Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How Many Maps Can Fit On One Fridge?

I don't remember ever needing to know this. Or even wanting to know this. However, it seems I just might find out. Because over the past week they have been showing up on my fridge.

One morning last week I found this on our fridge:

It's a map of Adam's school. I asked him why it was there. He replied, "In case I get lost at school." Never mind the fact it's the end of the first quarter and he knows his way around the school now. Never mind the fact it won't do him any good on the fridge if he gets lost, you now, at school.

Then a few days later while getting something out to cook for dinner I saw this:

I made the mistake of asking Adam why a second map of his school was on the fridge. I got glared at. Then I saw his back walking away. Notice his choice of magnet to hold up the second map 'Stupid should be painful'. I'm wondering if this was a clue for me.

And this morning:

There is the addition of a map of North America. I took a chance and asked Adam why a third map was on the fridge. I'm glad I did. I got an answer this time. "Because" was mumbled as I saw his back walk away yet again.

Any guesses what will show up next?

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Sunday, September 26, 2010


I have been seeing more and more attention given to ROOM , by Emma Donoghue, in blogs, book reviews and newspapers recently. Have you? All have given it a completely amazing review and commented on the absolutely horrible situation Ma finds herself in with her son Jack. Most reviews comment on the dark plot, sadistic character of Old Nick, and disturbing topics. And while it is no doubt depressing, I was also completely amazed and in awe of Ma.

So often these days we think we can't live without FB, smart phones, cable TV, internet, fast food, modern appliances – even something as simple as a washer and dryer. Our children scour thru catalogues months in advance of the winter holidays making up wish lists to pass out to relatives. We study history in school and always think, it may be fun to live in colonial days for a day or two, but wow I'm glad I didn't have to on a regular basis. Because it all looks hard and boring.

And so often we all have our rough days. Whether it is because our child is whining all day and Just.Won't.Listen. Or because our car breaks down 5 miles from home with cold groceries in the trunk. Or because our partner has to go away for a week and we have to single parent. Simply put, we all have our days where we truly wish everything would just go away.

But what if it did? What if you really, truly had no choice? What if you lived in a 12x12 shed with very few belongings and an infant that grows to be a 5 year old? How would you pass the time? How would you entertain, teach, and nurture your child? How would you protect your child from the person who supplies you food, electricity and clothing – the provider and also the scariest person in the world to you? How would you keep yourself sane enough to be able to show your child joy in things?

What I found absolutely incredible about this most tragic situation Ma is in is that somehow she pulls together the strength to mother Jack. She gives him the love he needs and the other basics of life he needs. But on top of that she thinks creatively to give him a basic education in not just academics, but also character development. Jack is happy, and it's because of her. I'd like to think if I were in her shoes I would do the same. I'd like to think the maternal instincts of mothering would completely kick in no matter what the situation. But I just don't know. I sure do hope I'll never have to find out.

I also think Ma should win Mother of the Year award. And I also think my rough days really aren't that rough.

I received a free copy of ROOM, and with no obligation to review, as part of the From Left To Write book club. To read other posts inspired by this book, check out book clubs website, From Left to Write.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Am I Spoiled?

Tuesday I was tucking Adam into bed (I absolutely love that at this age he Still Insists that I tuck him in each night). He says to me, "Mom, aren't you going to wish me a happy birthday week?" I ask him, "Why? Your birthday isn't until Friday."

Turns out he has decided we should celebrate birthdays all week now. "Wouldn't it be fun? We could celebrate each day and make the whole week special!"

He paused and thought for a minute, "Would that make me spoiled though? Because I wouldn't want to be spoiled. Then I might forget to be thankful and turn into a brat and I don't want people to think of me that way." He thought a few more seconds, "How about we just say Happy Birthday all week but only get presents on our actual birthday?"

I must be doing something right J

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Want to read a book?

Sometimes September is the easiest time for me to read – when the days slow down a bit while Adam is in school. And the great weather we've been having has certainly helped! There's nothing like rocking on the swinging bench on the front porch with a slight breeze and a good book.

For the next week I'm going to catch up on letting you know the latest great books I've received to review. But for now I'm going to start with a short article from Dr. Dora Calott Wang, author of The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflection on Healing in a Changing World

Women Will Steer the Fate of Health Care Reform

As mothers, daughters, wives and leaders of households, women often steer the health care choices of families. Thus in the coming years, women will also be a major force toward implementing health care reform and the landmark Affordable Care Act.

Whenever we enroll a child into newly available health insurance, whenever we convince parents to get mammograms or colonoscopies that will be free under Medicare in 2011, each time we appeal an insurance company's denial of care, or when we choose health insurance in new marketplaces beginning in 2014 -- we will be helping to shape the future of health care in America. In fact, much of the ACA depends upon the actions and choices of patients, with women often taking the lead.

Many ACA laws are already in effect. For example, nursing mothers in most workplaces are now entitled to time and private space to pump breast milk for a child's first year of life. Did you ever think the feds would mandate this? It's a new era.

The ACA's main goal is for nearly every American to have health insurance. New opportunities are already available, and uninsured members of your family may qualify. If someone in your family has been denied health insurance because of a pre-existing illness, check out the new "high-risk pool" insurance plans available now. Log onto to find local options, and get your loved one covered. Medicaid has been expanded, so someone in your family may be newly eligible. By September 23, you can insure your children under your own health plan until they are age 26, and insurance companies will have to accept all children under age 19 with pre-existing illnesses.

Patients (and the women often guiding them), might possibly exert the most influence on health care reform through two important ACA measures -- appeals processes that should be in place by Sept. 23, and the new health insurance marketplaces in effect by 2014.

In the words of President Obama, the ACA aims to protect patients against the worst abuses of health insurance companies. The ACA provides many safeguards against insurance companies denying coverage. Yet the devil is still in the details when it comes to holding insurers more accountable toward paying for care. To fight against insurance companies taking our premiums, then trying not to pay for medical care, the federal government is cracking down on fraud, waste and abuse. The ACA eliminates life-time caps on health insurance benefits, while mandating that insurance companies now must spend at least 85 percent of their dollars on medical care, rather than on profit and administration.

We the public can do our part to keep insurance companies honest through new appeals processes which should be in place by Sept. 23 for new insurers. If you feel your new insurer is unfairly denying care, or is stalling on time-sensitive care, you will be able to appeal to the insurer itself, but also to an external review process. The ACA leaves it up to individual states to institute these appeals processes, but the federal government will hear grievances if state processes are inadequate.

These appeals processes will be an all-important aspect of health reform -- which will be driven by patients making appeals, and therefore reliant upon all of us.

Another crucial step is that by 2014, we can shop for health insurance in new exchanges offering comparisons between different plans. So if we see an insurance company hiking rates by 70 percent in one year, for example, or if an insurance company has a reputation of not paying for care (yes, this will still happen under the ACA), the new exchanges will offer options. Collectively, by choosing insurance for our families, we'll determine which insurers succeed or fail, and thus shape the landscape of American health care.

The lady of the house has always had a large role in steering the health care choices of her family. Now with the new Affordable Care Act, the actions of women on behalf of their families will collectively shape the future of health care in America.

For more information about the ACA and its timeline, log onto the excellent website,

© 2010 Dora Calott Wang, M.D., author of The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist's Reflections on Healing in a Changing World

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Yum, Pizza!

I LOVE pizza. But I'm a picky pizza eater. I grew up in CT, right outside of NYC. And I got spoiled by good pizza. Really good pizza. After moving to Hampton Roads and then NoVa, I had to adjust to the fact that if I wanted pizza, it was going to have to pretty much be chain pizza.

Recently we tried ZPizza. Although it's a chain, its style is much closer to the pizza I was raised on. But that wasn't the only reason I got excited. As I've mentioned before, Adam has Celiacs. Pizza is one thing he has truly missed. I can make him a pizza at home, but when everyone else at the party or gathering is eating pizza that was delivered and you've got a pizza in a Tupperware container made by Mom, it's just not the same.

ZPizza has gluten-free crusts! And he LOVES them! Now on those evenings we want to order pizza we can, and we can all eat it. Gluten-free for him, Gluten for Mom and Dad. Or if he's going to a party that is having pizza, I'll pick one up from ZPizza on the way for him. It truly has been a wonderful option for him as he hits the middle school years where all those social things become even more important.

ZPizza is also very health conscious. Their sauce and wheat pizza crust are organic. Tons of fresh veggies and meats to choose from to create your own pizza or choose from their huge selection of creative creations. Not in the mood for pizza or rustica's, but your family is – ZPizza also has a wide range of salads, sandwiches, pasta and calzones (these are my personal favorite).

Getting in the mood to try ZPizza? If you're in NoVa, you're in luck. Tuesday, September 14th, between 4PM and 7PM the Alexandria location (6328-C Richmond Highway, Alexandria VA 22306; 703-660-8443) will be handing out free samples. ZPizza's Director of Training will be on site to answer any questions you have. And before you head out, be sure to sign up for the ZTribe and get a coupon for doing so!

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Friday, September 10, 2010

2:37 AM

Every now and then I have these moments where I feel like a genius. Except what I am geniusing about is, well, rather pathetic. But it still impresses me when I have these moments (it's the little things in life that make me happy).

When I got the Droid last year I was all super happy – my first smart phone. I could do this, and this, and this and that too, and how in the world did I live without a Smartphone before! I could have constant contact to everything – email, Face book, Twitter, Google Reads, silly apps – EVERYTHING! And boy do I take advantage of it. But something I never liked about the Smartphone is that when I read blog posts in the reader I never comment – too much to click over to the blog, increase, scroll, comment on a small keyboard and all that (yea, I'm pathetically lazy too). "I'll just go back to that blog and make a comment at home" I'd innocently thing. Of course that never happens in reality.

So, 3 nights ago, at 2:37 AM I had this incredibly awesome idea (this is the when I was feeling like a genius moment): I'd stop reading blogs on my Smartphone and only on my laptop. That way I could comment back!!

I tell ya, I'm a genius, I am.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

A New Year

School started this week for Adam. My new job as adjunct faculty at a local university also started this week. The weather seems to have taken note of this ending of summer as the mornings are cool as are the evenings. Fall is right around the corner. Our kitchen and family room remodeling construction is underway.

So many new beginnings. It's like a new year. Wait – it is – if you celebrate Rosh Hashanah. I've posted in years back that September always seemed to be a better time for looking back and looking ahead than January. All that seems to really change in January is the date you write on your check.

Despite this past year being a more difficult one (husband had his first overseas long-term business trip, I was on medical leave for 6 months and am still in a flare-up waiting (not so patiently anymore) for it to end) I do have so much to be grateful for. This year brings so many new opportunities for everyone in my family. New opportunities that we've all worked hard to obtain.

L'shanah Tovah

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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Limitless Love and It’s Power

I've mentioned before that Adam has a pet Gecko Lizard he named George, and how George came to be part of our family. That post was almost 2 years ago. Wow how time flies!

George is still alive and well, and loved ever so much now as he was then. George seems to knowwhen it's Adam looking in his home. If it's me or one of Adams friends he breathes faster, if it's Adam he slows down his breathing after his startle of having realized big looming eyes are staring at him.

When Adam puts his hand into the cage George climbs right into his hand. Adam takes him out, whispers sweet loving comments to him as he pets him and George rests his head on his fingers. It is truly amazing to watch this connection between Adam and George.

We go to the pet store weekly to stock up on crickets and mealworms. For the past 5 months or so Adam has been looking at the other reptiles. He'd love a cat or dog, but with allergies those aren't options. So he'll look at them, but he Really Looks at the reptiles. For A Long Time. And talks about how much he'd like another one. He's made it clear he loves George, but he wants more pets to love and take care of.

Last week Adam was rushed to the ER for severe stomach cramps. Three hours later he was in surgery for removal of his appendix. The first thing he said upon hearing he was having surgery and would be spending the night in the hospital was "But what about George? Who will feed him?" Now, George can go a day without food. He's good like that (and also helps to make him a great pet if we want to go away for an overnight trip!) Not the fact he was being put under and having an organ removed. Not the fact he wouldn't be allowed to do Tae Kwon Do for at least a month. Not the fact he was officially being admitted into the hospital. His thoughts were on George. His beloved pet. That all started with an inch worm 3 ½ years ago.

I do think it is time for another pet for Adam. He has once again surprised us with his level of growth – his ability to be responsible enough to take care of a pet. But not just take care of it. To love it. To reach out and have a relationship with another being. Something that's supposed to be very difficult for him seems so easy when it comes to George. As well as others he's let into his circle. He's come a long way. And all with the help from such small creatures.

When I was offered the opportunity to read Cowboy and Wills from the From Left to Write book club I clicked over to the author's website to see what the book was about. A boy with autism, who learns to navigate the social world along with his bestest buddy ever, Cowboy, his puppy. How in the world could I not read Ms. Holloways memoir?!? This book, a heartwarming, you won't want to put it down till you get to the end, but you don't want it to end because, well, then it would be done, touched me personally on so many levels. Thank you to Ms. Holloway for being brave enough to share Wills story so that others may see limitless love and it amazing power.

I received a complimentary copy of Cowboy and Wills, and with no obligation to review, as part of the From Left to Write book club.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

Bringing Back Memories

When Adam was in 3rd grade he studied Ancient Civilizations and was introduced to historic figures. We took him to the Children's Museum in Baltimore since they had an exhibit on Ancient Egypt. He loved the hands on activities of taking the boat across the Nile, writing in hieroglyphics and exploring a pyramid to discover a mummy.

Like so many units of history and science he has studied, we love to find hands-on activities for him to supplement what he's being taught in school. Lucky for us we live in the DC area – filled with tons of museums between Baltimore and Richmond.

Adam is a fairly quick learner. But when he sees and touches what he's learning, the learning is even that much faster. Often we don't need to go farther than our local bookstore or library. Just looking at a DK book or some other book with pictures helps to solidify information for him.

I received Famous Figures of Ancient Times by Cathy Diez-Luckie as a member of the From Left To Write online book club. When I showed the historical figures that you could color (or use the pre-colored sets), cut and assemble he immediately said, "Remember when we went to the museum in Baltimore when I studied Ancient Egypt? That's when I started learning about the Egyptian and Greek Gods!" Later that day I found him reading one of his books about the mythical Gods.


As I member of the Left To Write book club, I was given a complimentary copy of this book. I was not obligated to write about this book, and all opinions are mine only.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Dinner with NO Sitters

Yup - you heard it. We don't need sitters anymore. It's really official now.

Our child, who couldn't name the peers he sat next to in 2nd grade...
Our child, who would throw 2-3 hour tantrums at the slightest change in routine....
Our child, who would spin, and spin, and spin nonstop rather than engage in age typical activities.....

Our child who has worked soo very hard....

Our child who has learned to be flexible....
Our child who loves when his friends come over to play....
Our child who is always finding kids at the pool to play with....
Our child who can modulate his own sensory needs....

Stays home alone now.
We've been leaving him alone for short stints and slowly increasing it over the past year (he's old enough we could have been leaving him home alone for hours at a time last year).

Tonight, for our anniversary Hubby and I went out to dinner. And we didn't need a sitter.

Sometimes dreams do come true.
Sometimes the nightmares begin to slow down.
Sometimes it's really safe to dream some more.

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Does Anyone Else Have This Problem, Part II

I know you are all in suspense wondering what I've decided to do.
Grow the bangs out of course!
Stay tuned for Part III where I of course, decide I want bangs after all and one morning spontaneously cut them myself because if I wait for a hair appointment I might change my mind by then.
The endless cycle.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Does Anyone Else Have This Issue?

I've got bangs.

Problem is when I have them, I don't want them. I start to think I look better without them. They require more maintance - especially since I have a cowlick just in the center of my forehead (thank goodness for straightening irons!).

So I grow them out. And then I don't have them.

But then I think I look better with bangs. So I get my hair cut and get bangs back.

And about 4 months later I think, 'No, I looked better without bangs. I should grow them out.'

Rinse, Lather, Repeat....

Am I the only one with this issue?

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Back To School Shopping At Target? Not!

Unfortunately it's August. Which for us means Back to School Shopping. And, which for the past 6 school years have meant going to Target.

Why Target? Why not. They always have what is on Adam's teachers lists. And then more. I heart Target. I really do. It's where his clothes come from. He loves that blue creatures with lots of eyes line of clothes. Heck, it's where most of my clothes come from. It's where I pick up those cute seasonal plates for him (well, not so much anymore, but when he was a kid he loved seasonally themed kid plates and bowls to eat from). Most of our house accessories come from Target. I planned on having a fun day shopping for new accessories there in September when our new kitchen finishes its total remolding. Need a few items from the grocery store – no need to go there, just pick them up at Target and no need to go to another store also. After our mortgage, I think Target is probably our biggest monthly expense!

But I won't be shopping at Target this year for back to school supplies. In fact, I won't be shopping at Target at all for now. It will be hard, but I'm gonna do it.

You see, I believe if you fall in love with someone, you should be able to marry them. To find someone who you share values with, good times with, makes your heart go thump, thump. To find someone you want to work out life problems with. Forever. It's so amazing when you've found that someone. It's so special when you've found that someone. I'm so grateful that I found my partner. Aren't you grateful for your partner? Shouldn't we all be allowed that same joy?

I'm not so sure Target believes this though. It has been reported that Target has donated $150,000 to Tom Emmer's campaign. He is a Republican running for Governor in Minnesota. Minnesota is where Target is headquartered.

According to The Minnesota Independent:

In 2007, Emmer authored a constitutional amendment to prohibit same-sex marriage and civil unions.

In many instances, Emmer has tried to change language in bills to that same-sex couples cannot benefit. In a bill to create standards around surrogate motherhood, Emmer attempted to replace the word "parents" with the words "mother and father." In a wrongful death bill this session, Emmer questioned the use of the term "domestic partner" just as he has in bills aimed at providing benefits for same-sex partners.

Heck, here's what Tom says on his own campaign website:

I believe marriage is the union between one man and one woman. As a legislator, I have consistently supported the constitutional marriage amendment that protects traditional marriage.

So, I'm really confused. Target claims to support gay-friendly policies, including offering domestic partner benefits. However, with the money Tom's campaign received from Target, they may not be allowed to keep these benefits. Why would Target support him then?

Before writing this article I did some research. I was also surprised to find out that Best Buy also contributed ($100,000) to Tom's campaign. Um….

I mean, this probably shouldn't be a surprise. I'm sure lots of places I go to and give my money to support candidates that I may not totally agree with. But now this is out in the open. Target and Best Buy are supporting a very anti-gay candidate. In fact, he is the only candidate running for governor that does not support same-sex marriage.

Once I am aware of something I can't ignore it. And this is something I truly disagree with. I truly agree that if you fall in love, and the relationship is healthy (no abuse for example) and you want to get married, you should be able to, regardless of you and your partners gender.

And because of this, I am joining Dial M for Minky Moo and many others in boycotting Target. At least for now. People and companies can make mistakes. But mistakes can be fixed. If Target truly does support gay's rights (as I used to think they do, but am now confused about it), they can make amends. They can donate money to The Human Rights Campaign. Because The Human Rights Campaign will certainly need additional funds to help fight human rights from politicians like Tom, especially is he is elected.

While I do not know for sure who Walmart and other big chains support, I do know that Target has confused me who it supports on a value that means a lot to me, and for that reason I will be doing Adam's Back to School shopping not at Target this year. Will you be joining Minky Moo and I?

PS – The Human Rights Campaign has a button to click to take action if you are so inclined.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Spectrum of Happiness

The other day I came across this article defining in the best possible way what happiness is.

Sadly a few days later, this made news.

Just as with autism, there is a spectrum in how parents of special needs children are able to raise their children with happiness for who their child is.

I only wish Ms. Akhter could have seen Ms. Lawler's post. Or that the social services that were involved with Ms. Akhter had more resources, budget and time to help her.

Every parent should be able to find happiness with their children. There should be no Spectrum of Happiness when it comes to parenting. There should only be one spot - Happiness.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Reading vs. Educational TV

Here's a question for you all:

If my son is just not in the mood to read, is it OK for him to watch educational TV (History Channel, National Geographic Channel) instead?

The other day I told him to go watch something educational. I must have been completely out of my mind. But I was in the middle of something I couldn't stop and he was bored out of his mind. But then I got to thinking:

  • Well, obviously it's better than playing video games.
  • He's learning
  • He's visual - so he might even remember it better
  • He's learning something he may not be willing to read
  • Isn't some of the point of reading to learn about a topic of interest?

A week ago he was flipping thru the channels at bedtime and came across a special on Hitler. WWII has been slowly becoming an interest of his. He knows he'll be studying it this year at school. And earlier in the month we watched the movie "A Diary of Anne Frank". Earlier in the spring we watched "The Boy in Stripped Pajama's". He's asked questions about that particular time period since then. He wanted to stay up and watch the special. So we let him - he watched that one, and the Part II afterwards. And then talked about it quite a bit.

And not that he'll be allowed to watch educational TV vs reading, and I'm certainly not saying his education should come primarily from video, but, what's the value of watching a special on some aspect of history or science vs reading? And if that captures his interest even more and then he wants to read up further, isn't that better than saying go read for 20 minutes because the schools say you should?

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Excuse Me While I Whine For a Bit

Dear Body,

It's been just about 8 months now since you began tormenting me with this flare up. And yes, while medication is certainly helping me to crawl out of this, I'm still crawling. I think the light at the end of the tunnel is the sun, but sometimes it's a train instead still.

I try to look on the bright side of things. I really do. I'm not sleeping 12-16 hours a day. I'm not in immense pain everywhere to the point where a sheet covering me hurts. I can get by on 10 hours of sleep now. My body isn't in constant pain. But that's when I do the bare minimum. When I go for a jog or to the gym I'm beyond sore the day after. If I run 2 errands in a row I need to sit on the couch for an hour to regain my energy. Yesterday we went into the city for a fun family outing. And it was fun. And I slept for 3 hours as soon as we got home, and then another 10 at night. I have to space major outings to every other day so I can rest in between. Or that light becomes a train again.

But it's really hard to keep looking at this positively. My list of things I need to do and want to do is huge. Its summer time and I would love to have energy to do outings with my son. The one who is growing up so fast. The one who really prefers his friends to his parents. But there are those times during the day he still wants to hang with just me. But I'm too tired. Too tired to even stay awake and watch a movie with him. Too tired to take a walk outside. Too tired to do a science experiment with him. Because if I do, then it might push me over the edge and I won't even be awake later in the day when he really might need me. Or I'm so tired I do nothing but snap and have no patience. How do I explain to him he can't sit on the couch all day and do nothing when that's usually what he sees his mother doing? How many times should he have to hear "Not now, I'm too tired, maybe in a little bit." And that little bit doesn't arrive because then it's time to do something else that we have to do instead of want to do.

So, body, how about we come to a compromise. You give me some extra energy. And then in September when Adam is back in school I can finish the crawling out while he is in school. And it won't interfere with my ability to mother the way I'd like to. What do you say? Want to give it a try?

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Even Good Transitions Are Rough

Remember last week when I mentioned that hubby had recently come home from an out of the country trip and to use your imagination on why I hadn't posted? You were all thinking wine, food, rest, relaxation kind of busy, weren't ya? Get your heads out of the gutters you silly readers!

We were busy transitioning Adam to having Dad back. For 6 weeks (and then a week before that he was also gone for a week) I had been so busy getting him ready for life without Dad.

We made a calendar to mark down the days until his return, but also highlighting activities I had planned to keep us busy. That was put on our fridge to see daily.

We had talks about what routines would be the same, and how Dad being gone would affect other routines.

Adam and Dad picked out stuffed animals – a big and little penguin. Dad took Adam's Little Penguin with him and took pictures of him throughout his trip. This allowed Adam to see where Dad slept, worked, and other places he came across on his journey. Adam took care of Big Penguin and we took pictures of our adventures to share with Dad about what we were up too. This allowed them a conversation starter when they were able to Google Talk each other. Instead of 'what did you do today Adam?' and having the standard 'nothing' reply, Dad was able to say 'I saw the picture of Big Penguin – tell me about your outing'.

Adam and Big Penguin excavating gems.

I made sure to keep things consistent. His teacher and principal knew Dad was Out Of The Country and kept an extra eye on him as well.

And for 6 weeks all was Going Well. Any issues we had were issues we would have had if Dad was here too. I was actually very surprised by how easy it was!

And we got SOOO excited the closer to the day Dad came home.

But I forgot to get him ready for it. It was a happy moment. It was a joyous moment. And within an hour of Dad's return it was meltdown after meltdown after meltdown. For about 4 days. I kicked myself big time. How could I have forgotten that with Autism Spectrum transitions – the rough ones as well as the GOOD ones – were difficult?!?

So, yea. We were busy. Busy dealing with a happy transition that came back to bite me. But no worries. Seems we'll get to practice this long trip thing again. And you'd better believe I'll be getting ready for the transition of Dad leaving AND Dad returning this time.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Wow – what a busy start to the summer it's been!

  • Last week Hubby came home from 6 weeks out of the country. Enough said on that – use your imagination on why I haven't been on last week J
  • I got my test results from the BCBA Exam - I passed – WOOT!! Another acronym to go after my name!! But seriously – I know really have the proper credentials to help individuals and their families on the autism spectrum (as well as other conditions involving inappropriate behavior) to become successful in social and communication areas.
  • I quit the county schools (again) and will be working as a private BCBA and (keep fingers crossed) adjunct at a local university starting this fall!!
  • I will be co-writing Fairfax Macaroni Kids with the wonderful Elena!! The weekly newsletter comes out on Thursdays – hope you'll enjoy reading what we put together each week!
  • PuttingTogetherPuzzlePieces is off to a slow start, but I'm hoping to really focus a lot of writing over there this summer after last week's busy week. Still in the nitty gritty of what it all is, diagnosisng, etc, but soon will be focusing on strategies to aid in behavior successes.
  • I went back to work part-time (Camp director for Social Skills camp) – and survived. Did a lot of resting, but no napping J
  • The Adapted TKD class I co-teach started a new class at a 2nd studio this past weekend!!
  • The lovely Jessica provided me passes for the screening of Despicable Me. It was our first Daddy-is-back-home-let's-do-something-as-a family-event. And it was wonderful. The movie is great, and I'm glad to see critics are agreeing. I do caution younger kids seeing this – let's face it – our main character is a villain and wants to keep that status, he doesn't always do the nicest things. However, laugh, and laugh hard you will. And as my son stated the movie is 'pleasantly heartwarming' at the end. A huge thanks to Jessica for the tickets!!

I'm actually looking forward to a quiet week this week!!

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Monday, June 28, 2010

A Letter of Thanks

I'm sharing with you all a letter of thanks to my son's school. He just finished elementary school and will be heading off the world of middle school in September. Because I taught at that school (beginning when Adam was in 3rd grade) he was pupil placed there. When I left, his principal allowed him to remain there so he would not have to switch school. This school also feeds into his base middle school, so the friends he met would be continuing on with him also.

I wrote this letter, because I think all too often schools (administrators and teachers) don't get even close to the credit they deserve. Yea - just as in every profession, there are definitely some schools that could use some room for improvement. But there are also lots of schools that are doing amazing jobs with our kids. And they don't get thanked enough. Because Adam's principal allowed him to stay, and because of the wonderful job they did with him I felt they definitely deserved a special thank you. It is because of teams like Adam had, that he was able to get where he is today developmentally. (Names, of course, have been changed)

Dear Dr. Principle and Ms. Assistant Principle,

We are writing this to thank you for allowing Adam to be pupil placed at Best Elementary School for the past four years. Our entire family has completely enjoyed our experience here.

When Adam began 3rd grade at Best Elementary School he didn't have the most positive attitude towards school. After his first day Dad and I could see it turning in a different direction. When asked how his day went he exclaimed, "Mom, Dad, I'm gonna have to listen! At this school when the teacher asks a question she doesn't need to repeat it because everyone was listening. So someone answers and she moves on! Which means I won't be bored anymore! Which means maybe I won't get into mischief anymore!"

At some point in September of 3rd grade he also put away his car carpet (a small floor carpet that has roads and buildings printed on it to drive Matchbox cars on). You see, all through 2nd grade he had this carpet out in a quiet area of the house. The roads were jam packed with Matchbox cars lined up in traffic jams. Most days after school he would go to the carpet and re-arrange the traffic jams. While doing so he would be quietly mumbling to himself, but stop whenever someone entered the room. Dad and I had always thought this was another display of his Aspergers Syndrome - a fixation and perseverate play. Sometimes he would be there for 10 minutes, sometimes up to an hour. Of course, we would always guide him away and back into 'our world', but it was clear this was part of his routine - this need to re-arrange the traffic jams and line cars up just so on the roads.

We asked him why he put it away. His answer completely took us by surprise. He said, "Because the traffic jams in my life are gone finally." Upon further questioning he shared with us that each road represented a different part of his day - morning work, math, reading, lunch, specials, home, etc. Depending on how each part of the day went depended on how much of a traffic jam there was in the afternoon. Some cars were even associated with specific people. The more he perceived them as irritating him, the more they were towards the front of the traffic jam line. The days there were crashes were the days he was sent to the Principal's office, severely reprimanded by his teacher or had a major conflict with a peer.

The car carpet has not been taken out since then! And while he did not think every day was perfect, he did believe that the staff truly was invested in his learning and teaching him to be a better person, as well as also learn to realize his role in conflicts and how to solve and prevent them.

The classroom teacher he has had all 4 years have all gone above and beyond their call of duty.

It is because of them that he has truly improved in his ability to relate and interact with his peers. As parents we can tell him what he should, could and should do in different situations. But we can't provide 25 children for him to practice these skills with. Dad and I really did not think he'd be where he is socially at this age. His growth in wanting to interact and actually doing it successfully, learning to navigate ht nonverbal world, and maintaining friendships has been a joy to watch develop. To have neighborhood kids knocking on our door, to have sleepovers, to be able to spontaneously play Marco Polo at the pool with children he just met...these are all activities he did not engage in before.

It is because of them that he enjoys being at school and learning and challenging himself.

It is because of them that he is prepared to go to middle school both academically and socially.

All his classroom teachers have been wonderful at keeping the lines of communication open with us as parents. Sharing funny stories as well as areas that he was having difficulty with so that we could all work as a team with Adam to help. All his teachers were always flexible to try accommodations and modifications so that Adam could fully participate in activities.

We would like to thank all the staff at Best School:
Mrs. 3rd Grade teacher, Mrs. 4th grade teacher, Ms. 5th grade teacher, Mrs. 6th grade teacher, Mrs. 5th grade teacher, Ms. Guidance Counselor, Mrs. Guidance Counselor, Mr. PE teacher, Mrs. PE Teacher, Mrs. Library Teacher, Mrs. Art Teacher, Mr. Art Teacher, Mrs. Nurse, Mr. Band Teacher, Mrs. Music Teacher, Mrs. Music Teacher, Administration, Office and Custodial Staff and the rest of the Best Elementary School Staff for all they have given Adam.

We will miss Best Elementary School. This school will always have a special place in our memories,

Thank you,
Adam's Mom and Dad

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Doll Houses Aren't Just for Dolls

See this doll house? Adam and I got it from Michael's. We spent A Long Time putting it together, gluing it and painting it. You might be wondering why the blue, gray and black color theme. You may be wondering why a just-about-12-year-old-boy wanted a doll house.

For his Lego's of course!!

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

To Summer Camp Or Not

The question of the week has been do I send Adam to summer camp or not? Apparently I'm not alone in this delima as I come across this topic as I've been reading my blog feeder the past few weeks.

So, I'm gonna do the classic Pros and Cons list.

-Northern VA offers camps on an amazing amount of topics-sports academics, enrichment-you name it, there is a camp for it
-We can afford it
-Opportunity to practice social skills
-Opportunity to learn something
-To keep Adam busy

-Camps are all over the county, and with traffic I could very well spend 1-3 hours a day transporting him to and from camp
-He's unlikely to interact with the kids from camp afterwards-chances of them in his school, or nearby are actually not that big depending where oh the county the camp is.
-I could use the money spent on camp on trips to museums and water parks
-He can practice social Skills with kids in neighborhood who he has relationships with already
-If counselors don't have training/experience with Aspergers it could be miserable for Adam (and others around him)

I think the decision is actually not that hard. Each year I pour through web sites for summer camps and then decide the cons outweigh the pros. Afterall, isn't summer supposed to be about sleeping in, relaxing, learning in your own backyard, swimming at the neighborhood pool, impromptu play dates in the neighborhood, extra screen time, reading books because you WANT to, not because you were ASSIGNED to and exploring hobbies and interests on your own?

Yea. I think we'll do that again this summer along with some day trips into the city.

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Announcing a New Blog!!

I don't know who I'm kidding.
I've been teasing you with promised updates, promises that I'm coming back, and I just don't. But the thing is, as much as I want to write, I just don't know what to write about anymore.

I doubt you want to hear about how much I'm still sleeping as I deal with this flare up of CFS and FM that still has me out on medical leave.
You might want to hear about Adam, but, I don't know. He's older know and I just don't feel right talking about him like I used to. He's moving onto crushes with girls and other teen stuff. And it's just not the same as those cute little kid stories. And I feel there more his stories now, rather than a Mom's story.

But I miss writing. So, I've started a new blog (drum roll please):

Putting Together Puzzle Pieces

My passion for over a decade has been Autism and behavioral treatments. So, that's what I'm going to write about. I want to cover tons of topics from resources on web, resources in library's/book stores, different treatments and therapies, impact on families and lots of stuff.

The Internet, blogging and friends have always been there for me when I needed help with Adam. I hope that what I provide can help someone too.

I hope you'll follow me over there.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Where have you been? Far far away. How far? Far

Far, far away.

So far, I even forgot my password to this blog and had to try several before I was able to sign back in.

So far away you'd think I had a lot to say on what I've been up to.

But, not really. I've been sleeping. Literally. And in pain. Lots of it. Enough that since mid-Feb I've been on medical leave, and my doctor just extended it till the end of the school year. My chronic fatigue syndrome flared up. Along with some other symptoms that just didn't go with typical CFS flareups. I now have Fibromyalgia tacked onto medical file. Oh, and lets not forget the Orthostatic Impairment.

So, yea, I've literally been sleeping. And in pain. And fighting fevers.

But today I have a new drug. One that I am every so hopeful will give me some energy and endurance so that I can crawl out of being far, far away.

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