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


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!