoes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Too bad it is only 6:43...... I am exhausted and ready for bed!  Think I can convince James that it is bedtime?  Not likely now that he knows how to tell time!! Education is a wonderful thing but sometimes it works against us.  Maybe telling time can be one of the skills that gets lost in the summer amnesia that tends to happen when our kids aren't in school for 10+ weeks.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Better to See You With

I have been on a long journey with my health and the only medication that has had any effect is a steroid.  Alas, after being on it for a year, the long term effects have moved in and they are making it more difficult for me to cope with being at the computer.  I am sensitive to light (have dimmed my monitor down as far as possible), have cataracts in both eyes (cloudy lens in both and a "bubble" cataract in the left eye), and muscle weakness in my upper body which makes me tire really quickly while typing.  Needless to say, I am not eager to give up my laughter blog... So my plan is to have my husband or daughter type as I ramble to get the posts out.  That said, most days I will be posting later in the evening when we are all home and awake.
Have a blessed and blissful day!!!
My glasses are way thicker than these!  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Long Day but a Mostly Good One!

We have all been walking on egg shells around James lately wondering when he would turn into "not so pretty man".  For the second day in a row, he has been in a good mood!  No tantrums, no screaming, no hitting or kicking.  Just James!  Dare I wish for a third day in a row?  Now that he is used to his tennis camp schedule, we will be changing it up next week for chess camp.  He loves chess almost a much as he loves hitting things with other things.  So we hope he will just transition beautifully and have a wonderful time. Hey, anyone know if the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale???

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Hoping For a Happier Day!

James has been royally difficult over the past few weeks. School has been out and schedules have changed and with that BAM, anxiety has turned my sweet little man into Oppositional Defiant Guy!  I honestly don't know if this is a new superhero or just one that has been suppressed.  All I know is, I am exhausted before I wake up.  I have been conditioned to keep conversations short because the explosion can happen at any moment for just about any reason.  James usually has everything planned out in his head and to him that is the only way things can go.  I am usually the one who causes the fury because he has been conditioned to ask me before doing anything.  Silly me, I should have never taught him that!
So last night at supper, James asked me to tell him the story of when he met his best friend.  In my best, exhausted, story voice, I simply stated... "You got on the school bus, saw a boy, sat down, drove the driver crazy, the end." James got up from the table, (bad sign) came over to me (really bad sign) and opened his mouth (really really bad sign). "Mom (not an angry voice so maybe this is okay), that is only a topic, you need more details in your story!" Then he walked away.  Nothing was thrown at me, I didn't have to dodge something being kicked in my direction, my ears didn't bust from his horrific yelling right in my face, doors were not slammed, feet were not stomped... just a peaceful conversation.
One of my favorite bedtime story books is Once upon a time, the End (asleep in 60 seconds) by Geoffrey Kloske and Barry Blitt.  This is where I learned about brevity of conversations with difficult children.  Just the facts, nothing fluffy filling the space between the beginning and the end.  I hope someday to be able to get back to normal conversations with James but for now, I am going to just keep it simple and short.  The End
before it knocks you out!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Oh Heavens! Not a Giggle in Sight!!

So tired of the yelling, screaming, stomping, fighting side of James.  I hope we find the better side of him soon because this momma has just about had it.  ADHD clinic is next week, and I am sure they will also diagnose him with Oppositional Defiant Disorder as well.  Where is the sweet little man I knew not that long ago?  I miss him sooooooo much!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Finally the Tennis Tortument! (this is how he pronounced it I didn't make it up)

James has waited all week at tennis camp to finally play a real game.  He was soooooo excited when he learned that on Friday, they would be playing real games to determine the tournament winner.  Here is how it went down....
We got James to camp and he readily got out his racket and raced to the court.  He was ready to finally play the real game after a week of practice.   The coaches were still setting up the courts so James had to wait.... tennis racket hit the ground... foot stomped... arms crisscrossed across his chest.... stomped over to the chairs and plunked down pouting (****! will be used for this behavior for the rest of the posting).  One of the coaches started a game of Simon Says, which by the way, James is master at!  James got happy again, and got to the finals and then twinged without Simon saying so was out. ****!  Finally the courts were ready, and the kids were paired off.  However, the playing space wasn't the whole court. ****! His aide finally got him going and James was ready to play.  He didn't win the first set or the second set.  The first set was 10/4 (simple scoring not tricky tennis scoring) and the second was 10/8.  ****!****!****!
We decided to leave so we didn't have to watch him in meltdown the rest of the day.  I guess the rest of the camp went fairly well although James didn't get to swim due to defiant behavior.  We hope that next week when he goes back to camp things will be easier for all.
In our house, all are welcome and accepted as friends

He did come home with an award ribbon which he likes and we had gotten two aquatic frogs and two guppies to add to his fish tank so his betta would have a few friends.  He told us we needed to take the other fish back because his fish "Rainbow" is a fighting fish.  We explained that the betta fighting fish only fight other male betta's so it is okay. Rainbow is much happier now that he has some friends.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bath Time Take 2!!

Even Supermom needs a break from time to time, so this entry comes from James's dad. (this post was inspired by my previous post June 12 click here)

Some days ago Sarah informed James (and indirectly me) that he would be taking a bath every day this summer instead of every other day, due to the heat and the sunscreen he has to use every day at tennis camp. (It irritates him if not washed off.) James was fine with the idea. Daddy, not so much. Every other day was tough enough.
Evening baths are a very uneven success story in our house, which means in part a non-success story. Any number of factors can throw it off, mainly related to the mood, patience or level of fatigue of both bather and bathe-ee. Lack of patience, in particular, constitutes a major reason I am still bathing my eight-and-a-half-year-old son, who has over the years shown little inclination to do it himself, let alone thoroughly or in a time-frame short of geological. Even as a joint venture, the spirit of cooperation can be lacking, as failure of good relations between parent and child can emerge at any point during the course of it.
Flashback to the typical scenario. First, preparation is crucial to success. James must be warned in advance, a time set, and agreement obtained. He must be attentive and responsive during this engagement, or the information imparted will go in one ear and out the other. If necessary, the television should be stood in front of to secure attention. Between his agreement and the deadline, the tub must be filled with water, towels, night clothing and tub toys placed ready to hand, and toothbrush loaded. At the proper moment I then descend on him again, proclaim bath time, and if all goes well, a compliant offspring proceeds to the bathroom. Big if.
Television is a factor. Am I interrupting a particularly crucial episode of a particularly favorite program being watched for the umpteenth time? Then perhaps he can be gentled into the proper frame of mind by handing him the loaded toothbrush; by the time he is done brushing, we may have reached an acceptable point for pausing the program. If not, the distraction will have to be turned off and the consequences faced.
Disposition is a factor. Is James in a challenging or giddy frame of mind? Then he must be herded to the bathroom, even though it's directly opposite his bedroom. Allowed the slightest opening, he will escape to the parental bedroom, Mom's office, or the downstairs, forcing me to capture and lug back a squirming, protesting, 100-pound octopus. This development can arise spontaneously or in response to a mishandling of the TV issue.
Once James is in the bathroom, he needs to go potty. He may not admit the need, or claim to have already gone recently. My response tends to be informed by skepticism, coupled with a judicious faith in childhood dishonesty. Otherwise he may decide to go while in the tub, an action not conducive to a happy conclusion of the cleansing process. This hurdle leaped, the next goal is getting him in the bath. The presence of favorite tub toys has lately become a sufficient attraction; should these fail, he may have to be physically carried in. Woe to Daddy if the water's a tad too hot or cold! Then the next moment will find him standing on the sill of the tub, refusing to get back in! The threat of getting sprayed by extendable showerhead may enforce compliance, or, if he's in a receptive mood, the offer of letting him use it himself. But in the latter case, I chance having it directed outside the bathing area, most likely at me!
When James is finally in the water and out of fight mode, actual bathing can commence. Distracted by tub play, he rarely objects to having his back, front, arms and side lathered up and rinsed. Washing his hair, alas, is quite another matter. As the texting generation would input: OMG! Daddy is determined it shall happen. James is equally determined it shall not. I negotiate if possible, ambush if necessary. In either case, I can expect to hear the words "Nooooo! My ears! My eyes! My nose! Maaaaaaaahm! Help!" I try to get through it as quickly as I can. Backing off does not make it any more pleasant, but merely turns it into a lengthy series of grim skirmishes. If I've time and patience enough, I sometimes let him to do it himself. This also draws out the process, if with fewer clashes.
With hair out of the way, James gets to decompress with more play time, after which the challenge shifts to getting him out of the bath. Left to his own devices he will stay in until he's as wrinkly as a prune, so for this to happen by bedtime I must resolutely pull the plug. At that, he will continue his play until the water has completely drained. By that time I have a towel in place for him to step out onto and another to dry him. It's safest to tackle the hair last, as drying his hair elicits as much protest as wetting it. Then I try to persuade him to put on his night clothing. If this fails I bite the bullet and do it for him. Now James is finally ready to say his goodnights and wind down to a good bedtime story.
All of this strobed through my mind in the seconds following the maternal edict doubling James's bath dates. SO... take a breath. Remain calm. "James, if this is going to be every night, we've GOT to come up with a way to do this so that neither of us gets hurt, upset, or mad at anybody."  "Okay, Dad." He looked thoughtful. He seemed to mean it. I know I did. We would see.
So that night the groundwork was laid with even more care than usual, and at hair time, after the usual protests, I told my son "It has to be done. If I don't do it, you have to." Atypically, the latter was agreed to. More atypically, glaciers failed to advance appreciably in the time it took him to get done. After a tentative beginning, he decided dumping water on his own head was fun, and went on to do so many more times that I would have attempted. Even more remarkably, he did it utterly without the excessive solicitude for the concerns of ears, eyes and nose ordinarily exhibited. When the deluge subsided, the towel was presented and he wiped the water out of his eyes. Alas, he still had to be ambushed with the shampoo -- some things never change. But the rinsing went without a hitch. 

Play time, out time, dry time -- I showed him various techniques for doing it including the popular taking the towel by the ends and essentially shoeshining your back with it. Popular in concept, but he's still uncertain on the execution. Fortunately aid, in the person of Self, was at hand. Then -- "I'm ready for bed, Daddy!"
Who would ever have guessed the transition would be accomplished so easily? Well, we'll see what tomorrow night brings, I told myself. And indeed, the next night wasn't quite as smooth. Okay with the hair, not as good with the drying. Still, progress was made. We'll keep working on it.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Females Bite and Males Just Relax

It is usually at the end of the day, when James has talked through every other topics, that we get some of our best conversational gems.  During the day we have all learned about Pokemon, battling techniques, baseball, football, Mario.......... until we believe our brains will explode from information.  It is worse in the summer when school isn't part of the routine and James has a lot more "free time"  I have made a pact  with myself this summer to spend 20-30 minutes a day with him working on school skills so that when August 13th comes, he will be ready to sit and learn in the third grade.  By the way, August 13th is 60 days from today!  Me counting down until he goes back to school? NEVER...
Last night as he was getting out of the bath, I happened to catch such a wonderful quip.  To be honest, I got it totally wrong, but my husband corrected me.  I thought I heard, "Females make milk and males don't make milk they just relax." Okay, that is how it worked in our house the first year after both of our kids were born.  If daddy was home, I was in charge of input and he was in charge of output.  However, James was talking about mosquitoes and was stating the facts about which ones bite.  "Females are the ones that bite and they males don't bite they just relax."
So today, I choose to find my bliss knowing that I am "allowed" to bite if it feeds my children.  Well not literally bite and feed, but figuratively.  I will leave the relaxing up to my husband as he "relaxes" on the two hour commute in the blistering heat on his way home from work this afternoon.  Hope your day is female mosquito free and relaxing!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mom... This is the WORST Day Ever..... Hey That Looks Fun!... By Mom!

New experiences for our kids are TOUGH!!! We all know it.  That doesn't stop me from making sure James has a rich life full of typical kid activities.  Last night was horrible though!  I signed James up for what sounded like a wonderful experience.  A tumbling class for boys.  Trampolines, jumping, running, spinning... everything that is naturally James but, with other kids!  Perfect!  ahhh... not so much!
James joined the class readily and was doing great until wham... he got frustrated because he couldn't do one of the activities perfectly the first time! (sound familiar??) All I know is I finally found him outside at the car adamant that it was the worst day ever and he was never going to go back in.  I coaxed him back in, it took some doing because we had to wade through the sea of cute, little, perfectly pony tailed, 4 year old cheer leaders in training.  Back inside the group had moved onto the trampoline!  Awesome!!!
The next activity was pull ups.  AGGGGGGHH! Worst day EVER Mom hit me in the face again!! This time I found him sitting by the front door as I had told him that he was NOT allowed to leave the building without me again.  One of the club directors (I guess) came and talked to him about going back into class.  He went back in and a few seconds later, James and she came back to me and told me that the teacher of the class said he couldn't stay in the class because he was not cooperating.  OHHHHH... my dander went up along with my porcupine spiky things.  I said to the director, "sometimes Autism is just hard." The director actually looked at me and said, "did you put that on his application?" I felt like saying "No, there wasn't a spot for that.  He is a boy, he likes tumbling, your class just said BOYS TUMBLING."
I had seen James TRY to interact with the teacher of the class.  He was using ALL of his techniques perfectly.  The teacher just didn't care or didn't know who to respond to a kid who was trying to calm his anxieties by asking questions.  Needless to say, we will not be returning to Boys Tumbling.  I should not have to tell everyone that James has Autism.  He should be allowed to ask questions and work through his anxiety independently.  We are going to stick to tennis camp where he is loved and nurtured.  Hope you find your bliss in whatever fun activities you have going for your kids this summer.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why is Bedtime at the End of the Day When Everyone is TIRED???

Ah, the peace of the evening when the sun is finally going down and the heat of the day is almost over!  Should  be my favorite time but alas........... It is super loud in my house!!!!
"DAD........Are you trying to kill me!"(getting James into the bathtub)
"NOT my eyes, ears, hair,..." (trying to wash his hair)
"NOOOOOOO, I don't want to get out! (trying to get him out of the tub)
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHH not my hair!" (trying to dry his hair)
"MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM... I peed already today after breakfast.  Dad said I have to go again.  Tell him mom, I don't need to go!" (trying to get him to pee before going to bed)

On and on this goes, every night!  Can't it just be simple one night?  Is that really too much to ask?  I know that between 7:30-8:30 my husband is exhausted because he gets up at 4AM to commute to work.  I get it.  I know that James has had new experiences and is decompressing from his sensory overload.  I get it.  All I am asking for is one night of polite bedtime manners.

"Father, thank you for preparing such a lovely bath experience.  I so look forward to getting in and washing off the stress of the day independently."
"Daddy dear, you are massaging my hair so wonderfully tonight, it is putting me into my zen spot and I thank you for that."
"The bath was so delightful, but now it is time for me to get out and dry myself, especially my curly locks, so you will not have to do it, most beloved parental figure."
"I believe I will go to the potty and make sure that I am preparing myself for the best possible restful experience when I get into my incredibly comfortable bed. Thank you for having three potties that I can readily choose from for my elimination needs."

mom can dream can't she?  He is so peaceful when he sleeps!!
Ah, the bliss of a sleeping 2 year old!!  (This was 6+ years ago!!)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tennis Camp!!

James has been looking forward to tennis camp all weekend!  Anxiety and excitement make an amazing mixture of emotions that often end in utter disappointment.  Got him dressed in a flash and was even able to get sunscreen on him without issue (this is HUGE!!).  So excited!!!!!!
We finally made it to the gym and got him signed in.  Sooooo excited!!!!! Played a pacman type game to learn the dimensions of the court.  SOOOOOOOO excited (video games, even ancient ones, are fun!!!!) Finally got to pick up the racket and get a ball SOOOOOOOOOOOOO excited!!!!!!!! Practiced getting the ball to stay on the racket in a circle. Kind of excited. Practiced bouncing the ball and dribbling it with the racket.  Back to excited!!! Told to use the other hand ~ Nope!! I am a lefty and I am going to stay a lefty!!
"MOOOOOOM!!!! When do we get to play?" "Don't know bud, now you are learning about the game and the rules." (See the cool referee shirt I found for him?  He is all about rules!  He asked me what would happen if they thought he was a robber?  Too many trips on the bay to see Alcatraz for that little man I guess.  I told him that they wouldn't, but I hope he steals the coaches heart!)
"MOOOOOOM, I wanna go home!"  "Can't bud, camp isn't over.  I'll be back at 12:00 and have FUN!!"

Back home to throw supper together for the crockpot because it is going to be super hot today.  Butter beef!!!! Gonna be a loooooooong 8 hours!! Kiefer, you gotta wait little man!!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

One Hyper Child + One Spider-man Skateboard + One Sliding Glass Door = You Do the Math

Okay, so lesson learned.

Find your bliss today knowing that he doesn't live in your house!! I am so happy that we have double panes on this window!! Happy Sunday Everyone!!!!!!!!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Uh Daddy........ Are You SURE!!

Being a kid who is a definite black and white thinker can be difficult especially when your dad does things that don't make logical sense!  This morning James and my husband were having a heated discussion about the fossil pieces that needed to be put together to create a dinosaur.  James couldn't understand his daddy's reason for wanting to put it under the light. Finally James looked at him and emphatically stated... "DAD, it is a glow in the DARK NOT glow in the LIGHT!  Makes sense to me!!
The picture may be an old one but the feelings are the same
So today I choose to find my bliss knowing that the two men in my life may never see eye to eye on things that involve logic.  They may choose to never see eye to eye on anything except that they are members of a loving family and sometimes that is enough.  Where will your bliss take you today?  What will cause you to sit and think about how wonderful your life really is against all odds?  This weekend is the perfect time to reflect and regroup from the week.

Have a blissful day!!!! 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Thoughts From our Day with the Dinosaurs

So yesterday, we went to San Francisco to see the new exhibit of plants from the dinosaurs eras exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers click here.  It took us most of the morning to get there because of James' anxiety and we were picking up two more people, both of whom live off the beaten path... way off.  Anyway, we finally got there and we had a fabulous time!  What an amazing job that they have done on this very exciting exhibit!  If you are within driving distance or are planning a trip to San Francisco this summer and early fall, I encourage you to visit the PlantoSaurusRex.  (Man, you'd think I work for them or something!)
One of James' favorite things from yesterday was the informational book that we got with the price of the ticket.  It explained about the different plants and weather conditions.  There were also fun facts.  For James, the fun facts were the Bomb!  He found one that really got him excited: "The plates on the stegosaurus' back were not only for protection, but also acted as a heating and cooling system--cooling them in warm weather and absorbing warmth on cold days." James read this out in his perfect post-2nd grade reading confidence.  Mind you all of the "TH" combinations are sounded as "F" but Speech is working on that.  He punctuated his oral reading with an "Isn't that AWESOME??!!"  My first reaction was bully for the dino for being so progressive in saving the planet through solar heating and cooling, but more so... PROPS James for being such an amazing reader!!!!

After leaving the dino exhibit, we all went to the lake for some time on the water (well for most of the bunch).  Two peddle boats were rented and the fun started.  45 minutes later I called my husband to let him know that he needed to head in because the boat house was closing.  I heard James screaming in the background about never getting off the boat or on the boat or something I couldn't really make out.  I was thrilled that I was able to enjoy the peace of the lake once I hung up the phone.  They got back and James didn't look happy but at least he wasn't wet!! Then James wanted to feed the ducks.  Sweet, peaceful ducks you had better DUCK, he has a fierce pitch!!

Overall, anxiety and loud boys aside, it was a lovely day with family and friends!  Today is a day of recovery ... man those vacation days take a lot out of you!  I feel like I have been run over!  I have caught James' "allergies" and have a ton to do.  But I know there is bliss waiting around the corner somewhere!!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Singing Our Way Through Summer Vacation!!!! HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, so today is officially day four of summer vacation.  James has really been enjoying his freedom and unstructured time.  Me, you ask, how am I?  Well, I am a little tense......... Only because as he gets more unstructured, I see why the structure is soooooooo important (I was hoping that we could get away from it for a while).  Will our life ever be a wonderful sounding ballad?
(Actually this video started out with a story about how to lull the opponents on the Puss and Boots game into a place of joy and when they are there, you apparently hit them over the head and capture them.  NICE!!!)


The pained groans you hear in the background are that of my poor daughter.  She cherishes music of most kinds.  She loves beautiful melodies and painful love songs.  She is likely, secretly wishing she could freeze her summer break and at the same time make it August 13th for James.  Now wouldn't that be a wonderful trick?
No, can't be done, because we are stuffing the kids into the van for a longish trip from the Valley to San Francisco to see the new dinosaur and vegetation exhibit at Golden Gate Park click here  We hope to give James something more productive to do with his time, or at least put some words to the melody of his current hit!!
Hope everyone has a wonderful day and you find your bliss.  And always remember, NEVER judge a book by its cover or a person by their labels and perceived ways they should act!  James is a music lover, loves his Angry Birds, and he is just the sweetest little man you will ever meet!! He is a gentle giant who is sometimes misunderstood.  Just like this guy!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Hey Bud, Wanna Try That in English PLEASE?

"MOM, there is something wrong with something!"  Not exactly the statement you want to hear as your child comes out of your bedroom, where he has been for the last 30 minutes with the door closed.  What could he mean?  What did he do?  Are all of the cats accounted for?  Again, "Mom, there is something wrong!" "Mom, Lillipup is at 41 power and according to the book he should have evolved twice but he hasn't."  Exhale, all is right in MY world!
Thank goodness my daughter was available to check how to evolve Lillipup on her smartphone!  James looked over her shoulder to make sure she was doing it correctly, and then came over and whispered in my ear, "I put him someplace safe during battle." His sister, hearing this, queried , "James, was Lillipup in Pokemon daycare?" (Oh heavens, there is daycare in the Pokemon world?  I have a lot to learn!)  "Yup, I was keeping him safe but took him out." "Well, Pokemon can't evolve in daycare so he needs to battle to raise one level to evolve."  Problem solved!
Herdier (after level 16)
New problem... my daughter will be going to college in 2 years and I will have to become fluent in Pokemon.  However, by that time, James may have evolved to a new obsession.  What is a busy mum to do?  My daughter just told me not to count on James evolving away from his obsession with Pokemon because her best friend has been playing it for 12 years!  Why can't he be obsessed with something I am interested in,  like writing?
Stoutland (after level 32)


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Another Tragic Story so my Laughter is on Hiatus (well almost)

Woke up this morning and got on Facebook to catch up with my outer world.  Was happily catching up with light posts until BAM... this one hit me... click here A four year old boy with Autism drowned in a neighbors pool this past weekend.  His parents had tucked him into bed around 8PM and later when they checked on him around 9 he was missing.  I can't imagine what the family is going through at this moment. They did everything right and loved their little man as they should.  There was a gate around the pool at the neighbors house.  These stories are always the hardest for me to digest!  How can everything be done right but somehow something tragically goes wrong?
To answer this we need to look at the child.  Kids with Autism often lack the fear of danger, they sometimes wander, they love what they love and nothing can keep them away from their passion.  A lot of kids with Autism love water.  It sparkles and moves.  It is really liquid beauty.  A four year old, with or without Autism would likely be drawn to it.  However, a NT four year old would likely have memories of being told to stay back unless an adult is with them.  A four year old child with Autism doesn't have the luxury of  remembering important stuff like that.  It gets garbled with all the other things that they are trying to remember.
I am ashamed to admit that even through this tragedy, I was drawn to the wording of the printed story.  You would think that the loss of this beautiful young life would be the focus of my grief, but alas, one phrase tainted it.  In the news story, the boy was identified as a four year old who suffered from Autism.  And that struck me as unjust.  My son, who has Classic Autism, doesn't suffer from it.  He has never known another life to compare it to so how can he feel a sense of suffering? He doesn't have the social maturity to understand real global suffering.
In all actuality, I think for the most part, he kind of "enjoys" it.  He gets a LOT of attention and cool rewards.  He gets to do many things other kids don't in the name of therapy.  He gets his favorite foods every day without question.  He has a good life.

My heart goes out to this family in Florida and all families who have had tragedy strike their family.  I can't imagine the pain and suffering they are going through.  My hope is that strength will come quickly and healing will follow.   Eventually they will be able to find their bliss again in the memories they have of their sweet little boy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

James' Bed Seems to be BROKEN!! Or Maybe it is Just on VACATION!!

Okay, maybe it is coincidental or maybe the bed just has some kind of psychic powers.    I don't know, but after amazing nights of restful sleep with the new gel memory foam mattress topper and lycra sheets click here for sleep blog, James didn't sleep through the night last night!
Today is officially the first day of summer vacation and I guess the bed was celebrating.  Anyway, I woke up around 3:45AM and saw a light on downstairs. I nudged my husband to go and check it out.  He found that yes, there was a light on and James had his door closed and the TV was on.  He brought James to me so he could sleep on daddy's side of the bed (something that usually works).  James settled for a minute or so petting one of the furry purries.  After about 4 minutes, he got up, told me that he was never gonna sleep again because when he watches TV on his bed it is fun and he gets to rest at the same time.  He then collected Rodger and his Pokemon book and started out of the room.  He came back 2 seconds later and said he forgot one more thing and he gave me a kiss. (AWWW sweet little man!)
Well it was not long before I fell back asleep.  I woke up for real at 6:15AM and got up for the day.  I went down the hall to check on him and his door was still closed, the light and TV were on, and there he was .... defying NEVER!!
This was taken at 6:20AM on the first day of vacation 
Hope everyone has a great day!  I know mine will be filled with unstructured glee from the little guy.  Not sure how that is going to go but we will certainly see.

7:20 AM update

I hear a little voice down the hall requesting for help so I need to go and check it out.....................  Apparently the broken bed now won't let him get up!  I guess it is gonna be one of those days!!

***Evening update***
I talked to James before he went to bed tonight around 9 and told him that if he got up and had another frat party in the middle of the night, there would be no computer tomorrow.  He looked at me and said, "I'm having a stress here!  I am freakishly enjoying watching TV while I sleep!"  That said he went to bed and he slept all through the night 9PM-6:30AM!  Phew, dodged a bullet on that one! A vacation day without computer would only punish me!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Warning... Controversy Calling!!!! Some May Want to Hide...

No matter how you try, you just can't
hide from some controversies!  
I am a Libra and so by nature love balance and harmony.  I choose to live my life loving and accepting everyone for who they are, not who I necessarily want them to be.  I try not to be too controversial,  I really try, but sometimes something just sits wrong and it gets my dander up.
As a veteran Autism Momma, I fight for my son's rights every day.  He has the right to be intelligent, funny, unusual, wiggly, loved, accepted, and Autistic.  April is Autism Awareness month, but in my house it is an everyday thing.  I am aware that he is a black and white thinker.  I am aware that everything he knows about society he has had to be taught.  I am aware that I influence his thoughts and try to make sure that he gets to know a lot of the choices so he can decide.  That said, here we go...
Last night I was finally catching up on some blogs that I have wanted to read but just haven't had time to with all that was going on.  I happened on one of my favorite blogs  Homestyle Mama (with a side of Autism) (the mom is hysterically funny and down to Earth) and started going through it.  One rather long posting caught my eye, and like the train wreck phenomena, I couldn't stop reading. Click here If you have preconceived notions about same sex marriage, this may get you thinking.
I was raised in a home where we went to church every Sunday, well, until most of us hit the teen years.  I went to Sunday School.  I sang in the choir.  I listened to sermons every week.  I went to a Christian college.  I have read the Bible (both old and new testaments).  Both of my kids were baptized as toddlers.   In all of my years, I have never been able to understand how people can love everyone, as directed by the Bible, and hate some at the same time.  (I take that back conditionally, certain "military and political crazy people" {you know who I am talking about} need one of those hugs that end in a slap on the back of the head!)
Just the facts please!  Love is Love and I have a
CHOICE!!  No one can tell me who I can't love. 
About a week ago, James was looking for Rodger For Rodger blog Click here.  I told him that Rodger was probably with his (Rodger's) sister, brother, cousin, aunt... until I finally got to boyfriend.  This stopped James dead in his tracks.  "Mom, Rodger can't have a boyfriend, he IS a boy!" (remember, black and white thinker)  I took a breath and chose my words as wisely as I could.  "Well James, sometimes boys fall in love with girls, boys fall in love with boys, and girls fall in love with girls.  Love is the goal."  "Okay mom, but Rodger is a boy and he doesn't have a boyfriend!" off he ran to find Rodger.  So okay, Rodger is a heterosexual stuffed animal... good to know.  James' understanding of adult relationships comes from watching movies and having a mum and a dad.  I wonder what his perspective would be if he had two mommies or two daddies?  It is certainly worth a moments pondering!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

It's a Wrap

(If you haven't read the previous post from this morning, this will likely not make sense.  So please read the post entitled Points Systems and Reinforcement first)

Problem solved!  Apparently... 1,000+ points buys an Angry Bird wrap! 

Happy boy!  Points cashed out!  Was something that was already hiding for future use.  Win Win all around!!  Will be starting the summer with a new winter Angry Bird blanket wrap for all of those chilly 105 degree days!!  Awesome planning!!!!!!!!!!!!

Point Systems and Reinforcement

We had many systems in place this past year to help James in the classroom. One was an end of the day self and teacher reflection page.  He was also on a point system for compliance (total of 10 possible points per day) and a +1 on that point system if he got out of the car and walked independently into the classroom.  These systems became a way for us to reward him for following directions, classroom rules and being independent, all very good things but they were also the "money" he used to get stuff he wanted.  (remember an earlier blog Let's Make a Deal! Click Here) Well, throughout the year we have set the bar at about 50-75 points  (this usually took about 1 1/2 to 2 weeks to reach) to get trips to favorite restaurants, Pokemon figurines, Angry bird figurines and other medium ranged items.  When James needed a richer reinforcement schedule we instituted a system where if he got 8+ points in one day he could get something smaller such as 7 football cards...
Well, yesterday was the last day of school and there was no school work.  It was a day of fun and watching movies, being with friends and celebrating.  I picked up James as usual and he came bouncing to the car.  He was so bubbly that he could barely get the words out, "Mom... you will be so surprised... look in my red folder...NOW!!"  It was a good thing that my husband was driving so I could look:

The next thing I heard him say was..." WHAT can I get with that many points!!"  AHHHH... any suggestions?

Friday, June 1, 2012

On This Last Day of Second Grade...

For those of you who follow my blog, this picture may look
redundant, but it is only similar.
Did you know that this year there has been a secret in the classroom?  One we thought long and hard about to decide whether or not to share?  Did it need to be shared, or should we just wait and see what might happen if no one knew?  After all, it was a new school and no one knew him.  I think for the most part, our silence allowed for a lot of amazing things to take place during this year in second grade.  Wonderful friendships and interesting conversations that sometimes didn't make sense.  A chance to dance on the wild side and experience the world in a different way.  A chance for your child to unknowingly, yet wholeheartedly, befriend a child with Autism.  I Have Autism ... What's Your Story Pamphlet (Please click here)
If you are unfamiliar with Autism, it is, in the most basic sense, a neurological disorder that affects communication, social interactions, and imaginative play.  The current CDC estimate (although it is already several years old) is that 1 in 88 children will be diagnosed on the Autism spectrum.  1 in 54 boys are eventually diagnosed, and boys are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed than girls.  Okay, that said... it is very likely that your life has already been touched by Autism in some way or another.  There is a saying in the Autism world that if you have met one person with Autism, you have met one person with Autism.
If my son is the first child you have met with Autism, then I welcome you to our wonderful world!  Our world is full of laughter and love. It is also full of intense therapy (35-40 hours a week) geared to teach him things that come naturally to other children.  He is always learning, tweaking, refining, and improving.  Throughout the year he has told wonderfully touching stories at the supper table about his friends at school. I admit that today, the last day of school, after being with your children all year, he still only knows about 1/3 to 1/2 of your children's names.  He does, however, know that he is part of a wonderful group of friends and will miss everyone tremendously over the summer.
I welcome any questions you may have.  I will talk to anyone, anytime, about anything, so they may understand and appreciate my amazing little man for who he is.  You can get a clearer view of just who he is by reading other entries in this blog.    If you would like to contact us over the summer, we are on the class contact sheet (blue page) that came out at the beginning of the year.  Have a wonderful summer and we, as a family, look forward to continuing on to 3rd grade with more wonderful experiences.
It is hard to put a value on the friendships that have been made this year, but
James' wealth has increased 1,000,000 fold, so we thought we would share!