Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Scientists that Have Poor Table Manners

Hubby wasn't feeling great, so we took it easy this weekend. Nevertheless, we had a nice time relaxing! My daughter seems to have gotten through her difficult behavior and has been a total delight since last Wednesday!

One funny exchange that happened was at dinner last night. My daughter took her penne pasta and started sucking the sauce through it like it was a straw. I stared at her doing this and was horrified.

"What terrible table manners!" I chided her. "When you're at an important business dinner, trying to land a $3 million dollar grant for your science research, how will this behavior go over with your potential investors? Would they invest in you when you behave like this?"

Without missing a beat, my daughter replied, "I obviously would not behave this way in that situation. Anyway, when I'm at that point in my life, I'm sure I'll have good table manners."

I laughed and said that I'm sure some of the top scientists probably do have horrible table manners. This perked her up, and she wanted to hear examples of who has really bad table manners. I told her that I didn't know anyone for sure and was only guessing.

Nevertheless, I think I made her evening.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Megathor--The Dagger-Puking Priest from Pluto

Back in the day...WAY back in the day, my husband got together with his friends and made a very silly video. This was back in 1980 when home video technology wasn't close to where it's at now!

Check out this video and laugh your you-know-what-off!

Top 5 Bad Aspects of Working Part-Time

Yesterday I posted about the cool aspects of working part-time. Today, I'm going to post about the top 5 bad aspects of working part time!

1. I have a really long commute. The traffic in Los Angeles is the pits. It takes me about an hour to drive to my job. Because I leave work early to pick up my daughter, the commute after work only takes between 20-30 minutes most days. Still, that's a lot of time on the road driving to put in between 4-5 hours of work. Luckily, I can work from home about half of the time, which is awesome!

2. I have no "me" time anymore. Most days, I eat lunch at my computer. After work, I have to get my daughter from school, then take her to her various activities. Some days, we don't get home until 6:30 at night when I have to make her dinner, then make my husband and my dinner. By the end of the day I'm exhausted!

3. I often feel that I'm letting everyone down. There are times when I know work can use me to put in more time to either meet a deadline or take on more work. It can be really hard leaving and not having any time to work on projects while I chauffeur my daughter around. Also, I have less time to do household chores for my husband. I don't have as much time to run errands or energy to cook a halfway decent meal on some evenings.

4. Because of number 3, when my husband starts a sentence with, "When you have a chance today can you...." I just want to scream. Sometimes I do.

5. My blog has suffered. I just don't have the time or energy to give it the attention it deserves. I think this has shown. Some days, I feel it's time to give it up. But the truth is, I love writing! I really enjoy blogging, and I intend to keep it up. I might post less often, however.

So, why do I choose to work part-time then? Check out yesterday's post, and you'll see why! I absolutely love working. I really missed being in the workforce--more so than I realized!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Top 6 Reasons I Like about Working Part-Time

My consulting gig has turned into a part-time job! The company I work for has been incredibly accommodating about working around my mom schedule and letting me work from home two or three days a week. It's been really awesome! They gave me an employee handbook after they hired me. They actually had a section on social media! Being an internet firm, they're very progressive on the blogging front. They don't mind their employees blogging and can even blog about the job. As long as employees are clear that they are only representing their opinion and do not blog about proprietary information. Oh, and the company frowns upon blogging negative things about coworkers, etc. So, I guess I don't have to worry about getting Dooced! I don't plan on tearing apart coworkers online anyway--very tacky.

While I have a long commute when I do go into the office, and I'm not on the same rung of the career ladder that I was on before I left my career to become a full-time mom, I can honestly say I love being back in the workforce. I'm having a blast! Here is my top 6 list of why I love being in the workforce again:

1. Minimal kid talk. The focus at work is (shockingly) not on kids! Sure, we may share stories about our kids every so often, but it's on the periphery.

2. I can use my brain power. It's been nice exercising my brain cells before they all disintegrated while watching Dora the Explorer episodes. Actually, I never allowed my daughter to watch that damn show. I saw 10 minutes of an episode once and thought my brain was going to leak out of my ears. Nevertheless, work is keeping my brain nicely occupied.

3. MONEY! While I'm making only a fraction of what I used to make, it's been so nice to bring in some money. I really missed helping out with household expenses. Also, my husband's work has hit hard times and he might have to get a reduction in pay. I feel good being able to supplement his income so we don't get slammed as hard.

4. Not everything in my life is about my daughter anymore. I know this might sound incredibly selfish, but I like having something that's just about "me." Before I started working, the only things I had going on all were about my daughter. While she still takes up the majority of my life, it's nice to have some other things in my life. The really cool thing? My daughter seems to like it too! She likes asking me things about my work and what I do. And she seems really proud that I'm working when she's at school. I think that's really cool!

5. Being a (small) part of a thriving company. The recession is still hitting hard where I live. Nevertheless, the company that I'm working for is thriving and growing at amazing rates. It's really uplifting and encouraging to see that not everything in our economy is broken.

6. Being able to use my mom skills in the workplace. Having a daughter on the spectrum has really taught me patience and calmness. These have been great skills to have. Once, the office manager commented how I'm always pleasant and nothing rattles me. I laughed and said all the work stuff is a piece of cake compared to the mom stuff!

Have you re-entered the workforce? If so, what do you like about it? If you haven't, what do you miss about it?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Finding Flexibility

It's that time of the week again! Time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. This week's letter is the letter "F." It took all the willpower in the world to not have me write about a particular f-word. The amount of self-control is truly amazing! But Jenny wants us to keep these posts PG-rated, so I won't go there. Instead, I'll write about being flexible--and not the yoga-kind of way!

One aspect to my daughter's autism--actually the biggest aspect of it--is that my daughter can be very rigid. She can not handle when things do not go her way. This can lead to extended crying spells or tantrums over things that other people would view as extremely trivial.

A big part of my daughter's therapy is to practice being more flexible. We have sticker charts to reward her when she's flexible and easy-going over something that would cause a tantrum on another day. This approach has appeared to work for the most part.

However, I blogged yesterday about how my daughter's behavior has gotten so bad over the last couple of days. She had been doing amazingly well for the last couple of months. So much so, that I was beginning to consider having to change the focus of this blog away from autism. However, my daughter's behavior has gotten so bad over the last few days, that I can't help but wonder if these bad cycles will ever go away.

Her school behaviorist has speculated that the change in behavior may be caused from her concern about going to a new school next year. She seems excited about the change, but she has expressed sadness about leaving friends and a tree at her current school (don't ask). It's possible that she's transferring these negative feelings into other areas, including the area of rigidity.

While we don't know for sure if this is the cause, it certainly does make sense! I think instead of lecturing her about needing to be more flexible, we're going to have to spend some time helping her explore her feelings, both good and bad, about the change she's going to have next year.

Nobody said being a parent was easy, but I never really appreciated how hard it actually is!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's Been a Tough Couple of Days

The last couple of weeks have been absolutely amazing...until the last couple of days. My daughter went from being the biggest joy to being the biggest pain in the you-know-what!

I was actually getting to the point where I was thinking of changing the focus of my blog. I mean, what can I write about autism? What perspective do I have to discuss it when my daughter is so high-functioning that she isn't exhibiting it much any more?

Well, apparently the unbelievably good cycle is ending and a really awful one is beginning. Serves me right for getting too cocky. You'd think I would have learned my lesson about autism by now: just when everything is going great, don't expect it to last. It's pretty much the first rule, and I unfailingly always forget about it.

I always think, "This is it! She's moving off the spectrum."

When will I ever learn?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Swim Lesson Craziness

Last summer was a big deal with my daughter concerning swimming! She finally got the hang of kicking and using arm strokes at the same time. She also went to a camp which had a lot of time in the pool! She really wanted to earn the right to swim in the deep end, but to do that she had to pass a swim test. This involved swimming the entire length of the pool. She finally passed the test, but it was near the end of her time at camp.

We thought it would be a good idea to give her some private lessons before camp started again. We thought she could use the refresher and hopefully pass the swim test at camp closer to the beginning of the summer rather than toward the end! At the school fundraiser's silent auction, my husband won 5 private swim lessons for my daughter. Luckily, the last week of school gets out early everyday, so we were able to schedule in the 5 private swim lessons right before camp starts the following week.

Unfortunately, the company that provides the swim lessons has a few rules and suggestions that have to be followed. I totally understand the importance of following good, common-sense rules. However, when I saw the email listing everything, I was horrified. This was quickly followed by the relief that I had fresh blogging material! The email listed about 25 rules. I'm highlighting some of my favorite ones. These are direct quotes from the email sent, including the things they put in all caps. My commentary is added in parenthesis following their rule.

Swim Company X has rules and it is not because we are militant crazy people. The rules are there to keep the swim school running clean and smoothly. We're really very nice people, and we hope you understand that the rules are in place to ensure cleanliness and safety for your children. We want your child to have an optimal swimming experience. Please don't be too intimidated by them. (Too late, I'm terrified!).

LAST BITE of child's meal must be 2.5-3 hours PRIOR to entering pool. This does NOT mean the child starts eating 2.5-3 hours before alesson, it means LAST BITE taken. As children learn breath control, at times they may gag on water and vomit. There's a $100 charge if this happens in our pool. (So, my daughter isn't allowed to eat her lunch at school during lunch time? Do kids learn swimming when they're starving to death and have no energy?)

Suggestions and/or compliments are also more than welcome! When you encourage your
child's teacher and express gratitude toward him or her for teaching your child this life-saving skill, it creates great energy that the child picks up on. (Wow, I assumed they were talking about giving your child compliments when I first started reading the sentence. They actually have a rule about complimenting the instructor so your child will listen to them. That's hilarious!).

Expect crying the first few days (I'm sure this is geared to the really little kids, but it didn't state that explicitly. Maybe older kids are crying because they're hungry?).

IF for some reason your child reacts in an extreme way (yelling and screaming beyond what is appropriate crying) and hurts a teacher (this is rare) you will be expected to
intervene and tell your child this behavior is not okay. If the child is distracted by you, you will be asked to leave. It is more than okay to be scared-it is natural for many children- but here at Swim Company X we teach children to use their words to express fear, not their fists or extreme loud voices. (I'm confused. What if I'm shooed away because my daughter is distracted by me, then attacks the swim teacher. How can I intervene if I'm waiting in the swim office?).

Please bring your own trash bag. We ask people to bring their own trash bags, as we simply cannot have our facility unsanitary. We want you to have a clean experience. (This rule makes perfect sense if they allowed you to be food and/or drink, but they don't. I can't figure out what the trash bag would be for! Oh, maybe it's for dirty diapers? I don't think I need to bring one then. Never mind!).


The other rules were pretty usual, but repetitive. I think they listed the no eating food rule about 3 times on the list. My daughter has had swim lessons from 4 other providers during the course of her life. While they have their list of rules, I've never seen anything so extensive, scary, and funny.

My daughter will do fine, I'm sure. I'm the one that's scared!

Friday, May 20, 2011

What Will Happen to the Children?

The recession has definitely hurt our state's budget, as well as all the other states' budgets, I'm sure. This has translated to severe cuts to education budgets that affect all children. In addition, the special needs kids have been further affected by cuts to services that they so desperately need.

Many kids with autism receive services through the school district for their educational needs. The county then funds services to help with their community needs. Severe budget cuts have affected both the school district and county budgets. This means that they cannot provide kids with the same level of services as they have in the past.

When my daughter started getting services through the county, people we knew regaled us with tales of the golden years when kids received amazing services. They had behavior aides assist them during the summertime at camps, received 25 or more hours of behavior therapy, and had special community outings with adequate support. In addition, parents received about 25 hours of respite care a month so that they could go out on dates to help handle the stress of raising children on the autism spectrum.

Those days are long gone! We had to fight to get our daughter's behavior therapy to last as long as a year (even though we were told that they generally provide it for three years). And she never received more than 9 hours a week!

After she "graduated" out of behavior therapy, I asked if she could get into a social skills class. The county approved this, but what I didn't realize is that my daughter would only be allowed to attend her class for 30 weeks, once a week.

For a while, my daughter was having a bit of a hard time in the class. If things didn't go her way, she would cry. When we mentioned this to the County service coordinator, she said that the social skills class could potentially boot her out of the program if her behavior isn't up to par for the class. When I mentioned that she might need more behavior therapy to get her up to par, the service coordinator stated that she can't have this because her behavior wasn't bad enough. So, theoretically, her behavior can be too good for behavior therapy, but not good enough for social skills classes, so she ends up getting no services. Luckily, the social skills class would never kick her out of it based on her crying.

They are going to boot her out soon because she's nearing the end of 30 sessions. The service provider wrote up a report to talk about her progress. She met only one out of her three goals. However, the report stated that she was showing improvements with each session. The report concluded with the recommendation to stop providing the social skills class. Huh? My daughter has only met one goal out of three. The classes have helped her however, so the recommendation is to stop them entirely?

When I questioned the service provider about their report, they agreed that it's premature to pull her out. Nevertheless, the county never approves this class for more than 30 sessions. So, she said that we'll have to wait a month or two, then contact the service coordinator to tell her of the ongoing need for the class.

I understand that budgets are tight. I also understand that my daughter is on the higher end of the spectrum. It just floors me that they pull the services that my daughter needs even when it's obviously that they shouldn't stop the service. If anything, the data supports continuing the service!

With these severe budget cuts, what happens to the children? How do they obtain the skills they need to lead productive lives? While this affects the special needs students especially hard, all children are affected with the decrease in resources provided to education.

It's really despicable!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Feel Sad at Times

Things have been going really well lately. My daughter has lots of friends at school and is doing well academically! She still has bouts of crying, but she can stop them pretty quickly now. Also, the tantrums are happening less and less often.

It's been really wonderful.

Still, there are days that she seems less with-it because she's so wrapped up in her own world. Today was one of those days. She'd be so lost in her thoughts that she wouldn't hear me talking to her, even after I repeated myself 5 times.

These days make me feel kind of sad. I probably don't have much of a right to feel too sad anymore. Did I mention that she hardly tantrums? Overall, my daughter is a huge delight. She's well-behaved, caring, sweet, unselfish, and eager to please.

Yet, I do feel sad at times. I feel sad when she's in her own world and won't let me in for a few minutes. I feel like there's a big chasm that I can't always cross. Oh sure, there's a lot of bridges where I can come to her side quite often. But occasionally, there is no bridge. No matter how hard I try, I can't get to her side and be in her world.

I feel sad during those moments.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Egregious Violator

It's that time of the week again! Time for Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. This week we have to post something regarding the letter "E." "E" is for egregious violator.

I'm sure you're wondering who the egregious violator is? Well, it's me! I received a moving violation ticket today. My first in over 10 years. It's my second one in almost 30 years of driving. The first one was issued by one of those red-light cameras that automatically issue one if you run it. So, this is the first time I've been pulled over.

I was driving around this morning, running errands like a crazy person. I had to drop off the enrollment forms at my daughter's new school, hit Target, hit Trader Joe's, then stop off to vote all before settling down to work a few hours at my part-time job. You know, a typical morning after dropping off my daughter at school. I was done with almost all my errands and was going to the polls to vote. At a stop sign, I did a rolling stop since there were no other cars around. After I went through the intersection, I noticed the police car. Damn!

As I drove down the street, the police car didn't immediately follow me, so I thought I was in the clear. Then I noticed the flashing lights behind me. I pulled over, hoping the police car would drive past to respond to a more serious crime, such as finding the jerks that are breaking into homes in the latest neighborhood crime spree. No such luck. The police car parked behind my car. Double damn!

Triple damn! The police officer approaching my car is a woman! Unless she's a lesbian, I have absolutely no hope of flirting my way out of this ticket. Who am I kidding? I'm almost 46 years old. I'd have no hope of flirting my way out of this ticket if the cop were Arnold Schwarzenegger! The officer had no sense of humor and was all business. Sure enough, she issued me a ticket. She assured me it was no big deal--especially if I hadn't had any other moving violations in the past 18 months. I could do traffic school and not have it affect my record.

Obviously, this woman has never met my husband and has no idea the crap he'd throw my way. I love him to pieces, but there is no way he's going to miss this opportunity of waving this in my face for the next 5 years--at least. Sure enough within an hour of telling him, he changed his Facebook status to "Always come to a full stop."

For all my cherished readers who feel that I should pay for my egregious violation, I assure you I will. It won't be with the hefty fine I'm sure I'll have to pay or the time spent on online traffic school (how cool is that, BTW?). It's going to be with my husband never letting me forget this day!

Egads!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How My Daughter Took the News

For those following our saga, my husband and I have been going nuts over whether to send our daughter to a gifted magnet or leave her at her current neighborhood school. While there were strong reasons to keep her where she was (good friends, doing well, happy), we decided to transfer her to the gifted magnet.

While one can never be 100 percent sure about this type of decision, we're feeling like it's the right one for our daughter. However, we both dreaded breaking the news to her.

Over the weekend, we sat her down for a family meeting and told her the exciting news. At first, she was elated about getting in to a school that's so difficult to get into. But then reality hit and she said that, "She changed her mind" while her eyes started to tear up.

My husband told her about all the cool things the school has to offer, including bunnies and chickens. He then showed her a video from the school's website that got her excited about the school again. Since then, she still seems excited about going to the new school. Today, she had to write six sentences based on her spelling words. One of her words was "September." Her sentence for September? "I can't wait to go to my new school in September."

I'm sure she'll have days where she'll swing in the other direction and have second thoughts about going. But for now, she seems excited! Yay!

Monday, May 16, 2011

She's a Super-Duper Pooper!

It took forever to potty-train my daughter! I mean forever! To help spark her interest in potty-training I must have bought every single video about potty-training known to mankind. Some videos were pretty good, but most were pretty funny. In an unintentional way!

One girl I always felt sorry for was known as the Super-Duper Pooper. The actress who played her is probably about 25 years old now. I bet she was relentlessly teased about this throughout her life. Here is the video of how she got that name. Enjoy.



I've always wondered how the parents knew she had a poo when they were on an entirely different floor of the house. Was the smell that bad? Yes, I totally just went there!

My daughter eventually learned to use the potty. Quite frankly, I think she became tired of watching all these stupid videos!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's a Small World After All and We Finally Made a Decision!

I've been dying to write this post for days, but was unable to due to Blogger problems! I'm one of the lucky ones in that none of my posts disappeared like what happened to other people! Yay!

As many of you know, we've been grappling with whether to send our daughter to the gifted magnet. It's been really tough! We feel she certainly has the smarts, but concerned that her autism could get in the way of her doing well at the school. The magnet coordinator and the resource teacher haven't been exactly encouraging. The principal was however. Needless to say, we were very confused!

I realized that one type of person we haven't met with was a teacher at the gifted magnet! I remembered that a fellow blogger, Dani G at I'm Just That Way and That's Just Me has a connection with the gifted magnet. For those who know Dani, she was an L.A. girl until she moved to Michigan. She grew up in an area not far from where I live. We even had a coffee date back in December when she was in town! Anyway, her mother-in-law used to teach at the gifted magnet! Also, she currently does tutoring work at the school that my daughter currently attends. I thought it would be great to meet with her! What could be better? Oh, did I mention that Dani's mother-in-law lives 10 minutes away from me?

She was a huge help! She said that she always had at least one child with autism in the classes that she taught. She thought my daughter would be able to relate to the kids at the gifted magnet more than at her current school. Our talk with Dani's mother-in-law helped sway our decision. We're transferring our daughter to the gifted magnet in the fall!

One cool thing that happened when we were meeting with Dani's MIL was that Little Bird and Dani's husband Skyped while we were at her MIL's house! So, my daughter actually met Little Bird. The two of them got along really great! Little Bird was eating her dinner at the time, so my daughter entertained her by reading a book while Little Bird ate. They had fun! The only bummer was that Dani was out "buying groceries" while this was happening, so Dani wasn't able to meet my daughter and husband. That was a bummer.

Thanks so much, Dani, for sharing your MIL with us! She was so helpful!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Daughter and Destiny

It's that time of the week--time to link of to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday! This week we have to write a post involving the letter "D." This week, I'm writing about the issue of destiny and how it affects my daughter.

Do you believe in destiny? I generally do not. I believe that you get what you work for, and nothing is given to you. Considering this, you might be surprised to learn that I believe in destiny when it comes to my daughter. I think she's destined for greatness when she's older. I'm sure every parent feels this way about their children. But I know it's true with my daughter. I just know it!

When I was pregnant with her, I developed a serious condition called Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP). ICP really isn't that dangerous to the mother, but it can be deadly to the baby. Generally, after 36 weeks of gestation is when the danger really increases and the baby can become stillborn almost instantaneously. The general course of treatment when I was pregnant was to do an early delivery before the risk-level of having a stillborn skyrocketed.

After my OB diagnosed me with this condition, at about 32 weeks, I was referred to a high-risk specialist who worked with my OB. He did his medical school thesis on ICP and considered himself to be an expert on this condition. I considered myself very lucky because he took this condition very seriously--something many doctors did not do! He immediately had me take steroid shots to help develop my daughter's lungs. He then scheduled me to check into the hospital on the Monday of my 36th week for an early delivery. I felt like I was in good hands!

My husband and I planned a really fun last weekend before I was due to go into the hospital. We planned to have a dinner and movie night out that Saturday night. On Sunday, we were attending a large coed baby shower. It was going to be a fun weekend! That is, until the high-risk doctor called me that Saturday morning asking me to get to the hospital ASAP so they could deliver my daughter earlier than planned.

I was confused. They were already going to deliver her 4 weeks early. Why did they need me to come in another two days earlier? I asked him, and he told me that he had another patient with ICP who was only 33 weeks along. She was at the hospital the night before to get her steroid shot. After that, she hung out for a 45 minute stress test to be sure the baby was doing well before getting release. However, the baby went from being totally fine to stillborn in a matter of minutes. Even though this occurred while she was at the hospital, it happened too fast for the medical staff to save the baby.

This obviously freaked him out and he wanted to deliver my daughter that very day! My husband and I quickly packed for the hospital and arrived within an hour of the phone call. After hooking me up to an ultrasound, my OB and high risk doctor quickly saw that all wasn't going well in my uterus. My amniotic fluid levels were very low and my placenta was showing signs of aging. The doctors agreed that I needed a c-section, and my daughter was born later that day. My OB said that conditions had gotten so bad in my uterus that if we had waited until Monday for the delivery, my daughter wouldn't have survived.

My husband and I felt that another baby died so my daughter could survive. I don't know if this is rational thinking, but it's how we felt. Because of this, I always felt there had to be a reason for this--like my daughter is destined to do something great. Only time will tell if this will be the case, however.

Do you believe in destiny?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Get Off Your Judgmental High-Horse!

I met an old friend the other day for a play date at the park. Well, the play date was for our kids, but it gave us a great chance to talk. She's been going through sheer hell lately. Her husband died 3 weeks ago after having health issues over the last 5 months. Also, her five-year old child was recently diagnosed with Asperger's. She's been doing an amazing job with getting her son services and the help he needs. She's also been doing an amazing job with keeping her life together and dealing with the situations with such grace. I know none of this can be easy, however.

Anyway, as we were talking, a woman was with her babies playing nearby. She had two kids under two years of age. I'm sure this can't be an easy situation. Anyway, there were two times when her kids took a toy of my friend's son. He does not understand that you just can't grab a toy out of a baby's hand, and both times, he did just that. He yelled, "My toy!" and took what was his.

The mother was pretty angry when this happened the first time. My friend offered to give the toy back to the toddler so the toddler could play with it. The mom snapped that she was just going to get her own toys out of the car. She made a big show of putting her shoes and her kids' shoes back on for the trek to the car with the two babies. At the time, I felt bad for her, but thought her actions were a tad bit unnecessary--especially since my friend offered to share the toy.

About a half an hour later, it happened again. The young baby somehow got a hold of one of the toys, and my friend's five year old grabbed it away. The baby's mother scolded him for grabbing the toy from the baby, then made a snide remark about how awful it is when mothers don't teach their children how to share.

I was really angry at her words. I really wanted to tell her off, but didn't feel comfortable doing it without my friend's permission. So I'm doing it on my blog.

First off, I have to confess that when my daughter was a baby, I would have probably have reacted the same way as the baby's mother. I didn't know a lot about autism, and I would have definitely blamed bad parenting. I think I would have kept the comments to myself though.

Now that I know better, I have this plea to all moms out there. Stop judging other mothers. For one thing, none of us is perfect all the time--not even you! For another, bad behavior does not necessarily reflect bad parenting. That mom's words stung me to my core. It wasn't that many years ago that my daughter would have horrible tantrums over what appeared to be nothing. When she was younger, if a toddler was anywhere close to any of her toys, she'd start tantrumming, afraid that the toddler would grab her toys! I remembering seeing the faces of those moms looking at me as if I had 3 eyes. Talk about feeling embarrassed!

Another issue to keep in mind is that you don't know what kind of day, or week, or month the other mother is going through. If everyone showed a little kindness in the world, I think we'd all be better off.

So, what should that mother of the two babies have done? I'm sure she wasn't having a good day either, right? Well, she had lots of options to make without getting judgmental. She could have moved further away so that her babies wouldn't have had items pulled from their hands, for one thing. Better yet, she could have taken my friend up on her offer of borrowing the toy again and being in active participant in teaching a skill to her babies as well as to my friend's son.

The bigger lesson she would have taught her babies? The lesson of compassion and patience. A lesson that we can all learn to use at times.

So, the next time you see a 5 year old (or older) kid who is unwilling to share his or her toys, keep in mind that the problem is most likely bigger than bad parenting.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day! Mine was fabulous! This was the first year that my daughter put my needs and feelings before hers for the whole day! She really wanted to make my day special. The fact that she wanted to do this was the best gift I could have ever have hoped for!

She also made me a card totally by herself on her own initiative. It said:

Mom, you're as gentle as a bunny
as nice to see as a butterfly
as sweet as honey
and...
loved by me.

I remember a couple of years ago, my daughter's preschool had the kids host a Mother's Day Tea. They made us corsages and had to serve us the lemonade, cookies, and chocolate. They were not allowed to have any food until they were done serving us. They also had to stand by us to attend to any need we had. It was unbelievably adorable!

The funniest moment was when my daughter became tired of standing. She told me to get up because it was her turn to sit down!

While I love this memory--it makes me laugh whenever I think of it--her behavior this year just blew me away! I don't think she's ever gone a whole day of being on her bet behavior and attending to my needs like that. At one point, I told her that she could have her computer time, and she looked at me and said, "Really? I thought I was just going to be with you today!"

I will always cherish this Mother's Day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

These Moments Are What I Love about Being a Mom

During the night, my daughter woke me up. I went back to her room so we could talk, and as we cuddled in her bed, she told me what was bothering her. "I feel weird" she told me. I asked if she was feeling okay. She told me she wasn't sick, but she felt worried. She was afraid that she might have wished for something too much, preventing it from coming true or that someone might have overheard her saying what her wish was thus preventing it from happening.

I told her that having a wish wasn't enough. I reminded her that in the movie, The Princess and the Frog, Tiana's father told Tiana that while it's great to wish and dream for things, the wishes won't happen unless you work for the dream to come true. I also told her that some wishes are just out of our control. No matter how hard we work for the dream to come true, it's just out of our control. I also told her that if someone knows about a wish, I didn't think it really prevented the wish from coming true. I told her that's just a silly belief. I thought this would make her feel better, but then I notice she was fighting back tears.

She said that she wanted to have the power to make her dream come true. I told her that without knowing the dream, I couldn't really help her out. Because I didn't think it would affect her dream, I encouraged her to tell me. She told me that she wanted world peace.

Here she was, worried that world peace hasn't happened yet because she wanted it too badly or because somebody overheard her wishing for it. And she was also upset by the idea that her wish might be too big and out of her control. I was so incredibly touched by this!

I gave her a big hug and told her how proud I was of her. I told her that world peace was my number one wish too! I told her that it was something out of her control, but if she led by example--and the many other people who wanted it led by example too, maybe then it would occur. She seemed heartened by this.

I asked her if she knew what my number two wish was. She replied that she didn't. I told her it was my wish that she would get sleep. She was too young to be up at night worrying about such big world issues!

I wanted to capture that moment and hold it next to me forever. These are the moments that I will remember being a mom! They are precious beyond words.

Happy Mother's Day weekend.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How in the Hell Do Teachers Do It?

This week is Teacher Appreciation week. It's a time to give gifts, flowers, and lunch to say thanks to your children's hard-working, under-appreciated teachers. I feel especially blessed with the teachers my daughter has had. They're all amazing educators who have worked so hard to help my daughter out both academically and socially. With our class sizes so large and so many diverse issues in the classroom, I'm just floored by what the teachers accomplish!

Also, I feel like I have some insight into how friggin' hard the job is! Today we had a Daisy Troop meeting. I co-lead the troop with another mom, who happens to be a kindergarten teacher at the school. She's amazing with the girls! Today was a particularly bad day. The girls were being mean to each other, running around, and just out of control in general. There were times that I wanted to crawl into a corner and drink a class of wine. Can you believe that there is no alcohol in the classroom? I don't know how teachers medicate themselves during this type of situation!

I have a feeling that as the school year winds down and temperatures heat up that the craziness that I saw today will only get worse. Did I mention that the Daisy troop only has 10 girls?

So, as I type this while whimpering in a corner of the room, I implore you to do something extra nice for the teacher or teachers in your life this week. Also, be sure you treat them with courtesy and respect the rest of the year. They work very hard and deserve to have support and love from the parents.

Now, where did I stash my wine and chocolate?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Conundrum

It's that time of the week again! Time to link up to Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday. This is a really simple meme where you write about a topic centered on the letter of the alphabet. This week's letter is the letter "C." C is for conundrum.

I looked up the definition for conundrum and one of the meanings was for anything that puzzles. We definitely have a conundrum to figure out over the next couple of weeks.

My daughter was accepted into a gifted magnet school. It's really well-regarded, but has a reputation of not being the best place for kids that are on the spectrum. We don't know the degree of truth. It's possible that while some kids may not fare well at this school, my daughter would thrive. Who knows?

So, over the next couple of weeks, we have to sort out where my daughter best belongs. We have a meeting with the gifted magnet school officials to show samples of my daughter's work and discuss her strengths and her issues to see if this school would be a good fit. We're going to try and visit a class at the school too. In addition, we're visiting classes at her current school.

Why move to the magnet? It's a really well-regarded school that addresses the educational needs for kids that are gifted or high-achieving. Also, our daughter tends to socialize better with other smart kids. It's like she has something in common with them. Also, she will have more options open to her down the road for middle school such as other gifted magnets that she may not be able to go to if she stays at her current school. We all know how awful those middle school years can be, so having options is a really good thing!

Why keep my daughter at her current school then? It's a good school that has good teachers that have served my daughter well over the last two years. My daughter has done a great job with socializing and making lots of friends. Also, the administrators and teachers seem to adore my daughter and are invested in trying to keep her at her current school. The gifted program coordinator, who is also a fifth grade teacher, had a long discussion with my daughter's current teacher about her. They were at a ballgame together, and she said the discussion lasted six innings of the game!

Based on this discussion, she met with the principal of the school and used my daughter as an example of a great kid they might be losing unless they change the way they teach gifted kids. Based on this discussion, they're going to start a gifted program in second grade instead of starting in third. Also, they're going to have separate gifted classes instead of small clusters among all the classes.

While these changes are great, they still don't address the middle school issue. They do make it harder for me to pull my daughter out of a school where she is obviously loved.

I remember how scary it was when my daughter started elementary school. I wasn't sure how she would handle herself in a classroom. I was worried that teachers would hate getting her assigned to their classroom. These fears were totally unfounded. She's come such a long way since her autism diagnosis! And while I'll have the same worries if she transfers to the gifted magnet (Can she handle the increased academics? Can she handle the added pressures? Will the teachers and administrators tell us she doesn't belong there? Will she make friends?), I also have to have the belief that she'll come out just fine.

She always has, so why should I expect anything different?

It's a conundrum!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Appreciating the Little Things

My daughter's elementary school had its fundraising carnival this past Saturday. At last year's carnival, my daughter seemed a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing. She couldn't focus on people or interact with anyone. It was really disconcerting. But I knew what the problem was. She was helping me set up our class booth which was adjacent to where people were blowing up balloons using a helium tank. They kept overfilling the balloons, causing them to pop really loudly. My daughter is really sensitive to loud noises and cannot stand the noise of balloons popping. This seemed to throw her off for the rest of the time at the carnival.

This year, we didn't have a lot of balloons at the carnival. It was an extraordinarily windy day (in fact a huge tree branch fell in the kindergarten playground), so I'm guessing the balloons were scrapped.

My daughter and I saw one game that involved throwing darts at small balloons. She immediately covered her ears. I told her that the balloons were so small, I didn't think they would be that loud when they popped. Pretty soon thereafter, we heard one pop, and it wasn't too bad.

I guess my daughter realized this, because not only did she not worry about the balloons popping, but she actually played that game and succeeding in popping one of the balloons! Yay! This was a really big deal for her! I told her how proud I was that she faced her fears.

To many people, playing a game at a carnival isn't a big deal. For us, this was a huge deal! These moments make me really appreciate the little things that actually can grow into really cool big things!

Monday, May 2, 2011

She Shoots, She Scores!

What huge news this weekend! No, I'm not talking about Navy SEALs killing Osama Bin Laden. Er, I'm also not talking about the British royal wedding. No, the big news here is that my daughter scored her first soccer goal at her game on Sunday! Well, she did score a goal back when she played in the 3-4 year old league. That wasn't as exciting because the goalie had left the goal unattended while he took a potty break. Today's goal had a goalie guarding the goal. And not just any goalie. I nicknamed this kid The Terminator!

It wasn't that long ago that my daughter spend her time picking flowers during the soccer game. She wasn't interested in really playing the game. Also, being pretty unathletic and awkward--something really common with being on the autism spectrum--she always seemed less than confident in her abilities. We've been noticing a huge improvement lately, but her performance today was brilliant!

During the drills, we couldn't help but notice that 7 kids showed up on my daughter's team while the competing team only had 4 kids. Because this league is all about learning how to play the game and learning cooperation, our general rule is to farm out kids to the other team to balance it out. We offered to lend out one of our players to the other team. Their coach consulted with her team, and they declined our offer. This seemed crazy! With one person playing goalie, that just left 3 kids playing the field. One of these kids was tiny, another had a broken arm, one kid seemed pretty average, and then there was The Terminator.

The Terminator was very tall. He had a good 4 inches on the next tallest kid out there. He looked like a force to be reckoned with. Nevertheless, how could he compete against our team? We had some really great players!

Anyway, it didn't take us long to see why that team refused our offer. Within seconds of the game starting, The Terminator took quick possession of the ball, dribbled it down across the field, and effortlessly kicked in into the net, scoring a goal. Gulp. That was quite embarrassing!

Our team realized we weren't going to have it so easy after all. Nevertheless, the next play involved our star player taking quick possession of the ball and scoring a goal for our team. I noticed that the coach pulled The Terminator out to play goalie. I figured that this was because she saw our team as a threat. In reality, she probably wanted all 4 of her players to have a turn tending the goal and wanted The Terminator's turn to happen early in the game. This is when my daughter managed to get the ball past The Terminator to score her goal! It was quite an exciting moment. After that, The Terminator's tenure ended as goalie, and he spent the rest of the time creating terror on the field.

During this terror reign, he managed to hit my daughter in the face while he ran past her. It was a total accident, and my daughter realized that. Luckily after stepping out of the game for a kiss from me, she went right back into the game and never shied away from The Terminator when he was close to her. I was really proud that she was so involved in the game and not scared. I would have been scared, quite frankly.

When our star point maker was tending goal, The Terminator kicked the ball for a goal twice, both times hitting our star hard with the ball. Our goalie withstood these attacks and kept the ball from getting into the goal! Woohoo! Thanks for taking a couple for the team. One of our team players didn't fare as well. The Terminator gave the ball a hard kick that hit the little boy right in the face. Luckily, he was okay, but he had to sit the game out a bit.

Overall, our team stood up really well to The Terminator. So much so, that his team ended up taking one of our players to tend their goal, which he did a magnificent job doing (actually, too good a job, if you ask me). It was funny, because when our player was pulled out, one of the kids on our team whined that the other team had The Terminator and shouldn't be taking any of our players (since he was the equivalent of about 4 players). So, while The Terminator pretty much did all the playing for his team, and was able to head-butt the ball and cover the whole field like nobody's business, I think our team still won with a score of 7-5.

Nevertheless, I think The Terminator has a future as a pro soccer player. And my daughter scored her one goal while he was goalie! It was a very proud moment!

My daughter was so excited, that she made this picture on the computer to commemorate the historic moment. Because some of you complain that I never show what my daughter looks like, I thought I'd throw you a bone by posting her self-portrait. I think the picture is great, although she made The Terminator way too short!