Friday, November 25, 2011

Negotiation by J-man

This is how J-man negotiates. 

If this isn't progress, I don't know what is.

PS:  If you can decipher the few words I am stymied by, you win a gold star!  All  reasonable guesses will be posted and open for voting!!!

PPS: "Noodles" refers to Mr Noodle from Elmo's World.  Mr. Noodle is a comic mastermind.  Just ask J-man.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Normal Life and Other Crazy Talk

Photo by PaperWings Photography

A shift is happening here.  It is weird.  It is unexpected. Complicated.  A little frightening.

We are edging a little bit closer to normal

Egads!!!  Not THAT!

Not J-man, mind you... he is still his fabulous self!  He has gotten much more vocal, verbal, and opinionated, all good and frustrating things. His intelligible vocabulary is increasing daily, and his use/desire to communicate is happily expanding.  We are happy.  He is happy.  All is well.

"Normal" comes in the form of "what other people's lives are like".  As in... jobs, lifestyle, time, energy... all the crap everyone else does day to day.  You know, "normal".

"Normal" means we managed to find a babysitter.  In fact, not just one but TWO babysitters.  Two sisters who live down the street from us, who are young enough to still love playing with little kids but old enough to be responsible.  Two delightful young ladies who just happen to have a brother with autism.  Who understand autism.  Who get it.  I mean, seriously...

It is like hitting the babysitter jackpot. 

What this means is that now we do not have to rely solely on Mumu to babysit (which is good since Mumu & Papa are snowbirding this winter 1000 miles away).  It means we can have regular date nights.  It means we can make last minute plans with friends... go for dinner... laugh and have a few drinks... guilt-fricken-free.  And might I add, J-man adores them, and has from the first moment they came to the door.  Intuitively he just knew.  It might seem like a small thing, but it is HUGE.

"Normal" also means big changes in Mommy's department.  I applied for... interviewed...was offered... and accepted a new role at my work.  I am going to be a clinical educator in my unit, which is both a huge change and an exciting one.  I need to do this.  Now is the time and opportunity.  It is something I really want. 

And yet...

.. of course, I am a little nervous.  Or a lot.  Or is the word "freaked out"?  Not just about the job itself... I feel okay about that.  But what is going to be the effect on J-man??  I will be working a lot more.  He will start going to his program full-time now.  I have my concerns about that (to be addressed in a different post). Some guilt.  Or a LOT of guilt.  If all goes well, it will be wonderful.  If all goes sh*tty, then it is my fault.  Yeah, nice thought. 

Plus my house will probably become a disaster. Or more of a disaster than it already is. Big Daddy will have to take on some new duties which he says will not be a big deal but....  well, let's hope... All in all, though, not a bad problem to have.  Not bad at all. 

Of course, I am safe in the knowledge that J-man is unlikely to let our lives get too normal.  We will... no doubt... continue to let our freak-flag fly proud. I think that sounds just about perfect.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

"Too Loud"

This is new for J-man. 

And if you were just observing this behavior in isolation, you might think that he is having a sensory reaction to the volume of the movie.  He has done this "hands-over-ears-too-loud-too-loud" behavior again and again over the past several weeks to different movies and at different times.  He can be perfectly happy and content with the volume at one moment and suddenly "too-loud-too-loud". So is this some kind of new hypersenstivity to sound???

I don't think so.  And here is why...

In this particular clip, we are watching Cars 2.  Mater, the best friend to Lighting McQueen, is on the phone with one of his competitors arguing about how great Lighting McQueen is.  Eventually, McQueen gets on the phone and has a little verbal sparring with the other car.  It is a low key, kinda cute exchange. 

J-man also does "too-loud-too-loud" to the Lion King.  It is always at the same scene.... no, not one of the many scary-ish battle scenes.  He does "too-loud" when Mufasa lectures Simba about being responsible.  He does "too loud" to the movie Cats and Dogs when the evil white Cat is about to get a bath from the maid.  And he does "too loud" to Happy Feet when Mumble is being lectured by his dad.  And when Lilo's sister yells at her in Lilo and Stitch. 

I don't think this is about volume, do you??

There is a lot of controvery about whether or not people on the spectrum are senstive to emotions of others and exhibit empathy.  It is a topic that generates a lot of discussion.  Well, my 4 year old ASD boy covers his ears and is upset when the (negative) emotional content of a movie becomes too much. What do you think that means???

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Never Do Product Reviews, but....

...  I am going to pass on a few products and resources that I have come across that I think are worth it!  As always, my review policy is in effect.

Cozy Calm Weighted Blankets
I ran into these blankets over a year ago at a local Home and Garden show and was in love.  Ages ago we were given a weighted blanket of the scratchy, plasticy variety and J-man hated it.  He hated the weighted vest too.  Anyhow, when I saw these blankets at the show, I thought that it looked perfect. They came in a few different fabrics at the time, so I purchased a fleece child's small blanket. The weighted material inside is made up of small plastic beads, which I did worry might come out or melt with washing and drying.  They did neither.  In fact, the blanket is washer and dryer safe and holds up wonderfully.  The blankets come in several different sizes and weights, depending on one's needs.
J-man still didn't like it.  I figured weighted blankets weren't for my boy...UNTIL the last few months. 

Over the last few months J-man has had a major case of the bedwiggles.  He fights bedtime more than he ever has before, and tosses and turns with just a little too much energy.  Since I lay with him as he falls asleep, I noticed the change right away.  So I dug out the Cozy Calm blanket and tried it out.  It settled him right down... enough to let him relax and fall asleep.  Now it is a standard part of bedtime, and WE love it.  I am now saving my pennies to buy my own and a bigger one for him.  It is awesomesauce! 

The Autism Shop
This is both a brick and mortar store (located in the Twin Cities) and an online store, and I must say:  if you can't find it here, I am not sure it exists.  We dropped into the shop for the first time last spring while they packing up to move locations, I was impressed with the breadth and depth of the products they had there.  I was a little like I kid in a candy store.  So anyway, if you are local, check it out.  If not, check out the online store.

ASD and Me by Teresa DeMars
Full disclosure time:  I won this book as a door prize.  But it is a great book to introduce the idea of autism spectrum disorders to other children, as well as an affirmation for children on the spectrum.  It is a little over where J-man is right now, but I think it will be a great resource for the future. 

Faces of Autism: Stories of Hope 2012 calendar

Ok, shameless plug.  The Faces of Autism: Stories of Hope 2012 calendar is a charity calendar put out by a local organization called United for Autism.  And J-man is Mr April!!! I mean, reallllly... who knew my little man would be a calendar model!?  The whole project was volunteer driven, with some amazing photos taken by Tera Windfeldt Photography, and all proceeds go directly to United for Autism.  So, if you have any interest in an awesome calendar for an awesome cause, with an AMAZING Mr April, consider ordering one of these calendars!!

So there you have it...  products I wanted to turn you on to.  Let me know if you have a product or book that you are loving right now!  I always like to find new stuff!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Six Random Things to Know about Becoming a Mother

(Warning:  I curse a bit in this one.  If you have tender eyes, skip it)

A friend of mine posted on Facebook today the following question:

 (We) are Talking about maybe possibly bringing a baby into the world. Pros / cons: GO

The responses were much like you would expect:  no sleep, poverty, no sex life, unbelievable love and connection, hardest job you'll ever love, etc etc etc.  All very true.  But it did occur to me that there are a few things that no one ever really talks about when the idea of having a child is considered.  And while these things are completely random.... and are not necessarily "con" or "pro"...  might be nice to know.  Since I am a mom, of course, these are going to be things about being a mother.  But some do apply to the father role as well.  Or the two-mom or two-dad scenario, whatever the case may be.  So, without further ado...

Six Random Things to Know about Becoming a Mother.

1.  Your uterus might fall out. Or bladder. No, seriously.  All the ligaments can get stretched out from the pregnancy and boom!  One day you are standing in line at Target or giving a presentation at work, and suddenly it feels like you have a baseball in your panties.  And by the way... this can happen 20 years later!  Time is not your friend.

2.  Everyone says you will never sleep again.  Not true.  There may be several years where you don't get a solid night's sleep, but yes Virginia, you will sleep again.  You may suffer a little PTSD around your lack of sleep experiences, where you become obsessed with getting sleep and making sure the kid sleeps.  And you most definitely will never, never, ever take sleep for granted again.  Ever.  And "sleeping in" is getting up at 8am.  But you will sleep again, I promise.  Someday.

3.  You will fuck up.  There are no perfect parents, only shades of shitty, and you will strive to not screw up too much.  Lord knows I work hard to stay on the "tan" side.  But you will not be perfect and you will fuck up and that is just the truth.  Do the best you can, admit when you screw up, and try and learn a better way.  Oh, and avoid any and all behavior you might see on a reality TV show. 

4. Your kid will not be perfect.  You may even end up with a child who has some very significant challenges *ahem!*.  It happens.  Perfection, however, is only for storybooks and fairy tales, and frankly is boring.    There is something amazingly beautiful about seeing that little person be that little person

5.  It will be years before your house looks like your house again.  Mostly, it will look like a daycare threw up in it.  And you will try and have a "dedicated playroom" for all the toys and you will probably fail miserably.  Just accept that your decor' will be Fisher Price for a few years.  And your TV will not be your own.

6.  You will be changed.  Forever.  Period.  How you are changed is really up to you and your child, but have no doubt whatsoever you will not be the same person.  For me, I have become snarkier and a little bitchier.  In a good way.  The Green-Eyed Monster Mama was born and she ain't playing around.  I have also become keenly aware of what it means to "not sweat the small stuff".  With the J-man, I have gained significant perspective on what is really important, and that is something that I know I just couldn't have learned with being his mommy.  I became an adult.  Not the "pay-my-bills-have-a-job" adult ..... I already was that (no, really, I was!)... but in the "this is what real responsibility is" kind of adult.  Daunting, liberating, scary, and whole. 

I would never trade it.  Even with all the challenges.  Maybe because of the challenges...  I am more and I am better and life is sweeter. 

But just so you know:  Wine helps.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Channeling Michael Jackson

The other day J-man did something that was completely new for us. 

He came running to me to show me his "owie". 

Now, by "owie" I don't mean a real, honest-to-goodness injury that would leave a child bleeding and crying.  No, this was that tiny-scratch-you-can-barely-see kind of owie. He came running to me... genuinely concerned... wanting kisses and comfort and a solution to this microscopic gaping wound. 

I offered a band-aid.

I offered a band-aid knowing that J-man hates band-aids.  Always has.  Other children might be covered with band-aids from head-to-toe, but J-man wants nothing to do with them. (Note:  This is from the kid who did THIS.)  But hey... what else could I possibly offer?   Dermabond?  An ER visit? 

So I offered a band-aid.  And he said yes. He said yes as he "fake cried" his way to the bathroom with me in search of said band-aid. Being fairly shocked and somewhat skeptical, I found a small band-aid in the first aid kit and offered to put in on the "owie".  It was then J-man realized that no, he really didn't want a band-aid because he hates band-aids. 

"No ban-ai!  No ban-ai!"  he shouted at the top of his lungs.  He looked perplexed for a moment, and then came up with a fairly genius solution.  He said, emphatically, "loves!"


As he chanted this word in an ever-escalating panicked voice, I tried to decipher what he was saying.  And then it hit me....


Holy Crap.  He wants to wear gloves to protect his 'injured' hand.  HOLY CRAP!!

Allow me to note at this time that J-man has never, ever worn gloves.  Period.  Lucky for me I had just purchased a set of small boys gloves and so we got them and put them on.  And he kept the glove on.  All day.  All night.  All the next day.  He wore it to eat.  He wore it to sleep.  He wore it to our Halloween Party and Trick or Treating. 

Two days later, the glove is finally gone.  And the wound is healed.  That, my friends, is alternative medicine.

The Glove
(Ignore the chunky witch next to J-man)


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