Saturday, June 19, 2010

Child Hurricanes

One of the aspects of our new house that we enjoy the most is that it comes with built in friends for the kids. We are at the back of a driveway shared with three other houses. The house beside us back here has three boys ages 8, 5, and 2. Combine four active kids (the toddler is certainly active, but not much of a bike rider) and a long, cement driveway and you're guaranteed many, many hours of biking, skating, scootering, skateboarding, wall-ball, and basketball.

Most often, George is off by himself; but when he joins in, the others are very good about including him. Emma and the older boy have become great friends and are very evenly matched in humor, energy, and silliness. The five year old is almost always along, but is suffering from having his big brother's attention pulled away by this new long-haired interloper. His reaction is to get in Emma's face and bug, taunt, and pick at her until she is screaming with frustration and goes inside. Usually, within a half hour, they're all back outside again, having fun until the next whirlwind fight.

Yesterday, hearing a louder-than-usual screaming match, I headed outside. The boys had already left and a sobbing Emma was pushing bikes into the garage. We sat on the steps to talk and she filled me in. As the usual jealousy led to the usual arguments, Emma must have yelled to the older brother something about how she hated his younger brother. The usually diplomatic big brother leaped to the defense of his sibling and both boys began yelling at her about her "stupid" brother who was "worthless" and "doesn't know how to do anything".

And the mama rage erupted.

But I kept calm and we talked about how that felt and how much we love George. We talked about his strengths and how much he's grown over the last year. And what a good sister she is to him. Then Daddy came home from the store and was filled in.

And the daddy rage erupted.

But I calmed him down and we decided to wait a day before going over to our neighbor's house to kick their butts discuss the situation.

Luckily, today we were able to think more rationally and realize that this wasn't necessarily an attack on George. Our knee-jerk reaction as special needs parents is to protect first, think later. But in this case, it was just a normal kid fight that had escalated to the "your brother's dumber than my brother" level. We spoke to the father today and he agreed, but also took some time to talk to his sons about Autism (which he had also done when we first moved in).

Half an hour later, it was back to driveway races as usual. With all kids equally involved. Hearing George call, "Come on, guys, follow me!" and watching the others chase after him did our hearts good. It was a normal summer afternoon. Normal in a way we're still getting used to.
New Friends

Saturday, June 05, 2010

(It's no longer Sock Love Thursday)

Let's see now, it's June. Huh. And I've updated all of twice this year. Sorry about that.

Winter was hard this year. I had to step away from the computer a bit and instead of writing about life, I tried to actually, you know, live it. Exercise, keeping the kids busy, getting my health back on track (Did you know that six months of snacking and eating nothing fresh will pack on the pounds? I know! Shocking!); basically just digging my way out of the 3 foot radius around my desk and the fog within my head.

How exactly have we spent the last five months? Let's look at the calendar, shall we?
Hockey & ice skating
Dental surgery for George (and all the involved paperwork)
Emma turned nine (NINE!???)
Field trips
Huge graphic design project for Bridgeway House
George's IEP for next year (and all the involved paperwork)
Lost 20 pounds
Jason came home from Iraq
Family vacation to Disneyland
Bought and moved into a new house

(Oh, and those last three things? All happened within three weeks. We're ready for summer break now, please.)

I'll try to be around more often with lots of pictures!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Sock Love Thursday

From the time he was born, George has always loved textures. Anything soft gets taken immediately to his cheek, where it is lovingly rubbed. Usually, George likes to share his soft things and brings them to me to rub against my cheek. His voice goes into a higher range than usual as he exclaims, "Feel it, Mom. It's so soooooft, ahhhhhh!"

Imagine my delight when he decided the dirty socks from last night's hockey practice were today's soft thing.


Can you resist the adoration on that face? I can not. Happy Love Thursday. May you find a soft thing to bring you comfort today.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Daily Bits


It's so strange to me when I have stories to share and yet the words won't come. I've done a lot of spiraling up and down this week. January seems to have that effect on many people, especially special needs parents. December is filled with the usual anticipation of holidays and season changes that we all gear up for. The tension of riding them out, wondering how our kids will handle them. Then the transition back into school and routine, which is often bumpy. We hold ourselves so tightly for so long, and then January releases the valve and we're depleted. That's not necessarily a bad thing. It creates room for something new. Makes us take a breath, think, rest.


Emma was home sick all week with what was eventually diagnosed as strep throat. Poor girl was nauseous and fatigued for two days. I was so concerned with flu-like symptoms that I completely ignored the fact that she had mentioned a sore throat. Turns out it was BRIGHT red with BIG white bumps on it, obvious strep. Whoops! Score one for the inattentive mom!

IMG_2287 IMG_2305

The Transformer costume with fancy noises and voice altering capabilities was purchased for $60 by Santa. The other, with a thin polyester jumpsuit and sharp plastic mask, in the clearance aisle at Target for $3. Guess which one is played in daily?


With little boy sweetness, the other night, George looked me in the eyes and said, "Mom, you're my first friend." Awwwwww. (I'm choosing to ignore the fact that this was probably scripted from some video. He used it appropriately and it melted my heart, that's good enough for me.)


Emma and I went ice skating the other night to make up for the class she missed earlier in the week. After her one and only fall, she started to brush the ice off her pants and then stopped. She declared, "I'm going to leave it so everyone can see that I fall sometimes, too." Obviously, we need to check into the possibility of late entries for the 2010 Winter Olympics. I love watching her confidence bloom in this new activity!


This long holiday weekend, we've done something fun every day (ice skating, kids-night-in club for George, swimming, visits to a favorite reptile store, library, etc.). Slowly, my kids are helping me recharge, showing me how easy it is to find delight, and opening my eyes to the little details that bring life to this new year.

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so." ~Mary Jean Iron

Monday, January 11, 2010


I spent some of the weekend creating a book out of the blog I maintained before this one. It covered most of 2005 and into 2006. Because it was in an outdated format, I had to copy and paste every entry into the book software (Blurb, if you're looking to do the same; it will "slurp" most current blog formats automatically). I finished the 2005 entries late last night and it was an interesting walk down memory lane. Some of it was silly, there weren't nearly enough photos, and, frankly, there wasn't much of any substance. But it helped me remember a few things, got me to look at photos I haven't thought of in years, and made me laugh at my optimism. (Not that I'm a pessimist, but that early blog was like reading a yearlong Christmas newsletter; not exactly real life.)

2005 was the year that George began speech therapy through the school district (we had to wait until he was two before they would work with him). It was also the year before he received his formal Autism diagnosis. I say "formal" because I had known from the time he was 18 months old that we were probably headed somewhere in that general direction, but it took until October of '06 to get into the specialist's office. (In Virginia, where we lived at the time, you had to have a medical diagnosis to receive special education services.) I read this piece of an entry from September 2005 and laaauuuggghhhheeedddd:

George had some testing with the school district speech therapist on Wednesday. He didn't make much noise, but apparently enough for her to make a determination. What is that determination, you ask? I have no idea. She has to "report her findings" to the school board officials, they will mail me a letter asking me to call them to schedule another meeting. At which time George and I will again report to the therapist (but this time the board official in charge of this kind of thing will be there), and only then will I get to know what she thinks and where we'll go from there. Fun! Couldn't possibly let the worried parents know anything right away. Oh no, it makes much more sense to go through three other steps first. I guess we're well into the system now and have to play by their rules.

If I knew then what I know now, oh lordy. The paperwork, the back and forth between dozens of "officials", the rules, the system! We are so lucky to live where we do now, the available services are excellent, but every year there are so many hoops to jump through. Just today I spent several hours filling out insurance paperwork that required me to sift through George's medical file and make copies of his IEP. The shear amount of paper involved is staggering. And there are at least three people from whom I need signatures to verify the diagnosis he's had for more than three years.

But we do it. We get the signatures, fill out the forms, call dozens of officials. And eventually our once non-verbal children look at us and tell us we look goofy. It's totally worth it.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Saturday Scrapping

Figure Skating Lessons

When your brother began playing Ice Hockey, you were beyond jealous. Prior to that, neither of you had ever been on the ice, and you (as big sister) ought to have been the first to try it! As soon as we could, we signed you up for ice skating (you prefer the term “figure skating”) lessons. And you love them! You spent almost two hours on the ice before you had your first fall. I don’t know how I ended up with two kids with such good balance, but I’m so glad you have found an activity you enjoy so much! I’m stocking up on hats & gloves because it looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time at the ice rink from now on! January 5, 2010

Friday, January 08, 2010

Really? With the Whining? And the Screaming?

Whenever our schedule changes, or a vacation goes on a bit too long, or we return to routine, or the moon is in the seventh house, or the cat walks through the room, or he wants to laugh in the face of my praise over his accomplishments....George regresses a bit.

Now, academically, he's doing great, retained his skills through the vacation, teachers are pleased, I'm still happy with all the words and full sentences I'm seeing and hearing. But behaviorally, George is, shall we say, a bit of a challenge these days. I don't think he's doing much worse than any of the Kindergarteners this week, as they all adjust once again to early mornings and structure. But when George doesn't want to do something he gets loud.

George, time to get dressed.
NO, Mom, NO! Just keep playing! Aaaarrrrrggghhh!!!!
Here, George, the toy you were looking for.
No, Mom, not Thomas, I want Transformer! Aaaarrrrrgggghhhh!!!!
Wait your turn in line, Buddy.
Do you want an Oreo?
NO, Mom, no....YES, MOM, I WANT OREO! Aaaarrrrrgggghhhh!!!!

See? So. Much. Fun. He has a whine that seems to be the soundtrack to his days lately, a constant undercurrent that has the ability to shave my patience to bits in a matter of minutes. Even when it's not directed at something in particular, the sound is ongoing. I think it's like keeping a car engine warm. He maintains the sound so when he needs it to ramp up, he doesn't have to exert much effort.

So this week? I'm working on Maintaining Patience, on Not Locking My Child In His Room, on teaching him to Use His Words, on Not Locking Myself In My Room. (And, apparently, on Using Multiple Commas in Every Sentence.)

Next week: Teaching Children to Mix Mommy's Favorite Drinks. (Just kidding!) (Really!) (Maybe.)