camping oct. 2009

camping oct. 2009

Brendan is my rock

Brendan is my rock

me and my boy

me and my boy

Monday, May 3, 2010

he is the best

This blog must sound bi-polar, LOL . Today though I am ecstatic by how Liam is doing after spending an entire weekend with daddy. No ripping or biting: just happy dances, huge laughs out of blue, and rolling with the punches better than I have ever seen him. He wanted a "red juice" (vitawater) from the store, but we had just bought a bunch from Costco. So we said NO. He put it back on the shelf, and said "Liam have red juice home." He is full of smiles, asking for hugs and squeezes, spontaneously saying I love you's, concerned about Audrey and Aedan when they are sad, starting up conversations (last night " I want to go to school tomorrow!" me: "Why?" Liam: "To see the girls." me: "What are the girls' names?" Liam, after a bit of thought..."Ashley and yellow sunglasses girl.") His eye contact is direct and clear, and he seems so comfortable and content in his own skin. He was playing with kids' at the gym (not just the girls) and answering "yes" and 'NO" when kids his own age asked him questions. When I see this kind of progress, I thank God for special ed teachers who believe in him, and for those who give him a chance to be himself. Life is good.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Streaking, ripping and biting - oh my

I hate to only post when I have a rough week, but that's just the way it goes, seems like. Brendan has been working very late nights due to lots of upheaval in his office, client issues, etc., so it seems like a longer week than usual. Highlights include:

Liam on a RIPPING frenzy. He ripped two of his new "Friday fun night" spongebob books, as well as several papers at school. A breakthrough though: right after he ripped something for his new Hab worker, he looked upset and said "Oh no mommy's gonna get mad" and put himself in timeout. Progress? You bet, since he demonstrated awareness of his naughtiness. I think he rips due to being frustrated, and without having the necessary words, he rips to let that frustration out. Working on setting up a "ripping corner" for him, like his teacher started to do at school.

Today I found a note in his backpack from his teacher: again, due to frustration, he bit another student on the arm at the end of the day. Hence his talking about "Did you bite? Yes, no Liam no bite" in the car to and from swim lessons. Wonderful.

Aedan STREAKED through the gym day care today; I had just gotten into the shower after a run, and I hear one of the teachers calling my name with a "Aedan stripped off his shorts and pullup and is running around laughing, naked." Apparently they can't even touch a kid enough to put a pullup back on, due to regulations of some sort. So I sudsed off, threw on my dress and a towel over my sopping hair, and went to get him. This apparently is one of the fallbacks to potty training using the "naked" method at home. He's rocking it though, as long as he's home, and now I have to teach him to a) wear shorts and take them OFF to pee, and 2) go in public restrooms every time.

Audrey the diva? Oh, she's been in full force. Two timeouts for back-talking (and one for hitting) before 10 am today. And no signs of slowing down, except for a few notable moments of sweet, cute girl. As I write this Liam is shrieking and saying "ouch that hurt, I don't understand" and audrey is hovering in the background. I just asked "DID YOU BITE HIM?" and she replies "No I hit him."

Time for a mommy time out...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

i dont' have to do it all

my day - just one of many -

up at 6
630: get liam up
650: get liam on bus
710: starbucks
740: prep for class
8-10:15: teach
1015-1030: fill out midterm grade reports
11: get aedan from bren
11:15: bank
1130: get audrey
12: aedan's haircut
1230: lunch
1:15: get audrey's flower girl shoes
130: get Liam from school early
2-3: liam OT
315: dirty kid bath
330-345: mommy timeout
4:00: fold laundry
430: edit brendan's marketing material
5: edit blog rough draft for katie/protea

and now? dinner. find tax stuff. more laundry. arrange a sitter at the resort for our trip., email with students, hopefully go for a run.

i just had to get that off my chest.

t-thurs are so busy - no wonder aedan isn't potty trained. but it's all worth it, for liam and for the business and everything. good for the kids to be flexible and helps them appreciate being home.

may soon be working for brendan when he opens a second office in chandler. so stoked to expand the practice, put aedan in preschool when audrey starts school.

i can do a lot - but not all. never all. i wouldn't have it any other way!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Well, spring break is over and the routine is back. We had a great time over break: lots of park time and playdates with friends; staying up late to watch TV with mom and dad; gym time and laid back fun. On Monday Liam looked at me a little confused when I woke him up at 630 for the bus, but he is happy to be back in the swing of things.

It's the end of March, but his school finally found a replacement teacher to relieve the sub, Mr. Johnson. She is a grad student in special ed, finishing up in June, and she is hosting an open house on Thurs. Communication notebook back in force...too bad this structure will last only until school's out in May, and then it's time for new transitions all over again.

Liam continues to make huge strides in his spontaneous speech. Yesterday he got home and said " I am hungry I want to eat a snack please" on his own, without my prompting for missing words. He was talking about girls playing on the playground - when I asked him questions his answering clarity was precise and focused, with good eye contact and little repetition. Example: "Honey did you have fun playing with the girls at recess?" "Yes I had fun, girls hugging on the playground with Liam go play." We're talking pronouns and prepositions, people! This is huge!

He has started private OT again, and I found an awesome center (kind of a drive from our house in Tempe, but hey - that's the story of our lives) for Hab and Respite. We are about to embark on a family odyssey/vacation to Puerto Rico for Devon's wedding, and any anxiety I used to feel about taking Liam to new places has all but evaporated. He continues to demonstrate a comfortability with himself and an openness to embrace change, which gives me great comfort and great hope.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

hitting the wall

Do you ever have a day when you think "this cannot possibly be my life?" I had a moment or two of these thoughts earlier in the week, but this afternoon makes me want to go in my room, shut the door, and tune everything out.

I know why I have put off getting passports for my kids until today, the last DROP DEAD day to do it. We leave for PR in one month and I am really pushing it, getting them done in time. We waltzed into Walgreens as soon as Liam got off the bus - thinking I'd be in and out. No stroller, cart, or snacks.

Trying to get my kids to 1) sit still and 2) look squarely at a camera while getting their pictures taken is not easy. Never has been, and i don't know why I thought this would be different. The lady had to try twice for all of them - with Liam being the toughest of all. A snapshot of the mayhem:

-Aedan ran down an aisle, shorts around his ankles;
-Audrey screamed at the boys to "hocus!" (her word for FOCUS);
-Three bags of chips and three Vitawaters were opened;
-The photo clerk started to sweat and stress
-Aedan almost ran out the exit
-Audrey pulled the tags off a doll before i could stop her (while I was trying to help Liam "hocus")
-Total bill: $45 (25 for the pics, $20 for the pigpen disaster of food/drink/toys left in our wake)

Now I hate feeling like an out of control, pushover mom. I try so hard to set boundaries and rules, but the fact of the matter is: Liam has autism, Audrey can be obnoxiously bossy, and Aedan doesn't listen. He acts more like he's turning 2 than turning 3 in a lot of ways, largely because I have allowed him to get away with it.

When I went back to get the pics after gymnastics, while my throat was seizing up from stress, the clerk - a new one - started talking about how she's a special needs child advocate and has a child with a rare disorder. Why in the H, I thought while nodding politely, would she tell me this?

Turns out she could tell, from developing Liam's photos, that he has autism. I heard this and I just wanted to bury my head in the bags of chips (after eating them all). It's one thing to deal with autism on a daily basis, the struggles and successes. It's another for it to be transparent on Liam's face when he's not having a good moment - to the point where a perfect stranger looking at his pic can tell.

I am on hCG, trying to teach a course I have never taught before, write a column, and manage all the loose ends of getting ready for our trip. My house: trashed; my purse: disorganized; my hunger: intense. All I can do is take a deep breath and know that all the things that make me ME, my successes and my strengths, also challenge me to recognize and overcome my weaknesses. I am laid back, fun and disorganized...of course my parenting is going to be similar.

If I can't find some humor in these out of control moments, I may as well just throw in the towel. Audrey just came over to me with her cute and earnest face (to her credit, at Walgreen's she did get it together after my threats of "we can't go to Auntie Devon's wedding if you don't sit still and take a nice picture!" sunk in) and asked "are you okay? mom are you happy?"

Of course I am, baby. Challenged and out of control at times, but ultimately happy through and through.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Aedan get down"

I am compelled to write a quick blog about Liam today before I get the day going -

First of all, last night we did not get them gifts after date night, since Audrey's been a little greedy lately. Liam just held my hand and said "next week Mickey mouse clubhouse movie" and walked to the car, no fit or frustration or tears.

Then this morning, Aedan climbed up onto the toyshelf in the playroom again, and Liam came running in to tell us. "Oh no Aedan, climbed up. Get down." He held onto Brendan's hand and followed him into the playroom to show him. This demonstrates to me an awareness of his brother, and recognition of how unsafe he was.

The boy's cognition skills are improving, and socially he is making huge steps in noticing his siblings and what is going on around him.

A small victory to start the weekend! His progress makes my heart shine. :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

rough night

Sometimes it is so tough parenting when you child doesn't communicate well. Yesterday was a rough day for Liam and me, and today I am feeling very down about it.

I met with his principal this week, and expressed concerns about Liam's learning environment. We don't know how he is doing in school; some days he comes home hyper and rowdy, other times completely in his own world. There is a sub in his class after the teacher up and left, and they are actively pursuing leads to find a permanent replacement. In the meantime I made my needs clear and instigated a communication notebook going back and forth from class to home.

I was frustrated to read that Liam is practicing upper and lower case letter, and counting/matching to 20. Now, the child is very smart. He has been able to identify letters, both cases, since he was 2 and a half, and he can count past 100. Just because he doesn't communicate well and is autistic does NOT mean he cannot be challenged academically. I wonder if he acts out because he is bored and not motivated to learn. So I wrote today in his notebook that yes Liam knows his letters (this is not preschool!) and is very ready to start reading, spelling, and doing math. I get so frustrated with the "wow he's smart" comments I get this should be a newsflash for a child with a unique mind who learns differently from "typical" kids.

His district believes in inclusion ultimately, which is why I was so excited to move and have him placed in a better environment. So far, though (possibly because there is not a permanent teacher) I have my doubts about Liam excelling to his potential and being comfortable enough to integrate with his peers. Then I have to ask myself: am I rushing him? am I asking too much too fast? There are no clear answers, and all I can do is trust my gut and keep making my requests known.

Liam resisted his fish oil supplement yesterday for the first time since he started receiving it again after a long break. He fought and fought me, clamped his jaw shut, spit it out so it hit my eye. All these memories from his babyhood (blood draws, feeding tube, holding him down, vomiting) came rushing back and it took my breath away. Part of me wants to wait until he's receptive again to start the supplement; a big part of me knows he NEEDS it for his brain development, and he has to just deal.

Then he bit Audrey on the cheek, for no apparent reason, so I had to get tough, yell at him, and even spanked him. Now I know that not all kids needs to be disciplined like that, and I only reserve it for special occasions such as physical violence when HE KNOWS what he's doing. I could tell by his face that he knew that was wrong, which is good to see that recognition, but Bren and I both felt that he needed to be punished.

He cried and cried and started spouting gibberish, completley away from the subject at hand. He kept talking about Alley, his hab worker, crying and getting mad, on the phone or something, over and over with his hands on his cheeks as big tears rolled down. I didn't want to comfort him right away after punishing him, but my resolve just vanished when I saw that reaction. I am actually going to call Alley right now to see if something happened - and now Brendan and I are questioning the wisdom of letting him be along with a hab worker, when he still can't communicate something wrong effectively.

So now I am doubting myself, and what the right course is. Do I trust the system and let him be independent with an adult, who is supposed to be working with him? Or do I take the harder course and either a) give up on Hab (I have yet to have a productive experience with it); b) set tighter guidelines for her, like requiring written feedback from each session; or c) only let him work with her in my sight. Which defeats the purpose, since where I am Audrey is, and she tends to take over.

Where is my opening of the heavens and ray of wisdom to light the path?

He went to bed upset still, I went to bed guilty and a little lost, and I plan on cuddling him when he gets home and promising that today will be a better day.