Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

Have you ever heard of "No-Shave November"? No? Maybe "Novembeard"? It seems that my older son was celebrating them both. His younger brother enjoyed having "hands on" the result over Thanksgiving.

Will he keep the beard or not? It is undecided. I personally vote for a goatee or "fu man chu".

See more of Special Exposure Wednesday here.

Monday, Monday

Sometimes Mondays are hard. Sometimes Tuesdays are hard. My boy does not like to let the weekend go. When he was having a terrible time at school (two schools ago), he had such troublesome stomach pain in the mornings. This carried on until we finally got his school switched. (That was like going to court and will be for another post!) But even though we have had his stomach completely checked out, that morning trouble still reappears, but in a much milder form. Usually on Monday mornings.

I have good reason to believe that his current school is not stressful. I believe that he has some general dread that comes with Monday, just like it does for a lot of people. The weekend is just too much fun and school is . . . not. It’s school. When he has these episodes and goes on with his day, he later reports being fine. Once, though, we attached his staying home to a test day! Sometimes he is able to be persuaded that Monday is not half bad. Monday is a great day to buy lunch at school, as opposed to making his own. What is served? A huge slab of chicken fried steak and two big scoops of mashed potatoes topped with gravy. Sounds like a good Monday to me.

I adopted a comedy routine for the drive to school on Mondays and some Tuesdays. It is me pretending to be Super Nanny to him. It usually sends him into fits of laughter because I fixate on his grooming, throwing in lots of references to the objects in his nose and the whiskers on his chin. My pitiful British accent makes him snort and gasp for breath, while begging me to stop as we slide into the drop-off line at school. I congratulate myself on his happy glance back at me as he shuts the door. I thought I was going to have to pull out the routine this morning, but he stopped me, saying, “No, Mom, really . . . ,“ and he changed the subject. I guess he knows what I am up to and if he needs it. Or maybe my routine is that bad!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Card 2010

Snowflake Wishes Noir Holiday
Make a statement with custom holiday cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Monday, November 22, 2010

An Outstanding Advocate

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to hear a dynamic speaker at a conference. He had more energy than anyone I had seen in a long time. Just watching his animated presentation was highly entertaining, and then he mentioned his ADD in passing, which I figured was part of his package! His positive approach in advocating for all people with disabilities (or "possibilities", as he likes to say) to be employed was contagious. His premise is that there is no one who can't be employed, and he illustrated with an unbelievable story.

As a former special ed teacher, he was accustomed to looking for each student's strengths. He needed to find a job for a nonambulatory, nonverbal guy. His strength or ability? Blinking. That is literally all he could do. He studied this guy's likes and dislikes, and found that he loved loud, noisy places. Patrick, the speaker, found him a job in a busy copying center, where with a switch, powered by a blink, he could run copiers and collate! Imagine that. This man actually had to lie on the floor because of his disabilities, but he thoroughly enjoyed running his copier with his switch. Amazing.

Patrick Schwarz, the speaker, has books to his credit and has very unique ideas for the inclusive classroom. He also described several brilliant ways of helping kids transition to the next school. (That was my favorite part, since he took a kid who hated change to his new high school several times. He played basketball there with him with no one around, made sure he bought him a drink from the machine, and slowly introduced him to staff and classrooms. Voila! It was a beautifully smooth transition.)

One controversial idea he had was to always reward with the student's (or person's) passion. He was so emphatic on this topic. He told all about a noncompliant student who loved whales. They could get him to do nothing until Patrick discovered this love. Every positive behavior was then rewarded with a whale stamp or a chance to work the whale puzzle, and he blossomed into a very cooperative, hard working student. People I talked to wondered, though, if that would just further an obsession that might need to be extinguished or was inappropriate. I say if the behavior is undesirable enough, bring on the reward. What do you say?

You can check out Patrick Schwarz's website here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Got hat?

(Bangs like hers.)

I’ll start off with a little joke to make myself feel better. What’s the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut? Answer: About two weeks. If that is the case, then I have a little more than a week to go. Who knew that my last-minute decision to switch from the side swept bang to fringe bangs would end up looking like a kindergartener did the job out on the back playground when no one was looking? Yikes! I must admit, I am the one to blame, though, for not clarifying length. I'll show you a picture. In about 3 months.

It is nice to have a friend who cares about one’s feelings about one’s hair. Neighbor Friend knew about this and sent a quick email, “Is the hair any better?” “No. I still look like I’m in third grade.” (At least that was about 3 grades worth of improvement.) The hair really does need to grow. Now.

N just grinned a very bemused grin at me and said, “Mom! You look a lot . . . . younger?” Yah--as in elementary school.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Peace Out at the Library

Does this make you think of anything or make you feel a certain way? Oh, it does me! It pretty much takes my breath away , makes my heart beat fast and I feel giddy with excitement. It makes me think of the very first library I can recall spending time in. I must have been about 4 or 5 years old, and going to this place caused such a rush for me. I believe I loved books before I could read. Then, when the "decoding" began to happen, the library became even more of an exhilarating experience. Getting those books, carrying them home and poring over them became my joy and solace.

I loved to read so much that as the older sister, I imposed “read aloud time” upon Baby Sister. She appreciated it some. But not when I demanded that she warn me before she fell asleep, so that I “would not waste my breath”! We still laugh about that. Bringing my children into the hallowed stacks at the library was a great delight to me. I ADORE children’s books and did not mind reading most of them over and over again.

Because of my undying love for the library, it causes me no small amount of distress that my younger son does not love reading. Oh, he loves the library alright. He will pull great tomes off the shelf and beg to check them out. If I am in a generous mood, I let him do it, BUT they never get touched. He does okay with some of the “True Books” (nonfiction, interesting), but he never reads for pleasure. Sniff, sniff. I would love to change this. We have had silent reading time as a family, read aloud time, etc., but it just has not stuck. N is a good reader, but it is not his passion. Perhaps it is because of the push in elementary school for points and prizes (also known as AR) that did it. There was a lot of pressure to read a lot of books.

I feel at home in the library and hours can pass before I realize it. The magazines, the Consumer Report, the cookbooks . . . . ah, the possibilities are endless! I have also been known to secure a study room when I have too much to do. I can become undistracted here, make my lists, get my head straight, read a magazine, make a plan, and emerge a new woman.

In fact, I think I’ll go there right now. I think just sitting on one of those black stools would do wonders for me, but I rarely see one anymore . . .

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

I wanted to capture the end of our autumn leaves and also some flags from Veteran's Day last week. Of course, I had to squeeze "Dimples" in here, too

Check out more great photos here.

P.S. I have been looking around for blogs about other teens and young adults with special needs and have found precious few. Do you know of any?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Veins and CPR

Today N experienced more of the mysterious stomach pain (which fades as the day progresses). Is this anxiety? We are also between two other medical issues—oral surgery for an anklyosed molar (plus various case scenarios for implant and orthodontia, totally unrelated to Down syndrome) and the sleep study coming up very soon. All this individually makes me concerned , but it is all happening simultaneously in my head today. After the oral surgeon consult earlier, we went shoe shopping (no, for him!) and got some pumpkin yogurt.

On the way home from all our errands, N said, “I think my muscles are getting bigger.” Since his swimming hiatus, he has been concerned about a decline in his physique. “You know, Tim has this big vein that pops out of his muscle when he shakes my hand. I wish I had one.” (Tim is his beloved youth pastor.) “Mom, do you think my muscle is getting bigger?” “Hmm, I dunno. Maybe,” I answered. Then he said, “Well, I think . . . . . I do see . . . . you know, . . . . a vein appearing . . . .” It was hard to contain myself and I cracked up, which really puzzled my poor fellow.

This was after he explained to me while we were in the exam room that he thought it would be cool to be a lifeguard. He said he was sure he could pull anyone out of the water who needed help, but he would only be able to do CPR on the girls -- not the guys. He clearly had thought this out. I never know what’s coming next! These moments are so funny to me and keep me from getting too wrapped up in the other stuff.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

This is the best gift anyone has ever made for me. Ever. I love art by kids and this one was made by my son for me! Art is a great thing to request for a Christmas gift, if they are asking. If you are getting ready for the holidays and don't want to stress out, consider checking out the Flylady!

See more of Special Exposure Wednesday here.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Confessions of a Bling-aholic

I started out with good intentions. At least I think I did. I mean, I have been to this same shopping event for multiple years in a row with the same friend and some years I buy nothing. This thing is more than a bazaar, it is . . . a colossal extravaganza that is not for those with poor stamina nor for the easily distracted. (If you have seen the T-shirt, “I started out to conquer the world, but I was distracted by something sparkly”, you know what I mean and you can relate to me.) You have to have a plan, have your list and your concentration on. This event was formerly held in an arena and now it is in a convention center. My good friend and I look forward to going to this annually, and as soon as we drag our tired bodies out of it, we begin the anticipation for the next one.

But back to my good intentions. The purpose was to shop for Christmas gifts. For OTHER PEOPLE. Yes, I bought Christmas gifts. But for myself. Is that even legal? I don’t know, but the worst part is that some of it was going to be for Baby Sister. We have similar taste, so her stuff sorta . . . grew on me. I am still waffling about whether to keep or give some of it, hence this confession. I mean, I could replace it with other stuff. . . . Some of it is really good bling, though.

My shopping companion did not help matters. Can I just blame it all on her?? When I was considering a long necklace for myself, I was debating between the gold one and the silver one. Did she encourage self restraint? No. How about this—“It’s such a good deal, why not get both?” said she. See? That’s why I did it. But it’s not too late. I could just wear these “gifts” for a month or so and then give them up, right? Oh, what a slippery slope. I did start out with good intentions . . .

Have you ever kept a gift that you intended for someone else?

Friday, November 5, 2010

FLY into the holidays!

Have you heard of the Fly Lady? She is an actual person who lived in c.h.a.o.s. (can't have anyone over syndrome) for a number of years, decided she was not born organized, and decided to find out how people live who ARE born organized. She changed her habits and wrote a book to help those like herself! She also started a very helpful website which will send you emails that remind you to do things like plan dinner. She has got something going on here and I have followed her for several years now. One of the best habits she taught me was to do certain tasks on certain days. For instance, I do laundry on two certain days, grocery shop on Thursday (or Friday), work on checkbook/budget on Wednesday, etc. (I am not committing to the clean- the- house thing on Monday--- haha! But I usually do.)

One great thing she has set up is a Holiday preparation guide. I love it! It helps you do things early so you won’t be stressed out when it gets here. She has a vision of one enjoying oneself during the holidays! If you go here, you will see all kinds of fun ideas. My favorites are the missions and the journal. Just today, I picked up several grocery items that I know I will need in a month, but getting some of it ahead spreads the expense and it makes me feel like I am “on my game”. A great feeling.

I was trying to get my gift ideas list going in my Holiday Control Journal, so I asked my dear N what he might like for Christmas. Considering his souped up, super- testosterone- driven , wrestling, competitive self, can you guess what the first items requested are? “ALL the Rocky movies!” I can only imagine how those would fuel his fire. He seems as though he thinks he might die without them, yet I can see us having to hide them because he will want to punch out everything in sight. I promise we do not feed this! Ted and I are pretty docile and mild creatures. Our older son was not into sports. Yet, this guy seems to live and breathe for any kind of battle of the wills and test of strength. I do not think a few broken noses would slow him down, either. YO, ADRIAN!!!!! I need some help here!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Special Exposure Wednesday

On Saturday I went out and discovered this:
Me + one hour + my camera = a new perspective.

Snapping photos of just about anything outside leaves me with a satisfied and thankful feeling. Below are some of my favorites. And there are others, too.

A recent visit to my mom's for her Happy Birthday.

This is the new and improved "rapping" Jimmy Buffett.

Check out more of Special Exposure Wednesday here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hippie Giant

So we are following the World Series around here and are a little disappointed in the performance of the Texas Rangers. So, what is a sports fan to do, except pick on the appearance of the other team? (Have I mentioned that my son is a little competitive??)

Heard from the next room as soon as the game is turned on, "HOLY COW, their pitcher is a hippie!!" Was that my husband? No, his son. Sorry, Giants, but he does have long-ish hair.