Somewhere over the Rainbow bridge

Custard crossed the Rainbow bridge.  She was one of our pet chickens, and she passed away last night.  Darren found her this morning at the bottom of the stairs of the coop, body all stiff from rigor mortis.   We speculate that she died during the early night.  She was a little over 1 year old.  It was unexpected, but then, isn’t it usually?  We don’t know what the cause is, but some chickens just die young.  (I’ve read this fact from multiple, chicken-owning bloggers.)  It could have been health, or maybe she got scared-to-death.  She doesn’t look hurt, so we doubt she fell and broke her neck.  Whatever the reason, it’s still sad.  We’ll miss her curious, but shy way.  She was one of our white, Silkies, so now we have 4 chickens: two Easter Eggers, one, black Silkie Bantam, and one, white Silkie Bantam.

I’d post a cute, picture of her during her life, but my blog picture posting capability has been broken for almost 3 years.  The hubby was working on it, but one of the downsides of being married to a programmer is that when he gets home from work that’s the last thing he wants to do more of, so it usually falls to the bottom of the “honey-do” list.
The best I can do is link you to the chickens Facebook album, so you can see Custard with the flock.  http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150893452650106&set=a.10150677458695106.701787.744850105&type=3&theater

 

R.I.P.  Sweet, Custard the chicken.  We thank you for your companionship, and for the daily eggs.  We will especially miss your super-long/over-sized eggs.  They were definitely a treat!  :)


You Win!

A few minutes ago I unlocked some features for the kiddo on one of his ipad apps (i.e. I made an in-app purchase).

No real reason.   I just felt like it, and it wasn’t too pricey.   I was rewarded with the BEST reaction from him.

Micah:  (while looking at the screen),  “You WIN!”   Then, he look at me (yes, eye-to-eye!)  and said, “Thank You, Momma!”  Then, he gave me a kiss.

Oh man, I’m done for.  :P

#thiskidmeltsmyheart

#winner,winner,chickendinner

 

 

 


A Heart-to-Heart talk

Dear Heart,

I’m on to you.

You may think you’re sly, but we’ve been at this for far too long for me not to notice the SIGNS of AN IMPENDING ATTACK.  I used to be caught off-guard when you would suddenly speed-up without warning and go racing for what seemed like hours (and twice really was), but no more.  I now sense the stress mounting as it builds within my chest.  I may not have the ability to reverse or halt a P.A.T.  (paroxysmal atrial tachycardia) episode once the warning signs are present, but I have learned some tricks of my own to lessen the intensity & duration of one.

I don’t know why you can’t be a little more cooperative…I mean, this isn’t a competition or anything.  AND, we ARE sharing the same body.

Better shape up and quit this nonsense because one day, whether through medicine, jedi training, miraculous healing, or sheer determination, I will put a stop to all your shenanigans.

Then, like Candace from Phineas & Ferb says, your mischief will be “SO BUSTED!”

******************    Respectfully, The Steward (of this body)

______________________________________________________

Paroxysmal Atrial Tachycardia: Though seldom life-threatening, paroxysmal atrial tachycardia produces annoying symptoms
which can include lightheadedness, chest pain, palpitations, anxiety, sweating, and shortness of breath.

 


Dear Child of Mine,

It was a year ago today that I discovered that the path God had for your life was so different from what I had dreamed of… this angered and terrified me – all at the same time.

Though it took five more months to confirm (through official channels) the identity of your challenging nemesis, I did not need that.  I knew from that moment what would be revealed.   I knew it’s name – and the myth & horror that it carried along with it.  …But, no more could I see what lay ahead – the path I dreamed of had all but disappeared…

I resented the “parents” who haphazardly approach their roles, not caring or even trying, mostly annoyed at this “burden”  upon them.  They care only for their own desires, constantly complaining about their kids.      How is it that their children are fine, yet you, so young, are faced with so many trials?  How?

I did all I could.  I followed the rules; I didn’t cheat.  Ate none of the wrong foods.  Followed the doctor’s orders to a T.  It wasn’t easy (it never is), but I knew I was doing right.   I tried to take control, be responsible, but in the end I felt I failed you.  That somehow, somewhere, there was something more I should have done…

To not be in control was so hard for me…it’s all I knew/ what I did.  I organized the chaos and put things in order.  My job was organizing, managing, delegating Everything – down to the colored-coded  file tabs.  It was so hard not to have control.   ….I so wanted to be.

This thing that was happening was as much about me as it was about you.  We both had so much relearning to do – you in therapy, and mine in my heart.  You had physically lost your words and your way, but I needed to metaphorically lose them too, in order to start my new path of healing.  Needed to TRUST, instead of to SEE.  Need to have FAITH, instead of a WELL LAID-OUT PLAN.  Needed PEACE while surrounded by FEAR.    Little by little I learned to let go and let God – trusting in His wisdom and his plan for you.

Today is so different from a year ago…So much has changed.  Everyday I see more how your differences make you Special – How your Uniqueness is needed by this world. (It was needed by me.)   I don’t know, nor can I see what lies ahead, but no longer do I have to.  I Trust, knowing you are in His capable hands – and that God has a plan and a path for you.  It may not be what I dreamed, imagined, or wanted, but it is the Best plan, tailor-made just for you.

“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”  – Ecclesiastes 11:5

—————————————————————————–

 

“Dear Child of Mine,

I love you! (John 15:4)

I have called you by name. (Isaiah 43:1)

You are mine. Before I formed you. I knew YOU. And before you were born,

I consecrated you (Jeremiah 1:15)

You did not choose me, I have chosen YOU. (John 15:16)

Because you are precious to me and honored, I love you. (Isaiah 43:4)

I have loved you with an everlasting love, so I continue to show my

constant love. (Jeremiah 31:3)

How can I abandon you? My love for you is too strong. (Hosea 11:8)

Can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Yet Even

should she forget, I can never forget you. See, I have carved you on the

palm of my hand (Isaiah 49:15-16)

For I, the Lord your God, am holding you by the right hand. (Isaiah 41:13)

Do not be afraid. I have redeemed you. (Isaiah 43:1)

I am with you. (Isaiah 43:5)

And be sure of this, I am with you ALWAYS until the end of the world.

(Matthew 28:20)

Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in me (John 14:1)

I will help you. (Isaiah 41:4)

When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you. Your troubles will

not overwhelm you.

The hard trial that comes will not hurt you (Isaiah 43:2)

Do not worry. (Luke 12:9)

Even the hairs of your head have been numbered, so there is no need to be

afraid of anything. (Matthew 10:30)

The mountains may depart and the hills be shaken, but my steadfast love for

you will never end. (John 54:10)

Come, I will lead you into solitude and there, I will speak tenderly to

your heart. I will be true and faithful. I will show you constant love,

and make you mine forever, I will keep my promise and you will really know

me than as never before. (Hosea 1:14: 19-20)

I am who I am. (Exodus 3:14)

I am the Lord, your God. (Hosea 13,14)

THE FAITHFUL GOD. (Deuteronomy 7:9)”   

-borrowed and adapted from Dear Child of Mine – poem

 
 


Won’t YOU be my Neighbor?

The term community has two distinct meanings: 1) A group of interacting people, living in some proximity (i.e., in space, time, or relationship). Community usually refers to a social unit larger than a household that shares common values and has social cohesion. The term can also refer to the national community or international community, and, 2) in biology a community is a group of interacting, living organisms sharing a populated environment.  A community is a group or society, helping each other. 

Today I could have used any of these definitions.  I really needed a community…but, there was none to be found.

I don’t know why we, as humans, struggle so much with this concept.  We see insects, plants, and animals that form thriving communities, yet people fail at this over and over.  Why is it that lower life forms can out-master us in this arena??

I don’t know how to fix this.  “It’s easy to talk about “community” only in shallow and positive terms—how helpful it is in promoting growth, teamwork, and so on.”  We just aren’t very good at putting these words into practice.  It’s like we’re all in a play.  We know our lines and stage movements, but when the lights come up and the music starts, we get stage fright.  We choke up and leave the other players hanging, trying to improvise their way out of a scene that is tanking…tanking REAL bad.

I Soooo felt like that today.  I was the one left hanging.  Actually, Micah AND me were left hanging in a train-wreck of a scene.

How did this play out? (ha-ha, I made a pun)

Let me take you back to the beginning…..

Tuesday.  This is our one day off from his therapy schedule for his autism.  I use it mostly to run errands & do chores.  Today we needed to drop off paperwork at  SD Regional Center for Micah, and then make copies, & send out an important letter for me.    We finished dropping off the paperwork for Micah, but I could tell that the kiddo was already having a tough day.  He was acting over-tired and stressed out.  Probably having a bit of teething pain too.   He was already cranky & acting frustrated with everything he encountered.  This was my warning sign, but I figured that he just wanted to nap earlier than usual.

He did fall asleep just as I pulled up to the UPS store.  I decided I would not just drive home and put him to bed.  This was my one day to get stuff done, and I just needed to accomplish this ONE, Small task… then we could go home.  With my mind made up, I decided it would be easier to put him in the stroller, rather than wake him up…except, the kiddo awoke as I was lying him down in the stroller.  We struggled for a minute over whether he wanted to stay in the stroller or walk with me.  The verdict was to stay in the stroller.  This changed when we set foot in the store and he saw the train table.  He jumped out of the stroller to go play.  The train table is usually a lifesaver.  It keeps the kiddo occupied & happily playing while I do my business.  …Not Today.

When Micah is hurting and/or overtired or overstimulated EVERYTHING frustrates him.  EVERYTHING.  Including things he usually enjoys.  The train table became my kid’s enemy.  If the train fell off the track, he would cry.  If he could get it to move properly, he would cry….etc.  The crying and frustration started to escalate.  I would stop making copies every few seconds and come over to try and help.  Twice, I took him away from the table and held him to try and calm him, but nothing worked.  I could tell this was going downhill REAL FAST.  I tried to work faster, but Micah’s frustration level was quicker than me.  It was going to win this round.  I thought about leaving, but I hadn’t paid for my services yet, so I figured perhaps it would be easier to just keep trudging through until I was finished.  I only needed 1 minute of non-interruption.

By now, we had the WHOLE store’s attention: the 2 clerks, the UPS delivery man, the lady at the counter, a man in the back on his cell phone, and a business man that was sitting inches from the train table waiting for someone.  ….Then it happened.  Micah had a COMPLETE MELTDOWN.  I’m talking about a: throw yourself on the ground, banging your head, slapping your face, screaming/crying meltdown.  I tried desperately to keep him from hitting his head.  I knew that I couldn’t stop the meltdown at this point, but the headbanging-form-of-self injury still upsets and freaks me out.  I try to soften the blow so he’s only hitting my hands, not the floor.  (Even after hearing from adolescents or adults with autism about why they head-bang, I still find this a difficult behavior to deal with.  If I could get rid of one thing about autism it would be the self-injury.)

Micah hasn’t had many meltdowns, so when he does it still catches me unprepared.  I’m not as good at reading the warning signs as I am with other behaviors or problems.  While this interaction was happening, I desperately wanted to leave the store, but still was aware that I hadn’t paid for my purchases yet.  I was starting to feel desperate, not knowing what the best course of action was…how was I going to pay & get my child calmed enough to remove him from the situation??  I really wanted help, but I was alone, in a room surrounded by onlookers.  Most of them (aside from a few under-the-breathe comments) acted like they didn’t see what was going on…most of them, EXCEPT the man sitting near the table.   He snidely chuckled to himself  and shook his head in rude, disappointment of this “unruly” child and mother who couldn’t discipline him.  ( I was proud of myself for not lashing out at this man for mocking my child.   Though, I  really wanted to punch him & scream at him.  I didn’t do this, but I SURE wanted to.)

This is where I want to stop my story and interject my comments about community.

Is this real-life situation, Micah and me were lacking a community.  We had become actors in this drama, while those around us became an audience (plus one jester), watching the scene unfold.  No one stepped in.  No one interacted with us.  This is all too often how it plays out.  It doesn’t have to always be this exact scene with a special needs child.   It can be any number of situations.   More often than not, we just stand there, pretending not to look, but straining to see – like driving by a crash on the freeway.

Can I give you my feelings on this?  From someone on the other side of all the onlookers – when the events are taking place, what that person wants is some HELP.  We want, No, we NEED for someone to step-up and offer assistance.  Would you stand by while someone is drowning and just watch?  No, not likely.  You would at the very least call the lifeguard over.  Why then do we let others “drown” in  difficult situations?  Are we too afraid to act?  Embarrassed that they won’t want help?  Well, what’s the worse that can happen – that they will tell you they don’t want help…that doesn’t seem THAT awful, now does it?  I think I can risk a tiny bit of rejection for my fellow neighbor…especially when the alternative is letting them drown.

At the store I DID manage to pull my screaming child into my arms and wrestle with him, while he struggled through his meltdown.  I patiently waited to pay for my services, all the while I never made eye contact with anyone, but the store clerk.  I desperately wished someone HAD asked to help.  I would had gladly accepted the assistance of someone helping me get my wallet from my purse, so I could pay, OR even offering to pay my $1.51 bill, so I could just leave.

That didn’t happen for us because we’ve become too much of an audience and less of a community of people, but I write today so that maybe next time someone will step up to help that individual with desperation in his or her eyes.

I’m pretty sure we were the “Talk of the Town” after we left, with all sort of assumptions of what happened, but I didn’t need a performance review.  I just needed a friendly neighbor and a helping hand.

Today, I challenge you to move past the “stage fright”.   Step out and take a risk to be someone else’s community.   Help someone know they are not alone :)

 

 


Can I get a Do-over, please?

Lost my cool yesterday, just for second (but that’s all it takes).  Not that I never have had that happen before.   It was just one of THOSE days, but I wish the little things wouldn’t bother me.  I wish I could always be above them and I could walk around uninfluenced by stupid or mean remarks, but I am FAR from perfect, so I can snap when you push my buttons too many times.

We went to the county fair.  The hubby was volunteering to work the floor in the Woodworking building and had a 3-hour shift, so that meant Micah and me would wander the fair…. Alone.  For 3 hours….  The fair environment is a rather overstimulating place with all the lights, visuals, noises, smells, & people mingling and merging together.  Multiple that by 100, and put all that stimuli  into the brain of a 2-year old with autism and you can imagine how the fair feels to Micah.

 

With that in mind, (and also remembering how last year I tried to juggle a running away toddler AND hold onto the stroller for 2 hours) I had a plan:  Last year I found on the infield area a permanent, playground structure & picnic area.  It was heaven for us!   It was a quiet enough area, away from all the blaring sounds & stimuli, but still allowing my kid to run around, get out some energy/de-stress a little …and to PLAY:)     I was so happy to find this tiny refuge.  I marked this down in my memory logs, and was determined to utilize this place again the following year.
Problem is, it no longer existed.  We went to where the playground was, and….the fair tore it down to put up a zip-line attraction.  :(       Money always comes first for these places.  Why have a free playground when they can utilize the space with a profit-making ride?  Makes sense for them, but it was a loss for us.  I was counting on this area to help Micah and me tide-the-time till daddy was done with his shift.

My only back-up plan was the ipad.  I brought it to entertain Micah while I browsed through the the different vendors in the halls.  The ipad is a lifesaver. It really is!  Micah likes it.  He will sit STILL in the stroller, transfixed by all the apps, just playing them happily for quite a while.   By focusing on the ipad, he can block out all of the overstimulating stimuli surrounding him.  He can focus just on what is in front of him.    It helps Micah by lengthening the time he can be in this type of environment before he becomes overstimulated, or worse too the point of a meltdown.   I hate to say it, but it’s also one of the few things that will also keep my kid in the stroller (and not running away) every time he sees something interesting, which for him is every 10 seconds.    The other two that can keep him in the stroller are food and sleep.

So, I gave Micah the ipad and we started our journey of killing 3 hours of free time.

It went pretty smooth.  Micah played happily while I pushed him around the exhibits and vendors.  He was also missing his nap this day, so I worried a little that that might push him quicker into over-stimulation, but he seemed to not even notice what was going on outside the stroller.

I did notice what was going on all around us.  I’m pretty observant, more than most people, and it served me well in my career days of Recruiter, HR/Payroll, and Admin Assistant to a research doctor.  Today it was my enemy.  Today I was noticing THE LOOKS and the under-your-breath comments.  Most of the time was pleasant, but as we would pass people some of them would notice Micah in his stroller playing the ipad.  That would follow with a disapproving look and sometimes a comment to whomever the individual was with about how kids nowadays get electronics to entertain themselves.   A few people thought it was a good idea, especially if they were parents themselves, but it was unbelievable the number of elderly individuals that looked at me and mumbled as I walked by as if I were wearing a Parenting Scarlet Letter!

I tried to ignore these people and kept reminding myself that they didn’t know, and it’s natural to judge – we all do it (even if we shouldn’t).  I got by most of the time with this strategy,  but hit my limit of remarks in the gemological showcase area.  Two, elderly women, who were running an exhibit for kids to play with caught a glimpse of Micah and his ipad, and had to say something.  Not quietly either.  They said for all to hear, “Kids nowadays! Playing with all these electronics,… ipads…before they’re even 2.” “Geez!”    I snapped & shouted back, “He has autism & the ipad helps him.”  “It keeps him calm.”    They changed their tune after my remarks and agreed that it was a useful tool & that he was soo smart (though that wasn’t relevant to the topic), but it angered me that I had defended my parenting to someone, that I had to justify what choice I had made,… AND that it was alright once they learned why.    Had Micah not have autism would it still be unacceptable?  Probably yes.

I was disappointed that I got angry and snapped.  I was also disappointed that we are so critical and judging of others.  When will we learn?

We could be a much better community if we just learned to be supportive, not assume, and not being critical when others do things differently from us. Tomorrow’s a new day.  A day to start over.  Let’s try to look for opportunities instead of criticizing, and to educate instead of defending.  I’m not perfect, but I’m gonna try to do better.  I want my kid to be part of that world, a world where we can rise above and care & support.

Here’s to do-overs!  Serving it back at ya.  :)

 

“Judge not, and you will not be judged…”  – Luke 6:37a

 

“Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that the works of God might be revealed in him.” – John 9:3


Hugs & Kisses, XOXO

I love puppets, always have.  There is just something magical about fabric that is created into a doll or figure of a person or creature that is moved by strings attached to its limbs, or by a hand inserted in its cloth body.  Some of my most favorite puppets are the famously, world-renown Muppets® that were characters on best-loved TV shows from my childhood.
The magic of puppets is in our special talent as humans to use imagination to disconnect the reality of what we know & see, that a person is manipulating the doll with their hand and using their voice to speak for the puppet, and replace that notion with the AWE of fantasy & creativity that allows the doll to become alive, to be an individual as real as you or I.  Our imagination becomes a bridge between fantasy & reality and allows us to suspend the disbelief long enough to overlook the implausibility of the narrative.
Children are very good at doing just this.  Their innocence & lack of understanding of how the world works allows them to not be too critical of “flaws” of a non-realistic nature in characters or storylines.  This lets them receive maximum fulfillment from the imaginary interaction, as it is essential for the enjoyment of fiction to be able to achieve this state of mind.  As adults we tend to suppress this ability and lose this level of enjoyment, if we don’t relax our rigid standards of reality, to take a break & allow our imaginations free every once in a while.
Unfortunately, many children on the autism spectrum are not as developed at doing pretend play as well as neuro-typical children can.  Imaginary play seems to draw a lot of our social skills, and obviously, that is where the greatest challenge for Autistics dwells.  Many therapies deal with teaching, or encouraging pretend play skills for those with autism.  The imagination is there, it just needs help to be brought out and to be cultivated.

Why am I sharing this?  Because of a milestone.  Because of how a puppet & imagination helped my toddler to connect and to grow.  Because he overcame an obstacle that had trapped him physically/mentally with the help from some fleece material shaped like a doll, and stuck on a hand.   It is an awesome accomplishment. I am proud of him for reaching it, and I gotta shout it!

.
Life can be very challenging (if it weren’t I think it would be quite boring).  We all have obstacles in our paths, but we can overcome them.  I see life’s challenges as learning tools.  They can push us to grow & stretch ourselves, and though we may not always physically beat them while we are here on earth, we can “overcome” them with the correct focus/mindset. We CAN learn from everything, even our limitations, as long as we have the right foundation.

“The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”  -Bible, Matthew 7:25

With every obstacle we push through or every challenge we take on, we become stronger and more prepared for the next one. Being afraid to try is the only failure, not the falling down (as long as we get back up).  A very, good quote from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, reminds me how we should approach things that seem too hard to accomplish:

“There is no use trying,” said Alice; “one can’t believe impossible things.”  “I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen.  “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day.  Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.“

So…I share because seeing each other’s accomplishments should encourage us with our own.   It should spur us on. Helps us to not give-up or give in to defeat.  Remember, the storms in life aren’t always about you.  Sometimes it’s to teach you/prepare you for the future, so you can walk alongside another that is dealing with that trauma in their life.

.
I don’t know how you personally feel about physical touch, whether you’re reserved with it or whether you consider yourself a touchy-feely person, but for  parents that have a child that either can’t or won’t accept or give physical affection, it is heartbreaking for them to experience this.   Think about never getting cuddles from your child, rarely to never getting a bedtime kiss, a good-bye hug, or a tender touch…this is reality for many parents of children that are sensitive to touch.   There are several disorders that have features of touch sensitivity, including Autism, but there’s also a label for just this alone: Sensory Integration Disorder or more commonly referred to as Tactile Defensiveness or Touch Sensitivity.   Depending on the severity of sensitivity, some people learn how work past the painful or unpleasant touch experiences with therapy, while others it remains with them, intensely bothering them, their whole life.  For some, their tactile sensory system is not functioning properly. These people experience pain or distress from touch sensations that other people find non-threatening or even pleasant.  It is saddening to me that anyone experiences this, especially because so much personal bonding is done through touch.

The kiddo has always struggled with hugs & kisses. He is sensitive to certain types of touch, and even as a baby only wanted to be held a certain way.  His oral sensitivity is still a work in progress, but he’s making strides learning to work past the uneasy feeling.  What I want to tell you about is hugs.  Hugs, Uściski, Umarmung, Klem fra, Hibukim, Barrog; however you say it = Love.
Micah had never been a hugger.  It was difficult to impossible to give him a hug, with one exception, and that being when he was physically hurt or sick.   He would accept cuddles during this time without resistance.  All other times and the reaction would likely be: pulling away, pushing, maybe curling-in of his shoulders or stiffening of his body to indicate that he did not like, nor welcome a hug.   I was  fortunate enough to be graced with a hug here and there, but he favors me, so I was allowed leniency with his rules for touch.   Now, we tried to encourage hugs from him.   We would always ask for hugs, but most of the time it would be infatic “No.”

About a month ago, we had break time during a therapy session & I had picked up my Ernie® doll puppet and began to play with Micah.  He laughed & giggled at my silly voice (I sounded nothing like the real Ernie’s voice, btw.) and played with the puppet like it was a real being, and not just mom with a doll on her hand.   This interaction in itself was awesome because like I mentioned, imaginary play doesn’t come easy for the kiddo.  He is learning to develop this area in baby steps, and everyday we see growth.   At one point I realized that he was following the instructions that puppet Ernie was saying, and I thought I’d try and see how much he’d comply with, so as Ernie, I asked Micah to give the puppet a hug.   Without hesitation he reached out, opened his arms wide, and hugged Ernie soooo tight that the puppet almost came off my hand!  I was so happy I almost cried. My insides were definitely smiling.  I’m pretty sure I had been holding my breath waiting to see how he would react.  This caught me totally off-guard.  I glanced over at the astonished-looking therapist, who gave me the try-it-again look.  Was it a fluke?  Would Micah be open to more hugs?   We would only know by asking, so one more time as the Ernie puppet I asked Micah for a hug….and he complied.  :) My heart melted out of gladness. Had Micah reached a breakthrough?  Would he continue down this path or revert back??   After several more requests from puppet Ernie, I tried a big leap…as Ernie, I asked my child to give me (Mom) a hug.  He………………………..did it!
Not reluctantly either.  A full-on HUG!
I was elated!    That, folks, makes a good day.
I wish I had a video camera on for this moment.  The hubby would love to see this. It’s one of those moments were you wish you could freeze time and save it forever.
We celebrated his accomplishment with praise, but inside I indulged myself with a celebration for me too. I love hugs; been waiting for this for a while. I hugged the Ernie puppet myself and whisper a “Thank you” prayer to God.
We used the puppet for a few more tasks and the day moves on. I know this wasn’t Micah’s first accomplishment, nor will it be his last, but it’s my favorite so far.
Since then, Micah will give hugs on request & occasionally on his own. He doesn’t stiffen-up like he used to when receiving a hug either.  His hugs can be a little awkward/shallow, as it will take time for him to get fully comfortable with this touch, but sometimes you get a Big, Bear Hug…. and nothing is better than that!     :)      :)     :)

What about you?  Are you facing any challenges in life right now?  What have you overcome?

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. – Martin Luther King Jr

Cooking Around Your Toddler: 101

..

How to Cook with a toddler AROUND your Toddler: 101

I have a confession to make.  Okay, not much of a confession if you know me, so let’s just say I have a statement to make.  I enjoy food, good food.
I believe the term used for the type of person I am is technically a “foodie”, but I think that sometimes that sounds too pretentious.  Food doesn’t have to be fancy for me to enjoy it, quite the contrary, actually.  I don’t prefer fancy-schmancy food that famous chefs serve up & is beautiful as art, but couldn’t fill-up a mouse’s belly.  I want to be able to have more than just a teaspoon to taste (some exceptions do apply).  Home-cooked meals and cheap meals are often good food.  Don’t be mistaken though into thinking homemade qualifies as the only criteria to be considered “GOOD”. (Many homemade dishes should never be forced upon others.  bleh!)
Lots of foods can fall into my Good category.  It doesn’t have to be only one type.  It can be greasy, fair food; healthy, good-for-you food; sweets; herbs; meat; vegetables; liquid; solid; traditional food; non-traditional flavor combos too. It just has to be good tasting.  It would take to long to define what “good” means, so just believe me.  I have good taste & I like good food.

Before I had a child of my own, I used to regularly cook & bake home-cooked meals & treats.  I like trying dishes from all over the globe, experimenting, playing with new recipes, etc.. I would often try these out on my non-foodie husband (who actually would prefer to have the same, comfort foods every night, but instead he got stuck with a wife that tries to expand his food horizons).   I enjoy cake/pastry decorating too, so I would bake and decorate many (too many for 2 people) concoctions of the sweet influence for us to eat as well.

.
This all changed when I became pregnant with Micah.  While pregnant, food smelled and tasted bad. No longer did I want to partake in all the deliciousness that food had to offer.  :( This was hard for me, and I longed for those 9 months to be over.  
After Micah was born there was no time (or energy) for culinary fun.  I was recovering from a surgery that took 7 months of healing time, and I had a child that feed EVERY hour until he was one year old.  ( I kid you not! This is truth.  My child’s metabolism was SO FAST that he Needed to eat Every hour he was awake.)  I was exhausted all the time.  I’m pretty sure all I did was breastfeed, change diapers, and get my child to sleep (and somehow manage to do chores, go to playgroup and church).  After Micah turned one year I thought that I could squeeze in a little cooking time, but soon found this wasn’t easy, or realistic.  I ended up doing most of my cooking/baking at night, after the kid went to bed.  The problem with this is when you’re up past your bedtime trying to cook you tend to make mistakes because you’re sleepy.  Some of these dishes ended up in the trash can.   I tried to cook while Micah was awake, but many times he would need me just as I got to the critical point in a recipe, and the food would end up burnt, or worse!  :(
.
Now, some food enthusiasts or chefie-types out there may not understand how cooking with a toddler is so hard.  They manage to cook at home and their child never interferes (or actually helps them cook the meal).  They think it’s all about raising your child to be comfortable in the kitchen.  Well, this may work if your child has the right personality that fits perfectly to your lifestyle, but my child is a little more high-maintenance than that.   Believe me, I did try this approach. I got Micah a cute, kid-sized apron, I include him in the kitchen affairs of cooking, cleaning, and food selection as much as possible.  We also have a really, cool, tower/stool for him to stand on that allows him to be at counter height, so he can be involved.  I try to make cooking fun/interesting, & I showed Micah how to be comfortable in the kitchen…… But, he’s not ready for full-on immersion into the culinary world.  He gets bored after 5 minutes max, and then wants to play.  (What 2 year old doesn’t?)  I’m not completely poo-pooing this idea, I’m just saying it doesn’t work with all kids, or at all ages/stages.

Because of Micah’s non-verbalness ( I know,… it’s not a word.)  & the fact that I am his FAVORITE person right now, create a complex situation so I can’t cook in the kitchen while he plays in the other room either.  He wants me WITH him, playing WITH him, CONSTANTLY. If I try to steal away, he will come find me, take my hand, and lead me back to playing.  If I refuse, he will have a complete meltdown because he can’t understand this concept yet, and doesn’t know how to handle his frustration yet either.  (Hopefully both will be fixed with maturity, time, and ABA.)
So, I have finally started figuring out how we can work around this dilemma….

Micah’s favorite form of play is anything involving chase.  Whatever we are doing will likely end up a game of tag, no matter how unrelated to chase that the activity may have started out as.  So…INSTEAD of hopelessly fighting against the tide & ending up exhausted, upset, and with a burnt/messed-up meal, I had the idea to incorporate his playing chase into my cooking/baking process.
For example, If I’m cooking and Micah wants to play, but I’m supposed to be stirring constantly for a particular recipe, then I will give the dish a really good stir, then go chase my son & during the chase I will make a loop on my path back through to the kitchen to stir again.  I usually buy myself 20 secs of time on my loop back in before Micah would notice, so as long as I keep popping back out to continue the chase every few seconds or so then he is happy with the game and doesn’t get upset or try and pull me away from the kitchen.  This is also a really good way to incorporate a bit of exercise into my daily routine… plus, when the food is done I am really, ready to eat!  :)
So far, when I try this method of Run-Around Cooking, it works well enough that my dishes aren’t getting ruined, and our day/evening doesn’t end up getting ruined either. There are some dishes that I can’t use this for, but I can arrange to cook/bake those for  when the kiddo is sleeping.
I’m not giving up on the Cook-with-My-Child method either.  I will still do this with him, but when he’s had enough and wants to play instead, I will transition to the Run-Around method.  Simple, easy, and will save my dishes and my sanity.  I like that.

I still need to work out what to do for trying to cook around meltdowns or sickness, other than takeout, microwaving frozen meals, or eating instant Ramen. but I’m happy enough with this mini-step that we can save that to tackle for another day.

———————————————————————————————————

P.S. My comments should be working properly again.  Apparently, they went wacky & required people to have some weird log-in.
Sorry about that.


PLaY witH yOuR fOoD

Play with your food.
Yup, you heard right.  Micah’s Occupational therapist told me to encourage Micah to play with his food.  Kiss, touch, smash, cut-up, roll it around, push it through a tube, whatever he likes as long as he engages with his food.  (For those reading this that are new to our situation, we are going to OT because  he has oral sensitivities and food/texture issues.) Mind you, he doesn’t ACTUALLY have to eat it, only “engage” it.  Engaging sounds more like something we’d be doing while flying the USS Enterprise, rather than eating, but o-kay, she’s the boss.

Now, if you could have peeled back the layers of my mind & soul to see into my personality at that very moment you would have seen quite a split reaction:
The Choleric, organized, all-ducks-in-a-row part of my temperament was aghast with horror.  Covered it’s ears and ran away screaming “Noooooo!”, like someone had run her fingers across a chalkboard.  The Sanguine, happy-go-lucky part of me was totally thrilled and clapped it’s hands excitedly while expressing joyfully, “Yay! Fun with food.  Love the idea.”
Put the two together and the REAL me said out loud in response, “Oh, joy. …umm, that’ll be uhhh…fun.” “Can’t wait till we get to try this in a public setting.”
The therapist assured me that Micah won’t always think it’s okay to play with food.  He’ll eventually move on from this phase, but the choleric in me was still mulling over the messes I will have to clean up and how hard it was going to be to reinforce table-time manners, yada, yada, yada….. so, the rest of what she said sounded more like when the teacher on the Charlie Brown cartoon speaks to him.   ”whaa-whaa-whaa, whaa-whaa-whaa” was all I heard.

Pulling myself back to reality, we say our good-byes and I started to make a mental list of the foods, tableware & utensils I should get for Micah to try.
At this point, I should also mention that Micah’s new diet will now consist mainly of different types/flavors of cracker-type food.  We are going to focus on incorporating one change at a time, so we will focus on taste, not texture.  Because he already likes cracker-crunch texture I will introduce other types of flavors from foods that have a similar texture.  So, rice cakes, chips, pretzels, puffs, other crackers, etc… AND a fiber pill (my addition) to flush it all down with, so he won’t end up constipated.
Man, my kid is gonna love me for the next couple weeks! :)

I stand back and laugh at myself because there are many times that Micah’s therapies are harder for my mom-brain (choleric side) to accept than for my kid to deal with.  Micah’s totally onboard. He has no problem with being told to play with his food, but then again, he doesn’t have mommy-brain syndrome.  I give myself a stern talking to & tell myself not to be so anal-retentive.  I know the benefits of what we are doing; so what if it means making a mess?

…..I know that when I tell Darren tonight about our OT instructions, that he will not only think that it’s cool, but will do the “told-u-so dance” (okay, Darren won’t dance, but he will laugh), and point out that he wasn’t being a bad influence dunking cookies into milk in front of Micah (because I nagged him not to do that, so Micah wouldn’t copy). He was just ahead of himself, an OT Genius, practicing some therapy with Micah before we knew that it was considered therapy.
….I will sit back, relax, and let my sanguine side take the reins with this one and have a little fun while we help Micah adapt.  After all, it’s not playing with your food if it’s all rigid and rules.   Who knows, maybe all this food fun will cultivate my kid into a great food enthusiast and maybe the next, GREAT: Chef; Food Stylist; Farmer; Rancher; Baker; Sommelier; Charcutier; Event Planner; or Anthony Bourdain (minus the attitude)!     :)

Bring on the food.  It’s about to get messy.  Anyone up for a food fight?  I hear it’s great therapy.  LOL!

————————————————————————————————————–

For anyone that is scratching his/her head over the words I used to describe my  personality, here is one definition for the 2 words I used that form my temperament (I find that I’m a mishmash combination [Sanguine/Choleric] of these two.  And, yesssss I took a temperament/personality test years ago. That’s why I use these fancy-schmancy words.  I find it easier than listing off a bunch of adjectives that are incorporated under the definition of each one.) :

Sanguine
The sanguine temperament is fundamentally impulsive and pleasure-seeking; sanguine people are sociable and charismatic. They tend to enjoy social gatherings, making new friends and tend to be boisterous. They are usually quite creative and often daydream. However, some alone time is crucial for those of this temperament. Sanguine can also mean sensitive, compassionate and thoughtful. Sanguine personalities generally struggle with following tasks all the way through, are chronically late, and tend to be forgetful and sometimes a little sarcastic. Often, when they pursue a new hobby, they lose interest as soon as it ceases to be engaging or fun. They are very much people persons. They are talkative and not shy. Sanguines generally have an almost shameless nature, certain that what they are doing is right. They have no lack of confidence.

.

Choleric
The choleric temperament is fundamentally ambitious and leader-like. Capable of quick and accurate decisions based on facts rather than emotions.  Capable of carrying considerable responsibility, the people tend to have significant quantities of will-power. The complete the tasks they set out to accomplish.  They can dominate people of other temperaments, especially phlegmatic types. Many great charismatic military and political figures were choleric. They like to be in charge of everything. However, cholerics also tend to be either highly disorganized or highly organized. They do not have in-between setups, only one extreme to another.  Strengths of this temperament include openness, optimism, and an outgoing nature. However, the downside of this temperament can be an angry, rejecting behavior toward others.


Monster “A” verses Monster “B”…which would you choose?

One of the hardest internal conflicts for me to deal with as a mom is the dilemma of giving oral medication to my 2-year old son when he is sick.

What’s the big deal, you ask?

Well, let me explain it like this:  If you ever want to the “Cliff Notes” version of what it feels like to be a heartless monster (and not the cute, cuddly, Muppet type-of-monster), then I invite you to join me when I have to administer meds. for my son.  You’ll depart with full confidence that you can ace any Monster screening exam.

The reason for this is: My son is extremely sensitive to pain.  I’m talking EXTREMELY Sensitive!  His autism makes it hard for his 2-year old self to deal productively with it.  When he’s sick and/or in pain he can (and likely will) go into Full Meltdown mode.  He can’t focus on anything but the pain, including anything that will make him feel better.  It’s just PAIN, PAIN, PAIN!! …Which, leads to crying, screaming, and thrashing.  The pain overwhelms him. :(

Micah can’t be rationalized with (He is only 2, after all)!  And…from that moment on EVERYTHING upsets him.

If it’s a pain caused by something I can administer medicine for (i.e., teething, fever, cold, etc..) I am faced with the decision of whether to give him medicine or let him suffer in his meltdown, which could last all day…plus could get worse depending on what the cause is.

Why would I even consider not giving my child medicine if he needs it?

We’ll now introduce Player number Two into this story:  Meet Mr. Oral Sensitivity.

Micah’s oral sensitivity doesn’t just make him a picky eater, it means that other than Micah, NO ONE ELSE can give him ANYTHING by mouth (unless he approves), especially meds.   It bothers him traumatically, the same as for someone that suffers from a phobia.

We are trying to get him to administer his own medicines when they come in a chewable form, so that this process will go easier, but that isn’t so easy because like I said before, once the pain is so severe that that Micah needs medication, he has already shutdown to all thought and is just in a crying/wailing emotional-driven state.  Hopefully, as he gets older and develops more awareness to how things work (& maybe gets some OT to help him with dealing with  his sensitivity rages), then we can nip the pain-induced meltdown in the bud.

In the meantime, here’s how it goes:

.

To give Micah any oral meds, but especially for liquid ones, I must forcefully prop him up on the couch or lay him down on the floor, hold down his arms, and/or pin him down with my body over his to keep him from squirming.  (Yes, I HAVE to do this. My son may be only 2 years old, but he is a “BIG Boy” and is a minimum weight of 37lbs.  Plus, he is Very strong for his age.)  I hold his head still and apply the oral meds…sometimes by means of forcing the syringe of liquid into his mouth and squirting a little at a time.   While doing this, the WHOLE TIME, he screams, cries, and thrashes about trying to stop me.

(if you don’t already feel disgusted, then I suggest you might want some therapy yourself.)

When finished I feel emotionally dirty and ugly.  I hate myself for what I did even though I know the medicine will help Micah feel better.  I still feel like I’ve been hurting my baby.  It doesn’t help that most meds. take a little while to work, so immediately afterward Micah is still upset & hurting.  He doesn’t understand the connection between my administering him medicine and him feeling better from it.

He just thinks mommy was being cruel to him.  :(

So…given this choice, what would you choose?

I look forward to the day when I don’t have to make this internal decision anymore…for now I just try to focus on the fact that I am helping him…even though he can’t see it yet.

I knew being a mommy would require making difficult choices that make you appear to be a “Mean Mom”, I just didn’t expect it to start this soon.

I know someday Micah will understand all this and know how much I love him, and do this because of that love…but there are moments when I wish that “someday” was today…if just for a few seconds.
.

.

.

Philippians 2:4

“Don’t be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others.”