Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sorry for Not Posting

My son has had one virus on top of another with just a few days in between, and I've been consumed with taking care of him and still trying to get everything else done that needs to be done. So, I hope he'll be feeling better soon so that I can get back to blogging.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Adventskalender

The Adventskalender I made for my son

This is what's inside all those packages...except for the scissors and tape, of course. ;)

These are the Adventskalenders my cousin made for her daughter (on top) and her husband made for her (on bottom). Since her husband travels so much, she made one for him with their pictures behind 24 little windows she made in the paper.


This is the Adventskalender my aunt made for my other cousin before she hung the gifts on.

Here it is with the gifts on.

Advent, for those who may not know, is the four weeks prior to Christmas during which Christians spiritually prepare for the coming of Jesus. It's also a time for counting down and waiting and anticipating. While I was growing up, my Grandmother (who was originally from Germany) used to get me Advent Calendars. They were pictures with little doors all over them. Each little door had a number from 1-24 or 1-25. I'd open a door each day to find a little picture and bible quote, and I did this every day until Christmas Day.

I recently was emailing my cousin and Aunt in Germany, and we were talking about Advent Calendars, and they were describing how they made Advent Calendars (Adventskalender in German) for their children and grandchildren. I thought it was so interesting and asked how they made them, and they described them to me.

They have a little trinket that they wrap and number and tie onto something. My cousin uses a garland as well as a piece of cloth with loops sewn onto it. Onto each loop a package is attached. there are 24 loops. My Aunt made these for my cousins when they were children, and still makes them for them. She surprised her son by hanging it in his house while he was out so that he could find it when he came home.

I thought that was such a nice custom, and I decided that we would start the same custom. So, I went to the Christmas Tree Shop, which I call the $2 instead of the $1 store because their things are slightly nicer and only slightly more expensive. I bought 24 gifts, the most expensive one costing $2. I also got a little garland to tie the gifts to. I wrapped the gifts, numbered the gifts, and put them onto the garland. It looked so nice. Then I had to figure out where to hang it. So, I found a blank wall and put up two nails to support the thing, and swagged the Adventskalander over the nails.

I was hoping my son would understand and like it. I put it up while he was at school, and told him when he got home that I had a surprise for him. I brought him over to see, and he looked and said, "Oooooooooo". I was so happy!

And he seems to understand that we can only open one gift every day, and he looks forward to it.
First we have dinner at the table, then I light a candle on the Advent Wreath and read a portion of the Christmas story from the Bible, then we sing happy birthday to baby Jesus, then we (well, I really) blow out the candle, and THEN it's time to open the day's gift.

The first day I got him gel clings that he had a lot of fun putting on the window and then ripping to pieces. The second day he devoured a candy cane. The third day he got a harmonica that I hope (along with blowing out the candles) will help him to learn to blow since he can't do that yet. Today he got a little froggy that lights up when you touch the two prongs on its bottom or when you put it into water. When he opened the present (which he did mostly by himself, which is a completely new skill), he said, "Ooooo a frog!" I could hardly believe it! This is wonderful stuff!
So we sang Five Green and Speckled Frogs and then dinnertime was over.

It was a nice night, and a nice new tradition.

Happy Advent!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A New Pediatric Dentist


This is a picture from another pediatric dentist in Omaha, NE, Dr. Dan Streeby. This is the position our new pediatric dentist used with my son, and I thought it was wonderful.
We went to a new pediatric dentist today. Our previous pediatric dentist I did not like. Although my son is chronologically 4 and a half, developmentally, he is about 18 months old. When we last went to the dentist about six months ago, the dentist said that my son was a big boy and should come into the room by himself. This made me very nervous, firstly because I know how afraid my son is when we go to medical professionals, and secondly because I don't trust anyone, and my son can't tell me if anyone does something inappropriate to him. So, I followed them and stood diligently outside the door peeking through the little window. The dentist played with my son, having him shoot water out the window with the water shooting instrument, supposedly to have him become more comfortable. However, when the time came, after an hour or so, for my son to sit in the chair and have his teeth examined (this is the real reason we came, after all), of course, my son would not sit. The dentist tried yelling at my son to get him to sit (which of course did nothing but upset my son), and I went into the room and held him on my lap so that he could have his teeth examined and cleaned. I wish this is what we had done in the first place. The dentist explained that he wanted him to become comfortable being there, and that I should bring him in every month for a similar session. He wanted me to pay $85 per month to have my son shoot water out the window...sort of a dental therapy. I can tell you that no matter how much time he plays with the water squirter, he will be no more willing or liable to sit in that dentist chair. I decided to never go back. I will not give the name of the dentist because although he is not the right dentist for us, that doesn't mean he's necessarily a bad dentist.

I looked online at some autism sites where parents wrote about their experiences with pediatric dentists, and found a post written by a mother raving about another dentist. So, I thought I would give her a try. Her name is Anna Simonis, DDS, and she is located in Mount Kisco, NY. She was wonderful. She did something I'd never seen before. In order to examine my son, she had me sit sideways in the dentist's chair with my son on my lap, facing me. Dr. Simonis sat opposite me in the chair, and laid a pillow on her lap. So, while I was still holding my son, we gently laid his head back onto her lap, and in that manner, she examined and cleaned his teeth. He was very upset and afraid, but I sang to him, and so did Dr. Simonis. Her singing instantly calmed him. Within ten or fifteen minutes, we were done, my son had shining white teeth, not one, but FOUR Thomas the Tank Engine stickers, a new toothbrush, new toothpaste, flossers, and he didn't seem any worse for wear. I was very happy.

I will be going back. She was very gentle yet firm and got done what needed to be done without fear. So, if you have a special needs child, or any child for that matter, and you're looking for a good pediatric dentist, I would highly recommend her.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Gingerbread Men

All ready to bake complete with step stool for my son
Rolling out the dough

My daughter takes a turn making a gingerbread lady because my son has zero interest in making cookies

I finally get my son to make one cookie
The cookie in the middle is my son's Picasso-style gingerbread man cookie
Yesterday, we had planned on baking gingerbread men and decorating the tree. I had been talking to my son about it, and he seemed very excited. He just loves gingerbread men. He doesn't eat, so he doesn't eat them, but he likes to look at them, and he likes to make them out of Play-do. So, I thought he would be very excited.
Well, things don't always go as planned. I had everything all ready to go when he came home from school yesterday, but yesterday turned out to be a tantrum day. I don't know if he wasn't feeling well, if he was just tired, or if it's just part of his condition, but he was a very naughty boy yesterday, and it was a pretty miserable day.
We still managed to make one cookie together though. He made one and my daughter made one. His came out like a Picasso gingerbread man because he tore it apart and threw it onto the cookie sheet. Being positive, I look at this as being creative. :) He had no interest in doing any more and did not want to decorate. My daughter had fun for about 10 seconds, and then she was done too.
I put them down for naps, but my son was just as naughty when he woke up and threw tantrums and pushed his sister over most of the night. We eventually went out and he was well behaved then, but as soon as we got home, he was ornery again. So, it was bedtime. I finished the cookies, and we'll try decorating the tree again today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cutting Down Our First Christmas Tree








We have always wanted to cut down our own Christmas tree, but we just never did it. Then when my son came along, we didn't want to bring a baby along, and then he had so many health and behavioral issues that we were afraid to get a real tree. This year, we decided to go for it.
While driving to the Dutchess County Fair, we passed a huge Christmas Tree farm, and my son became very excited yelling, "Wima Pwee! Wima Pwee!" This to the trained ear translates to, "Christmas trees! Christmas trees!" I promised him we would cut down our own tree this year, and so we did.

Having moved upstate from the "city" (everyone upstate considers any of the boroughs and even Long Island to be "the city", and folks who live in the boroughs and LI consider Manhattan to be the city), we have tried very hard to listen to all advice from folks about living in the northern country so that we are not "cidiots" (idiots from the city who think anything involving mother nature is simple because they're savvy and worldly).
So, I looked to my cousin for advice knowing that she and my other cousin and uncle have been cutting down trees for years. She posted a wonderful post full of advice for those who have never cut down a tree before, which you can read here. She also directed me to a nearby farm where we wouldn't have to worry too much about the possible pitfalls of u-cut trees.

Our trip was very successful. It did involve tantrums, but most things do, so we might as well listen to a tantrum while cutting down a tree and starting a family tradition.

The farm was beautiful, with different types of trees and sizes of trees all mixed together. They did have one section that was completely devoted to baby trees, and they were so cute. The rows were straight, there were no big holes, and the ground was very level. This made it possible to put the kids in the double stroller so that we would be able to cut down the tree without having to worry about the kids' safety. We figured we didn't want to be too picky with two small children in tow, but we really didn't have to be. There were so many beautiful trees, I don't think we could have gone wrong. So we chose a tree that was an appropriate size, and my husband got out the bow saw that we had borrowed from my cousin. He sawed while I pulled the tree away from him. In a very short time, the tree was down, and my husband carried it over to the baler. The baler is a device that compacts the branches and wraps the tree in a netting to make it easier to transport and put up. The man who baled the tree then carried the tree to our car and tied it to the roof rack. This all took less than 20 minutes. We spent the rest of the time at the farm visiting the horse, sheep, bunnies, chickens, and alpaca, and looking for a nice wreath for the front door.

Then we came home and my husband put the tree into the tree stand and we gave it some nice warm water to help keep the sap from solidifying so the tree would be able to drink as much as possible to stay fresh as long as possible. It's a beautiful tree, it smells lovely, and my son is so excited.

He just loves having a tree in the house, and I put the lights on yesterday while he was at school to surprise him when he came home. He came through the door to the sound of Christmas music and the vision of a tree full of lights. He was in awe. That made me very happy.

Tonight we'll be making gingerbread men and decorating the tree. I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Farewell Little Red Car on Volkswagon Rock

Here is a very blurry enlargement of the only picture I have of the car... This is the original picture...you can see the car up in the right hand corner of the picture.


For as long as I can remember, whenever I rode upstate with my family to visit my extended family, part of the fun would be to look for the red car painted on a rock on I-84. Into my adulthood I had continued to enjoy looking for that little car, as has my family. We all had our own little trick to remember where it was. My husband had since fallen in love with the little car too. I always wanted to take a picture of it because I thought it was so cute, but it's really not in a convenient spot to pull over. I tried taking a picture while I was driving, but it didn't come out very well, as you can see. It had even been repainted when the paint had become faded.


Then one day, I was horrified to find that it was gone. Someone painted over it with gray paint. It was a little work of art. The rock it was painted on was shaped like a little VW Bug. It was perfect.


I hope that whoever painted that little car will paint it again!!!!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Yet Another Virus

Oh, my poor son somehow contracted yet another virus. I was very concerned because by Sunday, he was feeling much worse. He's had around a 101 degree fever ever since Sunday. I've called the doctor several times for fear that there was some sort of infection, but they insist that what he has is viral. At least the vomiting stopped, thank God. But every day is a long day. And another thing about adenoid surgery...they write on the paperwork that there will likely be a peculiar odor coming from the mouth, and not to be alarmed. What they don't tell you is that it's not peculiar, it's nauseating.
I hope he will be feeling alright by Thanksgiving. If not, we'll have a small turkey dinner at home.
Poor kid.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What Were They Thinking?????


This is an 8 oz. bottle of hand soap next to a large bottle of Tylneol with Codeine prescribed for my four year old son...it has 360 doses in it. What were they thinking????? They must have misread the doctor's handwriting...I'm sure that's easy to do. But wouldn't you question 360 doses of a controlled substance for a four year old?????

Anyway, he was feeling so great the first couple of days after his surgery, and now he's feeling really miserable. The swelling in the back of his nose/throat area is bad, and his breathing always sounds like a snore. His fever spiked up to 101.5, and he hasn't been able to hold down anything all day. I was very concerned about him becoming dehydrated. It seemed like he'd take one sip of water, and a gallon of water and dried blood would come back up. Just awful. It was very scary to him, poor thing. He can't talk, so he can't tell me that he's not feeling well...he just comes over to me looking for snuggles, and then all of a sudden, I, the chair, and all the laundry I just folded are very wet. And back into the washer they go. LOL

So, I wound up running out to a 24 hour pharmacy for a medicine to help with the nausea, and that seemed to work. He was able to drink some of his formula and keep that down. He was lethargic and clingy, which is very unlike him, even when he's sick...so I know he's really not feeling well, poor little guy.

I hope he's feeling better tomorrow and that today was as bad as it will get.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dark Chocolate Benefits During Pregnancy!




Intentional Chocolate has some great news about the benefits of dark chocolate during pregnancy! It turns out that eating five or more servings per week of dark chocolate has been found to be incredibly beneficial for pregnant women! This awesome news comes from Elizabeth Triche and her colleagues from Yale University. They studied 2291 pregnant women who gave birth between 1996 and 2000. They researched the connection between how much chocolate the pregnant women ate in their first and second trimesters and the levels of theobromine, a telltale component of chocolate in the umbilical cord blood of their babies. They found that those who ate the most chocolate were at a 70 percent less risk of experiencing preeclampsia. These findings were published in the journal, Epidemiology, and you can read the abstract of the article here.

Well! I wish someone had included me in a study of the benefits of dark chocolate during pregnancy, and I wish I had known about Intentional Chocolate before today!

Intentional Chocolate is a really cool company. They give back 50% of their profits to worthy causes. They have a secret ingredient they put in their chocolate...intention. They actually have experienced meditators, some of whom trained with the Dalai Lama, meditate over the chocolate to instill good intention in the chocolate. Intentional Chocolate even conducted a double blind study that showed that eating Intentional Chocolate elevates mood, energy, and overall sense of well being. And, their chocolates and gift baskets are beautiful and thoughtfully prepared.

So, stock up for yourself! Send a beautiful gift basket for Christmas, to improve the health and well being of someone who's expecting, or to anyone who could use a thought, a prayer, or a blessing in the form of chocolate!

Thoughts Too Short for a Whole Blog Post

My husband and I played Senet tonight...it's an ancient Egyptian board game just for two. You can read about it here.

I am so sick of strapless bridal gowns...I'm tired of watching, "Say Yes to the Dress" because all the dresses are starting to look the same.

I hate the commercials for Jared jewelry stores...Oh, he went to Jared...yes, he definitely went to Jared...just for those stupid commercials, I will not be going to Jared.

I also hate commercials where they show people doing ridiculous things to convince you that you need a certain product. Oh no! You cut yourself again (commercial shows a woman hacking at her legs with a razor). You need a hair-be-gone safe-t-raze. Puleez.
I'm also tired of Vampires...First Blood, Twilight, Vampire Diaries...yawn.

I'm also tired of anti-Christian shows on television. Family Guy is one of the worst. I'm sick, sick, sick of our Godless society. Holiday Tree at the White House indeed.

I currently have my Facebook language set to English (pirate)...it's very silly. :)

Dairy Queen has some really dysfunctional advertising..."When I'm sad, I get a Blizzard. When I'm happy, I get two." "I sneak out and get a Blizzard when my husband and kids are asleep." "My wife doesn't know I get a Blizzard on every bike ride." I love Blizzards, but that's just weird.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Son's Surgery Went Well!

Maria Fareri Children's Hospital


This is a longish post because I go into detail about what it was like for me to go through a surgical procedure with my child. So, if you ever wondered what it's like or what's involved, I'll try to describe waiting, how to explain surgery to a very young child, a very good thing to ask the anesthesiologist, separation anxiety, what it's like to watch a child go under anesthesia, what it's like to leave the OR without your child, and what it's like to watch a child come out of anesthesia.

Last night I had a terrible time trying to relax, thinking about my son's surgery today. Since I knew that my son wasn't going to be allowed to eat or drink anything from after midnight this morning until one o'clock this afternoon, I wanted him to stay up as late as possible and eat as late as possible. A new TGIF was opened nearby, so we went there for dinner. I had a Cosmopolitan, which helped me to relax a little. Mostly we just enjoyed each other's company.
I know that adenoid surgery is a very simple, routine surgery, but it is the anesthesia that always makes me nervous. Partly because something can always go wrong, even during routine surgery on a healthy child, and party because it's difficult to watch my son going through the process of anesthesia.

My son's surgery was scheduled for one this afternoon, and we had to be at the children's hospital by 11 am. When we got there, we had to register at admitting. I was very surprised and pleased at how easy this was. The doctor's office did a wonderful job of making sure that the hospital had all of our information, and all I had to do was show our insurance card and sign one paper. That was it. My son received his hospital bracelet. We have to register every time he needs any sort of blood work or x-rays at the hospital we go to in order to monitor his growth hormone levels and other endocrine system levels, so he has worn many hospital bracelets. For some reason, he loves having them on his ankle. Today was no exception. Although he couldn't say anything, he helpfully stuck out his leg so that the office person could put on his "anklet".

Then we waited and waited and waited in the ambulatory surgery waiting room. I'm very happy I brought a lot of toys for my son and daughter because there was not one single toy in the waiting room. I guess it's to prevent the spread of germs, but I still thought it was odd that there were no toys in the waiting room of a children's hospital. But, we were set anyway because I came prepared.

We were finally called in, and my son's vitals were taken. He likes the word thermometer, and we sing-say the word to get his temp taken. Then we call the blood pressure cuff a huggy balloon, and he allows them to use the balloon to hug his arm. Then they used the heart telephone to listen to his lub-dub beating heart. And then we waited some more.

It's important to me that I explain everything to my son before it happens, and I am always honest about what will or will not hurt so that he will trust me.

After a short time, we were called back into the recovery room to set up for surgery. First we met with the ENT doctor who explained the surgery to us again. Then the anesthesiologist came to discuss the anesthesia process with us. I requested that she dispense medication to my son prior to going into the OR to calm him down and cause amnesia for the event. She agreed. If you ever need to bring your child in for a surgical procedure, request that this medicine be dispensed to your child. It's extremely calming.

While we were waiting for the medicine, we got into our special pajamas. Mine was a jumpsuit. I was grateful once again that I lost weight because otherwise I wouldn't have fit into it. I dressed my son in a tiny hospital gown.

I told him the story again about how we're going to go into the room with the doctor where he's going to lay down and have a mask put on his face (we practiced with my hand). It will have cool air blowing like his nebulizer, and he'll feel very sleepy and take a very special nap. When he wakes up, Mommy will be there and he'll have a boo boo in his throat. This is the story I'd been telling him for the past two days.

Then he received his happy medicine. Very quickly he became very relaxed. He was waving to the nurses and saying hi, and we peeked through the door to Daddy, Grandma, and Baby Sister before it was time to go to the OR. My son became very fearful when we went into the OR...who wouldn't? Even though I've observed several surgeries and had two surgeries myself, it's still an overly bright room with a lot of unfamiliar people and things in it.

On the operating table was a child-shaped pillow filled with warm air for him to lay on. Instead of being comforting, this scared my son. The anesthesiologist said she was ready to administer the anesthesia, and I had to hold my son down in order for her to put the mask over his nose and mouth. As has happened on the prior two occasions he received this type of anesthesia (the first time they put in an IV...that was even more horrid. Usually they don't administer the IV until after the child is asleep, like here), he had a look of terror and horror on his face like he was being suffocated. He screamed and cried and thrashed about. I did the usual. I held him down very firmly while singing Elmo's Song to him. As he relaxed a little, I was able to stroke his hair and cheek. He continued to cry. It was heartbreaking. After what seemed like forever, he finally went under. This is good of course, but it is also horrible because he looked dead. This bothers me every single time.
And then it's time to leave my baby with all these people who are going to cut him and put tubes down this throat. I know they are helping him, but I still feel guilty for putting him through it. I kiss his sweet mouth, tell him how much I love him, and I leave, shaking and holding back tears. As I walk out the door, I turn to the surgeon and tell him to take good care of my baby.
I remove and discard my jumpsuit. The nurse gives me a beeper so that I can leave the waiting room and eat lunch, knowing that the second my son is out of surgery, I will be beeped. I join my husband and mother. We eat lunch, and we hardly finish eating when the beeper goes off only 40 minutes later. I leave my husband and mother to clean everything and take care of my daughter and rush to my son's side.

He's tiny on a huge hospital gurney. He has an oxygen mask over his face. It dwarfs his tiny features. He sleeps soundly. I am so happy to be reunited with my son, and I pull a chair close to his bedside and wait for him to stir. It takes some time, but he finally opens his eyes and sees his Mommy. He begins to cry. He thrashes. I climb into bed with him and hold him and rub him and sing to him. He tries to rip out his IV. I gently restrain him. When he calms down a little, I request that the nurse get his Daddy. My husband brings in our laptop computer with "Sing, Hoot, and Howl" playing on it. This is one of my son's favorite videos. It's a compilation of Sesame Street songs about animals. This calms him down a bit, but he still wants the IV out. We're supposed to get him to drink some water or take some ice pop before the IV is removed, but he won't. The nurse is very kind, and she removes the IV after an hour or so, and allows us to go out to the waiting room so that my son is among his toys and sister and grandmother and parents. He calms down much more, but we still can't get him to drink. I eventually use a syringe to squirt some water into his mouth. He becomes very upset. I tell the nurse I think his throat hurts too much, and she gives him some codeine. After a half hour or so, he drinks some water from a cup, and shortly afterwards, we're released. Almost as soon as we get into the car, he's absolutely fine and drinks an entire bottle of formula and a bottle of water. We stop on the way home to pick up his prescriptions, and by the time we get home, you'd never suspect that he'd done anything out of the ordinary that day, never mind have surgery...amazing.

So, he's sleeping soundly after having a normal, nice evening at home, and I'm very relieved that this ordeal is over.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Adenoid Surgery Tomorrow

Adenoid diagram copied from here.

My son is having his adenoids out tomorrow and getting tubes put into his ear drums. I'm sure it will be fine, but of course, I'm nervous. I'm always concerned about the anaesthesia. This will be my son's second surgery this year. Poor kid. The last surgery went really well, and I hope this one does too. I set my cell phone alarm to go off during the night so that I give him his pain meds throughout the night so he doesn't wake in pain. I did this for the first two nights with the last operation...I see how his pain is during the day to gauge when to stop getting up through the night. This operation may be more painful...I really don't know. I hope not. I hope he'll do fine, and I'll be very happy to have it all over with.

The most difficult thing is that I don't know what he does and doesn't understand. I tell it like a very simple story...Mommy and Daddy are going to be home when you get up tomorrow. You're going to get to take a ride in Daddy's car with your pajamas on. We'll be driving to the hospital. Grandma will be there waiting for us! We'll wait our turn, and then the nurse will call us in and you and Mommy will dress in special pajamas. Then you're going to take a special nap. The doctor will put a mask over your face, and it will feel like your nebulizer. It will make you very sleepy. Mommy will be with you the entire time. When you wake up from your special nap, Mommy will be there. You're going to have a boo-boo in your nose and mouth. Mommy is going to give you medicine and hold you all day to make you feel better.

Storytelling usually works well with my son when I'm trying to prepare him for a new experience, so hopefully, it will work this time too. I never know how much he understands, but he seems to understand a lot, so I assume that he's getting it all.

I went to the dentist today because I thought I needed to have a cavity filled, but I just have a sensitive tooth. Hurray!

My ex brother in law had a very serious surgery yesterday, and he came through well, and I'm very grateful for that too. So, hopefully, my son's surgery will be thing number three that goes well.
Please say a prayer!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My First Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash Acorn Squash cut and prepared a-la-Paula Deen

Acorn Squash look like flowers when they're cut in half...so pretty!

Baked acorn squash...delicious!

Tonight I cooked and ate my first acorn squash, and I must report that I and my husband both thought it was delicious!

The squash really did look like an acorn before I cut it, and then like flowers after it was cut in half. I got a recipe from Paula Deen (who manages to make a vegetable 9 points), and wound up only using about half the ingredients...the recipe calls for cutting a squash in half, scooping out the seeds, and then brushing the halves with 2 tbs. softened butter mixed with 2 tbs. brown sugar, and 2 tbs. maple syrup. So, we each had 4.5 points of vitamin A, but the squash was so lovely that I think it would have been delicious with less or no sugar.

Our fridge is chock full of vitamin A...we have sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, and we had the acorn squash too...November should be good vision month! :)

God Bless Poor Little Shaniya Davis


I am heartbroken over the story in the news about beautiful little five year old Shaniya Davis. She is only slightly older than my son, and her mother sold her into prostitution. The last video of her from a surveillance camera shows a man carrying her in his arms...and then she was apparently killed shortly afterwards and dumped like trash on the side of the road. Why? I don't understand how or why anyone could do such a thing to a child...to anyone, but especially a child. I hope she is resting in the Lord's arms now, and I hope He can take away the pain and terror she endured at the end of her tragically short life. Rest in peace little angel.

Tuesday Weigh-In

I'm down .6 this week. Yahoo! I know that doesn't sound like much, but anything down is good!

Monday, November 16, 2009

What I'm Eating for Lunch These Days







Well, not every day, but most days, this is what I eat for lunch. Two cups of mixed greens, 12 sun dried tomatoes, 1/2 cup of garbanzo beans, four tablespoons of lite vinaigrette, and 20 oz. of Crystal Lite fruit punch. It's quick, it's easy, it's huge, it's filling, it's beautiful, it's nutrient dense, and it's delicious. AND it's only 5 1/2 points for the whole thing. It also provides 5 servings of vegetables , a serving of protein, and 2 1/2 glasses of water. Not bad.

Also, I keep forgetting to post my weekly weigh-in. Last week I lost 1.2 lbs. I had gained almost 10 pounds of weight I had lost over the summer, and this brings me just 3.8 lbs. away from where I was. So, I'm down 36 lbs. since I had my daughter. Not bad. Not as good as it was, but not bad. Also, I have a new scale that is accurate, so I never had lost quite as much weight as I thought I had (as I was going by my home scale and the Weight Watchers scale), but it will come.

I went to my Stroller Strides class again today. I had gotten to the point where I wasn't so terribly sore after classes, and then I had to miss some classes because I was sick and had trouble breathing, and then my son was sick, my daughter was sick, and now I've missed three classes and have to start again. Last time I went to class I aggravated my epicondylitis in my left elbow (that's tennis elbow, ha ha...I don't remember how I got it initially...not by playing tennis, that's for sure, but this time I did too many wall push-ups), and my right knee, which has bursitis (swelling), usually hurts. So, today, I took it a little easy and didn't jump or use the resistance bands because my elbow was bothering me a lot today. I figure it's better to make it through the class without injuring myself so that I can keep going. The class still kicked my behind anyway. It's hard to go back after not going, and the other women in the class are in fabulous shape, but everyone is very nice, and maybe I can inspire someone else walking through the mall who thinks they can't keep up...I just keep going.


My son inspires me a lot...he has to work hard to do everything, he has a lot of trouble keeping up with everyone, but he just keeps going...so, so do I.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Day Out with Thomas at Essex, CT

My daughter had a FABULOUS time playing with the balloons.
Here comes Thomas puffing down the track! My son looking out the window during the train ride.

My son and daughter driving a fire engine from a local fire company near Essex, CT.



My son watching a model train set up at the museum.





My daughter playing at one of the several train tables that were set up in the museum.




Sunday afternoon the weather was absolutely gorgeous (nearly 70 and sunny), we got itchy to do something outside as a family, and we decided we'd go to the Mystic Marine Life Aquarium. The last time we went there, it was our tenth wedding anniversary. I took an adorable video of my son and the beluga whales they have there. The tank is built above ground so that you can watch the whales through the glass, and it looks like they're swimming right past you. My son kept running to try to catch the whales. They were swimming in circles, so they came around on a regular basis, so we told our son to call the whales and they would come. So he would say, "Whale! Whale!", the whale would come, and he'd run after it until it swam around the tank past where he could run. It was adorable. And.......I taped over it! So, we thought maybe we'd try to recreate the experience.



As we were driving, we passed the Essex Steam Train Museum, and I thought I remembered Thomas the Tank Engine was supposed to be in town around this time. We had done this over the summer in Massachusetts, and it was great. You can read about that here.



So, we decided to drive past and see if he was there...and there was Thomas! So, instead of the aquarium, we spent a day out with Thomas. Both my son and my daughter absolutely love Thomas. For the entrance fee, you get a half hour train ride (the train, of course, is pulled by Thomas), kiddie rides, musical entertainment, stories, tattoos, and photo ops with Sir Topham Hat and Thomas. The weather was perfect, and we had a great time being outside with the kids all day. The train ride was beautiful, and both kids were well worn out by the end of the day.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Breakthrough!

Well, we've finally had a breakthrough. I hope it lasts. As you may know if you read my blog, my son has an obsession with hitting me in the head and saying, "boing". I've been trying to get him to be gentle for months and months. FINALLY, yesterday he did it. And if he starts up with the boing thing, I tell him, "Remember, gentle", and he strokes my hair instead of hitting me in the head. Awesome! I am so thrilled I'd do a cartwheel if I could do one...I've never been able to do one, though, except for the time I accidentally did one while in the process of falling down the stairs and breaking my collar bone when I was 7...don't try that at home, by the way.
Anyway, I am so happy and so pleased and so proud of my son. Patience, consistency, patience, patience, and more patience. Go Boo!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Electronic Experiments, Take Two





My husband bought another electronic experiment set for our son. This one records and plays back sound, and it can also be programmed to play a sound when it detects rain or light or sound or some other disturbance. It's pretty cool. Right now it's set up to modulate the recorded voice so that it sounds either too high or too low, depending upon which way you turn the modulator. It's time consuming, but fun. Our son was only slightly interested in it tonight. He's still very hyper. Really, if he's not strapped into his Special Tomato Height Right Chair, he isn't able to focus on much, and he wasn't tonight.
I could have used this electronic experiment lab before I took my hearing aids class, which was basically an electronics class. There were many classes in audiology I never expected to take like physics and electronics, but they were interesting and fun. Thank goodness my husband was a missile technician in the Navy and had electronics books and was able to help me with my hearing aids class. Without him, I would have been lost.

Without him, I'd be lost even when I'm not taking an electronics class. :)

The Date Night That Wasn't

Well, we were supposed to go out on a date last Friday. Our next door neighbors graciously offered to watch the kids for a few hours while we went out to dinner.
However, both kids were sniffling, and my son started coughing that morning, so I didn't want to get their baby sick. So, we cancelled, even though my neighbors said they'd still watch the kids. I just couldn't let them in good conscience.
However, I tried to keep a positive outlook, and I figured, why don't we all go out to dinner? We've taken the kids to nice restaurants before with success, and so we didn't give much thought to not going.
We brought with us the usual arsenal of quiet books and toys for the kids to occupy themselves with. I made sure that my son was seated in a highchair with a seat belt because the pressure on his lap usually helps to calm him.
However, Friday night continued to proceed as unplanned.
My son was extra hyper active, and despite all our efforts, he continued to scream and bang on the table. No matter what book or toy we gave him, he threw it on the floor. He banged the silverware on the table. We took everything away. We tried to ignore him. We tried to redirect him. We tried to distract him. We tried to discipline him. I eventually removed him from the table and took him to a quiet corner near the entrance and the bar area. I sat him on my lap and proceded to talk to him very quietly, trying to calm him. I gave him deep pressure input by squeezing him and pressing firmly down on his shoulders. I did joint compression exercises where I pushed his joints together in quick pulses of ten counts for each finger, each wrist, each elbow, each shoulder, ankles, knees, and hips. He seemed better.
So, we returned to the table, and he started to scream again, and while I was trying to tell him to be quiet, my daughter managed to pull my bread plate onto the floor, where it very noisily shattered.
By this time, we were ready to leave, and the owner of the restaurant came over to talk to us.
I was so humilated that I heard very little. He sounded something like the adults do in Peanut's cartoons. I just knew we were being thrown out of the restaurant.
I was horribly upset, and packed everything up very quickly, feeling every eye on me. I don't know how often it's true, but I often feel as if everyone is looking at me and thinking what a HORRIBLE mother I am because I can not control my son. And it's true, I can not control my son. My son looks perfectly normal, so I'm sure that most people naturally assume that he is a brat and do not realize that he's autistic. Of course, if someone just wants to eat in peace and quiet, it doesn't matter.
It is so difficult knowing that I am being judged all the time, and sometimes it gets to me. Friday, it got to me. Later I talked to my husband, and he had a very different experience. He said the owner just asked us if we could please get the children to be more quiet because two tables had complained to him. He said he really didn't care what anyone thought because our son is autistic, and there simply isn't anything we can do about it.
Our son's behavior is completely unpredictable. One minute he can be a precious lamb, and the next, a holy terror. We never know. But, we probably won't be going to a nice restaurant again for a very long time, and I don't know if I'd ever go back to this one out of sheer humiliation.
Anyway, we wound up going to a local pizzaria and eating in the car. Then we took the kids to the most boring Halloween party ever. The only saving grace was that my neighbors were there. Otherwise, we wouldn't have stayed as long as we did. All in all, the night was a horrible dud, and the best thing we did was go to sleep.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This wasn't marketed as a sled, but...

But my son has a great imagination when it comes to using his toys for purposes the manufacturers could never have imagined. Thank God there are no stairs in our home.
Tonight was one of those nights. My son was sent home sick from school yet again, and I'm sick. So, my patience is not all it could be, and oh boy, was my son an imp today.

As an aside, my daughter is teething, and she still nurses, so she teethes on me, which is VERY painful! She also likes to pinch me, which I am trying to stop. As you may know from reading previous posts, my son has an obsession with hitting me continuously in the head and saying, "boing". So tonight, I was being simultaneously hit, pinched, and bitten, despite my best attempts to stop this behavior, and I lost it. So, I did what I always do when I lose it. My daughter went in her crib, my son went in his room, and I went out on the terrace and closed the sliding glass door and breathed.

That wasn't the end though. My daughter is pretty easy and was absolutely traumatized by being separated from me, so the biting and pinching stopped. However, my son's behavior only elevated. He eventually started hauling his driving toy up onto the couch and then sledding off onto the floor. I was pretty sure he was going to kill himself, and so back into his room he went. As I've written before, ignoring my son's bad behavior does not help one bit. By this time, I was expecting his father home any moment, thank goodness.

My husband came home, and because he is a wonderful husband, he took care of the kids while I cooked dinner and did a Jumble puzzle to remove myself from the situation. After dinner, we went for a drive because I had to get out. We went out for ice cream and we voted. That helped tremendously. By the time we came home, it was time for the kids to go to bed.

I hope tomorrow is a better day.

Monday, November 2, 2009

He was supposed to be taking a nap...


A common behavior in children with autism is destructive behavior. My son has been known to break the slats on the blinds in his room and tear apart the strings that hold them together (so we never close the blinds anymore), tear the pages of books to shreds, put holes into toy boxes, break toys, take his dresser apart, take the humidifier apart, take his lamp apart, break the CD player I put in his room because he likes music, and just generally pulling out everything from every shelf and drawer. This includes my kitchen drawers for which we have yet to find a locking mechanism that will fit or a gate that he is unable to climb. He has a tendency to swipe things from my kitchen drawers and cabinets and hide them under his bed or under the crib.


I have tried everything to get him to stop. I have changed the environment, I have punished him, I have made him clean up his messes, I have had him throw his favorite things that he destroyed away in the garbage, you name it. I've tried every suggestion from the professionals. And still, the behavior continues. It's just a matter of patience, time, patience, consistency, patience, and patience.


This behavior makes it impossible for me to keep up with cleaning our apartment. I used to get very frustrated and angry, and I still sometimes do, but sometimes I have to stop and appreciate the sheer scale of it all.


Today, instead of taking a nap, he tore his room apart. I became suspicious when there was a particularly loud sound coming from the room. When I went in to take a look at what was going on besides napping, I was rather stunned to see the extent of mess in my son's room. It was truly astounding. I had to get the camera so I could show my husband when he came home, and so I could share it with you all here.


Although he didn't pull the drawers out of the dresser and empty them, I still think this is pretty impressive...and I'm quite sure that given time, he would have done so. Besides his toys all pulled out from under the bed and crib (I used to have them in a toy box, but he broke the toy box), he got the mattress off the bed, disassembled the guard to keep him from rolling out of bed, took apart the humidifier (there's a green round thing on the floor, and that's the water receptacle), emptied out his hamper (there's a towel and a pair of pajamas peeking out from under the mattress), my colander that he secretly swiped from my kitchen cabinet is on the floor next to the rocking chair, my barbecue tongs are on the floor all the way on the lower right hand corner, half of the bumper is torn off the crib, and there are toys in the slats of the bed...the only one visible is his Little People airplane balanced over one of the slats.


So, he had to help me clean it...I keep thinking that maybe if he hates having to pick everything up again he won't make the mess, but no such luck yet. Then I gave him my well practiced look of death and said he wouldn't like it if I heard another sound and had to come back in.


He took a nap after that. It must have been a good look.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or Treating Parade!

These are just pictures from ads, but this was my son's costume...He was James, a friend of Thomas the Tank Engine and this was my daughter's pink unicorn costume.
Our front door




Every year for the past three years, we've been going to a local Halloween Parade for children. It's organized by our Fire Department, and the community participates. The fire department closes off the local streets, and folks on the roads where the parade goes through decorate to the nines and get dressed up in costumes to give out treats to the kids in the parade. It's great.



This year, the weather was misty, but warm. There were a LOT of children participating! Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. I know we did.



This is the first year my son actually participated in Trick or Treat. Every other year, he melted into a tantrum at the first house. Last year he was at least interested in the fire engines so we could finish the parade. However, this year, he had a wonderful, wonderful time.



The parade started by the fire house, and there are fire trucks at the beginning and the end of the parade. The children stopped by each house along the way, and get their treats. One house was all spookily decorated with tombstones and webs and spiders and fog. Another house gave out whole Nestle bars. Our favorite house was guarded by Pinkbeard, the Pirate. He invited us to share in his treasure. He admired my daughter's costume because it was his favorite color, pink.



At the end of the parade, the firemen gave out doughnuts and apple cider. It really was a lot of fun.



Before we went to the parade, we went trick or treating in our building, and my son had fun knocking on the door and saying Trick or Treat...or "buh oh bee" and thank you. He did terrific. My daughter enjoyed it too. Both kids ate several lollipops, and my daughter also had a doughnut, some cider, and a Tootsie Roll. They were both literally bouncing by the end of the night. I was so happy we finally had our first "normal" Halloween.



The only disappointing thing was that we only had two trick or treaters. That was so sad. For decorations, we had our jack-o-lanters lit up outside on our terrace, and we had a beautiful group of pumpkins and a lovely apple that my son made at school. We also had a big, black, hairy spider that would go down on its web whenever there was a noise. I also had lots of stickers and tattoos to give out. Now I still have a bunch of stickers and tattoos...



How was everyone else's Halloween?