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This Just In: Summer Kicks My Butt

Acccckkkkkkk!

Who knew having both kids home after a whole year of Jaime being in school would wreak this much havoc? Oh yeah, every mom out there.

It actually hasn’t been as bad as I was expecting, but it definitely shattered my routine into a trillion pieces. It’s a shame. It was a nice routine.

Quick updates:

IEP Meeting went…really well! Everyone involved seemed on the same page we were, and I hope I gave them the impression that I intend to be treated as an equally knowledgeable part of developing my son’s curriculum. Goals we’re working towards for next year are: a consistent toileting routine (yeah, that’s right, positive practice starts in a couple of weeks–who’s excited?), a small catalog of proper word usage, attending in both small and large groups, learning self-help tasks such as closing and opening zippers, buttons, and velcro, and learning to identify other people’s emotions.

Also, he gets to ride the bus. He’s going to be ecstatic.

ABA ended because Aran phased out of the pre-3 program in our state (Babynet). We’re working to get insurance to pick it up under Ryan’s Law, but the things they ask for are fairly extensive, and we have to take him to a neurologist before they’ll consider our paperwork. We’re having a problem with that financially–Medicaid troubles, there’s a shocker–so we’re just trying to work out what to do now.

The Family!

I’m looking for something for Jaime to do that won’t cost us a lot of money. I’m thinking Girl Scouts might be an option. She needs an outlet, but finding one that’s close to us and affordable has proved a challenge.

Aran’s doing well despite the shake up in his routine and the inconsistency of not having an ABA therapist now. I spend an hour or two a day going through his ABA cards (I’m thinking of making new ones of my own…) and trying to do different activities with him in addition to the normal stuff I do all the time. Poor kid, he can’t even get through a book without hearing “What is it?” at least 10 trillion and a half times. He does good, though!

Darrell and I are working hard to lose weight; that is our focus. We’ve made a pledge with my friend Rachael to lose 20 more pounds by August 20th. With SparkPeople.com and the Biggest Loser pushing us on, we’re ready.

Lately, I’ve also rediscovered my passion for writing creatively. It’s nice to remember how it feels to write a poem or the thrill of learning a new form (flash fiction!).

There’s some big stuff in the works for fall, but for now–I just want to make it through summer!

Oh! I almost forgot to mention: Aran turned 3 years old on June 2nd!!! I can’t believe my baby boy is so big! Happy Birthday again, little man. I love you!

Aran's Cake Battle Face

 

Celebrate Destruction with Chocolate Ice Cream

I’ve mentioned before that I have a reputation for odd dreams, at least according to my husband. These days, I sleep a lot less and usually restlessly (I think even in sleep my ears are listening for the kids), but last night was an exception. Thanks to the unique encouragement of my husband, I fell into a deep, solid sleep at the late hour of 10:30 and slept until 7:30. It’s easily the longest I’ve slept in months. Not surprisingly, it came with a dream.

It started with my husband and myself in a beat up old blue Ford pickup, like the picture I found to the left. We were riding in it talking about hobbits and dwarves, and how their existence had recently come to light. Although I wasn’t really paying attention until we got out, the sky above us was dark orange and black with bursts of red-orange. The sky looked as if it were on fire on the inside. We saw an airplane blow up and fall out of the sky. I was mildly surprised. We walked into a mall.

Inside the mall, we went for ice cream. My husband got his quickly and went to sit down. I had a hard time making a decision, because I was trying to find something low fat, and the menu was huge! It spread across two whole walls at least 5 feet high. The only low fat option I could find was a strawberry flavor, and really, if you’re going to get ice cream, why waste it on strawberry? Finally I found one called “Kai Chocolate” and ordered that. The man behind the counter was annoyed that I took so long.

I got my ice cream cone and went to find my husband. Then some kind of alarm went off telling us the mall was going to be attacked somehow (bombs or guns, I’m not sure which–I don’t think anyone was). Darrell and I looked at each other and decided we needed to split up. He went off in one direction, presumably to his truck, I went further into the mall. Oddly, I was never concerned for my safety or his or the kids’. I knew all of us were safe somehow.

People were running around the mall, screaming. On TV’s spread throughout you could see that everyone was dealing with similar circumstances–the destruction was global. Planes falling out of the sky, trucks rocketing at full speed off of highways, places being blown up or shot up or just spontaneously igniting. While watching the news, I kind of stepped into it. For a minute it was like I was up in the sky looking down, and I saw this man somewhere in Africa giving this other man who was holding a little girl a gallon of milk, and over the top of it I heard a newscaster talking about the worldwide milk shortage.

I walked away from the TVs and ran into one room that suddenly became a church service. Queen Latifah was there. She was wearing a sparkly red dress and singing a song I haven’t heard before but that my dream-self knew. It was some kind of mix between “Adonai” and “El Shaddai.” Later, one of the ladies from our church got up on the stage and sang it, too.

I left there and ran into Jaime’s biological father, D–, in the hallway. I was not surprised to see him. He was very surprised to see me. The alarms sounded again, and this time I saw bright red letters pop up in the middle of my line of sight blinking and saying “Top Alarm! Top Alarm!”

D– just stood there. I grabbed his arm and ran to the door, but a guard was blocking it–no one was allowed to leave. “We could at least do something if we’re going to stay here,” he said tersely.

So I led him down another hallway in the mall that turned into a school. Halfway down the hall on the right there was a cafeteria filled with children, most under the age of 10. Their parents were lost out there in the fray, so they had all been rounded up and brought here for safety. They were eating. My pastor was standing at the front of the room helping watch the kids. One little boy came up to me and was crying, so I held him. Then I said, “D–, Pastor Tim. Tim, D–.”

They looked at each other for a minute. There was this understanding that passed between the three of us, something along the lines of it’s the end of the world anyway, no point in being coy. “How badly did she roast me when she spoke in church?” he asked Pastor Tim. “Not as badly as you probably think,” Tim replied. “She handled it with grace.” (Thanks, Tim!)

The kids were all scared, so I was trying to comfort them. I had the feeling that Darrell was on his way back to me, but I woke up before he got back. I turned to him and said, “Man, I had a crazy dream.”

He just shook his head. “Oh, there’s a surprise.”😛

The Weather Today

Winds gusting from Mom's direction today. Chance of exhaustion, 98%

Aran has been consistently slapping his sister whenever she cries. Only his sister. Any time he sees someone else crying, he says “baby cry” or “sad,” as that’s what he’s been taught.

We thought it might be a good idea to write a social story about not hitting his sister, but we’d like to use real pictures. Jaime’s at school, so we decided to find another social story about hitting to talk about while we were all calmly hanging out this morning. I found Tucker Turtle Takes Time to Tuck and Think.

I simplified it for him, and if nothing else, he was at least paying attention and echoing, so I figured it might be something to fall back on. For him, the story went like this (complete with Aran’s echoing):

Tucker Turtle is terrific! He likes to play. (turtle!)

Sometimes Tucker gets mad. He used to hit his friends!

This made his friends sad. (sad)

Tucker learned to STOP. (Stop!)

He learned to TUCK and THINK. (tuck, tuck!)

He learned to BREATHE.

He learned to BE NICE and to NOT HIT. (be nice)

His friends are happy that he does not hit!

At the end of the story (we read it twice), we went through it again, and I showed him the steps. I said “Stop” and held his hands at his sides. I said “Tuck” and folded his arms. I said “Breathe!” and took a deep breath and blew it out.

He giggled ferociously and then managed to get out:

“It’s getting windy!”

You Can Hear Me Now!

You didn't actually expect me to put a picture of MY bathroom did you?

Any mom in the world can tell you that there is only one place we can go to sometimes get a moment of peace and solitude in our day. It’s regarded as a sanctuary, long-beloved by those of us in the parenting business: it is the bathroom. Yes, there, you can lock the door and keep everyone away from you for 5 minutes. It’s a magical place, really.

This week, my magical place was invaded. My husband came home from work Thursday and I saw my opportunity. “I’m going to take a shower!” I boldly announced. He hadn’t even taken off his pants when I closed the door tightly behind me and breathed a sigh of relief. I started my shower at a blissfully steamy temperature and all was right with the world until…

“Mama! Mama! Mama!”  came Jaime’s insistent voice. Ignore her, I told myself. Ignore her and she’ll go talk to her dad. You can’t hear her over the shower…LALALALA.

“Mama! Mama! Mama!”

Sigh. “What is it, Jaime?”

“Have the clothes in the dryer gone long enough?”

“Not yet, sweetheart.”

“Okay!” 15 seconds of silence, then. “Hey, Mama, we can hear each other through the door now!”

Oh no.

For the next 5 minutes or so, my daughter randomly shouted things through the crack in the bottom of the door. Most of them I couldn’t hear for the sound of my head banging repeatedly against the shower wall. Finally, when I had all I could stand of the shouting, I did some of my own.

“DAAAAAAAADDYYYYYYYYY!”

And then, in the creepiest turn of events ever, Jaime giggled uproariously and then said, “Daddy can’t hear you, Mama.”

Eventually, something distracted her and I got to finish my shower in peace. When I walked out of the shower, I was chuckling, and she said, “Mama, what’s so funny?”

“Nothing, baby. One day you’ll understand.”

…Sweetheart, I hope you have a little girl just like you.❤


When You Don’t Know What to Say…

I love the game Portal, and its recent sequel, Portal 2 (don’t let your eyes glaze over yet, this part won’t last long). For those of you unfamiliar with the game, it’s a puzzle game of sorts, one with an awesome story, numerous quotable lines, a fantastic sense of humor, and one that requires some serious critical thinking.

My rule for playing this game is this: when you don’t know what to do, do something. This often leaves the poor character on my screen jumping in place or spinning in circles as I try to see what it is I’m missing. On the surface, it seems like a highly ineffective technique for solving problems, but often that moment of ruminating leads to an epiphany.

Disclaimer: What I’m going to say next doesn’t apply to everyone, and I wouldn’t suggest walking up to a stranger and putting this into practice. But it does apply to me, and if you’re reading this blog (especially if you’re clicking on it from my Facebook page), it’s something I want you to know.

I have a child with autism. I am not afraid of it. It’s part of who he is, and now, it’s a pretty major part of our lives. Our schedule is often built around it as we coordinate therapy appointments and evaluations. It’s a large part of what we think about every day. Autism is not a polite guest in a home–it comes in, flops down on the couch, and does its darndest to take over.

When people, especially people I consider my friends, shift uncomfortably when I discuss it or worse, when their eyes glaze over and they rush to change the subject, it irks me. It hurts me. This is a BIG part of my life, and your refusal to accept it or fear of discussing it doesn’t make it any less big.

I don’t expect you to be an expert. I don’t even expect you to be a novice. But if you’re really my friend, I need you to not be afraid of the A-word. I need you to listen when I mention it and not freeze up if I say “therapist.” I need you to look at me when I’m talking about my son and not make me feel like I’m imposing on you by discussing it. Believe me, I’m already fretting internally about whether or not I’ve said too much by that point in the conversation–I am always very afraid of chasing you away. I need friends.

I’m not afraid of you saying the wrong thing. That’s where Portal comes in: when you don’t know what to say to me, say SOMETHING. I won’t be mad at you if you don’t understand. I’d love the chance to explain to you about my son. He’s pretty awesome.

If we’re ever going to move autism–and all disabilities–from a place of ignorance to a place of acceptance, then people need to stop being afraid. Stop blushing. Stop diverting your eyes. Be a friend. Say the right thing, say the wrong thing, but please, say something.

Aranland

Aranland has existed since well before my son’s diagnosis, or even before autism was a blip on our radar. We had already noticed his tendency to drift off and be distant. “He’s not paying attention right now,” we’d say when he would space out. “He’s in Aranland.”

Aranland still exists, too. He goes there sometimes, especially when things are particularly demanding, which can be a little tough for ABA and a little bit of a blessing in a long line at the store. From what goes on out here when he’s there, I can surmise that Aranland is pretty exciting. It has Dragon Tales characters running amok and TV advertising voice-overs narrating in the background.

Kailan occasionally pops up and they count together in Mandarin Chinese. My voice breaks in occasionally to say, “Okay, follow me!” or “Yeah!” On a wall somewhere there is every TV network symbol that exists with labels for each one. Many songs play in Aranland, especially The Wheels on the Bus, I’m Going to the Zoo Tonight, and the ABC song. I’d hang out with him there if I could, I’d bet it would be fun to explore with him.

Since I can’t, though; I started to imagine what Christyland would be like, based on the things I’ve daydreamed over the years (I frequently daydream, and I am renowned for long, complicated nighttime dreams as well). Here’s what I’ve come up with:

In Christyland…

I am strong and super quick-witted. When someone says something rude or snide, I can respond with something that is both biting and endearing.

I am MUCH thinner and more attractive. My hair is full, my skin tone is perfectly even, my teeth are straighter, and I never run out of contacts. I own fabulous clothes and shoes but pull it all off in a way that keeps me from being a snob.

I am a successful writer who frequently has book signings in convenient places where I might run into someone I want to see. Celebrities come to get their books signed and we chat about our favorite things, which we (of course) have in common.

I am often asked to read my poetry at public gatherings where I am lauded for preserving poetry in this generation and have even been given several awards.

I routinely run into people from my past who put me down or made me feel bad, and they are so awed to see that I am [insert all of the above] that they feel terribly sorry for ever having treated me as they did and go on to beg for forgiveness or feel rejected and leave. 

I am tough and can fight off bad guys who threaten me or my family like a feminine comic book hero, complete with leather outfit (remember–I am thin and attractive here) and seriously awesome guns and ninja skills.

I have boundless energy. I can get the entire house cleaned, shuffle Jaime to and from school as well as spend tons of quality time with her, get Aran through his daily therapies and hang out with him, write a post for both of my blogs, become a popular personality on Twitter, cook a dinner that makes all in attendance praise me for my proficiency in the kitchen, play my favorite video games in a way that makes the boys cringe in mix of jealousy and admiration, and still…um…enjoy my husband’s company with great enthusiasm.

After considering all of this, I think I have a much better chance of entering Aranland. Aran, make some room, Mama’s coming for a visit! Let’s watch some Dragon Tales and you can tell me what’s “Next on Cartoon Network!”



Monday Movies: Just One

Posted on

I only have one video for Monday Movies today: the trailer to Wretches & Jabberers, which is being released in select theaters across the nation on Thursday, May 12th. For more information or to buy tickets, go to their website, wretchesandjabberers.org:

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