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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tikkun Olam-athon

My family and I recently participated in our synagogue's Tikkun Olam-athon. Tikkun Olam is Hebrew for "Repair The World." The temple spent the Sunday before MLK day doing acts of community service. There were all kinds of awesome projects and ways to give back by being of service to the community.
Just look at all those people being of service!

Little Bird, Ben, and I worked on a project to help "The Greening of Detroit" by creating labels for seed packets that will be distributed to Detroit residents in the spring to plant in the 1,300 community gardens this organization supports throughout the city.

Many children created artwork to adorn the walls of a local children's hospital

Making "no-sew" blankets for children in need

Kitty forts for the animals at the Michigan Humane Society- awwwww!
There were also opportunities to prepare meals and care packages for people at the Ronald McDonald House, study/school supply kits for kids in Detroit who might otherwise go without. There was also Bingo at a Retirement Home, but no kids for that one (apparently the residents take their bingo very very seriously!). Not only do I love doing things in my community, I love that Little Bird is being taught and shown that this is just what we do.... 

What kind of mitzvah have YOU performed lately?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Strawberry Lollipops

As you might recall, last week, my Little Bird celebrated her birthday and turned EIGHT!! The principal at her school has very strict rules about snacks in the classroom and that means no cupcakes. The Horror!! I still wanted her to be able to be celebrated in school on her special day, so I came up with the idea of creating Strawberry Lollipops. The kids loved them and the teachers loved them, too.

Since I had been making chocolate mustache lollipops as party favors for her birthday party, I had a bunch of lollipop sticks that can be purchased at most craft stores.  Easy, cheap, healthy! WIN!

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Happy Birthday to my beautiful, smart, fun, funny, quirky, silly, ticklish, sweet, sassy 
Little Bird

Enchanted Photography by Marla Michele

Far From The Tree

My friend Lainie suggested we read this book, Far From The Tree by Andrew Solomon because it's about parents raising extraordinary kids. And then we laughed about the idea of actually having time to read- you know with me being, well, me, and with Lainie's weekend visits to the local Children's Hospital for her son's chemo. Still, it seemed like a good goal, the whole reading a book thing. So, we decided to buy the book (with a coupon) and take turns reading it. And then it arrived on my doorstep. Turns out it's about 900+ pages and weighs more than Little Bird.

I'm only about 65 pages in, but I'm loving this book so far. The tagline is Parents, Children, and the Search For Identity. Solomon spent 10 years working on this book by interviewing parents and children. Some of the children have deafness, autism, down syndrome, and/or were conceived in rape. 

I read a line in the first 30 pages or so that hit me... hard. "Having exceptional children exaggerates parental tendencies; those who would be bad parents become awful parents, but those who would become good parents often become extraordinary."

Truth is, without Little Bird being.... Little Bird, I might've just been a good parent. It's she who has made me extraordinary.

Mama’s Losin’ It
This week's prompt:  What are you reading?

Friday, January 18, 2013

*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, January 9, 2013

Is ASD the right fit?

And the "school sucks" saga continues. Yesterday, I visited one of the two kindergarten-2nd grade ASD classrooms in our school district. I'd been asking to visit this program since October, but was discouraged by the administration because they felt Little Bird would not fit in well.

Very brief catchup for those of you who haven't been following along. As of now, she's only receiving special services under a speech and language certification. Her current placement is in a mildly cognitively impaired classroom with 12 students, 1 teacher, 1 full time para, 1 part time para. We felt this would be the least restrictive environment based on Bird's social engagement and ability to communicate verbally. After a few weeks in the class, it became apparent to me that while the staff serving this program are well trained in cognitive impairment, that's not exactly what we're facing with Bird. In fact, I believe that her sensory needs, inability to attend to task, and her behavior are making this a poor fit for her. I brought up these concerns back in September, but I was assured that it's just transition and that the staff would be consulted by an ASD teacher so that they may better understand how to serve Bird. Well, here we are in fucking January and I'm still not feeling confident when I drop her off. There's a very clear increase in her anxiety (she pees in her pants at school, but NOWHERE else), and there's a regression in her behavior (she's pulling hair and not following along with the claw/teachers). Both of these points were made clear at our last IEP. Here's the IEP debrief.

Because I noticed in her most current IEP that the amount of Occupational Therapy she was receiving was diminished without warning, I'd considered hiring an advocate since I felt I wasn't getting anywhere on my own. But, what made me pick up the phone and go to the woman who is known in the entire state of Michigan as the woman who'll get it done, was the fact that I was told that there was no room in the K-2 ASD class, so they'd place Bird in the 3-5 class (if they found her eligible). Well, the bird is not even 40 pounds, and not violent or very behavioral, so it seems that it wouldn't be appropriate or safe for her to be in a class with kids at least 2 years older than she. When I expressed that sentiment, I was told that the district is not required to place a kid with other kids their age. Nice.

I feel like you should be up to speed now, but if not, just go ahead and read the whole School Sucks saga. So, I saw the classroom for the K-2 ASD program. There are 6 boys in there now (their maximum limit), but there could be a space opening up soon. Yes, the kids seemed to be a bit more affected by ASD than Little Bird. They were largely nonverbal, but I didn't see the behaviors I'd been warned against and certainly no violence like the special services admin described. In fact, when I spoke with the teacher, she said this year is a pretty quiet, calm class. The teacher seemed awesome. She's young, enthusiastic, kinda loud and definitely fun. That's what my bird needs. She's a sensory seeker, so she needs enthusiasm and excitement. I think this teacher would be great for her. Interestingly enough, this kid with the speech and language certification to receive services, might be considered "too verbal" for the ASD class.

I asked that this teacher observe Bird in her current placement and decide whether she believes that her class would be a good fit for my girl. I've requested a formal re-evaluation of Little Bird so that we look into recertification. I believe she should have either an ASD certification or whatever is necessary for her to receive the services that she really needs. While she is currently getting OT, PT, Speech, etc, she's not getting those services from the staff who provide for/have experience with kids with Autism. She's also not getting the ABA-style instruction she needs. When the kids in the CI program are mainstreamed, they go on their own, with no support- no shadow! So, obviously there aren't a lot of things that Bird can be mainstreamed for since she can't sit still or pay attention on her own. The ASD kids mainstream with support. That's a HUGE difference for me. I asked the supervisor of special services if it's required that a student be certified ASD in order to be placed in that program and she said that every student in those programs is certified ASD (not true). I repeated my question: is it a requirement? She said she'd have to ask the director of the program.

It's clear to me that not only am I dealing with bureaucracy, but they're clearly not being completely honest with me. So disappointing since it's Bird who suffers.

At this point, I think I'd like to see Little Bird moved into the ASD program and we'll see how she does there before we either move out of the district and into one where we can get her needs met- truly met- or pull her out and homeschool her.

That's where I stand right now. Still jumping each time the phone rings when she's at school; still feeling like I'm gonna vomit when I'm on my way to pick her up; still feeling like she's being failed by the public school system.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rockin' My Leg Warmers

I can't tell what I like more about my new leg warmers- the fact that they're purple, the fact that they're rad, or the fact that I made them myself!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

*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, January 3, 2013

Energy Balls

I am constantly running around from one place to the next, one meeting to the next, one grocery store to the next, etc. I get the hungers in between those stops without time to properly take care of that. I love quick things I can reach for that will hold me over until I take the time to slow down. I found a recipe online for quick and easy "energy" balls.

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Mix it all up together and then let it chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes. 
Roll up some balls! 
I think you're supposed to get about 20 balls, but I think I got less because I was eating as I rolled. 

YUM. These things are really good!! 
Also, I love love LOVE when I can make something from stuff I already have in my home. 

Store them in an airtight container for a week- doubt they'll last that long.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sweets for the teachers

I always like to give Little Bird's teachers a little something during the holidays. I know they get WAY too much junk and I'm very much against collecting more and more stuff, so I typically opt for a nice, handwritten card expressing my gratitude for all they do for my bird. After all, I leave her in their care for hours- which some days feels like forever! I also make a donation in their honor to some of my favorite organizations, usually groups that work to enhance the lives of people with developmental disabilities. 

This year, in my new-found craftiness, I made them sweet treats....

Peppermint fudge with a delicious chocolate fudge star on top.

Strawberry Jam...mmmmmm

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