Saturday, June 26, 2010

SOOC Saturday: Picnic, Land's End & Beyond

Last week I brought the kids to San Francisco to meet up with my husband and our friends. Despite an amazing bout of car sickness by James at about mile 50 in to the trip down, we enjoyed the afternoon and evening out (thank goodness for towels in the car, an emergency stash of clothes, and a good gas station bathroom).

We started with meeting our friends and their kids at the DeYoung Museum. We have a family+ membership this year, and we all treated ourselves to the Birth of Impressionism Exhibit. James was more interested in the baby that was traveling through the galleries than most of the paintings, although he did like the Monet train stations ("oooh, Thomas!").

Next up was a picnic lunner (lunch + dinner). We fetched our bags from the wonderful (if pricey) underground lot and feasted on the lawn just outside the museum's cafeteria. The kids were hungry, happy to play tag on the lawn, and gave their Daddy an enthusiastic welcome when he joined us.

I wanted to take the kids back in, but the Friday night family music session was in full swing. Very fun music (kind of French Celtic-Zydeco-Folk), but way too loud for James and his sister, who both can't stand loud noises. My husband stayed to visit with our friends and I took off early.

As a consolation prize, I took the scenic route home with them. Nice and slow for James, with the windows rolled down on all the non-freeway roads. Good heavens, we live in one of the most beautiful places on earth!

Land's End, brooding through the fog & sunset (with lots of wind):

Literally up the road and around a bend, the wild outpost of West Fort Miley, bathed in sunshine and natural glory:

Legion of Honour -- so gorgeous and dramatically lit by the fading light:

And winding down into the Outer Richmond, where the roads got even twistier and more interesting, but likewise were less conducive to me pulling over the whipping shots off out the driver's window:

Apologies for being long-winded, but it's all SOOC, and a great reminder of a wonderful day trip together.

The Slurping Life offers wisdom and support. Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday/Sunday entries past & present. No cropping or fixing -- it's life, straight out of the camera.

SOOC Saturday


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Scheduling Dilemma

I am not a fan of shoe-horning activities into a child's day. That said, James is getting the last of several services this month. Preschool for special needs kids. SHAPE assistant hours (with constraints but also with a fabulous woman).

M-Tu-F, James has a decent schedule, with only preschool in the morning. W-Th, he has program for most of the day, with a 2-hour gap of doom in the middle. In theory, he can rest in that interval. What it actually does is push him. Sometimes that's good. But other times, he gets pushed over the edge and:

He gets sick. We had carsickness last Friday, followed by a summer cold, which he gladly shared with me.

It's so scarily easily to just sit and do nothing. That's not good for James' growth with speech and development in general. I am constantly striving to balance. A formula for success has so far eluded me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Special Exp. / Wordless Wednesday: Sprinkler

Sprinklers! A touchstone for hot summer afternoons since they were invented. James won't get his head wet, but he will run & play with the sprinklers; especially if big sister is there with them. We usually take a break with Popsicles on the lawn. Life is good.

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, June 21, 2010

Magic Marker Monday: Pirate Duckie Ship

James did not make this -- it was made for him. Last month we visited the school he'll be attending for regular Kindergarten. The teacher told the kids they'd be having a visitor, and one of the little girls made this just for James and handed it to him.

Is it not fabulous? James was more interested in the girl than her picture, but managed a "Thank you" and a smile. Every time I see this picture, I think there's a book or three of adventures to be told from this picture!

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

Sunday, June 20, 2010

SOOC Sunday: Playing With Dad

Playing with James can be a challenge. He loves people and playing, but it seems like he has real difficulties in processing the language spoken around him. He can be a roving, wriggling bundle of energy. Exhibit A:

James loves his Daddy, even if a large amount of play time is spent playing tickle and run away.

We've kind of had a tough Father's Day this year. James is demanding a lot of attention to keep him out of mischief (electrical sockets, plugs, and putting toys in his mouth, etc.). His sister, for some reason, kept having melt downs. A little after lunch, I declared it a Jonah Day. There were some moments where I held my breath and counted 10. Even on difficult days, though, love is there.

Having read Melody's post over at Slurping Life, I don't feel so alone.

Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday/Sunday entries past & present. No cropping or fixing -- it's life, straight out of the camera.

SOOC Saturday

Friday, June 18, 2010


James has a new focus this week. He wants to gather and handle some of his favourite DVDs while he watches Blues Clues or YoGabbaGabba. He must have his blankets.

There will be breaks for jumping on the trampoline. There will be intermittent games of peek-a-boo. There will be good sentences used to negotiate which show to watch or comment on things he likes.

I am not a fan of the mess this makes, but I do like the interactions. Including the one called "clean up." Luckily, he likes this one too.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tackle It Tuesday: Pulling Funding Out of a Hat

Here in California, news services have been relentlessly passing along the bad news most parents are having to deal with: lack of funds means cuts in services. Class sizes in public schools are increasing again, because the district is cutting teachers (not administrators, but the front line teachers). Special needs kids get even more cuts, because they have more needs. I think this is crazy and short-sighted.

Parents know that sooner or later The System is going to have to deal with their kids with special needs. For years we have been told by professionals that the sooner our son's needs were assessed and addressed, the more progress he would make toward a more mainstream existence and that he would tend to have fewer problems later in life.

Sure the politicians get closer to a less out of-whack-budget by denying services to my son now, as well as hundreds of thousand others. What is their genius plan for dealing with all the needs that balloon out of control because there was no help up front, early on, when these people could have been helped to lead more independent, happy lives? Well, they have no plan, because they'll be out of there and on to greener pastures. Parents and middle-class America (and Californians) will be left holding the bag.

Three years ago I would have sucked it up, given up things I'd treated myself to, like extra social events, new shoes, and eating out -- then used my paycheck to get my son what he needs. I can't do that now because I left my job to coordinate care and services for my son, as well as work with him as much as I can. I've already given up those extras. Our family is down one paycheck and took a few bumps down in healthcare (which, thankfully, we still have). And there are speech and P/T services that are needed by James yet are not covered by medical or school services. Our wonderful North Bay Regional Center's budget has been slashed, and therefore, James is receiving less funding and services.

I can't be the governor or have the budget folks listen to my emails, but I can try help find some funding for local programs that still soldier on, doing it for the kids. This Spring, James and I walked and raised funds for Autism Speaks. Thank you everyone for helping us do that! Next up is raising more funds for the CATS Program. Actually, we've has a successful small fundraiser at Powell's, our local candy store. Now I am looking into working with a local kids' place to have a money-raising play date.

To kick this off, I talked with the owner of said kids' place, who was wonderfully warm and sympathetic. Next, I kicked the idea around with several parents, who liked the idea. Next up I will go back to the kids' place owner and get some possible dates about 3-4 weeks down the road. Another parent is promising to email me a list of other parents who'd like to participate. I'll offer up some dates and see which one gets the best response, then move forward to booking the date and getting the word out there.

A lot of work? You bet. Reason why? The best possible:

This may not be housework, but it's sure part of my:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Magic Marker Monday: Blue

I finally opened the bag containing James' last pieces of artwork from his preschool. I cried. It's almost as bad as sorting the outgrown clothes out of his closet. After seven years, you think I'd have learned to deal a bit better. But I digress.

The colour of the month was blue. I like how James got to try various media with one colour. I have the car in several colours. He likes the red one best so it's still up on his wall.

I like Seeing the dot and painting streaks on the car. James had a bit of fun there. This is great because when he first started preschool it was a real struggle to get him to make dots with the big Bingo markers -- even with someone's hand guiding him. I think the blue car will go up on the wall too.

The birds are quirky -- they have personality. For the first time, I see 2 shades of a colour on a project -- interesting! And I like how they kept the blue bird theme but changed the paper colour and detailing. James loves to glue things down now. I am pretty sure he had some help with the eyes though. I remember his Picasso Bear ...

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

Special Needs Blog Photobucket


Saturday, June 12, 2010

SOOC Saturday: Dit Fromage

I hope I have not warped my son too much. Out comes a camera and his first response is to face it and say "Cheese!" Last weekend we visited a wonderful park in So Cal. It had a skateboard park, ducks, teen-aged goslings, & a dog park. Oh, and a playground for just the age groups of James and his sister. Of course I had my camera out to record this wonderful park, why do you ask?

The Slurping Life captured some drama of its own. Visit Melody and check out SOOC Saturday/Sunday entries past & present. No cropping or fixing -- it's life, straight out of the camera.

SOOC Saturday


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Happy Meal

James is a picky eater, and thankfully does not much care for fast food. That doesn't mean he does not know how to enjoy a Happy Meal:

James' happiest meals are when the whole family sits down to dinner. Being a picky eater, his dinner remains consistent. Baked chicken nuggets (must be crunchy), sliced apples, something crunchy and salty (usually pretzels). Sometimes he will prefer a sandwich. He adores slices of watermelon. Sometimes he will also ask for a yogurt squeeze-up.

PS: That Shrek doll? Sorry ... action figure ...
Did not stop saying "Ow!" and "Cut it out!" for the next 95 miles up I-5. He had such a big grin on his face that I didn't have the heart to make him stop.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Being Away

We've just come off a roller coaster of end-of-school activities and a road trip to Southern California and back. After days of being off schedule and waking up in new places and seeing people not in his usual routine, James is settling into his last summer preschool session for this month.

I could tell that James both liked the change-up and missed his comfort zones. I think it's good to keep stretching him a bit so he doesn't get used to a set routine, group of people, and environment.

The long car trips were tough for him, but he hung in there, happy to travel (and fight) with his sister. He loved all four of us together in one hotel room, but missed sleeping in his own bed at night. Because James rolls off a regular bed (he's quite the physical sleeper) I've resorted to putting his old crib mattress on a picnic blanket on the floor of the hotel room and letting him sleep there with his beloved blankies. The good side of picky eaters is that there are few foods to pack and store, and they eat from our stash for almost the entire trip.

For an entire day he was on his own with his Dad. It was a Learning Experience (or 10) for them both. He got to reconnect with cousins, aunts, and his Grandpa. I could tell when he was getting tired, but he still faced every situation with a smile. Unless it was a trip to the bathroom that he did not instigate. Can't win them all, I guess. But hey! His potty training held firm. I was so proud of him (and relieved; last trip south we took was when he started holding everything in).

He got to walk, watch skateboarders, run & play at the beach, and explore new things. His face lit up with a wonderful expression when we got home late one night and he saw his own bed, waiting just for him.