Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thinking About the Future

I remember very distinctly the very strong feelings I had in the first year after I found out my son, Dominic, had Autism.  I recall thinking way ahead to his future and not having a lot of hope for what he would accomplish.

My only frame of reference at the time about Autism was the movie, "Rainman."  The main character, played by Dustin Hoffman was severely Autistic and lived in an institution.  My husband and I are not young parents.  Dominic is only 7 and I would be lying if I didn't say that I think a lot about what the future holds for him. Will he always live with us? will he get married and have children of his own? I have a friend whose son is well into his 30's or early 40's.  She and I share a common bond in that both our sons have Autism.  Her son has a host of medical issues as well.   They have chose not to put him in an institution, but rather he lives with my friend and her husband.  There are lots of services available when your special needs children are young, but when they reach adulthood, there aren't many options.  There are group homes, but from what I hear,  there are not enough, plus I think there are usually long waiting lists.  I am super blessed that my son (and daughter) have a much older brother that will help take care of them, if something happened to my husband and I.  I have had people ask me what I see for Dominic and his future.  If you would have asked me that question when he was 2 1/2, I would have said I really didn't have much hope for what he could accomplish. But, if you asked me that question now, I would say the possibilities are endless. We have loads to go with him (especially potty training, which he shows NO interest in)!!  Every new word he learns I feel like shouting from the rooftops.  Just the other day he wanted some milk and said, "Mommy, go get it!"  I kind of looked over at him and said, "you know where it is, you go get it yourself!"  It is incredibly cool that I can have a conversation with him, FINALLY!  One of Dominic's favorite things is to do puzzles.  He likes doing puzzles with 10 or less pieces, but he also does puzzles with 300-500 pieces.

This was Dominic working on one of those puzzles, while he was waiting for his bus to take him to school. In the background, you can see the other puzzle he already completed.  I didn't even know he could do these puzzles, until a couple of years ago when he went into the toy closet in the basement and pulled them out!  He also loves computers and can say the alphabet backwards.  My daughter is one of Dominic's biggest "cheerleaders."  She reminds me that he's capable of much more than I think he is. I guess as his mom I want to protect him and I just assume he can't do certain things and I don't like to see him frustrated.  But, as he's gotten older, I've realized I can't protect him from everything and it's part of life that he will get frustrated.  There are two things I plan on teaching Dominic in the next couple of weeks, the 50 states and how to tie his shoes.  Stay tuned for updates!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Angel on My Shoulder

Throughout my lifetime, I have had more than one close call.  In January of 1982, I was on the subway heading towards what is now called, Reagan National Airport, to catch a plane to go out of town.  Further down the subway system and closer to the airport there was a bad subway accident that delayed me and made me miss my flight. I remember calling my parents and telling them that I missed my flight and wasn't sure what to do since the weather was really bad and I didn't think I could make it back home.  My dad or mom said, "didn't you hear?"  I was like, "hear what?"  They told me that a plane had crashed into the Potomac River!!  It turned out that the plane I should have been on had taxied onto the runway, but the pilot decided the weather was too dangerous (there was a bad snowstorm) and he had turned the plane around and decided not to take off. The plane right after the one I should have been on was the one that crashed!!  When my daughter was still in diapers, I fell off a second story deck.  Luckily, I only broke my arm. In June of 2010,  I had to have a pretty serious operation because the doctors thought I might have had cancer.  The latest close call was very recent.  This past Christmas Eve, I turned on our oven because I wanted to put a roast in for dinner.  Within about 15 seconds I heard sparks.  I looked through the window into our oven and saw flames!  I instantly turned off the oven and the fire went out.  I have left my oven on from time to time to cook something while we're not at home.  Believe me, I won't be doing that again!  I shudder to think what might have happened if I hadn't been standing right there.  I am one of those people that believes that all of us have a "guardian angel" or "angels" that  kind of look over us and guide us through our lives.  I keep my "guardian angel" pretty busy, but I'm glad that mine has been taking care of me so well!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Comfortable in Your Own "Skin"

I bet if you asked any of your friends if they are 100% happy with how their bodies look,  I would venture to say they would find at least one thing they don't like.  I think as women, we put too much pressure on ourselves to have the "perfect" body.  That is why I like the singer Adele so much!  She totally embraces her "curvy" figure.  I was reading an article in a recent issue of People magazine and she said, "I've never wanted to look like models on the covers of magazines. I represent the majority of women, and I'm very proud of that. Even when I was signing (for a musical career), most of the industry knew if anyone dared say (lose weight) to me, they wouldn't be working with me." Some women are blessed with the ideal body, but by and large most of us fit somewhere throughout the spectrum.  Before I got pregnant with my son, I had lost about 40-50 pounds.  I was super obsessed with food and exercise (to the point of getting stress fractures in my feet) and it wasn't very healthy (either physically or mentally).  I watched a close friend struggle with an eating disorder.  Every woman is different and we come in all different shapes and sizes.  I have had my "curvy" body since I was 12. I have come to embrace it and realize I will never have the "perfect" body.  I try to eat healthy and get some form of exercise every day.  I think when you are comfortable with yourself it radiates confidence from the inside out. If I ever got the chance to meet Adele,  I would tell her, "you go girl!!"

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Shopping for Clothes

It was so much easier to dress my teenage daughter when she was little.  She would wear whatever I gave her to wear!!

She has known from an early age that my approach to clothes shopping for her is to know exactly what we are looking for, it be on sale, and to get the heck out of the store as quickly as possible. This past weekend we went looking for bathing suits and denim shorts for her.  My lone request was that both the shorts and bathing suits have adequate body "coverage."  It was a simple request (or so I thought).  Wow, has anybody out there been shopping lately for a teenage girl? Let's just say, the styles have changed quite a bit since I was a teenager!!  I can remember when she needed to find a white shirt for an orchestra performance, back when she was in middle school.  I don't even know how many stores we went to, but it was virtually IMPOSSIBLE to find a white shirt that didn't have some form of writing on it.  I think we finally found one, but I was pretty stressed out by the end of that shopping trip!!  During this particular shopping trip, we managed to find several bathing suits and shorts for her to try on. She told me her only request was that the bathing suit be a two-piece.  After about two hours, I was completely exhausted.  We did find two bathing suits and one pair of shorts in that time, so it's a start!  Towards the end of the weekend, she told me  "mom, I don't want to hurt your feelings, but I would rather shop with my friends."  I silently breathed a sigh of relief, my feelings were not hurt in the slightest!   I trust that she will have a productive shopping trip with her friends, but she knows all clothes have to be "cleared" by me or else I might have to pick them out for her!!!   I know she doesn't want that to happen!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

ADHD and Medication

I write about my son having Autism, but he also has ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Autism and ADHD often go hand-in-hand.  They have similar characteristics (inattention, impulsiveness, etc.).  When he was diagnosed at 3 with ADHD, we were just getting used to him having Autism.  Those days before we knew what was going on had to be some of my hardest moments as a mom.  Our pediatrician is the one who diagnosed his Autism.  Once we had that diagnosis, he suggested we see a psychologist and psychiatrist.  I was a bit hesitant to take a child so young to a mental health professional.  We have been very lucky that both the psychologist and psychiatrist have been fantastic. We saw the psychologist first and then started seeing the psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist told us that medication might be a good idea for our son.  There are a bunch of medications for ADHD.  If you Google "medications for ADHD" it will bring up a ton!!  Another tough "mom"  moment was deciding to start giving my son a medication at a young age, he was about 3 1/2 when he started taking Ritalin.  I remember that I cried!! Once we put him on the Ritalin, his world opened up, we were able to get more eye contact and could start communicating with him much better.   His medication is very closely monitored (we see the psychiatrist every three months).  He continues to be on the Ritalin and until my husband and I don't think he is benefiting from it, he will stay on it.  We can definitely tell if he misses a dose or is late getting it.  I can only speak for myself, but I am so glad that I decided to put my son on a medication.  I know that other parents out there probably don't agree with me, but I think you have to do what works for your child. Every child is different and you know your child the best!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My "Baby" Brother

I am incredibly blessed to have two siblings, my brother who is  2 1/2 years younger than me and my sister who is about 7 years younger than me. I'm the big, bossy, older sister!! My brother's nickname for me FOREVER has been Lucy Van Pelt (yes, like the Peanuts character).   That's okay, I call him Linus!!  I have a great relationship with both of my siblings. My "baby" brother came to visit us back in December.  Since we live ten hours away from each other we don't get to see his family as much as I would like.  My brother got married before I did and had children before I did.  He married his high school "sweetheart."  He has two amazing daughters and I have become really close to them in the past year.  My brother already has a daughter in college.  When he came to visit us,  I picked his brain about all of the preparations for college that he went through with his older daughter.  He gave me a boatload of advice and I have tucked it away for future reference for my daughter.  Growing up my brother and I were pretty tight.   As we've gotten older, we have found the best way to stay in touch is by e-mail.  It was so cool to have my brother visit. We went to a local museum, ate some delicious homemade ice cream and my brother and my son made some chocolate biscotti.

Although the trip was only for a weekend, we spent some really good quality time together.  My kids and my brother got to know each other better.   The picture below just cracks me up.  The look on my brother's face when my son was horsing around with his nose was priceless!

I'm lucky that I get along so well with my siblings. I will always support them and love them, no matter what! There is just one important thing they have to remember,  I will ALWAYS be older than them!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Finding Comfort

Nobody makes it through their lives without losing at least one person they were close to.  Throughout my own lifetime I have lost many.  2011 was an especially hard year starting in January with the passing of my mother-in-law and then in March with the passing of my first cousin.  It seemed like just about every month, either I knew someone personally that had passed or knew of someone that had passed.  Back in July of 2011, when I started this blog, I wanted a way to get some of my feelings out about what I was going through.  I would have been happy if one person read my blog and got some kind of comfort from the words that I had wrote.  When I was a teen, I did have one of those diaries with the little lock on it.  For a little while I wrote in it, but it felt more like a chore, something I had to do.  My blog on the other hand, is something I look forward to doing.  I have found an enormous amount of comfort in writing down what I have on my mind.  My father-in-law was one of the kindest, sweetest men that ever walked this earth.  When he would visit us or we would visit him, he and I would sit around the kitchen table and chat.  If I got him going on a topic, I would tease him that he was on his "soapbox."  Next month will be seven years that he has been gone. He would have gotten a kick out of me doing my blog, because I can kind of get up on my "soapbox" and talk about the things that are important to me.  In a few days,  it will be my six-month anniversary of my association with the parenting website,  I love to read what other moms (and dads) have written about their experiences with their children.  My fellow bloggers and I all share the same thing, we write from the heart and write from our experiences.  How do you find comfort when you're going through a tough time? Remember if you're feeling a certain way there is at least one other person out there that feels the same way.

Welcome to "Holland"

Have you ever heard of the "Welcome to Holland" story? I had heard of it, but never read it until about a week ago. It is wr...