Thursday, January 31, 2013

Fencing Fantasy and Reality

James continues to LOVE fencing!!! We have moved to a smaller class and will be starting to go on Saturdays which will be much better for his weekly schedule.  Yesterday was the first day in the new class.  James took a long while to warm up to the new environment.  The coaches were awesome with him and when he was ready... off he went.  Warm up and name games finished.  Time to suit up and get to the meat of the class.... fencing.
Little man was so excited as he was attached to the electrodes that would show his "hits" on his opponent.  He practiced making the buzzer and lights go off.  He was so happy and you could tell even through his heavy face mask.  James got a lot of "hits" on the first match to 5 points.  The next opponent was a young man just about James's age, who has been fencing for 1 1/2 years.  This young man made James do all the work advancing and James had a fabulous time!  James only got one "hit" in this match but the joy he had was overwhelming.  He did a final match and did very well.  He came across the floor and stood before me... "Mom, did you see me?? Mom did you see me???" (sorry little man for the little white lie) "Yes James, you were amazing!!" I had been watching but also talking to another mum.  James was having a blast and loving every minute of the matches.  It took my breath away that James was calling attention to something he was doing and he wanted to share it with me. How long have I wanted joint attention with my young son?  How much he has grown!!
At supper James continued with his excitement when he was able to talk to his sister.  He relayed the story of getting the point on the match with the other player.  I told James that the other boy had been fencing for 1 1/2 years and getting one point off him was wonderful.  James's eyes lit up and then it came!  "Mom, if I beat him, I will be able to power up like the Pokemon and be ready for tournaments!"  "James, you will be ready for tournaments when your coach tells you you are ready." James has been obsessed for a while about Pokemon characters being real and how cool it would be to be able to power up and conquer whatever Pokemon conquer.  I have to admit that I have remained Pokemon stupid for a reason.  They don't interest me and there are many people in James's life he can talk Pokemon to.  But for now, I need to pull James back and let him know that fencing is reality and Pokemon fencing is fantasy.  Or is it????   

Monday, January 28, 2013

Really Made Me Think!!...

Okay, most of my posts are light and fluffy.  I kind of like it that way because in the blogging communities that I frequent, the posts tend to be a little more intense.  Loving parents worried about this and that.  They are frantically trying to understand what is going on with their child medically, educationally or in any other way you can imagine.  Today, I would like to try something a little different.  First... click on the play button, turn up the volume and just listen...I'll wait for you so go ahead and enjoy!
Now, read the lyrics and see if you see the same thing I did this morning.  It literally made me stop in my tracks and think about the years since James was diagnosed on 12/20/06.

Where I Want to Be from CHESS in Concert
Who needs a dream?  
Who needs ambition?
Who'd be the fool 
in my position?
Once I had dreams
now they're obsessions
Hopes become needs
lovers possessions.

Then they move in
oh so discreetly.
Slowly at first
smiling too sweetly.
I open doors 
they walked right through them.
Called me their friend
I hardly knew them.

Now I'm where I want to be and who I want to be and doing what I
always said I would and yet I feel I haven't won at all.
Running for my life and never looking back in case there's 
someone right behind to shoot me down and say he always knew I'd fall.

When the crazy wheel slows down, where will I be?  Back where I started.

Don't get me wrong
I'm not complaining
Times have been good
Fast, entertaining
But what's the point
If I'm concealing
Most of my thoughts 
All of my feeling 

Now I'm where I want to be and who I want to be and doing what I 
always said I would and yet I feel I haven't won at all.
Running for my life and never looking back in case there's 
someone right behind to shoot me down and say he always knew I'd fall.

When the crazy wheel slows down, where will I be?  Back where I started.

When I listened to it again, I mean really listened to it, I saw James's journey.  He was very happy with his dreams, ambitions, obsessions, possessions.  Then came the multitude of therapists with their big smiles, calling him friend although he didn't know how to make friends.  He was happy where he was, what he was doing, he was happy being Just James.  Years later, when the crazy wheel finally stopped look where he is!  Not back where he started at all!!! He started to have fun with the therapy and opening up to us so we could see he concealed thoughts and feelings.

Now I'm where I want to be and who I want to be and doing what I always said I would and yet I feel I haven't won at all.  Oh, little man, you have won and so has everyone who knows you!!  We are so glad you are who you want to be and what you want to be and I am so blessed to have done the journey with you.  (as a side note... James was basically basted to Josh Groban. He was the only artist I listened to while I was pregnant.  When James couldn't talk, he would seriously sing Italian (because it is mostly vowels) to the CD.  People could say that he couldn't talk but I would just say to them, "Well HE can sing in Italian!")
So... go back and listen again, you know you want to.  What revelations might you hear in this song?  Enjoy

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Not Really Sure About This One!!!???!!!

James injured his finger last week and has been wearing a band-aid since to keep it clean.  This morning the band-aid fell off again when he washed his hands after using the bathroom.  He told me that he was never going to pee again because when he washes his hands, the band-aid falls off.  I told him that this wasn't very realistic because if he didn't pee then his body would explode (this mama is all about the drama this morning).  Then he said, "Well then, I will just have cry tears."  YIKES this kid is too smart for me sometimes!!  Enjoy this wonderful poem by one of our favorites!!

by Shel Silverstein
I have a Band-Aid on my finger,
One on my knee, and one on my nose,
One on my heel, and two on my shoulder,
Three on my elbow, and nine on my toes.
Two on my wrist, and one on my ankle,
One on my chin, and one on my thigh,
Four on my belly, and five on my bottom,
One on my forehead, and one on my eye.
One on my neck, and in case I might need em
I have a box of thirty-five more.
But oh! I do think it’s sort of a pity
I don’t have a cut or a sore!
Where the Sidewalk Ends, 1974

Friday, January 25, 2013

Something Amazing Happened Last Night!!

Last night, after a long day at school, aftercare, supper and homework with his homework behaviorist, James did something amazing!  My little man who is usually a crazy, spinning, in your face when you try to do ANYTHING, was given the opportunity to help daddy put something together using TOOLS.  James looked at his daddy and said, "Sorry Dad, but I am going to enjoy some ME time now." Hmmmmmm.... wonder where he got that?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Theme Song Guy!!

James looooooves to sing and sings just about everything at times.  Around Christmas, he sang everything to the tune of "Deck the Halls".  Drove Charlotte just about crazy but I secretly enjoyed the music!  It is really funny that as soon as Christmas was over, that tune went away.  Interesting...  Anyway, James has also watched The Emperors's New Groove over and over in the car for the past several weeks.  I think he has found his soul mate in theme music...

This morning, I was singing a little diddy because my kids were finally going back to school and James looked at me and said..., "Mom, that is a HORRIBLE song!" I guess he is also a music critic!  I hope you find your bliss today and don't let your kids tell you not to sing because it isn't to their standards!  If only he knew who his mommy was years ago. National Choral Award Winner of Kwajalein Jr. Sr. High School 1983! That is who his mommy was back in the day!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I Fink it was a Good Choice Mom

James woke up this morning and said, "Mom, I fought I was going to frowed up."  I sent him back to bed, called his school and emailed his teacher.  Every time he says that and I send him to school I get a call to come and get him.  So a day of recuperation is planned with lots of napping... Right!!??!!
Well, James just came down and said, "mom I fought I was going to frowed up but I didn't frowed up and if I frowed up it was a good choice not to go to school.  But I am ready to go to school now because I don't want to miss speech do you fink I can go because I didn't frowed up?"  Conundrum right?  I have already cancelled everything and I want to make sure he can keep food down.  So instead of my restful day with James napping and healing I am going to have a JAMES day.  Hope he makes it frew the day without frowing up!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Autism Expectations

woke up this morning before the rest of the family and got on Facebook like I do most mornings.  I do it to catch up with people I know and don't know.  I do it because it is my time to see what everyone is doing from the comfort of my living room.  I was chatting with another Autism mom and I brought up the subject of breakfast because it was almost 8AM in Cali and time for a family meal.  I told the other mom that if everyone is home, I expect everyone to eat at the table as a family.  My family did it when I was growing up and my husbands family did it also.  It was one of my expectations for my children as soon as they started eating solid foods.  We had a booster seat that clipped to the table and they were expected to sit with us even if they were only eating a few Cheerios or a full meal.  Now don't get me wrong, those early family meals lasted maybe 5 minutes if we were lucky!
Enter Autism... James was a grazer at best.  There was no such thing as "A" meal.  I simply left bowls of foods I knew he would eat around our then apartment, and hoped he would eat something during the day.  I did have the expectation that he would make an appearance at supper for as long as it took him to sit in his chair long enough to eat one bite off of a plate and then leave.  I didn't expect him to ask to be excused or even look at anyone.  The expectation was simply to sit and eat one bite.  One bite turned into 2 and then 3.  Eventually (over a year or so) James was at the table for the whole family meal.  He knew that I expected it.  Did he like it?  I don't know or really care... I expected it.  Next came manners, please (pz), thank you (uu) and can I be excused (mego?) Did he like it? I don't know or really care... I expected it.
Kiefer has great table manners and always has a spot at our table!
Today, the expectations are clear.  You come to the table, use your manners, eat your food, have a conversation with others, ask to be excused and bus your own dishes.  Would my expectations be different if James was non verbal, didn't have average intelligence or had severe behaviors at the table.  Probably not because at one time, James danced in all of those camps.  Family meals are very important to me so I expect them.  For other families they may not be as important but family hikes or bike rides or flying kites whatever may really matter.  Expect that they will happen, make a plan and work towards the expectation.  Your child may just surprise you!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Birds and Bees Oh My.... So not Ready for this!!

So this morning, James was dancing around the house.  He was singing a song and just in a wonderful mood!  All of a sudden he stopped singing and started thinking... "Mom, can a man and a woman have a kitten like a baby?"  "Ah, No.  Men and women can have human babies, only a boy and girl cat can have a kitten." Biology is wasted on high school kids who don't appreciate the need for it!  And then James thought for another minute... "but what if they don't want a baby just a kitten?"  I was getting my answer ready and he piped in, "Oh, I know... they can BUY one!"
Enjoy this gem from one of our favorite movies, Once Upon a Mattress!!!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Game!! I LOVE Games!!

Today we started our new elongated homework week.  James has been rebelling about the need to do timed math drills and reading/ writing a summary during the week so his homework behaviorist suggested that we start doing the timed math drills and reading/ writing during the weekend.  So here we are, on Saturday.  James rebelled in a very loud way. Eventually he conceded and decided to do what was he was asked to do.  Thing were going very well and he was really enjoying the reading but the writing was still an issue for him. All of a sudden, he said, "Here is a new game called 'Nobody speak while I  think of something to write.  The object of the game is to not disturb me while I think of something to write.'" I chimed in, "Sounds like a good game!" James looked at me and said, " Okay... You're out!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Mom, I Had a Dream

Just a very short post today before I whisk my little man off to school.  Like many mornings James came downstairs and announced, "Mom, I had a dream!" (Jamesies dreams are usually about becoming the Pokemon king or some such awesome 9 year old stuff!!)  My reply this morning was, "Wow buddy!  Like Martin Luther King Jr?" (3 day weekend ahead to honor this amazing man)  James's reply, "Wait... he had a dream too?"  Priceless I tell you, Priceless!!  So dream on little man and maybe someday all of our dreams will come true!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ABA? Contracts? Fencing is Working Miracles with James!!

So, James started fencing lessons last week.  With him, we never really know how he is going to do in any activity.  Brian and I end up freaking out because James is anxious and driving everyone in the class crazy with his questions and constant moving.  Last week at the first class James was all questions and information >>here<<  The coach and his assistant were amazingly patient with him and James truly felt heard.
Last night was class number 2.  James was super excited because he remembered that they would be doing some practicing with partners.  As we pulled up, the coach greeted James by name.  Brian didn't think anything about it but I thought, not a good sign (he had told us all last week that he was horrible with names!  This was kind of like on Monday, when I had to drop James off at school late and the brand new secretary greeted him by name, not a good thing!!) Anyway, the kids got warmed up and off they went to suit up.  This was the first time the kids had worn the very special outfits.  James being left handed he needed help to find the left handed jacket and glove.  Once suited up the kids paired off and were told to practice keeping away from each other either moving backwards or going forwards.  James modified the plan and got in a few tentative "hits" and made sure to let the coach know.
Things were slowing down and James started getting antsy and tired.  He started to wiggle and put his hand up.  His coach looked at him each time and simply said, "James, on guard!" Each time, that little boy snapped back into ready fight position.  It was beautiful!!  Class over and kids were leaving.  James walked up to the coach and with full eye contact said, "Coach, I had fun!" Simple statement I know but for James who really never admits to having genuine fun, it was HUGE!! Fencing will be a part of his life for as long as he wants and we are blessed to have found something that Brian, James and I can all agree is fun!!

Check out this site to see if there is a fencing class meeting near you.  It may be something you child may like >>click here<< 

Did you know that fencing teaches etiquette?  It is probably the most polite sport I have ever witnessed.  It is a "gentleman's sport".  You need to show respect by saluting your opponent, the people watching and the referee (if there is one).  If your opponent for some reason turns their back, you wait for them to turn back around.  At the end of the match, you shake hands and thank your opponent for the good fight.  Life lessons, I tell you.  James is learning how to be a gentleman doing something he loves, fighting.  Talk about symbiosis!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Yet Another Contract ... I Guess Whatever Works!!

Okay, for all of you who have been following our lives over the past year, you will know that James has been having difficulty with behavior at home.  Homework and getting to school have topped the list.  Currently my crusade has been to tackle the getting to school issue since we now have a homework behaviorist.  This morning I whipped up this contract for James to hopefully get his butt in gear when it comes to getting in the time for school (fully clothed and fed in the best circumstances!!) James is super motivated by the A-F grading system so I used it as the basis of the contract.

So I asked him this morning how he thought he did yesterday.  He said, "Probably an F!"  I told him that he got a D because we got to school albeit late.  Today he got an A and he was over the moon!  I hope it continues to work because I really need him to do a lot more independently now that I can't climb the stairs to drag him off to school.  We will see how the rest of the week goes.  I think he will be fine because hopefully we broke the cycle today!!

Monday, January 14, 2013

AH ... WOW... AH!!

I think I can,I think I can, I can think of him as an angel
instead of the little devil he is in the mornings.  
Another really tough morning with James!  They have been coming fast and furious since school started back up!! Anyway, remember the blog from last week?  Well here it is to refresh your memory >>here<<  The little man certainly knows what is allowed and what isn't allowed and he certainly is taking advantage of his great advantage.  Well this morning, James was awake and giggling with his babysitter but then she had to leave and he refused to come downstairs.  I called my husband in tears and emailed James's teacher indicating that James had won for the day.  There was no way I could get upstairs and fight him today!  All of a sudden, James appeared at the top of the stairs.  I told him to come down and get dressed.  He read angry in my voice and retreated to his bedroom saying, "Mom, you are angry at me!" I told him I wasn't angry at him but I was angry at the situation.  Last thing I heard before the door slammed was, "The situation...  I am part of the situation!!" Okay, so everything really is about him.  He came down 5 minutes later, got dressed, ate breakfast and we got to school 20 minutes late.  As he went through the door to head to his class, he turned and said "I love you."  I responded with my "I love you too" and he started to walk. He turned about 5 feet away and waved a tentative wave.  I waved back and told him to go straight to class.  I know he was just checking to see where he stood with me.  I know I really wanted to give him a hug and let him know that everything was completely okay, but the little man really needs to learn that his actions have consequences.  Mom isn't going to stand by and let him rule to roost when he is supposed to be at school.  So much for him to learn and I hope it happens before tomorrow morning because tomorrow we drop Charlotte first and she has been late too often due to his impulsive behavior!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Up Goes James's Hand!!!!

My husband and I are pacifists.  We believe in peaceful resolutions to conflict (not sure James is on board with this mission!!) We both are classically rooted in "artistic/ romantic" forms of conflict resolution if weapons may be called for.  Archery, fencing, sword fighting and jousting are all okay and "encouraged" in our house.  James has taken such an interest in these ancient arts, that he had an archery party this year for his birthday >>click here<< Our town is offering fencing classes for beginners and James's response to this was, "sign me up!!"
Finally, Fencing day came!! James was ready! He had studied up on his Wii Fencing game.  The coach started his welcome to all of the kids.  UP went James's hand, "Did you know that fencing as a London Olympic sport?" The coach responded very kindly to all of his inquiries with a, "yes, that is correct." or a "That is a great point, but now in fencing..."  This must have gone on for 12 to 14 exchanges.  My husband and I beamed with James's knowledge.
Eventually, the kids were allowed to touch the wonderful equipment.  James got concerned that none of the equipment felt right.  He raised his hand again and asked for help.  James finally found one that fit with the help of the coach.  James is left handed and I have known this since he was about 1 week old (should have been my first sign, anyway, I digress).  The coach had one more question for James. Did James know why left handed fencers often had a slight advantage.  James thought for a minute and raised his hand again.  "Because we are the surprise!!" Statistically, more people are right handed so the likelihood of your fencing partner being right handed is greater and their moves will be more predictable.  Those lefties, they are the wild card.  James looked back at me and my husband (who is also a lefty) and fist pumped his arm giving us the "yeah ME" sign.
James announced at the end of fencing that the coach was GREAT!!  It takes so little when James is interested in an activity to build a his confidence!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Coat Part 2 or Mother of the Year... You decide!!

Okay, so yesterday, James and I had a discussion about needing to take his jacket to school because it was cold, but he said he didn't want it until he smelled the cow poop and then he decided to take it so he could cover his nose >>here<<  So today... well you may need a little back story for you to see what I am talking about.
I am a mom.  I am a mom with 2 kids. I am a mom with 2 kids and in a wheelchair.  I am a mom with 2 kids, in a wheelchair and living in a two story house.  I am a mom with 2 kids, in a wheelchair, living in a two story house and all of the bedrooms are upstairs.  I am a mom with 2 kids in a wheelchair... I am sure you can see where this is going.  UPSTAIRS doors slamming, Charlotte close to tears because she is going to be late to history again, James stripping down to his comfy underwear chuckling, turning his TV up to 40 and simultaneously turning into a squirmy octopus! ME gathering all the strength I have to climb the stairs to lay down the law.  James sweaty and slippery, me in pain, Charlotte still worried about history and now my physical ability to stand long enough to get back downstairs.  I get a shirt on James the octopus, and being the mum I am, sent him to the car to finish getting dressed at school (how did we get him to go downstairs?  I told him that if he hurt Charlotte again, I would give her permission to hurt him!).  I am that mom!  I have taken James to school over the years in many degrees of undressed and dressed.  My mission is to get him to where he is supposed to be.
We finally got Charlotte to school about 10 minutes late.  Not too bad but not great either.  James was a different story.  I pulled up to his school and tried the school psychologist (in training for the day) and then asked for the school principal.  She came out and the discussions began.  James was head down and withdrawn.  Nothing we said could get him to respond.  We finally got him out of the car and the last thing he asked for was his coat.  HIS COAT!! I tried to decide what to do all the way home.  When I did get home, there was an email from his teacher letting me know that James was asking for his jacket and might I be able to bring one for the day?
Okay so here we are... decision time... Do I race home and pick up the forgotten jacket for the little darling or let him freeze his butt off today for putting his sister and me through such an EPIC morning?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Why do I Need a Coat Mom???

A coat for James is just a piece of clothing that is frivolous!  Most of the time he doesn't get what the big need is.  He is the one in the house, running around in his underwear while the rest of us are bundled up waiting for the heat to finally kick in.  Today, we had another apparently pointless discussion about coats.   
"James, take your jacket."
"You mean besides the fact that it is 37 degrees outside?"
"I don't want to take it."
He opens the door of the van and starts to get out of the car without his jacket.
"Yuck!! The cows have been pooping again!!" At this point he got the jacket, placed it over his nose and ran for his classroom.  The beautiful Tracy cows did it again.  They gave him a reason to make a sensible decision!