Monday, August 31, 2009

Magic Marker Monday: Letter Things

James is settling well into his new school year and program. He is much more verbal than before and asks now to do activities. Yesterday it was Play-Doh. Another day last week he wanted to play music on the little instrument set that we got him. Many times it's also TV program requests (like Caillou, Curious George, and Danger Mouse).

Lately he's been watching his big sister start doing first grade homework, and he has shown more interest in using markers and paper, and trying to write letters like she does:
James is starting to try letter writing

This is what his sister is doing:
Plan for Mommy to borrow a rocket ship to go space exploring

She wants them to go to the moon. James can do the countdown. She says I can call up the space rocket people and borrow a rocket ship for them. I tell her okay, but they have to be back for dinner!

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

SOOC Saturday: Play Date

It's been terrifically hot this past week, but the kids are plenty active nonetheless. So this Saturday I was lucky enough to connect with another mom and her kids for an early morning play date at a local park.

When we arrived at 10, it was already over 80*
Sand box at the park on a hot summer morning

James did not mind, even though he heats up easily. You can't tell from these photos, but his cheeks are about as red as raspberry sorbet:
James in the sand box

Did I mention it was also humid? Unusually so for this area. Never mind that -- James still loved the sensation of sand on his limbs (and in his mouth --- yecccchhh!).
James, rubbing sand on his legs

We had popsickles and cracker treats, plus water galore. It was over 100* when we left for lunch, but it was totally worth it. Check this out:
James playing in sand with friends

James is with a group of friends, and they are all playing together! This is an answer to a hope of our hearts. And when we left, the kids all said good bye to each other ... and one friend said, "I love James!"

Dang, I am tearing up again. But in a good way!

The Slurping Life is inspired! Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday/Sunday entries past & present!

SOOC Saturday


Friday, August 28, 2009

Man With a Nap Plan

When James is tired, he'll let you know. First he'll bring out his two baby bankies. Then he'll arrange them carefully over himself, and then he'll tell you "ni' night!"

James going ni-night

Jame will still take naps in the afternoon. It used to be an absolute, but now there are days when he will stay up until bedtime. A few times after dinner on a napless day, he'll compose himself and go to sleep on the sofa. I then scoop him up and put him right to bed.

In the picture above, James and his sister played for over an hour by running around. It was around lunch time, and he was ready to check out for a bit and recharge with a nap. So he found his spot and set up nap camp on the living room rug.

It made me think of the Noggin commercials: "If real life were like preschool ... there'd be nap time." Cue the lone phone ringing, and the mail person asking "Can anyone sign for Cooper in Accounting?" among a crowd of office workers snoring gently on the floor, with bankies and teddy bears. That just sounds so sensible!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Letter for James

To my Son:

Thank you for being you. For waking up each morning with a happy smile and bringing joy to meet each day. For trying new things and making the most of them. For making friends and softening stressed faces. For chuckles and kisses. For your hugs around my neck. For the light in your eyes when you see the people who mean the most to you.

I love you, Mom

James in a moment

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Special Exp./Wordless Wednesday: Guy Toys

James and his Uncle

Cousins were up visiting Oma and Apu, and many many photos were taken. I have a small Olympus point & shoot; my brother has a nice camera. James was fascinated. Guys and their toys!

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, August 25, 2009

Try a Little Pretenderness

Today was about as normal a day as James has had in a while. He got on the bus this morning eagerly and had a good day at school. I did hear from his teacher that he is back to eating sand, though: gah!!!

I picked him up after school and we did the weekly shopping together, with a potty break in the store. May I just say here that I am in love with the bathrooms at Trader Joe's? They are on the ground floor, look homier than my own bathroom, are clean and large enough for a mom with 2 kids under 7 for a family bathroom break. But I digress ...

James spent a bunch of time in the cart pretending he was in a rocket. He kept counting down from 10 in the checkout line and yelled "Blast off!!" at the end. This is the first time I have seen him this playful while shopping. The test cooker loved it and gave him a juice box. The bagger cracked up and gave him a balloon. Both tried to engage him in conversation.

I gave him a few seconds to respond and then prompted him with a leading question so he could respond. It was so different from him being silent or making the eternal "eeeeeee" sound. He seemed so calm and happy, and I was too -- just more excited on the inside.

He also kept saying "Mom! Mickey Mouse!" At first I thought it was because he wanted to go home and finish watching some cartoons from earlier in the day, but then I realized he was talking about my new purse, with Mickey Mouse designs. We had fun counting them, and saying "peek-a-boo, Mickey!" when we came across a partial mouse in the design.

After a nap, his sister told him they were going to have a party! Her teacher is very big on parties as a reward for successfully following instructions. James said "yay" in a low voice, then grabbed a birthday party hat from the table, voluntarily put it on his head and said "yay ... happy birthday! Happy birthday!" This is all new and fun.

And at bed time, he now likes to put his stuffed animals on his head and sing the Laurie Berkner song "Pig on Her Head."

I am loving this playful, pretending side coming out. It's like I am seeing more of James, and he's a really fun-loving guy.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Magic Marker Monday: Life Coaches

I decluttered my son's room this morning while he was off at preschool and found some of the art work he did while at summer camp last month. It shows a nice progression of how James has grown with everyone's help.

This is a prime example of how James used to work when he had to be coaxed to draw or paint in class:
James going through the motions
Not much going on, right? Oh, I know it's good for doing the fine motor control work and pinging parts of his brain, but artistically it's, well, lacking in joie de vivre.

Somewhere in the second summer camp session, something caught fire. Instead of bringing home a couple of specimens like the one above, there was a great ramping up in participation and exploration. I think I see the hand of someone inspired to help James to give more than going through the motions:
Picking up artistic steam
Notice all the colors? The glitter? Increase of area covered? Someone was having fun, and I hope it was both of them.

Now here is what James likes to do if he's happy, excited, and left to his own devices:
James gone wild
As a doting mother, I am pleased to see energy, glee and passion in this masterpiece (or, messterpiece). A joyous, riotous expression of "Whoopee!!"

I think I am going to turn these into photos, and have them mounted in a frame with 3 windows. I shall call it: "Summer of 2009, With Life Coaches"

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

SOOC Saturday/Sunday: Kid in a Coffee Shop

Isn't it funny how many coffee shops have gone from bastions of college cool to family hangout? Well, for me & my generation, at least.

I was watching James explore our Sunday Peets hang out. They sell licorice barnyard animals. James likes barnyard animal songs, so we were having fun looking at the animals and making animal sounds. I am sure the barristas loved us.

Anyway, the phrase "kids in a candy shop" popped into my mind, and I thought, heck, "kid in a coffee shop" should be the updated version of that!
James is a fun-lovin' kid in a coffee shop

This is a far cry from the Folgers in a beat-up aluminum coffee pot & toast that my parents used to feast upon Sunday mornings ...
all hail His Muffiness:
All hail His Muffiness!

The Slurping Life knows how to hold on to love. Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday/Sunday entries past & present!

SOOC Saturday


Friday, August 21, 2009

Weekend Forecast: Cloudy, w/ Upset Tummy

James has had an exciting week. He loves being back at school with his teachers and friends. the different classroom puzzled him at first, but now I think he really likes having the familiar things in new configurations.

We are having problems with the bus. Again. The driver forgot to come to work and pick them up one afternoon and is just not seeming like a good match for special needs kids. We are trying to resolve this situation.

James was puzzled and a little anxious about going to the second preschool on Wednesday afternoon, but he recognized it from when Big Sister went there and knew some of the teachers there a bit. His regular teacher and SHAPE person were reassuring and I was able to melt away in less than half an hour. I heard that he played well with others and sat and listened to a longish story at story time.

On Wednesday, James topped off a very long afternoon with his last Music Together class. He sang along with every song and tried to beat time with his hands and instruments. He was having a ball! The teacher seemed disappointed that we were not re-enrolling. I'd love to, but all their classes happen when he is in school.

James came down sick yesterday afternoon. Poor guy! He's been resting, but I can tell that he's not feeling well. His temperature shoots up a couple of times a day and I've pulled him off milk. He's had water, popsickles, and some tortilla chips.

He asked for PB&J sandwich tonight so I made him one. He commented "Dat's a *brown*" while I spread the peanut butter and "Issa RED!" when I smoothed out the strawberry jam. He hovered over the counter, watching the ingredients being assembled and said "Is fo James!" He also counted the knife cuts that I made(3) and the slices of sandwich they made (4) -- all triangles, because he dislikes the crusts. Tonight James ate the entire sandwich and kept it down. I hope he feels better tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Special Exposure/Wordless Wednesday: A Game Before Class

For the first week of school, I am taking James to his class. Its the same teacher and aide, but the classroom has moved. Plus, James will be attending a second program 3 days a week. I am trying to give him a little more quiet time to gear up for all the changes.

We had a little extra time before class this morning, so we had time to play a game:
James behind a post
"Mooooommy ... where arrrre you?"

James pops back out
"He'e I am!"

Follow James!
"Come on, Mommy! Follow me!"

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, August 18, 2009

Magic Marker Mondays: Walking Wee Ones

Technically speaking, today's entry is a day late.

School happens! Both kids started back on Monday and there was a lot to process and sort through. Plus, we are having some work done on the house that is taking longer than expected and we are again having problems with the school bus arriving on time for James -- at both the school and at home. Oh, and I started back at school too.

However, we still have time for creativity!

James has been wanting to play with Play-Doh. "Go get pay-do? peese, Mommy?" He likes the fushia pink. Nice choice! Because it's a small can (party favour), we use tiny shape cutters. James most thoughtfully lined his creations up on a flyer for a Wee-Walk walk-a-thon for the Early Learning Institute. Wee elephants, on their own Wee-Walk:
Wee elephants on a Wee-Walk

Oh, and regarding James and his joy of home decorating:
James decorates his Mommy's office

What a Messterpiece!

Visit 5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Mondays.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

SOOC Saturday: Weekend Edition

A walk to the River:
James walking to the River

Running down the trail

A morning of adventure!
James looks at the Rive

James threw rocks with both hands, but mostly used his left. He's been switching more lately to using his left hand for writing. A lefty! Mr Southpaw! That runs in my mom's family. My brother's daughter is a lefty too.
James, throwing rocks with his left hand

James could have done this allllll day!
James communes with his rocks

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SOOC Saturday


Friday, August 14, 2009

Time to Breathe

It's Friday! It's been a crazy, whirlwind week! Big sister started school and I am juggling five organizations to organize James' new school schedule, which starts next week.

I snapped this shot of James this morning, and I am happy that he is having a few moments of Zen-like tranquility:
James, at peace with the universe

He is 3' 9" and is loving trains and planes right now. This morning he asked for "popcorn," which puzzled me mightily. James is not a big popcorn person. Then a light went on: He was watching a Laurie Berkner special last night. So I started it up again ... and voila -- there was a picture of a bucket of popcorn at the start of the show. I had totally missed it. Again, he surprised me; in the nicest way!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Prehistoric Era

I am thankful we live in an area where people can come together and make such wonderful things:
James in the Land Before Time

I hope that James remembers this day and can tell me about it, somewhere down the road. He sure looked like he was having a good adventure at the Fair Before Time. He sure has been doing some more growling and roaring around the house lately.

School starts next week! Yikes!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Special Exposure/Wordless Wednesday: Tent!

Salute to summer, from a rainbow tent in our living room:
James, smiling up from inside the rainbow tent

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, August 11, 2009

Try It Tuesday: Special Olympics, Special Lady, Special Kids

I don't know much about Eunice Kennedy Shriver, but I had the pleasure of volunteering for the Special Olympics in HS (early 1980s) and in reading about her in the papers today I am impressed with her work to teach, encourage, and challenge special needs kids.

Then these paragraphs caught my eye:
The next generation of the Kennedys often cited Eunice as the family member they looked up to most.


Yet Shriver, the mother of four sons and a daughter, thoroughly believed "in motherhood as the nourishment of life," once writing that "it is the most wonderful, satisfying thing we can do."


"If I [had] never met Rosemary, never known anything about handicapped children, how would I have ever found out? Because nobody accepted them anyplace." (Eunice Shriver)


In 1961, Eunice Shriver turned Timberlawn, the family farm in Maryland, into a free day camp for mentally disabled children. She would get down in the dirt with campers, play in the sandbox, pitch softballs or teach them to swim. Shriver had them riding horseback and shooting bows and arrows.

"Nobody else's mother was doing anything like that," Maria Shriver said in the 1994 book "The Kennedy Women," by Laurence Leamer. "It was always my mother following her own gut going against the grain."
(source: LA Times)

Talk about the epitome of Tackle It/Try It Tuesday! I salute Mrs. Shriver, and moms and caregivers everywhere who follow what they know and feel to make the lives of our special kids happier and better.

My own personal quest this summer? Keeping James challenged with more mainstream activities. He has become potty trained during the day over the past school year and can communicate with others verbally (which is most excellent in itself). Getting him more swim time. He had a month of summer school in June, then speech therapy weekly, 2 sessions of a morning summer camp, and Music Together. He watched his sister have her head under the water breakthrough and enjoys swim sessions at the pool. We go at least once a week. He has made jumps forward. And grown another inch or so, I swear!

Another salute to Trish, who is taking time to regroup with her family. Thank you for all the information and insights, and best wishes.

James, summer of 2009

Feeling Inspired? Or want to be? Visit Try It Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Magic Marker Mondays: Face Painting with Frosting!

James loves finger painting. Usually too much for me to feel like I can keep up with it. I have a beaut of a photo of James, clad in a diaper, finger painting in the backyard. He is wearing the paint all over his hair, face, and body. He looks like Baby BraveHeart.

Well, I have yet to find that photo tonight. Meanwhile, here is one of James' first forays into painting with his fingers, using the frosting from his first birthday cake. His first taste of sugar and all those bad dyes.
James paints his face with frosting

Man, he had a blast! My mom had tied helium balloons behind his chair and he started beating them with his hands in a completely joyous session of baby smack down. Completely adorable, and he totally destroyed those balloons by coating them with frosting.

James mixes it up with the balloons and frosting

James, outnumbered by balloons and still swinging

Way to go on those artistic boxing endeavours, James!

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Special: Daddy's Birthday

This photo is actually from last year, but we loved doing it so much that we did it again this year (but no photos of decoration). Daddy loved his birthday cake that his children made and decorated. We used a Lazy Daisy recipe and white frosting. It made the rainbow sprinkles really stand out.
James puts the sprinkles on his Daddy's birthday cake

Last year, however, there was a fashion show afterward:
Fashion show!

James takes a bow

Saturday, August 08, 2009

SOOC Saturday: A Boy & His Mooey

A friend sent the kids these awesome toys as gifts. They are made of wood & pleather, are shaped like ladybugs and patterned like Holsteins. James' sister has dubbed them "mooies," and they both use them to scoot around on the Pergo floors like crazy:
James on his mooey

I wish the picture included the laughs and cries of "wheeee!" as they race each other and execute 360-degree turns and spins. Some day I'll video it. Right now I really just want to watch and laugh with them.

The Slurping Life is back on track! Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday entries past & present!

SOOC Saturday

Friday, August 07, 2009

A Child Is Waiting

I was up late last night and saw the beginning of the 1963 movie A Child Is Waiting.

I had to turn it off, it disturbed me so much. Because the opening sequence haunted me. If we'd had James 40 years ago, he would have been that boy and we would have been told that our best hope was to institutionalize him.

Our sunny, funny, smart James.

Seriously, I have tears in my eyes as I get shivers down my spine, just thinking about it.

If you want to read more, check out this blog post.

Fingers, Hands & Arms

James has trouble grasping things with his hands, unless he initiates the action (then, prepare for a death struggle, should you attempt to break said grip). He has had real struggles with wrist rotation and self feeding. Just look at him this summer:
James eats a snow cone with a spoon

His self feeding skills are much improved, and he eats so much more confidently with a spoon and a fork. It's still a struggle for him to grip a pencil or crayon and make marks on paper, but we're working away at it. Sometimes his hands will flutter up in to the high guard position, like excited little kites. They stay there, as if he doesn't realize his hands and arms are attached to him.
James displays a kite hand while walking

I keep trying to think of new things to try to connect the dots for him. Or, as the case may be, get him more connected with his arms, hands, and fingers.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Special Exposure & Wordless Wednesday: Too Cool for School

I found this picture of James from our latest road trip:
James is too cool

He is four and knows what is cool!

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