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One shining moment April 18, 2011

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There is something magical about the whole March Madness thing. The raw excitement of college basketball and the pursuit to be the best. In every drip of sweat that hits those hardwoods, I can envision the years of hard work, the dreams of each player, their families, their communities, and the amazing determination that it takes to get there. The celebrations of the victories, the lessons learned in the defeats. The hunger that each one of them has in them and what they’ve had to sacrifice along the way to get there. How many players with the same athletic ability who weren’t as hungry, as determined, and willing to sacrifice as much, did they pass to get there? Why is March Madness so bewildering? For me, it’s the small teams from universities that I have never heard of, outplaying big power basketball powerhouses. It’s the traditions, the fortitude, and the respect that each player, coach, and fan has for the sport itself. It’s the building of the excitement. It’s so darned captivating and inspiring!

The players haven’t yet experienced the spoils of what the NBA provides. None of the riches, the power, or the image. College basketball is all about the sport. It’s about competition. Yes, there are some big attitudes that come in swinging, but there is the ever humbling effect of an undeserved injury, an ‘easy win’ that was lost at the buzzer, a dream lost, that keeps March Madness such a wonderment.

Then, as if it wasn’t exciting enough…after the winner is finally decided comes the song. The song of all songs. Flawless in it’s endeavor to capture every human emotion painstakingly drawn out of every viewer as we embraced these 68 teams, whittled down to 32, then 16, then 8, then 4, then 2, then 1. We felt their hopes and dreams, cried for them in their defeats, cried with them in their victories. Then Luther chimes in with…’Feel the beat of your heart, feel the wind in your face, it’s more than a contest, it’s more than a race…one shining moment, you reached deep inside, one shining moment, you knew you were alive…’

Every year, it’s a sobfest as I sit on the edge of the sofa, glued to the tv waiting to see the video and hear the song. Pure magic. All of the years of watching, remembering the moments we’ve borne witness to in years past…the victorious moments … Grant Hill to Christian Laettner at the buzzer to win over Kentucky in 1992…or the unbelievable ones … Chris Webber’s timeout incident in 1993.

PS: I am choosing to live in denial of the fact that there is anything that taints the beauty of March Madness. If there is anything that isn’t pure and sportsmanlike about it, I can’t hear it ūüėČ

PPS: Thank you CBS for bringing back the Luther Vandross version of ‘One Shining Moment’!!

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thank you February 22, 2010

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I can think of no other words to better describe the feeling in my heart as I think about one of the dearest souls who has passed through my life, and into God’s hands yesterday. My grandfather’s cousin, Keiji Tsutsumi, was the most lovely of the loveliest souls. He was one of the people who passed through my life when I needed it. God appointed. I probably didn’t mean very much to him, but his influence upon me was life changing.

For those who know this about me, a slight few, you’ll know how difficult this is to express. I am a grandpa’s girl. My grandfather, Fred Masao Kaizuka, was such a force in my life. Not a day has passed where I don’t think about him. Yet, I can barely utter his name without crying. He passed away when I was living with him in LA when I was 19. It was incredibly tragic. Just prior to his passing away, his cousin, Keiji, and his wife, Chigusa came to town to visit on their way to their son’s wedding in South Carolina. I met them and was embarrassed as all get out to say anything Japanese. I said, ‘hajimemashite (nice to meet you)’ and that was all I could scrape together from two years of high school Japanese. We met them at some lovely Beverly Hills hotel. I had known their son, Shigeru, since I was 8. He was like my older brother. He spent every holiday with us since that time. I lived with Keiji and Chigusa when I was 19 for 6 months in the fishing village, Kada, that my grandfather was from, immediately following his death. I was seeking him. I found a lot of him in Keiji Tsutsumi.

Papa Tsutsumi, as we just called him, ‘Papa’, was a truly amazing individual. He had to do compulsory factory work in Kobe during the war, then went to Keio Univeristy, where he played rugby, quite competitively. He served as mayor of Kada, Wakayama for many years. He was a community leader. He was a leader. He was dignified and true. Every decision that he made was true to him. If there was a stone path to be made, he would make it himself, researching everything related to path building in the process. He was most gracious to everyone around him. He ran or biked every morning before dawn and he studied, alot. He possessed a soul that was entirely unique. I am so blessed to have been influenced by him. I think of him alot when I think about how busy we are in our lives. I think about how he would harp on the fact that if you got a dishwasher that it would make your life THAT much busier. All of the modern conveniences that we think of being convenient, he would mock. He wouldn’t eat okra. It was a ‘post war’ vegetable. He was true to consuming only pre-war vegetables. Most of which were grown by his cousin, Mrs. Hayashi, who is 94 years old and far sharper than anyone than I know. A lot of time when I insist upon making everything from scratch, it is because of this man. A memory of his soul resides in me. When I am cooking, I refuse to take short cuts. I want to learn the lessons behind creating things from scratch. I feel like by creating time to do these somewhat laborious tasks that there is time in there to contemplate. Very little in modern life allows for simple time to contemplate. Traditional life does. It allows you to contemplate your next move and your previous one as well. To see it in a different perspective. We lack that entirely. There is no contemplation that occurs now. It’s all about moving on and forward and being entirely overwhelmed to the point that we all need hand held devices that sync our calendars so that we can literally be in two or three places at once. Is that what this has all boiled down to? I will miss this dear man but feel greatly blessed to have been touched by his soul. Thank you. „Āā„āä„ĀĆ„Ā®„ĀÜ„ĀĒ„ĀĖ„ĀĄ„Āĺ„Āó„Āü„Äā

From here to there January 5, 2010

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Well, its a new year. I never get caught up in the hubbub of new years resolutions or even of new years for the matter. I love the idea of cleaning and cooking on new years eve to sit, relax, and enjoy new years day with family. I usually try and do some sort of Japanese feast, but this year Peter’s parents were here and we made a grand Egyptian feast. Actually, I was just sous chef to the event. Learned alot though.

The way in which one day O can wake up and be so happy, then turn on a dime is such a huge mystery to me. We went to see Alvin and the Chipmunks The Squeakuel. A high quality movie. We went with my mother in law it was her first outside experience with O ‘flipping out’. He was really unsettled during the movie. Then after the movie he was spacing out. A lot. There was a water fountain at Bellevue Square and he was somewhat mesmerized by it and didn’t want to move from it. Finally, I coerced him to go to the bathroom as he was doing the potty dance. We found a restaurant for lunch and he wouldn’t have it. Almost kicked the table over. The waitress was so cooperative. As soon as the food came, I looked at her and said, ‘I don’t know how long we’re going to last here, so could you please bring the check and some take out plates in case we have to bolt’. Thank goodness she was very helpful and we ended up having to leave early. O was yelling and was physically escalating into a tantrum. I was in a ‘high alert’ parenting mode. I was contemplating which would be the safest route to the car…carrying him up two flights of stairs, and crossing the sky bridge, through the building, up an escalator, over another sky bridge, down an elevator to the car. Or, we could walk across two very busy crosswalks then down the elevator to the car. ¬†I chose the latter because I didn’t have the physical strength to contain him for a long period of time. I was thinking, ‘which is worse, jumping over the sky bridge, or running out in the middle of the intersection’!! We made it to the parking garage. Holding on tight. But then I forgot where I parked the car!!! Went to P5, not there, P4, not there, P3, still not there. Everyone was losing it. Finally found it on P2. Then we got in the car and he would NOT wear his seat belt. I pulled out my book, read a page, and asked him if he was ready then. ‘Okay, I’m ready now’ was his answer. Don’t know what set him off, but I’m beginning to recognize some of the beginning signs of when he might have a tantrum. The covering of the ears is a big one. Even if something isn’t that loud, he covers his ears tightly with his hands. Like he wants to separate himself from the situation. From there he seems to start shouting more than usual. I think that at that point is when we should change venues. I think that my mother in law felt helpless as she watched this whole incident unfold. To understand that someone has autism in theory is very different from watching an autistic tantrum evolve before you and be powerless to it. He started to cover his ears during the movie a lot. I thought that it may have been too loud. That is probably partially true. Another piece to the puzzle.

There has been quite a bit on autism on the news in the past few weeks. It’s hard to decipher what is true and what studies were manipulated to prove a point of view. I’m very suspect about studies. The latest report out is that there is a lack of evidence that special diets work to help in autistic children. What I got out of the article is that there just isn’t enough information to say one way or the other. This is good, because it states that we need more information and more research in this area. Enterocolitis, or leaky gut, as it is called, is this kind of pain that O seems to suffer from. Random, IBS like pain. There are theories on ways to help. But, in researching these theories, I’m constantly looking at the sources of the information. Not very much of it is yet substantiated. I would love to meet someone for whom any of these therapies worked for.

I’ve started to substitute gluten products, like bread, etc, for gluten-free alternatives. Successfully so far! ¬†Today he had gluten-free cereal for breakfast. For lunch, quinoa pasta (it was actually pretty good. ¬†E and I ate it, too!) He even ate some gluten-free bread with his peanut butter and jam sandwich! For dinner gluten free bread, peas, and cheese. Then he saw Daddy eating a delicious macaroni with bechamel sauce that grandma made and he ate some of that. ¬†But, that was the ONLY gluten food that he ate today. That was better than I thought that we’d do today. My goal is to gradually replace all gluten foods with a non-gluten version whenever possible at home. ¬†The challenge is going to be the ‘if I see it, I want it’ way of eating that O (and most kids) have. I am sure that there will be other challenges in this that I haven’t even considered yet. That’s what makes this a challenge.

I don’t want to set a date for the diet, or for anything for that matter because I want to remove the pressure to go all or nothing. I don’t want to feel the sense of urgency to ‘heal’ my son of autism that I am receiving. I think that the last thing that O needs is me being anxious. I have enough anxiety as it is, no extra anxiety please.

What O does need is us to feel confident in our choices. Indeed, there are certain behaviors that we need to work on.¬†The tantrums, the OCD, the eye contact, socialization, etc, etc, the list goes on. It is my belief at this very moment that there is no cure for autism. If there is, I’ll be thrilled, but prove it to me. I continue to look into secretin therapy. I hear so many mixed reviews of it. Some places (websites) state that 85% of the children on the therapy see very positive results. Great! That site states that they actually only take the secretin for 2 weeks, then continue the vitamin therapy. Our doctor researched it a bit and found that the therapy ran $200/month and had to continued indefinitely, and had only found one positive case study. Hmmm…you can tell that I have more to research here.

less screaming, please…PLEASE!!!!!!!!! December 21, 2009

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Well, the last week has been a challenge. I don’t understand why everyone has to scream as much as they do. ¬†Ugg…sometimes in order to carry my point across, I have to yell louder than they do just to make my presence known. ¬†That is a bad cycle to be a part of. Makes me sad to think about it. But I think that if they overrun me without me having my voice heard it would make me far sadder. Will I establish a happy medium? I certainly hope so. It might not be tomorrow, but hopefully the day after.

Are there any experienced boy moms out there that could lend me advice on the rough housing? Lori said in a parenting lecture that it was natural and that boys have an innate need to rough house. She also said that they will never injure each other intentionally. There is always a point in which they stop. This rough housing thing helps them learn their limits. It helps them to understand things of which ¬†I cannot understand because I have never been and will never be a boy. What I really need is a mom friend that used to be a boy….that would be awesome….anyone out there? I would love your insight!!! The other complication is that O does not understand how much he hurts people. Today he punched me 6 times in the stomach. I have a high tolerance for pain, but that hurt and it also upset me. I haven’t seen him like that in awhile, but the past couple of days his impulse control sensors are way off. He is so unaffected by it. One good thing is that he only does it to me, J, and sometimes Peter and E. His teacher told me today that he NEVER hits anyone.

E has been sick for a week. It seems that when my kids get sick they scream. I feel like screaming when I get sick. ¬†In fact, I feel like screaming when my kids are sick, too. As every parent knows, it’s wretched to see your kids sick. You would do anything to make them feel better. But, then after a few days of it, you are just plain exhausted. It seems that the younger two guys don’t get cute-cuddle up sick like J does, but they get screamy and whiney. It is hard to take. You start to feel less bad for them and start to wonder what all of the screaming is about. At some point you forget that they are sick and just wonder why there is so much noise. I’m not sure exactly sure as to what is going on, but E, at 20 months now, is having massive temper tantrums. I put him in his crib after 20 minutes of his tantrum and was googling, ‘temper tantrum’ ‘how to break a toddler temper tantrum’ ‘uncontrollable tantrum’. No new information. Tried the change of venue, the distraction, the changing of subject. I’m pretty good at that stuff, but it doesn’t even deter little E. Sometimes it just adds fuel to the fire. After the tantrum breaks, he is just tired. Today he had a record long 2 1/2 hour nap. Hopefully this just has to do with the tail end of whatever bug he has. If not, I think that I will be signing him up for 5 full day/week care.

Just a few days left til Christmas. I think that everything is ready. I am looking forward to the whole Christmas experience. St Joseph’s for family mass, then to my sisters for Christmas Eve dinner, brunch at our house, then dinner at my parents. Our family virtue this and next week is generosity. I think that it’s a good virtue to ponder and explore. I am looking forward to our family conversation about it next week. I want my kids to be good gift givers. It is a skill. My dad, and mom, are the greatest gift givers. I don’t know who picked my name in our family secret santa this year but I secretly hope that it is my dad. He always puts such a huge amount of thought into buying gifts for people. The look of anticipation on his face when you open a gift from him is so unique. I want my kids to understand that feeling. ¬†Both sides of it. What a gift to be able to give a gift in such regal, caring fashion, and also to be able to receive a gift that such thought went into. Peter and I weren’t going to exchange gifts this year, but I think that it’s important for the kids to see us exchanging gifts. ¬†Nothing grandiose, just gifts that have thought and meaning behind them.

So thrilled on so many levels for my dear friend, H, who had a sweet little baby girl this morning. I’m so emotional today about this birth and so entirely happy for their family. What a true gift for them, and for her. What a wonderful match. You can tell by looking at the photos of them together just in those first few precious hours that they just complete each other. Does it get much better than that? No, that IS it! I really think that is just pure and utter bliss. ¬†I love babies. I love everything that they mean. All of the wonder and hope. I am pretty certain that I won’t have anymore babies as I know that they are only babies for a short time, then soon enough they are wonderful, feisty toddlers. But, the joy of it all is so wonderful! I’m determined to find joy at every stage. As challenging as each stage is, it is all bliss. Remind me of that when I am failing to see that!

Hocus Pocus December 12, 2009

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…there are a few moments in a day that if wish that if I closed by eyes I could be somewhere else, but then I open my eyes and I’m back here again. ¬†Sometimes I’m happier than when I closed my eyes, and sometimes not as much. (this mostly has to do with the amount of noise generated by 3 LOUD boys!) The last couple of days O has been a challenge. A lot of screaming. He completely refuses to eat meals. If you mention the words, ‘breakfast’, ‘lunch’, or ‘dinner’, you are SOL and a round of screaming begins about how much he hates dinner. ¬†He will pick up the plate and throw it at you or throw it at the floor, or sometimes he may just sit down and eat it. ¬†I wish that I had more insight into his brain. ¬†I just want to know what to expect! If I knew in advance that, ‘today might be a difficulty of 9/10, I could brace myself for it. ¬†A most treasured friend of mine, who lost her daughter, told me that she can usually make it through the predictable dates like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, but it is the things that occur that you don’t expect that really take you for a loop. ¬†I’ve applied this thought process to many experiences in life. I got to experience one of those moments tonight. We all went to O’s Pre-K holiday song performance. ¬†I was prepared for the fact that he would probably not participate and cry and whine the whole time. That didn’t upset me. I was sad for him, and bummed out for him that he couldn’t participate, but what caught me off guard were the other parents reactions to O’s behavior. I’ve been trying to process what exactly upset me and why I can’t get past it, but I am not sure that I really understand the feeling enough to verbally articulate it. Lets start with what I don’t feel…I don’t feel like a failure because my son couldn’t participate in the holiday performance, I don’t feel embarrassed by his behavior, I actually feel quite happy and tremendously proud that he is my son and just being himself. ¬†Nothing bothered me. Of course, I always hold out hope that for some miraculous, inexplicable reason he might just jump up there and be right there with the rest of the kids, for his sake, not for mine. But the feeling that I was not expecting to feel was other people’s pity. I guess that is how I would phrase it. There was no condescending undertone at all. ¬†This is a very nice bunch of parents to very lovely children, but I think that they felt bad for me out of kindness and I guess that I don’t know how to accept that feeling or if I even want to. I think that I equated that to pity. They felt awkward and didn’t know what to say or do. I try and picture myself in their shoes and I would be doing the exact same thing. One dear mom wouldn’t look me in the eye, tried to avoid me, probably because she was at a loss for words. That’s okay. I totally get it. I think that when you see something that is so far off from the norm, you embrace what you have and thank GOD that it is not you that has happened to. Whether it be a person on the street begging for money, or whatever, you always feel lucky that isn’t you. I guess that I’ve never felt that feeling before and it is an interesting place to be in. ¬†At first it really upset me, but now I find it thought-provoking.

an autistic kinda day December 8, 2009

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I don’t know how to better describe some of the behaviors of O from today other than ‘autistic’. He was far more at the other, less functioning end of the spectrum today. ¬†In the morning he woke up in a good mood and after Baby E, Daddy, and J got off to school, I told him that we were going to go to Paint the Town (a pottery ceramic place) to make Daddy a birthday present. O is Mr. Birthday and he was so entirely excited to make his beloved Daddy something there. ¬†I talked it up a storm and he was thrilled. ¬†When we got there there was a kids group that was waiting to go in and their teachers were corralling them outside. ¬†I don’t know if it was that, or what that just plain freaked him out. ¬†Once we got in there he started to yell and scream about how much he didn’t want to be there and how much he ‘hated’ it and how ‘stupid’ it was. ¬†I took him into the back and for some reason there was an adorable little ceramic doggie that had ‘O’ written on it’s collar. ¬†I thought it was a sign to convince him that he would be comforted here, but for some reason, it just enraged him further. ¬†The girl in the shop was really sweet but had clearly never dealt with an O. She could not fathom why anyone wouldn’t want to paint ceramics and have a perky smile on ALL DAY LONG. ¬†Can you see my eyes rolling back in my head right now! So, O and I left, and went to Starbucks to get a treat. ¬†The new Starbucks layout is really not very functional and is very, very loud. ¬†O hated it. ¬†Such a strong, powerful word. ¬†Such a strong, powerful emotion. He covered his ears. ¬†So, we left and went to a couple of shops that he did okay in. ¬†He loved Fireworks with all of their original knickknack like things. ¬†Fortunately we didn’t break anything!

For some reason that I could not quite decipher, O spaced out alot today and was hard to predict. ¬†Yet, he was absolutely sweet and adorable, too. When he came home from school he was fine but was easily off set. ¬†He screamed at the drop of a hat, or even less. ¬†If Julian walked into the same room, he fussed and screamed. ¬†If there is one thing that I could ask for for Christmas it would be for my children to get along and NOT scream. ¬†It is painful to hear them. It tells me ‘I’m not satisfied in my life and it is YOUR fault, MOMMY’. I know that this statement is not true in my head, but that is nonetheless what I feel in my heart.

This evening wrapped up so well. ¬†J and O were playing TOGETHER. ¬†WOW. ¬†That is new. They were video taping each other flying down the stairs together. ¬†Destructive, yes, but adorable, yes. ¬†Win, Win!!! ¬†No injuries or trips to Childrens. ¬†O’s huge love for dancing and Julian’s huge love for music was harmonious this evening. ¬†O danced to some songs that J video recorded. ¬†Too cute!

finally an update December 6, 2009

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Been trying to find time to write. ¬†I’ve been thinking about things to write about as I have been busying myself with crazy projects. Redoing dining room tables, chairs, spreading 10 yards of compost. Attending board meetings, guild meetings, and trying to churn out a Christmas card. ¬†Oh, and somewhere in there, Thanksgiving occurred. I used to think that Thanksgiving was the stupidest holiday ever. ¬†A holiday that people just sit around, eat, and get fat. ¬†Now I think that it is just plain glorious. ¬†A day to just hang out with the family, wear pj’s all day, whip together a couple of dishes, then go to my mom and dads where we’ve never had a failed bird or bad stuffing. ¬†Good wine, good laughs, and appreciating what we have. ¬†Leading up to Thanksgiving I gathered a lot of my thoughts and thought so intently of all of the amazing, gracious people that have crossed our paths in our lives. ¬†Without each one of them, I would be a different, less fulfilled person. ¬†I’m so lucky. So grateful for a healthy and happy family and lovely friends. So lucky to have a family that claims me and I claim them, proudly. Not everyone is so lucky. ¬†I really want to see the movie, The Blindside. ¬†Anyone who has seen it tells me of how wonderful a story it is. I need a heart-wrenching, bring it home, tear jerker movie for inspiration. ¬†Speaking of movies, I found myself laughing hysterically watching The Hangover. What a great laugh. ¬†If you haven’t seen it, it is outrageous and a great, belly-laugh kind of movie. A must see.

I have been a bit stuck in where I am at. ¬†What I should blog about. Now I’m clear in my gratitude. ¬†Although gratitude was our family virtue of the week several weeks ago, it has been stuck in my head and in my heart. ¬†It is what makes me tick right now. It is the most important virtue that I want to convey to my children at this time of year. What underscored my ability to write was a lovely phone call from my old babysitter, Lillian. ¬†She used to babysit my sister and I when we lived in LA. ¬†She is an older Japanese-American woman. ¬†I’ve searched and searched for my Lillian to help me raise my kids. ¬†I’m still searching. So, why did she phone me from San Luis Obispo? She wanted to verify our address before sending us fresh fruit from her garden. ¬†My favorite fruit, kaki (persimmons), satsuma (mikan), and usually some nashi (Japanese pear-apples) as well. ¬†The gift of fruit is not something that I ever partake in my life now but in Japan fruit was such a common gift. So sweet, and so in season. I spoke with Lillian for 20 minutes and every second that I spoke with her was like I was 4,5,6 years old. She doesn’t have any children of her own, but she is a mom. ¬†She scolds me for not knowing the 4 extra numbers in my zipcode. ¬†Apparently providing this information allows your shipment to arrive that much sooner than if you didn’t write those four numbers on the envelope. ¬†If anyone tries to scold me in my life now I would probably tell them off, but from Lillian, I just say, ‘oh, yes, you’re right, I should know what the numbers are’. ¬†Somehow you feel loved by someone caring enough to scold you over the phone. Strange concept indeed. ¬†Strange but comforting.

Since our nanny has moved out life has become more complex, more emotional. I miss her. It was nice having her in our presence, in our home. I can piece meal the babysitting situation, but it was nice to have her here and all of us felt her absence this weekend, our first weekend without her in our home. ¬†We’ll be okay. We’ll move on, but she is very much in our hearts. I’m grateful for the place that she hold in our hearts. Even if she doesn’t live here, we’ll see her and she’ll be a part of us.

Preparing for Christmas is proving to be more of a challenge than I had thought. ¬†I am taking away all expectations other than that of EVERYTHING Christmas I want to come from the heart. We were going to get a Christmas tree today and I just decided that it wasn’t right. ¬†Part of the way there, my brain, my heart just said no. I remember going to cut down a tree with my family to be a happy, fun experience, not one where everyone, including the mom, is grumped out. ¬†The timing wasn’t right. ¬†I’d rather wait longer and enjoy the experience. Is that bad? No one seemed to care one way or the other. Except that my mom was half way there to Marysville to meet us. My bad. We did have a great evening at there house though.

O is doing well. Less hitting. E is hitting less, too. J is hitting more. As much as I try and understand the necessity of roughhousing for boys in their development, I do really wish that it just plain would go away.  Thumb wrestle and get it out of your system!

Interestingly, the Special Ed placement person at Seattle School District visited O in his Pre-K program at View Ridge. ¬†She suggested that he attend Kindergarten at the EEU this next year, then repeat Kindergarten the following year at View Ridge. I hadn’t thought of that possibility, but it makes sense. ¬†I thought that he would repeat Pre-K, then attend one year of Kindergarten. Their thought was that he might get bored of repeating the Pre-K curriculum, but the Kindergarten curriculum is far more complex and he’d be better suited to repeat the latter. I agree with their assessment and hope that he gets into the EEU next fall. That would be fantastic. ¬†We have fallen into the greatest ABA therapists. ¬†Heather and Chelsea. ¬†O sees them twice/week for social skills group and is really, really growing.

O uses his dogs as props. It’s really, super cute. ‘Snowflake’, his stuffed husky dog was at my parents house and he saw him and his eyes lit up. ¬†He hugged him and told him that he was wondering where he was. He is so cute. His big love is ‘Puff’, a little stuffed dog that he tells everything to. He scold him, rewards him, puts him in time out, hugs him when he is sleeping. ¬†It is adorable.

making some strides November 17, 2009

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Some good progress made in the autism realm and O. ¬†Had a great social skills playdate with our buddy M on Friday with a fantastically enthusiastic teacher named Chelsea. ¬†She’s amazing. ¬†She’s also a teacher at the EEU and just really has such an understanding of where these guys are at. ¬†Also, today we had another social skills playdate with another amazing teacher named Heather. Yes, we’re moving in the right direction. ¬†O has been so amazingly engaged lately. ¬†It’s been so great to see him interact so nicely with people. ¬†He is a riot. Super duper funny. He doesn’t try to be. ¬†He just is. The way that he utilizes the borrowed words from movies/shows/other people is so amazingly witty and his timing is pretty good, too. ¬†He has us in stitches a great deal of the time. We also met with our fabulous pediatrician and had a great conversation about O. Where we are at and where we are going. ¬†We reviewed his blood tests. ¬†His IGE showed a sensitivity to egg whites and cashews and showed that he was low in magnesium and vitamin D. His IGG showed that he is sensitive to wheat, soy, cashews, peanuts, and pistachios. All in all, we came out of the meeting with the understanding that his gut needs to be stabilized. He also might have some left over sensitivities because of the e.coli. We’re going to do a stool culture to look for a measurement of the flora there (nice…). ¬†Looking for different yeasts, and other things so we know better what is going on there. After we get that done, we’re going to move into the realm of a no gluten/no dairy diet. I know…it sounds drastic. ¬†I have to try though. ¬†I don’t want to ever think that we didn’t try that route. ¬†What if it makes a huge difference? We have to give it a fair shot. I know the impact that it makes on me when I’m closely following a gluten free diet. ¬†I was able to completely stop taking the rheumatoid arthritis medications that I was on last year. ¬†I know that even after a single serving of wheat product that my joints hurt. ¬†I know that this is going to be somewhat difficult on our family, but to be honest, we eat a lot of rice and I feel super lucky that the closest market to us is PCC and has so many fantastic options for a gluten-free family. ¬†So, O is going to be on a cal/mg supplement, vitamin D supplement, omega-3s, and probiotics. Cross your fingers! We’re going to ease into this, not go cold turkey.

One thing that has changed a lot lately has been Oliver’s sensitive side. As everything that is Oliver, it is pure. ¬†When emotions come out of him, they are completely unfiltered, untouched, and 100% undiluted. When sad emotions come out of him, I promise that you will cry, too. When happy emotions come out of him, you will laugh hysterically with him. When he is angry, you will get angry, too. ¬†Ugg… ¬†so lately he has become very empathetic. ¬†I was happy to see this when it first emerged, but I have mixed emotions about it as it means another thing…that Oliver cares what others think about him. ¬†I have always maintained that Oliver doesn’t care about what others think about him therefore he will be okay, he will be able to be 100% Oliver and be happy with that. ¬†But now I’m worried. ¬†I hope and pray that he won’t allow others opinions and criticisms (and later bullying) of him to affect him in a negative way. ¬†Yes, I certainly want Oliver to communicate with others ‘normally’, but I also want him to be able to be himself and not be so affected as I know that one of the largest problems with higher functioning autistic and aspergers children/adolescents is that of depression. I dread that. I continue to hope and pray that he will be saved of that. When Oliver gets in trouble (ie…for hitting Emil over the head with a metal train) and is told that what he did is not okay, he gets very upset and says, ‘I’m a very bad boy’. He then grabs his stuffed doggies and tells them it’s going to be okay and scolds them. He gets stuck there though and I’ve learned that it is not wise to try and pull him out of this before he is good and ready. He seems to need time to stew. It’s as if this new emotional side of him overwhelms him. His sad sads and happy happies is the way he seems to roll these days.

I don’t think that I have enough perspective on raising boys. I don’t understand why they have to hit and kick each other to feel connected. I have read about it, sat through lectures about it, been counseled about it, but I still don’t understand the need for it. This is how I see it…Julian wants to connect with his brothers, so he teases them, tackles them, and they either love it or hate it. Regardless, they are all screaming and someone ends up crying on the floor. I secretly admit that it is kinda cute to see Mr. Super Spicy Attitude, Emil, get in there and try and hold his ground. ¬†Mark my words, he is a force to be reckoned with. Since Oliver cannot interpret social cues, he has come to understand that any action that Julian has towards him is antagonistic and when Julian is being kind or affectionate towards him, he will hit him. Hard. It has become such a cycle. I just want to keep all of the kids separate lately. Emil and Oliver are constantly hitting each other. I don’t believe that they are behaving in a way that is indicative of who WE are. How much influence does a parent really have upon their kids? Some? None? A lot?

I was thinking back about where we were at with Oliver at this time last year. I remember being all consumed with my worry. There was no definition of what was going on with Oliver. He was far less verbal. He spoke in mini-phrases and demands. He spaced out A LOT. He cried and screamed a lot. It was so scary. When I was watching him participate in his social skills session yesterday it struck me how much his personality has emerged. It’s as if his personality was hiding last year. For sure his school at View Ridge has helped, and his continuing love and support from his other school has helped, too, but I think also we have been able to identify some triggers. Taking him off of all of those asthma medicines helped, too. The Autism Speaks logo is a puzzle piece. It makes so much sense. It really is about finding the right pieces and seeing how they fit together. Can’t fit a circle into a square. This is a true statement, however when trying to figure autism out, I am thinking about how the circle might fit into the square because in Oliver’s mind, it seems to fit like a glove. The way my brain is wired, the two pieces clearly don’t fit, but for some reason, they fit for him. In this process of learning and understanding, I realize that it must be even more frustrating for him to understand our reasoning because he has worked this puzzle differently than we have. When I watch him and the way that his eyes move when he’s doing something, the wheels are churning very fast and innately differently than others. I’m sure learning a great deal about the world through his eyes. He has beautiful, dark blue eyes. I love them.

It’s a haiku kind of moment November 16, 2009

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The more I delve into Autism, the more I think that it is just one of O’s issues.¬† Each of my kids has very different issues.¬† Autism is just O’s issue.¬† It’s a lot for sure, but it’s also perhaps more defined than the other kids’.¬† Peter’s sister’s came to visit for 4 days and O was a total cherub.¬† As sweet as honey.¬† He just ate up all of that one on one attention. I don’t think that he had a single meltdown.¬† There was no one telling him no.¬† The girls just thought that he was dreamy. He was walking around with a huge grin most of the time.¬† He just adored them.¬† E also really attached himself to them in a very sweet, endearing way. Of course O had some brilliant sayings.¬† He told Dina when she picked him up at school with me, “I’m so glad that you’re here”.¬† How precious.

When the girls left on Sunday, everyone started to behave like themselves again.¬† Impulse control is not just simply not happening in our house these days.¬† As Dr. C put it into perspective for us, kindly…when kids hit age 13 they lose their executive skills…they become all mid-brain thinkers, like toddlers..¬† Basically, they’re no different than 2 year olds.¬† Wow, so to put that into perspective, we have two toddlers, and a pre-k autistic child at home.¬† ALL of whom have ZERO impulse control.¬† Ahhhhhhh.¬† No wonder!

One of my sisters in law asked me how I deal with this all.¬† I told her that in times of extreme stress I try and string haikus together. ¬†I do. Somehow it makes me refocus my energies. It makes me giggle in the midst of total chaos that I’m trying to create 5 and 7 line poems in my head.¬† Although, at times, my favorite 5 syllable line is ‘wow, this really sucks’ and when it’s really bad, a well used 7 syllable line is ‘God save me from hitting you’.¬† On the flip side, there are the sweet ones, ‘Ollie Wollie is too cute’ ‘MUST remember this moment’.¬† Way more sweet ones than not, but it’s the ones that are churned out at times of despair that make me giggle like a school girl.¬† I don’t know why I think that writing haikus are funny, but I do.

I feel guilty that I’m not plowing full steam ahead into autism research.¬† I don’t know when I would do this. I’m stressing out about pulling together a Christmas card…when is that going to happen? Making Christmas cards is always so much fun and something that I do to intentionally slow down the pace of the season by taking time out to write each person’s card. It’s my way of wishing each person a happy holiday season. I hope that I can do it this year, too. What I need to do is figure out gifts NOW. I’m such a rampant procrastinator. We had to get amazon prime so that we could order everything last minute! Bad, bad, bad! Need to get better at this.

Udderly idiotic November 3, 2009

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Don’t know why I want to spell utter as udder. ¬†Just do. ¬†I’m being rebellious as I’m sitting here at U. Village Starbucks drinking my short non-fat chai latte by myself. ¬†Yep, all by myself in a room of strangers. ¬†It’s wonderful. It’s been a helluva day!

Today O told me, ‘Mommy, you’re a stupid idiot! How could you quit when you were on top of your game?’ What a fascinating statement. ¬†What exactly is that supposed to mean? Well, the stupid idiot part of the statement is nothing new. The fact that I don’t react irrationally due to this remark, just tells me how far I’ve come in parenting. ONE time, J said, ‘dammit’ when he was 5. I told him that it was inappropriate and he never said it again. Now O routinely calls me an idiot, a stupid idiot, and also says, ‘Jesus Christ’. Wow, this is upsetting. ¬†I have seriously lowered my parenting standards! Of course I want him to stop, of course I tried to get him to stop. When you try to get O to stop doing anything it ends up being more of a battle than it’s worth so this is one battle that I have chosen not to fight at this moment. ¬†I say at the moment because I don’t think that it’s okay, but for right now, I feel that I have bigger fish to fry. Large, deep ocean halibut from Canada sized fish. ¬†That’s mighty big and meaty.

J is turning 13 tomorrow. Wow. I love him soooooooooooo much but boy, he’s really entering his teenager-dom with a lot of drama. ¬†I won’t talk about specifics to protect his privacy, but he is hard, hard, hard for me to understand. I am struggling to comprehend where he is at, what he needs us to be for him so that he can be the best J that he can be. That is my goal for him. It is painful that he is struggling so. I’m disappointed in myself as a parent. How have I failed so? I’m disappointed in him. How could he not want to improve himself? Takanozomi (ťęėśúõ„ĀŅ) is a person who is always trying to set their sights on something higher, something more. Someone who will not be satisfied with the status-quo. This is who I am, my family taught me to be, my husband and friends are. I can’t understand where he fits into this. Maybe he is/will be and this is the stage that he needs to be at in order to get there on his own, in his own due time. How do I get through the day to day waiting for him to find this in himself? What words of guidance do I offer to help him get there? Is offering too much enabling him? How do I show him that I love him but am also not going to let him treat me terribly. ¬†He is essentially telling me with his actions, ‘Mommy, you’re a stupid idiot!’, too. 2/2 kids relaying that message to me in one day. I’m sure if Emil could assert his independence in words, he’d be uttering the same sentiment. When he threw his apple juice bottle at me, I certainly felt the love.

That’s enough, Debbie Downer, move on!

So, what does O mean by ,’How could you quit when you were on top of your game?’ ¬†Not sure I want to delve into how deep a statement that is. I’m sure it’s borrowed speech from a movie/show of some sort, but the fact that he held onto that one line and told me that at that very moment often times tell me something about him. He’s kinda brilliant like that. Kinda insightful. Kinda weird, too;)

I was in the middle of an argument with J when he said that. Maybe he meant that I should not back down. Maybe he is questioning why I even engage in such altercations when I’m going to just get so upset anyways. Maybe he just really does think that I’m an idiot. That is what he called me after all. I think that I need to gain some perspective. Need some sleep.

“I can’t get no satisfaction” October 30, 2009

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“I can’t get no satisfaction”

I think that my kids are all singing this tune LOUD and clear. That is what I hear when J is slamming doors, O is screaming and yelling because he can’t find his favorite yellow shorts and too tight short sleeved t-shirt that I put away, and Emil is throwing food, slapping and hitting. They are all so unsatisfied. Makes me feel so inadequate. I am a full-time mom/housewife. I clearly have issues trying to keep the house clean, kids fed, clothed, bathed. And, my kids are falling apart, each one mad at me in their own way. I try not to take things personally, but how do I separate my existence from some relative happiness level?

I’m losing my sense of humor about all of this and that makes me sad. I rewarded myself yesterday by buying myself a very fuzzy pair of light pink crocs. I am wearing them throughout this mad morning and every time I look at my feet I smile because I know that I did that for me. The rest of me is caught up in the chaos. Again I am being a reactive parent and I have no control. Need to regain my position at the helm. There is currently no skipper on this ship and we are listing as a result. We need a Gilligan.

On the bright side I re-read a previous post when we first received O’s diagnosis and I wrote how apprehensive I was to enter the autism community. I have been gingerly side stepping into this arena. I have met with a few friends of friends who have children with autism who have been in this for years. What a truly amazing, resilient, real group of people. I feel hopeful again. The way that these people have embraced autism into their lives and made the best out of what could be a negative situation. All of these amazing parents who have had to readjust their expectations for their families again and again, but rolled with the punches and can laugh, from the bottom of their souls, belly laugh about life and how fun, how silly, how serious, how treacherous, how sad, and unpredictable it all is. I have also been able to hear more about families who are close to us and who have had struggles with their kids, who are not autistic, but indeed have tremendous challenges. There are some seriously brave parents out there that I have learned a great deal from in the past two months. I am sincerely grateful for you, for opening your hearts and your lives to us. We are richer for it in so many amazing ways.

Speaking of getting richer, all of the doctors, hospitals, therapists, schools, childcare centers, labs, radiologists, and now dentists, in our lives are all benefitting monetarily from our bout of unfortunate luck these past few months.¬† I spent half of our trip to the dentist yesterday worrying if my son was going to have a front tooth and the other half worrying about how much this was going to cost. If this had happened a year ago when we didn’t have dental insurance because we were self employed, I can’t even imagine how much this would have set us back. Fortunately, it seems as if we have far better dental insurance than I had anticipated. Thank goodness.

J’s school has a 3 day break for conferences this week so he and his buddies took in a round of airsoft guns. Not coming from a family of any boys, the rough housing, gun toting thing isn’t something that comes to me easily. I am working on trying to give them space to be boys. They are inherently different and have different outlets than girls do, I think. I have been lenient with the airsoft gun thing as all of his friends are playing, they are great kids, and I know that some of their friends’ parents are as reluctant and as protective as I am. I told him that I wanted he and his friends to discuss the rules for their game before they started.¬† Sure not still if that happened or not. What I do know is that I get a call during the one hour that I decided to turn my phone off in recent history to the effect of ‘J has chipped his tooth playing airsoft guns’. Okay, that can’t be good so I went over there right away to find that not only did he ‘chip’ his tooth, but more than half of it was shattered, he had a fat lip, and a bruised tongue. It caught me off guard because I didn’t know who to call. ¬†The dentist? The doctor? ¬†When I walked into the room where he and his buddies were you could have heard a pin drop. I think that they think that I was going to get mad. I think that they were relieved to hear me say that it was an accident and accidents happen. After thinking about this for a day, I would say that still rings true but perhaps we need to establish some guidelines for airsoft gun wars. Like, no shooting at your friends faces at close range might be a start;) Not really sure of what the details surrounding the shattering of the tooth are, but the fact that no one will really say tells me that they all feel a little bit guilty. Which is good. They are also very loyal to their friends which really shows integrity. I love these boys but sometimes what I would consider common sense reasoning doesn’t come to easily to them.¬† To me, when you take a shower, you don’t repeatedly leave your wet towel on the floor of your room, but hey, what do I know? The closer that they get to the magical age of 13, the more I am baffled. Can’t imagine what ages 14, 15, 16, and on are going to bring.

So, after getting home from the dentist, I went to pick up O. His teacher told me that he had been complaining that the inside of his mouth hurt him. The smile that I had on my face with anticipation to see my little O was immediately replaced with an, ‘Oh, God, what now?’ look. I said, ‘lets see if he has any bumps on his hands’…sure enough, bumps! Victim number 2 to come down with Hand Foot Mouth Disease this week. As my sister, M, told me on the phone this morning, it’s almost a new month.¬† That’s right, and I am looking very forward to November. I am not digging the chaos that has infiltrated our lives. I seem to do okay with it and manage to not let it defeat me, but come on, enough is enough.

I am humbled and terribly saddened by the story of a young 12 year old whose blog I was following.¬† A friend of mine told me of what a lovely blog this very courageous mom, who was a friend of hers, was keeping of her son’s battle with cancer. I became a silent follower and said prayer after prayer for this boy and his family. It caught me tremendously off guard when he passed away. I guess that because his mother’s constant hope and raw determination and incredible writing, I didn’t understand just how ill this sweet, well-loved boy had fallen. It makes me step back and be a little bit gentler, a lot more gracious, and hug my children a little more tighter than I did before.

Over the course of the day writing this blog entry, I have gone from completely overwhelmed with every child acting out in a very ‘them-like’ way, to trying to gain some perspective.¬† I established early on in the day that I would not be changing out of my pajamas nor would I be doing anything fruitful, nor would I be leaving this house.¬† I have accomplished nothing, had an 18 month old who was inconsolable, pulling on my pant leg to be picked up, put down, not knowing what he wants, most of the day. And, most importantly, I am now caught up on Top Chef. Jennifer definitely is crumbling under pressure and needs to reengage! Pull it together, Jennifer.

I forgot to mention that on Tuesday my mom offered to get O on his bus as I volunteer to do lunch service at Villa every other Tuesday (mostly to see who these girls are who are entering my son’s life…). Not only did she try and see him off on the bus, but she took the bus with him, met Sandy the bus driver, attended the entire day at View Ridge Elementary, and then continue to ride the bus home. ¬†WOW, what a grandma. ¬†What a truly blessed boy O is to have such a grandma. I think that it was a great opportunity for him to share his school world with her. ¬†Lucky, Lucky, Lucky!

4:18 pm…pear martini, please October 27, 2009

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Well, the title says it all. I had the most lovely pear martini on Friday at Diane’s house at the 7th grade Villa parents party. I’d like to indulge again. I feel like I deserve it today. Heck, I’d take a 40 oz Mickeys at this point…just kidding…what are those anyways? ¬†I’ve only heard about them in rap songs. Snoop Doggy Dog also sings about Gin and Juice…

I am in need of a break. We all are. E sprouted some lovely rash that turned out to be hand foot mouth disease. How disgusting does that sound! It is a bunch of bumps literally on his hands, feet, and in his mouth…oh, yeah, and his diaper area, but they don’t seem to mention that in the title. ¬†Hand Foot Mouth Crotch Disease doesn’t sound as good. Sounds kinda crass actually. He spent probably a total of 6 hours screaming today. ¬†Yelling, hitting, and screaming. He is just plain ticked off that he wasn’t feeling so groovy all day. He actually slapped my face once and clocked me in the head with a metal train. Parenting gives you some thick skin ūüėČ

Monday ¬†means that O is home in the morning but then Sandy the bus driver comes to pick him up at 12:30 to go to View Ridge Elementary for his afternoon Pre-K program. Our friend, O, would not get on the bus today. Strapped him in while he was kicking and screaming and waved good-bye, but apparently he got out and Sandy had to stop the bus, call district bus security and forcefully strap him back in. Good Lord, please tell me that they will let him continue to ride the SSD buses. I can’t imagine if we were banned from them. That would really suck a lot. I got a stern warning that O cannot do that again. I don’t know exactly what they mean by not do ‘that’ again. What? Scream? Get out of his seatbelt? I was so busy feeling guilty for my child’s behavior that I forgot to ask Sandy what that meant. ¬†Oh, well, we’ll see tomorrow I guess. Darn, she’s a really nice lady and I feel horribly! Of course, when I picked him up off the bus he was all smiles and told Sandy, ‘I’m so sorry, Sandy, I didn’t mean to. It won’t happen again. It’s a deal’. ¬†Does he really know what he is saying? I think that he has a sense of empathy at times but at other times I wonder.

hopeful hopeless hopeful again October 21, 2009

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To continue upon yesterday’s topic of being hopeful….

 

Hopeful. That is how I felt when O was first diagnosed in August. As I’ve been through the diagnosis process, through the Autism Speaks Walk, through the Seattle Childrens Astar Autism Auction, through the Tessera Conference ‘Restoring Hope’, and now through the appointment with the family social worker from Children’s Autism Center…I feel way less hope that I felt a mere two months ago. This is not what I expected. I wanted to feel more hope. Instead I feel desperate for any hope that anyone will offer. Hopeless. What snake oil should I purchase to make my son better?! I have heard parents, social workers, and top notch doctors say that ‘there is no cure for autism’ ‘there is little you can do, but you can try’ ‘I’m so sorry…’ How is one supposed to feel hearing those words about their child’s prognosis? But, I look at my little guy and I need to feel hope. His brothers need me to be the hopeful one, so does my husband. That is my job. Where am I supposed to draw hope from? Heading into this I felt like there were going to be so many options, so many directions to finding the right cure for my son. I’m not hearing that. I’m hearing the opposite. Do I just manufacture hope so that my kids feel hopeful or is that deceiving them and me? Maybe a daily trip to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood of Makebelieve isn’t such a bad thing…

 

I found it ironic that the name of the conference the other day was called ‘Restoring Hope’ because that is not how I felt when I left. It seems like a large portion of the audience were that of parents of lower functioning autistic children. People who had been worn down more and had less hope. Parents who used to have a sparkle in their eye, but that has since faded because they have tried every snake oil out there. They have tried every therapy, every diet, every medicine, but their child still cannot communicate with them. I don’t know how they still remain hopeful and happy, but there were! Being new to this, perhaps this wasn’t the right time for me try and understand this side of autism. There were fewer people that were there that represented the parent group of higher functioning autistic children. We all have similar issues, yet very different ones as well.

 

The absolutely cutest thing happened the other day. ¬†My mom greeted O as he was getting off of the school bus from View Ridge.¬† Apparently Oliver said, ‘Grandma, I’d like to introduce you to my new bus driver, Sandy’. Granted, the words that he used were straight out of Finding Nemo, but nonetheless, this gives me hope. The fact that a year ago, this little guy couldn’t speak more than a couple of words and spaced out more than half of his awake hours, spending them in a distant land that we weren’t able to access, for this little guy to make such a wonderful statement, I’m DAMN proud! He borrowed the words, the tone, the inflection, but he used it entirely in context. He is smart enough to utilize this kind of speech to communicate his point. He will make it. I know he will. I believe! Hopeful again…

information overload October 21, 2009

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Mom and I went to a fantastic conference on autism on Thursday called ‘Restoring Hope’. The first speaker was Dr. Bryan King. He was very articulate in his description of where the definition of autism was derived, where it is now, and where it is going in the future. Being new to this all, I so appreciated this even though it may have seemed like taking a few steps backwards for those of us that have been here for years. There were 4 different tracks of speakers…Mom and I separated and covered the ones that were most interesting. Somehow the speakers that she went to were more engaging and had more practical information.

For the first, I chose ‘Effective Behavioral Interventions’. I was hoping to walk away with some concrete information on how to effectively intervene when I am encountering a behavioral meltdown. It was more of a history of how the ideas have changed over the years. Some good information, but the photograph of a young boy getting a¬†lobotomy¬†with what looked like chopsticks is now ever indelible in my mind. WTH?!! So, was I supposed to feel grateful that we weren’t dealing with this 30 years ago?

The next class I chose was a parent panel. There were some truly inspiring parents that shared their stories with us. Their tremendous courage emitted an enormous amount of spirit, love, and bravery. It gave me a different perspective on the difficult choices that they have all had to make on whether to keep their autistic children at home or commit them to a group home. It was heartbreaking and my heart hurt for these parents. I feel fortunate that we aren’t in that situation and won’t be. It wasn’t practical information but I definitely gained some knowledge of the other end of the spectrum and also of the trials that are put upon us. These families were blessed by these children. These moms have literally been through hell yet still possess a beautiful peacefulness about them. They aren’t afraid to cry in front of a crowded room of people. I will hold them in my heart for a long, long time.

The third class was ‘Assessing and Changing Challenging Behaviors’. Now this dude was seriously demented. He was laughing at his own crass jokes. Apparently he is a doctor at an institution. The manner in which he spoke of his ‘clients’ was baffling. There were a great deal of parents of fairly low functioning, non-verbal autistic children in attendance. I can imagine that they were either completely appalled with this character or this has become their world and are immune to it. He told us of ridiculous tactics that they would use to reduce the amount of hours that the kids had to be restrained per day. WTH? That is so what I didn’t need to hear! Though, looking back on his powerpoint slides, I see that the objectives that he laid out made sense. Proactive approaches to behavior are better than reactive ones; avoid using punishment. The avoidance of using punishment is an interesting notion. One I hadn’t actively considered but I seemingly am finding that punishing O is completely ineffective. Something that I would never, ever have considered before I stepped into these shoes. So, Dr. Crazy states that:

1. punishment has no teaching component   2. punishment models the use of coercion  3. punishment creates anger and provokes aggression  4. punishment is often reinforcing to the person using it  5. people adapt to a punisher, requiring an increase in intensity over time  6. punishment is a reactive strategy. What to do instead? Crisis management, followed by instruction in appropriate behavior, re-creating the scene.

After I get the yuckiness of his impression upon me out of my head, I will be able to think more clearly about his message. Unfortunately I’m still stuck on that hideous laugh he emitted. That should be omitted indefinitely. The last thing that people in the position of having to admit their child into a group home should have to endure is THAT stupid chuckle. Have I exhausted my point yet?

I saved the best for last. Dr. Gary Stobbe. Does this man have a facebook fan club yet? If not, I might have to be in charge of such an honorable task. The fact that he is extremely charismatic doesn’t hurt. The fact that he is a trained neurologist means that he brings a great deal more depth to the conversation. The fact that he was talking about biomedical approaches to autism made my heart flutter. He seems to have a broader understanding of this spectrum. There is a quality to his speaking that says, ‘parent, I’m not giving up, neither should you’. He emits hope. Yet, just to be clear, he did say that there is no cure to autism. I still need to believe. I’m going to pretend that he said that there is a cure and that everything is going to be okay. Oooohhh…I feel better already, and hopeful. I need live in the make believe for a little bit. Like when the trolley to The Neighborhood of Makebelieve showed up on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. That soothing sound of the trolley that came to whisk you away after you were ever so gently told of whatever mishap in the world by a caring, loving man in a cardigan with indoor sneakers and a soft, gentle voice. Once you arrived in the Neighborhood of Makebelieve, everything was always so hopeful. All of the lessons learned were and beautiful and inspiring. Like you were wearing rose colored, cloudy glasses.¬†The real world didn’t seem as bad any longer. You were then ready to go back. It was always good for a few minutes to escape to that world. I feel like I need that escape right now. Just for a day. Just long enough to gain some perspective.

 

WTB: size 5/6 yellow pants…any style October 16, 2009

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Okay, so the title sums up our Old Navy experience the other day. ¬†I was so excited to take our dear O shopping for some new clothes. Since he is obsessed with wearing all the same color (red shorts + red shirts, blue shorts + blue shirts, etc…). We have to keep this in mind when shopping. ¬†We can’t just shop. We have to shop for ‘outfits’. I learned with Julian that when you involve them in the shopping experience that they tend to wear the items far more than if you just buy them and stick them in their closets. So, off to Old Navy in Alderwood. Yet another place that we are barred from. Yikes, this list is growing! So we walk in the store and he just totally freaks out. ¬†The whole kicking, screaming, crying, laying on the floor, full on tantrum. I used every tool in my parenting tool box to try and divert him to shopping for his clothes with me. To no avail. He then came over and I thought that he might be opening up to the idea, but no, he came over to punch me in the stomach. Another fine parenting moment! Of course, there were a multitude of over-knowledged parents around with their very well behaved children in their shopping cart who weren’t making a single peep (FYI…who ARE you?! I have had 3 kids and none of them are like that, at all. ¬†What am I doing wrong?!! Maybe I need to do a work study at your house for a day to learn some lessons!) What I didn’t appreciate from the surrounding parent group was ‘the look’. The look that said, ‘Good grief woman, what are you doing to your kid to get him to behave like THAT?! You SUCK as a parent!’ Of course, the amount of frustration that I was enduring during that 10 minute stretch most likely amounted in a look that said, ‘yeah…come on…just make THAT comment, lady! ¬†Bring it on!’ ¬†What kind of crazy person have I become that I exude such emotions! I wonder about this myself, so don’t worry, I’ve got it covered in the worry category. After about 10 minutes of pure parenting bliss, I managed to coax him to come with me after I noticed a bubble gum like looking machine that sold bouncy balls for 25 cents. Sweet!! That’s a small price to pay for a little peace and a chance at some compliance. Unfortunately it only stuck for a couple of minutes. But, at least I could get him to the back of the store and wasn’t in fear of him running into the parking lot or knocking down the mannequin display (like we did at The University Bookstore last week…oops). I was on a quick search for outfits. ¬†Just shove them in the blue oversized Old Navy shopping bag. Yellow is the color of choice right now and I found a long sleeved yellow shirt, but no pants. Darn! I got a green outfit, jeans in two different shades and styles, a blue outfit, and a yellow shirt. Seriously though, what company would make yellow pants. ¬†I can’t imagine that they’d be a big seller except perhaps for the OCD/ASD crowd that we are now apparent a distinct part of. And, I’m kinda freaking out about what an outfit that included wearing jeans might be in terms of matching it with a shirt. ¬†What color? What texture? Gosh, should I start looking for matching denim shirts? Where would I buy those?

We came home after a little more ado to get ready for the bus to pick O up and take him to his afternoon pre-k program at View Ridge Elementary. After a lot of bribing and dealings, he was outside, waiting for the yellow bus with me. After the 30 minute wait, he was done. Took off his boots, coat, backpack. He was yelling that he didn’t want t0 go to school and that he hated school. I thought about trying to get him into the car and taking him to school. I thought of the physical and emotional toll on both of us, first to get into the car, and second to get from the car to the classroom. I decided that I couldn’t do it. It was too much. Ever since Saturday, the emotions have overrun me. It’s good though because I had been wondering when the flood gate was going to open. If you see me walking down the street crying, just ignore me. It’s where I’m at right now and I can’t help it. I could try and fight it, but can’t seem to want to because it’s me grieving. I need to do this.

I chewed out the SPS transportation guy on the phone. I feel bad. How could he have known that O is O and couldn’t deal with 30 minute wait for the bus that never came. I should call and apologize. Maybe I’ll make him a homemade card with glitter, cutouts and embossed stamps to say that I’m sorry. ¬†Is it okay if I just think this thought of an apology and call it good? Please. When I got off the phone I was so mad. I wasn’t mad AT O, I was just mad that I couldn’t make it happen or just plain that it didn’t happen. About 10 minutes later, O said, ‘I’m so sorry, Mom’. I know that he truly is sorry so I know that he has remorse but at that very second I couldn’t receive the apology. I was done, too. I didn’t say anything. I had to go to a volunteer training at Julian’s school. GAWD, that was so not the brain space that I was in at the moment. It was painful. I got there, tried to adjust, but just couldn’t. A lady sitting in front of me was going on and on about how she just can’t get over how now that she is working out so much that she has to get an entire new wardrobe. The look on my face at that moment probably said, ‘Uh…seriously?!’ OMG!! But, then as my mind went down that path, I caught myself and reminded myself of our family virtue of the week…Compassion. Yes, I so don’t appreciate it when people judge me, so how could I judge her? Who am I to judge anyone for that matter? Who knows what her reality is? I do know that the grass is always greener. Her reality could be so horrible that she has focus on superficial matters like the terror of replacing her wardrobe due to her huge jump from a size 0 to a size 2 wardrobe. I’m being sarcastic and rude, but really, who knows what her reality is. I certainly don’t. I’m learning in our week of focus on Compassion that it is also important to be compassionate with yourself. Sometimes the constant self-criticism results in being in a place that lacks a significant amount of compassion. Self-compassion. Just created a new word!

After all of this talk of the difficult Monday that was, Tuesday was okay. O managed to go to school. Granted I had to accompany him on the bus, hand him off screaming to his teacher. But, he came home on the bus and was really proud of how he took the bus home. He was proud that he rode the yellow school bus with the bus driver named Sandy. He carried on a beautiful conversation about it. Told everyone he interacted with. So proud and so darned sweet. Love that little guy!

Then on Wednesday, I had a blissful O moment when I went to take his lunch to school that he had forgotten. I didn’t know how he would receive me because it wasn’t in the exact spelled out schedule of the day. But, when that little guy saw me his entire face lit up and he shouted so happily, ‘Mom! You brought me my lunch! That is so nice of you!’ He gave me a huge hug and I was speechless. My beautiful little O. I need to remember that exact look on his sweet face when I am contending with the O that I don’t yet understand…the one that falls apart in Old Navy for no reason. The O that throws an Elmo toy at the TV and shatters it for no predictable reason. Remind me of that sweet face in those more difficult moment, please.