Sunday, October 30, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

I feel like I have not posted a true blue post in a while. 

Life has been busy.  I am in my busy season at work.  Mike is also swamped at work.  Jonathan has been sick, on and off, for a week and half, including staying home from school and therapy a few times.  My Mom came to visit.  We had our progress review for Jonathan at WEAP.  And I ran my half marathon. 

Now with my training out of the way, I feel like I have a moment to breath.  But just a small moment.  We have Thanksgiving out of town ahead, and I have to prep for that.  But the good news eye twitch that I had for almost two weeks is gone!  YAY!!!

I have to be honest.  It has been a pretty dark and rough October for me.  And I'm not saying this for sympathy in anyway, so please don't feel sorry for me.  My worries and issues are so minimal compared to others.  I've just had a hard time getting though it.  But I'm working on it.  And I have been really relishing the good moments with Jonathan.

- He can now count to 100. 

- We went to one of his classmate's birthday parties today, and when he saw her, he gave her (unprompted) the biggest, full on hug I have ever seen him give.

- When I asked him if he wanted to go to said birthday party or go home (prior to getting there), he said "Birthday party!"

- He helped carve a pumpkin with me.  He drew the eyes, nose and mouth ("First two eyes, then a nose, then a mouth!")  I had to laugh when I was cutting the top off and he said "Jonathan's turn!"

- He grabs the book I'm reading off my night stand every night, because the author's first name is Jonathan.  - And then he flips through all the pages.

- He tells us which Handy Manny episodes he wants "Handy Manny Victor!  Handy Manny Table for Two!"

- When he hears the microwave go off, he says, "Oh!  Facon for me!" He thinks he is getting bacon, no matter what is in the microwave.

- Sometimes he plays with his timer that they use for therapy.  And a few times it will go off and he will say something like, "Now it's time for Popsicle!"

- He has his first Kit Kat.  He ate one, came running back up to me and said, "I want more, please."  

- Tonight he wanted more candy, and Mike told him, "First dinner, and then candy."  Jonathan responded, "OK!  Time for dinner!"  It was 4:00 at the time.  He then climbed on a stool to get bread out of freezer so Mike could make him a PB &J for dinner.

Just writing those few things made me smile.  I think it's gonna be ok, no matter how busy and stressed I get.  I have to remember those little moments that make me smile (geez, that was sappy). 

Oh, and he is watching Handy Manny now, and just turned to me and said "Hola Mommy!"  Too funny.
Tomorrow is Halloween.  I'll be sure to update.  Not sure if his costume (surprise - Handy Manny) will be on or not, but I'll hold zero expectations.  That is usually when I'm the most surprised.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

These Kids Can Do Amazing Things

Jen and I have seen a few movies about autism and it really does open your eyes to the scope of the condition, what it means and how the world might be seen through the eyes of someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder. So once you get past the A-word, it's sometimes remarkable to see what they can do and how they process information.

Jonathan is obsessed with numbers. He now looks at digital clocks and watches and recites the numbers as they change. He counts to 100 with ease and does that a lot these days. He also has a similar obsession with the alphabet.

But yesterday as we had our every-two-month progress report at the Wisconsin Early Autism Project (WEAP), the group that oversees and works with Jonathan every day with intensive therapy, I couldn't believe some of the things Jonathan could do. Sometimes I sit in my office and hear lots of screaming, crying and resistance to therapy--and that doesn't always give me the best impression of ABA therapy. And Jen is the one of us who attends the weekly team meetings and sees Jonathan in action.

Yesterday I had the chance to see some of the programs they are employing, and it's remarkable what Jonathan is comprehending and processing--things like human feelings (they show a picture of someone smiling and he says "Happy!"). He knows words I didn't know he knew. And he learns incredibly fast. So really, since July when he began these programs, his progress has been nothing short of remarkable, and he can do some amazing things he couldn't do before.

So the WEAP therapy program, along with his awesome team at school, special ed and, well, here at home, are all working well. Do we have challenges? Of course we do, pretty much every day. But it sure is nice to see the fruits of labor sometimes to help us continue to move forward on this journey.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Videos! - 2 of 2

And here is one from last night.  He was reading "Brown Bear, Brown Bear."  He keeps getting distracted by the TV, but the end is cute.

Videos! - 1 of 2

I thought I'd try to put some videos up of Jonathan. This one is with his number puzzle.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Single Parenting - Day 2 and now 3

We miss Daddy.  Bottom line.

But we're doing OK.  Last night was a bit rough.  Jonathan seems to be having some separation anxiety when it comes to going to bed.  He wants me to stay with him.  It was funny when I was leaving his room and he says, "Mommy goes downstairs.  Watches Handy Manny!"  Yes, that was exactly what I was going to go do ;) 

He's also been watching his digital clock in his room.  He now recognizes the numbers.  So he is having a hard time settling down at night, because he waits for the next minute to change.  He watches the clock and gets super excited.  So I tried laying with him last night, and he was saying "Nine!  Nine and Three!"  "Nine! Nine and Four!"  "Nine!  Nine and Five!"  He did eventually fall asleep.  But so crazy his obsession with numbers.  He has a number puzzle too, one through twenty. And he cannot put it together unless he counts to the next number, presents the number, and then counts up to that number again.  It is a long winded process getting to twenty. 

He is currently downstairs doing his therapy.  Lots of screaming today.  Oh, and he had an awesome tantrum at drop off at school this morning.  We were fine, and as I pulled the car into the parking lot, he yells, "DREIDEL!!"  He wanted one of his Hanukkah dreidels, which of course I didn't have!  Kicking, screaming and me having to carry him into his classroom ensued.  Then he was upset after we got in the school that blue car was parked by the window and not the light pole. He would just scream, "LIGHT POLE!  LIGHT POLE!"  I just could not read his mind and follow his rules this morning.  But I did get super big smiles at pick-up. :)

Daddy comes home tomorrow.  Hooray!  I think Jonathan misses him more than he is letting on.  I think I miss him just as much too.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Single Parenting - Day 1

Mike and I do not tend to spend much time apart in terms of seperate travel.  And really, since Jonathan was born, I think the max has been two nights. 

So this week, I've got single parenting duty for THREE nights / four days. Mike is at a conference in Nashville.  Now I am not complaining.  We are very lucky that this is all that it is. I often think about those families where a parent is in the military and deployed.  Or those who don't have 2 parents.  I am very lucky.  I know this.

Since Mike takes care of the intensive therapy scheduling everyday...being the parent at home while he works, I had to really adjust my schedule.  Again, I'm very lucky to work for a company that will be flexiable with me, and let me work from home in the afternoons this week. 

So yesterday, after we explained that Daddy will be going on an airplane, and Mommy will pick up Jonathan at school, we were ready to go!  He was SO excited to see me yesterday when I picked him up.  However, on the way home, all he could say was "Go see Daddy!" 

He did well with therapy.  Since this was my first experience of being detached from what was going on, it was hard for me.  I wanted to go downstairs and play.  But I had to work...still on the clock!  Mike would explain that there were tough times too.  And boy, I heard it!  When the screaming started, I knew he was having a tantrum, and I couldn't do anything about it.  That would only show that screaming is OK for attention...and if you scream like that, Mommy will come.  So I stayed put.  Like a knife in the heart, I stayed put.  He got over whatever he was screaming about.  All was OK.

So I must have felt very productive after work and after therapy.  I cooked a dinner (if you know me, you know, I DO NOT COOK).  I did a load of laundry.  I made the next day's coffee.  Dished were done.  Watched some Handy Manny with my kid.  OK!  I can do this.

And then came bedtime.  I think Jonathan thought, since Daddy wasn't here, Mommy would go away too after he went to bed.  He was so so sad when I put him to bed.  I could hear him saying, "Mommy.  Right Here.  Sit!"   I did go back up, and like a leech, he would not let go.  I sat with him till he fell asleep.  It wasn't horrible, but not in the norm.

So while I was productive, and all went well, I still missed "Team Farley." 

And I'm exhausted today.  I don't know how single parents do it all the time.  I had to run to Target before I went to work, but after I dropped him off at school today.  I felt like I was running, rushing, and just trying to get it all done.  I guess when you're in the situation, you're in it. You get through it.  And another day will come.

Tonight, I am not cooking. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011


One of the many things I love about Madison is the free zoo.   It is free. It is low-key.  And it is not too far from my house.  So at the last minute, I asked Jonathan if he wanted to see some animals, yes or no.  He said, "YES!"

So the two of us jump into blue car on a hot, 80 degree, October Sunday.  When we get there, I asked, "Jonathan.  Walk or stroller?"  and he said, "stroller."  I like that he was able to tell me what he wanted. 

Previous times I have taken him to this and other zoos, he is usually zoned out.  He does not react or point to the animals.  He treated the visits like a walk.  He would not make eye-contact and was usually in his own world.  Not this time! 

We saw the giraffes.  I pulled up, got down to his level and said, "What do you see?"  He said "Giraffes!"  So we looked at them, commented on their long necks, counted them (2).  Then he said, "Walk."  He was ready to move on. 

When we got to the brown bear, I picked him up, because the bear was sort of hidden.  I knew he saw the bear, because I heard him giggling a bit.  Then, "Bear.  Hi Brown Bear!" 

We saw the lions, alligator and bison.  We took a ride on the train and carousel.  This kid was being so so so good!  After the train ride, he said, "Go home.  See Daddy."  Nice job again of telling me what he wanted.

We got to the car.  I turned around and said, "Jonathan, I am so proud of what a good boy you were."  He totally smiled with pride.  And then he have me a high-five. 

It was such a nice, impromptu outing.  And so low-pressure.  Our trip lasted about an hour and half.  It was great.

Now on to a challenging week ahead.  Mike has a conference for most of the week, so I will get to try my hand at single-parenthood.  I'm a little nervous, and I'm sure there will be tears.  But I know we'll get through it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

J and Pepper: A Love Story

Let me start by saying I'm not a cat person.  We had dogs growing up.  I like dogs.  Mike and I did not have a pet as a couple for various reasons.
Along came Pepper.

I'll back up a bit.  Jonathan would follow kitties around at friend's homes.  His favorite cartoon, Caillou, has a cat, named Gilbert.  He always called out cats if he saw them.  It was very apparent, my son was a cat person.
In January of this year, we went as a family to the Humane Society.  I had been looking on-line, and knew we should go there.
All of the cats were either a bit older or did not fit in to our criteria (being patient with a child being the main one).  There was one kitten, and the kind volunteer there suggested we meet her.  Her name was Squeaky.  We all went to the back, private room to get to know her.  Immediately, Jonathan pulled her tail.  I thought, forget it.  This is not going to work out.  As we were sitting there talking, Jonathan crawled into the cat tower tube.  All of a sudden, the kitten jumped on top of the tower, and started batting at Jonathan.  They were playing!  He crawled out, grabbed little ball and threw it to her.  She ran after it.  Then, he suddenly said, "Gilbert!"  Mike and I looked at each other.  We knew we were taking this one home.

 My Favorite Picture of the Two of Them

He loves her!

Buddies Gotta Nap!

On the first day we got her.  She is MUCH fatter now.

Fast forward 9 months later.  Squeaky became Pepper.  A day does not go by where Jonathan doesn't say "Go home, see Pepper!"  "Pepper's eating!"  "Pepper's sleeping!"

Just today, Pepper was sleeping under our bed.  Jonathan started wandering around saying, "Pepper, where are you?  Where is Pepper?"  He found her and said, "Pepper! There you are.  Come here!"

She is truly his friend.

I should also mention, she follows Mike around like a shadow.  She knows who feeds her.  Come to think of it, I think I do the same thing...follow Mike around like a shadow.  What? He feeds me too.  haha!

We're glad we have Pepper. I guess we're all cat people now.  And I love that Jonathan is communicating directly to her.