Monday, June 30, 2008

Why won't they give it up?

We all know what it's like when the toddler won't take their nap. They just will not GIVE IT UP and LET GO! My daughter's never been good about her naps, she really doesn't require a lot of sleep (like momma) but sometimes it's incredibly necessary.

My grandmother recently came into town, staying with my parents. We made the trek (a good 2.5 miles) over to my folks' place to see her. My daughter was her sparkling self for about the first 20 minutes. Cute, showing off her words, giving high fives, being overall incredibly entertaining. Then it HIT. Stumbling, whining, not letting go of the fact that it's too windy to play outside.

And when I mean not letting go, boy do I mean not letting go. Hanging from the door handle, literally. (Mind you my folks just put in a new door--and I know it wasn't cheap--glass door, fancy screen that folks' dog ruined days after it was put in). Kicking at the floor, screaming, "GO! GO!"

Now, normally when this happens, I'd pack her up and take her home and to bed. But here's the thing. I'm thinking if I do this, she's going to think we're going outside to play and I will never get her in the mini-van. (Yup I'm a total mini-van mama--I love it, it's the best car I've ever had. So much easier to get kid in and out of). I can pick her up, of course, but when she's like this, I know it means kicking violently and then I get it in the gut and have to put her down anyway.

So we distract her with the My Little Pony coloring book and crayons and this works for a while. Then grandma gives her a cookie. Oh no! It's the kind with M&Ms in it! Ugh! She digs out the said candy coated chocolates. It takes me three baths to get that crap out from under her fingernails. (I keep telling grandma to quit buying them, but am waved away with, "but she loves them.") So much for that.

Finally, I take her home. I get all the necessities for nap time ready for her (favorite blanket, pillow, etc.) I get her down. I kiss her and shut the door. I turn on the tv. I can actually watch something I want! I am still flipping channels when....she walks out of the bedroom.

The child is not going to sleep...she's wide awake and ready to roll. Are you kidding me???

Friday, June 27, 2008

Not Always Great

I was warned in the world of autism, that we'd have a lot of highs and lows with our daughter. Being the hyper-sensitive that I am, this worried me. Today reminded me why.

I went to a training on working with kids with autism and asperger syndrome. Great, proactive parent (and teacher). Not great, I left feeling pretty depressed.

Yes, I got some interesting strategies to try. Yes, I got titles of books to go find that might help me as both parent and teacher.

But man...some of the case studies and especially a video...really bummed me out. Not one of the kids they interviewed or showed on the video had friends! It terrified me. Some of them even vocalized feelings like, "When we were all little, I had friends. In preschool and kindergarten, people talked to me and played with me. Now, if people talk to me, it's mean and laugh at me a lot."

Ok. I am around teens all day. I KNOW how they are. But this really hit home for me and it scares me to death of my daughter. Everyone in this world wants to fit in somewhere. I've always known I might have to move for her education. Now I'm wondering if we'll need to move so she can be around other kids like her. What are the answers? At one point in the video, I had to go out into the hallway because I knew I was going to start sobbing.

How do you other parents deal with this? I love my daughter with all of my heart and more, but I know her dad and I won't be enough for her. Have you found social outlets for your kids? Please let me know.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Do For Others Thursday

When I was in college, I had this ridiculous part time job in the mall. I got about 12-15 hours per week. It was tough finding part time work in the area, as the college was a huge percentage of the town's population.

I remember I had 11 bucks in my checking account. This had to feed me for a week and put gas in my car. I am sure I had some food at my apartment (Thank God for mom and dad loading me up with groceries whenever I came home).

My boss calls before I was due into work and tells me to bring donuts and juice in when I come, because the big wigs from corporate were there. Ugh. She was always telling us to do stuff like this, saying she'd pay us for it when we got there, and then would tell us she had no cash but would bring it in the next time we worked. It never seemed to appear.

But, I need the stupid job so I go to buy the donuts and juice. I'm waiting in line and I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to live on the 5 bucks I'll have left. I get up to be rung up, and the kid says my total is six dollars and something. I go to write the check and he says, "The man that was two ahead of you left me ten bucks to pay for your groceries."

WHAT??? Do I actually LOOK as destitute as I feel??? I'm clean, my clothes look nice for work, my hair and make up are done.

No, it was just a really nice man. He was long gone by the time I was helped, so I never got to thank him. What a wonderful person. I wish I knew who he was.

So that's my good deed story for this week. What can you do this week to help another person???

Wednesdays is book day! (book 3)

Today's book suggestion is A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines. MUST READ!

Monday, June 23, 2008

What do you do for fun?

We do a lot of things with our daughter that are a blast. This summer we've been lake swimming twice, grilled out several times, swim daily in our yard inflatable baby pool, to the zoo, etc. But what do you adults do for fun?

For me, it's always the simpler the better. Tonight after class, I met up with four friends for a girls' supper. We met at a great place, had great food and just caught up. For me, this is the ultimate fun because time is so precious that I rarely get to do it. I love being one of the girls for a couple of hours--with no kiddo worries, no work worries, no life worries.

I also stopped by Half Price Books while I was there and spent a whopping 3 bucks and got 2 books to read. This is the ULTIMATE fun for me. I'm cheap, so I hate spending money on books, but for 3 bucks, I can pamper myself for a few days until I'm done with them. :)

But here's the kicker. Moms, I bet you've felt this a million times. I work hard. I work my A** off, matter of fact! So why do I always feel so guilty for spending the three bucks? Or the 17 that dinner cost me? I also got a pedicure...that was 30 bucks. Sounds frivilous. But do you know the last time I did any of those things??? Let's see...I bought a book about a month ago. (Huge fan of libraries and garage sales for books). I did go out to lunch a week ago, but only because I had a gift certificate. So before that, I probably hadn't spent money in a restaurant for months, and a pedicure??? I know exactly when it was. One year ago. I had one the last time I took a class, which was this time last summer.

Do I feel I deserve these extravagances once in a while? Rationally, yes. It's not like I do it often and trust me when I remind you that I'm cheap. Why do we moms feel so guilty about it? To be honest, I blame my mother (in a good way). The woman never bought new clothes, never went out with friends, never went to movies. She did this so my sisters and I could have everything we needed (and most of what we wanted). I also blame doctor bills. They are our biggest challenge (and college loans).

How 'bout you, Moms? Does this bother you? How do you balance it and still find time and the wits to do things for yourself?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Language Acquistion

I'm working on my reading endorsement in the state of Iowa, so that I can teach high school reading classes as well as language arts/English. Did I want to do this? Nope. But I have to in order to keep my job so ya do what ya gotta do. (I don't think they'd actually fire me, but it's just easier to do what they tell ya to do sometimes). The first three classes I had to take were okay. They could actually relate to me as a high school teacher. Then there was this language acquisition class. Man did I dread it. I put if off until last.

Someone was watching out for me, though. I started these courses before my daughter was diagnosed with autism, so when I was choosing to put it off--I had no idea that I would be taking the class right when my daughter would be learning language. She's three now--two years ago when I started this endorsement, I had no idea that her language would be delayed. Now I'm taking the class at a time when I might actually learn something to help my daughter.

If any of you are teachers, you know that you have to take a lot of classes and a lot of workshops that are (how do I say delicately?) CRAP. I always try to go in with an open mind and just take from each of them what I can that relates to me and my classroom. So the idea of actually being able to use something to help my own child? That's VERY unusual!

So class starts tomorrow (Monday) which is why I'm posting tonight. Hopefully I'll learn something new and useful. Don't think about the fact that I'm totally not prepared, as I spent today chasing daughter at grandma's house in and out of the baby pool for two hours as hubby and grandparents cleaned out the gutters. I even forgot to pick up a notebook when I was at Wal-Mart today :)

Parents of children with autism...tell me how communication and language is going/has gone for your child. I'd love to share stories and find out what is helping our kids.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Trip to the Zoo

I had to work last night until late, so everyone was sleeping when I got home. Do I love this? Sometimes, heck yes! I got spend a little alone time with a book before going down for the count myself. I awoke at 7 am to daughter saying, "Milk, milk." So I know these means that she just woke up and hubby has gone fishing (something he does every single morning that I don't have to be somewhere).

So I get up to get a cup of milk for daughter and hubby calls, saying we should take daughter to the zoo today. Now, I'm not raggin' on the zoo in the area. It's fine. But after living in San Antonio (where they have a magnificent zoo) and taking daughter to Omaha Zoo (which just plain ROCKS), this one seems...well...tiny. Which is ok, because daughter is REALLY into animals right now and it's about her and I think it's a great idea. Go hubby!

So we went this morning. It was good. Started out a bit rocky, as daughter spilled her juice all over the car seat and it looked like she wet herself. I promise she didn't! Daughter kept asking for bear, which disappointed her when there were none. She did say "hee-haw" to all the donkeys and *trumpet sound* to the baby elephant and "meow" to the lions and "grrrr" to the tigers (why tigers are more fierce than that huge male lion, I'll never know).

I try to take daughter as many places as I can. I know she needs these experiences. Part of me can't help but look at other kids her age and wonder if she'll ever catch up. And if she doesn't...that's okay. Autism is a weird monster, because she looks completely, 100% "normal" (and I know I'm the mom, but daughter is GORGEOUS) people sometimes judge a little bit. Yes, my 3 year old still has to wear pull ups, yes, my 3 year old gets ooed and aawed over when she makes animal sounds. But she's making connections! I want to scream at everyone, "Hey! My kid just meowed at a lion! She gets it!"

Thursday, June 19, 2008

doing for others thursday

Installment two of doing for others. I got to thinking about this, and was trying to think of things that would help out the people I see on a daily basis.

When you take the kids to the pool, take your neighbor's or friend's kids as well--just once--to give mom a break.

Donate sports equipment to your local YMCA or Boys and Girls Club. (They also like board games, puzzles, etc. to be donated there too).

Contact your local high schools and middle schools and see if they have a mentor program. Become one if they do. Trust me when I tell you that teens and young adults need positive role models now more than ever.

Good Luck. Everyone please go out this week and do something to help someone else. Then come back and tell me about it. It can be super small or super big. I'd love to see what we're all doing!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

wednesday means get a good book!! (book 2)

This week's book is another favorite that I have read several times. The title is The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve. It was also an Oprah book and I just loved it.

Also, I'm in a book club so if anyone ever wants titles of things to read, give me a shout. We read about a book a month and then meet to discuss it. We take turns picking books, so we've got a good variety.

stay calm, stay cool

Deep breaths. You are not an angry person. You don't really want to hit this woman, even though you picturing it over and over in your mind, kind of like on that show Ally McBeal when Ally would see things happen that weren't.

What's causing this distress, you ask? You all know someone like her. The BRAGGART. OH MY GOD! Shut up! I don't care that your daughter is a math genius. I highly doubt you're a member of MENSA (and who cares, I can send a check and take the test too--what's that prove?), and I doubt that neither of your precious daughters ever drank, smoked, or had sex in high school!

I know, I sound petty...but please, oh lord please. Let's all learn a lesson from this woman! I love my daughter, you know I do. But if I ever get the holier than though tone when talking about her--you all have my permission to let me know.

That's not to say that we can't brag on our kids some--it's normal and exciting to talk about how our kids are learning and growing. But I live in the REAL WORLD, where kids make mistakes, make messes, and fall in love when they're 16 and do things we wish they wouldn't. (which reminds me...we teach no protection sex ed at this school I work in--let's put pools in all of our yards, but tell our kids we won't teach them to swim safely).

OK, I think I've at least replaced the image of me pummeling this woman to death out of my mind. Well....I can't help it if it's replaced by the image of her in that pool, naked, with all the neighbors pointing and laughing.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thursdays = things you can do to help others

Recently, a friend of mine was in a funk. Ok, maybe more than that...we're bordering on some pretty serious depression here. Having some huh-hummm experience in that area, I told her the one thing that ALWAYS makes me feel better and puts things in perspective for me is helping other people. I know it sounds cliche, but seriously, it WORKS. Not only do you feel better for doing it, but you see how happy it can make others. PLUS, when you start doing things like that for others, people in general start being nicer to you--maybe even doing little thigns for you, too. That's the one selfish part, and of course you don't expect it, but when it happens it makes you realize that you're worth kindness and sometimes we all need to be reminded of that.

I don't want to sound like I'm braggin' on myself, so I'm not going to go into stories of things I have done, but I'll share some things others have done for me. This picture was taken at the fundraiser that my very good friend and colleague had for my daughter. As you can imagine, her doctor bills are outrageous and if you didn't know...autism is NOT something health insurance covers...and I mean any health covered. He had his son DJ a small, middle of the day, dance at school. It was great. My daughter came and danced with the big kids and had a bawl. You can see her dancing in the background there. He raised us a lot of money and I am forever grateful.

Another example is that three teens (sons of before mentioned colleague, btw) mow my lawn. I don't even have to call. They keep an eye on it and just come over and do it when it needs to be done. Needless to say, this is wonderful as a professional service costs a fortune and with our doctor bills, we couldn't afford a new mower when we needed one (we have a very big yard). Of course, I slip them a little cash, but nothing like what the value of them doing this is. They are amazing boys and always make me feel cared about, not to mention the fabulousness of having the yard taken care of without worry.

Other things you can do to help others:
take an older neighbor to the store
watch a stay at home mom's kids for a few hours so she can get out
take a few of the cans from your cupboard to a local food bank or meal site
sand bags!!!

More ideas next Thursday. I challenge each of you to try one!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

wednesday means get a good book!!

Okayyyy it's Wednesday! Book recommendation time. This week's recommendation, for those who have never read it is The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck. I'm ashamed to say that I just read it for the first time (I mean, c'mon whoever heard of an English major NOT reading it) but it was amazing. I finally see why Oprah picked the book for her book club a couple of years ago.

If you've read it, give me your thoughts. Otherwise, go to the library and check it out--worth the read. I'd love to hear what you think.

I won't say anything about it yet until I've heard what yout think. New book title next week!

The picture is one of my former students showing off all the books he read in a semester. This was also back when I had a classroom *sigh*

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

famous people with autistic traits

My daughter is not what my mind first went to when they said "autism." She is happy, hugging, sweet, and funny. She does not rock back and forth. She does not hit her head on things. She does have definite characteristics, don't get me wrong. Her speech is incredibly limited. Communication is very hard for her. She would rather be alone than with kids her age. She is SUPER into organization (lines up things by color quite often). She would rather figure out how something works than play with it as it is intended.

I've spent MANY hours researching autism and have found that some very famous people have autistic are a few. These people may be on the autism spectrum, just have characteristics, or are just unique and cool to the rest of us :)

Isaac Newton

John Denver

Franz Kafka

George Bernard Shaw

Mark Twain
Vincent VanGogh

Jim Henson

Andy Kaufman

Charles Shultz

Andy Warhol

Woody Allen

Bob Dylan

Bill Gates

Al Gore

John Nash

Keanu Reeves

I think my daughter is in good company :)