Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Plans

Each day, Jack and I have a conversation that goes something like this -

Me - "I am going to take a shower now."
J - "And after you take a shower?"
Me - "I am going to get ready."
J - "And after you get ready?"
Me - "I am going to do laundry."
J - "And after you do laundry?"
Me - "You will get dressed."
J - "And after I get dressed?"
Me - "I don't know!"
J - "And after I don't know?"
Me - "Jack, I don't know what we're doing today."
J - "And after I don't know?"
Me - "I DON'T KNOW!"
J - "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

This can go on for hours. Jack will keep asking me "and after....?" until he gets a satisfactory answer. I often have to make things up, just so I can give him an answer that will appease him for the time being. Such a fun game!

When we can, Lonnie and I try very hard to make specific plans about where we are going to go, what order they are going to go in, and who is going to be present while we're going to these places. Why? Because Jack needs it that way. If we don't make a very specific plan about our activities for the day, Jack feels completely lost and out of control. He needs to know exactly what is going on. He is constantly wondering what activity is going to come next. In a world where not every waking minute can be planned or scheduled, this makes life a little challenging!

This week has been especially hard since school is out for winter break. School is a huge part of Jack's schedule and is kind of what we base our routine around. He knows that when he has school, every day pretty much looks the same. Without school, the days have less structure and more "free" time. This is so hard. While I try to be as scheduled as I can, there are days when there just isn't a schedule to go by! I have things to do around the house, we don't have any errands to run, it's snowing outside....the "nothingness" creates chaos!

So, here I go - back to answer the questions of "and after....?" We have plans for this afternoon. I can give him a concrete answer for a few hours. And soon enough, it will be time to start planning for tomorrow.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Discipline

I recently saw the question on Facebook - "What's your one word for this next year?" I thought that was a really good question. One word to describe my hopes for the upcoming year. There are so many things I want to do - so many goals I want to set for myself - but, could I condense them all into one word? The word immediately came to my mind - DISCIPLINE. I am horrible at being disciplined. Whether it's sticking to a diet or exercise, instituting a new schedule/routine, or being consistent with Jack, I usually give up pretty quickly!

In past years, I have been somewhat "anti-resolutions" when it comes to the New Year. I think that in part, it has been my way of allowing myself to slack off. Another excuse to put off goals that I really need to be setting for myself. This year, that changes. I have several goals that I want to set for myself, but I think that I will be keeping most of them private for now. The one goal that has really been on my heart and mind though is losing weight and being healthier. My hot husband has recently lost over 50 lbs. and that has become a motivating factor.

So...here is my goal...50 by 30. Huh? I am turning 30 in September. My goal is to lose 50 lbs. by the time I turn 30 years old. That's less than 1.5 lbs./week. Totally doable. I am contemplating starting up another blog to keep track of all of this, but haven't decided if I'm willing to put in the time/effort (since I'm already a slacker at keeping up this blog!).

I've joined The Recipe Girl's Ten in '10 Challenge and I am excited about that! My goals for 10 weeks are to cut out refined sugar and exercise at least 3 times/week. I am currently on sugar-overload from the holidays and it will be so good for my body to have a break from all of it. Tough, but I've done it before and I know I can do it again. We'll see where I want to go from there...probably have to increase the exercise or something.

Alrighty - I'm putting it out there! 50 by 30!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Jack Update

We have not had a "good" nights' sleep for almost a year. Jack has been waking up multiple times at night and waking for the day usually between 3 - 5 am. We are all exhausted. Jack's behavior and attitude reflect his exhaustion on most days. So, we are taking him for a sleep study at Mayo Clinic. Ack! I am pretty nervous about this and of course wonder if we're doing the right thing. One parent will be able to stay at the clinic with him, so that is reassuring. I am just worried that he'll absolutely freak out about having things attached to him. But, hopefully we can get some questions answered and find out if there's some help for us.

Jack is also going to have eye surgery coming up. It has come to the point where his esotropia cannot be corrected by glasses and surgery is necessary to correct the muscles in his eye. There is a possibility that they will need to do surgery on both eyes, but we're not quite certain of that yet. We haven't met with the surgeon, but hopefully will do so in the next couple of weeks.

School is going really well and he continues to enjoy it. His teacher is fabulous and we couldn't have asked for a better teacher for Jack. He has started to have more recognition of letters and has been able to start sounding out some words! This is really exciting! I love watching him sound out letters and figure out how words are put together.

Jack has also been doing occupational therapy and speech therapy once a week for the past couple of months. That has also been going really well. His therapists are wonderful and seem to really "get" Jack.

So...we've been busy! Tired and busy. :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Little Contest-Happy

So, there are several blog contests going on for an HP TouchSmart computer. I am blogging about them to get more entries into the contest. Sorry.

But, seriously, this computer looks AWESOME and I can't even begin to tell you how excited Lonnie would be if we won one.

Check them out!

http://mckgiveaways.blogspot.com/2009/12/hp-touchsmart-giveaway.html

http://boomama.net/hp-touchsmart-600-giveaway/

http://totallytogetherreviews.blogspot.com/2009/12/hp-touchsmart-computer-review-and-give.html

http://kellyskornerreviews.blogspot.com/2009/12/hey-who-wants-to-win-free-computer.html

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Once A Month Cooking

I have never tried Once A Month Cooking - but I would love to. It happens so often that I'm unmotivated to make something for dinner...so we end up going out to eat. It's hard on the budget and it's a challenge to eat something healthy when you're out! A fellow blogger is having a giveaway for the Once A Month Cooking - Family Favorites book. Click HERE to check her out and enter to win!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Oooooh.....HI!!!

Well hello there, bloggy land! Being at home over the summer with an incredibly demanding 4 year old leaves VERY LITTLE time to blog. Let alone very little time to pee by yourself. Haha...who am I kidding. Every mom knows that you never get to pee by yourself when you have little kids at home.

Jack started his second year of special education preschool this Monday. And I could not be more excited. Neither could he. He loves school, loves his teacher, and LOVES the bus. All he talks about is the bus. When I ask him how his day was at school, he talks to me about the bus. When I ask him who he played with at school, he tells me about the bus. When I try to find out what he had for a snack today, he goes on and on about the bus.

Jack had an autism evaluation in the beginning of September. It went really well and we really liked the psychologists we met with. Long story short, we walked away with a medical diagnosis of autism. Hearing that comes with a lot of mixed emotions. On one hand, we were relieved that they saw "it" too...that we weren't crazy and we aren't just bad parents. On the other hand, it's never easy to hear that your child will have extraordinary challenges throughout life and that there's something that makes them "different" from all of the other kids. The word "AUTISM" just never seems to lose it's weight. On that day, it hit us like a ton of bricks. They suggested that Jack receive clinical speech therapy and occupational therapy. So, we have an appointment at the end of this month with a pediatric rehabilitation center that offers speech and occupational therapies. They will do another evaluation, to see how much therapy he'll need and then we'll go from there. We'll be driving about an hour to each appointment...so I'm not looking forward to that, but I would drive much further than that if it meant doing something that helped Jack!

More Jack news - he has his first dentist appointment this afternoon. Yikes! I'll take pictures and share how that went. I am praying that we both hold it together and can reward ourselves with some Starbucks when it's all said and done.

My FABULOUS husband surprised me for my birthday (29....ahem) and got me a first-class ticket to visit friends in Sacramento. I am so excited to spend time with girlfriends and have a chance to relax. I also think that the time Jack and Lonnie spend together will be good for them. They'll have fun just being boys and hanging out while mom's gone.

Speaking of my fabulous husband - he decided a couple of months ago to take up running and start eating healthier. He has been doing awesome and I am so proud of him. Check out his running blog here - Fat People Run Too!

This year, I am involved with our local MOPS group as the Hospitality Coordinator. Yesterday was our first meeting and it was crazy! Crazy, but absolutely wonderful. It has been so much fun to prepare the theme, decor and "feeling" of the room this year. We went with a spa/relaxing-type theme and it is wonderful. I love all of the ladies that I am serving with and I am excited to be a part of this ministry.

Speaking of ministry - Lonnie and I are currently involved in starting up a new church in our city! It is called NewLife, and it's a campus of LifeChurch in Oklahoma City. It is involving a lot of time, energy and prayer...but it is exciting to see what God is doing here.

Do you see why it's been a challenge to update this thing? Life has been a little crazy around here! Hopefully with Jack in school, I'll have a little extra time to dedicate to the blog. Hopefully.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Visit with Nana


My mom, Nana, came to visit for Jack's 4th birthday! We had a wonderful visit and Jack was SO excited to see her. Her flight came in Thursday night (late) and we didn't tell Jack that she would be at our house when he woke up in the morning...needless to say, he was thrilled when he woke up and saw Nana in the living room! She got him a "big boy" bike for his birthday, so it was exciting to watch him learn how to ride it with Nana by his side. We also rode on the light rail in Minneapolis (to go from the Mall of America to the airport)...Jack was nervous about the loud "beep" that the train made when the doors closed, so his hands were on his ears most of the time. We also got to go to the water park! It was a really fun filled visit!
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

4 Years Old


4 years, 48 months, 208 weeks, 1,460 days, 35,040 hours, 2,102,400 minutes, 126,440,000 seconds. Exactly.

**Edited** Apparently my math was WAAAAAY off. I'm just going to blame that on lack of sleep. I changed it now. I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What's New

My posts lately have been more pictures and "fluff" and I haven't really talked about what's going on in our lives. So, whether you want it or not, here it goes!

*Jack is currently in summer school through the school district's special education program. He LOVES it. He loves school. He loves his teachers and his friends. He loves the bus. We have no doubt in our minds that putting him in this program was the right decision. He will start the regular school year in September and will most likely have the same teacher as last year...which we are super excited about. He'll be in preschool another year and then we will need to make the decision if we want him going to kindergarten or waiting another year.

*Jack is also currently on a waiting list for an autism evaluation with Fraser Child & Family Center in Minneapolis. Their wait list is forever long and he probably won't get in until the end of fall or beginning of winter. We are looking forward to this opportunity, though. It will provide a medical diagnosis for Jack and also will help refer us to other therapies that will help him (and us).

*Autism is something we never thought we'd have to deal with, and now we are becoming very familiar with it. Having Jack diagnosed by the school district was not an easy decision and not one that we came to lightly. However, the help that we've received from the school has been wonderful and we know that we've made the right decision. Jack has learned A LOT at school and we are all learning how to cope. Our days are very difficult, but we are learning how to deal with things. Life with Jack is stressful. Life with any 3 (almost 4) year old is stressful, but we are also working through a lot of speech, emotional and cognitive behaviors that just aren't typical. We know that God has made us Jack's parents for a reason. We believe that one reason is to shape us into better people. Jack requires us to use some of the qualities that we lack the most in - patience being #1.

*Lonnie's work is going well. He works from home and we've figured out how to make this work for us! It's been a wonderful thing having him work at home and I've become spoiled. When something in the house breaks, I don't have to wait for him to get home from work...I can just bug him in the middle of the day!

*I am becoming more involved with MOPS and I love it. I am going to be on the "Steering Team" next year and I am excited for the opportunity to work with other moms in our community. I am looking forward to strengthening friendships and meeting new people.

*Lonnie and I were able to go to Kansas City at the end of June - ALONE! Lonnie's mom flew out to watch Jack for the week and we drove to KS. Lonnie was scheduled to go there for a business trip, so I was happy to have the opportunity to tag along. We enjoyed quiet dinners, quiet drives and quiet nights. It was quiet. We could have adult conversation when we wanted to. We could go to bed late and wake up late (7 am IS late in our world). I was able to swim in the pool and lay out by myself. It was fabulous. Of course, we were anxious to get home and be with Jack again. But, our time away was priceless. I would encourage any couple with young kids to do everything they possibly can to get some overnight time away as a couple.

That's about it! We are enjoying summer and all that is has to offer. We've been to the water park several times, we picked strawberries, we've been to the park many times, and are soaking up the warmer weather. Of course, as I type this, it's thundering and raining outside...but who doesn't love a good summer storm?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Visit with Grandma!


Lonnie's mom came out to Minnesota for the past week. She stayed with Jack while Lonnie and I went on a little mini-vacation to Kansas City (Lonnie had to go there for work and I tagged along). Here are some pictures from her visit!
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Monday, June 15, 2009

Small Town Parade


Last Saturday there was a parade in town. The State Firefighter's Convention was hosted by our city this year and so they had a parade to celebrate! Jack had a great time and almost lasted through the whole thing. It was a really long parade (over 1 1/2 hours!) and he made it through about an hour. Honestly, we were all ready to go home at that point. :)
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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Like Father....

video


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hope

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Homemade Hummus

This is one of my favorite things to eat. I make it with homemade pita bread and YUM. I eat way too much of it. It's kind of a taste-as-you-go-along recipe, so the measurements aren't exact. I just kind of use them as a starting point and add as I go.

1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas) - drained
Juice of 1-2 lemons (I used 1 1/2 last time)
2 garlic cloves
Olive Oil (1/4 cup?)
3-4 Tbsp. Tahini Paste
Salt & Pepper to taste
Paprika (optional)




Put everything in the food processor, except for the olive oil. Turn the food processor on and slowly add the olive oil. Blend until texture is acceptable. You can also add the liquid from the garbanzo beans if you want it creamier without adding too much oil. Taste. Add more of whatever you think it needs. Just be sure not to add too much salt. :)

Eat with crackers, pita bread, veggies, or whatever you have around!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A New Adventure

Since Jack has been diagnosed with autism, we have heard a lot about the gluten-free/casein-free (gfcf) diet. It's a very popular diet used by many families with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and some families swear it helps their children function better. The theory is that children with ASD aren't able to properly digest gluten and casein proteins, which causes an opiate-like effect in their bodies. In turn, their behavior, immune system and development are affected.

SO. After a lot of thought, a lot of prayer and reading a lot of information, we are exploring starting this diet with Jack. Today, we went to Whole Foods (over an hour away) and picked up some of their pre-packaged gfcf foods. Our thinking is that we'll slowly ease into it before going "cold-turkey." We want to see what foods Jack likes and will eat. Once we figure out what he'll eat, then I can dive deeper into this and start making those foods at home, instead of buying them pre-packaged. Jack is a VERY picky eater to begin with, so this should be interesting.

Here's what $60 buys you in the world of gfcf. :)


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday Evening Funny

For some reason, I just had this memory come back to me - and I thought I'd share it with all of you. It makes me laugh. :)

When I was pregnant with Jack, my OB/GYN gave me the name of the lactation consultant at the hospital. When he told me her name, it took everything in me not to burst out laughing. He reassured me that it wasn't a joke. Her name???


Candi Mellons







(for the record, she was one of the nicest people I met at the hospital)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spring is here!

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Drama King


We were outside playing this morning and Jack fell on the driveway, scraping his knee. I took these pictures over the course of about an hour. He did not stop talking about his "owie" the whole time.
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Friday, April 17, 2009

New Haircut






Given the 70* weather today, I figured I'd go ahead and give Jack a haircut. I normally only do this during the summer, but I couldn't see spending another $15 for a "professional" cut. He had a ton of hair! Here he is, watching Bolt, naked. (Really, is there any other way?)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Easter!


We colored Easter eggs on Saturday...




Went for a little Easter egg hunt Saturday evening...







video

Video of Easter morning (after church, before family gathering)...
(Jack keeps saying "Where's the chewies?" He was looking for jelly beans. :) )





There they are!!!




Enjoying a chocolate bunny...




Sitting down for dinner (at Penny & Paul's house...my dad's wife's sister's house...confusing enough?)




He really liked his chick.




Jack and Kiki (my dad's wife)





They sucked Lonnie into playing a game! I had to take a picture because Lonnie NEVER plays games! :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Our Trip To Washington (just a little late!)


Jack and his cousins, Gracie and Allie, enjoying a yummy breakfast at Grandma and Grandpa's!


The cousins watching Mickey Mouse. :)



Jack and Gracie playing outside with bubbles.






Shanna, Josh, Jack and Nana on the way to the Pacific Science Center.



Jack and Daddy at a really big table at the science center.



How Lonnie really felt about the science center. :)



Jack and his first Chuck E. Cheese experience (he wasn't too crazy about it). :)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Let's talk sensitive kids...

Jack has a thing about hair/fuzz. Hair in his mouth, hair in his eyes, hair on his food. It sends him into a huge tantrum most of the time. Unfortunately for him, we have two pets and quite a bit of dust, so there's a lot of hair/fuzzies flying around our house.

We were eating pancakes for dinner tonight when he started complaining that there was a hair on his piece of pancake. He refused to focus on anything other than the hair on his pancake. So he handed it to me and told me to take it off (I'd like to say that he asked me nicely to take it off, but in reality, he yelled and commanded me to take it off). I inspected the offending piece of pancake and couldn't see anything. I looked closer. Nothing. Closer, closer, closer. Oh look - here's what I saw....

Do you see it??? Here's a little help....





Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why God Didn't Make Eggs Blue

I was in a funk this morning. I decided to snap out of it and have a [somewhat] fun day with Jack. I declared it "BLUE" day. Everything would be blue.

We started with a blue bath.

We wore all blue clothes (including underwear).

We moved on to watching Blue's Clues.

We played with blue shaving cream on the table.

We had a blue lunch. (Unfortunately, this was the only thing I took a picture of. I think the title of this post speaks for itself when you see the pictures below.)

We had 4 blue M&Ms.


BLUE soy milk, BLUE noodles, BLUEberries, and BLUE scrambled eggs (looked so gross).




"I really am not too sure about this."





"I suppose I'll give it a try."




"Can I have my M&Ms now?"


That's pretty much where BLUE day ended. Jack took a nap (HOLY COW!) and was in a really rotten mood after he woke up. He really had fun with the blue theme, though. I definitely think there will be more days like this in the future.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Overwhelmed Mommy

Today I am feeling slightly overwhelmed. I think I've been reading too many blogs. It's the overwhelming feeling that comes with the desire to "do it all." I know that a lot of moms struggle with the feeling that they need to be "Super Mom" and be an expert in all areas of life. No offense to anyone who's big on these things...there's absolutely nothing "wrong" with any of these things. But, here's a small list of what is plaguing me today:

**Couponing. Cut coupons. Lots of the them. Get great deals at the stores. If you're not saving 80-90% on your grocery bill, then you're wasting money. Cut, cut, cut. Use coupons for everything.

**"Green." Make sure you don't use any non-green cleaners in your house. Make sure everything's organic. Healthy, healthy, healthy.

**Make all your food from scratch. Forget coupons...to really save money, you need to make every bit of your family's food from scratch. Since you're a stay-at-home-mom, you should have the time to be in the kitchen all day!

**A perfectly organized/clean house. Develop systems for picking up and organizing your house. It should be "ready for show" at any time of the day. De-clutter. Keep your sink empty. Do certain things on certain days. Spread it out throughout the week.

**A busy mom/a busy kid. Enroll your kid in lots of activities. Make sure they have something to do every day of the week. When they're at home, make sure you're constantly involving them in different things. Make games. Spend all of your free time with them. No TV. Flashcards. Arts and crafts. Lots of reading. Engage, engage, engage.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

10 Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew

I was given this handout today by Jack's preschool teacher and thought that it was SO informative. It's always a good reminder to view things through Jack's eyes and remember that the way he sees the world is different from the way we see it.

It is written by Ellen Notbohm, author of the book Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew.




1. I am first and foremost a child. I have autism. I am not primarily "autistic."
My autism is only one aspect of my total character. It does not define me as a person. Are you a person with thoughts, feelings and many talents, or are you just fat (overweight), myopic (wear glasses) or klutzy (uncoordinated, not good at sports)? Those may be things that I see first when I meet you, but they are not necessarily what you are all about.

As an adult, you have some control over how you define yourself. If you want to single out a single characteristic, you can make that known. As a child, I am still unfolding. Neither you nor I yet know what I may be capable of. Defining me by one characteristic runs the danger of setting up an expectation that may be too low. And if I get a sense that you don't think I "can do it," my natural response will be: Why try?

2. My sensory perceptions are disordered. Sensory integration may be the most difficult aspect of autism to understand, but it is arguably the most critical. It his means that the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of everyday that you may not even notice can be downright painful for me. The very environment in which I have to live often seems hostile. I may appear withdrawn or belligerent to you but I am really just trying to defend myself. Here is why a "simple" trip to the grocery store may be hell for me:

My hearing may be hyper-acute. Dozens of people are talking at once. The loudspeaker booms today's special. Musak whines from the sound system. Cash registers beep and cough, a coffee grinder is chugging. The meat cutter screeches, babies wail, carts creak, the fluorescent lighting hums. My brain can't filter all the input and I'm in overload!

My sense of smell may be highly sensitive. The fish at the meat counter isn't quite fresh, the guy standing next to us hasn't showered today, the deli is handing out sausage samples, the baby in line ahead of us has a poopy diaper, they're mopping up pickles on aisle 3 with ammonia….I can't sort it all out. I am dangerously nauseated.

Because I am visually oriented (see more on this below), this may be my first sense to become overstimulated. The fluorescent light is not only too bright, it buzzes and hums. The room seems to pulsate and it hurts my eyes. The pulsating light bounces off everything and distorts what I am seeing -- the space seems to be constantly changing. There's glare from windows, too many items for me to be able to focus (I may compensate with "tunnel vision"), moving fans on the ceiling, so many bodies in constant motion. All this affects my vestibular and proprioceptive senses, and now I can't even tell where my body is in space.

3. Please remember to distinguish between won't (I choose not to) and can't (I am not able to). Receptive and expressive language and vocabulary can be major challenges for me. It isn't that I don't listen to instructions. It's that I can't understand you. When you call to me from across the room, this is what I hear: "*&^%$#@, Billy. #$%…" Instead, come speak directly to me in plain words: "Please put your book in your desk, Billy. It's time to go to lunch." This tells me what you want me to do and what is going to happen next. Now it is much easier for me to comply.

4. I am a concrete thinker. This means I interpret language very literally. It's very confusing for me when you say, "Hold your horses, cowboy!" when what you really mean is "Please stop running." Don't tell me something is a "piece of cake" when there is no dessert in sight and what you really mean is "this will be easy for you to do." When you say "Jamie really burned up the track," I see a kid playing with matches. Please just tell me "Jamie ran very fast."

Idioms, puns, nuances, double entendres, inference, metaphors, allusions and sarcasm are lost on me.

5. Please be patient with my limited vocabulary. It's hard for me to tell you what I need when I don't know the words to describe my feelings. I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened or confused but right now those words are beyond my ability to express. Be alert for body language, withdrawal, agitation or other signs that something is wrong.

Or, there's a flip side to this: I may sound like a "little professor" or movie star, rattling off words or whole scripts well beyond my developmental age. These are messages I have memorized from the world around me to compensate for my language deficits because I know I am expected to respond when spoken to. They may come from books, TV, the speech of other people. It is called "echolalia." I don't necessarily understand the context or the terminology I'm using. I just know that it gets me off the hook for coming up with a reply.

6. Because language is so difficult for me, I am very visually oriented. Please show me how to do something rather than just telling me. And please be prepared to show me many times. Lots of consistent repetition helps me learn.

A visual schedule is extremely helpful as I move through my day. Like your PDA or day-timer, it relieves me of the stress of having to remember what comes next, makes for smooth transition between activities, helps me manage my time and meet your expectations.

I won't lose the need for a visual schedule as I get older, but my "level of representation" may change. Before I can read, I need a visual schedule with photographs or simple drawings. As I get older, a combination of words and pictures may work, and later still, just words.

7. Please focus and build on what I can do rather than what I can't do. Like any other human, I can't learn in an environment where I'm constantly made to feel that I'm not good enough and that I need "fixing." Trying anything new when I am almost sure to be met with criticism, however "constructive," becomes something to be avoided. Look for my strengths and you will find them. There is more than one "right" way to do most things.

8. Please help me with social interactions. It may look like I don't want to play with the other kids on the playground, but sometimes it's just that I simply do not know how to start a conversation or enter a play situation. If you can encourage other children to invite me to join them at kickball or shooting baskets, it may be that I'm delighted to be included.

I do best in structured play activities that have a clear beginning and end. I don't know how to "read" facial expressions, body language or the emotions of others, so I appreciate ongoing coaching in proper social responses. For example, if I laugh when Emily falls off the slide, it's not that I think it's funny. It's that I don't know the proper response. Teach me to say "Are you OK?"

9. Try to identify what triggers my meltdowns. Meltdowns, blow-ups, tantrums or whatever you want to call them are even more horrid for me than they are for you. They occur because one or more of my senses has gone into overload. If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented. Keep a log noting times, settings, people, activities. A pattern may emerge.

Try to remember that all behavior is a form of communication. It tells you, when my words cannot, how I perceive something that is happening in my environment.

Parents, keep in mind as well: persistent behavior may have an underlying medical cause. Food allergies and sensitivities, sleep disorders and gastrointestinal problems can all have profound effects on behavior.

10. Love me unconditionally. Banish thoughts like, "If he would just……" and "Why can't she….." You did not fulfill every last expectation your parents had for you and you wouldn't like being constantly reminded of it. I did not choose to have autism. But remember that it is happening to me, not you. Without your support, my chances of successful, self-reliant adulthood are slim. With your support and guidance, the possibilities are broader than you might think. I promise you – I am worth it.

And finally, three words: Patience. Patience. Patience. Work to view my autism as a different ability rather than a disability. Look past what you may see as limitations and see the gifts autism has given me. It may be true that I'm not good at eye contact or conversation, but have you noticed that I don't lie, cheat at games, tattle on my classmates or pass judgment on other people? Also true that I probably won't be the next Michael Jordan. But with my attention to fine detail and capacity for extraordinary focus, I might be the next Einstein. Or Mozart. Or Van Gogh.

They may have had autism too.

The answer to Alzheimer's, the enigma of extraterrestrial life -- what future achievements from today's children with autism, children like me, lie ahead?

All that I might become won't happen without you as my foundation. Be my advocate, be my friend, and we'll see just how far I can go.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday!


It's been awhile! I am giving myself a challenge this week - use the crockpot for all 7 nights of the week. I am excited to do it! I need something to help motivate me to cook at home. We have been eating out WAY too much, so everything is going to be eaten at home this week. I even have our breakfasts/lunches/snacks planned out. I can SO do this!

MONDAY -
Breakfast: Rice Krispies, yogurt
Lunch: PB&J/Turkey sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken & Dumplings with frozen veggies

TUESDAY -
Breakfast: Granola with yogurt
Lunch: Grilled cheese with soup
Dinner: Hash Brown Casserole w/fruit

WEDNESDAY -
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs (and maybe cereal)
Lunch: PB&J/Tuna sandwiches
Dinner: Cranberry Chicken w/salad (Jack will have pasta with butter and parmesan)

THURSDAY -
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Quesadillas
Dinner: Meatloaf w/pasta salad

FRIDAY -
Breakfast: Frozen waffles
Lunch: PB&J/Egg salad sandwiches
Dinner: Hot & Sour Soup w/frozen eggrolls (Jack will have Mac & Cheese)

SATURDAY -
Breakfast: Pancakes w/eggs and sausage
Lunch: Turkey sandwiches
Dinner: Teriyaki Chicken w/rice

SUNDAY -
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: PB&J
Dinner: Leftovers!

Don't forget to check out I'm an Organizing Junkie for HUNDREDS of menu plans!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

22 Questions with Jack

I've seen these questions floating around and I thought it would be fun to ask them of Jack. He was watching Blue's Clues while I was asking the questions, but he responded surprisingly well. I was impressed!



  1. What is something mom always says to you?

Help (I think I say it more like this - HELP!!!!!!)


2. What makes mom happy?
The Stroller (???)

3. What makes mom sad?
The Mater (from the movie “Cars.” He doesn’t make me sad.)

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Buster

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Did I go to McDonald’s? (I don’t know what McDonald’s has to do with a child.)

6. How old is your mom?
3


7. How tall is your mom?
Big


8. What is her favorite thing to do?
Play with you


9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Play with you


10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Playing (I’m starting to see a theme here.)

11. What is your mom really good at?
Rhode Island (Hmmm???)

12. What is your mom not very good at?
At Rhode Island

13. What does your mom do for a job?
Joe (uh, OK)

14.What is your mom's favorite food?
Chicken

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
I make you so happy

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Fred (from Blue’s Clues – that’s what he is watching as I ask questions)

17. What do you and your mom do together?
My puzzle

18. How are you and your mom the same?
Zook (no clue)

19. How are you and your mom different?
Zooks (again, no clue)

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Play with you (I think he wants me to play with him)

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
Sad of daddy (???)

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
In the car!!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Across the Aisle

We went to Target last night to get Jack some bigger underwear. For starters, it's hard for me to grasp the fact that we're buying big boy underwear in the first place. I knew that we would eventually come to this point, but it's still weird for me to watch Jack running around in underwear and not a diaper. Anyway, we had to go to Target to get bigger underwear. The 4T underwear that we had was getting too small. (!!!!!!) Well, that's the biggest size that they carry in toddler underwear. So...we had to cross the aisle. To the BIG BOY side of Target. Where the clothes are big enough to fit 13 year old boys. We had to buy underwear in the BIG BOY section. Amongst the briefs and boxer-briefs. My baby is too little to wear underwear from that section! It's very scary. I think I might have to send just Lonnie and Jack to buy those kind of things from now on.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We've been working out A LOT


Create your own FACEinHOLE






Create your own FACEinHOLE


And maybe we had some work done. Just a little bit.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Thanks

Thanks for your encouragement. I was having a bad day. I was typing the last post as Jack was screaming while Lonnie was trying to give him a bath and get him to bed. It was a long day. We were all very tired. Not all moments are like that. I was just at the point where I needed to get it all out...and you all got to be the recipients of that lovely vent!

We had Jack's preschool conference this morning with his teacher. It went really well. As we already knew, he is doing great at school. There are a few things he needs more work on (doing activities independently, identifying emotions, some communication skills), but he is meeting all of his IEP goals. His IEP (Individualized Education Program) "expires" next fall, so we will review the whole thing at that time. He will most likely go to a school-funded preschool next year. It's not quite "mainstream" preschool, but there will be neurotypical kids in his class, along with some special education kids. He will have a "regular" teacher and a special education teacher at the same time. It sounds like it will really be a great thing for him. Kind of a halfway point between special education and mainstream school. And then the year after that will be kindergarten. OH MY!

His teacher gave us some good ideas on how to manage Jack better at home. Ways to help him communicate his frustrations better and ways to help us deal with tantrums, screaming, etc. Hopefully some if it works!

Again, thanks to everyone for your encouragement. We know that God gave us Jack for a very specific purpose. He is our child for a reason. We are learning to lean on God more than we've ever had to before. We are learning so much through this process. Both mentally and spiritually. :)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I cannot tell a lie

I haven't been posting much because I am finding it hard to be all "sunshine-y" right now. Jack's behavior has gotten worse recently and we're really struggling with how to handle it. I've always told myself that "things will get better" and have the mindset that he'll just grow out of most of this...but lately I've had the realization that things might not get better. Things might stay the same. Things might get worse. Jack will get bigger and stronger and smarter.

His listening skills have gone way down. He doesn't listen to most of the things we tell him or ask him to do. He yells and screams A LOT. He throws many tantrums throughout the day. A lot of what we say doesn't "register" with him and we get a lot of blank stares. Parts of his communication have improved, but other parts seem to be regressing. It doesn't seem to matter how we talk to him or how we discipline him - things just keep getting worse. It doesn't matter whether we talk calmly to him or if we yell at him - he reacts the same way. It doesn't matter whether we put him in time-out, try to re-direct him or ignore it - he reacts the same way. He yells and screams. And then he screams and yells some more. We spend quality time with him. We play with him. We read to him. We have a pretty well-structured day. We give him plenty of warnings as to what activities come next. We give him reasons. We love on him. We keep his routine consistent. We talk to him all of the time. And it seems that none of that makes a difference. His behavior (even if it is completely unintentional on his part) is like a slap in the face to us. We TRY. I wish there was an easy solution to this.

What makes this even more difficult is that no one else sees this. No one else sees the way Jack acts at home. He acts fine at school. His teacher has mentioned that she can tell he's "holding it together" at school...just because he's at school. He's absolutely adorable when we're in public and he smiles and says "hi" to all of the people. He's a ham at the doctor's office. Everyone just thinks he is the cutest kid ever. But once he's told something that he doesn't like or doesn't get his way or gets upset over something (that is invisible to us), he turns into a different child. And, let's be honest, you can't let a preschooler have their way all of the time. We still need to be parents.

Autism sucks. There's just no other way to put it. We have so much to learn and so much to figure out. We feel lost. We are tired of being yelled and screamed at. We are tired of repeating the same instructions hundreds of times. We are tired of not sleeping well. We are tired of the tantrums. Lonnie and I are just so, so tired.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Just another Wednesday...

Jack's new glasses!







Jack decorated my face with stickers.
(ignore the laundry on the couch!)