Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Who Dat Preteen in My House???
Thumbnails of the past weeks and some Random thoughts.

Feb.3rd was my son’s birthday, he turned 11. He played hooky from school and spent it with me It was his choice on what to do. I am not really sure what other 11 year old boy’s would have picked.
Maybe to see the latest blockbuster movie. Or have a few peeps over for marathon Wii games or all night PS3 challenges.. Maybe a rousing game of Laser Tag or Go Carts. I am sure many preteens have on their birthday lists the hot jeans from Buckle or Abercrombie shirts. Maybe a few 11 year old girls thrown in too.
My son also had his wish list for the day. He wanted to go to the Big Mall and ride the tall glass elevator more than once, catch some solo treks up and down the escalator and eat Chicken Fingers and Fries while sitting by the carousel. To complete his day he wanted a birthday cake decorated like a basketball court, some presents and a few family members. Not too many and not too loud.
Maybe that does not sound much like a celebratory day, but to him it was “King for A Day”! He pretty much gets to be the Prince every day. Only those that have had the pleasure of meeting my son can envision his delight in such ordinary antics. Another milestone in our lives, just like every other child, different and yet the same. Although his Daddy could not be there in body, he was there in spirit. Or rather cyber spirit. He would texted comments to be about the pics he was receiving. I documented our day by snapping pics on my phone (Our new phones……………) and posting them on Facebook through out the day. (Facebook, or FaceCrack or CrackBook, words for another day).
This year find myself wondering if this will be the last year of his innocence. I mean, the pure child like innocence that possesses his spirit. The sheer thrill he gets out of some many everyday moments that so many of us just see right through. Will this be the year that he really starts to mature, notice that he is different in ways he cannot explain? Will new emotions start to surface?
Ok, that was ENOUGH thinking about all that….
In the mean time, I will continue to be daily mesmerized by this child whose imagination and high octane life force are giving me the ride of my life.

Filed our Income Taxes. Always do it online with one of those Tax programs. We have done the taxes ourselves for as long as we have been married. But you still get that little cringe in your gut when you hit that send button that shoots it off to the IRS. Even if you have all the receipts, and check it over and over, used the Audit Check and everything is computed AOK. You still get a sick feeling when you do press that button.

Thursday, January 28, 2010
A Bad Day
OK, We all have them.
Too much on our To Do list.
Clerk or cashier rude or incompetent.
Too many drivers are texting or talking on the phone and forgetting they are on YOUR Road at the same time.
Bad Hair, PMS, pants to tight, tongue to loose.
It's Monday, It's Not Friday
Bank Account Low, stack of Bills too High.
You get the picture- A Bad Day.

Rejoice that just about every time you have a bad day, you know why!
And if you wanted to, you could remedy the situation or at least talk yourself into a better mood or stew quietly until it passes.
When my son has a bad day, we can sometimes guess or imagine or theorize the reason why.
We have a long list of the usual suspects.
It's Monday is a common annoyance.
Dark Clouds, rainy weather or just a lot of wind can throw him for a loop.
Change in routine at school can render him flummoxed.
A shirt he doesn't like or shoes he did not want to wear can render World War.
His sister asking the wrong question or Dad or I making a casual remark can just royally piss him off.
Sometimes he just doesn't want to leave the Mommy. Me. or as Riley often puts it
"my mom".
Do you remember that animated prime time sitcom called "Dinosaurs" where the baby Dino starting yelling "NOT THE MOMMA NOT THE MOMMA" every time someone other than his Mom got near.
Many days, that's my life. He just doesn't want,need or will tolerate anyone but me.
Or Dad.
Mostly Me.
And I am honored and overjoyed by his love. No woman has ever felt such love and devotion, such loyalty and affection from a man( or a woman) as I get from my son.

So Yesterday, my precious angel of a son did not have a good day at school.
No reason.
His school and his teachers are phenomenal. They cater to his every need, whim and mood. They have more tricks up their proverbial sleeves to help him have a good day and learn in the process, then David Copperfield. They make changes in his daily schedule at the drop of hat or a shoe, as he has been known to do.
The have the patience of the Saints and the caring attitude of Mother Theresa.
Still, he had a bad day.
A bad day, ALL DAY.
For No Reason.
Let me rephrase, for no reason we could determine. That in no way means that he did not think he had a reason. Something most definitely was bothering him, troubling his soul and hurting his heart.
No bribe worked and leaving him to his own devices did not make him happy either.
Yesterday, he just needed his Mommy.
I have finally come to terms with that.
Sometimes he just needs me.
He may just as ornery or sad or dysregulated with me.
But it is an iota better with me around at those times.
Or rather with him just having to get outta Dodge. (where ever Dodge is at the time).
I am a Type A- solving problems, getting answers, getting to the bottom of it-
is my nature.
I am learning with my son, that is just not always possible. His mind and body and soul harbour mysteries that may never be solved and I am now OK with that.
A bad moment or hour or day or week may just pop up on his radar for no reason.
And they just as quickly seem to leave.
As much as I try to manipulate and control and influence his every environment, I just cannot be Super Mom. His own aura and the world will always be able to trump me.
That's just fine and dandy.
After talking to his wonderful teacher, who is Good as Gold, I decided the next time he is having a bad day, when he is just not that into it, then she can call me and I will come get him.
Tomorrow is a new day.
I am gonna start living my mantra about living life in 24 hour increments.
To really take to heart that the future comes to us one day at a time.
No need to look any further than that.
Every question does not need an answer. Every problem does not need to be solved.
So if today he needs the Momma, then so be it.
Tomorrow is another day.
Plain and simple.

So far today is a Good Day.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
So, its the New Year.
I will turn 50 this year. I know, it is a big deal and then again, not really.
The funny thing is I still keep waiting to grow up, or feel grown up.
Yeah, I know I am almost half a century old, have two school age kids and been married almost 28 years. That does sound pretty grown up. But I find myself thinking all the time-"When I grow up I will..............."
Self preservation
Early Senility
or maybe 50 is the new 30. I like that reason much better.
My existence as a grown up is evident in my every waking moment.
I am the chief laundress, house cleaner, toilet scrubber, toy picker upper, Head Animal care specialist, Materials management clerk, cook , driver and education specialist. Not to mention Family CPA and Business office.
Yeah, these are all grown up responsibilities.
I am raising a precocious, smart and verbally adroit 9 year old daughter. Our current conversation subjects of late tend to involve her needing to wear a bra(yes, GASP, she really NEEDS to), when can she shave her legs and anything pertaining to her and her boyfriend (again GASP) she deems private.
I am also raising a wonderful son affected by autism, and he surely keeps me on my P's and Q's minute by minute. Not only does he keep me on my physical toes but he also keeps my brain on overdrive in balancing the world around him.
Again, all endorsements for a Grown Up Life.
I have been menopausal and now, oddly, non menopausal.
What's Up with that, it is as if my 49 year old body said It's time and then my brain sent out a message that screamed- NOT QUITE YET!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, I think the most wisdom my almost 50 years as brought me is this.
Ok, other people said it but I am in complete agreement.
Helen Keller remarked that
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.To keep your face toward change and behave like a free spirit in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.

Or maybe Dinah Shore best describes my refusal to completely grow up.She believed that


I think only when we stop playing and being playful do we truly get old or feel older.
So I will wear my Ed Hardy tennis shoes and practice those new dances with the help of the You Tube tutorials. I will proudly proclaim to be Team Jacob and sing along with Justin Beiber.
And if you ever see me looking or acting my age, please just give me a good slap up side my head, Please.
I'll Thank You.

Saturday, January 23, 2010
A New Day, A New Lesson for Mom
I was going to write today about my son's transition to Middle school this year. Which was as much about my transition as his.
But last night, while reading my newest edition of "Guidepost" I happened to read one little sentence that really made me take a pause. It was a story written by Gary Levox, who is the lead singer in "Rascal Flatts". Before he made it in country music, he worked for 10 years, training the mentally challenged to live as independently as they could and how to hold a job. He spoke about despite their many challenges and how much of their lives involve failures before a success,they keep at it and never give up. He told how the indomitable spirits of his clients inspired him to keep pursuing his dreams of a music career, despite the many hurdles.
He learned a very deep lesson from them and one that my son teaches me everyday, but I never really stopped and thought about it. DespiteRiley's challenges, he has never given up on anything. He has a kind of faith in himself to keep trying. He gets up each day and takes risk after risk in trying new things and attempting things that have always been tinged with failure. And yet the drive and faith that, today could be the day he succeeds at just one small or big thing is always there.
I do not think that many of us wake up each day knowing that so much of our day will be just an attempt to succeed at so many things or the reality that most of them may not. I mean really, we seem to edit our days and actions toward success don't we? And we tend to avoid what we deem to be risky or fraught with failure.
But those with mental, or emotional or physical challenges cannot and do not live their lives that way.
My son's days are filled with exercises in communication and environmental tolerances and confusion and frustrations.
Daily and sometimes hourly.
And yet he wakes up each morning a clean slate. Happy and excited to meet the day and all it brings.
Thrilled to just be a part of this big wide World.
His past failures and frustrations have never made him raise the white flag.
My daughter, who it seems so much comes so easily and effortlessly, does not have near his perseverance or optimism or faith in herself.
She is quickly annoyed and frustrated to the point of quitting if it even seems possible that success will not be easily gained in an endeavor or new skill.
She could learn a lot from her brother and Why have I never pointed this out to her? When I am encouraging her to have faith in herself and that the hard work will pay off , I have been missing the greatest example of that in my own house.
I have always been deliriously in love with my son and he is undeniably special in so many ways to me.
I can, at a drop of a hat, list so many reasons why he is a true blessing in my life and why he makes me proud everyday to be his mother.
But, until today, I think I have been missing the most amazing thing about him.
He has never, ever given up.
Wow, what a lesson in a life well lived.
Faith, Hope, Perseverance!
There are many words that have been used to describe him by teachers, therapists, doctor's, family and peers. I am sure by strangers too!
But none really ring truer than that every day he is one step closer to fulfilling dreams and desires.
He never takes a day off.
Nor should anyone else.
Everyday you have to take a leap of faith to get where you need to go.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Letting Go
I guess right now I am trying to play catch up here and think about what has happened in the last year in our family. Naturally, I first think about my son, because he does set me apart as a mother from most others that I know.
Ironically, not as much as you probably think , but more than most think they could handle.But they are wrong, they could handle it just fine.
Riley will be 11 two weeks from today.
He is a tall and lean kid who is constant motion. Not in the ADHD type of motion and not in an annoying get into trouble kind of way either. Just busy and engaged in the world around him. In fact, many of those couch and mouse potato kids you hear so much about today could take a few lessons from him. And if I would just follow him around for a few months, I would quickly morph into a thinner version of my own self.
I think one big lesson I have learned in the last year is how to let go and also how to appreciate the hanging on.
When you have a child with different needs, it takes a while to really grasp what that means and a realistic view of the present and the future. I mean really take a good long unblinking look at it. This takes a few years, not a few minutes or days or weeks. But a few years really. Or more than a few. And it should. On good days or weeks or months you will think, well maybe we are all wrong about the impact of his issues. And in bad stretches you again will think, maybe we were wrong about the impact of his issues. And then one day you realize that reality lies somewhere in the middle, which translates to mean ya just don't know and predicting most things about the future are just impossible.
I learned this year that one of his most "on my last nerve" habits is really one of the Golden Tickets in autism. This is his echolalia. Ya know that constant repeating of dialoge or conversations or questions or just words or phrases. Like how he askes me about 100 times a day, what day it is? or what day is tomorrow? or what grade a certain friend is in? or who are his teachers? I chose a path of answering, ignoring, asking him the question or giving a silly answer. Mixing up my responses is my way of staying sane. Then a few weeks ago I read an amazing report that kids with autism that do not exhibit echolalia have the toughest time ever really grasping language communication. That echolalia is the key to learning to communicate and a natural step in language development. The researcher tells us that if our child has echolalia to rejoice and embrace it , because it is the key to continuing social interaction and language maturation. Well, now that puts a whole new spin on things. And funny how knowing that has totally taken all the annoyance out of it.
I learned a very valuable lesson that day. Just a little change in how I view certain behaviors that my son has can totally change everything. It doesn't change the issue but it can really lighten the load of it on the rest of us. That really gave me a sense of power. That just by changing my mind I can change my environment or rather my response to it. And since my reaction is different, I just don't notice it near as much. WOW, now to me that is big.
The other big new thing this year is that have learned to let go a little. This means that I do not have to be with him all the time or most of the time. That the lessons we have taught him, he has actually learned. And isn't that what all parent's goal is with their kids. My first lesson in this began in June. A year ago my Step Dad retired and they moved about 6 minutes from us. Thus began a very wonderful relationship between him and my son. When school was out, he asked one Friday if Riley wanted to go run some errands with him. I was so surprised and excited and NERVOUS!!!! and my first instinct was to say NONONONONONONOO!!!!!!!!
What if he got upset, had a meltdown, ran out into the parking lot or, God Forbid, embarrassed him. So I would not have to be the bad guy, I asked my son if he wanted to go off with Pa Richard, just knowing he would give his stock answer of "No, I want to say with my Mom" which is what he usually said. Then I heard him say "OK, Go with Pa Richard". I do not know what hit the floor first- My heart or My Jaw.
I remembered the quote I have posted on my fridge that reads
"Instant Availability without continuous presence is probably that best role a mother can play"
So off he went. This was big.
I mean really BIG!
They went to the Bank and Books A Million.
They went to eat lunch at Red Robin. A nice sit down, order off the menu restuarant.
Without me. My 10 year old has left the building with nary a parent in sight.
The one who orders for him, puts ketchup on his burger. Cuts it in half.
Me. Who makes sure he doesn't just eat his french fries. Or drink 3 cokes.
I was at home conjuring all kinds of scenarios. Ashamedly, none of them good.
About 2 1/2 hours later they return home and he skips inside, off to play.
I hear my Step Dad tell him "See ya Next Friday", "OK Pa Richard" he yells in return.
He tells me everything was just fine and this will be there weekly thing.
I had tears in my eyes and a song in my heart.
Maybe just maybe this is that small light that parents of special kids are always looking for.
This did continue all summer.
The gratefulness I have toward his grandfather cannot be put into words.
I learned that it is not only the gift of someone else reaching out their arms to my son.
It is also my letting go.
The world is out there. Everyday of his life we have worked to teach him to live in it.
There comes a time when ya have to see just what he has learned.
And, he has learned a lot.
Next we will talk abour Middle school.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No, despite rumors to the contrary, I am not dead. I did not forget how to type or spell or speak my mind. My computer did not break and, I am sure much to my husband's dismay, I did not run out of things to say. I am stil opinionated and somewhat obsessed with sharing those opinions, whether they are asked for or not.
I am not sure why I took a year off from my blog. In fact, when I was rereading my last few posts before starting back, I was quite shocked that it has been so long.
Really, that Kenny Chesney song "Don't Blink", well I think I have just lived that in a way.
I blink a few times, and a year and a half went by.
Maybe it was that menopause mind that I wrote about a few blogs ago.
But I think that it was more a point in my life where I needed to sit back and be silent.
Figuratively, not literally.
I said a lot here and I have more to say now.
Some times you need to sit back and let life move around you and really soak it up.
You need to let yourself evolve or move into a new phase.
Or at least think about it.
Lately I have been feeling the itch to return.
I find myself mentally composing about an incident or moment in my life.
And then this week I received 3 emails from new readers of my blog.
After more than a year, 3 in one week.
Surely, a sign from above or Karmic nudge.
They all three asked me why I stopped. But more importantly, I interpreted it as Why not start back? It seemed the right time. It felt like the right time.
So, it's now 2010.
This is the year I will be a half a century old.
I am 49 years,3 months and 13 days old.
OMG, as I now often text.
Yes, I now text.
I now have an iPhone, but that is a blog all in itself.
My daughter is 9 and my son will be 11 in 2 weeks.
My son is now in Middle school, again that transition will be a posting of its own. Or the subject of many I am sure.
My father in law has passed away.
My neighbor has made it through her chemo and radiation. Her hair has grown back and she just had her 6 month tests and so far, all is clear. And she and I have gone back to being preoccupied with the school pagent and Little League and the unleashed dogs in our neighborhood. Those things that we get caught up in life until something like cancer makes you look at the big picture. Or makes you grateful for those really little things, like ice cream or your husband's kiss or your child's laughter.
Or American Idol or the new Project Runway or latest celebrity scandal.
Or Young and the Restless
So, I am back here in blogger land. I hope some of you are still around and I hope some new eyes will join me also.
Boy, have we got a lot to catch up on.
See ya tomorrow.

P.S. I thought I would post a recent picture of my two reasons for everything I do.
Someone once said a picture is worth a thousand words.
I think a picture tells a thousand stories and conveys a thousand feelings.

Sunday, August 24, 2008
Excuse me, Have You Seen My Cartwheel?
I seem to have misplaced it.
It was here just a minute ago.
Along with my toe touch, my handstand and my Jack knife dive???

Back in the day-yada..yada-I swam competitively and also did gymnastics competely. Until around the age 14, when boys and High School cheerleading took center stage.
But cheerleading was quite athletic so my gymnastic skills stayed sharp.

In college, I even took a gymnastics class as a Physical educaton credit. And because of my love of swimming, I bravely signed up for the Water Safety Instructor class. This is a much harder class than it sounds. It basically prepares you to save a life or find a drowned body in a pool, lake or ocean, with limited to no visibility.
Coach Washington, the swim coach at Auburn University who has coached many Olympic class

Friday, August 15, 2008
3 weeks from tomorrow I will be 48.


2 years from 50.

Enough Said.
I am going shopping.
Retail Therapy.

I need some Moisturizer. Ya know that anti aging, wrinkle corrector, line filler, tightening, erases all those sun years magic potion.
Where's Merlin when you need him.

There was a time that I would have gone shopping for a new Thong or a mini skirt.

I am thinking New support Bra and alcohol.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008
The Olympics
I just want to make a few observations.
I have always loved the Summer Olympics.
I remember the games of Olga Korbit and Nadia and Mary Lou.
I remember the games of Bruce Jenner and Mark Spitz.

This is the first Olympics that my children have been old enough to be interested in the games, to watch and to ask questions.
It has opened up a whole new world to them.

First, we have watched all the programming extras about China, the country, it's history and its people.
We have seen some pretty interesting, OK GROSS, things they eat. It has made vegetables on her plate look pretty good now to my daughter.

She was also amazed that the athletes in China leave their parents at age 3 to begin training. It seem to bother her, she just cannot figure what Mom would let their daughter's that young leave home. We barely let her spend one night away from home and she is 7.

She has also been intrigued by all the sports that she has never even dreamed of.
Like synchronized diving.
All the cool gymnastics apparatus.
And all the different types of swimming events.
She also asked me why the boys swim suits were so small.

My son has also been captivated by the swimming and diving.
He also cheers loudly for Michael Phelps.
In every race.
Whether Phelps is swimming in the event or not.

This has opened up other conversations in our house about past Olympians.
My daughter has been reciting the facts about Wilma Rudolph. She is very impressed that as a little girl she wore a brace on her leg and went on to win Gold, Silver and Bronze medals in the Olympic Games.

I hope that she has learned that nothing in life is out of reach if you work hard.
We love watching the bios they give on the individual athletes. It seems that most all of them have had a hardship or difficulties to overcome in their lives.
We talk about how being in the Olympics is not just about winning the 3 medals.
But how important it is to just make the team and represent your country.
She asked me if she was for Russia or the USA.
I told her she could be for both.
I told her she can cheer for all the athletes.
I hope she is learning that you don't always have to choose a side, that you can be for everyone that showed up, that put it on the line, that gave it their best try.
That last place can just mean last in that event, but not last in anything else.
That the last place deserves a high five too.
I hope both of them know that in everything they do, we are cheering them on, even if they never are medal winners in the big world.
They've got the Gold in our house.

Monday, August 11, 2008
STOP,Whatever you are doing right now, STOP!
Right now , take a deep breath, exhaling slowly and feel the wonderful and blessed life you are living.
Give your kids an extra kiss and your husband an extra squeeze.
Tell yourself 10 things you are grateful for today.

Life can change on a dime.
Even faster.

Last week I had a huge wake up call to the life and blessing I take for granted.
In our hectic days of following schedules and kids and laundry, I tend to forget how lucky I am each day that these are the most pressing things on my mind.

My next door neighbors are a great family. They are so very much like us and we have Thanked God many times over to be so lucky to have them next door. They moved in shortly after we did, about 10 years ago.
They had a small son and in these years, they have added a daughter and we have added a son and a daughter.
Our daughters are close in age and best friends.
We watch each other's kids, watch each other's houses when one is gone, feed each other's dogs and water each other's plants.
I am 47, she is 36.
We both have great husbands, happy marriages and great kids.

Last week she found out she has breast cancer.
Then she found out it was in the other breast.
Then she found out, despite regular check ups, being healthy, no family history, that it had been there for a while.
Then she found out it is the type that will be harder to treat.

No words can describe the shock in her family or in her circle of Friends.
This week she is having a double mastectomy and then hoping to get into an experimental chemo program in our city.
Her daughter(8) is most upset that Mom will lose her hair, not really understanding all the implications of the disease.
Mom is optimistic and fighter. As she said, what else can ya be?
Dear Husband is still in shock, not really knowing how everything got turned so upside down in his life so suddenly.
But he is a great husband and father and he will righten their world soon.
But BAM!
This does just knock the wind out of you, doesn't it.
It makes all those little daily annoyances seem pretty silly and petty.
It has made me utter not "Why Her" but "Why Not Me?", which is really the lesson.
It could be me or you or my child or anyone.
At any time or any day and without any warning?
So while I cheer her on and help her as she would help me,
I will be taking the time to really be grateful and thankful and feel blessed for each day in my life that I am not dealing with those big things.
Those real life altering and life changing moments.
Just savoring the plain and the ordinary and the common days we have.
Those are the roses I will be stopping to smell.
The small things I won't Sweat anymore.
And many of those things I thought were Big, just got demoted to small.
You should do the this too.

Friday, August 08, 2008
IS it Hot in here??????
Our house has great central air conditioning.
We also have a ceiling fan in...well every room of our house, including the bathroom.
We also have several box fans,stand fan and countertop fans.
Yet, still I sweat.

I pondered out loud if I was having hot flashes. To which my husband replied
"Kim, it's August in the south. It's 101 degrees outside with 90% humidity. Everyone's having hot Flashes"

Still I wondered.
I will be 48 on my birthday in September.
This is not a subject I can broach with the Mom's of my kids school friends.
My kiddos are 7 and 9.
The other Moms are not 48 and if they skip a period it would be for a far different reason.
I look forward to that part actually, and yes my "friend" still visits on a regular basis.
I know, I know. Too much information.

Yet still I sweat. Maybe I have become obsessed with this. Maybe my preoccupation with checking my external thermometer has caused me to have heated delusions.

So I bought "The Everything Menopause Book". On the cover it promises to give reassuring advice and the lastest information to keep you healthy and sane. Great!
In the introduction it tells the reader(me) that I haven't had time to learn about menopause because I am busy and healthy and young- If I were young .I would not be reading this. Or maybe to them, young is a relative term.
Because in the very next sentence it tells me that menopause is not a condition for the retired, sick, old and unfit.
I guess if you were really all of those dire things, you wouldn't really notice menopause.
I am going to have to ponder these words and exactly what wisdom they are supposed to impart.
So I skip over to the chapter on Hot Flashes.
I am surprised to see it is not one of the first chapters. In fact, it is Chapter 16 all the way back on page 247.

So here is what I learn.
Hot flashes are severe vasomotor symptoms.
They will disrupt your waking and sleeping life.
They will last several years.
I am not sure I want to read on.

But I do.
I read about the severity, the after effects and the various treatments.
Does it sound like mine? It could go either way.
Upon reading further, I decide. Yeah, maybe it is just August in the south.
I just have too much on my plate right now for it to be the big M!

Here are the chapters.
The Stages of Menopause.
Menopausal Attitude
Health Risks of the Over 40
Menopause and Heart Disease
Menopause and Sexuality
Your Mood and your Mind
Eating and Menopause
Exercise and Menopause
Your New Sexuality
Anxiety and Depressi0n
Keep your Menopausal Mind Sharp
Keep a Menopause Journal

Frankly Menopause looks like too much Work. I just do not have the time for it right now. Maybe I will pencil it in my schedule in a few years, say when my kids are in Jr. High or maybe even High School. I should have more time for it then.

So I saunter off, taking my over the counter Estroven with Energy and turn my thermostat down to 65.

Menopause will have to wait until I cool off and I am in the mood for it.
Maybe in December 2015.

Thursday, August 07, 2008
Back in the Saddle Again
Well, the summer has flown by.
Ok, I know this is just the beginning of August.
But today was the first day of school.
So for Mom's, this day means the end of summer vacation.
It is crazy though, to be starting school in the midst of the hottest part of the year.
Yeah, Back in my day you started school after Labor Day.
The Good Ole Days.
Last week I was so not ready for school to start. Translation: I wasn't ready to have to get up at 6:30 each morning. My kids are great sleepers and it would not be unusual to find us all 3 still asleep at 9am during the summer.
This week, with it just too hot to be outside, they were bouncing off the walls.
I then was so ready for school to start.
This morning my daughter bounded out of bed and into her new school clothes in a flash.
Her fingernails polished pale green to match her outfit.
She was eager to show off her new short hairdo to her friends.
She rushed and hurried Dad so they could be at school as soon as the doors opened at 7:30.
My son.........................OHHHHHHHHHH my son.
He woke up fine and watched cartoons and ate breakfast.
He picked out his clothes and opted for his old tennis shoes instead of his new cool Sperry's.
But when he realized that all this primping and prepping meant school.
Katie-Bar the Door!
It is suffice to say he was just not into it.
He cried and stomped around and looked for things to throw outside for 30 minutes.
I tried to redirect by mentioning our upcoming trip to Disney. NOT INTERESTED!
I tried the upcoming hometown festival this weekend with bands and firworks. NOT INTERESTED!
So I turned a deaf NOT INTERESTED ear and read the paper while sitting outside waiting on the bus.
He stomped up the driveway and got on the bus. I am just glad I could not read his mind.
I returned inside sweaty and stressed and feeling successful and crappy at the same time.
It may be hot flashes and premenopausal hormones.
Or just typical first day of school stuff.
Especially when you have a special child who would just as soon never see the inside of a school again and be very happy and occasionally I agree with him.
And then, as I sat on bed and watched Matt Lauer reporting from China about the upcoming Olympics,
it hit me.
It was quiet, peaceful.
TOO QUIET and too peaceful.
Maybe I wasn't so ready after all.
Then my Mom and Dad called up and offered to take me to lunch.
A lunch that did not involve ketchup or play areas or a drive thru window.
I am not ashamed that perked me up. And picked me up too.
It reminded me of my blessings.
The blessing that I get to be at home everyday with my two.
My blessing in my great husband who thinks I do the hardest job in the world by being at home.
That in the summer we are together literally 24/7.
And that with a clear conscious I can enjoy those 7 hours they are at school.
And that I can also count the minutes until I can go sit in the car line .
And I can freely admit I cannot wait to hear about their day and
let them know that I missed them.
One day down.
179 to Go.

Thursday, May 15, 2008
Many Mothers
So, this past Sunday was Mother's Day.
But it is really more complicated then that isn't it.
My first obligation is to my own Mother.
Luckily on Saturday evening we throwing a 70th birthday party for my Step father, so I got to spend the time with Mom. They are also moving into a new house near us and this made shopping for her easy for a change. My sis and brother and I went in together and bought them new patio furniture for the new house for Birthday/Mother's Day.
So that was one marked off the list.
Now I am also a Daughter-In-Law and my Mother in Law's birthday is also the same week.
We went on Friday night to honor her for these two occasions.
Number two off the list.
So for the first time in my 9 years of being a Mom,
Mother's Day was actually about me.
I did not have to go anywhere at all.
I was treated as the Queen I am (OK aspire to be)
and my Royal subjects fetched and feted me.
I had given my daughter the requested want list.
I had bought steaks, wine etc. for my Mother's Day meal.
But my dear Hubby did do the shopping from my want list.
And he did do all the cooking and cleaning up after for our lunch.
But the most amazing thing occurred after all of this.
My husband and my kids allowed me to go lay in my hammock, under my favorite tree for
to read and nap!
That was the best gift ever and
it drove my kids crazy!
Then I decided that I wanted to veg out on the couch and watch a movie.
This is another rare thing during the daylight hours.
And they let me.
I casually mentioned to my 7 year old as she was passing through
that a movie is just not complete without some popcorn and a Coke.
She fervently went to the kitchen and a few minutes later she ever so proudly delivered
My popcorn, buttered and salted as I like in my favorite bowl and a nice icy glass of the Real Thing.
She did every step by herself.
Her face and smile was bursting with pride that she could do this for me.
I learned a big Mothering lesson in an instant.
We all know that part of the definition of being a Mother is loving and looking after our children.
Pretty much waiting on them hand and food and providing all the comforts they may need.
And I take much pride and pleasure out of doing this.
Most of the time
I now see that my kids need and crave that same pride and pleasure in taking care of me too.
Not just cleaning up their rooms or putting their clothes in the laundry.
Not just taking their plates to the sink or putting their bikes in the garage.
But actually doing something
I could tell in the way she soaked up my Thanks for what she did
I could tell in the way she asked me later if she did a good job
I could tell by the way she was proud to have done a task that I would usually have done
Now I know that there will be two ways I will teach my daughter how to be a good Mom.
First, by being the best Mom to her I can be.
and I believe just as importantly
Letting her mother me on occasion.
Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers
and future mothers we are raising.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Better late than Never

Ok, So I've missed a few months(4 to be exact) since my last post. Sorry and I am back.

So let's see what you've missed-


Great Christmas-we did really well in bringing down the Santa Booty a notch and bringing up the quota of fun and making traditions.
But Santa ( i gnoring Mrs. Claus' veto) brought the kiddos a new puppy.
He was a 3 month old Bichon Frise and I can admit the look on their faces were worth the over ride of my better senses.
I keep telling myself that every time he chews my shoes, sleeps on top of the dining room table, eats the cat food and is generally a white fluffy nuisance.
We named him Nick after
St. Nike -obvious
Nike Saban-obvious to anyone in the state of Alabama
St. Nikolaus-The patron saint of Russia-understood by those that know us.
Our 13 year old poodle is trying to stay dignified in the way he is handling this loud, wild child that we have brought in to ruin his retirement years.


- Husband turned 52 and daughter turned 7.
Completed the addition of two rooms upstairs in what was formerly the attic/storage space.
We put a den and a playroom up there and I reclaimed the sunroom as my scrapbooking/Mom space.
Note to self-If you build a house, do this from the beginning.
My Step dad retired and they made plans to move from North Alabama to here in Springville.


- Son turned 9 and he is getting close to being as tall as me. OK that isn't really that tall for a grown women but for a 9 year old its impressive.
Parents found a house that was about half completed, loved it and bought it.
I am so excited about them being close by. 6 minutes exactly.


My bestest friends from New Jersey came down for spring break. We met them while in Russia in 1999 and immediately connected. We manage to see each other about every year.
They have 2 sons adopted from Russia and a daughter from China. We had a great week with the 4 adults and 5 kids. Took them on a road trip to Chattanooga. We had not taken our kids there so it was new to everyone. My hubby and I remember going as kids, which I think is mandatory for every kid growing up in Alabama.
We did the cave at Ruby Falls-loved it.
We walked the paths at Rock City-loved it.
Spent the night at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel- DO it once
Went to the Tennessee Aquarium-This was fantastic and everyone needs to go there. I am sure we will go back.
The most fun was the road trip in the 12 passenger van we rented to drive that week. We felt like the Partridge family. In am always so sad when they leave and she and I are always conspiring for them to move closer. The newest possibility is Abilene Texas. OK its only 2 hours closer but I think a lower cost of living and more open space for them.
Having her live so far away is one of those little jokes God plays on us every now and then.
Thank goodness for snail mail, email and free long distance calling.

Well my parents closed on their house and we are now traveling up there and helping them back.
OH MY GOODNESS- My step dad saves everything. Now you may think you can relate, but I mean everything. I found his wisdom teeth that were pulled when he was 15 (He is now 70)
Every box, tin or container anything ever arrived, shipped or was given to him holding an object. I kid you not.
Medicine that was 14 years out of date.
Canned veggies 10 years out of date.
More coffee mugs than a waffle house could hold
Every rubber band, paper clip, pen, pencil and unidentified object that every passed his threshold.
7 pairs of Golf shoes.........
8 sets of dishes and crystal stemware and silver service that could host a reception for the Queen
More books on every imaginable subject from Civil War History-Southern Etiquette-Murders of the Century-OJ Simpson-Troy Simms Pecan cookbook-Medical Self help and on and on and on

And to think I never even made it to any closets. And their house is always neat as a pin and spacious. Who all this lingered just out of sight.
I told him that Dr. Phil had an episode about people like him.I don't think he got the joke.

So as May approaches and only 16 days of school left , I am contemplating this past year. Like many Moms, I consider a year from Aug. ,when school starts to May when it ends. The summer months are a nice hiatus from it all.
My daughter has grown so much, lost her top front teeth and has asked when can she buy a bra.
My son has made great improvements in speech and really in all areas. And grown from a size 7 jean to a 10S.

Well, I hope this gets me back in the swing, if there are any readers left out there.
I have much to rant and rave and wax poetic about. And don't get me started on politics.
Well, at least not until my next post.
To myself-Welcome Back
I missed Me

Sunday, November 18, 2007
Survivor-Episode 1
I have just survived my first spend the night party.
Not mine exactly, but my daughter's.
Not really her first one, but the first one that she wasn't with her cousins or the next door neighbor or Grandma's.
The first one that she spent with a friend from class.
The first one with a family and a house that I was not too familiar with. Ok, barely familiar with.
I know that it is too much to expect that I can be up close and personal with the children and parents that she will befriend. Right????????????
It's just up until last night, I was. Her social circle was mostly cousins, families we have known for years and neighbors. While she has made many friends at school and attended her fair share of their birthday parties, it was all under my watchful eye or the eyes of my friends and family.
Until last night.
It finally happened. She was invited to a spend the night party that I could not find a reason or excuse to say No.
This was a girl in her class that I she has been good friends with and I knew her Mom was active at the school like me. Her Mom called me and was very nice, had a great number of planned activities for the girls, asked about allergies.............all the appropriate questions.
So I gave my consent, which Dad was none too happy, yet knew it was inevitable.
I confess I drove by their house to check it out a few days before hand. It was very nice, looked much like my own house.
So off she went, so excited she seemed to be walking on air. Not in the least bit concerned about being away from home all night.
My house was too quiet. I could not go to sleep.
Finally around 2am I nodded off. Did I mention I was sleeping in her bed.
How sad is that??????
My phone rings at 3:11am. In the span of those two rings I thought, yippee, she misses me and can't sleep and wants me to come get her. This made me oddly Happy.
Me: Hello
Her:Hi Mommy
Me: Hey Macy, what are you doing?
Her: What are you doing?
Me: We are sleeping , its the middle of the night.What are you doing still awake?
Her: I just wanted to tell you that I am going to stay for a few more hours.
Me: Macy, you need to go to sleep.
Her: Ok, Bye.
She hangs up.
Now I am wide awake. What are 3 first graders doing up and calling me on a cell phone at 3am?
What else are they doing? Does the Mom know they are awake?
What if they......or.........or.....................maybe.................would they...........could they..........?????
You can imagine all the places my mind went for the next 30 minutes.
Then I fell back asleep and had a lovely dream that involved Matthew McConaughy (I had been watching the Wedding Planner earlier in the evening).
I woke up at 9am.
Held off calling to check on her until 10:30 when I was told I didn't need to come get her until 4pm. WHATTTTTTTTTT, I said I would be there around 2.
We run some errands, the 3 of us. Me, Dad and my son. I realize that I would not have felt complete without her, I feel incomplete all day. We were meant to be a family of four.
She calls at 1:30, PLEASEEE don't come get me yet. I am starting to get a little complex here, she doesn't miss me at all.
Is this normal, does she even like me, am I no fun??????????
So we go by the grocery store and pick her up at 3:30. She had been gone for 24 hours and she STILL WAS NOT READY TO LEAVE.
But she does, she is a little crabby and falls to sleep at 7 for the night.
I survived. A little sadder that she has reached another childhood milestone.
I know I should be thankful that she is confident and independent and social. That is our goal in raising our daughters(and sons) isn't it. I should be happy that I did not have to make that midnight trek to retrieve a homesick child that so many parents make.
That I wanted her to call me in the middle of the night told me something about myself.
I am not quite ready or as prepared as I thought to loosen those apron strings.
Talking about it is one thing, but doing it quite another.
Were 6 year olds always so grown up and so sure of themselves?
Did I teach and encourage this in her or is it her inborn nature to be so eager to step out into the world and out from under me?
Is it something about the world these days that brings this on?
I want to stop the clock.
OK- I want to turn it back.
I want that 2 year old that clung to me like a vine for about 4 months to the extent that I referred to her as my barnacle and not always in a good way.
And the not so flattering way I commented that she had become my hood ornament.
I want that Back. I do. I want to control her world, her friends, her everything.
OK, I even scared myself there. I don't really want all that back. And I am so proud of this child with such high self esteem, fearless nature and conquer the world attitude.
This child that talks nonstop, is fiercely competitive and drives me too distraction is the light of my life ( as is her brother) and all of this will serve her well as she grows up and eventually leaves my nest for good. I know this in my mind and in my heart, but my soul still needs her close by, needs to tuck her in at night and needs to be needed.
Just as she needs to build life long friendships and just learns to be.
I just pray to God that I can survive all this growing up.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The" HONOR" able Riley Freeman

As the mother of a special needs son, our bragging rights often take a different form and a different timetable than other parents are prone too.

When he finally started walking at 18 months, I kept it pretty close to the cuff and pretending he had been walking for as long as other toddlers his age.

When he finally attempted to write his name when he was 5, again this was a milestone quietly Hoorayed at home.

We are as equally proud of his accomplishments as other parents and have never felt short changed in that area ever in his life.

In fact, I think a blessing in my life that comes with parenting an exceptional child is that I really stop and savor all of those moments and never take anything for granted.

So, this past Thursday was one of those days. It was also one of those rare times that a moment like that shared with others who mean so much to my son and to me and they also understood the celebration of that moment.

My son, for the first time made the A/B Honor Roll. So what if it is an adapted curriculum, to him it is just as challenging as everyone else's and just as rewarding to succeed in it. Our school does a really great awards ceremony each 9 weeks for the Honor Roll students. Each grade gathers in the auditorium and they call each student by name one by one, announce their accomplishment and present them with a certificate, a gold ribbon and ticket for a free meal at Chic-Fil-et.

There was no prouder child in that auditorium than my son.

There was no prouder parent than I watching.

There were also many proud teachers cheering him on.

And I can venture to say, several teary eyes.

How much of this does my son really understand I do not know. I do know that he was very proud of himself and so were his classmates. I also know that it was boost to his pride and self esteem.

It was also important in our family in another way too.

My daughter,who is a very bright and aware 6 year old, has begun asking a question here and there about her brother, what is autism and why he behaves in some ways like he does. Some of her classmates have asked her these questions,which is quite natural. I am always diligent in making sure she knows that her brother is smart and able he just sees the world, hears the world and communicates with the world in his own way. Different is OK. That he learns at his own pace and this is just fine. It was really good for her to see him make the Honor Roll and get this award. She was a little jealous because they do not start this until 2nd grade. She sees him in just a little different light now. He has set a standard for her to live up to at school for the first time.

And I have overheard her tell a few people quite proudly that her brother made the Honor Roll.

It is so important for kids with special needs to be honored and singled out for accomplishments in front of their peers at school. Maybe more important than the regular kids. Even if you have to make something up, Give them an award for something at least once during the year. You cannot imagine what it does for that child, for his parents and for his world.

I hope that no parent takes any honor their child earns for granted. I noticed there were many more kids getting honored than parents there watching. I know because of the single parents and two working parents that it is hard to make every program during the day.But I hope that their child knows that it is no small feat to make the honor roll. That their parents are as pround and offer up as many kudos as we did.So many kids go through school and never get singled out for anything good. So many never have a proud moment in front of their normal peers.

We cheer our son on daily in our home.
......Our daughter too.

It was priceless to hear him cheered on in front of his schoolmates and teachers.

A more genuine grin full of pride has never been seen before.

So Thank you to my son and Thank You to all of his teachers.

Thank You for a really giving me a really Great Proud Mom moment that will go down in our family history books.

Look Out Pumpkins, Here we COME!

Since my son was a year old, every Halloween season we venture about an hour north and visit the Pumpkin Patch. A necessary ritual for my scrapbook and a nice day in great fall weather. The day usually involves-

1) My having to pick out symbiotic clothing for all of us to wear

2) The uncountable times my daughter will ask, When will we be there?

3) Riding the hay wagon being pulled by the exhaust spewing tractor out to the pumpkin field

4) The staging of my "spontaneous" pics of my kiddos looking for and find the perfect future Jack-O-Lantern

5) Us waiting for dear old Dad to carry our prizes to the car

6) Eating some good old Beans, Greens and Cornbread while the kids chow on that ever elusive

Chicken fingers and Fries

7) 30 minutes playing in the Inflatable Playground, the Petting Zoo and the Horse Ride

8) The ride back home with again the question "When will we be home?" reverberating in the air.

This year we had the added excitement of

9) Stopping for cokes on the way home and realizing my daughter was missing a shoe.

You ask, how does one lose a shoe between getting in a car and closing the door and driving off?We have yet to figure that out.

But, since it was her nice and not cheap Gold Mary Jane Croc with the personally meaningful collection of Jibbitz, we returned to the Pumpkin Patch to find it.

10) Looking under parked cars for the missing shoe was fun. (I found It)

11) The now quite drive home with daughter sniffling and Dad fuming and Mom sighing.

Which now has lead to the asking of our daughter each time we get in the car-

DO YOU HAVE BOTH SHOES????????????????????

Late September Road Trip

Ok I have been a little lax lately and have been properly reprimanded by a few loyal readers. So I am going to catch up on the last few weeks in our lives,exciting as that may be.

We ( us and extended family) took a long weekend trip to Jacksonville Florida to the FSU/AL football game. Since my family is equally fans of both teams it was a win/win game for us.

And a WIN WIN for FSU.

This was also a nostalgic trip for me in other ways.

We spent a day exploring St. Augustine. This is where my parents went on their honeymoon.

This is also a place where my parents took us several times when we were children. I so love taking my kids to places that I remember going as a child. We had a a great time exploring the old fort(is it smaller than I remembered), learning how to shoot a cannon and eating some great Spanish/Cuban food. And yes I did have 2 1/2 Mojitos-so yummy. They came with peeled sugar cane in them and I was able to introduce another treat from my childhood to my children.

I spent several years of my younger days in Miami and our neighbors were from Cuba. I remember them peeling sugar cane sticks for us and we would chew them into a mangled mess.

I really have learned how to sit back and savor every moment with my kids and with my Mom and this trip was one that was a real family outing. My Mom and step Dad rode down with us, so 20 hours in a car with them was actually very nice and the kids and I loved hanging out at the pool and swimming,while the others went to the game.

All in all - time well spent.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Rejuvenate and Regenerate
Is it just me or do most women over 35 snap to attention at the mere mention of these words.

When did so many of the products in my bathroom start including these words?

OK, All the products in my bathroom have a reference to turning back the clock or an age demographic of some sort.

It began as a slow invasion of 1 or 2 products and then another and then another.The ones that just smelled good or felt good just faded away.

For me it did not start when I was 30 or 35, it started at about age 13. The age when I officially became a women. I blame it not on my entrance into the world of female maintainance but rather my grandfather.

As far as my memory goes back, I remember my grandfather slathering Pond's Cold cream on his face morning and night. He wasn't using it to clean his face, he was using it as a moisturizer. He always smelled of Ponds and Listerine. I think he was one of the world's first Metrosexual's.

He was a pastor and Evangelist and his appearance was very important to him. His calling and life's work took place in front of an audience mostly.After one trip to Jerusalem, he took to wearing a big silver cross in an ancient form on a long black leather strap. He also took to wearing a white mock turtle neck under a black polo shirt and coupled with that cross, many mistook him for a Catholic Priest. He was a bit of a prankster and loved to introduce his grandchildren to these people and see the look of confusion on their faces, a priest with grandchildren. Of course this was about 35-40 years ago when priests and hanky panky wasn't as common as it is today.

But I think his dedication to the daily application of the Pond's really sunk into my psyche. Around age 13, I began slathering creams, lotions and potions on my own face and neck. Not only was I crazy about Grandpa, but the proof of his wisdom was in his face. He always had the softest and unwrinkled skin. And until the day he died as a very old man, he still had the softest wrinkle free skin I have ever seen on a man, or women of that age either.

For the first 25 years my criteria for buying these things was 1)how it smelled and 2) how it smelled and 3) how the package looked.Maybe a little of how it felt.
I noticed the other day that I buy nothing now because of the way it smells, unless its only purpose is to smell nice. In my shower I have Skin Re hydration Shower Gel, Sugar scrub to slough off the dead skin on my body and Apricot Scrub for my face. I would venture that an aging or dead cell has about a 24hour lifespan on my being.
It's out with the Dead and in with the New!
Once out of the shower then its on to Detoxifying with Vitamin B, Green Tea and Vitamin E.
Followed by antioxidants and anti free radicals and collegen boosters.
I will attempt to restore my face to the vital and luminous skin of my youth.T
he Anti Fatigue Eye cream, followed by the Daily Regenerating Serum and then a final layer of Anti Wrinkle Firming Moisture Lotion.
Special attention is given to the neck, that measuring stick of age on women.
And since I gag at the mere thought of a turtleneck or scarf, they both make me feel like I am strangling, my neck will always be out there for the world to see.
Now the territory below the collarbone is slathered and sheathed in Pro Age Cream oil at night and Pro Age Body lotion during the day. The feet get sanded down and anointed with Burt's Bee's Coconut Foot Cream. The one thing that I use that does smell good. Sadly, its on my feet.
Even my eyes have had their own youthful recharge. After two years of needing both my contacts and reading glasses and being too chicken for LASIX, technology has finally given me a non surgical helping hand. One eye has a multi focal lens and the other a torque lens and TA DA! I have the vision of my youth sans glasses.Because no matter how wrinkle free and rejuvenated you look, whipping out those little specs to read the menu is a dead on age beacon.
But you know I have never been one who was bothered at all about whatever number my age was currently on.
Never lied about it.
Never wanted to go back to being 20 or 30 or even 40.
I love being 47.
I love everyday that has gotten me here. I love being probably the oldest Mom of a 1st grader at our school.
It makes me feel younger to have young kiddos. It forces me to be younger and it gives me the excuse to act younger also.
So I guess I buy these products and engage in my daily ritual, not to look younger but just not to look any older. At least for a while anyway.
I guess they must be working.
I've never been mistaken for my son or daughter's grandmother.
Not yet anyway.
But just to be on the safe side, I think a shopping expedition for something that just smells good and does nothing else is in order.

Thursday, September 20, 2007
Mom-Not Otherwise Specified
I haven't written for awhile about my son and autism, Mainly, well everything is going great and I am just living the same life that most SAHM's of two elementary kids live.
Homework, school pictures, packing lunches and snacks, reading at night, trying not to develop a rash when you hear Hannah Montana or Drake and Josh or Oswald ot the Upside Down Show for the *#!! , OH whose counting, time, sending money for this and that, catching the bus.Not being too worried when you let bed time slide an hour or so back on the weekends and let them have a Diet Caffiene Free soda twice in one day. Ya know, normal Mom stuff.
My son is doing great, yes he is still a child with autism ,but he is doing great. He talks so much and saying so many new things that I am considering asking his speech teacher, Miss Bicky, to try and tone it down a little if she can. In fact, I am hoping she give me a two for one deal with decreasing the verbal accuity and volume that my two lovely children generate. She keeps telling me she doesn't work in that direction. I tell her she needs to branch out.
He LOVES his teacher this year and LOVES his classmates and other than those two times at the beginning of the year, he has happily pranced onto the bus each morning. Trust me, any day I don't have to pry his teeth off my arm, his fist out of my hair and peel his 60+ lb. body off of me and into that bus is a banner day. But to see him skip happily into the Cheese Wagon each morning is not something I will ever take for granted.
It seems each day gets a little better for him and a little easier for me.
I may be misguided and many parents of children with autism may disagree but I think that I have reached an AHA! moment where I am not on a quest to cure my son's autism .I am just trying each day to help him reach his fullest potential and to find ways for him to learn to live with this very peculiar set of issues and , most importantly, to live happily and fully.
I recently read some really good advice in a book by Jonathan Levy " What You Can Do Right Now to Help Your Child with Autism".
Some of the most common sense I have ever read or most usable tips.
1) Don’t react
This is something that I already have mastered. Every utterance, every act, every behavior does not require a response and quite frankly , he usually isn't asking for help or a translation of his behavior or anything at all. He is happily involved with himself, Thank You very much. My husband has a much harder time tuning all of this out. Which is funny because he is very good at tuning me out sometimes.
2) Make eye contact a priority
Also something that we have always done and have created somewhat of a monster with because if my son wants my attention or he thinks he doesn't have my full attention, he has no hesitation in turning ,quite forcefully, my head toward him and saying "Eyes" to me. Which was the keyword we used in getting his attention. A little taste of my own medicine.
3) Join the stims
I have been know to flap my hands, join in "Tickle Bugs Faster Scared" which is a game of his own making or his own personally invented stim that translates into tickle me and then holler and try to scare him, which he thinks is uproariously funny for some reason. So that is now a Freeman Family Game. I can also jump around crazily and all sorts of other things I participate in doing in the privacy of my own home. OK ,occasionally out in public but unless it shows up in YouTube, I'll deny it.
4) Coping with crying
His or Mine? He doesn't really cry anymore than any other kid and I don't cry any more than any other mom so we break even on this one.He is a actually pretty laid back and it a happy mood most all of the time.
5) Give the child as much control as possible
I think that this is good advice for any child. Say No as little as possible, give them as many choices as you can and choose your battles wisely. I use this the same with my neurotypical daughter as I do with my son. For what it's worth, good advice to use in regard to your husband also. I don't try to make my son "act" normal, for the most part he acts as normal as any other child under the age of 10, if there is such as thing as normal in regard to kids.
6) Focus on attitude
Mine, his and the world's. I find all three usually follow my lead or mirror my own attitude. If he gets upset, I keep a calm, cool, happy and non stressed exterior. If I show how happy, proud and non plussed I am about my son's autism,then it seems that others catch on and act the same.I don't care if he can write words but not sentences, as long as he is happy and proud when he writes a word both he and I can read. I want him to be proud when he accomplishes something, no matter what that something is. And when he struggles or can't quite get it, I want myself and him to be positive about the effort if not the outcome. This is whether he is reading, letting the dog in or out, bringing his dishes to the sink or saying Please and Thank You. And if he goes to school without letting me brush his hair, Big deal.
7) Work one-on-one in a non distracting environment
This is something that we have learned by trial and error. When is comes to homework. Off goes any and all TV's, radios, dishwasher and sister. She is banished from sight and usually me too. It seems that my son, who is such a Mommy's boy, thinks homework or school work is A man's work and Dad does a great job.
8) Be dynamic with the child
This goes back to attitude for me. My son thinks that he is the most fabulous, funny, smart, helpful, loved and adored kid that ever was. He thinks he is my favorite child. (Luckily my daughter thinks that she is the favorite).I hope if I give him nothing else in life, that he never for one second thinks or feels that I am tired, despondent, stressed,disappointed, frustrated or at the end of my rope with him.I hope at the end of my life his eulogy for me will be that I was the most fun, positive, energetic, non stressed, laid back, supportive,proud and loving mother that God could have given him
9) Go directly to language
It's funny if you have a child with no language issues, communication is not something you every really put much though or effort into. But have a child that is language challenged and your whole life suddenly becomes about that and just a small success in that area can mean huge things for your child. Just answering Yes or No , can change a life. Just expressing I want apple juice instead of orange, or a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich instead of chicken or that it's the seams in my socks that are making me freak out not my shoes or going to the store.And as speech improves, so does everything else. Get them talking, keep them talking and make that a priority. And talking can be verbal speech, or sign language or pointing to a picture. Communication is vital and should be numeral UNO on the to do list.
10) Make sure food isn’t part of the problem
This can be defined in different ways.
Some professionals, layman and parents believe that along with autism comes some food sensitivities or inability to process certain ingredients. Gluten, casein, dairy, additives and food coloring are among the most common or most popular.
These negative interactions can or may cause an increase or magnification of certain behaviors. I haven't seen any evidence that any of these cause autism or that the removal of them can "Cure"(sorry Jenny McCarthy) autism. But may be worth looking into for some. I don't think that any of them have any negative influence on my son.
But we have had other issues with food due to his Sensory Issues. He is fairly picky but really no more so than some kids I have met. He will on occasion surprise us and add something to his list of foods. And not because of any directed effort on our part, it has to be his own idea and initiative. So in this way we don't make food an issue.He likes what he likes and as long as he is healthy, getting a good balance ,then that is good enough. So he may never like ice cream and will only eat blue Popsicles or Red/White/Blue bomb pops, so what if he prefers crunchy foods, hates cold foods, not too keen on mushy and an orange or lemon is the only fresh fruit he will sorta eat and corn the only undisguised vegetable to pass his lips.
Since age 2 he has never had a sick child visit at the Doctor, never had an antibiotic and we can always find something to eat no matter what restaurant we are visiting, so all is good.
So I have pretty much given you a slice of our life and I am happy to see that at least one expert in the field agrees with our approach.
It ain't Rocket Science but in this house
I am a researcher and my son is my ongoing project.
A better use of my time I cannot imagine.

Monday, September 17, 2007
A Change is in the Air
Finally after a long hot, dry, hot, did I mention DRY summer, I feel like fall is finally arriving.
I am one of those people that prefer to live in shorts and flipflops and here in the South I get my wish about 7 or 8 month out of the year.But that doesn't mean that I am not ready for the change of seasons. Maybe because it means the start of the holiday season, which I love and most certainly not because of the inevitable: Do I still fit in my jeans from last winter mystery?
I always loved the fall and winter holidays. Even before children, I decorated our house for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas to the hilt.But now that I am Mom, the excitement has multiplied by a thousand. Last week, upon the urging of my daughter, we got out the Halloween decorations............and the Thanksgiving. OK, so I keep them in the same box and since the color scheme is similar and my daughter insisted on it-Our ghosts and Jack-O-Lanterns are happily coexisting with our Pilgrims and Turkeys. And our Indians don't seem to be bothered by their close proximity to the lighted spiders.
This years Halloween theme is "Pirates" brought forth by
1) My daughter wore a very cute Pirate costume in her dance recital
2) thus saving me the expense and time consuming decision of a costume by same daughter
3) My son loves Pirates
4) We went on the Pirate Ship cruise while on vacation so it is still fresh in their minds.
5) I am sorta tired of all the Princess stuff.
6) I need some different Halloween pictures for my scrapbooking. After 3 years of Princess and Prince Charming, I have reached my scrapbook limits of a fresh way to present it. And when they are older I don't want to have to answer why I "Made" them wear the same costume for 3 years. They will of course forget that it was them who insisted upon the repetition.
We always go and trick or treat with their cousins and those cousins cousins, so we are a marauding pack of 9 costumed kids being herded around by 6 adults and 2 infants in strollers.
We are never home to give out treats, so the candy I do buy is strictly for our own consumption. I mean ,who can resist those big bags so cleverly containing a mix of all your favorites.
Halloween also involves two of my favorite rituals-Visiting the Pumpkin Patch and picking the favorite pumpkins(more Kodak scrapbook moments) and then deciding on the face of the pumpkin- carved by Pumpkinmaster-Daddy B Free.
Then the science project of seeing exactly how long the pumpkin can sit on the front porch, dutifully light each night before it collapses into itself in a rotting heap.
And still can I stop and enjoy Halloween , which is still 6 weeks away.
I am already scanning magazines and websites for the perfect Thanksgiving dishes.
And Yes, my Type A momness has already starting buying some Santa Booty and decided what the Big Red Guy will be dropping down the chimney.
A man's work ends with the sun. A mother's work is never done!!!!!!!!
Now excuse me while I start thinking about this year's Christmas Wrapping Paper Theme.
What???????????Doesn't everybody do this????????????

Tuesday, September 11, 2007
The Squirrel is back.

Climbing the Mountain
Today is the 6 year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
It is also the 6 year anniversary of the day we received the call from Russia about our daughter.
It is a toss up which was more shocking or life changing.
Both events defining moments in our life.
As I watched the second plane implode into the building, my phone rang. It was our agency rep. calling to tell me to pack up we had a referral of an infant girl to go and meet. She was calling from New Jersey and had no idea what was transpiring just across the water from her office.
As the horror, fear and trepidation set in around us, we were preparing to do what so many thought unthinkable. Climb aboard a plane and fly across the ocean to a foreign country that had an uneasy past relationship with the United States. Many neighbors would not even venture across town to the mall much less excitedly and joyfully pack a suitcase for 17 hours of flying.
But I think our adoption travel coinciding with 9/11 was a gift.
It strengthened our decision to adopt a second time.
God knows we had plenty of reasons not to. We weren't that young, 41 and 46 when we adopted our daughter. Our son was not quite 3 and did have some issues in language and sensory and we were well aware of the extra time and attention he would need from us. We weren't wealthy by any means and paying for two adoptions within a two years span took lots of financial creativity.Not to mention I had quit my job to be home full time.
The attacks of 9 /11 could have been the final straw to us remaining a family of three.
The gift of 9/11 was that we finally understood why it was so right and needed for us to add a daughter to our family, to complete what we felt was our path and to fully feel that even though we had not even met our future daughter, we would already risk life and limb for her. That our love for her was stronger than our fear. That while in the future she would give us love and laughter and joy, the first thing she gave us was courage.
The terrorists took many things away from our country that day-lives, futures, security.
But they gave us back the renewed connections to our families, they put our priorities back in the right order and we learned to not take a second of our lives for granted.
Life lessons worth learning.
OK , on to more recent happenings.
Last Thursday I turned 47.
Anyway you slice it-creeping up on a half a century.
Ok I just scared myself with that one.
My bestest friend, Chris, sent me a Birthday card and reminded me I was almost over the hill.
How can I be almost over the hill,when I haven't even peaked yet- or
reached the figurative
Top of the Hill!!
I'm still climbing the mountain.
I am not winded or short on oxygen.
No leg cramps either.
I figure by 50 I will just be reaching the summit. Then I should have a good 10 or 15 years of enjoying the view from the top before I start back down at a leisurely pace.
I have never been one to lie or fudge or be evasive about my age.
I didn't want to stay 21 or 25 or 35.
The most monumental or milestone or life changing birthday I think I had was when I turned 16 and got my driver's license and the keys to my Orange and White Pinto with the Orange and Black checkered seats.
Look it was 1976 OK.
30 was no biggie and even 40 hardly made me blink and even 45 went by with a whisper.
I have to admit that 47 left me somewhat melancholy or rather reflective.
I think I am now feel like a grown up. Most days.Well, is some areas.
I think the next year will witness some changes.
I'm not going to the require so much of myself when it comes to being the extended family negotiator, planner and compromiser.
I am not going to have expectations of others, only to be disappointed.
I am not going to Do unto others, I am going to wait until they Do unto me , then respond in kind or not so kind, what ever the case may be.
If I don't really want to go out of my way to do something , then I won't.
What I spend my time and energy and attention on I will for the intrinsic value and feeling it gives me and not for any altruistic reasons or feedback or return from anyone else.
I am going to put my husband, my kids and myself first all the time, I mean really first. And not worry about what others may say, think or feel about that.
I know on the surface all of this sounds really selfish or self centered and in some ways it is.
I think at 47 I have earned a little of that.
One of the most important things I have learned in my many years is that you have to think of yourself as a savings account. If you don't regularly deposit time and attention to yourself , then you have less of yourself to give to others.
You can't operate at a deficit and whatever you put into yourself only grows with interest that compounds daily.
Because there are a lot of people and events and emotions standing in line for a daily withdrawal.
I plan on having a lot more birthdays and I don't plan on spending them bankrupt.
Not in Body.
Not in Mind.
Not in Soul.
Not in Spirit.
Now excuse me while I go wash this dye out of my hair because
Not in Gray either.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Talk Soup

Give voice to , speak ,vocalize , utterances , proclaim , articulate, epiphany, enunciate, pronounce, emit, murmur, croon, parlance, oration, recitation ,say ,yell , address, lecture, harangue, sermon, tirade, salutatory, soliloquy, mouthpiece, gift of gab,state your position, on the tip of your tongue, from the lips...............................
My house is a daily smorgasbord of all of this.
We are not a silent, contemplative, keep it to yourself, silence is golden family.
I grew up in a house where my parents encouraged lively discussion and no topic or thought was off limits.
My husband came of age under similar tutelage.
Even though we have been together for 28 years, we have yet run out of things to discuss.
Road trips rarely lapse into silence
Years of Speech therapy have transformed my once silent son into a virtual motor mouth.
My daughter is the gold medal winner by far of the Talk Olympics around here.
We consider the desire, willingness and practice of communication and verbalization to be a virtue and coveted assets in our family.
Apparently the school doesn't quite share our enthusiasm for this.
My smart, precious , social and vocabulary gifted daughter is having a few talking issues at school.
Did you know that in First grade you get points deducted for saying Hi to a friend or answering a questions asked of you by a classmate?
Neither did I, but apparently the Golden Rule is now Silence and not Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.
Believe it or not, my former Elementary teachers mentioned on occasion in that tiny space allotted for comments on old school report cards that
"Kim is an excellent student, always gets her work done and a joy to teach, she just needs to talk a little less in class."
No points taken off, no conduct cards pulled. Lots of positive reinforcement of the good stuff with the negative coming by the way of a little footnote.
My parents chalked it up to my nature, my intelligence and good breeding. I cannot recall it every being an issue because that was what my parents encouraged us to do. We got points added at home for being outspoken, opinionated and verbal sharing.
Enter 2007, where 1st grade looks like 3rd grade used to.
Tow the line, walk the walk but don't talk the talk.
The problem is that these are still 6 years old.
I don't expect the quite ones that can go all day with out uttering a word to become class orators , nor can I expect the ones that have mastered the art of communication to easily become mute.
So I struggle daily on what approach to take with my daughter.
Oh, how she tries each day to stuff down her automatic responses of the verbal nature.
We practise ignoring classmates that want her attention and words.
We emphasize that behavior i.e. talking is as important as how great she reads or writes or does math.
But my heart aches when I see her leave each morning for school not as excited about what she will learn as she is anxious about whether she will earn that coveted "Green Smiley"Face for the day that means she kept her lips locked through out the day.
And this bothers me.
It bothers me a lot.
It bothers me to the point that I am now more focused on that

Damn green smiley

than what she learned that day. And I hate that.

We visited my parents this weekend. As per family tradition, my Mom and I never run out of things to talk about. Mind you, we talk everyday on the phone. Saturday night we stayed up until 3:30am talking. Eventually I brought my parental quandary about my daughter's talking at school.
My mother laughed.
I asked her what she did about my talking in school when I was young.
Nothing, she said.
Nothing, I repeated.
She said it was just my nature and if that was the worst I was doing at school then no biggie.
I was always ahead academically and they had encouraged and nurtured us to be very expressive children.
So they did nothing.
Now, they did teach us to be respectful, not to talk when others had the floor and that our teachers were in charge. They also taught us that we were responsible for our own actions and the consequences those said actions may incur.
My step Dad is a school superintendent. He has had almost 40 years of dealing with discipline and teachers and students and parents and every issue imaginable from conduct to curriculum to custody to clothing. He is also on the fence about daily conduct grades, pulling cards or sticks or red light/green light and the emphasis and singling out of young students for such small infractions or age appropriate behavior. His advice was pretty much the same as my Moms.
Help my daughter understand why such a minor thing can become major.
Why one child talking is different from 20 kids chatting it up.
But not to go overboard, not to water down her academic achievements or the thrill of each day at school with the occasional talking offense.
To accept and embrace my daughters passion for communication and expression.
She not only loves to talk, but to read and to write. All of which are related.
After all ,it is a family tradition.
Passed down from generation to generation.
Our family crest is a Book, a pen and a mouth.
My grandfather was an evangelist.
I could tell you family history for days from stories that were passed down by great grandparents ,grandparents, parents and aunts and uncles.
By nature and by nurture.
When you have a child through adoption, you thrill and celebrate those habits and characteristics that your child shares with you.
My sweet girl and I are identical in our outgoing personalities that include much verbalizing of pretty much every thought we have or at the very least writing it down (blog in point).
If we are not talking or writing, or listening to someone else's stories and words on TV then we are reading.
Communiction on every level feeds our souls and minds.
The hunger is constant.
But the verbal entrees or desserts are what we crave.
It is something that is the extra cement in our bond as mother and daughter.
Tht invisible thread between us that is made of breathe and steel and forever connects us.
How can I punish her for that very thing that I adore about her.
The very thing that my Mom and family and friends so often comment that makes us so much alike.
And she and I both love to hear that comparison.
SO thus is my quandary.
To follow my instincts and my heart and do as my mother did and her mother and her mother, let her flourish as she is.
Or do I tow the parental line and teach her to do the same.
I'm partial to her constant chatter,
Music to my ears.