Monday, May 30, 2011

And we march on

Memorial Day is set aside each year to remember those we have lost while they were at war. I am thankful that our family has not lost anyone while serving their country. Currently, I do have a cousin who is serving in the Air Force and has had two or three tours in the Iraq war. I'm not even sure I said that right, but bottom line is that he has gone and come back in one piece. I regularly say a prayer for him and all service men and women in our armed forces.

However today, I did not attend any local memorial services, I was guilty of staying home. I went through my routine minus the breakfast and getting into my work clothes and instead slept a little later and woke up Puppy for his usual routine. As I mentioned in my previous post, I drive him to school in the morning now. So I did, and I got down to leave the school nurse Puppy's prescription refill for the month of June. Then I returned home and grabbed a load of laundry to wash. Once that was started, I fixed myself a cup of coffee and sat in front of the TV for a while. Re-runs was all there was. I did a little house cleaning, hung up clothes, washed dishes, etc.

I called my sister Margie to come cook us some lunch. I'd provide the food if she would cook because she knows how to put flavor in all her meals. Lunch time came and went faster than I expected. But we ate well, and even left some for Puppy. As I was thinking of Puppy, his teacher texted me asking if I was going to pick him up or should he go on the bus. He was supposed to get on the bus and be dropped off at daycare for me to pick up later. But he knew very well that I didn't get dressed for work and he confidently told his teacher I was picking him up after school. Oh Puppy, I couldn't help but laugh at his genius plot, so I went to bring him home from his day at school.

After settling back home, I made a call to the woman who had shown interest in working for Puppy and me to provide PCS (personal care services). She said that 4:30 PM was good for her and she'd come to discuss details of the job; she seems anxious to start. Well, needless to say that I was still waiting for her at 7:00 PM. I never received a call from her and have no clue as to why she didn't show. I got a bad vibe from this and I fear she may not be responsible or mature enough for the job. Would you think she is?

I contacted a friend who has been helping to find someone to work the hours we need with Puppy, and she said she would continue to search. It's a shame that we couldn't get started already. I'm ready, but I won't leave Puppy in just anyone's care. I am having a difficult time stressing over something that should be so easy. I ask for patience, patience and more patience. And so, we keep going and we march on.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Field Trip!

I woke up at my usual hour this morning, which is about 2 hours earlier than the time I wake up Puppy for school. But today I dragged myself out of bed, washed my face, and then went back to get five (5) more minutes, just five...and guess who walks up to the side of my bed?

"Mami, is it time to get up?" said Puppy in a soft high pitched voice. It was but I really wanted those five more minutes.

But how could I lie. Today was not like any other day. Puppy and his classmates were having their end-of-the-year field trip out of town and he was excited. Not to mention the fact that he went to bed extra early last night so that he could get enough rest. I was actually surprised he slept! It is his fourth trip, and he pretty much knows what to expect. A big bus with a restroom and a long time in his seat.

Today's trip is to the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi. There was even mention of a possibility that he might get to make it to the beach, and that is his absolute favorite place to go. However, this mention came from him to me, and I didn't confirm it with his teacher before they left. He knows that a trip to Corpus Christi means the beach, so he may have just made the connection himself.

Well, we made it to school by the requested 6:00 A.M. after making a stop at the convenient store for snacks and drinks for his trip. Yes, and I even went back home and returned to the school with his backpack we had left behind. But all went well.

Puppy, I hope you have a great time!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

For my Canadian friends

I was reading stories off my blog list and came across this link from Andy's Story as Told by Mom page. I know there are many readers whom may not be followers, so I thought I would post this to reach friends in Canada.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

New morning routine

This second half of the school year brought about some changes in Puppy's behavior. I gathered that the influence is coming from his bus monitor. Although she seems to be a kind person, her actions have hurt Puppy instead of helping him.

Puppy has taken school bus transportation since he was 4 years old. A bus has picked him up and dropped him off for every school day. On very rare occasions I have taken him to school myself, like when the monitor calls to say they are running late, or once they got a flat. I'm a working mom, and I need to be at work on time, so I do what I have to and dropping him off at school only happens a few times a year.

But getting back to Puppy's current bus monitor. This is her second year with him and she probably thinks she has him all figured out. I assume she may feel this because he mimics her words and phrases. Her acts of counseling may have been used to calm him down while on the bus ride; but she has caused him to ignore others like his teacher and myself. By repeating catch phrases, he now locks up during his tantrums because he is focused on remembering her words and does not listen to anyone around him.

How can I be sure they are her words? She doesn't speak English. All of Puppy's words are in Spanish now when he talks to himself as a calming (stimming) act. Whenever he has a tantrum, gets upset over me telling him 'no', or similar moments, Puppy starts to quote the bus monitor. His favorite is "Que pasa?" or what's happening? It bugs the heck out of me and truly pushes my buttons whenever I hear him using her words. I always speak to him in English. He is lucky to have learned both languages, but there is a time and a place for each.

So after speaking with his teacher, I have taken the initiative to change our morning routine and I have started taking Puppy to school and dropping him off. He still has to ride on the bus in the afternoons, but I hope that less is better. We are going to give it a try. Only two days so far with our new schedule and already I see him happier in the mornings on our ride. He no longer has time to focus on his wallet while waiting, because we are moving, moving, moving all morning long as we get dressed, ready and drive to school. And the bus was always late to begin with and it was making me late for work. So both of us are enjoying our ride in the mornings now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In search of child care services

Sorry for not posting anything lately. My nights have been consumed by the issues of child care for Puppy.

Tonight on facebook, I met someone who was able to magically put all the pieces together for me. I still have a little researching to do on the plan, but it might work out.

I posted on one of the Autism Support Group walls asking for a little help and she came to my rescue.

Anyway, it's rather late and only Wednesday night, so I better get to sleep really soon. But I promise to write about my search, planning and results to the child care issues soon.

Friday, May 13, 2011

White Flag of Surrender

Yeah, what I meant to say in the title of that previous post was that Puppy lasted a whole day without his wallet. But after some other challenges, and after that post, he actually went two days without a wallet. That is definitely breaks his record.

I promise everyone, I am also dreaming wallets when I'm sleeping, and I might be picking up his bad habit of looking at guys' butts for a glimpse of their wallets in their back pocket. This is not good. I can remember looking at butts for other reasons, haha; but that's another story.

I raised the white flag today. Two days was a very, very long time--for both of us. I promised Puppy that if he brought home a good report from his teacher, we would go to Academy to price the wallets.

On a separate note: If any of you have ever suffered from carpal tunnel, you understand why I first made Puppy take a brief rest while the sun set. It was a hot day; I think we reached 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, I think I got carpo tunnel on my driving arm/hand, meaning that's what is causing it on my left arm. This is discouraging me from driving.

At Academy, we checked out the wallets, and here is where my white flag went up. It was $12.99 and less than what Puppy had already collected. So, he turned over his money to me and he has a new wallet. Yes, we went over new rules, plus he is being monitored for good behavior these next two weeks, or he will not be allowed to join his classmates on a field trip to Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi.

We are going to sleep so good tonight that I can't wait. The idea of watching a rented movie just went out the window. Well, he’s already in deep sleep with some heavy breathing. I’m jealous. But it’s my turn and I’ll write again soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Record broken

A few days ago I wrote Saving his money. That posting spoke about Puppy giving up his wallet and collecting money to buy a new wallet. Day one: he did pretty well. He was a little anxious in the morning after our agreement. He supposedly did well in class, and at daycare. We came home and it is all he talked about forever. Okay, it was really only two hours.

But then something happened. Puppy was still searching for change in drawers and stuff, and oops! He found an old wallet tossed at the back of one of the kitchen cabinets. It must have been from one of those times that I threw it just so that I could show I didn't have it in my possession; then forgot about it. Well it was too late; he had it and quickly ran upstairs to put his belongings in it.

When he came back to show it to me, we talked about the money. He was supposed to buy a new one and have none while he was raising his thirty dollars. So what were we going to do? We decided that he could keep the wallet he found, but then he was not going to get a new one. I was kind of glad. I mean, to me...Puppy was complete again. I didn't have to deal with the daily tantrums and whining about not having a wallet. We both won.

I'm going to let you all guess what happened next. Never mind, I'll tell you. Morning came.

"Mom, I don't like this wallet."

Yeah, this came after the fact that I had already written in the communication folder that we had a half good and a half bad behavior evening, but that he was fine and understood about not being able to get a new wallet because he found one. We were good.

Then he throws me that curve. Well, to keep this a little shorter...he surrenders the wallet to me after I ask him several times, "Are you sure?" I got it from him and hid it as fast as I could. It was gone. Again, he will have to raise thirty dollars to buy a new one. We are now out the door and waiting for the bus. Too much time for him to think; to think about a wallet, any wallet. He is starting to whine and then I cheer that the bus is here! Kiss, kiss, have a good day...and he's off. Whew! Now I get to go to work to rest for nine hours.

One of the support groups was sponsoring a Mother's Day Dinner tonight. I asked my sister to watch Puppy. Of course he did great with her and other family members. But I go to pick him up and the first words out of his mouth are, "Can we go to Walmart to buy a wallet?"

I'm not going to go into details about tonight. I'm exhausted just remembering about the almost two hours we had together. It was "I want", "can I have", "explain to me", etc. Puppy put up a fight and now he is sleeping like an angel. I hope he can have a little peace while he sleeps. But actually his sleeping habits should be another posting down the road.

Sweet dreams, Puppy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day and other holidays

The following is something I wanted to share, in relation to Mother's Day and other holidays. It was well written by Estee Klar and included in a blog by Kristina Chew, who wrote, "What I've Learned As the Mother of an Autistic Son (VIDEO) - and put on twitter by (Richard Bolster). I want to make sure I give credit to everyone involved that helped me find the blog. Below is the section of her blog that caught my attention.

Kristina Chew writes:

My friend and "commadre" in Autismland, Estée Klar, sums up the pang and the love mothers of kids with disabilities may feel on holidays. She writes:

As an only child and single mother to an autistic son, I have to be honest that I sometimes find myself grumbling about holidays. I know it sounds very cynical of me, but hear me out. Another hallmark holiday can make me feel left out. Our kids are supposed to make us cards, buy us flowers, gifts and tell us how wonderful we are. Usually, there is a husband to make the kids abide if the kids are too busy playing Xbox. I remember fondly making those cards and telling my mom how much (and still do) love and appreciate her. In my case, my dad didn’t always have to remind me. Adam can’t make me a card; at least not without the help of another person. So, another holiday comes and that’s the pang....

As Mother's Day approaches, I think of the daily moments I share with Adam; how much we've been through together and how much I wanted him. I waited until my late thirties to have him. Other's have forced him to make cards and say "Happy Mother's Day mummy ... I wuv you," and he repeats it obediently, hands me the card made with construction paper and crayons. Sure, I love the card and keep them in a special box, but I know he doesn't care about it so much.

Today, he cares about the items he can make on his own volition. He cares about when I am there for him and can comfort him or love him just because. In return, I receive his voluntary hugs and kisses, his laughter, his smile, his pulling me towards him and saying my name. At night as I tuck him into his favorite blanket, he'll say in his little voice, "don't go."...

For us moms whose children cannot and may not make cards and say I love you this year, don't despair. I hear you and I'm with you. Be proud of your mothering efforts and happy that we are moms of our wonderful children. I don't know about you, but I never get the feeling that Adam doesn't love me. Just because he can’t always express it in words, or as slick as a Hallmark card, I feel ocean waves of love and appreciation every single day.

I couldn't have said it any better.

Saving his money

Today was one for the books. On our way home this evening, Puppy was complaining about the wallet he had and how he didn't like it anymore. I told him that if he didn't like it to hand it over to me and he'd be without because I was not buying him one. He said he wanted a new one from Academy Sports Store. I answered back that he could get one when he collected enough money to buy it himself. But then he asked, how much? So I threw a number out, thirty dollars.

You might be thinking that's a lot of money for a twelve year old. Not really, because I reward him for chores sometimes. And just two weeks ago my aunt gave him five dollars for receiving a perfect score on his spelling test. However, he only had two dollars in his pocket at the time of our conversation and he was feeling like it was the end of the world.

But we got home and he had emptied out my armrest and cup holders in the truck so he ran inside to set it out on the table to be counted. He had seven dollars already. To give him a little hope, I told him he could have whatever change he found around the house. Funny part about this was that I had told Puppy that four quarters make a dollar, so he went around and picked up only quarters.

Puppy worked really hard at finding lost change, or quarters, and at the end of the day he had a total of eighteen dollars. He found the place in my closet where I put my change on the shelf. I let him keep it because I most certainly never thought he'd be half way through his goal.

All this talk about money actually got away from the point I was going to discuss. Puppy had handed over his most important object to him. His wallet is a part of him. It is going to be interesting to see what happens in the days that follow. Will he stick it out and raise the money to buy his own wallet? Or will he break down and beg me to return the old wallet he had up until three hours ago? Also, what will he make his primary focus if he doesn't have his wallet to consume his thoughts?

I hope I didn't make the wrong choice by having him turn over the wallet to me, but here we go again... another lesson to learn, maybe by both Puppy and myself. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Puppy, don't stare

Saturdays are usually busy with chores around the house. We pick up Puppy's room, do laundry and basic cleaning. Although Puppy helps me on and off, the job gets done. He usually likes to spend time outdoors and will come in to cool down and rest every 20-30 minutes.

Since I had finished most of the cleaning and was only working on laundry, I was sitting down to watch TV as I sorted and folded the clothes. Well, to cut my expenses, I only have the smallest cable package to watch, so that translates into -- nothing. So I called Puppy in to tell him we were going to the convenient store to rent a movie from the Red Box stand. The store is only a few blocks away.

Puppy and I get down at the store and start to look for a movie to rent on the screen. As we are doing that, a man with a cigarette, long hair, in shorts and an undershirt, scruffy looking, comes up to the Red Box and begins to look at the poster of movies available. Puppy turned to see him, but not because of what he looked like, but because he was smoking. There's a history with Puppy and smoking that I think I blogged about last year. Nonetheless, this got his attention and Puppy began to stare at the man, then would look at me as if to see if I noticed him smoking. But the interest was strong and Puppy couldn't help but look at the man. Well the man didn't like it one bit. He never turned to look at Puppy, but he spoke in a very firm voice and said, "Do you mind not staring at me, kid!" And Puppy being who he is, could not look away. I touched Puppy's arm to redirect him at me and said, "No, don't look." I swear I started to shake. I thought to myself, should I tell this man my son is autistic or that he is only interested in the cigarette, nothing personal about him? Would the man care? Then I thought, this man could care less if he spoke to Puppy that way, it wouldn't matter. So I hurried to finish and grabbed Puppy's hand and walked inside the store.

Once inside I took Puppy aside, away from other customers. He spoke first. "Mom, why was that man angry?" This was a perfect time and example to teach Puppy not to stare at people. He does it often. But I don't mind because I know that his brain is wired to use pictures and by staring he is taking a mental picture. I had already begun to coach him not to stare because other people are not comfortable with him looking at them. I explained all this to him again and waited for him to calm down before continuing with our trip to get a movie and some Icee drinks.

Even after we were driving away from the store, he was looking around for the man. I did too, but only to see if I could find him in a car that I could later be able to recognize it on our future visits to the store. I didn't have any luck though. I'll just have to be more careful. I don't want to go through another incident like this one. I hope no one else has to either. Still just thinking about the man makes me wonder if I can protect Puppy quick enough and keep him safe. This unpleasant incident probably won't be the last and that worries me.

Friday, May 6, 2011

One Gold and One Silver

I've been worn out by the sun this week. I'm so glad it's Friday. But let me back up and let you know why I spent time in the sun.

On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, I took time off from work to attend the Special Olympics. This was Puppy's fourth competition. The games were rained out two years ago or it would have been his fifth year. Anyway, this year he was participating in the 50 yard dash and the standing long jump.

I was worried about the choices because Puppy has put on a little weight this year. I wasn't sure why the coaches would pick an event like the standing long jump for a student as heavy as Puppy. The only plus to this was that he had previously competed in this event both four and five years ago (in a leaner body, hehe). And as for running, last year he surprised me when he did the four person relay and ran 100 yards!

So to be brief, the opening ceremonies started at 10 A.M. instead of the usual 9 A.M. Then, they decided to present awards to school officials, politicians, and law enforcement which pushed the games back another hour or so. Once that was over, we found out that they changed the location of the relays from the South end of the field to the North end. Several runners were scratched from Puppy's school and other campuses because of the change. But after a long morning, and now 1 P.M., Puppy finally got his turn and ran his 50 yard dash against three other students and placed second for a Silver medal. He was excited and happy to have the day of events end. So was I...I got more Vitamin D than I wanted.

On Thursday, the officials and judges took their time arriving at their prospective posts and had the kids waiting until 9:30 A.M. to get started at the standing long jump event. Puppy's turn came up at around 10:15 A.M. and two other students on his team were no-shows, so it was only him and one other student competing against each other. He really tried his best and was successful to win the Gold! The only sad part was it took another hour of waiting to get to the presentation of the medals.

Puppy was proud of his wins and enjoyed the party and dance after the end of the Olympics. Another year, another successful participation. I didn't mention any problems with behavior because Puppy loves to be outdoors and he was at his best and in a calm state of mind on both dates. Congratulations, Puppy!

Thank You Javier

Have you ever had a moment when out of nowhere someone says something at just the right time? I had one of those moments today. A dear friend e-mailed me the following story. Thank you Javier. After last night's episode with Puppy, and this morning's continuation of it, this reminded me of how blessed I am. I don't know who wrote it, but I hope they don't mind that I pass it along.

A Blue Rose

Having four visiting family members, my wife was very busy, so I offered to go to the store for her to get some needed items, which included light bulbs, paper towels, trash bags, detergent and Clorox. So off I went.

I scurried around the store, gathered up my goodies and headed for the checkout counter, only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a young man who appeared to be about sixteen-years-old. I wasn't in a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I was there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and declared in a loud voice, "Mommy, I'm over here."

It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged and also startled as he turned and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened and surprise exploded on his face as I said, "Hey Buddy, what's your name?"

"My name is Denny and I'm shopping with my mother," he responded proudly.

"Wow," I said, "that's a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but my name is Steve."

"Steve, like Stevarino?" he asked. "Yes," I answered.. "How old are you Denny?"

"How old am I now, Mommy?" he asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle.

"You're fifteen-years-old Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by."

I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes about summer, bicycles and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with excitement, because he was the center of someone's attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy section.

Denny's mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time to talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn't even look at him, much less talk to him.

I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I have no idea where it came from, other than by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I told her that there are plenty of red, yellow, and pink roses in God's Garden; however, "Blue Roses" are very rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness. You see, Denny is a Blue Rose and if someone doesn't stop and smell that rose with their heart and touch that rose with their kindness, then they've missed a blessing from God.

She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she asked, "Who are you?"

Without thinking I said, "Oh, I'm probably just a dandelion, but I sure love living in God's garden."

She reached out, squeezed my hand and said, "God bless you!" and then I had tears in my eyes.

May I suggest, the next time you see a BLUE ROSE, don't turn your head and walk off. Take the time to smile and say Hello. Why? Because, by the grace of GOD, this mother or father could be you. This could be your child, grandchild, niece or nephew. What a difference a moment can mean to that person or their family.

From an old dandelion! Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

"People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!"

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Oh what a night

Just a few minutes ago, I went into Puppy's room and watched him sleeping. He looked so calm, so innocent, and I couldn't look away. This precious child is totally dependent on me. I took a deep breath and prayed for patience, strength, understanding and guidance.

It was a night like many before, but luckily not one that comes too often these days. Puppy was focused on his wallet like an alcoholic with his liquor bottle. And I'm trying to paint it ugly because it felt that way, too. It hurts me to think that these are only words coming from me, and yet Puppy was very much like that alcoholic needing another drink. His mind can only spotlight on one thing...a wallet. Without his wallet he cannot function. Life around him is second to the wallet.

I won't go into the details of the evening because I'm irritated, angry with what someone told Puppy today that caused his behavior to escalate to the level it did. Some days I wish I could put a bubble around him and anyone wanting to talk to him has to go through me first, tell me what the conversation will be, and simply then, if I consent, that person may be allowed to enter the bubble. I'm not saying this because I want to protect him. I say it because some people are complete idiots.

This might not make any sense to anyone. Maybe at another date I'll sit down to write about what actually happened. But in the end, I really only want to tell Puppy that I love him so much and I'm trying to teach and guide him as best as I can, hoping that I don't screw up along the way. I think Puppy secretly knows this.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hang in there

Many, many thanks to Erin at Minx Design for creating my web page. Erin, I simply love it and would never have been able to do a job as amazing as the one you did for Puppy and me.

To my faithful followers, I'll be working on setting up a facebook page as well, hopefully also with Erin's help (because I tried and failed).

So be patient and I hope you enjoy my new website as much as I do.