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   Friday, January 25, 2008  

Less of a Heel

My friend and her son took us up on our offer to go to the children's museum earlier this week.  The lowercase had a good time, my friend got out of the house and to be around other adults.

Their situation is considerably worse than I had thought.  By the time we left, I was holding back tears.  I don't know how she can deal with this.  I don't know how her husband can continue to deny that anything is wrong (he works for Mr. W and in conversation yesterday said that maybe he has a speech delay but that it just seems worse around us because the lowercase is such a talker).

At the entrance of the museum, there are huge salt water aquariums full of fish -- the lowercase says they are "Nemos and Dory's and Sharks and STARS!"  In the short time it took my friend to get his halter/leash thing out of the bag and untangled, he ran away three times.  Far away.  I told the lowercase to stay by my friend and chased her son down.

We went in to the first exhibit room and he almost immediately began to lose it.  He cried as we looked at the air cannon (really cool...there's a sparkly target near the ceiling that shimmers when it's hit).  The lowercase played and giggled trying to figure out how it worked.  We sat down at an activity table and her son was fine for a bit but got restless and wanted to run.  So we tried to go in this exhibit about perspective -- the floors are sharply slanted but the walls are straight.  It's difficult to stand up in and generally makes people laugh because of the tendency to stumble towards the back (lower) wall.  Her son went in of his own accord but then wanted to be DONE.  She cuddled him in her arms and rolled against the wall to calm him.  The lowercase then began dancing with the bigger kids at a dance exhibit (complete with dance dance revolution -- oh how I wanted to shove the 4 year olds off and dance like a fiend!)...her son cried again.  He did enjoy playing with the toy cars on a ramp but did not want to sit in the big cars and pretend to drive.

At that point, I suggested we go to one of the more quiet rooms.  He was alright in the train room, playing with the brio set.  And then he ran off so we all followed.  He went up a ramp and into the helicopter cockpit mock-up.  And fell apart because you can hear the sounds of the rotors and air traffic control on the radio.

The only place that he didn't get frustrated, upset, or run away was in a "sand" box (filled with some kind of small plastic beads instead of sand).  He made snow angels.  He found a sand mold in the shape of an airplane and pushed it around for a while.

But in all that, he didn't talk.  He didn't laugh.  He didn't really ever smile.  I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for my friend.  At one point there was a secret tunnel (in a display about mysteries in the reading section) and the kids and I entered it one way -- my friend wanted to go in from the other side and get some pictures of her boy.  Except that he started to crawl back out the way we had come in.  The lowercase was also with me and I didn't know quite what to do...at first I told her son to stop...and then remembered that he doesn't follow instructions.  And, I felt horrible doing this because he's a PERSON...but I grabbed the end of his leash (is that the right term?) and just held it so he couldn't run away regardless of his pulling as hard as he could against me.  All the while the lowercase is telling me something and pulling my other hand the other way.  And I think that's when my already broken heart just shattered.

We'd been there about an hour and a half, it was almost 11:30, so we decided to get some lunch and leave.  Her son lost it then when he grabbed food from her plate and put it in his mouth -- poor kid thought he was getting a pickle (he loves) but actually got a jalapeno (his first...he hates.  So much that it was evening before he would let food pass his lips again). 

And that was our day.  I think up to that point, I just saw his rough play and the inability to stop him from playing that way as a problem.  (And it is.  Don't get me wrong on that account -- it's something that bothers my son and that, when he plays rough with anyone, I remove him from the situation immediately)  We tend to do "adult" things when we go out together with the kids...meals out or walking through the mall with the boys in their strollers.  So all I saw was the rough play at our house and the extreme lack of talking (there are only occasional "baby" noises...the initial buh and muh type of vocalizing).  And I thought just those were bad and would take them a while to deal with.  But it is so much worse.

   [ posted  @ 9:34 AM ] [ Post a Comment ] [ View Comments (3) ]
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  Comments about my post, "Less of a Heel":
It really does sound like autism (blah blah blah can't diagnose second hand/over the Internet, BUT) and that is sad and hard to deal with. HOWEVER, the sooner he starts getting services the better. I hope the EI folks get moving and he gets some therapy soon.
Wow, my heart is aching right along with you for your friend.

In the past few months, I had some minor concerns as D wasn't making any noises, or anything, but I tried to keep in mind that most kids will talk in their own timeframe. A few weeks ago, she finally started really vocalizing and it was a huge relief. I can only imagine the terror and worry that your friend is keeping inside.

We have some good friends whose son has some sensory issues, is unable to calm himself down, reacts to noises, etc. While I know Jen mentioned autism as a possibility, I perhaps wonder if it might be a sensory disorder, or one in combination with the other.

Either way, I'm sorry to hear of his (and her) troubles. May they get the help they need, sooner rather than later.

Kudos to you and your big boy too--I've no doubt that the time together meant a lot to your friend.
I work at a school for kids with learning disabilities, and one of my sons has sensory issues. I think your friend needs additional evaluations, either from EI or a private agency if EI is not coming through. EI sometimes uses a psych eval to determine PDD (whether he's on the spectrum). Aside from that, she should probably take him to her ped. and get a referral for a neurologist, who can also look into spectrum possibilities. Further, taking him to a developmental pediatrician specifically would help. They look for sensory disorders and pdd too.
From what you describe, it sounds like he's somewhere on the spectrum rather than an isolated sensory problem (because he does not seem to "connect"), but there are so, so many reasons that kids behave in these manners, and it's important to pin down the specifics without assuming too much. Also, like Jen said, the sooner the better has never been truer. With some conditions, therapies at this age actually change the *hardware* of the brain for the better! If there is one thing I'd tell your friend, it's to be pushy pushy pushy with EI and NOT take no for an answer, and to go outside of EI in the meantime if she has to.

   Thursday, January 24, 2008  

Questions of Faith

I was raised in a fairly typical midwestern family.  My parents divorced when I was young and my mom left the Catholic church as a result -- not so much because her beliefs changed.  Her leaving the church had more to do with her request for counseling from the parish priest being denied.  Her husband had physically abused her and was leaving her with two young children.  And the priest told her that his friendship with her husband (my dad) prevented him from being objective and from fully believing her account of things.

I was baptized Catholic, but never received first communion.  And I'm fine with that.  I went to protestant churches but felt most at home in those that were non-denominational.  I attended an evangelical Christian college.  My religious beliefs are something very personal and very dearly held.

Mr. W came from an interesting family.  His mom was raised Catholic.  And then she met his father, a Jewish man.  His family required that she convert in order to marry their son.  Since she didn't really feel strongly about her own faith, she saw no problem in this.  Mr. W's Jewish grandparents also insisted that he go to Hebrew school and have a bar mitzvah.  They celebrated Jewish holidays in the homes of his grandparents, aunts and uncles (rarely their own) and Christian holidays with his maternal grandparents.

Mr. W always believed in the existence of Christ as more than just a man.  Of course, he also thought that in order to be of any faith major classes were required.  And then we started dating and he asked about my beliefs and how it worked.  I told him what I believed -- remarkably similar to what he, himself believed -- and explained the sinner's prayer.

We've finally found a church we both like.  We celebrate only Christian holidays.

But, as I've been accused of by his family (maybe because of), I do feel like there is an element of Mr. W's culture and that of my son, that is lacking.  I feel that we do need to address their Jewish heritage in some way.

Specifically, I feel that my son should be raised with some Jewish traditions.  That we should be celebrating some of the holidays as they are the foundation that our faith springs from.  I don't quite understand why Christians have stopped celebrating some of the holidays and haven't been able to find an adequate answer in any of the things that I've read.  Of course, some of the holidays are not things that one can celebrate as a Christian (Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah come to mind as Christ's death is the atonement for our sins and therefore negates the need for us to atone).

Wondering if anyone can give me any input as to how this can be done in a Christian family -- the recognition of both the familial Jewish heritage as well as the Jewish heritage of our faith.  Even if we decide not to celebrate the Jewish holidays as a family, I'd like input on how I can teach my son about them and about how they differ from our faith as Christians.  This is extremely important to me as I do not want my son to be completely confused at family functions.  I also want him to have a more complete understanding of his (much hoped-for) faith in Christ than I did prior to attending college.  Thoughts?

   [ posted  @ 2:58 PM ] [ Post a Comment ] [ View Comments (1) ]
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You may find the Jews for Jesus organization to be of help here.

   Tuesday, January 22, 2008  

Feeling like a heel

This morning a friend was IM'ing me wanting to get our kids together to play.  Her son is one day older than the lowercase.  But I sort of ignored her plea to get together today.  (In my defense, I did offer to take them to the children's museum tomorrow morning)

And there is a reason for it.  A reason that I'm rather ashamed of.  Her son is...off.  I thought it when they were babies.  There was just something about him, but of course all his mother saw was her baby -- the child who she loved more than anything and who was, to her, nothing short of perfection.  Pretty much the way we all view our babies.  But I wasn't the only one who noticed it.  Mr. W asked if this boy was alright...my parents thought something was off...another NICU mom friend met them and asked if he was ok...her mother asked.  It was pretty obvious, yet nobody could really figure it out.  We all just said it was something about his eyes and the way that he reacted to other people, to sounds, etc.  I was always concerned that he didn't care who was holding him...that in his mother's arms in a room full of strangers he would reach out to complete strangers.  (It wasn't that accidental reaching out to a stranger and then realizing it isn't someone you know, either)

When they turned 2 in the fall, her son still wasn't talking.  She kept saying that it was normal for some kids not to talk until they were three and that she wasn't worried.  And every time she brought that up, I told her that it doesn't have to mean something bad but that it is NOT normal.  I offered her the number for our county's early intervention office every time.  And then one day she took it.  And called. 

Her son has had a speech and special ed evaluation and they have determined that he is in need of both services.  However, they didn't do a full-scale evaluation at that time -- some case workers have changed and she's still waiting for the OT and PT evals.  They stopped short of labeling him autistic; he is, in their opinion, definitely on the spectrum.  They are on a waiting list to see a doctor for an official diagnosis.

And so I tend to avoid them somewhat.  Not because I'm afraid of being around them or of saying the wrong thing.  My lowercase is very verbally advanced.  He gets frustrated with my friend's son because he can't answer his questions.  Her son also has different sensitivities to touch (most markedly, he doesn't process pain correctly) and so his play is much different than the lowercase.  Her friend is sort of the proverbial bull in the china shop.  He just rolls right over everything in his path.  And that disturbs the lowercase.  He tells me he doesn't like that boy after they leave our house.  He doesn't like to have him play with his toys. 

And I just don't know what to say and how to handle that part...how do I explain to a two year old who is still discovering his own environment, what he can do on his own and how he can influence the world around him that he needs to be sensitive to another child?  And how do I deal with the fact that her child is more than 10 pounds heavier than my little boy...that his version of hugging looks (and feels) like strangulation?  And that the rest of his play is just as rough? Lately it's been that her son does whatever he wants and my child has to just suck it up and be the one to be upset.  (Her son's issues are such that he is, as yet, unable to follow verbal commands.)

I know on some level I should talk to her about it, but I don't know what to say.  She's a bit of a flake, and always has been.  Generally, our friends (and even her husband has admitted to feeling this way) view her as a small doses person.  So I'm sure that has something to do with it.  She's not someone that I feel I could easily have a discussion with about this -- at least not to any real resolution.

And of course she told me today that I'm one of the only people she can really vent to about her son's issues.  Her husband refuses to believe that there is anything wrong at all.  Others tell her he's just too strong-willed and that she should have stronger discipline tactics with him.  And I do get that when your child veers from the norm, others see fit to tell you that you are doing something wrong.  I felt that keenly with a lot of things that I did in the first year of life with a preemie.  (I was told that I was overly neurotic for asking people to wash hands before touching him, for not going out in public, that I was being too caught up in his feedings and worrying too much despite his tiny stature)  So I understand that side of it.  And I want to be there for her.  I just don't know how to do it for all of the reasons that I've mentioned.

What would you do?

   [ posted  @ 6:05 PM ] [ Post a Comment ] [ View Comments (3) ]
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Wow - that is tricky. But my gut says that it would be good for all of you if you could find a way to spend some time with them. The lowercase will learn tolerance and to be friends with all kinds of people, the mom won't feel so isolated, you won't have to feel like a heel, and your friend's son, of course, may benefit the most. I wonder if you all FOUR played together, with both moms actively involved you might be able to tone down some of the physicality and other issues you mentioned. Also perhaps if you meet in places like children's museums, open gyms (if you have them), playgrounds when it's nicer, there would be a lot of opportunities for gross motor stuff and parallel play which might help, too?

I totally get wanting to protect the lowercase, but that mom and her son need you guys so much! And it's much easier to TYPE all of this than to DO it, I know. But I hope that's what I'd do.
Um, what Jen said, yes.

I'd extrapolate more but really, I think she summed it up completely.

Of course, I say this but don't know how easy it would be do actually go through with it. Very hard is my guess.

Good luck with your decision, and the playdate, if you opt to go that route.
I hope you do get to spend time with them, and here's why.

My Max was that same way, about 8 months ago. Everywhere we'd go, he seemingly acted out. We'd get stares and rumblings under breath and sympathetic, yet annoyed, glances in our direction. But, it wasn't because he's a bad kid, he just needed some help.

We did much the same, had our local Birth to Three agency come in and evaluate Max, through which they discovered a speech production deficiency, and other minor developmental issues. He's been working with a speech therapist bi-weekly for almost 7 months now, and he's a different kid.

Now, he's calm. And happy!! And processes almost all things well and healthily. Jen hit the nail on the head...just try and spend sometime together. Keep an open line of communication with the Mom, keep your eyes open for anything that might put the lowercase in a situation he's not comfortable with, but most of all, if you can, just be patient. Likely, if he gets the help he needs, he'll be a success story just like Max.

Good luck, sweetie. I hope all is well with you!!!

   Sunday, January 20, 2008  


I've mentioned several times that I'm not the world's greatest housewife.  I hate to clean.  I don't like to cook on a regular basis -- I love to cook, I just don't like cooking the types of foods you would eat daily.  Or maybe it's that I can't plan more than a day ahead what I would like to eat the next day and therefore rarely have the ingredients to make what I want.  So we go to the grocery store several evenings a week and usually eat dinner there that evening.

Over the last year, our local grocery store installed various bars throughout the store.  Near the fish counter, they have a seafood bar.  Chefs work the counter and freshly prepare your food while you sit (at a granite bar...in the middle of the store...it seemed so odd until we started eating there).  They explain to you what they put in each dish and will tell you in what aisles you can get the ingredients they are using.  Near the butcher's counter, they have a meat counter and in the middle of the produce is my favorite:  the vegetarian bar.

The vegetarian bar takes a macrobiotic approach and fully labels everything to let you know if it is vegan or if it contains dairy.  The recipes are all from Julie Jordan and are truly excellent.  They freely give out recipes and sell one of her cookbooks (A Taste of Julie Jordan: 100 Vegetarian Classics) so that you can make any of it at home.

And since I don't have anything of importance to say just yet, I give you my favorite salad dressing.  At the grocery store, they call it "tofu tahini" but Julie's book titles it Steve's Tofu dressing.  Regardless of title, it's incredibly creamy, slightly nutty and salty and contains the best of the Asian flavors as far as I'm concerned. Enjoy!

1/2 c crumbled tofu
1/4 c water
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp light vegetable oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp dried dill weed (or 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh dill)
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Toss it all in the blender and blend until smooth.

(This goes great on Julie Jordan's Wings of Life Salad -- recipe to follow shortly.)

   [ posted  @ 6:33 PM ] [ Post a Comment ] [ View Comments (1) ]
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I luuuuuuuurve Julie Jordan and the Wings of Life salad. I contemplate stealing the Cabbagetown Cafe cookbook everytime I go to my MIL's. I got to eat at Cabbagetown a few times while I was in college. Sadly gone now. I might try that dressing but I am VERY attached to the original killer garlic dressing.

And I am so jealous of you with easy access to Weggies.

   Thursday, January 10, 2008  

The In-laws are Coming!

I wonder if a steady diet of chocolate will be able to make this weekend more pleasant.

My in-laws are arriving tomorrow (Friday) and will be here through Sunday.  This could make for a really interesting weekend.

   [ posted  @ 7:33 PM ] [ Post a Comment ] [ View Comments (6) ]
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If you could fill the chocolates with Valium and feed them to the in-laws... now THAT might be interesting. *hehe*
A steady diet of wine usually make my in-laws much easier to take. ;-)

Good luck!
May the force be with you or at least supply you with good drugs:-D
Sorry. Nothing helps when My IL's arrive. Actually I had a nightmare recently where I punched my MIL in teh face and it felt so good I repeated it... several times. You are not a lone in IL hell.
This has nothing to do with your post, but I followed a comment you left on Zoot, and aren't those middle of the night bladder kicks wonderful? haha. They are the one thing that has me actually thinking of ending the co-sleeping. (Not that it will happen)
So how did it go? Did you emerge unscathed?

Hope so :-)

   Friday, January 04, 2008  

Under the Sea

The lowercase and I were home this week, alone and sick.  I saw a lot of this room and realized that I never followed through and showed the pictures of the lowercase's bathroom after I finished painting.

Initially, I was going to stencil seaweed on the wall but found that the stencils didn't work as well as I had hoped.  It was, obviously, a large stencil that just didn't work well.  I transferred it to poster board, used a razor to cut out the stencil and then just loosely held it against the wall and traced it with a pencil.  However, I didn't like the look the stencil gave on it's own, so when I got out the artist brushes, I sort of painted them freehand -- the stencils became nothing more than a very rough guideline for size and placement.

The curtain was just a remnant I bought at the fabric store and ironed a seam in with fusable tape.  All in all, I think it turned out to be rather fabulous.  At any rate, I am impressed with myself.

And one last thing -- I still haven't been able to frame the painting I did in college for over the towel bar.  Anyone have any clue where I can find a cheap 12x18 frame, preferably in the same color range as the frames on the Rainbow Fish prints I bought at Target?

100_2352 View from the hallway

100_2348 Looking out

100_2349 The vanity.  Note the stuffed turtle from Finding Nemo beside the kleenex -- The lowercase insists that it be in the bathroom.100_2347

100_2346 100_2351 100_2350

   [ posted  @ 7:34 PM ] [ Post a Comment ] [ View Comments (1) ]
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   Thursday, January 03, 2008  

My dirty little secret

I am 30 and I am obsessed with Degrassi: The Next Generation.

I could try to excuse it by explaining that I watched the original series (in both its junior high and high school series).  But I won't.

Because damn it, that's good TV!

   [ posted  @ 12:52 AM ] [ Post a Comment ] [ View Comments (1) ]
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I'm the same age as you. I don't care for NG though, I like the originals.

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