The two faces of J

Here are some great things we’ve been hearing from J lately:

After the nice play-date on Thursday, “I’m going to miss my friends”  I asked “which friends?” and he named all 4 of the kids he had been playing with.

After pulling out of my parents’ neighborhood to head home this weekend, “I’m going to miss Grandma and Grandpa”

Random times throughout the day without prompting, “I love you”

For the past week, every night as I leave his room, “I really love you.  I really really love you”

The not so great things:

Last week at school after spring break, and Sunday at our church small group, Wild kicking, scratching, and hitting for no reason.  Crazy meltdowns that are completely unconsolable.

After Sunday night, we have been working on vocalizing anger.  His school psychologist suggested a key word, but I feel like he is such a literal kid that a code word would get confusing.  So we repeat the rules “No hitting, no scratching, no kicking, no pushing, no pulling, and no grabbing” before every social situtation we are about to encounter.  Now we have added, “What do you tell mommy or your teachers if you are feeling upset or angry?” he repeats, “I say, I’m feeling angry, I need some quiet space.”  Very good.  Now I’m holding my breath to see if he will implement it.  I told his teachers about it today too.

At home and in the car with just his family he has been super loving and empathetic.  Adding more kids in the mix has been detrimental for a week.  He has had small successes though.  the same kids from Thursday’s playdate came over for less than an hour while D went to an appt and all went well.  J even hurried through breakfast so he could play.  All 4 boys were sad when D came to pick them up.

Here’s a picture from Easter morning.  You’d never believe that I had to wrestle J into the unfamiliar clothes just minutes before.  I had to take this picture early because it was brown from chewing on it by the time we got home 90 minutes later.

048.jpg  Oh and they both got haircuts that night too….picture later.

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All together…

Its weird being a military family. 

I was never “homesick” growing up.  I usually went away somewhere every summer at-least.  It wasn’t until I went on a 6 week mission trip to Honduras the summer between graduation and college that I got homesick.  Being in a foreign country will do that to you.  that and I had plans that fell through while I was there so I felt useless for a few weeks.  AND I was moving from Texas to Michigan to go to college.  Well college began a long line of homesickness.  I got married after my first year and we moved to Idaho, then 4 months later to Guam.  It was crazy because there was a 16 hour difference so due to costs of long distance and never a good time to call, I had to stay in touch via impersonal email.  When we moved to MA a year later we got cell phones and it was great to be able to call my mom more often.  Especially when we had J and I became a Stay at home mom.  My younger sister moved in with us for about 6 months at one point (before I was even preggers) and I kind of liked it.  I liked having family around for the 1st time in 3 years.  Then she moved away for a year and came back again.  Then moved away again. 

When we moved to NV we were away from everyone again.  My parents managed to come out for both Christmas’s we lived there.  Then after 25 years my dad left TX and took a job in AZ 2 years ago this June.  We got pretty excited.  they were only 5 hours away.  We could see each-other on Holiday weekends.  Then that August Hubby got orders to go to an 8 month school in Mississippi and on to an undisclosed base.  After being in school a few weeks we found out that we were headed to Tucson.  This is only 75 minutes from my parents.  We couldn’t believe our fortune.  Our kids would get to know their grandparents.  We would get to have family around, not to mention the free babysitters 😉

While we were in MS, my sister was in Missouri.  She found a guy and they got married last January.  We all met in TX for the wedding as it was sort of equal distance from all of us.  We thought we would see her again this past Christmas at my parents but it just didn’t work out.  She had a baby in September and all sorts of other things happened.  Anyway, it was kind of up in the air as to when we would ever see each other again.  Each of our hubbies gets limited vacation time and it has to be spent visiting certain people.

So She came out last weekend with the baby to my parents’ house unexpectedly.  Now this weekend her hubby is coming.  His job situation sucked in MO and so did the family situation.  So they are MOVING to AZ!!!  I really never thought that my whole family would be close to us again.  When I married hubby I thought that my parents would be in TX for the rest of forever.  There weren’t any possible bases near them.  We love my parents so much that my hubby would buy the house next door to them if it wasn’t an over an hour commute to work.  I love my sister.  My 6 month old niece is adorable and Little J has started bonding with her. 

So after almost 9 years of marriage, we are all together.  It was fun before with my cousin and her family that live just north of my parents, its even better having my sister here to share it all with us.  I know most military families are not so blessed.  We will have to move away from them eventually, but for now I’m going to enjoy it.

🙂  Smiling ear to ear now.

Not too Bad

We’ve had a few things happen this week that were “not too bad” and some things that were down right awesome.

At J’s IEP and placement meeting we decided to put him in a self contained small student to ration autism classroom.  There are currently only 2 of these classes in the district and one of them is at a school that is possibly closing.  This is kind of good because the other one is at the school he currently attends.  One less change for next year would be great.  It is a mixed class of K-2nd and he will be mainstreamed when it is determined that it is appropriate for lengths of time determined appropriate.  His teachers, school psychologist, OT and SLP are all in love with him.  He scored at and above average in all the knowledge/cognitive tests.  He did things for his OT that he refused to do for the independent OT evaluator and did a great job.  But on his social/behavioral observations and tests he was below average.  The special ED placement is not a life sentence.  His teacher has super high hopes for him and expects him to be completely mainstreamed in a few years, he just isn’t ready yet.

I’m okay with that.  I actually advocated for it.  I get it, he just isn’t ready to be in with other kids his age.  Well at least not in large groups.  Our district is broke and the kindergarten classes will be going to a 24:1 ratio next year.  This was the main factor in our decision.  His current teacher and aides are planning to help J make the transition next year.  The special class he is in doesn’t start until 2-3 weeks after regular school so they have some free time to go in the classroom and help him and his new teachers adjust.  They don’t have to, they want to.  I wish we could pack them up and take them with us through 12th grade.  His favorite aide is going back to school next year to get her SLP degree.  When she is done we would gladly go to her.  J likes to take a book from home every day and she sit with him and reads it during free play time.

So with the placement underway everyone left except the teacher and I.  She had pre-written an IEP based on the SLP’s recommended goals and the OT’s.  She also added in a few math and writing goals for next year.  Then I put the icing on the cake and added a few behavior goals and accommodations.  It was easy and painless.  I think that is only because so many accommodations are already made in an Autism class that there was no need to over kill it.  Of course next year is only kindergarten, I think the next IEP will be harder but for now I will thank God for the wonderful teacher and school we got assigned to this year. 

J apparently ran into the bathroom and locked the door on Tuesday.  It was his first day back after 6 days off.  I later remembered to tell the teacher about the time 2 weeks ago at my parents’ house that he went in the bathroom as the other kids got noisier.  She put these two things together and decided that he needed a small quiet place to retreat to when feeling overwhelmed or upset.  So she is planning to bring a small pop-up tent for him and placing it in the unused “library” section of the class.  In the meantime, she was able to calm him down by holding him in her lap and singing some extra songs to him.  She also told me that they had stopped going to the school library after J joined the class.  She said that it wasn’t just for him but I know that several things/schedules in class changed after he arrived.  Apparently it benefited one or two other children as well though.  As for the library, she felt it was an unnecessary transition that only happened once a week.  They were walking to the school library on Fridays, hearing a story, and then walking back to the classroom.  Sounds topsy turvy to me too.  Instead she does extra reading in the classroom.  I can’t tell you enough how much we love this teacher.

So even though large groups are not a good idea, small groups have been working well for him lately.  Yesterday we had a play date at the park with a story and a themed craft.  He did awesome.  The only two time outs he got were because the other kids were really pushing his buttons.  We stayed at the park for almost 3 hours.  Then today I had to take Little J to a friend’s house so that J could go to his psych appt.  When pulling into the parking area at our friend’s house you look directly into a neighborhood park.  Little J REALLY REALLY want to go to the park.  Since I normally treat J to the park or McDonald’s after an appt, I told Little J that when we got back we would go.  We got back after an hour and he had been having a great time.  So my friend D and her kids and us all went over to the park.  Our kids paired off with each other and played their hearts out.  We stayed out for about an hour and our friend S joined us with her kids too.  Then we went in to D’s house and the boys got busy playing.  I had to drag them out of there.  Here is the kicker……WE DIDN’T HAVE TO BREAK UP A SINGLE FIGHT!  This is absolutely unheard of in the realm of 2,3,4, and 5 year olds.  (yes our kids are stairs, mine are the odds.)  D has an older son, not living with her, with Asperger Syndrome.  It is always great when we can just sit and talk.  J and her son have so many similarities.  She is also the wise mama that clued me into the fact that the kids might have a food intolerance.  So the boys played for 2 hours together and we had 0 meltdowns.  Fingers crossed for more days like that.

This is my shout out to S that I forgot to type last week.  I love this mom.  She has five kids of her own, none of them on a special diet, and yet she is always on the look-out to help me with the boys’ new diet.  She is the one who sent me the rice crust recipe.  She also called me during her shopping trip to let me know that our commissary sells the Bob’s Red Mill gluten free/wheat free products.  They sell them much much cheaper than our local Sunflower Market and the health foods section of the grocery store off base.  She has more recently emailed me another pizza crust recipe because she knows how deprived my kids feel with out it.  I have been loving the variety and prices of the gluten free products at the commissary.  I haven’t shopped there on a regular basis in the past, but I will now.  I went to get another bread mix, but they were out of the previously kid approved version.  So I bought a whole grain gluten free one.  I was feeling so invigorated after the great night with friends tonight that I baked gluten free/ wheat free banana bread from scratch to use up some smushy bananas and the whole grain bread mix.  The banana bread was so awesome that I would want to eat it all if it weren’t for the fact that all purpose GF flour is so much more expensive and I gotta save it for the kids.  (the recipe is on the back of some Bob’s Red Mill GF all purpose flours.)  The whole grain bread was “not too bad.”  It taste kind of like a pumpernickle/rye mix.  I think J will like it as toast with butter.  Its not a great sandwhich bread though.

I think I’m missing something, but seeing as I’ve been typing this on and off for 3 hours now its time to publish it. 

Still Alive – snapshots

I’ve had a few of you comment asking where I was.  We had a whirlwind spring break and I will write about it when I can actually stay awake.

A few blurbs though….

Bob’s Red Mill Homemade Wonderful Gluten Free Bread was a big hit.  So much so that I will be investing in a bread machine to help make it easier.  (Any recommendations?)  J thought the bread was awesome, especially since we told him we were making it like the Little Red Hen, one of his favorite books.  Cinnamon raisin from the same brand is next on the “to do” list.

We made the Pizza rice crust.  Either I did it wrong or it wasn’t what I was expecting.  Either way, J liked it.  Little J, not so much.  I will try again one more time and then consider moving on.  I found some other recipes I could live with.

We hiked up Piccacho Peak on a moderate trail that is .7 miles each way.  They boys led the whole way at a super fast pace.  We had a great time and are planning more hikes in the future.  J wore his “cactus shoes” proudly.

The boys stayed over night with my parents Friday without me and it was super successful.  Do you know what this means?  It means that this summer when my mom is off work, hubby and I can have a few weekends to ourselves.  😀

Had a planning meeting with my Assistant Organizers for my Special Needs Moms meetup.  It went well and we have a plan for the next month.  Met another mom from the group tonight and it was good.  The boys all got a long well, when they weren’t ignoring eachother 😉

IEP meeting on Wednesday.  This is my first real one.  The one they did in November, well I didn’t know what to expect.  And since it was just for Pre-K, I just went along with what they said.  Sounded good to me.  But now we are planning for real.  His teacher mentioned last week that she was going to recommend a 60/40 split in favor of special-ed instead of mainstreaming like they mentioned in January.  I am actually happy about this because I found out a few weeks ago that the K classes in our district are going to a 24:1 ratio.  That would be an absolute disaster for J.  That much I know.  So wise mommies of the autism bloggy world.  What kind of things should be in his IEP?  Is there a website I should know about?  Email me if you need to.  KarameiaKS at netscape dot net.

The epic shoe story

I’ve written about our shoe battles here.  And I’m sad to say that it hadn’t gotten much better.  We compromised and 3 out of 4 school days he had to wear the grey “new” shoes.  As soon as school was over they went in the cubby and for all other outings the gross brown ones came out.  This was kind of okay with me only because he needs lots of help to get the grey ones on and no help for the brown ones. 

Last month I took him to WalMart’s shoe department and thought I could trick him into new shoes if Little J picked out a new pair of Spider-man ones.  I was the one who got tricked and had to buy a pair of completely unnecessary shoes. 

A week ago we were in Target getting stuff for the birthday cake and we took a detour to the shoe department.  This time I was not going to be swayed.  We WOULD leave with new shoes that he could put on himself, and didn’t STINK.  So of course he picks out shoes that only come in 5 sizes too small.  Then score of all scores I found some sandals nearly identical to the ones he is attached to!  This is not a guarantee, as I found out when I tried to replace his underwear last fall with look-a-likes, but it is helpful.  He didn’t like them when he tried them on, but I quickly realized that it wasn’t the shoes he didn’t like, but the elastic holding them together. 

After we put them in the cart, he was still browsing the racks and came across some plaid canvas slip ons.  We had gone hiking with my parents a few weeks ago and when the hike was over my mom talked to J about getting some new shoes so that he didn’t have to worry about the cactus touching his feet.  He tried them on and then did a weird spastic dance trying to get the elastic cord off and telling me they are too stretchy.  After many promises that we would cut it off at home he placed the box in the cart.

On the ride home I explained to him that we would need to throw his old shoes in the trash now that he had new ones.  When we got home he started to put them back in the cubby and I opened the trash can and “cleared me throat.”  He obliged and put them in.   He didn’t ask for them back but I didn’t press my luck either.  Hubby took the trash out when he got home so they wouldn’t be there to tempt him in the morning.

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Here’s the kicker.  When it was time to get ready for school the next day he CHOSE to wear the canvas shoes “to protect his feet from cactus” instead of the look a likes.  Since then he has worn them pretty equally and we have left the grey ones in the cubby indefinitely.

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Sorry if I lost you in the back stories, but it is those tangles that shape our present.

Not my own, but oh so true.

Treasure in the challenge

The difficulty of the journey gives meaning and value to the destination. The more effort you put into achievement, the more that achievement is worth.

The problems and challenges are not there to stop you. Their purpose is to bring your commitment to the surface where it can come wholly and powerfully to life.

The tasks that are the most difficult are the ones that make the greatest positive difference. Situations with the most formidable problems are where you find the biggest opportunities.

See the problems for what they are. They provide a clear, compelling path to strength of purpose, creativity, effectiveness, commitment and achievement.

Working your way purposefully and persistently through the challenges will create great and lasting value in your world. With each difficulty you grow stronger and more capable.

See the opportunities that the challenges provide. And make their considerable, substantial value your own.

— Ralph Marston

I suck at this

I’ve thought about blogging.  Every single night.  I have tons to tell you.  but I am tired.  SOOOOOOO tired.  So here is the preview and I will get my act together soon.

There have been new shoes – I need to download the pictures

Birthday parties – pictures and energy to write about the whole day’s worth of celebrating

OT evaluation – at least I’m not crazy, I feel validated.  We start therapy soon.

Little J turned 3 today.  fairly uneventful.  surprise visit from my parents.  He didn’t get it since the parties were Saturday.

And now a recipe I am dying to try.  My friend S sent this in an email.  she knows how much J and Little J have been missing pizza.  At their party they could only have the cheese and toppings.  This sounds so simple and doesn’t call for any outrageous or unfamiliar ingredients.

RICE PIZZA CRUST 
2 cups long grain white rice or brown rice, uncooked 
4 cups water or vegetable broth 
1 large egg, beaten 
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese 
1/16 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or red hot sauce **
 
RICE CRUST—————–. 
2Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. 
3In a medium size saucepan, add rice and water or broth. 
4Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. 
5Fluff rice with a fork and set aside to cool slightly. 
6In a mixing bowl, combine cooked rice, beaten egg, mozzarella cheese and Tabasco sauce and mix well. 
7Press mixture evenly into a lightly greased 12 inch pizza pan, covering bottom and sides. 
8Bake in preheated 400 F oven for 4 minutes or until set. 
9Remove from oven and let cool slightly before adding filling. 

**J has been pretty sensitive to flavors lately so I will probably leave this out.  Possibly replaceable with Italian seasonings.

The good and bad news

Its all the same news.

Wheat free for 4 days has done its job for Little J.  His bowels look like that of a 3 year old now instead of a baby-food eating 8 month old.  So I guess we chalk that up to wheat intolerance.  WAHOOOO we have found the culprit.  BOOOO the culprit is wheat.  Potty training is back on track though so that is a nice bonus.  I’m not sure what is happening with J.  Since he is independent with toileting I can’t just run in and check his poop before he flushes on a regular basis.  Today I bit the bullet and cleaned out all the kid’s wheat containing foods from the pantry.  I will be passing these on to the mom who has 4 boys and passed on a ton of clothes to me at the beginning of the year.

The wheat free cupcakes were more like muffins, but they were a big hit today at J’s school.  Many of the kids asked for 2nds.  J came up to me after his 1st one and told me “Mommy that was good.”  After his second one “Mommy that was even more good.”  He has been talking about having cake at school for his birthday since last November when in his first 2 weeks of school the triplets had a big party in class.  The teachers made him a construction paper crown, and one for the other child who shares his birthday.  They even had candles for each boy and sang the birthday song twice.  It just showed me how much they really do believe what they told me in the beginning about treating each child as an individual.

It was so nice to see J in his school setting.  I’ve been a few times, but only at the end of the day where everything is pretty much free play.  Today I got to see their opening routines and other habits.  I now know that some of his behaviors at home are because of Little J home and not him.  He was an amazing child in the classroom.

Don’t Lick the batter!

I made my first foray into wheat free baking tonight.  I didn’t get the xanthan gum yet but I talked to a friend who has gone GF before and she said I didn’t need it for cakes as long as there was plenty of eggs.  So I just substituted GF all purpose flour, added an extra egg, and used part brown sugar in place of white (all the recipes I saw had both kinds) into my fruit cocktail cake.  The batter looked kinda funny but I figured if it was screwed up I still had time in the morning to pick up fresh ingredients and could start over before school time.  I decided to lick my finger and I almost puked.  The aftertaste was so disgusting that I almost just dumped it down the drain and skipped the oven.  I decided I’d follow through and make one batch of cupcakes but save my pretty gold foil cups in case the first batch tasted as bad as the preview.  When they were done baking, they smelled normal.  I was pleasantly surprised by the end result.  They aren’t as sweet as the original recipe and they are a little extra spongy (the extra egg?) but they don’t taste gross.  They actually made a nice breakfast type muffin in my opinion.  And since there is fruit in them, they will pass the school’s healthy birthday food rules.  I dusted them with powdered sugar and sprayed half with green food coloring (J picked it out.)  I will be delivering them to the class tomorrow with no worries.

The birthday boy

Saturday March 1st was J’s 5th b-day.  It is hard to believe that I am mom to a 5 year old.  If I was a super fab mom I would write a letter to him on my blog, but alas I am not.

If I did however, I would tell him that this year has been really hard on all of us.  but no matter what happened I didn’t sell him to the gypsies.  We got some help, read some blogsbooks, took some meds and now things are much happier in our house.  Even on the worst days his smile and “I love you’s ” could brighten it in those few moments.

He did know that today was his b-day.  but he didn’t really get it.  The first few people who said happy birthday to him, he didn’t know how to respond.  so after a brief silence, he would tell them some tidbit from his day.  Halfway through I realized I needed to tell him the appropriate response is “thank you.”  He got it figured out by the end of the night.  Want to know what made the biggest impression on him today?  Was it the trip to the park to meet some new friends?  Or was it the outing to Denny’s for dinner?  Nope it was “birthday waffles.”  Yeah I know you are all wondering what is so special about waffles.  Well since we have been weaning off of wheat, most of their favorite breakfast foods were off the menu.  Little J especially has been craving waffles.  So I bought some wheat free ones yesterday and this morning they were in love with them.  🙂  Nice to know it doesn’t take much to make them happy.

He didn’t really get the whole “be excited about your birthday” because there was no party.  since Little J turns 3 on the 11th, they are sharing parties next week.  yes I did type parties.  Next Saturday morning we are having a party at the zoo with a few friends.  Then in the evening we are meeting my cousin and her family at my parent’s house for a family b-day bash.  One of my cousin’s kids is a week older than J, then the boy’s, my mom, and cousin’s hubby all have March b-days.  I will be experimenting with wheat free cakes all week.  I bought a zoo animal cake mold, and all purpose GF flour.  But I couldn’t find xanthan gum at the store  I was at.  I didn’t realize how important it was until I got home and looked it up, so back to a new store tomorrow.  The family bash is getting some sort of jello jigglers cake concoction.  So all the fun is next week.

P.S. The new friends at the park are my two members of the new playgroup.  It was a wonderful outing and I really enjoyed getting to know the moms.  The kids did pretty well too.  I asked the moms to be my assisstant organizers and they accepted, they had been considering starting their own group before they saw mine.