Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Present and a Little Christmas Miracle

The hubby had to work on December 25th, so we quietly bumped our Christmas celebration to the 26th. Parents of an autistic child know well that you can't simply tell your child that Santa will be visiting all her friends an entire day before he will be visiting her (even if she might possibly be on the "Naughty" list) or imply in any way that she is missing Christmas. That would have caused the planet to implode.

Lucky for us we were able to pull the whole thing off without a hitch. It was a Christmas miracle for sure!

Christmas is a very stressful time for kids in the autism spectrum. New sights, sounds and smells, more activity, family visits and last but not least the anticipation. For an autistic child, this is a recipe for disaster. We've had our share of behavioral issues and meltdowns over the past days - can't imagine why my blood pressure is so wacked out...

Anyway, today we celebrated Christmas.

With all The Skink has been through recently with her bout with viral pneumonia, it was only appropriate that Santa would bring her her very own medical equipment! Her first order of business was to check daddy's heart.

He has one!

Don't mind the hair. We couldn't let a little thing like a messy mop get in the way of Christmas excitement! The Skink also got a Victorious doll - a toy based on her favorite television show. The doll sings the show's theme song... and The Skink (who knows every word) sings right along with the doll. (Translation: we've been listening to the Victorious theme song for about 3 hours straight now... )

But the Girls' big present (and I do mean BIG) was the giant wood doll house I found for an unbelievably low price on line. Sure - it took a few days, some bruised thumbs and a bunch of stress required a little assembly, but it was worth it! The girls love it and will likely play with it a lot once they can get it away from me...

Help! The Christmas gifts are eating my children!

You know you got the right gifts when:

The Skink also received a Cow Christmas ornament, but she doesn't believe cows belong on the tree. Silly us! Every Skink knows that cows belong in bed!

Broadway's big gift was a computer. We haven't seen him since the time this picture was taken.

She's becoming a bit overstimulated. Can you tell?

Toothbrushes make great stocking stuffers - and apparently need regular naps.

And these... these shoes go perfectly with practically any outfit - including pajamas.

Look! Iraq got a toy that's actually meant to be kicked.

And we certainly wouldn't forget the dog... or Daddy's requirement for great quantities of cocoa!

Meltdowns and all, it's been a fun day so far. The next few days should be interesting with Iraq, but at least there will be some fun new toys to play with when I'm not sitting on her.

Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday Season!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Random Moments

Today was a day that started like any other - at least any other weekend day where I don't have to crawl out of bed half asleep and drag children, unwilling, from their slumber. OK - so today started like any other relaxing weekend day.

I woke up with the rise of the sun, to the sound of The Skink's voice as it carried through the crackling baby monitor. She was happily playing in her room. As I lay in bed and listened, it became clear she was practicing her stand-up comedienne skills before a herd of admiring cattle.

The jokes weren't completely distinguishable... something about a mermaid eating taquitos. There must have been a really good series of one-liners because The Skink laughed and laughed. Sure - so she laughs at her own jokes. Girlfriend knows she rocks!

Since my youngest was clearly entertained at the moment, I took my time getting dressed. I've been dieting and I reveled in the knowledge that my clothes were clearly outgrowing me. I stood before the mirror, turning this way and that, admiring my curves and taking note of some of the more stubborn lumps that clearly need a lecture from the soft-spoken  health-nazi on my Pilates DVD. Or lipo. Lipo would be good.

When I emerged after getting dressed and my morning bathroom ritual of consuming a small breakfast of blood pressure medications, vitamins and toxic levels of potassium, I found Iraq quietly watching T.V. in the living room. It was a little like stepping into an alternate reality to find she had already let the dog out (and back in), eaten some breakfast and constructed a 50 piece puzzle featuring rainbows and unicorns.

"Who are you and what have you done with my daughter?"

"Wow, Iraq. What a great job you did this morning! I'm so proud of you for taking care of the dog and getting your own breakfast!"

I then proceeded upstairs where I found The Skink and her cows jumping on the bed. Once dressed (The Skink - not the cows) we came downstairs where the girls requested "Frosted Flakes." (OK - really? No fuss about wanting ice cream or begging for bacon? Did I fall out of bed and hit my head last night?)

Iraq even ran upstairs and found an outfit similar to the one I had dressed her little sister in - because she wanted to look like her sister today.

My hallucinations of an easy and happy morning continued as the girls offered a photo-op in which both smiled and played sweetly with each other. The camera doesn't lie, right? Tell me you can see these pictures too!

Broadway saw them this morning and asked if they were both prisoners.

And my favorite:

I really enjoyed our temporary reprieve from wacked-out behavioral issues this morning. It was a great Christmas Eve gift! Ironically, my husband has to work today and tomorrow, so as far as the girls know, tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Shhhhhhhhhh... don't tell!

One other fun and interesting little gem to report:

Yesterday Iraq looked outside and exclaimed, "Hey mom! There's a bird on that tree and it's pecking itself!"

Actually, it was pecking the tree. I looked it up and it turns out it's a Downey Woodpecker. The males have red spots on their head, so this one appears to be a female.

Oh - and one last thing! I rank among the world's worst when it comes to sending out Christmas cards. One year I even went so far as to purchase the cards, made it about a quarter of the way through addressing them, and then got side-tracked with 100 other things and forgot to send them. In lieu of sending physical cards... here ya go! It's a pittance, but it's all I've got :P

Happy Holidays!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Christmas Parade Adventure

The Skink has been back in school half-days since her little hospital stay. Normally if my husband picks her up, she'll call out "I'm home!" when she comes through the door. On Tuesday I heard them get home, but she didn't call out. What did I hear? It was something that could only be described and the tip-tap of little hooves. And look what popped around the corner!

She pranced about and shook her head (which made the little jingle-bell ring) but she didn't talk to me, because after all, reindeer don't talk!

The next day the class didn't make hats, so she tried on her daddy's hat instead.

Very official looking, no?

And we enjoyed watching a visitor who was not official-looking at all. No, this little guy found our deck railing to be a great spot to take a break from his nut-collecting.


Friday night was our town's big Christmas Parade! We go and enjoy it every year, but this year we got to participate in the parade - very exciting for the girls... right up until they realized how boring and uncomfortable it is to have to stand around for a few hours and wait for our turn to walk. 

Of course the kids did find ways of passing the time with friends...

 Iraq and the Mixed Martial Arts instructor, Mr. M.

They played tag... around the "Affordable Septic" truck. Don't know about you, but up until last night it hadn't crossed my mind to decorate a huge container of human waste... guess we all have different ideas of beauty...

Of course we got to march right behind that truck. There was a brief feeling of horror through those of us in the ranks of the Baa Da Bing Family Center as we realized that something was leaking out of the truck... but at least we didn't have to follow behind the Mounted Gypsies of the R. Vally horse brigade. There seemed to be a lot more "leaking" out of them.
My favorite float (and a tribute to Jimmy Buffet and Parrot Heads everywhere) was the giant cheeseburger in paradise.

So when the moon was high and the air had a frosty nip in it...

we grabbed our various batons or pom-poms, climbed in our gaily-donned wagon and prepared to cheer and dance our way down the parade rout.

In Christmases past, we stood by the side of the road and watched the colorful floats, marching bands and displays of Christmas cheer as they made their way past us.
For Christmas present, we got to see the colorful crowds standing by the side of the road as we followed  marching bands and spread Christmas cheer. 
It was really pretty cool...
honestly, it was downright *cold,* but fun all the same!

And guess who we ran into at the end of the parade rout?

Look at The Skink's expression in the second one! "Yeah - after the way you've been behaving this year, you are SO kissing up right now!"

To give you an idea how big the parade is in our town, the first float moved down the parade rout at 6:30 p.m.  The Baa Da Bing Family Center started down the parade rout almost 8:00. By the time we made it to the end of the rout it was 8:23 p.m. (I know this by the time stamp on the phone call I made to my husband when we got to the end of the rout) and we weren't even at the end of the parade!
Now mind you, my children (the younger ones) generally go to bed around 7:30 p.m. It was 8:30 by the time we met up with Mimi and Daddy. Nobody had eaten dinner before the parade, so off we went to IHOP, which was unfortunately very short-staffed. Can you hear my eyes rolling a little by now?

So we did a lot of coloring...

And hamming for pictures (I know it's terrible quality, but it's a great picture of The Skink, yes?)

We drank so many cups of hot chocolate, our server finally just brought my husband this bucket  ----- >

And finally at about 9:30 p.m. the food came!

Finally, tired and happy, we all went home and went to bed... which time The Skink succumbed to the Norovirus and I got a great workout running up and down the stairs for the next 6 hours. I graciously allowed my husband to take over at 6:00 a.m. so I could get a little sleep. *sigh*

So that's my Christmas Parade story, and I'm sticking to it!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Asperger's and Meltdowns and Itty-Bitty Breakthroughs... Oh My...

Thanksgiving sent our home into holiday disarray - Asperger's style. The whole problem with these darn holidays is that it messes with Iraq's schedule, and when you mess with Iraq's schedule, you are taking your life into your own hands.

The meal turned out perfectly, much to my great amazement!

And my husband and Broadway hung the Christmas lights on the house.

It looks way better in person - my son wanted it to look like water trickling out of the birdbath and creating a stream from which some deer are drinking. They succeeded.

Of course that night we were in for melt-downs immediately following the discovery of multiple stolen items in Iraq's bedroom. *sigh* The fun didn't stop there, and we've been feeling the after-effects of messing with the schedule for the past week.            yippee...

So - moving on...

Today we had our weekly appointment with (one of) Iraq's therapists. We went to a room full of toys and after an adjustment/free time, the therapist asked us to play with the doll house together. We put all the furniture in it, and then the therapist told me to go sit down and "take a break," and asked Iraq to clean up. I would have been shaking in my boots, but I couldn't because I was wearing sneakers. This kind of request frightens me because I know it will make Iraq mad, and that her rage will be directed at... me. *gulp*

Iraq looked furious, but unlike many boys with Asperger's, 8-year-old girls with Asperger's (at least mine) is less likely to go into full meltdown mode unless they are in a "safe place" like home, their grandparent's house or just alone with mom and dad. Since we were at the therapist's office and the therapist was in the room, she *did* start throwing putting the doll furniture away, but kept the angry look on her face and growled about the unfairness of the situation. Throughout that time the therapist talked to me about something... but I have no idea what it was because I was so focused on the thought swirling through my brain about what would happen if the session time ran out and I had to get in the car and go home with a very angry little girl. Yikes! The mere thought of it was enough to make me nauseous.

Lucky for me, the therapist had a plan. And it was very illuminating, indeed. (Does anybody use the word "indeed" any more?) Anywhoo... After Iraq finished putting away the toys, the therapist asked Iraq how she was feeling about what just happened.

"I'm MAD!" Iraq snapped, sounding somewhat like a rabid dog with a bad headache.
"That wasn't fair to ask you to pick up by yourself, was it?" the therapist asked her.
"NO, it wasn't!" Iraq growled back.
"Who are you mad at?"
"HER!" Iraq snarled, pointing at me.
"Why are you mad at your mom?"
"Because SHE made me clean up all by myself!"
"Who asked you to clean up while your mom sat down?" the therapist queried, pointedly.
"She did!" Iraq answered, again pointing at me.
"Did your mom ask you to clean up while she sat down, or did I say 'Iraq, you clean up while your mom takes a break'?"
"My mom told me to clean up..." This time Iraq's voice had a hint of confusion in it.
"I didn't hear your mom say anything about cleaning up. I remember that I said, 'Iraq, you clean up while your mom takes a break.' Do you remember that?"
Iraq didn't say anything this time, and we could almost see the glimmer of a small light bulb flickering on somewhere in the depths of her consciousness. As I saw the realization of what had just transpired in Iraq's eyes, I knew I was watching a small break-through, and I almost did a happy dance (but I didn't because it would have been highly inappropriate just then).

Again the therapist asked, "That wasn't fair to ask you to pick up by yourself, was it? Who are you angry with right now?"
This time Iraq pointed at the therapist, but the anger had all but left her features. She looked a little sheepish as she said, "It wasn't fair and I didn't like that."
The therapist and I both told her how proud we were that she did clean up even though the situation had been unfair. The therapist told her that she was proud Iraq didn't have a melt down to which Iraq replied, "I would have if we were at home!"
Hey - that was an honest statement!

The interesting part of the whole situation was the clear illustration of Iraq's misplaced anger. She truly believed in that time that I had been the one to wrong her. I think there have been many, many times when Iraq has felt wronged by someone or something, but that anger sooner or later manifested itself with a meltdown directed at her father or myself.

We are her safe zone. Home is the safe place. She holds all her fears, frustrations, anger and anxiety inside - like a grenade with its pin pulled out - until she gets home. Then...


And when she blows up, all that anger and emotion is directed at... us.

In other news...

Tonight my husband is taking The Skink to have a sleep study done. The Skink had been on oxygen at night following her hospital stay, but the monitor that measures oxygen saturation kept going off - all... night... long.

So now that she has recovered from pneumonia, we're having a study done because it is very likely that the monitor would have gone off prior to the illness - - as in, she has issues breathing when she's asleep. We had no idea because she doesn't snore or make any noise at all.

**Update** My hubby just texted me this gem of a picture he took with his phone:

Run! It's a spaghetti monster... and it's captured some cows!

Depending on the results, our 5-year-old may have to use a C-PAP machine. We had a hard enough time keeping an oxygen cannula on her... totally not looking forward to the possibility of a big ol' mask attached to a big ol' hose and a bunch of wires! How on earth is that going to work?

Oh well... we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.