Monday, April 30, 2012

Autism Moments You Know and Loathe

Scene: Waiting at big sister's school for her dismissal bell. On the low wall, outside the office (because that's the coolest place to wait on this hot afternoon; James melts in the heat, in more ways than one).

James: "I go sit in the office."
Me: "No, we need to stay out here."
James: "Nooooo! I wanna sit on na bench!" (which is inside the office)
Me: "Honey, they're busy right now in the office. Stay here with me outside."
James: "Arrrrrrrrrr!!! Rrrrrrrrrrrrrgh! You Shush!"
Me: "Want to sit on my lap?"
James: "Yes, up dere;" climbs on my lap.
15 seconds later "I wanna go in DERE!" Points to office and screeches.

Lady near us on the wall "Tchah!" and The Look.

Me (mentally rolling my eyes, because life is short and then we all die): "Hey, Buddy -- let's go sit on the benches over THERE." (partial shade under trees, 15 feet away)
James: "Okay, Mommy."

Some days I don't even want to go there. Maybe I'll start wearing my Autism Speaks t-shirt to all my pickup waits. What. Ever.

(Bonus points if you get this reference: "Looketh at my face -- Is this a bovvered face thou see before thee?")

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Heh, Heh, Heh ...

I am out in the back yard, hiding taking a break. Due to a hard week, both my husband and I are *really* tired, and tag-teaming who's "in charge."

Dad's come up with a winner: "Lets Test the Box o' Electronic Junk Gadgets I Just Bought at a Sale."

I am sitting here, laughing, because the screen door is open, and I can hear James testing a walkie-talkie with his Dad. "Hello? Daddy? .... Knock-knock .... Brain .... Eeeg-SACTly!"
Remember Snowball's stunning logic/knock-knock joke?

I concede him the crown. Heh.

SNwRG: Better Late Than Never

It's a long and dull story, but during my Sunday Morning Surf (replacing what used to be going over the Sunday Paper with Coffee) I stumbled across a couple of great blogs, Floortime Lite Mama (actually a reunion) and Four Sea Stars. This ultimately led me to a very fun and rather snarky meme over at Adventures in Extreme Parenting: Special Needs with Ryan Gosling.

Hey, Girl, I just had to join in -- a little late, as is my theme this week:

Check out all the great ways Ryan has made life better for us Extreme Parents -- cheers!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Wonder League: Magic Lens

We had another great day playing ball up in Healdsburg with the Wonder League. The whole family got into it. Both kids played and cheered. James' Nana came and rooted for all the players, especially her two rookies. My husband and I whooped, clapped, and took pictures. He even helped sell t-shirts.

I turned on the Magic lens at the end of the game, and got a little arty:

 We'll be doing it again next Saturday too!

SOOC Saturday: CATS Friends

Ten weeks have flown by, and yesterday we were treated to a fantastic, End-of-Semester party as part of the wonderful CATS Program.

We got there late, for a variety of reasons, to find plenty of food, a great play room set up for the kids, and a raffle in full swing. The amazing Katie, our student partner, had not only saved out raffle tickets, she'd put them into baskets for us and was watching the numbers as they were called out.

James greeted her with cries of "Katie!!" and a huge smile and hugs. Katie is veeeery popular at our house. As soon as my daughter got her hands on the raffle tickets, we won twice: a cool pack of sports balls and a ginormous toy Black & Decker tool set that James had already zeroed in on. I think that girl needs to play the lottery for me.

It was a great evening of support and fun surprises. Here are two photos from the event -- James, with his good friend Katie, and James with a baby.
"Cheeeeeeeese!!!" (in stereo)

First time James has held a baby.
He was soooo excited and sweet with him. My thanks to the Mom for sharing her precious little one with my guy.

Several heart-felt thank yous to Lorna Catford and all her wonderful students in the CATS Program. You really do touch peoples' lives and make them better. And that means the world to this family on the spectrum.

Only a little cropping (in the interest of respecting privacy) for this week's SOOC action at Marvelous Mommy's blog. Come on over to see more or join in!


It's challenging for me to write during hard times, like now.

Money is a constant worry. My consulting jobs have dried up and I am still trying to get payment on my last invoices for last year. My daughter is moving towards teen years and while I am proud of who she is, I miss the little girl she used to be. James will be leaving his cozy K-1 school of the past two years and launch into a new 2-3 campus next year across town. No more walking to the school just down the street from us. That's a whole nostalgic post on its own.

The hardest to cope with, right now, is losing people. Since this year started, I have had to say goodbye to two close family members, and my husband lost a long-time friend to cancer. Over the last two weeks alone, two people not much older than I suddenly left this life. One I knew from all our time hanging out at the pool -- we will miss his cheerful presence. The other is the husband of a good friend. My heart aches for her and their boys.

This friend came to our house to help us work with James soon after he was assessed by North Bay Regional Center, before his official diagnosis. That is how we started to get to know each other. We started getting together for coffee and a chance to talk as moms, wives, and friends. I admire her big heart and the wonderful job she has done raising her two boys on the autism spectrum. She helped me be an advocate for James. She helped me to find work. My husband went through a really big health scare last December. I flash back to those weeks I went through on my own and my heart goes out to her even more.

I've been through hard times. I know they won't be forever. But they can stop me in my tracks, and make it difficult to deal with everyday things.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Magic Marker Monday: Crayon Prowess

James has a love-ate relationship with crayons. That's right, "ate," and I bet you can guess what that means.

When not coveting or biting into those waxy, paper-covered cylinders of the rainbow, James has tried to colour. At first, when he started showing an interest in objects, he had a lot of trouble just them picking up. His grip could best be described as a rigid fist for the next year or so. He would either do a few tiny, circular doodles or go off the paper in a kind of frenzied, Richter-scale kind of kinectic storm.

And very soon into the performance, the crayon would snap. And tears and a howling distress followed. "It's BROKEN!!!" he'd bellow. Later, as his vocabulary improved, he'd add "Can you fix it?" Sigh and colour us blue as we'd stop and put the crayons away in their box.

This is what James accomplished, during his class' Easter party last month:

I know he has a one-on-one aide, but look what James can do with this assistance. And because I was there, helping with the event, I know that even with a noisy party, and a reluctance to finish this activity, no crayons were broken.

I look at this and see so much better control of the crayon and behaviour. I see a masterpiece.

For more great masterpieces or to share some of your own, visit
5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

            Special Needs Blog                    Photobucket

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day / Farmers' Market Returns

Happy Earth Day 2012!
Perfect day for our local Farmers' Market to reopen for the year.

A rather festive start to the day

Mmmmm, rosemary lemonade and local orange natural iced tea!

Garden Club plant sale

Goodness can be tasty, in more ways than one!

There was so much to see: baby chicks, TONS of fresh veggies and flowers, honey, eggs, pastries, and regional good cooking. I bought a few dahlia roots and several salad and vegetable starter plants for our garden in the market, then drooled (figuratively) over the lovely offerings from the Windsor Garden Club's Spring plant sale. The Earth Day event had a nice turn out for vendors and we got a few freebies, especially from the Whole Foods grocery store one.

Good thing we got there early, and got our sour dough ficelles and pain au chocolat from our bread lady before she attracted a really big line. Both kids ran up to her table crying, "It's the Bread lady! Hooray! Hooray!!" I managed to walk the market once before getting distracted by all the fabulous plants on display.

At one point I thought I lost James, until I thought to look for his where the band was setting up. Yep, he was *right* by the drum set, which was going through a sound test. I had one woman ask me "Is James here too?" I said yes, and she must have seen my inability to ID her because she very graciously introduced herself as his school's librarian. James had no problem recognizing her, shouting out a cheerful greeting.

Everyone is so glad to see the sun and get outdoors again!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

SOOC Saturday: I was In the Neighbourhood ...

"I was in the neighborhood. It took me two buses, three cabs and a train to get into the neighborhood, but what the (heck)." Liza as Linda, Arthur

One of my favourite movie lines ever (along with "Nice place; I like a living room you can land a plane in," but I digress). And that was before Autism and extreme sensitivities in my small family started making this my life's mantra.

Case in point: A close friend invited us to a party in our old hometown. It took me 1.5 hours to travel 65 miles across 4 counties, across a major bridge, and through a tunnel to get to this party. I had to set up respite care way in advance and plan snacks and dinner for everyone still at home. Bedtime routines were updated and posted. Troops were prepped. I put on actual clothes, rather than just what was clean and handy. Picked up my husband from BART near the end of my drive and we carpooled to the party. Did we have a good time? Heck yeah! But no one got engaged (joke, if you've seen Arthur).

Here's a bit from my trip, SOOC:
Leaving home.

Traveling through the one-time egg capitol of the world, construction zone,
and a rain squall. See the rainbow?

CA cows are happy cows!

San Quentin in the side view mirror.

Bridge -- quick, which one?

One of the most expensive pedestrian/bike bridges ever.

Hate that pesky cyclone fencing. Wave to the Golden Gate!

Cupcakes for a Friday the 13th Party.
Notice the Jason hockey mask ones? Sweet!

I had such a good time, in fact, that I left my camera at the party and the hostess had to mail it back. 

Celebrating Spring with SOOC action at Marvelous Mommy's blog. Come on over to see more or join in!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Special Exposure / Wordless Weds: Stormy Spring

The sun is shining brightly, and afternoons are rather brassy with heat held down by afternoon clouds. Grasses and flowers are rioting forth, bringing us pollen and allergies.

Time to pull focus and see where we were we've been since early March until recently:

Photo from school parking lot. Awesome.
Meanwhile, on the way home ...

Kind of parallels what I'm going through right now with the kids. Come on, good weather!

For more images from others and to share some of yours,
visit Special Exposure Wednesday at 5 Minutes for Special Needs.
5 Minutes for Special Needs

               and ... Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Autism Resources at the Walk

One of the great things about the Walk Now for Autism Speaks events is that they have vendors and organizations at tables to create a Resource Fair. These are services that are available now in our area, and I always find out something or someone new.

This year I found some older friends, like the CATS Program, United Cerebral Palsy of the North Bay,  and Anova.  James still loves a hug and high five from Toys-R-Us' Geoffrey the Giraffe.
Photo from the official Walk Now for Autism Speaks blog
 I also found out there's a summer session for a local horse therapy ranch, Equi-Ed.

UCSF is involved with some new Research programs that investigate possible treatments to help those on the autism spectrum and find out more about this disorder.

It was great to see representatives from a gymnastic group (Rohnert Park Gymnastics) and a national martial arts organization (ATA), as well as hear them talk about the activities and benefits they have to offer to kids on the spectrum.

I hope that there are more groups there for next year's event. New resources really help us out!

Magic Marker Monday: What Am I?

James' class had a pre-Easter assignment -- take home an egg drawn on paper and create a riddle for the class to guess. They were to write clues on one side and draw the answer on the other.

James and I did his the morning it was due, at the coffee shop, on our early morning run to school after dropping Daddy off at the commute bus. Yay organized Mom, *not*!

Here are the questions (which I ran by him for approval and gave him lines for writing):
1. I am big.            
2. I lived long ago.
3. I can roar!          

Note the drawing in the upper right corner. That was my quick reference scribble. James was very clear that it wasn't just any dinosaur, it was a Stegosaurus!

Good fun and practice for all!

For more great masterpieces or to share some of your own, visit
5 Minutes for Special Needs for more Magic Marker Monday.

         Special Needs Blog                       Photobucket

Sunday, April 15, 2012

SOOC Saturday: Autism Speaks Walk

It wasn't just a walkathon for Autism Speaks, it was a fundraiser, community event, and excitement for the kids. It's hope for their future, and it's straight-out-of-camera (SOOC).
Kick-off for the walk
Comparing shoe sizes
James told her: "I saw your video!"
Ready for another lap around the Green
Last year's sign read "67 children are diagnosed per day"

To read more about this year's walk, check out this post.

Another weekend, another SOOC party at Marvelous Mommy's blog. Come on over to see more or join in!