((Hugs))

The only thing better than being a boy obsessed with Lego, and having a new Lego to put together…

is when your sister, whom you adore, suddenly, inexplicably, begins sharing your interest with you.

Here they are, beginning to work on one of Seth’s Christmas presents. We like to space things out. Save some for a snowy day. Seth is so happy she is playing Lego with him. Letting him lead. He is the Lego expert you know.

In other news, Riley hugged HT the other day. She is not a cold unaffectionate person by any means, and always allows our affection, but it was the first time she spontaneously hugged him, and he could not wait to tell me. It’s one of those things an outsider just does not get. If you were hanging out with us, you wouldn’t assume she’d never hugged her dad on her own before. It would be a given for most kids.

My dear friend’s husband died when her son was just five. She says, one of the hardest parts has been…the feeling of there not being another person who knows stuff like this. Shared intimate moments about your kid. Only Todd and I know what Riley looked like the morning when she was six months old, and he returned from a business trip and we lay in bed, and she showed him how she had learned to clap while he was away.

Only the two of us remember when Seth used to say, Yi Yuv You Yie-yee, (I love you Riley).

So when he tells me she hugged him, I get it. The depth of it, reflected in the glint of his eyes as he smiles.

When she shares her brother’s interest, we know what a big deal it is.We’ll remember it.

The gift of autism, for us, is we don’t tend to take things for granted.

I mean, sometimes we do, but typically we don’t.

She makes our lives so much richer.

Just ask her dad.

A Very Successful Clay Session

My childrens’ self-portraits. It’s uncanny, isn’t it? The resemblance?

We are up to our ears in pottery.

As in…next class…if there is one, they are only making pieces to give away. Hot Toddy thought of it and I second the notion. Hear that friends and family? It’s your lucky day.

This is a set of plates they made.

And you can never have too many coil pots. No sir.

We went the whole eight week session with no problems. Not one. Riley has grown so much in the last year. It is beautiful to behold.

How you doin’?

Riley cut her wispies (by herself) a few weeks ago and now has some “signature bangs” which she incorporated into her sculpture. I tried to talk her into getting layered bangs, to kind of hide her work, but she insisted she likes her signature bangs, so there you go. Liking yourself just as you are? I’m not going to argue.

Working with clay requires one to be flexible. That includes moms.

Flexibility. It seems like the very thing, the one thing Riley and I have been teaching each other since before she was even born.

We’re getting there.

We really are.

She Has Buckets of Empathy

Today was the first day of this season’s Girls on the Run. I had the lesson prepared, my flashcards at the ready and was enjoying leading the new group. Seth usually hangs out in the gym while we meet. Smack in the middle of our session he came running over to me, holding his mouth. He made it to the trash can where he proceeded to be sick. Repeatedly.

We needed to leave.

The other coach heroically stepped in and winged it, and offered to drop Riley off later.

As soon as Riley got home, she ran upstairs to check on her brother. Then, she brought a picture of his crush (Diana Agron from Glee) and taped it to his pillow to make him feel better.

This girl, is not without empathy. She has such a big heart.

Our little man may not be feeling so hot, but he sure is well loved.

P.S. Don’t Seth and Diana make a cute couple?

Appreciation Saturday

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While the guy is painting our living room downstairs, Riley, Seth, Jingle, Yippee, the cats, and I are piled into the bedroom. The kids are watching TV while I type away. Seriously, why don’t we do this every day? So cozy and fun! I am in love with technology. How is it I can sit here wireless, writing under a big down comforter? It is still such a miracle to me. How is it we have electricity? Phones? Cell phones? Plumbing? It is all so amazing. Someone figured it all out, and I didn’t have to. I don’t have to do everything! I can just come along and reap the rewards. The Universe is abundant, I tell ‘ya. People who invented these things, wherever you are…I appreciate you. I love brilliant minds. I love learning.

Did you know there is a website called Khan Academy where you can learn just about anything?

I am really loving the whole learning at home thing lately. I admit we did it out of necessity initially, but more and more it makes sense for our family. And cue sunshine and rainbows please….we recently were approved for the Ohio Autism Scholarship for Riley which will allow us to have a tutor come to our home during the week to teach her(at no cost to us). I cannot tell you how much this will help our family. This is the best case scenario. She gets to be home, but we don’t have to bear the full responsibility of teaching her. We don’t have to do everything! This will afford us more one-on-one with Seth, and allow me to get things done around the house while the tutor is here.

I used to joke, “I’d love for her to be homeschooled; I just wish someone else would do it.”

Dreams do come true.

I’ll never forget the relief I felt in her pre-kindergarten year, when the wonderful private teacher we hired said, “I’d like to take care of the educational piece, so you can just be her mom.” She was a special needs parent too, so she knew. For so long I’ve had to be everything. Doctor, advocate, attorney, teacher, nutritionist, coach, you name it. I am feeling sweet relief.

We are finding now that Riley doesn’t have to keep it together 35 hours a week at school, (with homework on top of that) she is much more sociable. She is starting conversations (in small groups). She is joyful. She can follow a conversation through lots of twists and turns. We belong to a co-op which meets on Fridays and has anywhere between 40-60 kids each session. There are very small classes. Each child picks two classes and there is an hour long recess in between where children can eat and play. At first she stuck with her brother like glue but the last couple of weeks she’s been hanging with the girls her age. An outsider looking in would never be able to pick her out of the crowd as “the kid with autism.” She is more relaxed. Part of it has to do with the company.

This is what I’ll tell you about the homeschooled kids we have met.

-They are polite.
-They are kind.
-They do not feel “entitled” and are respectful not just of adults but of other children.
-They are not particularly competitive.
-They are creative.
-They seem to nurture each other.
-They happily eat nutritious food.
-They are accepting.
-They are happy with a big long thick rope, playing tug of war. Piling on. Dragging each other around, all over the gym, for as long as we let them.
-They are enthusiastic learners.

So, it is going well.

And of course, one of the very best things about being home is the ample time the kids get to spend with their animals.

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Some days are more challenging than others, but today is a good day, and it deserves a mention. Good coffee. Good kids. Good dogs. Good computer. Comfy bed.

Date night tonight with Hot Toddy. We’re seeing The King’s Speech.

Life is good, yo.

For real.

Love.

Standing in Another Hollywood-istic Place

Just over two hours ago I woke my husband from a sound sleep and told him I couldn’t take it anymore.

Riley had been sick all night, (tummy trouble associated with autism)and though he took the first shift, and was up ’til 2AM, by 5AM I was spent. Because not only is she sick, she can’t deal with the sensory issues of being sick, so she cries and moans, and ruminates on every bad feeling and worries and worries and worries and worries and worries, and worries and worries and worries and worries and I have spent so much time on the bathroom floor with this kid lately, flu bugs, and colds and now this, and my body is cold and achey and I lose compassion and feel the years being taken off my life because everything is just so much HARDER than it is for most, at least typical kids, and on and on, sinking my own self into despair.

And here’s the thing about Todd. I can come in and wake him when he himself has only had three hours of sleep, and I can say things any other person on the planet would judge and condemn me for. Things mothers should not say.  And he can look right through it and know my heart, and tell me he gets it, and it’s okay, and then two minutes after I cry and blow my nose and get it out, I can have him cracking up laughing…goading him to tell me whom he would tell to F off, right now if he could. And he indulges me.

And it’s after all this, I can put things in perspective, and remember the absoutely great day Riley and I had, and be grateful, so very grateful, to be her mom.

She had her first professional manicure yesterday (and I got a pedi). She was so cute reading People Magazine. Searching for Glee characters, and she found them.

She chose two glittery shades and was pleased,

“I feel like a celebrity,” she said, admiring her nails. Sorry for the blur.

Then we were hungry so we went to a restaurant, and had the good fortune to witness a man propose to his sweetheart at the very next table. We clapped! And then Riley whispered to me,

“Isn’t she a little young to be getting engaged?”

She was. Good eye Riley.


She had a gift card to Justice Just for Girls, a Christmas present from her grandparents so we went there. The ever so helpful girls who work there, asked every two minutes if they could assist us. Trying be polite and make conversation, I mentioned to one, “She has a gift card burning a hole in her pocket.”

Riley leaned in, looked the salesgirl in the eye and said, “She doesn’t mean that literally.”

She spent a nice chunk of her gift card and saved some for next time.

From there we went to Charming Charlies and she bought even more accessories, cause the girl is all about accessories lately.

I love when Riley makes up her own words, which she did here after trying on this headband, “I feel very Hollywood-istic.”

Indeed.

We spent less than $25.00 at Charming Charlies and she got a whole lot of bling. She even tried some of it on her dad.

So at 5AM, I might have been stretched to my cold achey limit, but I can look back several hours and stand in a another place. I know I have linked to this video before, but I do it again, because I need to be reminded of it.

Special needs kids have it harder. Special needs parents do too. But we also get the amazing highs over things parents of typicals take for granted. No one has ever been more in love with their kid than I was yesterday on our first girly girl mani pedi shopping day.

Bliss. Because a couple of years ago, she never could have stepped into a nail salon due to the smell.

Stand in another place.
Stand in another place.
Stand in another place.

In this minute, you may feel like crap, but you won’t always.

Thank you Todd. Thank you, thank you.

And Riley,

I do so love being your mom.