Friday, July 30, 2010

What should a 4 year old know? (A Repost)

So, I was checking out a blog I follow and she had reposted this essay by Alicia Bayer at A Magical Childhood.    I love it, and felt that it deserved reposting.  All.... absolutely all... credit to Ms Bayer!


What should a 4 year old know?

I was on a parenting bulletin board recently and read a post by a mother who was worried that her 4 1/2 year old did not know enough. "What should a 4 year old know?" she asked.

Most of the answers left me not only saddened but pretty soundly annoyed. One mom posted a laundry list of all of the things her son knew. Counting to 100, planets, how to write his first and last name, and on and on. Others chimed in with how much more their children already knew, some who were only 3. A few posted URL's to lists of what each age should know. The fewest yet said that each child develops at his own pace and not to worry.

It bothered me greatly to see these mothers responding to a worried mom by adding to her concern, with lists of all the things their children could do that hers couldn't. We are such a competitive culture that even our preschoolers have become trophies and bragging rights. Childhood shouldn't be a race.

So here, I offer my list of what a 4 year old should know.

She should know that she is loved wholly and unconditionally, all of the time.

He should know that he is safe and he should know how to keep himself safe in public, with others, and in varied situations. He should know that he can trust his instincts about people and that he never has to do something that doesn't feel right, no matter who is asking. He should know his personal rights and that his family will back them up.

She should know how to laugh, act silly, be goofy and use her imagination. She should know that it is always okay to paint the sky orange and give cats 6 legs.

He should know his own interests and be encouraged to follow them. If he could care less about learning his numbers, his parents should realize he'll learn them accidentally soon enough and let him immerse himself instead in rocket ships, drawing, dinosaurs or playing in the mud.

She should know that the world is magical and that so is she. She should know that she's wonderful, brilliant, creative, compassionate and marvelous. She should know that it's just as worthy to spend the day outside making daisy chains, mud pies and fairy houses as it is to practice phonics. Scratch that-- way more worthy.

But more important, here's what parents need to know.

That every child learns to walk, talk, read and do algebra at his own pace and that it will have no bearing on how well he walks, talks, reads or does algebra.

That the single biggest predictor of high academic achievement and high ACT scores is reading to children. Not flash cards, not workbooks, not fancy preschools, not blinking toys or computers, but mom or dad taking the time every day or night (or both!) to sit and read them wonderful books.

That being the smartest or most accomplished kid in class has never had any bearing on being the happiest. We are so caught up in trying to give our children "advantages" that we're giving them lives as multi-tasked and stressful as ours. One of the biggest advantages we can give our children is a simple, carefree childhood.

That our children deserve to be surrounded by books, nature, art supplies and the freedom to explore them. Most of us could get rid of 90% of our children's toys and they wouldn't be missed, but some things are important-- building toys like legos and blocks, creative toys like all types of art materials (good stuff), musical instruments (real ones and multicultural ones), dress up clothes and books, books, books. (Incidentally, much of this can be picked up quite cheaply at thrift shops.) They need to have the freedom to explore with these things too-- to play with scoops of dried beans in the high chair (supervised, of course), to knead bread and make messes, to use paint and play dough and glitter at the kitchen table while we make supper even though it gets everywhere, to have a spot in the yard where it's absolutely fine to dig up all the grass and make a mud pit.

That our children need more of us. We have become so good at saying that we need to take care of ourselves that some of us have used it as an excuse to have the rest of the world take care of our kids. Yes, we all need undisturbed baths, time with friends, sanity breaks and an occasional life outside of parenthood. But we live in a time when parenting magazines recommend trying to commit to 10 minutes a day with each child and scheduling one Saturday a month as family day. That's not okay! Our children don't need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US.

They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them. They need us to take walks with them and not mind the .1 MPH pace of a toddler on a spring night. They deserve to help us make supper even though it takes twice as long and makes it twice as much work. They deserve to know that they're a priority for us and that we truly love to be with them.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


My hubby has a tattoo.


A three-quarter sleeve tattoo of a dragon which wraps around his right arm.  It is big, it is a little scary, and (IMO) really kinda cool.  He got it around his 40th birthday (his little red corvette?), and when you look at his 6 ft 2 in, goatee wearing, dark and handsome-ness, he looks bad-*ss

(Note:  He is a more of a gentle kitten.  A computer-geek kitten)

Anyway, I walked into the living room yesterday, and what did my eyes behold?

J-man, trying to look like daddy.  Who says he can't imitate???

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Sermon on Faith and Hope

Those who know me know I have always had a somewhat conflicted relationship with matters of God, religion and spirituality.  And for those who don't know me... well, I have a conflicted relationship with God, religion and spirituality.

Robert Rummel-Hudson, author of Schuyler's Monster and of the blog Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords, recently gave a sermon at a UU church in Texas that I deeply relate to!  He articulates my feelings far better than I can (darn it).   I wanted to share it with you.   The sermon is posted on the Community Unitarian Universalist Church of Plano site (click HERE to be re-directed to their site and his sermon on July 25th, 2010).

If anyone is interested in reading his book, I have one extra copy and I will be happy to send it out to you.  If there is more than one taker, I'll draw names.  The rest of you.... go buy it at Amazon.  You won't be sorry. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Pity Party Over

Lemons sliced and squeezed, sugar added thanks to the multitude of friends (in real life and from around the virtual world) sending me cups of it, ice added (thanks Miss Vicki!), and just a little vodka to take the edge off.

A toast to YOU, amazing friends, who have taken my breath away with your kindness.

And now the big question is what now?

And the answer is I am not sure.

We are waiting on the official report from the Camarata's, and have a phone meeting planned once we receive the report.  We will continue to follow-up with them.  I have also contacted a local therapist with experience in RDI and Floortime who we hope to have start working with us.  For us, my hubby and me.  I feel like I need someone more local who can help us figure this stuff out one on one. 

I told our speech therapist Miss S about our trip and what the Camarata's had to say, and she was very supportive.  She knows who the Camaratas are and acknowledged their coolness. She agreed with their analysis, but did mention that she has seen J-man be more interactive and engaging over the last 6 months (WAY more than they did, that is for sure), and that she is very pleased with the progress he has made in speech.  She also told me that she feels that... aside from the interaction piece and the language piece... that J-man is definitely hindered by apraxia.

And here, dear readers, is why parents go ape-sh*t crazy.

You see, the Camarata's don't believe apraxia exists as a diagnosis.  And I told Miss S that, and asked what her thoughts were.  And we had this GREAT conversation about the nature of research, of diagnosis, and of intervention.  Basically, there are plenty of professionals who do not accept the Childhood Apraxia of Speech as a 'real' diagnosis, largely because there is not enough research to support the diagnosis as real or different from other diagnostic categories. And they would be right... the research is not there.  But Miss S did say that if we called it an oral motor planning problem, they would probably be OK with it.  And they probably would...  they definitely said he has 'immature speech patterns', but honestly he used very little speech or speech sounds during the evaluation. 

She said that regardless of the semantics, she has routinely observed his struggle with forming words.  And the truth is, I have too.  I can see it in every attempt he makes.  I swear, sometimes it sounds like he has marbles in his mouth.  And you can tell it is so terribly frustrating for him. 

It was a good conversation, and nice to get the input of someone who has been with him for a while.

So much to digest and think about.  So many unknowns. 

But on a positive note, check out this cute picture. 

 Yes, those are my shoes.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Middle Place

Ever hear the saying "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" ?

Ok, so here's the problem with that statement. You see, when life hands me lemons, I really want to make lemonade. Really, I do. But see, I cut my finger slicing the lemons up. And then I get lemon juice in the cut, and boy does THAT sting! And then I get blood stains on my brand new white t-shirt trying to find a Band-Aid. Then, while squeezing said lemons, I inadvertently squirt lemon juice in my eye. In shock, I rub my eye with my lemon juice covered hands, which takes a bad situation and makes it worse.  I try (with my one eye) to find the sugar, I realize there is none. The sugar is all gone! So, in a hurry, I run out the door to borrow a little sugar.  I stub my toe on the door jam running out.  I arrive at your door, limping, one-eyed, and bleeding, asking for just a little cup of sugar. 

To try and make my lemons into lemonade.

The evaluation went well.  That is to say, we had it, and J-man was J-man.  Not J-man at his best, to be sure... but not at his worst either.  They tried to do some standardized testing, and did pretty well until he stopped complying.  He did what he normally does in a new, toy-filled environment.... basically told us all to bugger off and let him play. 
The Camarata's spent about four hours with us, which was very generous.  After observing, testing and asking us questions, this was what they had to say:
J-man does not have 'classic' autism....
... he doesn't just have a mixed expressive-receptive language delay either.  J-man is in The Middle Place.  The DSM-IV calls it PDD-NOS:  Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified.  Dr. Camarata hates that label.  He says it has become a "catch all" for kiddos who don't fit anywhere else, and is almost worthless diagnostically. And as a diagnostic label, it is going away in the DSM-V (because it is such a mess). 
They feel that J-man's issues stem from a temperament that is excessively socially self-reliant and a general lack of desire for engagement.  He wants what he wants, when he wants it, and only his way.  To add to that, he doesn't have good attention directed to social messages.  These two things, in combination, lead to a lack of attention to language cues.  And lack of attention to words, and a lack of desire to communicate.  They said that there could also be an underlying language disorder at work, but until the interaction piece improves, they cannot be sure if these are two independent issues or if one issue is "feeding" the other.
And it is no doubt going to be a lifelong issue.
They did feel there is ability for "movement" on this "excessive independence" (with a lot of work), but this orientation to not engage, to be alone, is part of who he is.  It could affect all of his lifelong learning. 
Friendships (or lack thereof?). 
The Camarata's did give us a lot of advice, techniques they want us to start using, and a commitment to an on-going consultation.  They did say they felt a strict ABA approach was not appropriate, but some modified techniques might be helpful.  They cautioned about pushing language use too hard, and want us to focus on building interaction.
But honestly, I can't remember a lot of the advice and techniques.
Because I have lemon juice in my eye, my finger is cut, stinging and bleeding, and my toe is throbbing.
Fu*king lemonade.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No Words

I have no words.

I have lots to say, but I cannot say them. I can't type them, I cannot speak them.

Not yet. 

So I give you Heather Schichtel's essay "Grief" from the good folks at Hopeful Parents. She pretty much sums up how I am feeling. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

And Off We Go...

Tomorrow we leave for Nashville.  I had a number of interesting, thoughtful things to write about tonight.  But the packing, cleaning, thinking, and planning of the day took the day away from me.  So here I am, writing some simple lines:

Wish us well. 
Keep us in your thoughts.
Hope for answers, whatever they may be.
And most important of all...
Pray we don't become country music converts (oh, the horror!)


I plan to try and keep Blog Blitz going, even in Nashville, but it all depends on whether we have access to the Internet and if I get the time.  But I promise, you will get the scoop when I can get to the computer.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


What do you think of the new look?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friends, J-man style

I worried a little about how J-man would handle the weekend.  Three kiddos arrived Thursday night.  Would they rock J-man's world, or would he go with the flow? 

J-man enjoys other children.  Always has.  But definitely as he has aged and his language has not kept up, he has become even more cautious of new kids.  He doesn't know what to do.  So he sits back and observes.  Or avoids.  Or clings to mommy and daddy.

But I must say, he has really done great.  He seems to love the activity and loves watching the kids.  He still is more in "parallel play" mode, but still...  I am so very pleased! 

Here's a picture of J-man and his new friend, hanging out and watching a little TV.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Public Perception of Nursing (as demonstrated by Barbie)

As you may already know, I am a NICU nurse.  Recently (during a very contentious labor dispute), there was quite a bit of talk amongst my RN friends regarding how the general public doesn't really understand what nursing is all about.  Much angst and gnashing of teeth was to be had. 

I submit to you what I believe the general public "knows" about nursing, as demonstrated by Barbie.

Barbie, circa 1961
Ah, the traditional nurse, in her white starched cap and dress.
  But lets look a little closer, shall we?

Clearly, she is smart, as her diploma indicates.
And as we all know...
 only smart girls wear horned-rim glasses...

But can she really be all that smart? 
I mean, she isn't even wearing the glasses,
that she clearly must need because good golly,
look at that makeup!

And blue eyeshadow?  Really?
She looks more ready to go out to the clubs.

Open-toed heals??  To WORK?
Clearly she has never heard of plantar fasciitis.
Or dropped needles in a toe.

And if this is really in her "thought bubble", then no wonder
hospital administrators think we nurses are worthless.

And I am sure that the hospital administrators wish
Target was doing the pricing.

Thank you to all my nurse friends,
For all you do everyday you do it. 
You deserve all that is great and good in the world. 
Never forget that. 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Friends at the Door

We have good friends visiting this weekend. 

I am excited.  I think my hubby is excited too!  This couple are the ideal friend-fit for us.  Except the fact that they live about 1000 miles away.

I must admit, I kinda suck at making friends. Or rather, making busom friends. You know, friends you really click with, who totally get you and you totally get them.  I do have a few friends like that (I imagine we all do) and this friend is one of them. They moved away a long while ago, and are back in town for a wedding.  The whole family will be staying with us, which means we shall have a full house, no doubt kids and toys everywhere.  And that is just fine with me!

J-man, on the other hand.... well, that I am not sure about.  This weekend will be a good test to see how he does with this much activity.  At my parent's cabin, he has shown that he doesn't really care for the big crowds.  I am thinking it might be better on his "home turf", but we shall see.  Additionally, my friend's son, who is about 6 months older than J-man, also has some developmental delays.  His are of a slightly different ilk, but in many respects the fact that these two boys are both struggling has brought my friend and I closer together I think.  We can relate to each other on a different level.  It is great to have friends like that.

Anyway, BB will continue, but the updates might be smaller and more photo driven.  And I am sure you would prefer that anyway!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

One Week

One week and counting...

One week until J-man's evaluation at Vanderbilt.

I am both excited and a little nauseous. Hopefully, J-man will do what he normally does. I want him to really talk, to listen, show them his best. But I also want it to be what he really does right now... the good and the bad. My greatest fear is that he does nothing... digs his heals in a just refuses to engage at all. And he could. To be honest, that would be him too.

So soon we will be flying on a jet plane on our own personal quest for answers.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Want vs Need

I went to the bookstore today.

This is what I wanted to buy.

(Bacon is meat candy)

But this is what I actually bought.

It isn't as fun as meat candy.

But I will let you know how it goes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Food: A Post in Two Parts

(as I mentioned before when I started this whole Blog Blitz experiment, I might go a little off track...  toot toot!)

Part I:  Food, the J-man, and Childhood Obesity

I was half paying attention to the Today Show today when the were covering a story about childhood obesity.  Childhood obesity is, after all, all the rage for topics.  Filled with dire health consequences, parental neglect (along with a good dose of guilt and shame), food makers, TV, and the Western lifestyle to blame, it makes GREAT copy for the media.  And indeed, I do not at all deny that it is a real, true, honest problem.  We eat crap (and I use the collective 'we').  Processed junk, sugar, fat, and empty calories.  Yummmmm... empty calories.  We do not eat enough veggies and fruit.  We eat too much, at the wrong time and in the wrong way.  I get it.

Myself, I've struggled with weight my whole life.  There was a time (seems like eons ago) when I did look pretty darn good.  Of course, I thought I was fat then.  What did I know!?!  Ah, well, one baby, one disability, one crazy life, and one cookie at a time and I have rounded out fully.  Sad... so sad... but true.

I do recall in my pre-J-man days of having ideals about what my children would (and would NOT) eat.  I planned to NOT expose them to sugar.  I keep them away from Kool-aid, potato chips, and cookies.  I would shower them with fruit, veggies, and whole grains.  They would eat from the bounty of the earth.  Kum-bye-yah!

And then I had J-man.

I was good with him in the beginning.  Really good.  He nursed until he was 13 months.  I bought organic.  We didn't give him 'naughty foods'.  He had fruit (pureed of course), he ate broccoli and some other veggies, whole grains, the whole nine yards.  But a problem developed somewhere along the way.

He stopped eating.

I am not sure when it happened, but he started rejecting food.  Food that he once liked.  He wouldn't swallow things.  Some foods would stay 'cheeked' in his mouth.  Suddenly food became a problem.  He wouldn't eat things that "normal" kids ate.  Like bread.  Or fruit of any kind.  Or meat and veggies (except broccoli).  And Lord knows, nothing NEW.  The way I understand it, most toddlers go through a phase where they 'reject' new foods.  Well, J-man's phase goes on and on.  We still struggle with food.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't believe his "food issues" stem from any kind of sensory issues.  He does eat a broad range of textures, flavors, and the like.  He tends to enjoy intense flavors (salt and vinegar potato chips, guacamole, ketchup on everything).  But I believe his issues are related to anxiety, trust, awareness and comfort. 

But at the beginning of that phase when he stopped eating, 'healthy' eating went out the door. When your child won't eat... I mean REALLY won't eat... your ideals fly out the window.  French fries and Chicken Nuggets, come on down!  Pizza every meal... sure!  Ketchup as a main dish?  Well, no, but on everything.  He eats guacamole with a SPOON (at least it is healthy fats!).  I offered every naught temptation in the book to get him to eat something.

There is something so very, very primal about feeding a child. 

And so here we now are.  All fruits rejected.  Veggies, same.  Chicken nuggets, french fries, Chipolte burrito bowls, chips and guac, pizza, ice cream cones, and spaghetti are the staples of our diet.  I wish I could convince him to TRY a grape.  Or a piece of orange.  Or a banana.  Or any veggies out there.  Just ONE.

Part II:  Veggie Rehab

Of course, this is the pot calling the kettle black. 

I hate veggies.

I wish I loved them.  Truly, I do.  I would love to be able to go order a salad and LOVE it.  To decide to go on a diet, buy a bunch of fresh veggies, cook them up in appealing, creative ways, and feel fulfilled and inspired.  And satisfied.  Kum-bye-yah!

But I don't.  I hate them.  I tolerate some.  I eat spinach in dishes.  I like zucchini, peppers, onions, and carrots.  I tolerate green beans.  But overall, veggies don't call to me.  I don't love them.  I don't crave them.  The smell of some veggies even makes me gag a little.  I am not sure people who love veggies get this veggies-make-me-gag problem.  So, just imagine that one food you can't stand, and being told that food is your only way to healthy eating.  Yeah, it's like THAT.

So how can I possibly encourage J-man to eat veggies if I hate them?

I think I need some kind of Veggie Rehab.  A Twelve-Step program where I am gradually weaning into the veggie world.  Where my palate is slowly refined to tolerate... and eventually love... veggies. 
So I call out to all of you:  Do you have a good recipe for veggies to help sway my palate?  Note:  I don't care about nutrition.  I care about TASTE.  I need to develop these taste buds to tolerate.. and then love... veggies.  HELP!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Harry Potter Weekend

ABC Family is doing a Harry Potter weekend this weekend. I have always enjoyed the series.  I read all but the last book (gasp!  I know... I have it, but it is big and I just haven't really been able to devote myself to it.).  And the movies... ahh, the movies... I have enjoyed them all. 

But I must admit the series now holds a special place in my heart, and it has ever since I heard that Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter) has a mild form of dyspraxia.  Dyspraxia is a motor planning problem, involving the sequencing of motor movements to perform complex motor tasks.  While most often people acquire this condition as a result of brain damage (e.g. strokes), it can occur in children when there appears to be a malformation or disconnect between the motor areas of the brain and the executive functioning and planning areas of the brain.  In essence, these areas of the brain don't communicate well. 

J-man clearly has motor planning issues, and our developmental pediatrician has mentioned dyspraxia as a possible diagnosis.  While I often spend a great deal of time talking about J-man's language issues, he does also have motor problems, largely gross motor and motor planning.  At 3 1/2 years old, J-man still doesn't jump.  He doesn't walk down stairs with both feet.  He doesn't dress himself independently.  He can't balance on a swing.  He runs with a wide base, and looks a little 'top heavy'.  And he is clumsy, very clumsy.

So I don't know.... I hear about Daniel Radcliff, and I look at what he has accomplished and I think to myself 'he is our people'.  And that just makes me smile and love him a little more.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Little Confession

I am a logical, rational person. I embrace science. I respect research. I believe that medicine intends to do good, or at least do no harm.

But when we realized J-man might have ‘issues’, I fell down the rabbit hole a little bit.

In Autismland, there are TONS of “complementary” or “alternative” therapies. Some of them are interesting, some benign, some crazy, and some downright scary. I explored them. I read books. We even tried a few of the less expensive/least invasive ones, with the reasoning being “well, it can’t hurt”. Despite the lack of supporting research, I pursued these options because when you are a parent, and you are sooo afraid, you will try anything. (For those interested in a great discussion on this issue, check out this blog)

However, we left those options a long while ago, and now stay rooted in philosophies with more empirical support. It feels better. It feels right.

But there has been one hanger-on that stuck.

We stopped immunizing J-man after his 15 month vaccines.

He had all of the standard vaccines prior to 15 months old, including his MMR. But at that point, I stopped.

I am rational, logical, love science, know research, believe in research. I don’t believe vaccines caused his issues, and I am highly, highly skeptical that it has anything to do with autism (although I allow a least reasonable doubt about it the very rarest of cases).

But I just couldn’t do it. The fear was just too great.

Until this week.

J-man has a toe nail infection. Nothing major, but his big toe got pretty inflamed and I realized he might need a hit of antibiotics. So off to the pediatrician we went. Our Dr. knows all about J-man’s issues, and has been very respectful of my decisions regarding progressing with immunizations. We discussed it at length, and since he had coverage for the major ones, he supported a ‘hold’ on vaccines until I was more comfortable. And since J-man is also crazy healthy (we hardly ever have to take him in!!), it has been off the radar for a while.

But when I took him in for his “toe-llio”, the other not-so-favorite pediatrician saw him and did the (disrespectful) double eyebrow raise when he saw on our chart.  We were behind. I almost told him to bugger off because of those eyebrows.

But I was ready.

So much to J-man’s dismay, he got two shots in the thigh.

And survived. And said “Pizz-ahhh YAH!” the next day…

I try to respect other people’s fears and choices because of my own trip down the rabbit hole. In such a confusing, scary, distrustful time… when no one can give you answers… it is so easy to distrust ‘the system’ who cannot help, and trust those who hand out answers and promises like candy. Hope is a drug.

But I believe in science, in medicine, and in research. And I believe in trusting my own mind.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Nothing to say

I'd love to be witty.

I'd love to be wise.

But I am tired and am at a loss for words.

So I am having ice cream and going to bed. 

Not a bad way to end the day.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Strange Beauty

There is beauty in watching J-man grow.
Strange beauty.

Like watching him use his own fingers to form the fingers on the other hand into a sign.
Failing that, watching him take my hands to make that sign.
To look at me with expectation.
And joy when he meets success.

At being struck when I say something simple,
Like "we are going to pizza.. yah!!" and unexpectedly hearing him echo from the backseat...

                     Piz-aaahh YAH!!

His arms raised in the air, smiling ear to ear.
And knowing the hours, days, months of agony and effort it took to get here.

It is this kind of beauty.... this strange beauty... that "textbook children" don't provide.

My Guest Post on SmartPlay!

Ok, funny story...

A few weeks ago I posted a little video clip of J-man playing the game Zingo! 

Apparently, I caught the eye of the makers of Zingo and received an email from them the next day.  The next day!  How did they do that??   So anyway, when I opened my email and saw the email from ThinkFun (the makers of Zingo), I must confess:  I thought I might be getting some kind of cease-and-desist order or something.  But no!  Apparently they found my little blog (how did they DO that?!) and asked if I would be interested in writing a piece about my feelings about play and games for kiddos with special needs. 

They liked me!  They really really liked me!

Incredibly flattered (and by no means an expert), I said I would do what I could. 

And so, here it is:  All Learners Can Shine Through Play

I'd love to have you check it out and give me some feedback! 

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Testing out a new banner...

As you can see, I am working on some modifications.  Be patient, things might look weird around here for a little while.  I made a new banner... it isn't right yet, but I have to test it out and make some decisions about what to change and what to keep.  I would LOVE insight. 

(oh, and those are old pics of J-man when he was but a wee-one.  They are favorite pics)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Good Energy

When I dropped J-man off at daycare this morning, I was once again struck at how truly lucky we are to have found Jack & Jill. 

At our last IEP meeting they had told us that they planned to drop the class size down a little bit this summer, and "advance" some of the older children to the next room.  In addition, they planned to move up a few new children from the Toddler room, changing the dynamic of the room significantly. They hoped that this change would be a positive one for J-man.  He kept his main teacher (Miss E), and a new teacher joined the room.  I had high hopes for summer, but concerns as well.

Ahhhh... those concerns are long gone.  The energy in the room is so much calmer and more peaceful, and J-man has gone from clinging, timid, and unenthusatic boy to one who smiles upon arrival at J&J, who greets his teachers with a kiss and a hug, who says "bye" to me easily, and who... by all accounts... is loving his class.  It has made me even more aware of how sensitive I think J-man is to a person's (or groups) energy.  I have seen it over and over again...  with the wrong energy, J-man turns off, turns away, and just avoids.  But with good energy...ah, he is a different boy. 

And that is what we have now at J&J.  Good energy.

Monday, July 5, 2010

GEMM is back....

...and she makes me tired.

Jealousy is a tricky thing. Isn't envy one of the Seven Deadly Sins? I find myself envious of the strangest things lately. Certainly, hearing the Great Accomplishments of others' children can give me twinges. But I find... as the distance between my son and other children becomes even more pronounced... that has become even less of a problem. It sounds strange, but I have stopped comparing J-man to other kids. His path is so clearly NOT their path. As we wade through this uncharted landscape I have come to recognize that looking to them for clarity about my son's development is like reading a French cookbook to learn how to cook Chinese food. Can ya dig it?

No, Green Eyes emerge when I want to do the things that other mommies do, or the things I used to do myself, but can't figure out a way to do it. Oooohhh, I yearn for those days. I wish that J-man was just...easier. Not that he is HARD... he is lovely! But he needs. And needs. And needs more than his same-age peers. Not once in a while either. Everyday.

And lately, he needs it from me.

Daddy is an good substitute, but if mommy is around, no one else can possibly take over. It is flattering. And exhausting. This facet of his personality is relatively new. I've rationalized it as part of his newly-emerging language skills: He prefers me above all others because I actually understand him. I know his signs, his word attempts, and his non-verbal communication. Besides, I am his MOM.

So I miss out on some of the other fun non-mommy stuff.... hanging out with other parents while the kids play. Going out with the girls. Heck, even watching the occasional non-kid-oriented TV show. Straight out downtime. This is not new. In fact, it is quite old. However, it seems that the longer it goes on, the more aware of it I become. It is a subtle thing, this envy. I wish for simple things: casual conversations with other mommies while J-man plays with the other kids, not needing to hover around him to make sure he is safe... being normal.

Truly, these are small nuisances, and when you think of all of the sadness and tragedy in the world, it ain't no big thing. Still, GEMM can be self centered and bitchy, and her ever present voice still there... she is not who I want to be, but there she is anyway.

(note BB followers!  I really did write this on Monday, but by the time I got home from work and got to a computer it was Tuesday at 12:18 am.  Forgive me!)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

One Step Towards Fame

As you already know, J-man has developed a love of Toy Story 2.  Toy Story one is a little bit too scary for him (all the creepy activity in Spike's house), but Toy Story 2 is a huge favorite!!  So when Toy Story 3 came out, I hemmed and hawed.  Dare we try and go to a REAL movie?  Is there any chance whatsoever that J-man would sit still and watch?  Or would we be paying big bucks to leave five minutes into the film because he A) couldn't sit still and wanted to run around, or B) was scared of the 'big screen' experience?  And exactly how many dirty looks would we get for his "talking" back at the screen?

And then:  Sensory Friendly Films by AMC Theaters.

Sponsored by our local Autism Society and AMC Theaters, Sensory Friendly films are an opportunity for families with special needs children (and adults) to see movies in an environment that is accommodating for individuals with sensory processing issues and/or developmental disabilities.  Offered once a month (and typically a kids movie), the movie is played in the morning, lights are up, sound is down, and everyone in the theater has a spirit of acceptance.  Your kid needs to talk to the screen? Cool. Your kid have food allergies?  You can bring your own snacks.  Your child needs to move?  Cool.  No dirty looks. 

And last weekend, they were playing Toy Story 3.  What an excellent excuse to try out a real movie with the J-man! 

So as we were walking in (Buzz Lightyear in hand, of course), a man with a very large, professional camera asked if he could talk J-man's picture.  He was from the local paper covering the event, and apparently the cute kid carrying Buzz caught his eye.  My mother called me three days after the movie played and exclaimed that she saw him in the paper. It was a treat!!!

And so, J-man (or at least his torso and his Buzz) are now "famous" in the local paper

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cruising to the Cabin

Indeed, the weekend is kicking my butt.  After working a twelve-hour shift at the hospital today, I hopped in my car to cruise up to my parent's cabin.  My dad and hubby have planned a large fireworks display tomorrow, as is the custom in Wisconsin, and the whole family had already made the trek north.  So alone, I enjoyed the road trip.  It was wonderful.  I rooted around and found an old compliation CD, tossed it in the player and enjoyed the chance to be alone.  The air was warm and humid, and smelled of summer. 

Dorky as it may be, one song on the tape just made me smile.  I don't know why... it certainly isn't any kind of classic.  Anyway, I thought I would share. 

I promise, REAL posts coming soon!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Toot Toot!!!

The first BB entry and already I am shorting everyone. 

But alas, my weekend to work also means my weekend of no "me" time.  So short and sweet it shall be.

We are breaking in a new babysitter.  Mostly, she knows how to be a babysitter.  She is great, actually.  But J-man is a different egg, and we wanted her and J-man to be uber comfortable with each other before we left them on their own.  J-man has developed a new hyper-attachment to me of late.  I chalk it up a little to age, and a little to his newly developing language skills.  Either way, whenever he senses he is about to be left with someone else (not ME), I suddenly develop a 35 lbs tumor on my leg.  It is flattering and frustrating at the same time. 

Anyway, I decided that a nice way to help them get acquanted was to go to a local kiddie amusement park and have some fun with J-man and K.  And as you can see, J-man had no trouble whatsoever leaving me for her. 

Here they are, riding the train!  J-man's FAV!

Spinning on the teacups. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Blog Blitz

This spring I took a writing class called Mother Words, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It really challenged me to carve a bit of time out of my day to try and read or write a little something meaningful.  Writing is a craft, after all, and one that requires time and energy to improve.  While I don't have any great aspirations to write the next Oprah book club bestseller (psst...Oprah, call me..), I would like to be a little less of a hack about it.

In that spirit, I have decided to engage in a writing "blog blitz".  For the next 30 days.... yes 30 days... I will submit a new blog entry, writing about anything and everything.  Now, generally speaking, I do try and keep this blog about the J-man and his exploits.  And no doubt he will remain the central focus.  But please do forgive me if I vary off-topic and fall down the rabbit hole a little.  I might talk about politics, work, my hair, food, or whatever suits my fancy.  I will no doubt get maudlin, romantic, and a little wacky.  'Tis true, it is my nature. 

So, for the next month, forgive my antics.  Give me feedback if you will.  I do love a little banter, and comments make me think you care.  HA!  And don't worry.... I don't think I'll be quitting my "day job" anytime soon (although I am sending out applications).


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