A Wicked Good Night

Why is this couple smiling?

A) A cute little blond haired boy is taking their picture.

B) They got to *sleep in* this morning while their kids brains slowly melted away in front of the television.

C) They are on their way out the door to the theater.

D) All of the above. 

 

The correct answer is D.

Last night we left the kids with a sitter, and jaunted off to see Wicked. Rumor has it Cleveland boasts the second largest theater district outside of NYC. Don’t know if it’s true, but that’s what I hear.

This is a photo of the ceiling in the lobby of The State Theater.  As you can see, it is quite fancy.  I wouldn’t dream of taking a photo inside the theater. A “Red Coat” might get me, and then I’d have hell to pay. You don’t want to mess with a Red Coat.  

This is HT coming back from the men’s room.

He’s looking a little embarrassed because some lady he doesn’t know is snapping his picture. Once he got up close he recognized me. It’s been a while since he’s seen me in make-up, and clothing other than sweats.

Our seats were great. We enjoyed the show. Particulary Loathing and Popular,  and of course For Good. The leads were well matched and the sets were amazing. During intermission, I got to educate HT on “steampunk,” since the set is so steampunk-ish. He was dazzled with my knowledge. 

We bothed thanked Goddess we didn’t bring the children. They would have been terrified. Our kids are still pretty sheltered re: entertainment. (Riley recently sobbed over a small sword fight cheek gashing incident at the end of The Princess Bride. In no way could she have handled this production).

The show is the wispiest version of the meatiness that is Wicked, the book. Entirely different but altogether enjoyable.

Riley and Seth as always, had a ball with their favorite baby-sitter. She’s kind of our only baby sitter. Yes, our lives hang precariously on the availability of a busy 14 year old. On weekends, we put an air mattress in Riley’s room, and Seth sleeps in there. They talk and talk until one of them falls asleep. Despite the fact Riley has the comfiest bed in the house, this is how we found them when we came home last night. That’s Riley under the blanket. They are both on the air mattress.

The only thing better than going out, is coming home.

Nature Pictures and Paybacks

I will never again be able to walk down the sidewalk in my neighborhood without thinking about how some of the slabs are cement, and some are slate. My friends Kathleen(KC) and Chuck from Albuquerque visited recently and they just couldn’t get over it. I myself had never noticed. Thanks guys. Like I didn’t have better things to ponder on my walks.

This is a yellow rose from our front flower bed. The bush is still blooming even though it is the end of November in Cleveland. Is this normal? Quit looking at the weeds in my garden please. Focus on the yellow rose. The sign of friendship. Friends don’t criticize friend’s weeds. I’m just guessing about the symbolism for the yellow rose but I might be right. The roses smell heavenly, and I am proud not to have killed it yet, though I have not personally done anything to keep it alive. The yellow rose. I’m changing my mind. It’s the symbol of survival.

This is my favorite tree in the neighborhood. Its leaves are red from far away, and orange from underneath. I like that in a tree. Versatility. Like a reversible jacket. Who doesn’t like a reversible jacket? Not that you ever really use the reverse side, but it’s nice to have the option.

My friend KC whom I mentioned above, hates when she gets a song in her head and can’t shake it. There are certian songs that really do this to her. She can’t stand it! They get in there, wearing a continuous groove on her brain. Songs, oh I don’t know…like this:

KC, this gets you back for the sidewalks.

Now maybe I can return to comtemplating the meaning of life when I go for my walks.

Wishing You Joy

So much to be thankful for. Our sweet family. Our animals. Our friends. People we know and those we don’t know care about us, and send love our way. We’ve never been hungry. We always have what we need. I am so thankful for every person who has ever read my blog. I am thankful for anything that causes me joy and I am thankful for any opportunity to bring joy to others. My life has more blessings than I could ever count. Truly it is mind boggling. I can’t even take it all in.  I found the video below after watching some seniors dance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade just now. The kids are glued to the TV, and HT and I have been in and out, watching bits between preparing food. It’s just the four of us today.

These aren’t the same seniors in the parade, but Google led me down a road (you know how it is) and I came upon them. I think the director of this choir might have one of the most joyful jobs on earth. Oh to just have fun and not give a rip what anyone thinks. I love it!

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for you!

The Elusive Middle Place

We got to the bottom of what was eating Riley yesterday. There’s this boy in her class, and he “goes too easy on her.”

You see, he’s sweet. And kind. Apparently too kind. He goes back and forth with the other girls, teasing them and they tease him back, but he “goes easy” on Riley. She fears he treats her like a baby. I’m guessing they deliberately sat him next to her because he is helpful. She is one of the youngest in her class. She does not turn ten until June, so she already fears being a baby. Plus it’s fourth grade and she’s the only one who still cries, and this makes her self-conscious. 

“Riley, would you prefer he be mean to you?”

“No.”

“Well what would you like?” I asked.

“I’d like him to be somewhere in the middle.”

No one likes to be condescended to. I understand that. I also get how many other kids on the spectrum are not experiencing peers “going easy on them.” Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a middle place, for all of them.

Staying in the Race

In one weekend, Riley took a promotional exam in martial arts, went to a birthday party unaccompanied by me (for the very first time!) and ran a huge 5K race with Girls on the Run. She even fell during the run,scraping her hands and knees but got back up and kept going. She paced herself and stayed in the race.

Today was a hard day for her. I had to drag her kicking and screaming to school(after determining it wasn’t a safety issue causing her distress). She wound up in the sensory room for half the day. Sometimes it feels like such a roller coaster. My tendency is to fret about it. Second guess things. Analyze what went wrong and try to prevent it in the future. Meanwhile, Riley is whooping it up, giggling with her brother downstairs. I mean, get with it! That whole meltdown business is so this morning. Such a long, long time ago.

This is one of those moments when I must look at my darling daughter, whom I adore, and put a little space between us. Trust her to work it through. Know she is going to come out okay. Know we all are.

Hiding in my room.

Pacing myself.

Staying in the race.

Be Kind.To You.

“The surest way to disconnect from Who You Really Are is to find a reason, any reason to criticize yourself. It’s almost as bad to criticize others, but the very worst thing you can do is criticize you, because it flies in the face of the most powerful Love that Source flows.”

-Abraham

He thinks a little pre-paving might be in order…

“Time to start homework!” I say to the kids. 

Riley sucks in her breath, anticipating disaster before she even begins.

Seth leans over to me and whispers, “I think Riley needs to do some ‘Om’ work  before she starts her homework.” He puts his thumbs to his middle fingers to form circles and feigns an exaggerated peaceful smile.

We do almost daily meditation practice as a family but never that way. It made me laugh and it started out the homework segment on the right foot.

The 300 Club

This week Riley made it into The 300 Club at Tae Kwon Do. She’d had her eye on the plaque for over a year. Back when she started she could not do twenty sit-ups. She’s always had low muscle tone. She could not make it through five minutes of a traditional martial arts class. The teacher had to work one on one with her. Now she’s one of the best students in her class. She tries so hard. She is focused. She never, ever slacks off. This week she did 300 sit ups. Her name will go on the plaque. She did the first 100 without anyone holding her feet. Just her on the mat.

She has another promotional exam soon and she is excited about it. Excited. Smiling!

Now she’s eyeing the 100 Club plaque for push ups. 

You go baby girl!

There is nothing you can’t do.

Seth is Helpful and Kind

As you know, we sometimes have a little trouble with homework. Often, there’s screaming involved(and it’s not just me).

As you know, we have a wonderful little person in this house named Seth. On a recent evening, said screaming ensued, and this is the note Seth wrote out and delivered under Riley’s nose, before returning to his Legos.  

Note the increase in enthusiasm emphasized by the progression of exclamation marks. 

He’s simply the nicest little boy I’ve ever met.

I appreciate him. I like who he is. We are lucky to have him in this family.

Amen.

Chillin’ Wit Da Staglianos

mia

Yesterday I spent the evening with the Kim Stagliano. They were in Cleveland for a doctor appt. and Kim’s husband Mark was going out with a friend, so I hung out in the hotel suite with Kim and her girls. For those who don’t know Kim already, (perhaps you are new to the Internet and just stumbled upon my blog accidentally) all three of Kim’s girls have autism. That’s Mia above, and below is Gianna, holding tight to her beloved book on feelings. “Excited” is her favorite page.  IMG_0097

After traveling all day, the family went out to dinner and Kim barely had two bites before Gianna had a meltdown and they had to leave the restaurant. You would never know it. A short time later, I arrived and first of all, Kim looked great. Secondly she was just so loving and compassionate with her girls. Not a trace of annoyance or frazzled-ness. She tended to all three of them, preparing them for bed, getting teeth brushed, all the while holding a conversation with me. She’s a graceful mother. That’s what she is.  Bella fell asleep like this, with Kim rubbing her legs and feet as we chattered away.  IMG_0094

 Bella is a little doll. Same age as Riley. 

bella

Kim and I had a wonderful conversation. We dished bio-med. We talked about the Dr. of Chinese Medicine my family is seeing. We talked about service dogs, and PANDAS and books (she has one coming out in 2010), and yes, we talked about vaccines. I’ve gotten away from the politics of autism on this blog, but I do personally believe vaccines have contributed greatly to the increase in autism. Part of me truly thinks parents are CRAZY not to be more informed about vaccines. I admit I secretly scoff at parents who are involved in the PTA, who feed their kids nutritious food, who limit the amount of TV time their precious little ones get, but who have absolutely no clue about what they are putting  into their children’s bodies in the form of immunizations. Have no clue about the politics involved and the financial conflicts of interest behind pushing through new vaccine after new vaccine. Have no clue they haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of getting help if their child has an adverse reaction. Have no idea truly how many adverse reactions to vaccines there are!  I also secretly roll my eyes at special needs parents who swear their baby was “born that way.”  Not unless you tell me they didn’t get the mercury laden Hep B vaccine at birth (or merc filled HiB and Hep B at two months, or four months),or that you didn’t get a flu shot or Rhogham while pregnant.  And if you pass that test, I’ll ask to look in your mouth to count how many leaky silver fillings you have, and I’ll inquire about your tuna habit.

That being said, I happen to think there is a bigger spiritual issue at play concerning the autism epidemic, one we don’t quite understand and may never understand fully in this lifetime. Part of me has to admit our family is living a very LARGE experience, a direct result of having a child on the spectrum. My life has absolutely been blessed by Riley. Her autism has led the way to so much personal growth. There has been pain, but she has brought deeper joy than we ever would have experienced had she not been exactly who she is.  Dare I say autism has made us more, and not less? A few years ago that kind of talk would have pissed me off, but there it is.

Anyway, back to Kim. It was so good to see her in action. Passionate-Energizer bunny-advocate-editor-super mom-author that she is. Her girls are extraordinary. It was a lovely visit, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend time with them.

Walking at Girls on the Run

I took this picture while I was walking with a girl from Girls on the Run. I liked how the sunshine was touching the faces of the tallest leaves remaining on top of the tree. I LOVE that color blue.

Riley was running along ahead of me, not needing me, and so I walked with one of the girls who walks, not runs. She’s in fifth grade and she shared with me how a boy she is friends with asked her to be his “girlfriend” the day before. She told him she’d have to think about it. Today she told him as long as he realized “there would be no kissing, because kissing is gross, and as long as he realized it was just a title,” then yes, she would be his girlfriend. She is smart as a whip!

Another one of the “walkers” shared with me a couple weeks ago how her father died two years ago from complications due to diabetes. She said she had nightmares for months after he died, and she had to go on medication because of it. She’s in third grade and still sucks her thumb.

One girl shared with the group that her mom’s ex-boyfriend is in prison for selling marijuana.

Some of the girls can’t even pronounce the word alcohol, and assume beer can’t be alcohol because obviously alcohol is bad, bad, bad, but their dads drink beer so that must not count. Their dads are good!

Our district is extremely eclectic. The kids come from a vast variety of backgrounds.

These girls drive me crazy. The way they won’t stop talking ever. The way they don’t listen! They way they all vye for my attention.

I do love them though. I feel a certain ownership and sense of pride seeing them in the hallways at school, when I come to volunteer or pick up the kids.

After all, it’s a privilege to know about someone’s first boyfriend. It’s a privilege to know about someone’s dad who has transitioned.

These girls are so good to Riley.

May the sunshine always touch their beautiful faces. May every one of them reach for the sky.

PANDAS on Today

seth's panda

Doctor Nancy Snyderman and Beth Maloney, author of Saving Sammy talked with the dreamy Matt Lauer, about PANDAS this morning. PANDAS is the condition affecting our sweet boy Seth.

Snyderman boldy states, “Doctors don’t have all the answers!”

Honest and for true? They don’t?

Thanks for clearing that up Dr. Nancy.

Imagine! A child’s behavior might actually be a clue to an underlying biomedical issue. 

Now that’s something worth considering.

Focus Wheels

The last two weeks were tough. Riley could not shake the feeling of being behind, after missing ten days of school to go get her service dog. One of the ways we were able to move forward was by using the focus wheel exercise depicted in the best selling Abraham-Hicks book, The Vortex.

I’ve posted about focus wheels in the past, but here is the jist. You take whatever bad feeling you are having and come up with its opposite, and put that in the middle of a circle. Riley was feeling behind, and worried, so in the middle of her circle we put the opposite of that, “feeling like things are happening how and when they are supposed to/having faith.”  That’s what we were going for.

Then we changed the subject and spent some time focusing on Tanya, her cat. Thinking about Tanya makes Riley feel peaceful and calm. We think about Tanya’s colorful paws. Her soft patchwork calico fur. Her purr. Her eyes. Her face. When Riley is feeling calmer, we start working on the focus wheel.  We fill it in with statements that support “feeling like things are happening how and when they are supposed to/having faith.”

This is an interactive exercise. I don’t do it for Riley. We discuss things and kick them around. She decides what goes in the slots. Excuse my messy writing, but I think you can read it. 

When we are done with a focus wheel, the air in the room is different. It changes things.

Here is a focus wheel I did with Seth, who is afraid to be upstairs by himself. He thought about Legos to get in a good energy focus wheel place. Again, he came up with the answers for the slots. It didn’t cure him of his fear, but it got him through a recent night, when he was feeling particularly fearful about going to bed.

I’ve used the focus wheel exercise many times myself, and find it to be a useful tool. Feeling better, a little bit at a time. That’s the idea. Like Riley says in her wheel above, I know I can do anything if I start in small increments.

Todd O’Neil, and His Partner Michelle O’Neil!

Today at Whole Foods, HT and I parked in the upstairs ramp. We took the stairs, rather than the elevator. It’s a big staircase which opens up into a giant produce department.

“Can we pretend we’re on Dancing With the Stars?” I asked as we started our decent.

He linked his arm in mine. 

“Todd O’Neil, and his partner, Michelle O’Neil.”

We strutted down the steps like we owned the place. Smiling, nodding.

Like we’re headed to the semi-finals!

Like we’ve got it in the bag!

Don’t be fooled by my sweat pants. A couple of measures in we’re going to tear them off to reveal a skimpy, fringe laden, glittery costume.

Awwww yeah.

His shirt is coming off.

It’s Monday after his 7th day on. After a brutal week on the home front. Tonight it’s the Thai that binds us. Thai food that is. Take out. Every other Monday.

It doesn’t take much to make me happy. 

And now!

(Cue the red lights and the heart beat).

Revealing what I love…in no particular order…Thai food…Dancing With the Stars…and Todd.

(What? You expected me to go a whole season without a Dancing With the Stars reference? Surely you jest)!