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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I have a new obsession. Juice. It's unbelievable how many nutrients I'm able to fit into my diet without having to consume so much bulk. I've tried a whole bunch of combinations. Here's my favorite right now:

Kale or Spinach, Carrot, Green Apple, Celery, Beet.
Sometimes I let Ben toss in some ginger and lemon, too.

One day last week I was sick with a cold. I went on a juice fast, consuming only juice all day. I've never recovered so quickly from an illness. Truth.

Here are some pics we've taken of our endeavors. ed note: the best pics were taken by Ben.

Do you JUICE? 
What is your favorite recipe?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Not The Right Fit (part deux)

Hi there. Have you read my recent post called Not The Right Fit?  This post is the second part in what seems destined to become a series. Go ahead and read it. We'll all wait here till you are ready to proceed. Go ahead. *twiddling thumbs*

Little Bird had a dentist appointment one morning this week (no cavities!), so she was late to school. By the time I got her there, I walked into a classroom without kids, but where the teacher was meeting with the school psychologist... about my girl. So, I joined in on their discussion. Still very surprised that after a phone call and an email, this is the first time I'm hearing anything from the psychologist who has been assessing my kid. She explained that they're working to assess the girl so determine how to best serve her at her appropriate level of instruction (blah blah blah). She has a difficult time in this Mildly Cognitively Impaired class with following multi-step directions. For example, she had a task of writing her name on a worksheet, then cut out pictures of numbers, then match the number thats cut out to the number of items pictured on the worksheet. "She got stuck on the first step." me: "Ummmm, yeah. That's because she can't hold a pencil well due to her low tone. That's something that is in her IEP and the OT should be aware of and working on. Did she know how to spell her name? Did she match the number to the amount of items pictured? Yes? Oh, then it sounds like this is not an issue of not following directions, it's an issue of not being able to hold a pencil and/or trouble with cutting as reflected in all your paperwork on her indicating the fine motor delay." A few blah blah blahs later, and it appears they'd like to move her into the moderately cognitively impaired classroom. The kid who in kindergarten tests at a 5th grade reading level.

To reiterate: the reason I didn't put her into an ASD class is twofold: 1) I felt that it's too socially restrictive with not enough opportunity for social interaction due to the nature of the class dynamic (each kid is often separated into his/her own cubicle), 2) the evaluation team didn't certify her as eligible for ASD because of her social ability, interest, and awareness of others. At this point I think I will visit both the Moderate CI class as well as the ASD class and determine if one of these is a better fit for her that this current class. I feel confident in saying that the team that is currently working with her is not properly equipped to provide the best learning environment for my baby girl. So, if you will, please raise your glasses and toast to my entrance into the elite club of "teacher's/administrator's least favorite parent". Cheers!

I'm putting this out there because I'm counting on my fellow parents of kids with special needs, receiving special services in public schools sharing with me their experience, strength, and hope.


*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 27, 2012

35 on 35

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to (I probably will), but the gift is all yours. In honor of my 35th birthday, I bestow upon you 35 things about me that you might not have known (or maybe you did. I don't care.).

1. I actually am 35.
2. My best friend has my FB password and has promised to clean things up if, gd forbid, anything ever happened to me.
3. I dream of living on a commune someday.
4. My two cats, Cassidy and Sugar Magnolia, were cremated and are kept in urns in my closet.
5. I'm beyond excited to share with everyone my new baby Birdhouse For Autism.
6. I attended seven schools by the time I was 16.
7. My new favorite meal is bibimbap.
8. I want to have another baby someday.
9. I'm too scared to have another baby someday.
10. When customer service reps ask if there's anything else they can do for me, I always answer with, "I'd appreciate your help in re-electing President Obama".
11.  I am 12 inches taller than my seven year old.
12. I have five piercings in my left ear and four in my right.
13. I recently cancelled cable and returned my cable box back to the blood sucking cable company
14. I don't have any gray hair.... yet.
15. I give my bird nine supplements/meds/vitamins/probiotics per day yet don't take one vitamin myself.
16. I'm hopelessly in love.
17. I may or may not have a secret online alter ego.
18. I can't believe I'm only halfway through this list.
19. When I was a child, I spent some time with rock stars.
20. I have recently discovered that in some ways rags are better than riches.
21. My favorite curse word is balls.
22. I have all the teeth Little Bird has lost (six) in a ziplock bag in my closet (same closet as the cats. see #4)
23. I have a hammock swing in my apartment (don't tell management).
24. I sneak treats and bottled water into movie theaters.
26. WKRP was my favorite show as a kid.
27. I've never donated blood because I've never met the minimum weight requirement.
28. I can't wait till I need reading glasses- I'm gonna rock those things!
29. The very best people I know have kids with Autism.
30. Lately (months) I eat no meat & no dairy. I know a ton of different ways to enjoy rice and veggies.
31. I can play C, F, G, and A chords on a ukelele.
32. Since Little Bird got too hyper after her B12 shots, I gave myself the rest.
33. I bite my nails.
34. I skipped 25 because I don't think you're paying attention anyway.
35. Sometimes I complain about the subtle signs of age on my face and body, but I think I look fucking awesome for 35.

Happy 35th Birthday to ME!!!

Fall: A Top Ten List

Fall. Autumn. September 21 to December 21. Three months. Ninety days (ish). 
Here are my 10 favorite things about Fall (in no particular order):

Apple Picking
Baking with those apples

The colors


Baking with those pumpkins

Candy Corn

Halloween 2011
Halloween (1980 I'm on the right)

The crunchy leaves


Eating donuts and drinking cider at the mills

Mama’s Losin’ It
This week's prompt: 
Fall is here! List your top 10 favorite things about this Fall season.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Not the right fit?

Three weeks into the school year and we're struggling. I knew this would be a tough transition because she'd been in that great inclusion program for three years and now she's in a center based class with 11 other kids with special needs. Transition, change, adjustment. Ugh. The biggest difference between these two programs (besides the obv one: typically developing kids vs ummmm, not), is basically free flowing play vs. s-t-r-u-c-t-u-r-e. Like, sitting-at-a-desk kind of structure. Hahahaha, my bird, sitting at a desk. She's in a mildly cognitively impaired classroom, which seemed like the least restrictive environment at the time. 12 kids, 1 teacher, 1 full time para, 1 part time para. It's a great program for a kid with a mild cognitive impairment minus behavioral and/or social issues.

Little Bird has been having a tough time adjusting to having to follow directions- not that she doesn't understand them, but that she doesn't want to do what she's being told to do. ed. note: I have no idea where she gets this from. She's also been peeing in her pants a lot there. To the point where the teacher asked me if she's actually potty trained. Oy. Thus far, it's been rare that she comes home wearing the same thing she went to school in. She tends to pee a lot when she's going through some kind of big growth spurt or one of her little regression periods that precede a huge leap in progress (praying it's the leap thing!). I think it's getting better in terms of the bathroom "issues" but the behavior thing is tough. The team she's working with at school (teachers, paraprofessionals, etc) have experience with Mild C.I. but not with the behaviors and social stuff that comes along with ASD.

So, this might not be the best fit for her and that's that. We'd never know without trying and giving it a shot. This is obviously an ongoing story. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Building Shelter

Yesterday, we spent some time doing service work for JARC, a great organization that aims to enrich the lives of and erase barriers for individuals with developmental disabilities. I told you about them once before. We helped build a sukkah (a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot.) at one of the homes that JARC operates. 
Little Bird colored decorations (can you tell where I helped?)

Using zip-ties just as they did in biblical times
Sweetest little helper ever

We hung decorations like little gourds and pictures of a lulav and etrog

Finished product!
On our way there, we talked to Little Bird about doing mitzvot (charitable acts/good deeds). She has a pretty good grasp on giving tzedakah, which she understands as "for people who need help." I try to bring her along to as many of these kinds of things as I can, helping her to help others. Once she got bored, Little Bird went inside, made herself at home on the couch, and watched some Elmo with one of the residents. 

What kind of mitzvot 
have you performed lately?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Six Word Memoir

We conquered Summer. 
Bring on Fall.

Mama’s Losin’ It
This week's prompt: 
Add an image to a six word memoir based on anything

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Weighted Blanket Worth The Weight/Wait!

Little Bird gets a little bit restless at bedtime. It's like she can't calm her nerves. There have been times when I've needed to give her some very deep proprioceptive input by massaging her arms and legs and even giving tight squeezes just to get her to stop moving all over the place. She needs help calming down.

A few months ago, I finally started considering spending the money for a weighted blanket and within a day or so I saw Lexi post on FB about how helpful hers had been. A weighted blanket gives a kiddo just enough pressure to calm him/herself and make it easier to sleep without being too much. They also help some kids stay focused by keeping them grounded. I've never heard of anyone not loving their weighted blanket, but I'd heard they can be pretty expensive. Little Bird was getting super squirmy at bedtime and I realized it was time to just go for it. That's when I came across Lexi's post about her SensaCalm blanket. I checkout their website and saw that blankets are custom made for your child's weight (or lack thereof in LB's case!), and you can pick your own fabric. We went with plain pink- I can't believe anyone can feel calm with the crazy patterned ones!

She loves it! I put it on her at bedtime and even though it'd be fine for her to sleep with it on through the night, I take it off before I go to sleep. Sometimes, if she's agitated, I'll bring it on to the couch with us. It's not an instant calming device, but it certainly does help and I definitely notice there's not as much bedtime squirminess. So, we are very happy and satisfied customers. Yes, they're a bit expensive, but it was worth every penny for us!

Does anyone in your home use a weighted blanket?

Friday, September 14, 2012

*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

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Arts, Beats, and Eats with a side of Autism

Every Labor Day weekend there's a big festival in town called Arts, Beats, and Eats. It's part art fair, part music venue, part taste fest. That's pretty much why it's called Arts, Beats, and Eats, ya dig? It's always a huge ordeal. Loads and loads of people. It starts Friday afternoon and lasts until Monday evening, filling up the streets of downtown Royal Oak, Michigan. It's always fun to go for a bit, but usually during the day. It's a little too overwhelming for me to be in such a huge crowd of gross, drunk people during the evening. 

This year, the Autism Alliance of Michigan opened up the festival an hour early to families of children with Autism. We had to the whole place to ourselves before the crowds rolled in. Plus, we got free admission and access to all the rides and carnival-like family activities! There was even a free pizza lunch, but it didn't suit our dietary needs, so we didn't take part in that. 

Little Bird loved riding the rides. She's so sensory seeking that she loves the twirly, up, down, and all around things. I hate that stuff. I swear, I'm ready to vomit before the creepy carny guy hits the switch to start. Still, we had a great time and we owe it all to the Autism Alliance! We'd never have tried to take LB there otherwise. 

signing the thank you card to the festival organizers

On top of the ferris wheel. "don't look down. don't look down. don't look down"

She loved the fun house!

Monday, September 10, 2012

We Rocked Walk4Friendship 2012

Last week team Birdhouse For Autism participated in the annual Walk 4 Friendship to benefit kids with special needs through theFriendship Circle of Michigan. Amid a crowd of 5,100 walkers, the community came together to show support for individuals with disabilities and their families. 
But there was so much more than walking going on. There was a foam pit and huge hamster balls for those who are a bit more sensory-daring, a dunk tank, laser tag, petting farm, pony rides, and huge blow-up bounce houses. Of course, we had to eat, too, and we were fed pizza, sno-cones, popcorn, and who could forget the very very sticky cotton candy! 
Little Bird with her 
Well, she had to do something with all the energy from the cotton candy!
Dani, Ben, and Adam

Thank you to everyone who helped Team Birdhouse For Autism  become the #1 fundraising team, bringing in over $25,000!! 
Whether you walked with us, donated, or just cheered us on, 

You LOVE the shirts, huh?

Friday, September 7, 2012

*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

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of First Grade

It's not MY first day of school, but I'm the one who is shaky and feels like I'm gonna throw up. It's okay, I know it'll pass (as soon as I pick her up!).  This is a new classroom (special ed), new teachers, new school. After three years in an incredible FULL inclusion classroom, she's aged out and right into the public school system. Did you know that most private schools won't touch a kid like mine? It's true. She's going into a great classroom with a great teacher and a great paraprofessional and (hopefully) the resources to give her what she needs. Still, it's not what I'd dreamed of when I had a baby. Sigh. Feeling all the feelings this morning. Typing through tears. I saved them for after I dropped her off and got in the car. This is just another one of those milestones that comes and goes and reminds me that we've missed the intended target. And all those pictures that the "normie" parents post on their kids' first days? Well, we can do that, too! It doesn't feel quite the same for us as it does for them, but we can still try.

There she goes...

When I found out which school she'd attend, I started asking around to see if anyone knew a first grader at the school in the mainstream/general education classrooms (my personal anti-bullying campaign). Lo and behold, we found one! I talked to the mom (who turned out to be super freaking cool), and we had a play date last week at the school's playground! Jacob is the sweetest. I know he'll look out for my bird. Bonus: we found out that Little Bird will be in Jacob's class when/if she gets to be mainstreamed for things like music and art. 

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See, it's not just my mom! (since Jan 1, 2010)