Monday, February 25, 2008

Learning from my Son

Today, Eli was up before I woke him for school. He misses school on the weekends and tends to get up early on Monday so he can get ready to go. I found him bouncing around as I stumbled out and started coffee. I made his lunch and got him dressed and he was already very talkative.
We often sing songs together in the morning and in the evening, so this morning after singing and getting outside for the bus..I pointed out the moon in the early morning sky. Eli actually followed my point and looked at the moon. I thought that was pretty terrific and I remember thinking to myself, "It's going to be a very good day for him".

Sophie and I went to the park for a playgroup day and she made a new friend and we had a grand time. The weather was just perfect, right around 70-75 degrees, sunny and pretty. Sophie had a ball! Hopefully we made a new friend, too. Usually we have playgroup here, but Tom has been sick so we decided to ask everyone to the park. What a great idea that was! I love being outdoors with my children, they just love it so much!

I even got to the library today and as usual, found way more to read than I thought I would find. I had only stopped to pick up some of the books I had on reserve, and ended up bringing a ton more home. I love the library!

So the best thing about today?? Eli taught me a new song! Yes, my son taught me one of the songs from school. I really think that he is blossoming these days. His teacher wrote home to tell us that he was really "on" today, which I thought might happen given his reactions this morning, but I was very happy to hear it, nonetheless. So, we were laying with his daddy (he had asked "Please want some daddy please mommy") and Tom was still sleepy so we were just playing a bit and giggling, when I said, "Hey, let's sing a song!" and so I asked him to start singing, and he started a song I didn't know called Fiddle I Fee. Well, before I knew it I was learning the lyrics and singing along with him. He was so pleased with himself!! I didn't get the tune down very well, so I got up and found the lyrics online with music and started singing again..Eli came racing out of the bedroom so he could sing it with me. He got a whole lot of hugs at that point and a lot of thank yous..He taught me a new song. We've sung together a few more times after that, but always with extended gazing and lots of smiles. Eli is proud of himself, and I am so proud of him!

So, I am grateful for days when Eli is "on", when he can teach me and I can learn. I am grateful for the fun I get to have with my son almost every day now. The greater communication sure does relieve a lot of stress from months ago. He listens to 1 and 2 step directions and does them now, he is so ALIVE in comparison to several months ago. He gets more vibrant every day. I get so much love and joy and fulfillment just being his mommy. I love how I can value all this because he is autistic, honestly. Had he not been, would I have taken the time to be happily grateful because my son could follow my point to the moon and share the experience of it with me? I am not sure. I do know that I'm grateful for each of these small moments now.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturdays are Lazy Laundry Filled Days

I should pretty much say, that is all at this point.

Tom has been sick, I've been out of it fighting off a cold, and the kids had a grand day just hanging around the house. I did get the laundry done, and also some food shopping.

My gratitude of the day? Eli was thrilled out of his little happy mind when I announced pizza for dinner! He gets Gluten free crust and soy cheese..but he loves his pizza so much. I really need to boost nutrition in his sauce since it's mostly what he wants to eat when we have pizza crusts available. So I'm grateful he loves pizza and that it made him so happy today.

It was an easy, lazy day. Nice.

Pajama Day

Yesterday I just decided to decompress from having family here all week. Sophie was sad that her cousin had gone, and I was worrying they wouldn't get home because of the winter storm up north. They did make it home, after 12 hours of traveling and sitting around in airports. Thank goodness! I'm grateful every time someone makes it through an airplane trip, seriously.

So, I wore my jammies all day yesterday. I even went outside to get the mail and get Eli off the bus, in my flannel jammies. I just don't care what anyone thought of that, I was not getting dressed yesterday if I could help it. It was good to relax as I seem to have come down with a cold and I have a million knitting projects to finish. I just sat on my butt most of the day and knitted. Yes, I still had to care for Sophie and then Eli when he got home, but they are pretty easy to handle these days.

Sophie went through a few dresses. She likes to dress up every day. If I let her she'd be in this outfit every single day. She calls it her party dress and she adores it. I get a bit tired of it after a while, so I hide it while the laundry is going and give myself a break from it. But she does love it so that eventually I bring it back out and let her wear it again. I love to see her express her individuality, honestly.

So, my gratitude of yesterday was, I was grateful I could hang out in my jammies and do nothing but knit and be mom for a whole day!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My sweet boy..

Look at that face...

He examines every little detail's an interesting exercise in thought to try to figure out what really goes on inside the mind of the autistic child. What does he see? Is it more vivid?

Today he was busy drawing carrots and showing them off. I thought about how grateful I am that he now seeks us all out to show off his work. I find that so amazing every time he does it. Yes, he draws the same thing over and over again until he is happy with it, but he shows it off now, every time. Every day he wants to include us in his world. We have this amazing relationship with him that most parents don't have a chance to value.

He likes to draw everything with a face now, too. His people have eyes and a big smile, every single time. I am grateful that he sees people with a joyful expression. He is a pretty joyful guy almost all the time, so that probably helps. I am grateful he is not the melting down type, and that we are aware enough as parents to notice when he is having sensory overload issues and can figure out ways to help him.

Today I gave him massage and deep squeezing touches. He loves this. He craves deep touching so that he can figure out where he is, and so he can center himself. When he is overloading, he'll often bang into things on purpose or throw his body about. Today I watched him at a very busy indoor playground do this a few times..lay on the floor and wiggle, and when he was satisfied and centered, he got up and went about playing like the other children. I realized that he does have the ability to overcome sensory overload now. I wonder if it's because I tune in when he seems to need help? Not sure...but I'm grateful he can do this without me or his dad when he needs to.

Eli is a beautiful child with a beautiful vision. I hope through all his life he keeps that alive. Maybe he'll grow up to be an artist, who knows. I just hope someday he can share what he sees; I have a feeling it's extraordinary.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Going through a million Pictures..

We took so many of our recent family jaunt down to great aunt janes house, this one is one of my favorites. Two cousins searching for shells on the beach. Wearing their matching hats and loving eachother's company. I am so grateful that these two cousins, 4 years apart, have found so much pleasure in each other.

The beach is a spot that my children adore. I grew up 4 miles from the beach during my childhood. It was simply a place that was always there, that we took for granted. I forgot the simple pleasure of running our toes through soft, warm sand. I forgot how hot sand is in the summer time. We would run down tot he water as fast as possible to cool our feet. I forgot how much fun it is to just look for shells and enjoy the sights, colors and textures of the beach.
We went to the gulf coast, the water is so beautiful and later in the year, so warm and fun. Even now, in February, we could put our feet in the water and not freeze. Our children could not wait to experience the singular delight of that first frozen shock and then the waves running over their legs, making them crow with joy.

I forget every time we plan to go, while we're busy packing up this and that to accomadate our every need, how much I just love being at the beach with children. Children take such delight in all the sights, smells and sounds. They don't feel the wind blowing sand into their faces as an unpleasant experience the way I do, they feel the uniqueness of sand and pour it all over themselves, reveling in the texture and feel of it. Babies eat it, just to check it out!

Sophie picked up tons of pieces of shells, and I kept trying to convince her that she wanted whole shells. Finally she convinced me, she wanted what she saw as beautiful, not what I saw as imperfect.

I am grateful to be given the chance to see life through the experiences of my children. I am grateful that I get to share in the wonder that is childhood every single day. It makes life worth living for me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fun Family Vacation time..

Well, sorry I haven't posted! The last 2 days we went on a mini trip down to see my husband's great aunt Jane, a beloved family member that we named our daughter for. She and her friend Marcy are very dear to us all, and it's so wonderful to have time to visit them while Tom's sister and family are with us visiting. They live about 3 hours south of us in Bradenton. Today we went to a lovely beach near their home on Anna Maria Island. The children had so much fun putting their feet in the water and gathering shells. Later we'll make shell collages, perhaps tomorrow!

At first, to be honest, I was intimidated by taking my kids to a home that isn't terribly kid friendly to spend the night. They have a swimming pool outside their home, not a big danger for adults, but for kids could be problematic, and we had to put one of our kids in bed with us, too. Eli can really give us trouble getting into things that satisfy his sensory needs.

But as it turned out, I had little to worry about. Eli did just fine, only got into some lotion for a half second. He didn't want to go to bed, and neither did Sophie, but we managed to get them to sleep a bit later. We got up today and went to the beach, which was just fabulous and made my whole week. We must visit a lot more often.

Sophie is traveling with her Aunt and Uncle and cousin and is just so happy. She has a new idol, her cousin Amanda. She just adores her no end! I love that!

So, I'm grateful that we've had the time to find pleasure even when we are intimidated and having a rough time adapting. I almost got into it over vaccines with my sister in law, but I have learned to pull out of these things before bad feelings get brought out, so I just backed off. I want this to be a happy time, and so far it has been!

I'm very grateful Eli is a flexible child who doesn't have a very hard time with transitions like many other autistic children, or 2 day spur of the moment trips would not be possible. I'm so happy I can take him somewhere without fear or worry (Ok, a little worry..but not that bad!) that he'll break down and flip out. Thank goodness for my little son being able to adapt well. It really makes his future so much brighter!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Happiness Is...

Waking up to kids enjoying life. My daughter is in absolute heaven because her cousin Amanda is here visiting. They are playing very joyfully and happily. It's so adorable how a 7 year old and 3 year old can completely enjoy eachother they way they do.

But my gratitude is supposed to relate to Eli..I'm grateful that Eli does not run away from busy children and hide himself any longer. He doesn't quite understand how to enter the play just yet, but now he hovers and watches and hangs around other kids instead of running off and isolating himself somewhere. I am so happy that he is getting ever closer to forming relationships with other children.

Eli was incredibly happy playing with his uncle last night, too. He never used to engage people other than his father in play. He was more likely to run to his dad or go hide out. Now, when we have adult visitors, he wants to play with them as much as they will let him. Eli's general form of play is very boyish, he likes rough house type play, to be bounced and carried around on your back ..(I heard "Giddyup please!" about 20 times at least last night), tickled, turned upside down, whatever. Uncle Scott very easily adapted to this type of play..guys love to play this's simple and fun.

So today, happiness is having family visit and no disasters have ensued! Eli is enjoying the presence of other people and I get to go nuts talking about kids and yarn (my sister in law likes to knit too!) and other assorted stuff.

Happiness is .....Happy kids!

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Beginning of Being Grateful Every Day

This month, in an attempt to get going on blogging again, I am joining a bunch of moms in posting a bit about gratitude every single day.

I decided that since the focus of this blog has been my son Elijah and his autism recovery and development over time, that the focus of my gratitude will be about Eli and his life and programs, etc.

So, for today, I am grateful to have Eli home from School today. I now look forward to the days he stays home for 2 reasons: 1, I get to sleep a little later!! and 2, I really enjoy being with my son now.

In the past, it has been a struggle to manage my little guy. He used to escape from the house, he used to do so many things that made me a hyper vigilant mother. He was just very disruptive. I am positive that for him it was sheer frustration and natural curiosity that made him the way he was. But today, Eli is a more settled fellow who likes to be around us and play with us. He used to avoid my company, now he seeks it out. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for that one small thing.

It's all about the small things with Elijah. The small developmental advances, the small additions of new speech to his vocabulary, the small steps. In special needs parlance, we call them inchstones because each little one makes a big difference to us parents who are trying so very hard to help our children grow up.

Between Eli, his RDI program and his school program, we have had so many wonderful inchstones in such a short time. I celebrate them every time. I am so happy to have been given the privilege of being Eli's Mom.