Thursday, December 31, 2009

Five 'til Midnight: Playtime

Playtime has become big in James' universe. He has liked to play with things for a while. Now he wants to play more with others. First his sister, then his classmates ... then special people:

James loves to play on our piano. He picked out how to play the scales all by himself and stops at 8 notes. No one taught him that. He loves to sing. The highlight of his summer activities was participating in a Music Together class with Star Tom.

James will latch on to special toys from time to time. His father found Mailbox from Blue's Clues and James took it everywhere for several weeks. In fact, he insisted on using it to hold his treats when he went trick-or-treating for the first time ever this year.

Five 'til Midnight: Favourite Things

The airport, airplanes, and helicopters are all still favourite things and destinations for James. We are lucky to live near a small regional airport that allows us to easily watch aircraft take off & land. Sometimes we watch from the car. Other times we check out the action from just outside the airport itself. Other times ... we head to the museum that is located right down the street:

James loves bike riding. He has outgrown 2 trikes at home, so finding out that the second preschool has not only larger trikes but a large riding ring around the playground has filled us all with glee. James at times cannot contain his joy -- he must howl!

Water. Rocks. Add James. Prepare for a long afternoon of rocks being thrown in the river, with intervals of James wading in the river to find more rocks. Lather, rinse, repeat. Hey -- he's looking like a southpaw, suddenly!

Five 'til Midnight: Exploring

As James becomes more engaged and openly curious, he is starting to explore the world around him. He is confident, and not shy as his sister was. At the Discovery Museum in Sausalito, James loved the large hands-on exhibit room that allowed children to make all kinds of music and sounds with found objects. His noise and chaos level tolerances were much better than before. And of course, he still loves things that spin (like the round washers on long, threaded screws):

James and his class go on several walking field trips each year. Usually they go to Mac Donald's for a snack and use of the play room. Recently, the teacher has added two more destinations -- the bowling alley that is family-friendly and right next to the school and the town's public library. This year, the childrens' librarian held a special reading session of The Very Hungry Caterpillar for their class. It was a hit!

Of course, nothing can compare with getting reacquainted with the backyard, once summer arrives again:

Five 'til Midnight: Milestones!

James is tall. At four years old he is taller than many kids in his sister's first grade class! He has probably grown a good 2 inches or more this year. Pants legs shrink. He has gone through 2 shoe sizes at least, and almost all his long sleeve shirts end at well above the wrist. This has led to a huge change -- from car seat to a booster seat! He is very proud of this:

We have waged psychological battles in Potty training. We have made huge strides in Going #1. Going #2 (in the toilet) ... not so much. Something to look forward to in 2010, I guess:

James began his second Fall at his preschool. James has gone from mostly nonverbal to talking and singing well in class. He has asked other children to play with him and asks about the people missing from the daily classroom. He knows the drill and loves his teacher and class ... in the new classroom with a bathroom in it!!!

Five 'til Midnight: Food in Review

I've been making photo albums and calendars and again was struck by all the changes and milestones that James has made. Here are some pictures that capture some of those moments.

Food. James and his sister are both picky eaters. We have not added a lot of new items to his menu, but he is changing how he eats them ... a bit!

James at breakfast -- he likes to share his Daddy's cereal. This morning, he is also "sharing" the money in Daddy's pocket!

Lunch. When at home lunch (and possibly dinner) look like this. We have lowered his special chair 2 (or is it 3?) levels this year, to accommodate his growth.

Popsickles. James loves them! He will shamelessly beg his Nana and Apu for them when he visits at their house. If James is sick, popsickles are often the only thing he'll want to try to eat.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Heard from under the breakfast table this morning:
"Hep! I fall da floor, Mommy!"

Yes, James -- that's what happens when you let yourself go boneless. It's his favourite trick in two situations. Numero Uno to be silly; never underestimate the attraction of Being Silly.

Numero Two-o, when he doesn't want to do something. This guy takes passive resistance to a new level. It backfired on him the time his Nana told him it was time to get out of the River and start heading for home. *snort* I can find it funny because the water only came to his ankles and he howled with fury that he got *wet*! Laughing .. um, okay, at you on that one, buddy!

This morning it was silliness. Pure, enchanting silliness. We played peek-a-boo for a few minutes after that. Yay, tablecloths!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Am a Boy Who Loves ...

Family. Friends. Playing. Life. Apple bars & milk in the mornings. Being silly.

And lest we forget, It's a Small World ride at Disneyland!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Good News/Bad News

Bad news: Our second round in one month of James refusing to pass a bowel movement for several days.

Good news: The pediatric laxative suppository worked. He fought it to the bitter end though, before coughing up the payload, 15 minutes after the conservative time estimate.

I am hoping this is a two steps back before we have one giant step forward in BM potty training. It's a phase; it's a phase; it's a phase ... I hope!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

James and Jimmy

We got some sad news today. James' godfather and great-uncle passed away suddenly this morning.

This is the way I'll remember him -- laughing at a wonderful picnic at the beach two summers ago.

We gave our James extra hugs today. Happy we have him. Because we could not hug the man he was named for. Makes me think of the DMB song "Celebrate we will, for life is short but sweet for certain."

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Thankful for Community

Last night, at the 11th hour, I remembered that Santa would be making an appearance at his classroom's campus. It had sounded good when I first read about it, and I had fully intended to go with the kids.

James and sister with SantaThen the weather took a nosedive into cold, bone-chilling fog that went right down to (and up from) the ground. Brrrrr! I went into amnesia mode. Until after dinner, one hour before the event's end.

I put it to the kids: go outside and brave the cold to go visit Santa or stay home where it was warm? Silly Mommy, Santa it was!

The night was dark and frigid. Overhead, the beautiful full moon could clearly be seen through the stark tree branches. The stars looked like icy diamonds. If we had to have a clearing in the weather, that was a nice time to have it.

Once at the campus, I thought we were too late. The school was not lit up and only a couple of cars were in the lot. Luckily we followed 2 people, who arrived shortly after us, to the gym. There inside was a little bit of Winter Wonderland, lovingly brought to life by the hard-working staff of James' preschool.

There was Santa, on a nice big rocker, in front of a classical snowy backdrop and several live Christmas trees. Several life-sized Nutcrackers stood at attention in several areas and over in another corner, Charlie Brown and Lucy smiled by another tree. At one long table, kids were decorating white photo frames. At another, they made green & red pasta necklaces.

James and his teacher, stringing a pasta necklace for him to wearOne of the teachers was taking photos of the kids with Santa -- that was the fundraiser for James' school. I felt pretty sheepish that I had not realized this, and was glad I'd paid for 2 photos.

Click-click-flash-say cheese! Over and over. The kids hammed it up, both shy and delighted to be so near to Santa without a crowd of waiting children behind them. James' big sister told him a Secret. James let out a huge "HI!"

We were there for almost an hour, and all the teachers, aides, and administrators made us feel welcome and special. This is such a caring community of hard-working people who love our little special ones. I am very thankful. Thankful we came, thankful they're there ... thankful they care so much.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

SOOC Saturday: Finger Fu

James gets fine motor OT while mixing muffin batter

James is cooking, in more ways than one. Language and social skills are really coming along. We have signed him up for extra gym at his second school and it is helping him become more coordinated. His fine motor skills need some attention too -- holding a pencil or spoon can still be difficult for him.

Enter cooking! Big sister loves to do it, ergo James wants to try it too. That's how I found out that stirring batter is a good way to help him practice a better grip and test his muscle tone while having fun and feeling like he is being like Big Sister. This morning it was pumpkin muffins. He even likes eating them now.

Besides, I like to be pampered. Cook, children, cook!

James, stirring away -- notice the nice spoon grip?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Special Exposure/Wordless Weds: Do You Know The Puppet Man?

James loves to play with these hand puppets

more hand puppet fun

Jame sand his sister were playing recently by putting a show for me.

I felt so special.

My daughter covered fashion and James decided the show needed a puppet act. So he fetched his Baby Einstein puppets and went to town with trying to talk. It's exciting now because for me there is so much more understandable language going on.

There is a third puppet, which is orange. That is my puppet. James finds it and then has me put it on. He cracks up when it kisses him and tickles the other puppets.

For more great images or to join in the fun, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs
and ... Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

B-I-N-G-O Spells "Fun"!

Guess who has discovered games?
James is playing Dora checkers with his sister

James has been watching his big sister and Daddy play card and board games together. It looked like so much fun that he wanted to join right in. His sister loved being a teacher. I think we clocked them at 40 minutes of playing together. Happily. Taking turns. Talking.

Bingo was a great way to start. Checkers was the absorbing game. Go Fish will take more practice to get his fine motor skills up to holding the cards consistently.

James loves Bingo!
So happy!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

SOOC Saturday: Alight

close-up of James; focus impossible!

At first I was bummed this photo was not in focus. But on second thought, it's a good capture of James in the moment. Alight, laughing, playing, and moving too quickly to remain in focus.

While the Mom in me sighs and thinks that remaining in focus (for school, tasks, etc.) will be an ongoing challenge for James, the Cheerleader in me is yelling support for the boy who is opening up and engaging with his world with play and exploration.

I see this at his second school program, where he plays with others in the classroom and on the playground, and the other kids yell greetings to him with true friendship.

I see it as he and his sister turn to each other for extended sessions of playtime in our home. I love it when he is singing. He comes alive with music and singing!

SOOC salute to Melody at The Slurping Life. Best wishes for the little one who is coming your way!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Back on Our Feet, And How!

Well, we've had 4-6 weeks of cold and flu cycling around. Almost sinister in that at first it seems a straightforward illness. Then it comes back. And if you don't watch it, the patient worsens. Went through this first with James' sister, then with James. She had the flu bug really badly, he got the cold and sinus infection in round 2.

If that was not enough, we had to deal with James' IEP and his triannual IEP. That will be a whole post in itself. Suffice to say it was a rude wake-up call and not very fun to hear. And there was so much good stuff in there too!

Lest we dwell in the alleys of downer stuff too long, another big milestone has been achieved: just yesterday, James had a bowel movement while using the toilet -- his first!!! And it was a healthy specimen. He tried again today, but sis not have anything to show for his efforts.

I was starting to worry about James' language skills regressing while he was sick and then down with a very sore throat. Not to worry, he and his sister were talking up a storm all afternoon long as they played together.

Here they are, playing at the local McDnald's. They said they were playing snakes.
kids playing snakes at McDonald's

Hmmmm. I am wondering if this is where he picked up his bug. James has a bad habit of wiping his nose with his palm & fingers, then licking the palm & rubbing some more. Yuck! I have been trying to break this habit by applying hand cleaner to his hands. I know that stuff tastes nasty.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Special Exp./Wordless Wednesday: Another Puzzle to Piece

Another puzzle to piece

I like this shot of James. He goes through phases of finding these bead & wire puzzles comforting, like some 3-D worry beads. The process of guiding the beads along their wire loops and bends tend to calm and soothe him. When he is feeling playful, he will either count the beads or name their colours.

For more great images or to join in the fun, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs
and ... Wordless Wednesday

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Field Trip: Library!

We have some truly wonderful childrens' librarians at our local branch, as they love to help children discover all the wonderful things they can find in books. They are so patient with kids in their library and answer all their questions. In fact,one gets the feeling they prefer it to be full of the upcoming generations.

They set up great programs, like Read to a Dog, and regularly have interesting people come perform for the children, such as magicians and acrobats. Harry Potter festivities are plentiful and joyous. My kids have become very accustomed to visits there.

When they toured my daughter's Kindergarten class, to invite all the children to come and participate in their fabulous summer reading program, I thought that maybe it would be a good idea for James' preschool class to get some library exposure. To put it bluntly, I badgered his teacher for months until one morning she told me she had spoken with the librarian and that they had booked a field trip to the library for a reading and library tour.

Today was the day! Even though I was getting over a cold and the weather was grey & drizzling, there was no way I was going to miss this:
Paying respects to the creek below
Saying hello to the creek below. This is a must do on all their outings!

library alphabet rug

this rug is Too Much!
Exploring the cool library alphabet rug

librarian using felt board for reading the book

that's one hungry caterpillar!
Reading the Very Hungry Caterpillar, with the help of a felt board!

surprise butterfly hand puppet
Surprise butterfly hand puppet at the end (big hit)!

James is excited to receive a sticker
Every kid received an "I visited my library today" sticker, which they were all excited to put on their shirts! Then we had a tour of the entire library (it's actually not that big) and the kids got to explore the preschool book corner & puzzle table.

The librarians were excited too, because they were participating in the effort to get a million people to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar today, and they got to register our whole group!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Special Exp./Wordless Wednesday: School Kid

School Boy James

James loves going to school. There's a lot going on, the people are wonderful, and he wants to be like big sister. Here he is, heading into his new preschool on a Friday morning this fall.

For more great images or to join in the fun, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs
and ... Wordless Wednesday

Monday, October 05, 2009

Magic Marker Monday: Letter Y

The letter Y, covered with bits of yarn
I like this picture. I like the way James' art combines with the morning light shining in through the leaves in the backyard.

Each week, James is learning a new letter at his new school. This picture represents his handiwork from the week that covered "Y." The letter contains pictures of y things, like yaks, yarn ... chromosomes (kidding on that last one!). James then got to practice crayon colouring and using scissors (he needs a lot of help with cutting) to cut up bits of yarn and glue them to his letter.

I like the fact that he's getting some tactile exposure to the alphabet.

This week is dedicated to the letter "G." I'll keep you posted.

Visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.
Special Needs Blog

Sunday, October 04, 2009

1 in 100

That's the new government estimate of children in the US affected by autism. (Link)

One in one hundred. And that's with the people who answer phones and talk with survey takers. Will we ever know the true number?

I am sometimes haunted by the feeling that there is a very real cause that triggers this disorder. I start to wonder what I did that made my baby susceptible to becoming the way he did.

My head knows that unless I am on board with a research team, spending time on this is pretty much a waste of time. My head knows that the best use of my efforts are to marshal a good plan, a series of ever-changing plans, for James. Plans that can help him lead a healthy and happy life.

My heart still aches, though.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

SOOC Saturday: Interactive

James tried being interactive with the TV screen

James loves to play games on the laptop. If we let him, he would play for hours on PBS Kids. His favourites are the Curious George and Clifford games.

I've noticed this has changes his experience with the TV. If you look at the picture, James is using his finger to push a photo out of the way. In this part of the DVD, the pictures tilt over and turn off the screen by themselves. James wants to help them.

The Slurping Life is going through some tough times. Visit Melody and Mac for some beautiful and thought-provoking images.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

IEP on the Horizon

We received notice that James' IEP will be later this month -- moved up a month from last year. This is partly due in equal shares to his progress and the fact that he'll be starting Kindergarten next year. *Sniff*

So he will be tested and reassessed. Right now, his teacher and I are looking at the fact that he is very easily distracted. Hmmmmm. Lots to think about and ponder. Ponder, ponder, ponder.

Nope, nuthin' yet!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Special Exp./Wordless Wednesday: Boo!

Playing peek-a-boo with James

Sometimes you just have to go with the moment and savour the little things in life. Like your son, trying to engage you with a game of peek-a-boo from behind the sofa when you are lying on it, wanting to take a nap.

The boy's got game, and he is lucky he's cute. Well okay -- I am lucky too!

For more great images or to join in the fun, Visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs
and ... Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Too Tired to Nap

James had a good day at school today, but seemed a bit tired when I got him home. Thank goodness the recent heat wave broke so I didn't have to worry about heat exhaustion with him.

He could not settle down to do much this afternoon, although he tried hard to do so. The swings, trains, Curious George adventures, and trampoline were all good for about 5 minutes or less. After that, he'd wander, lay down on the sofa, or cry if I tried to get him to take a nap in his room.

Once, after an unusual meltdown, I decided he was really tired and put him down in bed, under the covers. After a few minutes of Highly Suspect noises from his room, I opened the door to find him in the process of trashing it.

*sigh* and yes, he put it allllll back, with me to keep him on the job until he'd finished.

By the time I got him down for reals, it was after dinner, he was crying with frustration ... and he was out like a light in less than five minutes.

Dude, I am so glad you have your afternoon daycare at the school tomorrow, because I think that might have made your day better. Sweet dreams, big guy!

James tries to settle down to play

Saturday, September 26, 2009

SOOC Saturday: Fire House

Last weekend, James attended a special birthday party at a firehouse. James and all the kids just loved it. They got to explore the fire trucks, hear about all the buttons and gadgets on the engines, and talk with the firefighters! I was a little worried that all the noise might be too much for James, but he has come a long way with being sensitive to noises and being overwhelmed by new places.

The picture below pretty much sums up what he thought about the party:
James is smiling

James also got a turn at using the firehose to knock over a traffic cone. At first I thought he'd say "No!" -- but James did not hesitate and was one of the quickest to knock over a cone. I wish I had a picture of that to share, but hey, it's in my head. I think it helped that he got to watch everyone else having so much fun first:
James waits his turn at the hose

After all that excitement, it was time for birthday cake, or cupcakes. Then the kids ran around in the big meeting room and played Pin the Dalmation on the Firetruck, which I thought rather clever. The firefighters joined us. Free cupcakes and fun games? What's not to love?

James mingled and took it all in:
James walking by a firefighter

James did not participate in the party game, but he did do his share of spinning:
James spins in an office chair

It looked like so much fun that several kids took a turn after he was done. I was proud of both kids, because last year they would not have joined in the fun as much as they did here. The fire house would have made them shy and the party goers were an easy 18 months older than James' older sister.

The Slurping Life leaps to new heights! Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday/Sunday entries past & present!

SOOC Saturday