Thursday, 30 August 2012

God Blessed Me This Morning

Today was Nate's first day back at ABA in about a month.  Not exactly as earth shattering as a first day of kindergarten, but very important nonetheless.  Every day that he goes to "school" I count as a lucky day.  We are so fortunate to live in a county with such a wonderful program, and I have actually been stressed out that he has not been going this past month.  And I wanted to document it, make a big deal of it for him too.  I honestly don't think he notices, but it matters to me.

I have talked before of the trials of photographing a child on the spectrum.  Jack is SO MUCH BETTER these day, as evidenced by yesterday's pictures.  Nathan- is a real challenge.  Getting him to look at the camera feels like an Olympic event.  But better to have the occasion documented with him staring into space than not at all right?

As you can see, it was not going so swimmingly.  But once again, at least he was in front of the door like Jack.  I really wanted a picture of us together.  That is asking A LOT.  Especially since I was the only grownup in the house

At first I really though that this was as good as it would get.  I tried with him outside and it was just too distracting. I couldn't get him to hold still long enough to get us both in the frame.  I was using my i-phone.  It has the "flip" option for taking a picture of yourself, basically, when you view the screen using this option it's like looking in a mirror.  See Nate in the above picture?  He has just noticed he can see himself and mommy.  And here is what happened....

Are these the best pictures in the history of the world?  Maybe not to you.  To me, the answer is a resounding YES!!!  Thank you God for giving me a few pictures with my littlest boy.  These pictures mean the world to me.

Have a good day buddy!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Fly Away My Little Plane!!

Well today was the day we put our little boy on the bus.  Dry eyes?  Not a chance.  Fear?  Immense.  Hope?  You betcha!  We went to Folger yesterday to meet the teacher and Jack did beautifully.  He was polite and well-behaved.  And mommy got to get a picture of Jack and Daddy in front of the elementary school that they have now both gone to- so cool.  While I was talking to the teacher, Jack was asked to write his name and draw a picture of himself.  He did both with no prompting or reminding.  I don't know if that's typical or not- but to me it felt extraordinary.  My boy follows directions and completes tasks- Score!  We were able to work on little things like how to open a locker, etc, which actually gave me some comfort- and I know they will help them these first few weeks.  It's new for all the kids.  We also had the opportunity to meet the special educator, who made the effort to come find us and introduce herself.  We also received a letter from his OT.  A good start...

Jack really seemed to get that this is a big deal.  He has watched me assembling all of his supplies, labeling everything except his actual body, packing his lunch, etc.  He's been talking about the bus for a long time, and was so excited to get to ride finally.  He did ask multiple times if I would be coming with him, but seemed to accept it when I told him he had to go with the other kids.  
It was very reassuring to me that all of the kindergarten kids have these on their backpacks- have been so worried about him getting lost in the shuffle!

I won't deny that I was a little shaky this morning while packing his lunch and getting him dressed.  I was talking to a male coworker of mine yesterday, and we agreed that at a milestone like this one, all you can picture is your guy as an infant.  It's especially poignant for me to put him on the bus because we used to walk past this exact bus stop every morning before work and watch the kids.  Jack would sometimes cry to get on the bus too.  I would say "someday when you're big".  He's not big!!!!  Well, I guess he is....he seems so small to me.
Jack got on the bus, no muss no fuss, in fact he told daddy to stop holding his hand.  John and I looked at each other like, sniff, sniff.  But I am extremely proud of him.  So he wandered all the way to the back of the bus and then back to the front when the driver called what?  He was brave!  I would like to say that I didn't follow the bus- well I guess that technically I didn't.  John and I drove straight to the school and hid so that we could watch him get off of the bus, make sure he got where he needed to be.  There were an army of teachers waiting for the kindergarten kids.  Seemed almost like 1 person to each kid as they got off the bus.  We could see Jack just talking and talking away to everyone around him.  No tears, no resistance.  He was ready to go!  We must be doing something right.....

Sending any child to school, on a bus, for the first time is very nerve wracking.  Add special needs to the picture and it feels like you are climbing Mount Everest.  I know that I'm a worry wart and I don't apologize for it- Jack needs for me to worry.  He needs someone in his corner, advocating for him.  I worry he won't pay attention, I worry he will get lost, I worry he will be bullied.  But I know that he will try to do what is asked of him, and that I have prepared him in the best way I have known how.  John and I could not be any prouder of our little boy today.

One of my coworkers and best friends sent me this letter this morning.  Her aunt sent it to her on her son's first day of school (maybe 25 years ago).  And today she shared it with me. She also gave me permission to share it with you....and yes, you will cry!

Dear Teacher,

My son starts to school this week.
It's all going to be strange and new to him for awhile, and I wish you would sort of treat him gently.  He's been boss of the backyard, I have always been around to repair his wounds and I've always been handy to soothe his feelings.  But now. . . things are going to be different.  He is going to walk down the front steps, wave his hand, and start on his great adventure that probably will include wars and tragedy and sorrow.  To live his life in the world he has to live in, will require faith and love and courage. 
So, teacher, I wish you would sort of take him by his young hand and teach him the things he will have to know.  Teach him. . . but gently --- if you can.  He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, that all men are not true. 
Teach him that for every scoundrel, there is a hero, that for every crooked politician there is a dedicated leader.  Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend.  Let him learn early that bullies are the easiest people to lick. 
Teach him the wonders of books.  Give him the quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on a green hill.
Teach him that it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat.  Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is getting on the bandwagon.  Teach him to listen to all men, but to filter all her hears on a screen of truth and then take only the good that comes through.
Teach him to sell his brawn and brains to the highest bidder, but never put a price tag on his heart and soul.
Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob, and to stand and fight if he thinks he's right.
Teach him gently, but don't coddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.
This is a big order, teacher, but see what you can do.
He's such a nice, little fellow, my son.

A Mother

Monday, 27 August 2012

One Finish Line....

I have heard so many times just how lucky I am to work from home.  And I agree 100%.  Between going to the boys' appointments, being here for deliveries and service appointments, and having unlimited good coffee, it's a pretty sweet deal.  Today however, I would like to pay tribute to what my life has been like since Jack was born.  Since he was an infant, I have had daycare until approximately 2:00pm each day.  There have been short periods where I have asked the sitter to stay later, but for the most part this has been it.  So I have daycare 6hrs a day.  Before Nathan was born, I actually had some people ask me if daycare was really necessary.  Couldn't Jack just "hang out" while I do that little job of mine?  BAH!  I say BAH!  Would you bring your child to work every single day and let them "hang out" during your meetings?  Listen to you talk about serious medical issues that are not always very appetizing?  Let your clients listen to them scream in the background and demand more PB&J?  Didn't think so.  This is not some "little job" or hobby of mine.  One of our first sitters would at times act like I was doing nothing all day, or make comments that it was nice that I could have that time to myself and keep my hand in my area of interest.  Used to make me so mad!  I work a 40 hour a week REAL job.  I am not one to toot my own horn, but finally one day, after months of hearing this, I pulled her aside and explained to her that this was basically a 50/50 husband/wife scenario.  She never mentioned it again.

That being said, I have used working from home as an opportunity to save a bit on daycare.  My husband happens to get home fairly early from work, so if I have more calls to make, I can make them once he gets home.  Or, as I have mentioned before, lock myself in the bathroom.  It's very glamorous, this "career" of mine.

So we are nearing one finish line of sorts....Jack- full day kindergarten. His school has the "late" start time, which means he will not be getting off the bus to come home until 3:50pm.  What?!?!  First of all, I am concerned about him handling this late of a day.  But honestly, the thing that first comes to mind is Free at Last!!!!!!  Jack is an awesome kid- he is also an incredibly verbal kid.  With zero concept of quiet, inside voice, whisper, etc.  At least not at home; he did pretty well at school after awhile last year.  I try like anything to have all of my important calls for the day made before the sitter leaves, or to schedule them for after John is home.  The best laid plans.....never work.  I have found myself working in some very awkward situations over the past 5 years.  Locked in my office with both kids screaming and pounding on the door while I talk to the medical director in a calm, professional manner (yes, of course my kids will both need therapy, sigh), throwing stuff in the crock pot while talking to another coordinator, stopping the spin cycle on my washing machine every time I receive an incoming call (yes, my office is in the laundry room- talk about your glamour).  Or there was that period where Jack would wait until the sitter left, defecate, and decorate.  At 2:45 almost daily.  Even with all of the precautions I would take.  Those days were ROUGH.  Bottom line- I am a survivor!

What will the days be like now?  Both boys to school by 9am.  I will still have to have the sitter right now b/c Nathan has to be driven back and forth to ABA until he is 3, at which time he too will go on a bus.  Nathan takes a NAP in the afternoon.  Jack will be at school until almost 4pm?  Seriously??? My spreadsheets are going to be spotless!  My nerves will no longer be fried!  I will not be redirecting a small child every 5 seconds with my hands while trying to talk to someone like a grown up!  Like I said.....FREEDOM!

Things I will not miss:

about 30 seconds later.....

and about 5 minutes later.....

Those are the things I WON'T miss.  Does this mean I won't cry like a baby when I put him on that bus?  Ha, I am sure you all know better by now....

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Just What the Doctor Ordered...

So much to say, so much to say.  First I would have to say that John has earned the husband gold star for the day.  Not only did he watch the boys for 12 hours so that I could embark on this trip down memory lane, but when the power went out (yes, you read that correctly, the power went out AGAIN), his text to me said, and I quote "we will be fine hon, don't worry".  That means more than all the flowers in the world.  LOVE YOU and thank you!  And luckily, THIS time it was only a few hours....

So today I headed "home" for the day.  The main purpose of the trip was to attend one of my oldest friend's baby shower, but being the multi-tasker that I am, I managed to cram this day as full of meaning as I possibly could.  I took my mom with me, it was our first outing without the boys since, well, since Jack was born (that would be 5 years people).  It was also my first trip back home since before John and I got engaged- so that would be 10 years.  Holy Moly!
yep, no resemblance at all...

When I tell people I'm from "Jersey" I know that it conjures up a certain image.  Smoke stacks right?  Allow me to introduce you to my New Jersey- Medford Lakes....1 square mile, 5 beaches, countless bike trails, 1 golf course, 1 "trading post", 1 church, 1 police station, 2 elementary/middle schools.  And that is ALL.

our old house....

Some pictures of our town.....
bike path


So as you can see, it's beautiful.  I was very very lucky to grow up here (at least from age 10 on).  Our little neighborhood was especially tight, I had three "moms" and "dads", and felt completely at ease walking into all of those homes unannounced.  I babysat all of the kids in the neighborhood, most since infancy.  And yes, they have all pretty much graduated from college at this point, gasp, I am OLD!  My mom and I met up with one of my other "moms" (and a close friend of the whole family) for brunch today.  It was just wonderful.

Meet dad #2, Dan.  Hilarious guy who is currently working with mom #2 on completely gutting house #3 that they have renovated in Medford Lakes.  I will never forget the first time I babysat at their house- I was 14....the first thing he said to me was "stay out of the liquor cabinet!".  You have to know me pretty well to understand just how absurd of a statement this was.  I was pretty tame.  Of course, he also happened to spot me the ONE time I smoked a cigarette in high school, and I was like a mile from our house- he held it over my head for YEARS.  I told my mom about it today, ha.
Here is mom #2 Bobbie- we had an awesome brunch and had a chance to catch up.  Hadn't seen her since my wedding day!  Love her!
After brunch we headed over to my friend Pam's childhood home.  Pam is one of my oldest friends, one of the first people I met when I moved to New Jersey.  We were 10.  We have been lucky enough to stay in pretty close touch- she moved to Annapolis shortly after Jack was born, and just recently left me to move to North Carolina with her husband.  Sigh, if you must :).  I have never been so happy to see one of my friends preggers!  She looks fabulous, and there's just something about seeing an old friend so happy....
I asked her today if she remembers why her nickname was Pamer, and she had no idea either....

gorgeous pregnant lady!

mom won!
Pamer and her mommy!

Despite 6 hours in the car, today left me feeling so invigorated!  I forgot how much it means to feel like you're "home".  I forgot how great it is to drive down a street and have a hundred memories come to mind.  I think I need to go home more often!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Tonight it makes me smile....

Usually watching this makes me really sad, for what it feels like we lost.  Tonight, it makes me giggle.  He's in there somewhere.....

Friday, 24 August 2012

Run Wild for Autism

OK, so I promised myself that I would run a race for autism this year if it killed me.  And this one looks like it could be fun for everyone.  I am sharing it here for two reasons:  1.  to hold myself accountable and 2.  because they are doing teams for the first time this year.  So if you are interested in joining me in the run, or doing the fun run/walk either facebook message me or email me  Or if you want to contribute financially, that would be lovely too.  I will wait until the end of the weekend, if I have several families that would like to join me, then I will create a team, if not, then we can all register individually.

The race takes place on Sunday Sept 16th.  It's at the Maryland Zoo.  All families that have a child with autism get free admission to the zoo for the day on race day!  It looks like if there is a team, the whole team gets free admission.  If not, any other participants at least get discounted admission on that day.

Here's a little background on Pathfinder's for Autism (we have been getting acquainted this past year):

Pathfinders, Inc. (d/b/a Pathfinders for Autism) was established as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in February 2000 by parents of children with autism, including Baltimore Orioles Hall of Famer William "B.J." Surhoff, his wife Polly Winde Surhoff. After 18 months of development, Pathfinders for Autism launched the Pathfinders for Autism Resource Center – offering knowledgeable staff and a searchable online database to help families in Maryland find critical service providers quickly and efficiently.
Since then, Pathfinders for Autism has grown into the State's largest autism organization dedicated to helping individuals, parents and professionals find resources, supports and training while working to increase the awareness of autism spectrum disorders and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We are proud of what we've been able to accomplish and look forward to continued successes in the years ahead.

Very worthy cause!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Mission Accomplished!!!

Today I CALLED ahead to Hair Cuttery and was told there was no wait.  So I hightailed my butt (and the boys) over there in 10 minutes flat....only to discover literally 8 people had walked in during that time period.  Sigh.  Oh well.  I figured while I was at it I might as well get both boys' hair cut.  So now they are ready for school next week (eek!!!!)  I won't say it went particularly well, but we had the stylist for Nate who is very patient and VERY quick.  So that was good.  Jack did well- he did however have about four people convinced that he has a pet lobster at home? one point he even whipped out his fake walky-talky and said "clover (this is what he calls his toy lobster) do you copy?  this is mama lobster, are you holding down the fort?"  This HAS to be from a movie, but I just can't place it!  

see, short!!!  

ummm, yeah, she has to be quick....
the child who gets NO sugar gets a lollipop for this!  works every time

we hit the toy store quickly afterwards, where Nate spent an inordinate amount of time talking to the stuffed giraffe you see in the background, and Jack selected a, gasp, plane!
look at this handsome boy!!!

this is the aftermath of sugar when you never ever have it....

Now it is time for me to grab a shower as after this experience I am always covered with a combination of sweat, lollipop stickiness and baby hair clippings from holding this little booger still!