Wednesday, April 30, 2008

the sweetest thing

My little worker bees

My kids are now income earning members of society. They began receiving allowances last week. After waaaaay too much thinking about it, Joe and I decided they would have to earn their allowance. We already expect them to pick up after themselves, to get dressed and do basic hygiene. The allowance is given for additional tasks they are now responsible for. I made a little list with three categories; daily, weekly and as needed. Daily they have to put their clothes in the hamper, set the table for dinner and clear their dishes after dinner. They also need to straighten their beds in the morning. Weekly they empty the wastebaskets into the kitchen trash and dust. Feeding and watering the dog and folding towels are chores they do as needed. {Our dog has some odd eating habits and a scoop of food will stay in his bowl for a day or two before he eats it all. So he doesn't need to be fed every day. Just wanted to make that clear so no one got the wrong idea and thinks we don't feed the dog.} We decided to give them $2.50 a week and 1/2 of it must go into their savings account. We are now into the second week and the kids are in love with this whole system. Everyone they meet gets to listen to the chore list. I'm sure my dry cleaner and the pharmacist and paper guy really wanted to know exactly what chores my kids have and when they need doing. I wonder how long the honeymoon period is? I know there will come a day when the chore list isn't read aloud with rapture but I wonder just how long I have?

Teresa has taken to folding like a duck takes to water. She does a very nice job too. She is a perfectionist and makes sure her corners meet and there's no wrinkles. She will happily fold a basket of dish towels or receiving blankets, humming away as she works. This new found love of folding has created a whole new game in our house. Teresa uses receiving blankets to wrap items from around the house, like the remote, bibs, small toys, books and the mail. Then she distributes the "presents" to her intended recipients. We have to ooh and ahh and yell "It's just what I wanted!" Then she takes it back and the cycle begins again. Ingenious little game and she'll play it all day. I honestly don't know why I insist on buying my kids toys.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Miracle of Miracles!!!

I woke up this morning and shook the sleep out of my head. As I stretched my aching back and plodded into the bathroom the heavens opened and a choir of angels rejoiced as I realized that all three of my kids actually slept through the entire night and all in their own beds!!!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wearing my heart on my sleeve...ummm, I mean mixing bowl

My trademark is the heart. Not the anatomical kind but the goofy valentine's kind. I was born on Valentine's day and as far back as I can remember I have adored anything adorned with a heart. This infatuation has continued to this day. On my most recent birthday I received from two of my sisters these happy little kitchen helpers. I cannot explain to you how happy they make me. Honestly, look at them!!!! So fun!!! I think I create excuses to bake just so I can pull them out and handle them. The artwork on the mixing bowl is the work of a student from the Cardinal Cushing School; a school for mentally challenged adolescents and young adults. A portion of the proceeds is used to help fund this wonderful school. Every time I use them, I get to bake up some loving and be reminded of just how loved I am. I'm telling you, it doesn't get much better than that.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Put me in coach!

Is there anything as cute and all American as a little boy in a baseball uniform?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Monday, April 14, 2008

Me and my waistline thank you

I think a need to add an addendum to my little plan. We may have to work on cleaning up Sam's vocabulary. The other night Joe was helping Kate finish up some broccoli and he plays the age old game of pretending it's his and not wanting anyone else to eat it which is the cue for the kid to steal it off the fork. Our kids love to then blame the dog, cats or even me for the missing food. So Kate ate the broccoli and Joe asked indignantly who the culprit was and Sam piped in "It was the fucking dog!!!" I choked not just on my food but on my laughter. Once I recovered sufficiently to talk, I told Sam that we do not use that word because it is not a very nice word. Sam looked at me in all innocence with those big brown eyes and asked "Why is dog a bad word?" Joe and I couldn't help ourselves and we laughed till our sides hurt.
By the way, thank you so so much for your kind words and encouragement. Reading your words helps to strengthen my resolve and keep a positive attitude. Not to mention, it keeps me from eating my weight in chocolate covered pretzels.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm a woman with a plan...and if this doesn't work those bullies better watch their backs!

As much as I'd like to march into his classroom and give the little bullies a taste of their own medicine I am managing to restrain myself. I will be meeting with his teacher again and the school psychologist will join us. Now, bear in mind, this woman (the psychologist) and I do not have a merry little history. She was one of the lovely people way back when we were bidding Early Intervention adieuand asking for entrance to the delights of the public school system, who came to the idiotic conclusion that Sam needed NO services whatsoever. He was on the brink of turning 3 and could barely talk. The throw up bucket had a place of honor on the kitchen table because he threw up at nearly every meal. He writhed in agony over sock seams and blue jeans and turtlenecks made him throw up. He had next to no muscle tone in his lower face and upper body. He drooled like a Saint Bernard. HOWEVER, he kicked butt on the cognitive portions of the testing. Needless to say I fought like a tiger, making oh so many friends in the process, in order for Sam to recieve the needed services. This is the same woman who in November of this past year sat in on a meeting with myself and Sam's teacher because of her concerns with Sam's inappropriate affectionate behavior. You know what he did? He hugged her. She has bus duty and puts him on his bus EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. She said he did not know her name, yet he was giving her a hug and that worried her. She felt he should be more circumspect in his affections. I told her it was disappointing that she did not understand that to a 7 year old, someone he sees every day, someone who is in a caring role, becomes someone they know. (And shame on her for not telling the little children she's responsible for who the heck she is!!!) I can't wait for our next little rendevous with this woman. But I have to play the game. So we will be forging ahead with a four pronged plan.

First we will resurrect the role playing. When he was very little we role played all kinds of social scenarios to help him figure out what to say and how to behave. We will do this again both to help him approach children and join in the play as well as how to handle less pleasant interactions. I'm hoping this time around it will be easier because now he can actually talk.

Second his teacher will write in a communication journal each day to note positive and negative social interactions. Knowledge is power and will help facilitate conversations about what who he's playing with and what's working as well as what's not. The journal will also help fuel our little role playing dramatics.

Third I will be asking his teacher to work some more of the social curriculum into the school day. The school teaches the "I Care" curriculum and I feel the class may be in need of some more direct teaching of the I Care rules or at the very least some reminders of what those rules are.

Fourth we will have him invite someone over to play once a week or so. Sam functions best when he's able to make connections with someone one on one. He gets very distracted and somewhat confused when in groups. I'm hoping if we foster healthy friendships in a safe environment with just one person at a time he'll gain more confidence and be able to carry it over into his classroom, the ball field and the bus.

A part of me wants to wrap Sam back up in my arms and keep him safe from the taunts, but I can't. No matter what interventions he recieves and what therapy he's involved in, the truth of the matter is, he will always be "different." At some point in time he will leave me and the safety of our home and I need for him to be prepared to live in this world. It can be a cruel place but it is also a wonderful place and I want Sam to experience all this world has to offer. I want him to know how to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly. I want him to make friends...friends who love him.
I feel a little better. I have a plan. I know things will change as we go along but I'm not just standing still, fuming and crying. We're moving ahead and we are moving on. Sam deserves nothing less. Besides...I have to share Sam with the world. He's too amazing to keep all to myself.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Drowning in questions

Today I feel like I did nothing right. I feel like I failed. And I don't know how to make it right. My heart aches for Sam. I found out at parent-teacher conferences tonight that Sam is crying in school. He is crying in school because kids are being mean. My sweet kind little boy thinks he has no friends. I'm so angry. Why didn't his teacher tell me this sooner? What do I do? Who do I ask for help? I can't force kids to be his friends. I just want to keep him home and help him remember how amazing he is. But I can't. I have to push him back out into a world that does not appreciate how incredible he is. We have to tackle this like we tackled signing and speech and tantrums and low muscle tone and sensory integration. But this I don't have a plan for. No one can tell me we start here at point a and with work will end up here at point b. Why didn't he say anything to me? Did I do something or not do something that got him to this place? I know he knows how to be a friend. I see it over and over every single day. Does he not behave the same way at school? He's had friends before, what's different now? Why does something that should be so easy have to be so friggin difficult? How can a little boy who is nothing if not kind and friendly not have a friend? I just don't know. I have no answers. I have endless amounts of questions but no answers.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Teresa tumbled off the bus and in the door. She skipped over to Katie and placing her hands on either side of Katie's face, said "Katie, I made up a song for you on the bus, wanna hear it?" Katie nodded. And Teresa sang,
I love my cupcake!
I love my cupcake!
I love my cupcake,
'Cause that's what Katie is to me!

Moments like this make me feel like I must be doing something right. And I think it's kind of funny that Teresa equates her love for her sister to that of her love for cupcakes...take my word for it, that's a whole lot of love!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

what you say will come back to haunt you

My Teresa has a collection of Princess Polly Pocket type dolls that would rival Disney. She has them all: Cinderella, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, and Jasmine. They have these glittery dresses and teeny tiny shoes, even necklaces and purses. She spends countless hours dressing them and playing with them. Here's the thing. Katie thinks Teresa is akin to a god and imitates her in everything. So she has taken to playing with the Polly Pocket sized Princess dolls too. Problem is, she isn't quite able to manuever the miniture royalty into their attire. The dolls are about the size of my finger and their arms aren't much wider than a spaghetti noodle. I shake my fists and curse the powers that be as I manipulate the Princesses into their glittery sparklely ball gowns and shoes the size of a grain of rice. I cry when Kate decides it's not the right dress and wants to change her almost immediately. And the rubs off onto my finger (because I'm sweating from the stress of trying to dress them without beheading them). Then I rub my eyes or itch my nose and don't realize I've got glitter all over my face until after I get back from running errands, during which I ran into just about everybody I know. So anyways...the other day I spent the better part of a morning dressing and undressing Jasmine. During this marathon fashion show some of the glitter got all over Jasmine's painted on undergarments. Katie thought this was absolutely hilarious. She went around saying "Jasmine's got a sparklely bum!" and dissolved into fits of giggles. So I thought I'd be funny and said "Gee, I wish I had a sparklely bum" and I was rewarded with not just Katie's delighted giggles but Teresa and Sam collapsed laughing as well.

Let's fast forward a few days. I got a phone call from Teresa's teacher to sort out a little mix up over her conference date. As we were getting ready to say our goodbyes she shared a funny little story. During sharing time Teresa raised her hand and told her entire class that her Mumma wished she had a sparklely bum. I can only imagine the talk around the teacher's room this little tidbit ignited. So moral is: Potty talk may make people laugh but it will come back to bite your sparkling bum.