Sunday, March 30, 2008

I love Gray, but Gray loves a pig







Jayce and Jaina received "Fur Real" farm animals in their Easter baskets instead of bunnies this year. Jayce was enthralled with his animatronic pig that wrinkled its nose and grunted oh-so-realistically.

I remember having a stuffed pig when I was little, named Pricilla. My mother would happily kiss all my stuffed animals goodnight, but expressed much displeasure at the prospect of kissing a pig. Growing up in Iowa near hog farms, my mother is definitely not fond of pigs neither alive or on her dinner table.

But for Jayce, she'll kiss a pig any day :)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Do You Ever Hide From Your Kids?

I am upstairs in our bonus room/computer room/office/scrapbooking room blogging right now. Jaina knows I'm up here and also knows how to open the child lock on the door. So technically, I am only hiding from Jayce. If he knew I was up here, he'd be pounding on the door screaming, "Jayce's turn mommy's computer!"

So, as I'm hiding, I keep hearing things like:

-thumps of feet running through the house
-jayce yelling protest at some injustice
-jaina giggling in response to jayce's yelling
-the microwave being worked
-water in the bathroom running
-the dog whining
-music being turned up too loud

Why does everything go to pot if I'm not supervising 24/7? How can two kids get into so much stuff in so little time?

Uh-oh... jayce is really crying now. Back to the battlefield.

Calgon, take me away!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Jayce's Laptop

I am so thankful to have caught these magical expressions on camera! Bit by bit, Jaina is understanding more how Jayce prefers to play. She really longs for Jayce to be the playmate she has always thought he would be by this age. I am so proud of her for finding ways to interact with Jayce.







Monday, March 24, 2008

Just a couple more Easter pics






This is the first year we haven't traveled to Atlanta to spend Easter with Grandma Kim and Grandpa Lee. On one hand, we were disappointed, but on the bright side, we finally got to attend the annual Easter egg hunt at our friend's Anglican church. We used to be faithful regulars at Little Hearts Storytime, until it started conflicting with mommy's Book Club. We were so happy to be able to spend our Saturday with my good friend Denise, her sister Danielle, and all the kids.

This was Jayce's second Easter egg hunt and he did very well. Jaina also helped him find eggs, so by the end, he had quite a basket-full. The weather was gorgeous, too, and we couldn't have asked for a better day to spend with our friends.

The only bump in the road came during the storytime that was organized before the hunt. I've just given up on Jayce sitting at any kind of storytime, church or library. Its not like I can bribe him with "just sit for 5 minutes and then we'll stand up and sing a song" or even threaten him "If you don't sit in mommy's lap, we'll have to leave". I know now that Jayce's receptive language is severely lacking. Out of those last two sentences, he probably heard and understood the word "sit". In which he would have replied, "all gone sit?" and that would have been the end of it.

Honestly, I don't mind following him around and letting him wander. Its just all the stuff he tries to get into. I need to learn to let some stuff go. But see... a lot of times he's not hurting anything (opening and closing the door, pushing the button on the water fountain, etc) but these are all things that most parents don't let their child do. So it immediately sets Jayce apart because I am letting him repetitively push the power button on the vcr on and off.

So, this well meaning mom walked up to Jayce while I was sitting about 4 feet away from the situation. Jayce was pushing the button that turns the monitor on/off. It was an old computer, tucked away in the corner of the church's overflow room. I had already checked with my friend to make sure Jayce wouldn't hurt anything by pushing the buttons on it. "Oh no," she assured me. "That thing is so old, its no big deal at all. No one even uses it anymore".

But this other mom had decided that Jayce shouldn't be playing with it. "No-no, sweetie, we don't need to be touching this. Let's go play with something else." I quickly got up and intervened. I said, "Hi, I'm his mom, and I'm okay with him playing with this." You can tell I caught her off guard because she stuttered and said, "OH! I was just looking for you" (um, no you weren't or you would have seen me sitting not even 4 feet from you). And I felt the need to say, "He doesn't understand what you just said." Which isn't totally 100% true. He knows what the word "NO" means. He doesn't use it in his every day language or to answer questions, but he knows that when we say "NO" it means, "Don't touch that". Actually, we prefer to use the word "STOP" with him and even have a stop sign card for a visual. We are slowly getting into the world of social stories and picture schedules because children with autism are more visually oriented.

So, anyway, back to my rambling. Why can't people just leave Jayce alone when we are out and about? We spend so much time at the hospital in therapy, and so much time doing sensory activities in our home, that when we are out in public, I am just about survival. If he's doing something strange and not hurting anybody, I call that success. And honestly I could care less if he opens and closes doors, as long as they aren't doors leading to the outside :) I've learned fast to pick my battles. Or else we'd never leave the house!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Eggs








We learned several things from our adventure:

1. check the cabinet to see if you have vinegar BEFORE you start dyeing eggs.
2. rice vinegar can be used as a substitute, but the smell makes you think twice before using it.
3. rubber bands are fun and easy to use for designs.
4. using a cloth towel to clean up spilled red dye is not a good idea.
5. egg dye does not wash out.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Jayce and the Clover Cookies

Jayce had his very first taste of raw cookie dough the other day. When presented with most new and strange unaccepted foods, he wanted nothing to do with it. Then curiosity got the best of him, especially when I called it a "cookie". Boy, did I create a monster! After consuming one raw cookie dough ball, he couldn't understand why I actually wanted to COOK the rest!




Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jaina's New Easter dress

Thanks Grandma Cathy and Grandpa Robert!

Jaina loves her new lavendar Easter dress that was shipped to us last week all the way from Indiana. Did you know it twirls? A requirement of every little girls' dress, according to Jaina.

No time for professional shots, so I took my compact powershot over to a courtyard in downtown. I let Jaina do whatever she wanted with the promise of going to the mall afterwards if she cooperated. Although I didn't get any shots that I am head over heels in love with, I think they still turned out cute. Of course they are cute... you can't get much better than Jaina for a subject :)

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Egg Hunting

Jayce attended his first Easter Egg hunt last Thursday when we met at a friend's house for cooking club.

He was such a cutie there :) I walked him over to where two eggs were "hidden" in plain sight and told him to put the eggs in his basket. He instead places the basket on top of the eggs on the ground and praised himself with a big ol "Good job, Jayce!" I laughed, picked up one of the eggs and showed him how to put it in the basket. He quickly got the idea and placed the second egg in there just fine.

Off we went to another part of the yard to find more eggs, but some of the 3 and 4 year old kids were quite a bit faster and more aggressive. Luckily, Jayce didn't mind. He had no idea that there was candy in there anyway :)

We've been working on prepositions in ST for months now and Jayce shows 90% accuracy in following directions like "put the block IN the bowl. Put the block ON TOP of the bowl." But sometimes I've noticed that some things don't transfer well from the therapy setting to the real world. That's okay, Jayce understood Easter Egg hunting by the time it was done :)





Saturday, March 15, 2008

And for the record...

I'm in the middle of this debate on the Autism Bites Blog comment section. I'm kinda done with it. Its not my goal to change people's parenting styles, just to open their minds a little bit to alternatives. But anyway... instead of commenting any more on their blog, I thought I would just release my pent up anger over here on my blog. Cause I'm not going to end up fighting myself or hurting someone's feelings. :P

Someone commented that they spank because that is the way they "train" their kids. Eek. Wow. I had no idea that kids needed to be trained. I have never once seen one of my responsibilities as a parent listed as "trainer". Nurturer? Leader? Life guide? Teacher? Now, those are labels I am much more comfortable with. Maybe it stems from my days as a psych undergrad working with rats, but I'm not too hip on even training animals. And I am a big believer that behavior modification actually works (with both animals and humans) but that you miss the bigger picture when you set out to "train" something or someone. "Training" usually implies you have one goal in mind. For example, training a dog to sit or "sleep training" a baby (which I am wholeheartedly opposed to). It takes nothing else into consideration. The wants or needs or feelings of either animal or baby. The subject learns to to do that one specific task to get the one specific outcome. What a sad way to manipulate another being into doing what you (the trainer) wanted in the first place.

So, yeah. I don't "train" my kids to teach them respect, obedience, or love. They learn respect because I respect them. They obey because they respect me and like to see mom smile when they make good choices. They love because I show them that love means having boundaries and limits and taking other people's feelings into consideration.

I do not mean to imply that my children's behavior is ideal 100% of the time. If it was, than I certainly wouldn't need to be their teacher anymore. But their behavior *IS* age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate.

I get to be "THE BOSS" because I've already been a baby, kid, and teen. I've learned so much about life and the best ways to get through it, that now its my job to pass all that down to my kids. And Jaina isn't going to understand why mommy says, "No jumping on furniture at Monica's house" immediately, but she does learn that not having respect for someone else's furniture is a sure-fire way to cut our precious visit short, the consequence being that we can not return until she is ready to abide by the rules that I, THE BOSS, have set forth. And you know what? It works. Not just for my family, but for hundreds of other families I know who practice gentle discipline and natural consequences.

In short, I love the way I've chosen to parent. And I owe it entirely to my patient mother and my knowledgeable sister-in-law who were examples of "attached" parents before me. What's cool is that they didn't "train" me to adhere to this style of parenting. Nope. Not only were they excellent examples of how *I* wanted to be as a mom, but they also validated all my feelings I had about natural parenting. I learned early on that "if it feels wrong to you, it is wrong." So when Jaina was nursing 45 minutes of every hour round the clock and sleeping either in my bed or in my arms and it felt beautifully wonderfully right, it was such a relief to know that I didn't have to follow some book's philosophy on training my baby to do the opposite of what was natural to both me and her.

Attachment Parenting is what caught Jayce's autism-like symptoms so early on, as well. I can't tell you how many times my pediatrician told me to "let him starve if he refuses to eat what I've cooked" or how many well-meaning MOMS Club friends suggested that I let him cry in the middle of the night so I could get some sleep. Those are typical behaviors that children with autism exhibit and it has everything to do with how their sensory system is wired rather then how they are being "bad". Yeah, like I'm going to hit my special needs kid because his body and brain are wired differently than mine and he's not conforming to society's expectations of "normal" behavior. So all you supposedly well-meaning ladies at Walmart can keep your unsolicited advice to yourself :)

If you know me, you know where I stand on parenting issues. More often than not, living in the Bible Belt surrounded by Babywise and Dobson supporters, I have to just agree to disagree with my good friends. And if you are one of them that are reading this, please know that I am not trying to knock your parenting style, but I'll never stop trying to open people's minds about alternatives to spanking and crying-it-out, just like you guys will probably never stop believing that your parenting style is what God had in mind for Christian families. We'll just have to continue to agree to disagree and leave it as that.

-I believe that a mother's milk is inherently better suited for the health and well-being of babies.
-I believe that the bond created by breastfeeding is hard to mimic with bottle feeding.
-I believe that a woman has a right to natural birth and to birth her baby in the location of her choice, even if that does not include a hospital.
-I believe that co-sleeping is natural, fosters the parent/baby relationship, and is not detrimental to the husband/wife bond if both parties are in agreement.
-I believe that babies are very good self-regulators. They know when they are hungry and when they are full. They cannot tell time, nor do they benefit from a strict feeding schedule.
-I believe that breastmilk contains hormones that relax both baby and mother. Falling asleep at the breast is how nature intended it.
-I believe that your job as a parent does not end at 8 PM.
-I believe that babies cry for reasons. Ignoring them teaches them at an early age that what they say does not matter.
-I believe that children have the right to express themselves through emotions and feelings, even if we disagree with them as parents. And that their feelings are valid.
-I believe spanking is a form of child abuse.
-I believe the more you hold your baby, understand your toddler, and nurture your pre-schooler, the more secure and independent your older children will be.
-I believe choosing to stay-at-home when your children are young and dependent on you is more important than any career you could possibly have.

Thanks for reading. I am now officially off my soapbox and can return to regularily scheduled activities of Jaina and Jayce.

Rained Out

What a bummer!

Some severe weather from Texas decided to mosey our way, stopping in Atlanta first. That's what usually happens... whatever happens in Atlanta, we get 3-24 hours later. This time, we were not liking the fact that two tornadoes touched down in the city and Buckhead. DeKalb and Gwinett counties had some damage, too (according to the weather channel). When Jaina heard about it, she immediately worried about Grandma Kim and Grandpa Lee. We are hoping they are okay and are not out of power!

Because of the threat of bad storms, our town canceled the big Annual Irish Festival, "Shamrock on the Square". We love going and its become a great family tradition. Brian goes for the RJ Rockers beer, of course. Jaina loves the face painting and bean bag toss. Jayce likes running around on the city green free from his stroller.

Also, today, we were going to try out the "Eggstravaganza" at a local college. Not only is it an egg hunt, but they also have bounce houses and such. I even bought them new baskets for the occasion.

And the worst part? It barely rained at our house. Only thundered/lighting for an hour after lunch.

I understand why both the events needed to be canceled. But come on... we should have at least gotten some rain for the trouble!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pictures of Jaina and Jayce TOGETHER!!!





Its no secret that pictures that contain BOTH my kids together is always my ultimate goal. The problem is, there usually isn't anywhere to contain Jayce and he doesn't like to be in close contact with other kids for more than a split second. You will never know how hard it was to get those pictures of Jayce hugging Jaina. We had to make it part of his "routine" as they raced back and forth on the stroller ramp at the entrance to the park. Then I would be laying in wait, camera ready, to snap the picture before he gave her a super fast hug before turning away.





Me and the kiddies :) Please excuse the super ugly, super cheap, men's sunglasses I am wearing purchased from Walmart. Jayce broke my other ones!






For the pictures on the bench, it wasn't hard to get them to sit together, although Jayce protested at first. But alas, I could not get both of them to look and smile at the camera the same time :( Oh well, there is always next time!
















I have this great idea for St. Patrick's day pictures that involve using our new barstools :) Jayce can't get down from them by himself. I know, I'm tricky like that!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Park By The Lake

We met some friends at the park this week and had a great time enjoying the sunshine :)





Friday, March 07, 2008

Brian and Mini-Brian Bonding





Destined to be a programmer, just like daddy :)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Jamboread

The first Saturday in March is always our library's JAMBOREAD festival! We've been attending since Jaina was 9 months old. Poor Jayce has never gotten to stay more than a minute until Grandma rescues him from the sensory overloaded crowds, but I am confident that he'll join his sister in enjoying the festival one day.



A magician always brings his macaw with him to his shows.



Jaina, Anna, and Emily get a hug from Clifford The Big Red Dog.



The girls watched the Columbia Children's Theatre perform the adaptation of Junie B. Jones and the Monkey Business.




Getting a balloon animal is always our number one priority at the reading festival! This year, Tracy waited in line for us while the girls watched the play.


Jaina chose a black handprint when it was her turn for face painting. Black has become Jaina's favorite fashion accessory color.