Saturday, November 29, 2008

Reality check on aisle 7


It's been a while since we've had a full-blown meltdown in public. Now we know why. I hadn't even realized it, but we hardly ever go anywhere with all the boys anymore other than the park. Grocery store? Maybe a quick stop here or there, but dh does the grocery shopping while they are all in school. Mall? Ha! I can't even remember the last time we went to the mall. We used to take our twins to the play area at the mall but we gave up on that a long time ago. Restaurants? If we're eating out, we get take-out and eat in the car.

So there you have it, the real reason we don't have meltdowns in public much anymore. Until Wednesday night anyway. We decided to take the boys to the toy store so they could show us what they'd like for Christmas. We've pretty much finished our Christmas shopping, but we really just wanted to get out of the house for a while (and maybe confirm that they'd like what we already got, lol).

Things were going fine until Bitty saw this:

I managed to pull him away for a second, but then he saw this:

...and then he was back to the first one. He tried to pick it up and put it in our cart. After all, he had just gotten through tossing 5 different play-doh sets into the cart on another aisle (guess we'll be getting him some play-doh for Christmas, I can take a hint). He knows how this works, anything you want to take home needs to go into the cart (keeping it in the cart is tricky as mom and dad have gotten pretty good at "disappearing" things before reaching the checkout, haha).

The box was pretty big and heavy though, and he was struggling to even pick it up, much less attempt to get it into the cart. I tried to humor him by carrying it and moving on, but he wasn't having it. Maybe he is wise to the toy-bermuda-triangle effect that seems to haunt our carts. Maybe he is just impatient. He decided he preferred to open the box right then and there.

By this point, dh and our older boys were well ahead of us. Cuddlebug was busy following the curious blue arrows of tape that had been placed all over the floor.

He was more interested in the arrows than the toys, and insisted that we follow to "see where they lead." I heard this in the background as I struggled to cajole Bitty into moving along so we could catch up. Mr. Bitty is nothing if not persistent, and I could see that the time for gentle diversion was over, now it was time for The Last Resort.

By this time, dh was headed back toward us with Bearhug and Cuddlebug. I picked Bitty up and carried him (while pushing the cart - quite a feat, eh?) kicking and screaming over to the train table. The reason this is The Last Resort is because although all of our boys love to play with the trains, it is almost impossible to get Bitty to leave them again without a major meltdown. But since we were already in meltdown mode, we really had nothing to lose at that point.

Bitty calmed down as soon as he saw the train table (yay!) but got upset again as soon as he realized it was just the table and no trains (ugh!). Typically, the toy store has a few engines and train cars on the train table for kids to play with while their parents shop for overpriced valuable trains and train accessories. What kind of Toys'R'Us puts out the train table with no trains?!? Not only that, they had a separate table, under a clear plastic cover that was fully stocked with out-of-reach trains. Nice.

Bitty was understandably upset. Dh tried to distract him, and I tried to calm Cuddlebug who was very agitated that we were no longer following the blue arrows. He found some nearby and was bouncing up and down wanting to start following them again. Bearhug wanted to go look at video games.

Dh took CB and BH to the video game section (luckily, the blue arrows were pointing that way) and I stayed with Bitty. He didn't understand why there were no trains, so he kept pulling trains off the hooks wanting me to open them. Each time I told him I couldn't. Then I pretended to try to open them and told him they were "stuck." I tried to distract him with other things, and I tried to get him to leave the train table to go "look for" Dada and his brothers. Not happening.

Finally I gave up. I made one last attempt to get him to come with me willingly, with no luck, and then I picked him up and started moving. He started screaming and yelling "ehp! ehp!" *groan* that's his version of "help! help!" Lovely. I didn't make it far carrying him b/c he is so heavy now, and when he's squirming around screaming like that it's almost impossible to hold him w/o dropping him. So I put him down and started pushing the cart. Lucky for me, he didn't run back to the trains. Instead, he started screaming and trying to pull the cart back.

He was hanging from the cart's handlebar, screaming at the top of his lungs, and people were staring (guess I can't blame them). I was thinking to myself, "gee, it's been a while, can't say I missed this," as I kept walking, trying to keep Bitty on his feet instead of hanging on the cart. He realized that wasn't working and dropped to the floor. He started pulling the cart over his legs (by pulling on the bottom part of the cart) and I wanted to let go so it didn't look like I was trying to run him over with the cart, but I had to hold on to try to push it the other way to keep him from hurting himself.

I managed to pick him up again and that time I was able to make it all the way to electronics before I had to put him down. I found BH and CB pinging off the walls and pushing each other, while dh tried to keep them calm. We gave each other "the look," yep, time to get out of here NOW.

Thankfully, as soon as he realized we were leaving, Bitty started to calm down. He was apparently ready to go home. We got everyone out to the car and as we have done so many times before, asked each other, "what were we thinking coming here in the first place?!"

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving art by Bearhug

Today before dinner we all shared some things we are thankful for (well, all of us except Bitty, who was busy doing his own thing). Here are just some of mine:

My sweet boys
My husband
My parents, brother, SIL, grandparents, aunts, uncles, everyone in my family
My husband's family
My friends, those I know IRL and those I have "met" online
Heavenly Father & Jesus
My job
Our country and the freedoms we have
Our military men and women who defend our freedoms and those of others
Our home
Our church, and our freedom to worship
Our health
Our sons' schools, teachers, and therapists
Bitty's sweet voice
Bearhug's laugh
Cuddlebug's smile
Hugs from my boys
Seeing our boys progress and grow
Chicken nuggets and the rest of the short-list of what Bitty will eat
Autism, and all I have learned from it
My camera :)
The earth
Our cat
Things that make our boys happy - Thomas the Tank Engine, Yo Gabba Gabba, Super Mario Bros, trains, books
Knowledge and the ability to learn
Strawberry shakes :)
DVR (without it we'd never get to watch anything on tv, lol)
My computer

Once you get going it's hard to stop, there is so much to be thankful for! I know all our blessings come from Heavenly Father, and I am eternally grateful.

Wishing all of you a very happy Thanksgiving!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SEW & WW: Naptime


5 Minutes for Special Needs

Here's one of my favorite pictures, taken on Thanksgiving Day 2005. My dad fell asleep holding Little Bitty (who was also asleep). So sweet!

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Momdot Blog Party Day 9: Best Christmas Gift Ever!

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Brought to you by jaC Jewelry, Cutie Covers and Sassy Baby.

Day #9 Topic: Most unusual gift you have received? Best gift? Do you re-gift?

The best Christmas gift ever, was Christmas 2000. I was 10 weeks pregnant and went in for my first appt (it was the earliest they could get me in) on December 21, 2000. At the doctor's office that day, we got to hear the baby's heartbeat. First we just heard background noise and then all of a sudden there it was, a strong and fast little heartbeat! It sounded like a train. The doctor said she thought I was a little big for 10 weeks, so she scheduled us for a sonogram the next day to see how far along I was.

The next day, just three days before Christmas, we went back for a sonogram. Here's an excerpt from my journal:

"The radiologist doing the sonogram turned to me and said, 'So,the doctor thinks you're a little big for 10 weeks? You want to know why?' We were expecting to hear that we were a month ahead of schedule, but instead she said, 'You're having twins!' She showed us on the screen, and sure enough, there were two little babies in there! We couldn't believe it. It was amazing to watch them, both wiggling and kicking, and we could see their hearts beating."

It was three days early, but that is a Christmas gift I will never forget - Merry Christmas, you're having twins!

Note: Obviously Little Bitty's arrival was every bit as much a gift (and at that point, finding out we weren't having twins again was exciting news, hehe) but just didn't coincide with Christmas. At Easter time, I'll have a story to share about him :).

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Mondays in Motion #10: Artist at work


Mondays in Motion!

Recently I caught Little Bitty on film while he was sitting on my lap drawing. He surprised me with the level of detail in his drawings, especially for being only 3 and having fine motor issues. He's actually doing pretty good with his grip (yay!) although he still alternates drawing with each hand (trade off whenever one gets tired I suppose). He drew several cats (complete with whiskers!) and "happy faces."

Here's a sample of his finished work. It's a little faint in places, hopefully it will show up ok. The first one is a cat, you can see his face, ears and fluffy fur on his head, whiskers, body, and paws (front paws at least).

This one is his happy face :).

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Magic Marker Monday: Thanksgiving Fun



Each of the boys made a Thanksgiving placemat in school this year.

Cuddlebug's includes a note to dh saying, "I'm thankful for you making hot coco for me and [Bearhug]. Becase we like the taste. I want you to do it agian. Love, signry [Cuddlebug]"

Bearhug wrote a note to me that read, "I'm thankful for giveing hugs, because you are my favreot mom. I want to give a hug evry day. Love, [Bearhug]"

Little Bitty made handprint turkeys (so cute!) and his teacher included a poem, "This isn't just a turkey, As you can plainly see. I made it with my hands, Which are a part of me. It comes with lots of love, Especially to say, I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving Day!"

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Baby Picture Sunday: Thankful for Babies


Debi over at "Who Says 8 is Enough?" hosts Baby Picture Sundays. This week's theme is Thankful for Babies, a perfect topic for today.

Here are some of my favorite baby pictures of my three babies:

This is Cuddlebug (left) and Bearhug at 3 months old. I am thankful for Cuddlebug's loving personality and the kindness he shows to others. I am thankful for Bearhug's generous hugs and silly sense of humor.

This is Little Bitty at 5 months old. I am thankful for Little Bitty's heart-warming smile and intense curiosity.

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Always Remembered...

Your time with us was brief
Just a few short weeks
We never got to see you or hold you
The day we expected to hear your heartbeat
Was the day we learned that you had left this world

Who knew that someone so small
Not yet met in person
Could have such a lasting impact?

I felt your presence with me for that short time
And loved you from the beginning
I will see you again
Until then, you walk with God.

We called you our little Turkey
Because you were due two days before Thanksgiving.
Baby “Turkey,” you are always in our hearts.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Momdot Blog Party Day 8: The joy of shopping

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Brought to you by Koshas, Leapfrog and Soda Club.

Day #8 Topic: Do you shop on Black Friday? What time do you start? Do you finish all your shopping on that day? What’s the best deal you have found? What’s your shopping strategy?

I could answer this one in one word (or two words if I wanted to be really emphatic about it, LOL), but to make it more interesting I’m going to answer with a list:

Ten Things I’d Rather Do Than Go Within 15 Miles of a Shopping Center on “Black Friday"
(in no particular order)

1. Watch paint dry – several coats of paint, one at a time
2. Fill out IEP paperwork – in triplicate
3. Get stranded in the desert for a day
4. Watch Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader battle it out with sporks instead of light-sabers

5. Write an essay on the viability of bug poop as a solution to energy independence
6. Go to a Barry Manilow concert (nothing against Barry, I’m just sayin’)
7. Go out in public decked out in 80’s fashion

8. Bungee jump off a bridge (did I mention I’m afraid of heights?)
9. Eat green beans (blech!)
10. Watch a 24-hr Barney marathon

So there you have it - seriously it's no wonder my kids don't do well with crowds, I'm not a big fan of crowds myself. :)

With that in mind, my shopping strategy is typically to shop early (not summer-early but wrap up store-shopping by October) and shop online. A lot of times you can get coupon codes or free shipping if you shop around online - so much less effort than dealing with the holiday shopping crowds.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Taking things literally

Based on what I have read, it is common for people with autism to take things very literally. I can't speak for others, but we definitely see that at our house, especially with Cuddlebug. Here are some examples just from the last couple of weeks:

Cuddlebug (angry): "Mama, Dada told a LIE." (saying the word "lie" with utter contempt)
me: "What do you mean?"
CB: "He said I'm tired! I'm not tired! He told a LIE."
me (stifling a laugh): "Well, he probably thought you looked tired."
CB: "But I'm NOT tired!"
me: "Ok, well even if you're not tired it's still bedtime."
CB: "But I'm not tired."
me: "Tell you what, since you're not tired, how about if you read a story or two before you go to bed?"
CB (smiling): "Ok"
me: "But after that, you still need to go to bed so you'll be rested for tomorrow, ok?"
CB: "Ok"


We came up with a new rule about video games. If the boys' schoolwork that they bring home each day is all correct, they can play their video games for a while after their homework is completed. If they missed some questions on the schoolwork they bring home, then we want to spend some time working with them on what they missed to make sure they'll understand it next time (this is in addition to time spent on regular homework), which means less time for video games.

This wasn't intended to be punitive, but that was initially how they took it. We tried to explain that we're trying to help them, and make sure that they understand everything that they need to on their schoolwork. Dh used the phrase, "we push you because we know you can do it." To which Cuddlebug responded, "but if you push me that will hurt."

I guess he thought we were going to physically "push" him, so we had to re-explain that what we meant was "encourage." You'd think we'd have learned by now, but there are still misunderstandings that we don't always see coming :P. I think they were both ok with the new rule and clear on the reason behind it by the time we were done talking, but it was a longer discussion that I really intended to have in order to get there...


and this weekend... the boys decided to play wii for the first time in a long time, and took turns playing it a LOT.

dh: "It's time to turn the game off, you've been playing all day."
CB (indignant): "NO, we haven't!!"
me and dh: "Yes, you have."
CB: "I haven't been playing ALL DAY!"
me: "you've been playing for a long time, pretty much all day. It's time to take a break."

At this point, CB got overly angry and dh sent him to his room. I went up a few minutes later to check on him.

CB: "Mama, you weren't listening to me."
me: "About the game?"
CB: "Yes, you said I played it all day. I didn't."
me: "Well, you played it this morning, and you played it this afternoon. That's a lot of playing."
CB: "Yeah, but I also played upstairs. All day means I played it from the morning to the night. I didn't play it all day."
me: "Well, that's true, you did take a break for a while. But you did play the game a lot today, right?"

CB: "yeah."
me: "Ok. So it's time to take a break."
CB: "Ok."

AAAHHHH! I should have realized that was the problem sooner. He didn't even so much mind taking a break from the game, he was just upset that we said he played "all day" when technically, that wasn't true. Ok, I stand corrected.

Sigh. Anyone else have kids who take things sooo literally??

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gobble, gobble

Bitty has learned about turkeys saying "gobble, gobble." He got a little confused the other day though, when he was eating his jerky and kept pointing to it saying, "gobble, gobble." LOL

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Momdot Blog Party Day 6: Holiday memories

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Brought to you by Flying Colors Baby, Uncommonly Cute and Lollipop Book Club.

Day #6 Topic: Favorite holiday memory from YOUR childhood

One of my favorite holiday memories is when I got to help be "Santa" for my little brother for the first time. I don't remember exactly how old I was (maybe 7 or 8) and I had started to suspect that Santa wasn't "real." I was afraid to ask because if it turned out he wasn't and I confirmed it, then he might just stop coming to our house. LOL

I finally got up the nerve to ask my parents about it, and we agreed that I wouldn't spill the beans to my brother (he is 5 1/2 yrs younger so he would have been about 2-3 yrs old at the time). Not only that, but since I was now in on the big secret, I could help "be" Santa.

It was great! I was so excited to wait up after he went to sleep and help put out the presents from Santa. Of course, the best part about playing the role of Santa is getting to help eat the cookies that we left out for him :). Yum!

Here we are on Christmas day, 1981. Isn't he a cutie?

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SEW & WW: Infinite energy


5 Minutes for Special Needs

Bearhug in mid-air as he runs along the sidewalk, Little Bitty walking down the hill, and Cuddlebug sliding down the hill. This is pretty representative of our days - the boys are always in motion and it's not unusual to find each of them doing his own thing :).

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Try this Tuesday: Travel tips



Travelling with children can be a challenging experience. Travelling with children who have special needs can be all the more challenging. We have never flown with our kids, so I don’t have any tips there, but we have taken many road trips over the years.

The need for sameness
Routine and predictability are especially important for children with autism. Even the most exciting event, if out of the normal routine, can be overstimulating and stressful for our kids. One strategy that has been helpful for our kids is to build as much “routine” as possible into our trips. We stop in the same town and spend the night at the same hotel whenever we travel home to visit family (it’s a two-day drive with kids, so we stop roughly half-way). The hotel we stay in has an indoor pool, so we typically take the boys swimming after we arrive and get settled in. That is their favorite part of any trip! If we travel somewhere different, we try to stay in another location of the same hotel, because (a) they look pretty similar on the inside so it’s familiar surroundings, and (b) they usually have an indoor pool which is hugely beneficial in giving certain hyperactive boys who’ve been cooped up in a car for hours on end a chance to get some much-needed exercise without running up and down the halls of the hotel screeching.

***Important tip*** do not forget floaties if swimming is planned – especially during the winter when replacement floaties may be hard to come by!

Keeping busy in the car
Now that our twins are older, they enjoy playing video games so that keeps them occupied for long stretches when we travel. Little Bitty is not so easy to keep entertained, and neither were his brothers when they were younger. The first line of defense for us is videos, lots of videos. We have a DVD player in the car now (woohoo!) but before we had that, we used to take a laptop with us and prop it up between the seats so they could watch their videos. You can also buy small portable DVD players that would be good for trips. It can get a little frustrating if they want to keep changing videos or watch a particular episode over and over, but it’s worth it. We’ve put a lot of mileage on our Thomas, Spongebob, and Baby Einstein DVD’s.

We haven’t really gotten to the point where we can play “road games” (I spy, etc.) like we did when I was a kid. So we bring lots of books, sketchpads, magna doodles, and a few toys to try to keep everyone busy when they get bored of playing games or watching videos. There are also snacks which helps keep everyone happy :).

Stops along the way
The big benefit of road trips vs. flying is the ability to stop whenever you need to. Stopping at a place with an indoor play area is an added bonus because the kids can not only eat, but run around and exercise / play also. For kids who crave movement, this is essential! In fact, we usually end up letting them play the whole time while we eat, and then we take their food in the car for them to eat. We usually eat at the same restaurants / fast food places whenever we travel, because that way they know what to expect (what the building looks like, what kind of food they have, etc.).

Be flexible
Allow plenty of time to reach your destination. Watch for non-verbal cues that your kids may be reaching their limit and be prepared with a Plan B / Plan C just in case (ie. if we don’t make it to X city, we can stop in Y city instead, etc.). Believe me, the LAST thing you want is a meltdown in a car in the middle of nowhere. Once it starts it’s pretty much impossible to stop, and no amount of stereo or rolling down the windows can drown out the noise – it makes for a very unpleasant trip. (Yes, that would be the voice of experience speaking there, unfortunately).

Most of all, try to relax and have fun!

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A creative request

Next to "cran" (cranberry apple juice), Bitty's favorite juice is V8 Splash, which he calls "eight."

Bitty loves to count, he can count up to 30+ and he can count backward from 10. He counts everything. He also likes to have us repeat back what he says when he talks to us, I think it's his way of confirming that we understood him.

He found me in the kitchen and said, "teh" (ten) so I repeated it back and he smiled.

"Nie" (nine) I repeated that back and he smiled again.

Then he opened up the fridge and looked at me with an expectant grin. The V8 Splash juice was right in the front.

I had to laugh at his ingenuity.

"Eight?" I asked him. He did a little happy dance. Yep, that little countdown was his way of asking for some "eight." LOL

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Mondays in Motion #9: Caroling


Mondays in Motion!

I know it's a little early for Christmas videos, but I don't have any Thanksgiving videos readily available and I'm in a holiday mood... so here's one from last year, a little before Christmas when Bearhug and Cuddlebug (dark blue shirt) decided to do a little caroling, complete with pretend hot chocolate (just like on Polar Express). I was impressed that they didn't actually make me make real hot chocolate :).

They got a little silly in the second part, and it became half-singing, half-battle. That's my boys, LOL.

The "Naughty Kitty" song is one they learned at school last year, the words are:
"Naughty kitty cat, you are very fat. You have butter on your whiskers, naughty kitty cat."

They really got a kick out of singing that one over and over...

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Magic Marker Monday: Thanksgiving Recipe



With Thanksgiving coming up, I figured it was a good time to share this recipe from Thanksgiving 2005 from Bearhug:

"Buy a turkey from Wal-mart. Buy a little turkey. Pay $1.00 for it. Put it in a bag and put it in the basket. Take it to the car and put it in the trunk. Go straight home and take the turkey to the kitchen factory.

Get the turkey ready to cook by adding 10 cups of white cheese on top of the turkey. Put 10 pears on top of the cheese. Pour 10 cups of apple juice over it all. Put it on a plate to cook it. Cook the turkey in the oven on warm for 100 hours.

We will have turkey, peas, hamburgers, and broccoli to eat. We will have chocolate milk and Coke to drink. For dessert we will eat a dessert pizza."

And some cute turkey art, also from 2005, from Cuddlebug:

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Feeling thankful

The ASD program at Cuddlebug & Bearhug's school hosted a Thanksgiving "feast" for the students and their families last week. We had a great time, and one of the highlights was the slideshow they had playing on the wall throughout dinner, with a picture of each of the kids and teachers along with a quote telling one thing they are thankful for.

Here's what our boys said:

Cuddlebug: "I'm thankful for Orion my cat, because he keeps me company."
Bearhug: "I'm thankful for being nice, because I'm very nice."


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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.


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