Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stellar


We have had a stellar week!  Alex (my son who has Autism) was able to, for the first time in his life, have dental x-rays taken!  This was a huge step for him!  He has been going to the dentist since he was a year old.  Sure, he didn’t have all his teeth but I wanted to get him comfortable with going to the dentist regularly.  When he was diagnosed at 2 and a half years old, things got tough.  He’d cry and scream when the dentist tried to look at his teeth.  He’d kick and hit me.  I would have to hold him down.  He’d cry so much he would throw up.  But last week, we got to the dentist and he just hopped on the dentist table/chair.  He let the dental hygienist clean his teeth.  The dentist came in and he let her do her examination.  He had no complaints.  He did just as his twin brother, Will, was doing right next to him.  And I just sat there watching them, thinking , wow, this is what it’s like for a normal parent!  And Alex was on a roll so his dentist and I decided to see if he could do x-rays.  And he did!  No complaints!  No tears!  It was awesome!
At the end of last week, Alex had a field trip with his class, along with the other second graders in his school.  They went to The Feast.  Every year, the second graders go to Roberts Park (surrounded by redwood trees) and sort of re-enact Thanksgiving.  Kids dress up as Pilgrims or Wampanoags.  (Alex wanted us to dress up at Wampanoags.)  They go to different stations to help prepare the feast consisting of venison stew, rabbit stew, vegetable soup, clam chowder, duck, and other foods I can’t remember.  There were also stations for crafts and candle-making.  Every 30 minutes, they would rotate.  He followed along with his classmates as he was supposed to.  I barely had to shadow him.  Even his Intervention Specialist didn’t have to work with him much. 
But the highlight of the day was the program.  Each kid (about 72) had to memorize several sentences and recite them with a microphone in front of dozens of parents and teachers.  Alex does not like attention on himself.  At all.  (A few weeks ago, his name was drawn for a prize and his name was announced over a school loud speaker and he freaked out.  It took his I.S. 20 minutes to calm him down.)  No, he does not like all eyes on him.  So, of course, I’m a tad worried.  He’s practiced with me and with his class.  But it isn’t the same as actually doing this in front of so many people.  When it was his turn to speak, I held my breath and watch him walk to the front and speak his lines.  Perfectly.  It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.  I cried.  I’m crying as I type this.  I was so proud!  All of our hard work has really paid off!  All the hours of therapy, doing research, trying to find out what was best for him, giving him our best…. it all showed at that moment.  I’ll never forget it!  It was the perfect ending to a stellar week!
Yesterday, I had an unintentional reminder of what is normal.  Since today is Veteran’s Day and the schools are closed, a friend invited us to watch a movie in a movie theater.  At first, I jumped at the idea!  Heck, Alex is on a roll!  He’s doing so great!  We could go to the movies just like other normal families do!  Then it hit me.  Wait, we aren’t that kind of normal.  Alex isn’t ready for that yet.  He needs to be prepped.  (We tried to take him to a theater a few years ago and it was awful.  It was sensory overload for him.)  I need to come back to reality and realize that we can’t jump into things like that.  I need to make a game plan, just like I did with his dentist.  He needs to practice, just as he did for his speech.  We need to do things little by little.  Maybe I can take him to the theater on a less crowded day.  Maybe I can schedule it when his Behavioral Interventionist is with us.  Maybe we can do it with a movie he has already seen before.  I need to plan this out in order to set him up for success. 
So now that I have come down from Cloud 9 and I’m back on Earth, I realize that our normal is different from others.  Having 4 weekly ABA therapy appointments is normal for us.  Having my 3 boys in 2 different schools is normal for us.  Going only to drive-ins instead of an indoor movie theaters is normal for us.  Attending yearly IEP meetings is normal for us.  Attending quarterly meetings with his intervention team is normal for us.  Yeah, our normal is different.  But all the accomplishments our family has…..those accomplishments may be normal for others…..but that normal is stellar to us!!! 
video


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Let It Go

Let It Go.  Yes, just like the title in the song from the movie Frozen.  Those 3 words have a lot of meaning for me tonight.  You see, tomorrow, my son Alex (who is on the Autism Spectrum) is going on a field trip with his fellow first graders.  He's been on many field trips in the past.  And I have chaperoned each and every one.  He's always ridden in my van with his classmates.  He is my priority for field trips, not his two mainstream brothers.  I know they'll be okay.  But I'm always there on Alex's trips to watch him; make sure he doesn't wander off; make sure he doesn't have a meltdown; make sure he doesn't have sensory overload (i.e. things are too loud or too crowded.)  Just make sure he stays safe.  But tomorrow I have chosen not to chaperone his field trip.  I did my best to plan it out.  He is going to be in a place that he is very familiar with.  So I know he's comfortable there.  The place is only a 10-minute drive from his school.  So if he's in a car he is uncomfortable with, it'll be for a short period of time.  And I feel he's very comfortable with his teacher, intervention specialist and his friends in his class.  At first, I told myself, "Yes, I can trust his teacher and specialist.  They will take good care of them."  And yes, I do trust them.  But I realized tonight that it isn't just them.  I trust Alex.  I trust him not to wander off.  I trust him to control himself to minimize a meltdown.  I trust him to speak up if things are too loud or too crowded.  I trust Alex to stay safe.  Will I still make him hold my hand when we are in a busy parking lot or walking across a street?  Yes.  Will I still do head counts every 10 minutes when I'm at the park with him and his brothers?  Yes.  But for tomorrow, I will trust Alex.  I will let it go.  And he's going to be just fine.

Monday, August 27, 2012

I've been faking it.


No, not that.  :)  Something else.  I have been worrying.  I never worry.  I just don’t see a point to it.  It’s wasted energy.  It doesn’t solve anything.  I can’t predict the future.  So why worry about it?  When Alex was first diagnosed with Autism two and a half years ago, I didn’t worry about his future but my husband did.  What was Alex going to be like when he’s an adult?  Will he be able to live on his own?  Will he live with us?  Will he be able to go to college?  Drive a car?  Have a job?  Be in a relationship?  Get married?  Will he be able to have what he defined as a happy life?  My husband learned to let go his “idea” of a happy life for Alex.  He doesn’t need to do all those things to be happy.  We both know that.  So I don’t worry about what is in store for Alex in the future.  My philosophy from the beginning was always:  do absolutely everything we possibly can do NOW so that whatever is in his future will be the best it possibly can be.  So that’s how I roll.  I live in the moment.  Take it day by day.  Do the best I can.
But for the last few weeks, I have been pretending.  I secretly have been worrying.  I haven’t slept well in about 2 or 3 weeks.  We have a huge transition coming up in our family.  Alex and Will (twins) will be going into kindergarten tomorrow, but in two separate schools.  Will is going to be with his big brother, who will be in second grade.  Alex is going to another school because they offer a special needs program that we feel is best for him and is not available at the other school.  I don’t worry about Will at all.  He’s going to a school that he’s already familiar with, he knows the teacher, and he has 2 of his best friends in his class with him.  And to boot, his big brother, Harrison, will be in the school, too.  But Alex is going to a brand new school, completely unfamiliar to him.  We’ve prepped him as much as possible.  We had a few playdates at the school, at the playground.  So he’s familiar with the place.  We took him to the school last week to meet his program supervisor, his intervention specialist, his speech therapist and his teacher.  He got to see his classroom twice.  Thank goodness he has a friend from one of his preschools who will also be in his class.  (Alex calls him his best friend.)  :)  So I’m grateful he won’t be alone.  But I still worry what the first day (week, month) will be like for him.  He’s going to be in a mainstream, typically developing kindergarten class.  There will be a total of 27 kids.  (His previous schools have had 8 or 12 kids in his class, with at least 3 teachers.  At the preschool co-op, there was a max of 22 kids and I was a working parent on those 2 days he attended, and his brother Will was there, too.  And there were 2 teachers and 6 working parents on each day.)  He will have his intervention specialist with him and his friend pretty much the entire time he’s in class.  And of course, the one teacher will be there.  And I was able to arrange for his ABA therapists to assist him in school 3 hours a week, divided into 2 sessions, to help him transition between activities, and to help him socialize with his peers.  We’ve talked about the “exciting” new school a bit, but not too much.  I didn’t want to make him anxious.  We went to the store and had him pick out a new shirt to wear on the first day of school.  Of course, he has a new “Angry  Birds” backpack and lunch box.  :)  So I feel like I’ve done everything I could in the “now” moment.   I know it.  I feel confident that I did my best and gave him my all.  Now, I need to let it go.  I just have to stop worrying and remember what I believe in my mind and in my heart. ……my philosophy:  do absolutely everything I possibly can do NOW so that whatever is in his future will be the best it possibly can be.  So in 8 hours, when he walks into his new classroom, it’s going to be the best it can possibly be for him.  And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to stop faking that I’m not worried, because I truly won’t be. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Where did my maternal heart go today?


Today, June 7, 2012, was a huge day for our family.  The twins, Alex and Will “graduated” from their preschool today.  (Actually, Alex still had his special needs school to graduate from tomorrow.)  But this preschool is a co-op where my older son, Harrison, attended for 2 years.  The twins just finished their second, and final, year.  So I spent the last 4 years there.  And for the last 3 years, I was a board member.  The preschool is called Sequoia and it is truly a wonderful place!  We’ve made great friends and we all have learned so much there! 
So you would think that today, as the twins accepted their certificates, that I would be crying my eyes out.  After all, they are growing up!  Because of my older son, I know what elementary school is like and it is very different from preschool, especially a co-op preschool, where parents are very involved in the school.  These past years have been so incredibly special.  I got to work (unpaid because it’s a co-op) at the preschool twice a week, along with 5 other parents and 2 teachers every day (I had to work twice a week because I had 2 kids that attended.)  I got to see Alex and Will grow!  Not just educationally, but socially, too.  I felt like I was really involved with their lives.  I’m so lucky that I don’t have to work and that I was able to spend this time with them.  I got to share so many experiences with my little guys!  What blessings! 
But I didn’t shed one tear.  I’m saddened to leave the school.  But I have spent the last (almost) 7 years as a stay at home mom.  And when Alex was diagnosed with Autism 2 years ago, my life just got super busy, juggling 3 kids at 3 different schools.  Having a child with special needs and juggling several weekly therapy appointments.  And then, of course, I have the usual things to take care of (cleaning, cooking, paying bills, etc.)  I’m just tired and I really, really, really need a break.   And when the twins start kindergarten and Harrison starts second grade at the end of August, I’ll finally get a break!  And I think that’s why I didn’t cry today.  My maternal heart sees light at the end of the tunnel.  And I love my boys more than anything in the world and would give up my life for them.  But today, I’m not going to miss those special preschool moments.  Not now.  But after I’ve had a break, and things get busy with elementary schools, my maternal heart will come back full force and I will miss them dearly.  At least, I think I will.  :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Today I am Veruca Salt


Today I am Veruca Salt.  I want it all.  I want it now.  I want life to be perfect.  But a perfect life doesn’t include millions of dollars, a big house, a housekeeper, a cook, a chauffeur, a full time masseuse.  For me, life would be perfect if my son didn’t have autism.  Once a year, usually around the time of his IEP, I get sad, seeing that word all over pages and pages.  But he hasn’t had his IEP yet.  I am filling out the school forms for Alex to start kindergarten in the fall.  I’ve only written the word down a few times.  But what is making me cry is that he isn’t going to get to go to school with his twin brother, or with his big brother.  Alex needs to go to another school that has a special needs program.  For the past two years, he has been attending a separate school from his twin brother, Will.  But they also share a school, too.  Will attends a preschool 5 days a week and Alex attends the same school twice a week, one of those days he is shadowed by his social and behavioral therapist.  So for the last two years, he’s been with one of his brothers at school.  But this fall, Will, and their big brother, Harrison, will be together.  And for the first time, Alex will be alone.  It just breaks my heart.  I tried to work things out with the schools.  I tried to figure out a way to get them all in one school.  But I had to look at each of their individual needs and in the end, this is just what is best for them.  I know that tomorrow, I will be smiling again, and I will be so extremely grateful for all that I have.  But for today, I’m going to wish for something I can’t get.  And then for the rest of the year, I’ll remember all the hundreds of wishes I did get. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Trying to decipher why I like “Twilight” so much

So "Breaking Dawn, Part 1" came out to the theaters last week.  I saw it at midnight in San Francisco at a theater where my friends and I could buy reserved seats.  And, or course, I love it!  And I even watched it again the following night!  So yeah, I’m like many moms and tweens out there, I’ve got an unrealistic crush on Robert Pattinson and the character he portrays, Edward Cullen.  For those who haven’t read the books or seen the movies, Edward is basically the perfect guy except he’s a vampire.
Let me back track a moment and express how much I love my husband, Bobby.  He is absolutely wonderful and is an awesome husband, best friend and father to our 3 boys!  And I’ve been in love with  him since we started dating when we were 15 years old (25 years ago!)  He is the love of my life!
But I haven’t had a crush on anyone (not including Bobby) since I was 14 years old.  I had a crush on Simon LeBon of Duran Duran.  John Taylor was a close second.  But now that’s I’m 40, how in the world did I end up with a crush on a guy who is 25 years old???!!!  Talk about feeling like a cougar! 
I took some time to think about it.  And I’ve come to realized a few things.  Yes, Stephenie Meyer created this very cool character who is pretty much perfect.  And Robert Pattinson did a great job portraying him.  And Robert is really nice to look at, too.  But what it really is, is that being a Twi-hard (fan of the Twilight saga) has taken me back to a carefree time when I was a teenager, when life was so simple and easy.  (When I was a teenager, it felt like a tough time.)  But now that I’ve lived a bit more, and have had all the challenges that I’ve faced with three boys under the age of 7, having a child with autism, moving away from the support of my family, juggling all the different hats that I wear every day, trying to be the best wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter…..having this crush has given me a way to escape the stress of my life now and go back to pretending to be a teenager and not having any real responsibilities.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I love my life!  It isn’t perfect but it is so incredibly rewarding and I am so lucky to have the life that I have!  But there are moments when I just need to get away.  And it isn’t always easy to call up a friend to go out and get away and go get a pedi at a moment’s notice.  It’s a lot easier to put in the Twilight DVD or pick up one of the books.  In less than a minute, I can forget about the dirty dishes, unfolded laundry, the billions of little projects laying all over the house, and just take a few minutes to be carefree.  Sure, it only last for a short while (I can’t neglect my family for days!)  But taking a few minutes to feel young again (especially now that I’ve got a few gray hairs poking out at the back of my head) really gives me something to giggle about. 
So I’m going to post this blog, give my husband a big kiss and tell him how much I love him, then pick out a DVD to watch.  Twilight?  Eclipse?  “Decisions, decisions.”  (For Twi-hards out there, that was a quote from Jane in Eclipse.)  :)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Expected the worse, and out came the best

We flew to Las Vegas today.  It was the twins' first flight ever.  (Harrison has flown a few times when he was younger.)  The idea of flying with a 6 year old and two 4 year olds just boggles my head.  And since Alex has autism, I was really worried how he would handle the crowds, the new environments, the odd noises, etc.  I called the airline first and told them about his diagnosis.  They told me that we could pre-board so we could avoid him standing in the crowded line.  I also packed a TON of stuff for them:  new toys, snacks, treats, new coloring pages I downloaded from Nick Jr., new crayons, new books, lollipops, video games with headphones.  So after frantically packing last night and this morning, we arrive at the airport.  Bobby drops us off at the airport so he could park the car.  We load the twins onto the double stroller, unload 2 suitcases, 2 duffel bags, 3 backpacks and 3 car seats.  Thank goodness for skycaps!  They were able to take care of all of our stuff in minutes!  Bobby catches up with us and we head towards security, expecting at least 100 people  in line, as usual.  We go through the doors and there are only 10 people in line!  We didn't even have to seek out the "family" line!  So we present our boarding passes and take off our shoes (boys got to keep theirs on.)  I go through security first, then Harrison, then Will.  And Alex just follows along without a problem!  I thought I'd have to coax him through or he would be clinging to Bobby to walk with him.  But he just walked on through by himself!  We load them back onto the stroller and things are a bit overwhelming for Alex, so he puts his headphones which is plugged into his Leapster, and starts to play a game.  We get to the gate and get cleared to preboard.  We grab the last two rows.  I had to take away his Leapster for the take off, but luckily I was able to "trade" a light up dolphin toy for it.  Turns out he really liked that $1 toy!  (And of course, I gave 2 to Harrison and Will.)  :)  So I brought their thermoses and I manage to get a couple of cans of apple juice and ice from the flight attendant.  They munch on cheddar bunnies and sip juice for just over an hour.  Harrison and Will draw and color with the little activity packets the airline gave us.  Alex just plays with his dolphin.  We start to descend so I hand our lollipops, telling the boys to lick them not bite them.  Hopefully, all that swallowing would help with any ear popping!  But Alex ate his in 3 bites.  I was so worried his ears would bother him!  But the wheels touch the ground and he's fine!  So is Will!  Harrison has a bit of a headache and cries for about 30 seconds.  But he wipes his tears and squeezes in the stroller, in Will's seat.  (Will was able to sit on the front ledge where Harrison usually sits.)  After walking though the airport and on to baggage claim, Harrison starts to feel better.  An airport employee helps us bring our luggage and car seats to the passenger pick up area.  Bobby and the boys stay there while I take the shuttle to get our van rental.  I had to wait an hour and a half in line at Budget!  I was so mad.  And poor Bobby had to take care of the boys outside in the heat (but in a shaded area so it wasn't that hot.)  But when I pulled up to get them, Alex was having a bit of a meltdown.  But once he was strapped in his familiar car seat, he was a happy clam!  We drive north towards my niece's house (which is about 40 minutes away from the airport.)  We exit the freeway and we're surrounded by tons of new houses and condos.  We don't see any grocery stores or fast food places.  Then out of the corner of my eye, I see a lone Subway Sandwich shop.  We stop in there but I was worried that they wouldn't eat the sandwiches (they really only like PB&J sandwiches.)  But luck was on our side.....they had pizza!  And apples slices!  So I order dinner for the boys and sandwiches for me and Bobby and we arrive at my niece's house.  They have two cute little dogs.  Again, I worried that they would bark at the boys and scare Alex.  They jumped and licked all 3 boys but Alex was fine!  He even laughed a lot!  The boys had a great time playing with the dogs.....they even wore the dogs out!  They kept throwing balls at them to fetch and the dogs would just lay there.    My 3 boys versus 2 dogs???  Yup, my boys won that round.  :)  So the boys are asleep (after we put the mattress on the floor......Alex does fall out of his toddler bed at home sometimes.)  And I'm super tired but really wanted to type up our first Family of 5 Flight!  So tomorrow is my niece's wedding, which is at 6pm.  The boys usually go to bed around 7pm.  Should be interesting tomorrow!  So I'm going to be prepared for worse case scenario again (just like I did today) and hope that I get lucky twice in a row, and I'll get the best!