Thursday, May 29, 2008

Chatterbox, w/ a Side of Eyes

James has been talking a lot this week. Saying more words on his own that correspond to things he sees or hears, like "a bird!" or "airp'ane!" If I mention the wind, he immediately puckers up his lips and goes "whhhhsh, whhhhhhsh!"

Sometimes, we can have conversations, even if they go like this:
James: "Swing!"
me: "Yay, swing!"
James: "Swing!"
me: "Want to sit on the swing, James?"
James: "NO!!!"

me: "did you do pee-pee in your diapers, James?"
James: (if yes) "pee-pee" / (if no) "NO!"

me: "did you do poo-poo in your diapers, James?"
James: (if yes) "poo-poo" / (if no) "NO!"

He is starting to pick out which shirts he wants to wear. I hold up two, and ask him if he wants to wear the blue one or the green one. Some mornings it's between the orange one or the brown one. He doesn't always match up saying and grabbing the one he wants first try, but it's getting to be a quicker process. It's also a nice way to practice his colours. He has lost interest in picking out his socks. They're totally back to the What. Ever. category.

Of course, with eyes like James', he doesn't always needs words. What a lucky guy!

Home By the Sea

We had the chance to stay with friends down by the beach recently. While not relaxing, it was a lot of fun.

We got together with two other couple friends and our kids, who are all about the same age, played together well and throughout the weekend. Yay playing together! Or near each other! Whatever!

James loved running around after all the kids. He loved exploring a new place. its wall-to-wall carpeting. The windchimes. The lamps that turned on & off with slider switches. Eating muffins for brekky.

Right next door was a school playground. It was a little rundown, but the kids still loved spending about an hour playing all over it. James almost immediately took off his shoes and plopped down to become one with the sand. Our friends' little boy (one month younger) did the same thing. How nice it was to see them playing side-by-side, doing the same things. Just like any two little boys.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I Almost Forgot: Wishing You Succes!

I saw this over at What Jen Finds and really liked the concept. Check out her site, and celebrate success!

Success Sunday Banner
"Moi aussi je regarderai les etoiles"
--A. de Saint-Exupery

Thanks for the inspiration!

Find out How to Post your own Success Sunday!

Shake Those Hands

We are spending the weekend with friends and their kids, who are about the same age as ours. Within seconds, the girls were on the floor, engrossed in Ponyland. They haven't seen each other in months, but so what?

James is having the best time, playing with the other kids and their toys. He is talking up a storm again: house, open, fish, duck, car, train, walking, marching ... so exciting! On the trip down, his sister gave him an impromptu speech & language session. She encouraged him to say circle, square, triangle and red. He came up with rectangle and TRUCK! on his own. Driving on the freeway, he had lots of practice saying TRUCK!!!

At the park yesterday, someone was flying a remote control AIRPLANE!!!!! Oh, that was good for 15 minutes at least. We watched it swoop and dive, bank and climb. We got to say "Oooo, aip'ane -- YAY!!!" many times.

There has been much climbing and running, following and meandering. I think what I love the best are the kids entertaining each other. It will be interesting to watch James next week. We've broken out of our routine before, and sometimes James makes huge leaps forward afterwards. It's like he gets a new perspective on things, and they look mighty different when "normal life" returns. That is so cool!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Another Parade

So last night was the tri-town famous, Future Farmers' Parade. Yeah! I sat with my daughter on a float, while my mom stayed with James to cheer us from the sidelines.

This parade wisely starts at 6pm. Our float was one of the last, so we got to the float just before 7, barely in time for me to swing us aboard.

My mom tells me that James loved the parade, waving to everyone and loving all the bubble blowers. I am taking her word for it, because my daughter needed an emergency bathroom break 2/3 of the way through the parade (yes, we'd done the potty break right before the parade). That was an exciting chase through the streets, in search of a toilet. My undying thanks to the household of strangers who saved our dignity in the nick of time! Consequently, we missed seeing my mom & James, & vice-versa. We did, however, catch back up to the float to finish out the last few minutes of the parade.

On the other hand, if there is ever a rodeo or Olympic event for jumping off & on parade floats w/ a 5-yo, I'll be a Contender! This is one of the times that I am so glad that one of the kids is still in diapers.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Yesterday James had a complete screaming meltdown. Going to get on the schoolbus.

What in the Jungle?

The schoolbus has always made him the happiest boy in the neighbourhood!

So after it became obvious he was not going to let us sit him down in his seat, let alone ride on the bus, I told the poor driver I would bring him to school that morning. James did not stop screaming in fury until three minutes into his Time Out. During this time, he threw off his socks (I had already removed his shoes).

The culprits:

I am already frazzled from sensitive clothing issues with his sister. Time to breathe. With my eyes closed.

Epilogue: I let James choose his socks this morning. No problemos!

Monday, May 19, 2008


James has always liked water. The fountains on the Town Green have fascinated him since the first time he saw them. This year, he is finally able to explore around them.

On his first fountain expedition, he toddled over to them and immediately tried to get his feet in the water, shoes and all. He'd lean over the sides and stick in his hand, usually up to his shoulder. Once, the entire side of his head almost kissed the bottom. Most un-fun. I'd have to hold him in a flying position and zoom him into the mini waterfalls. He'd let the water spill over his hands and laugh. The gravel nearby was obviously meant to be scooped up and thrown into the water. To be fair, his sister was fond of this too.

This year, James can hold onto part of the fountain and reach out to let the waterfall spill over his hands. He is not so interested in plunking his shod feet in the water. Although he will do it if he is sufficiently bored.

The gravel goes into the grates in the ground.

He walks along the fountain edges, trying to keep up with his sister.

James will also cross the fountain, counting his footsteps. I can tell he is getting much more self-confident, because he is doing it much faster now. And has fallen in twice.

I love trips to the fountains. They are like an OT session. Maybe a little more fun. With a lot less driving.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Things to See

Well, we braved the heat and swung by for about an hour of the Rose Parade yesterday. It got to be too much for James, so we ducked inside a bank, then a used book store, where the kids actually let me browse a good 10 minutes before getting restless.

My daughter picked out The Princess and the Pizza. James took a shine to Sweet Dreams, Maisy. I found Silver Chief, Dog of the North for my mom. And I ... got to smell old books.

I am a glutton for old books and their smelly, glorious pages.

Let me back up a bit and note some Lessons Learned about James and a parade:
  1. The noise will get to him, after about 10 minutes; rest periods, even brief ones, help a lot

  2. Reaffirmation that James does not take heat well

  3. Confirmation that humidity makes him Cranky, with hitting not far behind

  4. All the dogs in the crowd bring his anxiety levels up, although he no longer cries when they push up at him

  5. He adores watching live music, and vehicles that have things going around on them

  6. Bubbles Rule!

The new books were a hit at bedtime that night. I love it that James will now sit on my lap and read a book with me. Last year this time he'd eat, rip, and throw books only; he would not sit on my lap for a bedtime routine. Now, he expects multiple readings throughout the day and holds his arms up to me, so I will hold him while I sing him songs before he goes to sleep.

We had fog last night, so we are cool again this morning. I think I'll take the kids out to the Farmers' Market and then to a playground for lunch, so my husband can keep working on dismembering the disused hot tub that has become a wildlife refuge.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Name that Verbalization!

I admit that I am really bad at processing words that I hear. So when James starts verbalizing and trying to say new words, I get excited, then I curse. Because I stink at understanding what it is he's trying to say. Thank goodness for Dad, who has no such problems!

This morning, at a stately 70° for breakfast, James started saying "a-Pop! aaaaa-Pob!" My husband and I were mystified, until James also started with the Xtreme LipSmacking noises. Eureka: the word was "popsickle!" Who knew? And I hate feeling so helpless!

Sometimes I think James is trying to say "open," before realizing he is excited because he has heard an "airplane," and is trying to tell me about it.

The absolute worst is when he looks right at me and lets out a string of careful verbalization. Over & over. With that hopeful, engaging look. And I can't understand one thing he is trying to tell me.

Talk about frustration and feelings of failure!!

Where is my Babelfish?

I love it when his sister translates for him, though. She delights in the absurd and has come out with some doozies, like "James is saying his fish tank patoobahs his oboes." She and James both laugh, because it has become a Game for them.

On a hopeful note or seven: James is getting much better with repeating a word back to us ... and remembering it for later use on his own.

And right now, James is trying to blow bubbles through the kitchen sponge that he has over his face ... gotta go!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lessons on Becoming a Patient Parent

Most of us accept that when we become parents, we will have to be adults and adopt a more patient attitude, withhold from overt emotional storms whenever possible, and lead our children by our own examples.

Man that is hard when I am not having a great day.

Such as (and thanks to Joe Bob Briggs for the numbering system):
Numero uno: Someone let their dog run and poop on our lawn -- two of 'em, so maybe it was two dogs. We have a fence on 3 sides of our lawn. I hate picking up other peoples' messes. They waited until I'd left to take my daughter to school, help out there, and drop off paperwork for James before letting them loose on our lawn.

Numero two-o: At 11:30 AM it's already 96° in the shade & still big gusts of wind and some dumb guy in a big truck in front of me flips his lit cigarette out his window while speeding down the highway. Right near some fields of dry grass. I lost my home and entire neighbourhood to a wildfire about 16 years back and idiotic, selfish acts like this still make me see red.

Numero three-o: The outdoor cat, whom we've unofficially adopted, brought us another present of a dead rat. Normally, this would be pretty good news, except that my 5 y-o daughter saw her in the process of killing the rat, had a zillion questions and wanted to stay for the whole show. And guess who's been getting the thrilling job of double-bagging those bad boys? In the middle of a big heat wave and thanks, but garbage pickup was so yesterday already? Hint: Moms get all the bestest assignments!

Numero four-o: It's now over 100° and the wind is blowing. I saw big smoke clouds from three different fires in less than 2 hours this morning and a spotter plane & Borade bomber just took off over our house. The hairs on the back of my neck are up and I want to just hit something.

I had trouble going ahead with volunteering in classrooms as planned and held my support phone calls until after the kids were down and out for their naps. I only mentioned the heat when James' SHAPE assistant showed up to work with him this afternoon.

I know there are others out there with more things to deal with, but today has just pushed all my buttons. So I try and breathe. I think I need to be the calm adult so I don't scare my kids and make them neurotic. I sneak off to the bathroom and freak out occasionally. I've made my support calls. And I watch the skies and news reports.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Night Swimming

It was so hot today that I took the kids swimming tonight at 8 after dinner. It was a fantastic experience!

The sun was down and the blue sky was swooshed over with dramatic clouds that threw back orange-pink light on us. The air was warm and still. The water was delicious on our skin. The quarter moon was soft and misty behind some gauzy clouds. I felt like we were in a big Maxfield Parrish snowglobe.

It was one of those nights I hope I'll always remember. Especially the looks on the kids' faces -- total amazement and delight.

This is James' first time in the pools since last year. I think he will like spending more time there and in the River.

First we stood on the steps of the middle pool, and then headed to the wading pool. His sister was very good and gave him a kick board to play with. He immediately called it a boat and put both hands on it, getting more into the water. James' words for this outing: wa'er (water), 'im/s'im (swim), boe (boat), moon, boo (blue), ah-pen (airplane). He put the words water and boat together! He leaned over and got his arms wet up to his elbows, and he brought his face so close to the surface that he got water on his cheek. He learned to get out of the wading pool by himself. He would walk carefully to me and then launch himself into space so I could catch and lower him back into the water. We will work on his re-entry!


Every now and then I catch myself watching the kids. I think I know what's going on, but really I am watching through my Mommy Window into their world.

Right now, the kids are watching a cat in the backyard. James has started saying "mow, meow" when he sees it. He wants to pet the cat, like his sister does, but can't quite do it. He and the cat circle each other, both curious, yet cautious.

What is James thinking? What is he seeing? How does he experience this house and his family? Sometimes I think I know. Others, I haven't a clue.

Sometimes his eyes, looking at me, are more expressive than the words he is trying to say. His facial expressions are more informative than his verbalization. While this is frustrating for us both, it reminds me that there is someone who is very present and aware on the other side of that window; I will keep trying the best I can to look through and open the window so I can meet James even more, and find out what he's thinking. Answer questions, if I can. Share as much as possible with him.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This is James: Bus

In the mornings, James adores the school bus. He practically rips open our front door and flies down the driveway, crying "buh! buh!" before he leaps into it. The driver always has a big smile for him and calls him her Little Angel. He giggles, wiggles, and glows with delight while he gets webbed into his seat. Then he'll look at me and shout "Bye!" with a grin.

I always wave to him outside the bus. And James always leans over and puts one finger up to the window. I can see him saying "bye" inside. He doesn't stop until I put my finger to his (on the other side of the glass) and say "Bye James, I love you!" Once I drew a heart too, and he thought that was the Coolest Thing Ever.

Then I wave to him as the bus pulls away from the curb. I wait for the turnaround and wave to him as he passes by, and I stand at the bottom of the driveway and wave some more until the bus turns the corner & out of sight. Mission completion!

Random Bus Thoughts:
  1. Sometimes I have trouble getting James to focus, or sit still for socks and shoes. Usually, all it takes is a reminder: "James, bus" and presto, he is on board!

  2. I wish I could get going as quickly as he -- angelically asleep to completely awake and demanding "muh-muh" (muffins) in 4.1 seconds.

  3. James almost always makes my day happy with his starry smile and big happy eyes

  4. The bus keeps me honest for getting James to school on time -- yay honesty!

  5. I am so glad he gets an adventure so early in the day, while I am still working on that first cuppa joe

Monday, May 12, 2008

Doubling our Fun

James is starting to say two words together! I am not counting one of his earliest spoken words for his favourite treat "apple bar." He can say "Hi, ____" and "Bye-bye _______" and I love it when it is "Hi, Mama."

We can get him to say many words after we say them and he is starting to say words on his own. He is very good at saying "NO!" and will respond "okay" if we are checking in that he understands what we've just said. (if he doesn't say "okay" then we know he either hasn't heard or he does not agree)

Last week, he said "Oh man!" just like Swiper on Dora. He starting to use this instead of "uh-oh!" My husband and I cracked up. It's nice to laugh that way. He is also getting better at hugging and kissing.

Sometimes, when he vocalizes with "Eeeeeeeeeee," we can get him to say a word or two. He is also memorizing his favourite books and vocalizes along with the reader, with occasional clear words in their proper places. I am so excited. He has been doing this with songs for a while.

I set up his t-ball stand for him today in our back yard. He enjoyed whacking the ball. But I really think the attraction was the bat! He also has not taken a nap today. I am not ready to give up the afternoon naps yet, so I am thinking positive that this is a fluke.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Walking for Answers

This is a quick post to let you know I will be participationg in The Human Race, a walk to help find answers for autism. Please look at my team's page and consider making a donation.

More soon.