A sassy, crafty mama bird from Los Angeles
raising a very sweet little girl with Autism
and a new baby boy in the Midwest... and other stuff, too.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Songbird


"I just found out that my bird can really sing"
-The Wallflowers

Singing songs. It's one of those cute little things that normies do early and often. The bird did nothing early, nor often. Oh, except learning her letters and sight words. I remember the other moms seeing her identify letters WAY before the normies were doing it and they'd ask me how I taught her that- they were blown away. I was so proud. I showed it off to the dev ped and she was impressed too. Then she suggested we get an ASD eval ;)

Kids with Autism usually have splinter skills like this. Things they do early and really, really well. The bird's splinter skill has always been about letters, words, numbers. This fuels her
obsession with love of books. 

But I digress. 



My point is: my bird has started singing songs. It started with The Backyardigans theme song. Lately she's been singing a song from Dora and that awful Dora's Birthday Party episode: "Isa, turn the wheel" and then she waits for ne to sing along "turn the wheel, Isa". Then she kicks it up a notch "I'm turning the wheeeeel!" it's cute but I hate that Dora!!
She loves music. I think it would tough to be a child of mine, living in this house, and
not love music. It's constantly playing in my house. It's an important part of my life. I've never been into kids music so I don't really play any of it. Lately LB isn't so into the music I play in the car. She constantly shouts "music!" and I tell her "this IS music. Do you want different music?" "YES!!" she stops complaining once we land on the hiphop/rap stations. That's her jam, right there. Can't wait until I hear her singing some of those songs!!
found this shirt at GAP last week. Obviously I had to get it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

FB recommendation fail

Facebook Recommendation Fail:




Ugh. Okay, fine. I'm watched Jersey Shore before. There, I said it. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

33

"I've journeyed here and there and back again"
-"Thirty Three" by Smashing Pumpkins


Lots of my friends take pictures of their babies with signs like this, so I thought I'd mock them. 

Birthdays are weird. You get so much attention and it feels a little strange. The teacher in my yoga class today even made an announcement at the end of class about my special day. I've been inundated with Facebook messages, emails, texts, and calls. I even received a few old-fashioned snail mail cards. My favorite was the one I got from Samantha. You know how when you open cards, you almost expect pray hope wonder if something will fall out of it that you can deposit in a bank? Well, out of her card dropped lyrics by Stevie Nicks. Yes, she really is an amazing friend. Remember when I gushed about her card to me last year?

One thing about birthdays is for sure... it's a lot of fun to hear from so many old friends on the ol' FB. 
It's even more fun to confuse people by changing the year I was born on my profile. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

*This Moment*

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My favorite book is the one I wrote

Here's a bit of a follow up to the post about my first experience with a little bully.

When I first put Little Bird in this inclusion program, it was suggested to me by a mom whose son had started in a mainstream class the year before that I write a book about the bird to introduce her to the class; something they could read to learn about some of her differences yet still see many similarities. The goal is also for some of the kids to take the book home to read with their parents. Everyone loves this concept and it was a big hit in her classroom last year, so I made one for this year as well. It goes a little something like this....



Hi. My name is {Little Bird}. I am 5 years old and I’m so happy to go to school with you. I know we will be friends and have a lot of fun together. I might seem a little different than some of the other kids, but I think you’ll find we are also a lot alike! Let me tell you all about me.
Last year I was in Robin and Adrienne’s class at {school}. We had a great year. Do you recognize any of my friends in this picture?
I also went to camp at {blah blah}. I went on the zip line! Have you ever tried it?



We are all special 
ALL people are different from one another. We look different and we have different skills, challenges, fears, and personalities. Even though everyone is different, everyone likes to be included, accepted, and liked. We all like different things, too.

I love to read books, so the library is one of my favorite places!
Do you ever go to the library?

I also like to go to the park. I like to climb on the jungle gym, but the swings are my favorite. Do you like swinging, too?






In the summer I love to swim in the lake and the pool (pic of her swimming) and in the winter, I love sledding (pic of her in the snow).
My favorite food is pizza. What's yours? 
All my family live in California (family photos). I go on an airplane to visit them. Have you ever been on an airplane?

I’m a smart girl, but some things are really hard for me. I have very low muscle tone, and that makes it harder for me to run, climb, talk, and write. I try really hard and I’m getting better all the time. I might need your help sometimes. Do you think you can help me?

Sometimes you might not understand what I’m saying. Maybe as you get to know me better, it will be easier for both of us! I can usually understand you, but it’s hard for me to answer all the time. Don’t give up on me. We can help each other!
I may not be able to participate in a conversation with you, but I really do want to be your friend! It really helps me when you speak slowly and use simple words and sentences. It also helps if you point to things so that I can understand what you’re asking.

You might need to help me play. I’m learning to play with friends and to take turns.
I really do like playing with you, but I may not always understand the games you want to play- especially games where we pretend to be other people in other places.
If I choose not to play a game with you, it may be because I just don’t understand the game.

I hope you can be patient with me and help me this year in Kindergarten. If we work together, we can be great friends!
Thanks for reading all about me. I can’t wait to play and be great friends with you!





You'd better believe I suggested that little boy take the book home and read it with his parents right away!! 

Yes, I use more pics and even some more "look, I'm just like you" scenarios, but I think you get the point. I highly recommend using a book like this if you plan on mainstreaming your child with special needs. It's true that a lot of kids can see past differences, but they can still see these differences and they have questions. Once their questions are answered, a lot of kids will be cool with it all. Some won't. And that's okay, too. Eff 'em.

Friday, September 17, 2010

*This Moment*

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The day a 5 year old became #1 on my sh*t list

Something happened to me for the first time today. I witnessed a kid making fun of my Little Bird. I never thought this would happen to us because we are the cool kids. I mean, we're pretty cool. Plus, thus far, my bird has been around kids who have been pretty cool with her differences: they might ask some questions, but they're generally okay with it all.

So, I walk into the classroom to pick up my girl from school and as soon as she sees me, she shouts, "mommy!!" (so cute, I know). And some kid goes, "ha ha she just said mommy." The teacher says, "yes, [little bird] says lots of words." And the kid goes, "no she doesn't!! she can't talk!" please go back and read that with a snotty, obnoxious five year old boy voice. And the teacher goes, "yes she does, and it's not nice to make fun of our friends." She was pretty cool about it. I, instead, shot fire out of my eyes at this little f*cker made eye contact with the kid letting him know that that was not cool and that he had made a mistake. Big mistake, kid. Huge. 



Monday, September 13, 2010

Does sick equal setback?

"I see you've made yourself all sick again"
-Afghan Whigs

Parents, I need some guidance. My bird has been sick. I was calling it a cold for a few days and then she started coughing. She typically gets a cold that last for about 2 days and then I get it and I'm sick for weeks. She has really never been sick like this so I don't know what's "normal" for a sick kid. She's got a great immune system and I am sooooo grateful. In her 5 1/2 years, she's only been on an antibiotic (notwithstanding flagyl) once. Well, this is time #2. Zithromax. It's bronchitis. Her cough was awful. The good news is that this round of antibiotics is only 5 days. We're on day #3. I also gave her some mucinex to loosen the stuff in her lungs. She seems to be feeling better and her cough has already improved a lot. But... her behavior and her ASD stuff looks worse. She's not so easy to engage and she won't answer questions. Instead, she'll just echo the question back at me. She's using single words to request things like "apple juice" instead of her usual "apple juice, please, mommy" or "can I have apple juice please?" Those are kind of scripts, but it's still more than just the one word. She's a bit stimmier than she'd been the last 2 weeks and harder to calm down, too.

We were riding the high of a round of flagyl: longer sentences, longer engagement, more fun, funny, less stimmy. Just all around WAY better. I swear, it gets harder and harder to be a skeptic when I see the amazing improvements after a round of flagyl.  I think that's why I'm so upset about this little setback. It's just that she was doing so so so well and I'm not ready for this high to come back down.

So, parents, here's what I need from you... please tell me if your kids typically regress a little bit when they're sick and/or on antibiotics. I need you to set me straight before I go crazy (ok, fine. crazier). When and if they do take a step back or so during illness, do they bounce back? I'm scared.

It never gets easier. Every time she takes a step back, I freak; even though I've been through this a million times (well, not a million, but it kinda feels like it) and she has come back. It's just that her progress is sooooo slow and I get nervous when she moves in the wrong direction. So, moms and dads reading this can you please leave me a comment or an email, or a text, or a facebook/twitter message or something to help calm me down?!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

*This Moment*

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Home

"Home. Yes I am home. 
Home is wherever I'm with you"
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros


Last week I marked four years living in my home. Greg and I lived for four years in our previous home. And four years in the home before that, too. Seems like four has been a magic number for us. But the pattern stops there. I really can't see myself living anywhere else. I love my house. I love my home
September 2006- when we first moved in


Yes, the four years we've lived here have been tough, but this has also been the place where we've made big memories. About four weeks after we moved in, the bird took her first steps (at 20 months old). We'd worked hard for those steps. This just feels like a cozy place to live and hang out... and make more memories. Yes, there are toys everywhere and the big trampoline and swing in the basement take up a lot of space; and yes there are books everywhere (what if my kid was obsessed with something else?); and yes, I've killed many of the plants that have come into this home, but it's a well lived-in home. I really do love it here. 


However... I've been really homesick lately. It's hard to tell if I'm homesick for California and for my family, friends, and favorite restaurants. Or if I'm feeling homesick for the life I had there. Everything just seemed so much easier back then. But, I know that place is kinda crazy and way too fast-paced for where I am in my life today. So, I think I'll stay here in the cute little midwest. But, I'd like to go home and visit a bit. If anyone can figure out how I can go back to 1998 for a visit, too, please let me know!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

On gratitude

Last weekend was our big Walk 4 Friendship event that raised money for Friendship Circle, benefiting kids with special needs. We had a great team and a great turn-out. I'm humbled by the amount of support my family received in the form of donations and people showing up to support our efforts. I didn't get pictures of everyone who walked with us, but there were about 50 people on our team. We raised about $20,000 for this amazing cause, providing support, respite and true friendship to families with special needs. There are so many people to thank and I've already ordered the thank you cards to do so, but until they get here.... 


THANK YOU!!!












Friday, September 3, 2010

*This Moment*

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. -SouleMama


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kindergarten!!

The bird started school last week. Kindergarten. She's back in the same program as she was in last year. It's a private, full-inclusion program with all typical kids and Little Bird has a full-time shadow. It's such a great program and really the only place where she can be in school with typical kids; the only opportunity for her get this kind of social input from normies. I love this program. But... I'm not completely sure this is going to work out this year. As she gets older, the gap between her and her typical peers grows. We'll give it a shot, and if it doesn't work, we'll have to find another way to go. But until then, I'm really really really hoping it works. I spoke with the teacher today just to reiterate that I expect them to treat LB the same as any other kid in the class, not as the special kid. I'm excited to see her bloom and grow this year. Well, excited and nervous. and scared. and kinda nauseous.

Here she is on her first day...



She was a little unsure as she walked into the classroom



And then she found the books



She's a cutie and I'm a proud mama. I mean, your baby only starts kindergarten once, right? Well, maybe it will be more than once in my case, but still.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Full Circle

I know I've talked about Friendship Circle before and how much the place means to me and tons of families like mine. But, I'm gonna do it again... This morning Friendship Circle's blog, Among Friends, published a post about MY experience at FC and it's a good one. You should go read it. I'll wait here.

Here it is: http://www.fcfriends.org/2010/09/01/my-life-in-full-circle-2/
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See, it's not just my mom! (since Jan 1, 2010)