Monday, October 14, 2013

Vacation Vacation Vacation...

As much as I love being a mom and have truly enjoyed being a stay-at-home-mom so far, going away with Brian was nice! I never understood parents who pride themselves on never ever leaving their kids-as if they deserve a medal for martyrdom. I know some parents who never leave their kids even for a couple of hours, let alone 5 days like Brian and I just did. Now I will admit that having my parents here to help is a huge factor in us feeling comfortable leaving the kids. But we have regular babysitters as well for date nights or special occasions. The truth is that every parent needs some time for themselves, and time with each other, to reconnect and maintain your sanity. I believe that I am a better parent when I am well-rested and happy. 

So after five days away in Seattle (my new favorite city), Brian and I came back to very happy kids. Sure, they missed us (some), but they LOVED being with Safta and Saba (grandma and grandpa.) We came back to a report of ZERO tantrums from the little one. I believe it, too! Whenever he does tantrum and I can't get him out of it, what do I do? I facetime my mom and she is able to work her magic and calm Liam down. I sometimes need an ego boost after, but it's worth having the calm kid! 

As I type this, the "calm kid," who is supposed to be napping, is sitting up in bed (he never ever gets out of bed without permission) singing at the top of his lungs and it's so darn cute!!!! So he didn't nap today. But I got my 30 minutes of sort of relaxation in. Time to get him up, I suppose! 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

I'm a Grownup?? Really??

I's a silly question coming from a 36 year old mother of 2. But the reality is that I haven't felt like a grownup, not much anyways. Yes, I have that autism thing to deal with but really, for the past 12, almost 13 years, I got to play, all day, every day! When Coby was first born, I got to stay home and play with him. When I went back to work once he turned 3, I worked as a Pre-K teaching assistant, and still got to play every day, at work, then at home with my boys. Now I'm home again, and I get to hang out with Liam, get down on the floor and play, go outside, sing, dance, and be silly. I'm loving every minute.

But then it hits me. We are getting ready to go on a trip of a lifetime. We're going to Israel with 15 family members, to celebrate Coby's Bar Mitzvah. This is a right of passage. It's one of the most important days of my oldest son's life, a day which he has been preparing for for nearly a year. The next that will be as/more important will be his wedding day.  And as I sit and think about the amazing, talented, funny, brilliant, loving, and handsome man my son has become, I blush with pride. But really...he did all the hard work. I just had the pleasure of watching, observing, helping him along on his journey. 

So yeah, I guess having a son who is about to be Bar Mitzvah'd makes me a grownup, huh? But that's ok. I'll keep on having fun, playing, being silly, and It's what keeps us young. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's Not Real Autism

This is going to be a vent post. My blog, my vent. I'm allowed, right? So here goes:

Both my boys are diagnosed with autism. When my oldest was diagnosed, at 26 months, we were told he was severely autistic and probably mentally (intellectually) disabled. We were devastated. Fast forward 10 years, and Coby is doing amazing! He exited from his IEP last years, plays two instruments, has friends, and is a straight A student in gifted classes. Is he still quirky? Sure! Does he still have social conundrums? Absolutely. Does he still have autism? YES.

Enter little bro. I knew Liam was going to be diagnosed with Autism when I was pregnant with him. Just a mother's intuition.  When he was 6 months old I was sure. By the time he was a year old I would have bet my house on it, and he was officially diagnosed right before he turned 3 (though he started therapy much earlier.) He has a host of issues. He's got severe Apraxia, which makes him extremely difficult to understand. In fact, he had no words as of January of this year! Now he's got lots of words but is still hard to understand. He's very rigid in his play, likes to line things up, and is only now developing pretend play skills. He has sensory processing disorder, which in him is manifested by food issues.  He gags on many textures, still needs all of his fruits and veggies pureed, and only has a few foods that he eats consistently. Right along with that, Liam has fine motor issues. He still can't feed himself with a spoon or drink from an open cup, and forget about teeth brushing (from a gagging and a "doing" standpoint.). Oh, I forgot to mention the flapping. When he gets excited sometimes I'm sure he'll fly away! 

BUT, Liam is also very very smart, just like his big brother. He can read probably about 50-60 words at this point, and spell about half of them when given magnetic letters. He knows all his colors, shapes, numbers, etc. He points to what he wants in addition to using words to ask, dances, claps, and loves hugs, kisses, and cuddles. He can work an iPad better than many adults too! And when it's on HIS terms he'll share with you...he's got pretty good joined attention (he'll do something then look at me to make sure I'm looking and to see if I give him a smile, or praise, and will smile in return). 

I could point out many more issues and many more positive traits of both my boys. But I did (do) have a point to all this. There have been many times that parents have looked at my kids, especially Coby, and to my face argued that my son doesn't have autism. I'm not looking for sympathy--far from it, in fact. But I can't deny that my kids have autism. No, their autism isn't as severe as many others', but it doesn't, and shouldn't take away from the fact that as a family we struggled, and still struggle every day. My struggle is my own-and should not be compared to others. We work SO hard to give our kids everything possible to help them succeed, and we are fortunate to have the means to do so. Every parent who has a child with special needs does their best. But when I get on my online forums or FaceBook, and complain that I have had a hard day, or that Liam has had another never-ending tantrum, it gets very frustrating when people look down at me and shrug off my problems because my kids aren't as severe as their kids. My struggles are my own-and I have a right to vent just like anyone else does.

The same goes for bragging on my kids. To some people I'm not allowed to complain, nor am I allowed to brag. I'm not to complain because my "problems" aren't really problems, and I'm not allowed to brag about my kids' accomplishments because it makes others uncomfortable, since their kids maybe don't get good grades or struggle in school. I just can't win. Well--no. That's not true. I CAN win, and I have! I won two amazing boys, with all their struggles and accomplishments, and I won an amazing husband and daddy to my boys who is there for us every step of the way. And those who can't handle that have no place in my life or that of my kids! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Let's Go Canes!

When you spend a lot of time with someone, especially your own kid, it's sometimes difficult to see change. Ever since I've had the privilege of staying home with Liam (aside from the 3 hours he's in school 4 mornings a week) I've noticed a lot of growth and progress, but certainly not as much as other see. Time and time again I've been told that he talks more, he engages more, he speaks more clearly...So I've started documenting more, paying more attention, even taking some more videos. Sure enough, it's been 3 weeks since school started and my Little is doing SO well!

For starters, his speech is improving both in content and articulation. Liam is now putting 2 and 3 words together consistently. He's saying things like "Liam's turn," or "mommy's turn" (though it's hardly ever mommy's turn in anything except when it's mommy's turn to eat a food Liam refuses to try.) In school they read a couple of the Pete the Cat books, and made a book with the kid's pictures to take home. A few days ago Liam pulled me over to the book ("Come Ah-mee") and pointed to a photo and said "What dat?" I just about fell over. He clearly meant "Who is that" but who cares? He asked me a question!!!! 

Also, the other day he pooped and said "I smell poop." I replied with "I smell poop too!" He then ran to my room and brought out a diaper, pulled down his pants, and "assumed the position" on the floor. So we're just beginning to potty train, because in the interest of full disclosure, I was/am scared to start, Liam didn't really care if he was wet or dirty, and I have more things to push with Liam than potty training-speech, eating independently, fine motor, appropriate play, etc. But he seems to be getting closer to being ready now. I attribute that to his amazing preschool teachers.

Another area Liam is improving in is his play skills.He's developing more spontaneous pretend play! For the first time ever, he picked up a phone a few days ago and pretended to talk into it! Tonight in the bath he picked up a Yo Gabba Gabba character and sang "Happy Birthday": to him and had him blow out the candles! 

So many good things! And big brother Coby has been a HUGE factor in helping Liam thrive and grow. Lately Coby is able to get Liam engaged, and can play with him for a long time. Liam loves Coby and listens to him. So Coby actually taught him something really really awesome! Up until about a week ago, if we would say "Hi Liam." He would reply with "Hi Liam." Very echolailic. Coby really wanted Liam to learn reciprocal conversation, so he practiced with Liam tirelessly for days! Then one evening Coby said "Hi Liam!" And Liam looked at Coby and said "Hi Coby!" Then I said "Hi Liam." And Liam replied with "Hi Liam!"  He only did it correctly for Coby! So Coby kept working with Liam and a few days later, something clicked and Liam GOT IT! We are now at a point where we can say hi, bye, good morning, good night, and I love you, and he'll say it back with our correct name (So he'll say "I love you, mommy!"- Talk about melt your heart!!!).


Another thing Coby taught Liam is hockey! I'll admit: We are a hockey family. We love our Caroline Hurricanes and took Liam to his very first game a couple of weeks ago (an exhibition game so we could try it out to see how he'd do.). And Liam did fantastic! He cheered and sang and sat and watched for a whole period. Now he asks to watch hockey on TV and nomatter what team is playing, will shout "Let's Go Canes!" 

If this is the amount of progress made in less than a month of school and me staying home with him, I cannot wait to see what the future has in store! It's going to be amazing!!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Goodbye, Old School-Hello, New School!

I hate goodbyes. They make me sad and they're just so AWKWARD! But today we had to say goodbye to Liam's private pre-school, The Aspen Center. Tuesday he'll be starting a new preschool through the public school system. 

The new school is great! The teacher and assistant are amazing. In fact, they were Coby's teacher and assistant nearly 10 year ago, and made a HUGE difference in his life. When we were going through the process of getting Liam an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for his Autism I specifically made a note that I wanted him placed in this particular school.  Surprisingly, we got our wish!  I spent this week volunteering at the new school, helping to set up the classroom, etc. It was so much fun! Once again, I felt so blessed to be able to stay at home now and do that. 

Liam's IEP contains many goals. But when I look back at the IEP Coby had at that age, I see many similarities. They both had speech goals, both had fine motor goals, appropriate play goals, and social goals. Liam also has some feeding issues that need to be addressed.  I won't lie-it's a whole lot to deal with. But I see how much progress Coby made during that period in his life. Between the ages of 3 and 5 Coby blossomed and entered Kindergarten in a mainstreamed class with no one on one aid. He was pulled out for speech therapy and occupational therapy, but that ended a couple of years later. I largely credit Coby's amazing preschool teachers for his achievements, which is why I was so hoping Liam would get into the same classroom! 

Changing subjects for a minute: Many of you saw the Facebook post I made last night about Liam and his nap/sleep habits. Today is a perfect example. He came home from school and ate lunch. He actually finished early! So we were ready for nap by 1:40. I told Liam we could go upstairs and get a paci. "NONONONONONOOOOOOOOO upstairs, NO paci!" was the answer I got. I tried being stern. He started to cry then reached for my hand and used MY hand to wipe HIS tears. Ok. Then he said "go play." Since he used such good words, and since I'm leaving him with my hubby tonight while I go out with a girlfriend, I figured that was not a battle worth fighting. He'll go to sleep early tonight. AND for good measure, his socks were already off so we didn't get the pleasure of playing the "socks on socks off" game. Phew! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Socks On, Socks Off.

Ahhh....The stay at home mom know: The luxurious showers, watching soap operas all day, eating bon bons...I mean, that's what we do, right? WRONG! It's officially day two, though I've been home with the boys since June when summer break began. My little Liam struggled a lot with speech and over the summer he's made significant gains. Over the summer he also turned three, so I though we were past the "terrible two" stage I was so fearful of. Yes, we're in the clear! Age three is nothing but sugar and spice and....TANTRUMS OUT THE WAZOO. 

Someone once told me they called age three "threeteen" and now I know why. Coby is almost thirteen and seriously not as moody as the three year old. Any mention of the word "no" on my part immediately brings a frown, and vigorous rubbing of the eyes to squeeze out as many tears as possible.  Usually not many appear, but the howling that follows makes up for the lack of eye-liquid. Then it's the "cling to mommy and make a big scene" stage, followed by our latest game of "socks on, socks off."  

Allow me to explain this game. It's quite funny the first 10 times-especially since I don't take Liam's tantrums seriously.  It starts out with me saying no to something. It then proceeds with Liam taking his socks off in protest. Now he still hasn't learned to put his socks on yet, and so the game begins. "Socks on!" Liam yells. The socks go on. "Socks offffffffffff!" He shrieks as he takes his socks off.  Ten seconds pass.  "NonononononononoNO! Socks ON!" And it goes on like this a few more times until I get sick of the game and take the socks away for good. More crying and shrieking ensues, which I ignore, and 5 minutes later it's all over. Fun game, huh? 

So today, in between preschool, lunch, occupational therapy, and home, we had one such game. Not too bad, eh? But then again it's early still. 

So let's recap: Showers-none.  Soap operas-none. Bonbons-none. Tantrums-one, so far, and I consider myself lucky! 

Monday, August 26, 2013

First Day Home

After being a working mom for nine years, I'm staying home. And today is the first day of school, and I'm not there. And that's ok! I loved working with my four year olds. But I have my own kiddos to take care of at home. A husband too, for that matter. 

And then, there is me! I get to do something for ME for a change. Some people, (like a lovely sister who shall remain nameless) may think I'm doing the opposite. Some people, no-matter their good intentions, will never understand the satisfaction of staying home, of being able to cook and clean, to join the PTA and volunteer. I'm now able to spend more quality time with my boys. And more importantly I get to personally play a larger role in their education. 

So here's to a new blog, a new stage in my life.  A stage where I get to stomp, clap, and laugh more.