Monday, January 31, 2011

When Did I Become Patient?

My daughter had a bad week. It wasn't entirely surprising since she has seemed "off" for the past couple of weeks (poorer eye contact, spacey, etc.). But she had two tantrums, one at school and one at home. Actually, I'm amazed that I can now say this is a bad week, when she used to have 5 tantrums a day, easily! She does seem to be growing out of the tantrums though (finally), so two in one week is a lot for her!

After the tantrum she had at home, my husband commented on how much more patient I am than he is during them. I was shocked to hear this, since this wasn't always the case. I use to tantrum along with my daughter! I don't know when exactly this changed. I think it's a function of two reasons.

One big change is that my daughter and I used to be together nonstop, especially during her (really) terrible twos. I was so worn down, that I don't think I had any reserves. Even when she went to preschool, the three-hour break a day I'd get for two or three days a week, while heavenly at first, wasn't enough to really regain sanity. So when my daughter tantrummed, I would often lose my patience and yell and scream.

Now, she isn't tantrumming as much and she's at school for over 6 hours a day. These two things make it a lot easier to deal with when it does happen. Her tantrums are much shorter in duration than they used to be too. So, I find it a lot easier to cope with when they happen.

The other big change is that I've learned techniques to deal with them when they happen. The biggest technique is to just simply ignore the tantrum and walk away. During my daughter's last tantrum, she expressed anger when I started to ignore her. I simply told her that if she wanted my attention, she had to simply stop crying, and I'd give it to her. Now that she's older, she realizes that she won't get her way by tantrumming. It doesn't stop them from happening completely but it does help with the duration.

My husband went from telling me I needed to learn to model appropriate behavior during our daughter's tantrums to complimenting me on my patience and composure!

I've come a long way! But I think I have because my daughter's come a long way too!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blog Gems--Holiday!

Jen at The King and Eye has come up with a fun meme where you air your old blog gems--posts that you did a long time ago before you had any readers! Wow! I'm still at that point after almost a year of blogging! hehe!

The prompt this week was to repost about a holiday! I'm going to repost on how I celebrated Mother's Day last year! This post first aired on May 12, 2010.

Happy Belated Mother's Day Part 2

On my previous post, I wrote about my remembering my mother (see here). On this post, I'm writing about how I celebrated Mother's Day!

In past years, my husband made a really big deal out of Mother's Day. He really spoiled me. He'd get me flowers, take me out to dinner, and give me really nice, over-the-top presents. And you know what? I really deserved it! Because I'm now a stay-at-home mom who doesn't earn any money, I tend to not spoil myself much. Also, taking care of a child who tantrums a lot is hard and depressing! The presents made me feel appreciated.

This year, Mother's Day was different. My husband still spoiled me with flowers and a nice dinner out. But he didn't buy me any extravagant gifts. I did, however, get the best present of all! My six-year old daughter took the lead this year in making my Mother's Day special. On her own initiative, she made me two cards! She used some of her allowance money toward buying me a wonderful journal so that I can record my mommy experiences. And best of all, she promised to be perfectly behaved that day. And for the most part, she was! She had one moment where she started to cry and when I reminded her what day it was, she quickly wiped her tears off her face, put on a smile, and said,"Oops, I forgot!" It was fantastic!

I can not even begin to relate what a big deal her gift to me was! For one thing, this past year wasn't filled non-stop with tantrums. Oh sure, she still has them, but they're much rarer now. She used to have about 3 a day, and now she maybe has a biggie every month or two. But I was so impressed how she really worked hard to make me feel special this Mother's Day on her own! This, I'm sure, is a big deal for any mother. It is amazing when the child who is doing it has autism!

One cute story that happened on that day, happened in the car ride on the way home from dinner. My daughter started telling us about something "yucky" that happened at school the previous week. While they were getting the classroom ready for Open House, a boy in my daughter's class kissed her! My husband asked, "Where did he kiss you?" My daughter gave him a confused look and said, "In school!" I just had to relate this story, even if it didn't have anything else to do with the post. It was just so darn cute!

One not-so-cute story happened earlier that day after seeing the movie, Oceans. This is probably too much information, but I went with my daughter to the restroom. I REALLY had to go--I was stuck watching a movie about water on a full bladder--and my daughter was stuck hanging with me in a small stall because I don't like to leave her out of my sight. After finishing up with the paper work, but before flushing, my beautiful, pink Coach purse (okay, that was my only splurge to myself after becoming a mom) fell partially into the toilet. Yikes! I tried to clean it off with soap and water, but my husband made me keep the beautiful purse in the car trunk on the way home. I wiped it off with disinfectant when I got home. My husband still wants me to throw the purse away! Not on your life, mister!

So, I was very happy with my Mother's Day celebration, all things considered! I hope you enjoyed yours too!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Watch It Young Whippersnapper, or I'll Hit You with My Cane!

I love getting friend requests on Facebook. It's so much fun to see what old high school friend or blogging buddy finds you out there in cyberspace. But occasionally, I get a weird request. Someone I have absolutely no connection to. Usually, they just make the request with no explanation. But sometimes, you just get blogging gold.

This happened earlier in the week when I received a friend request. It was from someone I didn't know. When I looked up his profile, it was completely restricted so I couldn't see anything about him--even just to see what friends we have in common (if any).

Then he sent me this message. I didn't change a single thing about it, other than his name.

i like u CHERYL
cos u look cute and nice here..
i will like us to meet if possible this
this febraury in CARLIFORNIA
i am working here in DUBLIN
and my name is DON JUAN VALENTINO (name changed to protect the innocent)
or u can call me Don Juan
i will like us to meet ok..
cos u are very matured and i believe we will be best friends ok..

Hmmmmm. I guess he missed the part about me being married? And I haven't been single for awhile, but since when did pick-up lines include the words, "U are very matured?" Yes, he appeared to be at least 20 years younger than me. But a woman generally doesn't want to be chased after because she's starting to get AARP mailings.

Maybe my husband will feel threatened by all the attention I'm getting. By that I mean this one contact.

I guess he's not feeling too threatened. At least he doesn't call me an old lady!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Official! My Daughter Is a Gamer!

My daughter loves her computer time! We let her have an hour a day (if there is time). She loves to watch videos at the PBS kids website or the National Geographic website. She loves to play video games at these sites too! She's actually found healthy recipes at the PBS website that she is kind enough to pass on to me. She uncovered a really awesome roasted chicken recipe that is one of my dinner staples (meaning I like to make it every other day since I do not have too many different recipes that I like to make).

In the past, she has seen kids play hand-held video games that she loves to watch. She's discovered the Nintendo DS about two years ago. As interested as she's been when other kids have played theirs, she had surprisingly never asked for one of her own. Until just before the holidays a couple of months ago. When I mentioned this to my husband, he said, "Did you tell her no?" We've been hesitant about getting her this since we didn't want her mindlessly zoning out on video games that she would tantrum about when she had to put the game down. It just seemed like a bad idea!

When her birthday was approaching, we were really didn't know what to get her. We wanted to get her the latest Leapster, the Leapster Explorer. The ratings on it didn't seem that great, and she really seemed to be getting too old for the Leapster, particularly considering how advanced her reading level is. So, we searched for other educational systems, even considering getting her an iPod Touch, which just seemed like a bad idea.

I looked into the latest version of Nintendo's DS, the DSi. It was very highly reviewed, and I was surprised to find out it had many educational games available! One current drawback was that it had Wifi and was internet accessible. We just weren't ready to have our daughter surfing the web on her own. At home, we really restrict the websites she could visit. This problem was easily solved by putting a security code in to lock up the internet browser.

As we were contemplating taking this leap, my husband kept asking, "Should we do this? Are we making a huge mistake?" He asked this repeatedly (that's his nature. He tends to worry a little). We eventually decided to go for it with the internet restricted and with limiting her playing time on it to an hour a day, on days that she has the time to fit it in. Ironically, after my husband bought it and tested it out a bit, he asked me pointedly, "Why did you wait so long to tell me about this? This is great!" Gee, I thought we both were against it! LOL

My daughter does like her DSi, although it frustrates her a bit. I think it will take her some time to get used to it. She already warned her crush at school that they won't be able to chat with each other on their DSis since her internet was disabled! Whew, I could just see her sending him love notes!

I wonder how long we'll be able to keep her internet access disabled!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pondering about Personality

It's that time of the week again! Time for Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday where we have to address a different letter of the alphabet each week. This week's letter is "P." I can't believe we're already at the letter "P." Where does the time go?

My daughter, who just turned 7 this past Monday, has been known to ask some pretty amazing questions. This is actually beyond cool because she was diagnosed with High-Functioning Autism over 2 years ago. Part of her issues was her inability to initiate questions. Now, she initiates them and has some very awesome questions. In the recent past she's asked why the ocean is salty and whether carnivores or herbivores eat dairy.

This past weekend, she started asking some questions that I found really fascinating. First, she asked how people perceive the taste of food. I started to explain how taste buds on the tongue work, but she stopped me and told me that she understood the mechanics of it. She just didn't understand how people decide whether they like or hate a particular food. This led into a broader discussion of why people develop what they like or don't like in the world, be it certain clothes they wear, food they eat, or anything else.

Essentially, how does a person develop their personality? My husband and I explained to her that she's asking questions that no one knows the answers to, but scientists are probably working away doing research on this topic. We added that maybe someday she'll be a scientist who'll research this and come up with the answers!

I'm blown away by her curiosity and the questions she's asking. It's so hard for me to believe that we couldn't get any type of questions out of her in the not so distant past!

Keep those amazing questions coming, honey! And don't you ever stifle your quest for knowledge!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Daughter Says the Darndest Things!

As I posted yesterday, my daughter had her birthday party at a bowling alley. All the kids had bumper guards so that they wouldn't bowl gutter balls! Nevertheless, bowling wasn't my daughter's strong suit! She had a blast and that's what counts.

Today, different family members called her to wish her a happy birthday. As she was talking to one of her aunts, I overheard my daughter say this: "I didn't get any strikes, but I had spares with leftover pins!" Hahahahaha! I love it! I wish I had thought of that line when I was on a bowling league in college.

I forgot to post this yesterday, but I asked my daughter what she wished for when she blew out the candle on her cupcake. She told me she wished for peace on Earth, no hunger, and no one should be homeless. I'm proud of her, but I'm angry at myself for asking her what she wished for! This will make it nearly impossible for her wishes to come true! If only I hadn't asked! D'oh!

The last little snippet I have to share is that my daughter went with me to the market on Saturday. We ran into the boy she has a crush on there. The two were having fun talking for about 15 minutes or so, which was great! The problem was that my daughter blurted out "I love you!" two times during the conversation, which made the encounter a tad awkward. After we went our separate ways from her "boyfrien," I tried to explain to my daughter that she can't go around blurting the "I Love Yous" like that. It can scare boys away. She told me she understood that a boy could say, "Ewwww" to that! She then thanked me for my "lovely advice."

She cracks me up!

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Little Girl Is 7!

Today is my daughter's 7th birthday! I cannot believe how fast she's growing up. It just seems like yesterday she was a screaming, tantrumming toddler. Now she's a screaming, tantrumming 7 year old! Just kidding, she's really growing up to be quite a smart, lovely girl. I'm beyond proud when I think about all that she's accomplished in her short (although increasingly getting longer) life.

We had her party at a bowling alley on Sunday. Fifteen girls showed up out of the 18 invited! They had a blast bowling, although my husband and I had to try and keep them from getting hurt. The girls would fight over who could grab the bowling ball first from the ball return, which led to some dropped balls. We were paranoid that someone was going to break a finger or toe. Luckily, there were no broken bones.

My daughter does pretty well at parties. She was a bit overwhelmed and was not at her social best, but she did take our prompts very well and was good about making rounds and thanking her friends for coming once we told her to. This was better than the beginning of the party, when she would just snatch the gifts from her friends and put them down in her pile without saying so much as, "Hello!" Sigh. At the end of the party, she was even good about going up to the parents and thanking them for coming. This got one mom kinda choked up!

Overall, the party was a huge success. All the guests and the birthday girl had a great time. My husband and I were exhausted afterward though! This was the first birthday party we had where we didn't have a person running the show, so we were the ones expected to keep an eye on things.

My daughter opened up a few of her gifts when we arrived home. We have a weird tradition where we stretch out her opening her party gifts over a week or so. This way, she appreciates each gift and doesn't get overwhelmed by all her new toys. The first gift she opened was a really adorable lavender unicorn pillow pet. We had bought her one that was a cat that she was going to get later today. The first thing she said when she saw the unicorn was, "Wow! This is so much better than the cat I wanted!" Ahem. I guess that's one gift of ours we can return!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'm So Memetastic! Whatever the Hell That Is!

Jennie B. over at Anybody Want a Peanut awarded me with this gorgeous award! I'm actually the second generation to receive this award. Jill at Yeah. Good Times actually developed this award because she's really into kittens and sickly cute things. If you haven't checked out her blog, you really should. But be prepared to go into a diabetic coma from all her cute stories. You should also definitely check out Jennie B.'s blog too. She's awesome. And I'm not just saying that because she's going to be my BlogHer 11 conference roommate.

I bet you're all wondering why Jill didn't include me in the first cut of this award. I guess it's because she hates me! I'm sure that's all she talks about at her teetotaler's meetings.

Anyway, Jill came up with some pretty stringent rules which Jennie upheld. I suppose I should uphold them also since the award is kinda new. Here are the rules:

1. You must proudly display the absolutely disgusting graphic that Jill has created for these purposes (put it in your post, you don't have to put it in your sidebar, that would seriously be asking too much). It's so bad that not only did Jill use COMIC SANS, but there's even a little freaky jumping, celebrating kitten down there at the bottom. It's horrifying! But its presence in your award celebration is crucial to the memetastic process we're creating here. If you need a higher resolution version... Jill totally have one!! (note: this is directly off Jill's blog, except for the F-bomb I edited out).

2. You must list 5 things about yourself, and 4 of them must be bold-faced lies. Just make some stuff up, we'll never know; one of them has to be true, though. Of course, nobody will ever know the difference, so we're just on the honor system here. I trust you. Except for the 4 that you lied about, you lying bastards! But don't go crazy trying to think of stuff, you'll see by the example I've set below that we're not really interested in quality here. (again, quoting Jill except for the one s-bomb I edited out).

3. You must pass this award on to 5 bloggers that you either like or don't like or don't really have much of an opinion about. I don't care who you pick, and nobody needs to know why. I mean, you can give a reason if you want, but I don't really care.

4. If you fail to follow any of the above rules, Jill will hunt your ass down and harass you incessantly until you either block her on Twitter or ban her IP address from visiting your blog. She doesn't know if you can actually do that last thing, but she will become so annoying to you that you will actually go out and hire an IT professional to train you on how to ban IP addresses just so that Jill will leave you alone. She's serious. She's going to do these things. Starting with the 5 of you I'm about to pass this award on to. (again, quoting Jill. Believe it not, I only had to remove one F-bomb from that diatribe!).

Here goes:

Five Things About Me, 1 of Which Is Actually True

1. I'm a CIA Agent.

2. I have 73 tattoos.

3. I like to steal ice cream from 4-year olds.

4. I make a huge income from blogging.

5. I'm a boring mom raising an anything-but-boring daughter who is turning 7 on Monday!

The Five "Lucky" Recipients I'm Passing this Award on To:

Suzanne at Autism Mom Rising

Melissa at Confessions of a Dr. Mom

Natalee at Raising Normal Kids

Varda at Squashed Bologna

Whisperingwriter at Airing My Dirty Laundry, One Sock at a Time

Suckers! LOL

The Tooth Fairy Is Can Be So Mean!

When I picked up my daughter from school yesterday, she was excited to show me that she lost another tooth--hr fifth one! She told me that she wasn't going to put the tooth under her pillow for the tooth fairy though. She had another loose tooth, so she thought she'd wait until that tooth came out and put both teeth under her pillow at the same time.

I asked her why she wanted to do that. She told me that a friend of hers got extra money from the tooth fairy when she lost two teeth in one day! So, she thought she'd fake the tooth fairy out by doing this.

I was at a loss for a minute! I told her that you can fake the tooth fairy out like that. She knows when a child looses a tooth. In addition, there was a risk that when the tooth fairy came that night and didn't see a tooth, she might start coming, thinking the child wasn't interested in her visits. This worked, and my daughter put her tooth under her pillow. Later, when I told my husband what had happened, he thought what I did was a bit of a threat.

It wasn't, but I was panicked!

I think it's wonderful that my daughter still believes in the tooth fairy. She also believes in Santa Claus. That one I find strange since we're Jewish, so Santa doesn't visit our house!

Nevertheless, I hope it's quite a few years before reality sets in!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I'm linking this post with Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday meme. Each week we write about a subject that begins with a particular letter of the alphabet. This week's letter is "O."

I try and be open-minded both in life and on this blog. But it's sometimes hard to do that. There is a big rift in the autism community over whether vaccinations cause autism. In the past, I've stated that I personally don't believe they do, although I'm open to the idea that a very small percentage of children are affected. However, I'm a big supporter of immunizations. I think the benefits from them far outweigh the risk. I also wish people would study other environmental factors to see if anything else could be causing the rise in autism rates (and allergy rates and autoimmune disease rates).

The main study that the anti-vaccine people would point to was one conducted by Andrew Wakefield. Dr. Wakefield had his medical license stripped from him last year because it was found that he had falsified the data in that study. Even more damning information came out earlier this month when it was found that lawyers that were suing vaccine companies had paid Dr. Wakefield about $675,000 before his study was released.

The effects of kids not receiving their immunizations have been noticeable. In the Los Angeles area where I live, there have been outbreaks of measles and whooping cough. Have the reduced immunization rates led to reduced cases of autism? My guess is no. The autism rates still appear to be rising.

For me, it's really hard to keep an open-mind on this issue!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm One Proud Mama!

My daughter has been doing pretty well on the money front lately. We've been working on improving her compliance when we ask her to do things. She can earn up to 50 cents a day for following requests. This from of positive reinforcement appears to be working. She's been much better at doing what we ask her to do! Yay!

She had Martin Luther King's birthday off, so I had to take her to run errands with me. I told her that we were going to go to Target then to Whole Foods. When she heard we were going to Whole Foods, she ran over to her piggy bank and took $.45 cents out. She told me that she wanted to put the money in the charity box they have by the cashier at Whole Foods. It was really important to her to give her money to charity.

I was beyond touched by this gesture. I think it's amazing for any soon-to-be 7 year to want to give to charity on their own initiative. I think it's even more amazing when that child has autism because many kids on the spectrum do not have the ability to feel empathy for other people. My daughter has really grown in this area and has developed an amazing sense of empathy. She's sweet and kind and caring. I'm so proud of her and all that she's accomplished.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Collecting Things

One of the quirks my daughter has is that she loves to collect things. I know, many kids like to collect things. When I was young I collected stamps and old coins and dolls. My daughter likes to collect twigs, pine cones, and rocks. She doesn't collect beautiful, colorful rocks, but any rock she comes across. I work really hard to discourage her from collecting these things. A behaviorist once told me that collecting these kind of objects can be viewed as strange and shouldn't be encouraged.

The other day, my daughter came home from school with a special project due on February 2nd. She's supposed to make a diorama of a groundhog's home in honor of Groundhog's Day. She couldn't wait to start the project! She really does have a knack for making three dimensional-type art. In preschool, when she wasn't spending her time reading, she'd spend long stretches at the crafts table. This table was stockpiled with empty toilet paper and paper towel inserts, coffee cans, egg cartons, etc. My daughter loved to take these things and turn them into amazing objects. She made a giraffe, a Buzz Lightyear and a Woody from Toy Story, a bug terrarium, among other things. Initially, I thought her behaviorist actually made the items for her, but I learned that my daughter actually made these things. They were brilliant! That crafts table is probably the main thing my daughter misses about preschool.

So, this groundhog diorama is really up her alley. She couldn't wait to get started on it! Friday morning, before school, she started work on it. I warned her that she wouldn't be able to finish it in the 15 minutes that she had. But when it was time to leave for school, she wanted to turn in what she had done. It was pretty good, actually, but I knew she could do much better if she had more time.

She came up with a cool idea that the groundhog would have a rock wall to climb up to his hole to see (or not see) his shadow. She drew in the rocks with pencil. I mentioned to her that she should really use real rocks and suggested we go to the park the next day to collect rocks and pine cones and other cool things to use in the diorama. After I said this, I couldn't believe I actually suggested we do this activity! Anyway, the behaviorist did mention that as long as there is a purpose to collecting the objects, then that was fine!

So, the next day, during a glorious 80 degree day, we took a walk in the park. My daughter was allowed--actually encouraged--to collect little rocks and tiny pine cones. She had a blast! Well, we both had a blast. I can't wait to see how her diorama turns out! I'm sure it'll be really great!

I guess sometimes you do have to stop and collect the rocks!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Joys of Working

Well, I've been at my new part-time job for a few days now. The whole experience of getting back into the workforce while still trying to be a stay-at-home mom has been quite tiring. But it's been really fun too. I've really missed working. While I knew that I missed it, I really didn't appreciate the degree of how much I missed it.

I didn't realize how much I missed getting a little dressed up, going into an adult environment, and working on issues that require a little brain power. I also didn't realize how much I forgot about working on PCs when my husband converted me into the Mac world years ago. Luckily, I'm getting better in the PC world again!

The other thing I have to get used to is that private industry works a little differently than the government industry does. There are certainly more perks in private industry, but the pace is definitely quicker!

The biggest adjustment I have to make is trying to get a meaningful amount of work done while still being around to take my daughter to her activities and therapies. It's not going to leave me much "me" time. So far, I'm okay with that, but I do miss keeping up with my favorite bloggers!

Have patience with me as I adjust to my new life!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Transitions Are a Bitch!

The earliest sign that my daughter had Asperger's was her inability to handle any type of transition. This became apparent when she was about 9 months old. I remember we would watch the birds hang out on our deck railing. As soon as they flew away, my daughter would cry because she wanted them to stay. This would grow into full-on tantrums when it was time to leave a place. I remember having to deal with her tantrums when it was time for her to leave preschool. Every. Single. Day.

Preschool was totally fun for her, so I could understand her disappointment at leaving. But she would tantrum when it was time to leave some other places that didn't always make sense. I remember when we took her to a see the school district psychologist to have her assessed for special education services. The psychologist didn't see anything "off" with my daughter during the assessment. She was about to disqualify my daughter from receiving services. Luckily, I was able to convince her to do a school observation so she could see how my daughter (didn't) interact with her peers. The psychologist was still doubtful that anything was up with my daughter, even when she started tantrumming because she did not want to leave the assessment. For whatever reason, staying and getting assessed was more appealing to my daughter than going to her swim class (which she loved).

Another "funny" place where my daughter didn't want to leave was Trader Joe's. She would carry on when I was done with my shopping and wanted to put my groceries in the car. I've heard many parents with children on the spectrum complain about how their children will tantrum because of the sensory issues--lights, crowds, and overwhelming experience. In fact, for many parents with kids on the spectrum, grocery stores are huge breeding grounds for tantrums. My daughter could handle all that. She just had too much fun at the market, particularly Trader Joe's, that she just didn't want to leave. Ever.

She still has transition issues, but thank goodness, nowhere like they were in the past! Now we can shop at Trader Joe's and leave with our heads held high and big smiles on our faces! Yay!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Nasty, Mean-Spirited Fun!

I'm linking this post to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday meme. The letter this week is "N." For me, "N" stands for nasty, mean-spirited fun!

When my daughter was a baby, I didn't get out of the house too much. I spent my days entertaining her. During her naps, I would do something indulgent. One of my favorite past-times was to watch the show Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. I would love to watch her make the most disgusting-sounding food. Then, I would hit the Television Without Pity site to see what people would post about the latest episode. It was always snarkfest fun! Television Without Pity has a whole forum with pages of threads for this show. I believe it's the only show on television they do that for. Other shows only merit a single thread. Sandra Lee gets pages of them!

To say this woman can't cook is an understatement. How she landed a show on the Food Network is beyond me. On one episode, as she was handling phyllo dough, I actually saw her lick her fingers to separate some sheets of dough! I'm sure the director could have done a retake of the scene but chose not to. It then occurred to me that they purposely have a bad cooking show for the entertainment value! It makes so much sense!

One of Sandra's classic recipes is her Kwanzaa cake! You have to see the video to believe it. Really, you have not lived a full life until you watch this awesomeness!

Another "great" recipe of hers is her version of spaghetti sauce. It involves taking a jar of spaghetti sauce, adding browned ground beef to it, along with jarred minced garlic and mushrooms. Then you add an entire jar of pre-peeled garlic cloves (the whole clove) into the sauce. In addition to the minced garlic that you already added and the garlic that's already in the jar of spaghetti sauce. I wonder what it tastes like to bite into a full garlic clove? Yummy!

Anyway, you get the idea! If you want to have non-stop laughs and have the stomach for watching totally nasty, disgusting "recipes" then I highly recommend this show!

At the very least, you HAVE to watch the video I posted!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Motherhood Adds Valuable Experience to a Resume

An old friend of mine landed me a temporary position with her firm. The position is perfect for my needs: flexible hours, ability to work from home once the project gets going, and I'll be overseeing about 4 other people. As my friend said, the work isn't glamorous, but it would look good on a resume.

I really need something current that would look good on my resume! I haven't heard back on any resumes I've sent out for positions I've applied for to date. Granted, I haven't sent out that many, but I would think I would at least be called in for the occasional interview.

I'm sure part of the problem is that I'm over-qualified for the positions I've applied for. I was making a six-figure income when I left the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) as a Senior Analyst 6 years ago. That might scare away some potential employers who are advertising for $13/hour clerical work.

The other problem is that I've not had a paid position in seven years, which makes me unattractive to many employers. Ironically, this motherhood gig is the most challenging work I've ever had! I need to think of ways to market my motherhood experience as a selling point to future employers. A potential resume for my motherhood experience might look something like this:

January 2004 to Present:

During this period, I worked for an extremely demanding boss. I worked long hours with no pay. Nevertheless, my boss would often scream and throw fits if she did not get things exactly as she wanted them. This experience has taught me to have an amazing amount of patience. I can certainly handle any employer or supervise any employee with an unending well of patience and understanding to draw from.

I've overseen various projects requiring the issuance of rewards when appropriate. I would administer these bonuses only when appropriately earned by the boss.

I've been in charge of clean-up work. No matter how much disgusting clean-up was required after a project ended, I had the sole responsibility to clean up items including various types of bodily fluid. This experience guarantees that I can stomach any situation.

I've mastered the art of mommy politics which would rival any office politics. I learned to network to get the appropriate invitations and other social engagements for my boss. I've helped smooth over any event that wasn't to my boss's satisfaction while maintaining good relations with the other moms.

I've maintained my sense of humor during stressful situations and am very quick on my feet with developing solutions to various problems that come up during the day. Not to toot my own horn, but I've helped my boss come up with the majority of the solutions to the day-to-day problems that arise.

Yeah, these job skills that I've acquired should help me land a big six-figure paycheck!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Really Good Looking!

During my college days, I took a biological psychology class. I remember really enjoying it because it took a different slant on psychology. It took the approach that instead of parental issues, etc., shaping your life choices, your brain chemistry could have huge influences also. This was all new to me and very interesting! One passage out of the class textbook really stuck out in my mind. It was on children with autism and mentioned that children with autism tended to be really good looking, although scientists did not know why. I remember thinking that this was an odd bit of information to have in a textbook.

This was during the mid-80s, and I'm pretty sure that they were referring to kids with more classic autism since spectrum disorders weren't really discussed much at the time. It really resonated with me, and when I heard about a child having autism, I found myself assessing their looks. Are they really good-looking? Was that textbook correct? After my daughter was diagnosed, I can honestly say that that it is certainly true! Children with autism are gorgeous--without a doubt!

All joking aside, there does seem to be some truth to this. I haven't seen that many kids on the spectrum that people would even describe as ordinary-looking. After doing my own extensive research (okay, I did a Google search), I found a psychology 101 textbook chapter on autism. This intro to autism gives a checklist of attributes of children with autism including, obsessive desire for sameness, excellent memory, and fascination with spinning objects. Included on this list is, and I'm going to quote them because it's so amazingly offensive, "Autistic children are often strikingly good looking, unlike many retarded and brain-damaged children." I also found another site that quoted Hans Asperger as remarking on the ethereal beauty of his patients almost as if it were a diagnostic symptom.

What I didn't find was an explanation for why children on the spectrum would be so good-looking. It doesn't even appear that any type of research or study has been done regarding this. This topic was once discussed on an autism board. One person said that maybe it's nature's way of making sure kids with autism are loved and taken care of. While this idea is kinda depressing that society only cares about good-looking people, it does seem to be one of the best theories I've heard.

With bullying so prevalent against kids that are different--particularly against kids that are on the spectrum, it does seem that being good-looking does help, at least a little. I think my daughter has had the social success she has because she is so sweet and charming. But let's face it. The fact that she's beautiful certainly doesn't hurt either!

What do you think? Are kids on the spectrum generally good-looking? If so, why do you think that is the case?

Friday, January 7, 2011

What Does Blossom Know Anyway?

I have blogged in the past about how the television show The Big Bang Theory does an amazing job of portraying Asperger's through the character of Dr. Sheldon Cooper, even though the writers never intended Sheldon to have Asperger's (click here for the post). This season Sheldon has a girlfriend named Amy who is played by Mayim Bialik of Blossom fame.

Mayim Bialik has disagreed with some people's assessment of Sheldon having Asperger's, however. According to Blossom, I mean Mayim, Sheldon has severe OCD. Well, why should I believe what a woman who played Blossom says! Like she has any credentials under her belt.

Well, actually, she does have some pretty solid credentials. More so than some crazy woman whose only credential is blogging about her daughter with Asperger's five days a week, spouting off like she's some kind of expert! Ahem.

Anyway, Mayim Bialik received her PHd at UCLA in neuroscience and studied Autism Spectrum Disorders. She did her thesis on OCD.

So, why am I disagreeing with the good doctor when I don't have her credentials? For one thing, she stated (see here for the article--check out the first comment too) that she never watched the show before she appeared on it. Therefore, her conclusions are based on limited information. Second, her specialty was on OCD, so she would see everything through the OCD filter, just like I see everything through an Asperger's filter. Lastly, she does describe Sheldon as being on the spectrum. So, assuming there was no speech delay, wouldn't that pretty much qualify as an Asperger's diagnosis?

And yes, I'm aware I'm spending a lot of time discussing the diagnosis of a fictional character. I enjoy it, bugger off!

What are your thoughts? Do you think Sheldon has Asperger's?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reading Social Cues and Asperger's

When we had our parent/teacher conference back in December, we got an excellent report on our daughter's academics. Her first grade teacher told us that she's an exceptional reader, which wasn't a surprise to us. She comprehends books at almost the fifth grade level and can read 174 words a minute. When I shared that statistic with my daughter, she said that's her slowed-down time. She can read much faster, but the teacher couldn't hear her enunciate the words adequately. Whatever. Apparently, the teacher thought our daughter had exceptional writing skills also. Not penmanship-writing (that sucks), but her sentence construction is exceptional. I wonder if I have a future blogger on my hands.

The teacher pointed out a couple of problem areas, however. One issue is that her socialization with the other kids isn't great. This, of course, isn't a surprise to us. That's why we got her assessed for autism in the first place. The teacher said that this has been improving as the school year has been progressing, which I've seen as well! That's great news! Yay!

The teacher pointed out another area that concerns her. When our daughter speaks in front of the class, she can get a bit long-winded, and she can't read her peers' reactions to shorten her story or react to their cues. While this is an extremely valid criticism--and really true--it's a big aspect of autism. I mentioned that this is really a part of her disability, and she is getting some help in this area. The teacher pointed out that she's been getting this assistance for 3 months, but she hasn't seen any progress. I was surprised by that comment. For more complex skill such as reading other people, it could take a lifetime for someone on the spectrum to master. It's really not an easy problem to fix. I'm sure there are high-functioning kids on the spectrum that will never conquer this because this is simply too difficult of a skill to master.

Our daughter actually can read the social cues of other people, but she needs to be prompted. When she received behavior therapy, the behaviorist used to look away and ignore my daughter when she started to get long-winded. After a couple of minutes of my daughter still rambling on, the behaviorist would ask, "Am I paying attention?" My daughter could always accurately assess that she wasn't. She then knew how to change her behavior. But it really takes the prompting for her to take notice. A few days ago, I was surprised that she did read my husband's disinterest in some silliness she was engaged in. She actually stopped herself and said that since he wasn't interested, she'd stop. I was shocked. This is the first time I've seen her do that.

Some of her behaviors have been relatively easy to gain ground on, others not so much. I know that reading other people's social cues can be a really difficult skill to master. Whether she'll ever be able to totally master it, I don't know. I do know that she certainly has the foundation to be able to, so I'm hopeful.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Casino Trumps a Construction Site Any Day!

On the last day of school before the winter break, my daughter's teacher gave the kids a list of outings they could go on over the winter break. The outings were grouped under the themes that are being discussed over the school year. For example, the current theme is on people who work in the community, so the outings include visiting a fire station, police station, or grocery store.

When I pulled out the outings list, I was curious to read the list. However, my daughter kept grabbing the paper from me so she could look at it. I finally gave up on being able to read it and let her have it. I figured, "Heck, if I can't look at it, no outings for us!"

My daughter was kind enough to hand me back the list after she was done looking at it. I immediately noticed certain items where circled. When I asked my daughter about it, she mentioned that she circled the outings she wanted to do.

Here are the items she circled:

Pet Store
California Science Fair
Disneyland (circled 3 times)
Fire Station
Police Station
Movie Theater
Queen Mary
Catalina Island
Horse-back Riding
Dodger Stadium
Model Homes (WTF?)
Construction Sites (WTF again?)
Discovery Walks

Here are some of the items she didn't circle:

Van Nuys Airport
Bus Station
Long Beach Naval Shipyard
Angels Stadium
San Fernando Mission
Tours of Grocery Stores (the Trader Joe's near us gives tours to kids)
Neighborhood Businesses

One thing I wondered after looking over her circles is when did she become a Dodger's fan and not an Angel's fan? She doesn't follow sports at all! In case you're wondering, we did not take her to Catalina Island or to Disneyland. We certainly didn't take her to a police station or to a construction site. We did take her to see a dam, a major Vegas show, and casinos. That's much better than a model home! We will fit in a trip to the zoo today too!

That's pretty much it for the list! Yup, vote for me for Parent of the Year!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Friendships Are Important--and possible!

Between my daughter's social calendar and watching Academy screeners late at night, it's been hard finding time to blog! For one thing, my daughter isn't back at school yet. She doesn't go back until January 10th. Her school district has a three-week winter break. Isn't that insane? I bet it takes another two weeks for the kids to get back up to snuff!

I thought I would be going crazy during this time, but for the most part, the break has been going really well. It's been nice to sleep in a bit each day and not deal with homework. I think my daughter has been much easier to get along with without all the demands of school on her! Cool!

She has also been having some great interaction with her peers. On Friday we went to the park. She found 3 kids to play with and played with them perfectly--without any help from me! She also noticed an old friend from preschool, who she ran up to say "hi!" to. Again, without any prompting from me! I was floored! And thrilled!

The next day, we were at the park again for a playdate with a normie friend from school. My daughter played with her really well too. The girls had a great time! So, we were invited over to their house for a playdate yesterday. I hung out at the house for that one, since the mom and I were playing well together too! That playdate lasted six and a half hours and only needed intervention from me once during that time!

Before Christmas, she went to a friend's house for a cookie decorating party (while I had my mom blogger meet up with Dani G.). This friend had about 5 other girls there that my daughter didn't know. She did a great job interacting with the kids at that party also!

To say I'm thrilled is an understatement! Sure, my daughter has had successful playdates with other kids before. But a lot of them have been a bit spectrummy themselves. She's had successful playdates with other normie kids in the past, but I don't think she had so many within a week. While I can't say that she didn't get upset at all, I can say that the amount she did get upset didn't appear odd or "off!" I really hope this trend continues!

Not too surprisingly, after we left the marathon playdate last night, my daughter did get upset over a toy she gave to another friend six months earlier. It was obvious to me that she was actually having a hard time leaving the playdate, and it manifested itself in a strange way. While I wasn't happy with the next hour of off and on tears over little things, I thought it was a small price to pay for strengthing her bonds with her typical peers.

Things are not perfect yet. They probably never will be, but I will take the advances that I see! Heck ya!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Four Reasons Why You Can't Marry French Toast

I hope you had a fantastic New Year's celebration. We didn't do too much. We went out to eat really bad Mexican food. Teaches us for not making reservations anywhere and making do with something that was available at the last minute! We were home by 8:30 to put our daughter to bed, watch a video, and watch Dick Clark count in the New Year.

In my younger, childless days, I used to love to go to parties to bring in the New Year. But now, I really prefer not driving around and staying in. Plus, it's always fun to see if Dick messes up the countdown. He did a horrible job with it the past two years, but this year he did a good job! Go Dick! I didn't have anything to drink this year, but because of the bad Mexican food, I woke up New Year's Day feeling less than great.

One fun thing I did over the weekend was go to a New Year's brunch on Sunday. A friend of mine (someone I blogged about here) hosted a potluck brunch. Most of the moms who attended have children on the spectrum. I had so much fun! There's nothing like a group of us getting together determined to have fun! We had a gift exchange, ate excellent food, and enjoyed mimosas. And we laughed and talked and shared experiences. The brunch was set to end at noon, but it lasted well past that.

I'm also very excited for my friend who was hosting. She's embarking on a new career this week. She landed her dream job: overseeing the Autism Speaks Walk for Los Angeles. Previously, as a volunteer, she spent hours on helping with putting the walk together. Now, she will earn a paycheck to do what she loves to do! Yay!

Another fun thing about going to the brunch was that my daughter and husband were able to spend some one-on-one time together. Our daughter idolizes her daddy. She loves to hang with him. When I arrived home, the two of them were laughing together about a project they were doing together (marking up head shot photos of her daddy--go figure). I think they even had more fun together than I had at the brunch--and that's saying a lot!

I'm totally stealing this from my husband's Facebook page, because I wasn't home to hear this conversation. But it's WAY too funny to not put on my blog. Right before I left to go to the brunch, I gave my daughter some french toast. When she told her dad that she loved her french toast, he pulled a Pee Wee Herman and asked, "Are you planning to marry it?" Following are our daughter's top 4 reasons why you can't marry french toast: 1. There's no place for the ring. 2. It can't dance. 3. It won't do any chores. 4. It'll eventually rot in the house. You can't argue with that logic!

I hope you and yours have an excellent 2011!