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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Treating them like everyone else

Just saw an awesome ad for AKIM, Israel's national association for the habilitation of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. 

AKIM believes that every individual, including those with an intellectual disability, deserves to have rich, fulfilling lives, and access to education, housing, employment and leisure activities.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

40 Years

December 30, 1972: a couple of crazy hippies drove out from their love nest deep in Laurel Canyon and made their way to Las Vegas.

 Somewhere along that journey, they decided to get married. They called their parents afterward to tell them the news. I'm sure that went over well.

Happy 40th anniversary Mommy and Daddy!!

** Hope you enjoy the cozy blanket I knit for you guys and always remember all the extra love I knit (and purled!) into every stitch!

Friday, December 28, 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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Made it myself: "christmas crack"

I've seen this called "Christmas Crack" but I think I'm calling it ohmygdIcan'tstopeatingthis.
It was very easy to make and very easy to eat. 

Here's what I did:

1 cup of brown sugar + 2 sticks of butter (yeah, I know)
Bring to a boil for about 3 minutes. 
Pour that over the sleeve of club crackers you've lined a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with. Put that in a 350 oven for 10 minutes.

Spread a 12oz bag of chocolate chips all over and as they melt, spread the chocolate to cover the crackers.
About two hours in the freezer and you're good to go. I used a pizza slicer to cut it up.  

Makes a great gift and I recommend giving as much of it away as possible so you don't sit in the kitchen eating it all in one sitting (just guessing) and then feel terrible about yourself because of the whole 2 sticks of butter thing. Good luck, though. This stuff is good.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Autism Shines

I've kept pretty quiet here about something terrible that's been happening...

Many in the media and around the interwebz have been blaming an awful, horrific act on the supposition that the man responsible for carrying out an incredibly violent act had Aspergers/was on the Autism Spectrum. Those of us who are in the ASD world,  or even just know individuals with Autism, know better. We know that while there are often co-morbid conditions  associated with ASD, Autism is not a mental illness.

Many of my extended online family have created a new movement online in effort to showcase all the wonderful things Autism is. This project is called Autism Shines. Please visit and like the Autism Shines page on Facebook.

Friday, December 21, 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, December 18, 2012

2012: Year In Music Review

"I dig music"
-Russell Hammond  Almost Famous

Can't even believe it's that time of year again. Time to talk about the music that's been the background noise for the past year. Each year (2011, 2010, 2009) I list the music that has followed me on my journey for the last 365 days (or 366 as the case may be), whether it's come out in this year or not. Some music is new, some has made a strong reappearance in my playlist, and other music is old but new to me. This is the soundtrack of my year (top 10 albums in no particular order).

Kings of Convenience - Declaration of Dependence
Justin Townes Earle - Midnight at the Movies
Mumford and Sons - Babel
Avett Brothers - Live and Die
Dawes - Nothing is Wrong
Tallest Man on Earth - There's No Leaving Now
John Mayer - Born and Raised
Edward Sharpe and the Magnificent Zeros - Here
Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
Amy Winehouse - Lioness: Hidden Treasures

Ladies and gentlemen, I have taken the liberty of creating a mix on 8tracks.com for you, featuring a key track off each of the aforementioned albums. You can thank me later (in the comments)

Ed. note: MUST add Alabama Shakes to this list. Absolutely incredible album that I hadn't heard before publishing this. Listened to the whole thing- twice- on a recent plane ride. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fruity Candy Bar (healthy-ish)

Always looking for fun ways to try something new that's fool proof. I mean, how could you go wrong with strawberries and chocolate, amiright? I feel confident that the photos will speak for themselves, but if you need more explanation, let me know. Try it!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The IEP Debrief

Well, I'd hoped for a Chanukah miracle in yesterday's IEP meeting, but that didn't quite happen. You can spend time catching up if you missed it when I decided to "open source" Little Bird's IEP. Here's the gist: I don't think she's in the right program, but it might be that she's in the least wrong one. She's in the Mildly Cognitively Impaired class, but she doesn't fit the bill of a kid with a mild c.i. She has Autistic Disorder (299.00), but the school district doesn't agree. Can't believe I'm in the position to have to prove her Autism. I feel like I'm fighting to even get them to test her for it. It's pretty obvious to everyone else except for those who have to do something about it.

I believe the ASD classroom's team is better positioned to care for her and to teach her. However, I'm continually told that she would not fit the make-up of the kids in the class. As well, as of right now there are already 6 kids in the K-2 ASD program (6 is the max). But, there is space in the 3-5 ASD class. Little Bird is almost 8, in the 1st grade, and less than 40 pounds. I'm not so sure it'd be safe for her to be in a classroom with kids that might be 4-5 years older than she is and certainly a lot bigger. I was told by the supervisor of special services for the school district that "there's no law saying I have to place her in the K-2 class. If there's no room and she needs an ASD class, she goes in to the 3-5 ASD class."  Areyoufuckingkiddingmerightnow? And it was in that moment that I realized that Little Bird's welfare is NOT in their best interest. Where's the appropriate (Free and Appropriate Public Education) in that??

Despite the fact that there's no room in the K-2 ASD class, I have still requested a visit so that I may see whether I think it's an appropriate fit. I have yet to hear back after making that request in writing yesterday. The goals set for Little Bird in this meeting are just okay. There are far too many things she does naturally and with ease at home and in private therapies that she just doesn't do in school. I explained that means they have to better motivate her to do these things there. I also explained, on the record, that the fact that she's not performing some of the already mastered skills they're "working" on in school, paired with the fact that she's peeing in her underwear there, and covering her ears most of the time, leads me to believe that there's been both "an increase in her anxiety and a regression in her behavior since entering this current program."

Photo by: Enchanted Photography by Marla Michele

Not much is changing today. A small shift in goals. When her original goals were written, they didn't know her. Now that they do, they've changed (lowered) her goals. She's not performing to the best of her ability there. Not a good sign. A clear one, but not a good one.

Homeschooling is looking better and better.

And the saga continues....

*This Moment*

Photo courtesy of my love, Ben
{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

Monday, December 10, 2012

Open Source IEP

For those following along with our School Sucks Saga, I have an update for you. I'm thisclose to pulling her out altogether and homeschooling. I'm sure there's stuff I'm leaving out, but I'm typing this with a huge pit in my stomach and a lump in my throat, so bear with me. Since Little Bird is in a classroom with staff trained in Mild Cognitive Impairment, they needed a little extra help understanding a kid with sensory dysfunction, limited verbal abilities, and some social impairment. Since the district decided that the ASD program was not an appropriate fit for her, I requested that the ASD teacher come in, observe the bird in class, and teach her teachers how to teach her. Just having to type the words "teaching her teachers to teach her" is some crazy bullshit, right? Anyway, the ASD teacher went in, made some suggestions: sensory breaks, visual schedule, behavioral charts with positive reinforcement. You know, the same suggestions that I'd been making FROM THE VERY BEGINNING. Also, I got a bunch of PECS sent home from school, so I'm fairly certain that the SLP (speech/language therapist) heard ASD and thought, "bring out the PECS!" I had to go to school, find the SLP and explain to her that we don't use PECS; that while they're freaking awesome for so many reasons, they are too restrictive for Little Bird.

Each day I drop her off and pick her up wincing at what they're going to tell me. I feel like there's constantly a complaint. Hard to believe, but there were weeks when the complaints were about her behavior and how she'd get up, out of her chair. They don't understand the sensory ants in her pants. I just don't feel that they believe in her or see all the potential that I see. She's smart, fun, funny, sweet.

The girl reads at a level FAR beyond her years. Yet, this is the work that comes home from school.
While I understand that the make-up of the ASD class isn't quite in line with where she's functioning, I do believe that the teachers and support staff she'd be working with in that program could make all the difference in the world for her. So, even though I have requested a visit to that class for consideration, and been told by the school district's special education administration that it's not a god idea, and basically NO, I think I'll go ahead and formally request it again.  I don't feel there's really a good fit at all in this district.

The worst part of all this? I still get the feeling that they teachers just don't want her in their class. Wow, how could anyone, anywhere not want this amazing kid in their class? Last week I told her teacher that while I don't feel this is the right fit for her, I think it's the least wrong fit. Make sense? She seemed to disagree and suggest (again) that I look into the Moderately Cognitively Impaired program. And I'm stuck. I'm not sure if I don't believe that's not the right fit for her because it's not, or because my ego won't let me accept that my baby is moderately cognitively impaired. I'm just not clear. A couple of the reasons the teacher is pushing me that way are the better teacher to student ratio, and the fact that they work on a lot of life skills in there, like toileting. (side note: LB has accidents in class sometimes but I firmly believe it's anxiety because she's completely independent in that area at home) Whatever the reasons are, it's a shitty feeling to know your baby's teachers are trying to get rid of her.

Here's where I open source her IEP: So... IEP scheduled for Thursday. In there, I will formally request a visit to the ASD program for class transfer consideration; I'll push for more of a certification for services than just her speech and language certification. She's not certified ASD through the schools- they didn't even feel like she'd qualify because she's "so engaged and socially connected" and I didn't fight that at the time because she was getting what services I thought she'd need.

What are some of the things YOU think I should bring up in this IEP?

Crib to College Cost

Well that settles that ..... Kids are fucking expensive. My kids seems to be a bit more expensive than most.
Also, the health care numbers on this infograph are so cute!! Where're the big numbers for OT, PT, Speech, Play therapy, etc?

Click to Enlarge Image

Crib to College - Brought To You By California Cryobank

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Happy Chanukah, Heads!

Cinnamon Almonds... in toilet paper rolls

Since wasting stuff is totally lame, I started saving the cardboard tubes in paper towel and toilet paper rolls. I knew I'd come up with some way to reuse them. But, I also knew that if I didn't by the end of the year, I'd toss them in the recycle bin because while I am a reuser (a word that apparently doesn't exist), I am not a hoarder.

After finding and making an awesome recipe on Pinterest for ridiculously incredibly amazing cinnamon almonds in the slow cooker, I found a great way to use the tubes!

I rolled up the cinnamon almonds in little sandwich baggies, stuffed 'em into the tubes, then wrapped them in wrapping paper. 

Voila! A great way to present a delicious gift!

Friday, December 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. 

**wearing her new tiara and waving her new wand from her Auntie Samantha

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Will Wait

It's quite appropriate that Little Bird is so into this song, "I Will Wait" by Mumford and Sons, since she's kept me waiting for just about everything. But, she's also taught me how to wait. Funny thing about patience... you might think you've got it, but there's a whole different, deeper level of patience that comes when you're raising a kiddo with a developmental delay/disability. It all started when she was 6 months old and she was "supposed" to be rolling over, but she just couldn't. We practiced, I waited. She did it, but not until she was almost a year old. When she was a year old and she was supposed to be walking, but she couldn't, we practiced and I waited. I still get a little thrill when I see her run from me in the library when I say it's time to leave. A few weeks ago we walking up stairs in a large store. Yes, there was an elevator, but this is good practice, so we took the stairs. The lady behind us was patient, but I still gave her a smile and said, "would you believe that I was once told she might not walk?"

A few years ago I was complaining to a friend that she was getting too heavy to lift into her carseat. She gently suggested that I give myself a little more time and help teach her (with patience) how to get into and out of her seat on her own. I waited. She did it. Same thing happened with getting her into and out of the bath tub. I waited. She got it.

She didn't talk. We worked so hard, still do. She's getting much better. I waited. Now sometimes I pray for three minutes of silence. Lately we've been working on dressing herself. I lay the clothes out in front of her and then... I wait. It takes her a little while, but she gets dressed. Pants seem easier than shirts, but she'll get it. I will wait. Nothing comes easily to this girl. She's a fighter. She's determined. She'll get there. And I will wait.

Mama’s Losin’ It
This week's prompt:  Take a line from a song you love and turn it into the title of your next blog post. Let the content follow.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A true friend to my bird

In honor of his 7th birthday today, I am posting a fabulous story about a fabulous little boy with more compassion, love, and patience than any other seven year old boy I know.

I told you about Jacob once before and told you how we found him. (Long story short: I was looking for a typically developing peer in Little Bird's new school during the summer so that she'd know at least one other kid when school started and someone pointed straight me to Jacob). 

Well, he recently received a special postcard in the mail from the kids' P.E. teacher...

"Dear Jacob,
I wanted you to know how proud I am of the way you help {Bird} during PE. You are so patient and kind with {Bird}. I like how you try your best to show her how to do the exercises and how you help her with our exercises. Keep up the good work! 
Mrs. Wilson"

Isn't that awesome?!!! Jacob is truly one of a kind and we are so so so grateful that he's a part of Little Bird's life. 

Happy Birthday Jacob!! 
Thanks for being such a great friend to my Little Bird!

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