trying to find myself and humor in life

Archive for the tag “Autism”

Daily Prompt: Pat on the Back

Happy Hump Day!!

The weather today in the lovely Garden State is horrendous with heavy rains and just an overall blah feel. However, on a more positive note, my hair is not frizzing so maybe the day isn’t a total washout (all puns intended).

Anyway let’s Daily Prompt shall we?

Tell someone you’re proud of just how proud you are

Hmmmmm…..who am I proud of?

There are so many people, how can I just name 1?

My aunt for kicking cancer. My mom for being my “nanny” and always helping me with the kids. My friend Mrs. Jeter for publishing her first book (a real, honest to goodness book that is made of paper and not on an electronic device)???

Matt, my love-bug, for giving his little brother his “magic” stuffed animal when he was having a nightmare?

Jake ,my Buddha Baby, who has worked SO hard to overcome a lot of his struggles with ASD?

While those are all good choices, and I am truly proud of all of them, the person I am most proud of today is (drum roll)


Today my boss brought in a box of gigantic donuts – well there were only 3 donuts but they were in a box.

There was one donut that had chocolate icing and rainbow sprinkles on top and I swear it was calling my name. At first I ignored its taunts, no way I was giving in to the temptation, especially since no one else in my group was eating one (peer pressure is alive and well even when you are 40-ish).

Nope, I stayed at my desk and ate a banana because a banana is just as good as a chocolate frosted donut (not).

A little while later my co-worker Bob stopped by when I told him about the donuts, he practically twisted my arm to go take a look.

Bob and I stood in awe at the beauty of the donuts and questioned whether we should eat one. After a full 5 or 10 seconds, we finally decided to split half of a half of the chocolate frosted one.

I walked back to my cube covered in a cloak of guilt, carrying my pathetic little quarter of a donut on a napkin. Slowly I lifted the donut up to my mouth and took and a bite and felt….totally disappointed.

The chocolate was not gooey and thick, instead it was dry and flaked right off WITH the sprinkles. What a rip off!

Disgusted, at myself and the donut, I threw the remainder of the donut in the trash.

And for that my blogger friends, I am 100% proud of myself (insert toothy grin)!

Thanks for reading ūüôā




Throw Back Post…2013

Wow the things that you find in your blog “drafts”. Since I am ever-so-slowly working my way back into blogging, I thought it would be fun to peruse the 74 “drafts” I had sitting in my draft folder.

Holy Crap – 74???!!

Some of the drafts were just titles, back when I was a regular blogger, I would always start a post with the title. Once I had the title, the rest just fell into place. Now, 4 years later, I am lucky to even come up with a thought, let alone a title.

At the bottom of my drafts there were some posts with no titles and that is where I found this. I can remember this day like it was yesterday and the emotions are all still fresh. I can’t believe I never posted it.

Well better late than never. Ladies and gentlemen I bring you Nic’s TB post circa 2013….

Sometimes being a mom isn’t so bad

My son Jake was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder about 21/2 years ago. Since is diagnosis in January 2011, the¬† has been a roller coaster ride of emotions and ‚Äústuff‚ÄĚ .

Jake has really good days, really bad days and everything in between. However, through it all, he has put on a brave face and is almost always smiling (unless he is angry). When he is truly happy there is nothing more beautiful than his big, blue eyes looking back at you.

The last couple weeks I have been in an ‚ÄúASD SUCKS‚ÄĚ kinda mood. I know‚Ķ it can be so much worse; I should be thankful Jake is doing so well;¬† there are so many others that are worse off yada yada yada. Still, when it is your kid and you have to watch him/her struggle daily it doesn‚Äôt matter¬† – it just sucks.

This past weekend, however, was A-Mazing with J. It started last Friday when J’s school hosted a talent show. J attends a school for kids with special needs so I was really not expecting much from a talent show.

Jake’s teacher, the beloved Miss Heidi,¬†had mentioned that she had worked with the class for weeks on a routine but kept it a secret. All we were told was that the kids should wear black pants and a white shirt.

The morning of the show, I asked J what he was performing in school. He gave me a shy smile and did some hand motions that made no sense to me at all. Ok, whatever I thought as I got him ready for the bus.

I arrived at his school to a packed parking lot and I panicked a little that I was late.  Quickly, I was able to grab 2 seats, my husband was meeting me there, and anxiously waited for the show to start.

The principal handed out programs and under Jake‚Äôs class it said¬† ‚ÄĚMy Girl‚ÄĚ. Now it all made sense!!¬†Jake¬†is in a class with 5 boys and 1 girl. OMG this is going to be awesome‚Ķ.but will J do it or freak out????

J was act #6 and it felt like FOREVER until his class got on ‚Äústage.‚ÄĚ Finally I heard the music and in walked Jake and his class.¬† The boys were wearing top hats and bow ties and the little girl sat in the middle on a bench covered in pink tulle.

This kids took their places and did the entire routine to perfection! I could not believe my baby was doing this in front of a room packed with people Рstudents, teachers and parents!  Never would that happened 2 years ago. To me it was simply a miracle.

After the song was over, the kids¬†took their bow and¬†the room erupted in applause as the teachers shot confetti into the air. They did it ‚Äď Jake did it!

I don‚Äôt think I will ever be able to describe the feelings I had when Jake walked off the stage. It was a combination of so many emotions and feelings all mixed together. I just remember thinking¬†“everything will be¬†ok…. Jake will be alright” as tears ran down my face.

Daily Prompt: Naked with Black Socks

Today’s¬†Daily Prompt¬†is are you comfortable in front of other people, or does the idea of ¬†public speaking make you want to hide in the bathroom? Why?


However, I will on occasion, step outside my comfort zone and speak in front of a group as long as it’s for something I am passionate about.

I have a son who is on the autism spectrum  and soon after his diagnosis I felt completely overwhelmed by the amount of information being thrown at me.

I promised myself that, if given the opportunity, I would “pay it forward” and help other parents going through the diagnosis process.

Soon I began participating in parent panels and support groups for parents of newly diagnosed kids on the autism spectrum. I’ve been doing this for over 4 years and it’s still not easy.

The funny thing is that in my head I think I am an AWESOME public speaker. Someone who can improvise and exchange witty banter with the audience.

A day or so before the panel I’ll jot down some notes but won’t rehearse or practice.¬†It’ll be fine, I tell myself as I toss my notes into my purse and watch some mindless show on TV.

The day of the panel I wake up with a small knot in my stomach but can usually brush it off, or push it out of my head – 4 crazy boys can do that do you.

On the car ride over I start to feel nervous but it’s not until I walk into the room that I’m overcome with panic.

Crap! Why do I do this to myself? I think as I walk into the room and take a seat up front.

Look at all those people staring at me. Ugh, I don’t want to do this anymore, maybe I can sneak out.¬†

Before I can escape, the other speakers start, and I can feel my palms start to sweat as I go over my “speech” in my head – silently cursing myself for not practicing in the car.

As the person ahead of me wraps up, my heart starts to beat faster dreading the time when my name is called. As I am introduced, my face starts to turn a lovely shade of pink as I squeak out my name and start to tell my story.

In the blink of an eye it’s over and I survived!! No one laughed AND some even asked me a question or 2.

All that worry for nothing.

Sure, some days I tell a better story or engage with the parents more but no matter what I can still say that I did it and hope that I helped someone.

Thanks for reading.

Happy Thursday – it’s almost Friday ūüôā


The Daily Prompt: My Guy

This has probably been one of my longest blogging sabbaticals of my blogging career and I am. not sure why.

I suppose I can use the excuse that I have been “busy” – with family, kids, sickness, work, stress, etc.


The truth is when I started this blog – way back in February 2012 – family, kids, sickness, work and stress were just as much a part of my life as they are now.

However, I did not use them as an excuse not to blog. Rather, I used them as inspiration.

This morning I was having a slight pity party for myself over coffee. The kids were killing each other in the other room over Legos and Skylanders and I was taking solace in my iPhone.

Skimming through my Yahoo account, I glanced at summer sale emails and Facebook updates. Then I saw it…..The Daily Prompt …describe the last time you were moved to tears by something beautiful.

For the first time in awhile, I was actually inspired to pull out the iPad and write a post.

Looking around the kitchen for the keyboard, I was torn between 2 very special memories. Separately, the memories could not be more different – one involves rain the other my son.

Yet to me, they are very much alike in that they both gave me the “feeling” that somehow, someway everything would be all right.

I am not quite ready to share the rain memory with others, for now it is all mine, where it can remain safe and pure.

So the winner, by default, is my son Jake.

Jake is 5yo and my blue-eyed, blond haired, Buddha baby.

On a daily basis I can be moved to tears by Jake and his ability to melt my heart and drive me completely and utterly insane all in a matter of minutes.

You see, Jake has autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder to be exact). He has been diagnosed for almost 2 years and it has been THE most devastating, eye-opening, inspiring, frustrating roller coaster ride of my life.

Jake attends a school for children with special needs. This past May, the school held it’s annual talent show and Jake’s class was participating.

All I was told about Jake’s performance was that he needed to wear black pants and a white shirt. I had no idea what the heck his teacher had planned, and quite frankly, if it would even be any good.

I remember sitting in the packed gym the day of the show feeling very nervous. I had no idea what to expect. Would Jake even participate or would he freak out in front of the school???

The Jake I know is shy and does not “perform” in front of a gym filled with people. Regardless, he is my son and this is what parents do right? No matter what I knew I would clap for Jake louder than anyone there.

The principal handed out programs and Jake’s class was #6. After their names it simply read “My Girl” and then it hit me, I knew exactly what his teacher had in mind and right then, I knew it would be something special.

After what seemed like an eternity finally I heard the beginning beats of The Temptations “My Girl” My stomach was filled with butterflies as I watched Jake’s class walk on stage wearing top hats and bow ties.

The boys (there are 5 boys and 1 girl) took their places around the little girl who was seated on a pink tulle covered bench and THEY WERE PERFORMING!

They sang and danced the entire song and it was nothing short of PERFECTION.

When the kids took their bow, the gym erupted in applause as the teachers shot confetti in the air and we all stood and cheered.

I don’t know if I will ever be able to describe the emotions I felt that day – the pride, happiness, joy and awe all mixed together.

I just remember thinking, and feeling in my gut, that everything would be alright and Jake would be alright.


Random Monday Thoughts

Wow can you believe today is July 1st??? Wasn’t it just April Fool’s Day??

The beautiful Garden State has been a bit soggy the past week and today is no exception. As if the 100%+ humidity isn’t enough, what’s a monsoon (or 2) while you walk to your car – or fight with your 3yo and attempt to strap him into his car seat?

And now for¬†some Random Monday Thoughts…

1) Thank Goodness for having a Plan B

Last week I blogged about my twins upcoming 7th birthday here¬†and their obvious discontent for the “surprise” outing to a minor league baseball game. The husband and I did not back down, and had all intentions of dragging taking the twins last Thursday night.

Even when the weatherman (is that un-PC to say?) predicted a tornado watch and flash flooding, we were set to make the trek to Bridgewater, NJ AND have fun.

However, the husband and I did not take into consideration M’s sudden “illness” that struck halfway through dinner at the local diner.

Afer complaining about the air conditioning, and his sandwich and his lack of Skylander Giants, M turned to my husband and started complaining of a stomach ache.

Within minutes M had an ear ache, joint pain and a “fever” and J was asking how many minutes we had to stay at the baseball game.

Assuming M was not hit with a case of malaria, I looked to the husband and said should we just take the kids to c-h-u-c-k-ie c-h-e-e-s-e?

The husband, being the husband, looked at me and said Huh? (spelling is not his strong suit).

No lie, I spelled Chuckie Cheese (I know it’s “Chuck E Cheese” but it was easier my way) 4 times before just saying the damn thing out loud – to which the kids yelled YES!!!!!!!!!

The next 2 hours were a blur of music, yelling, video games, ice cream, tickets and excitement as the twins had (and I quote) the best day, birthday, EVER! Thank you MOM!

I guess there is something to be said for a Plan B.

Happy Birthday Boys!!

Happy Birthday Boys!!

2) My Buddha Baby

As most of you know, my now 5yo was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in January 2011. Previously, I have talked about some of the challenges, and successes, we, rather J, has experienced since his diagnosis.

J has come a LONG way since 2011 and¬†I am beyond proud of him and how hard he works. However, having a child with ASD¬†is like riding a roller coaster – there are ups and downs and just as you get used to one thing BAM! you are hit with a new “thing”.

For example, J will be attending Extended School Year (ESY for those of you who are “cool” with the school district lingo) beginning in the middle of July.

ESY is a 5-week school session designed to prevent kids with disabilities from regressing over the summer break. While I am thrilled that J can attend ESY, the draw back is that school was over on 6/24 leaving me (and J) with over 2 weeks of no structure Рthe kryptonite of ASD kids.

Routine is to ASD¬†as peanut butter is to jelly or ying¬†is to yang. Just mention “change of routine” to an ASD parent and watch them physically cringe at the thought!

I did some brainstorming in the spring and came up with an idea for J. His 3yo brother attends a daycare (a/k/a country club like facility) near my work and maybe they would take J for 2 weeks in July and 2 in August????

I begged talked with the owner and the school was able to find a spot for J. Now for the hard part, preparing him to go to a new school, new kids and completely new routine.

Terrified I talked to his teachers, aides and therapists for weeks. These women are true saints. They not only listened to me, consoled me and offered me advise, Miss Lyn even called the daycare in advance to talk to the teacher J would be getting.

Over and over (and over and over) they told me¬†Nicole it will be fine…this is good for J….don’t underestimate J.

None of it mattered,¬†my stomach was in knots¬†and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.¬†For the past week I dreaded the thought of today’s drop-off.

Would he cry? Scream? Run or freak out? Worse, would he do that new, weird head-hitting thing of his???

Last week J and I¬†took¬†the twins to camp. J was SO excited for them and kept telling me he wanted to go to camp too. It was like a lightbulb went off over my head. That’s it!! I’ll tell J he is going to camp next week with L!!!!!!

All weekend I planted the “camp” seed with J. Even the twins¬†went along with me and told J¬†how much fun camp is and all the great stuff he would do. Yesterday I even got him a new lunchbox to bring with him and he was thrilled.

I slept terrible last night, I was so nervous about drop off today. At 4am I just stared at the ceiling and wished it was September.However, I put on a brave face and made sure to greet J with a huge smile this morning.

Are you ready for camp today???? It’s going to be SO MUCH FUN!! I said even though on the inside all I¬† wanted to was¬†cry.

The ride to “camp” seemed like it took forever (it’s down the road from where I work). When we pulled into the parking lot my stomach ached and a feeling of dread came over me.¬†I put a big smile on my face and said You ready for camp J?! To which he said YES!

All my worry was for nothing. God bless that boy! He walked into that school with the biggest smile on his face and said hello to everyone. He walked into Miss Danielle’s classroom and looked like he was right at home.

J was all excited when he was asked  to choose puzzles or blocks to play with and gave me a kiss goodbye before he went and sat with the kids.

I walked to my car speechless.

A little while later I emailed someone at daycare to see how J was doing. This was the exact response I got “The sweetest little happiest boy, the best in the class!”

I don’t know what the rest of the summer will bring but there was a lesson learned today – Never underestimate J.

1st day of "camp"

1st day of “camp”

Random Monday Thoughts

Hello friends out there in the great blogosphere!! Have you missed me???

Let me first begin by apologizing for my rather long hiatus. I thought I would be gone just a couple days but days turned into weeks and before I knew it, I was smack in the middle of June!

Of course I could just tell you that life at Casa Chaos got in the way of my blogging.

There were end of school year parties, a family “vacation” to Amish country and the conclusion of¬†the 2013 t-ball¬†season. Combine that with some family drama, health scares, strep throat, daycare, Donuts for Dad (with a special guest appearance by Mommy) and job stress (my newly redone resume looks amazing¬†btw) and that would be just a taste¬†of life at Casa Chaos.

The more I thought about it, however,¬†I decided Screw that!! I¬†will not play the¬†“pity/martyr card”¬† with you my¬†fabulous readers. No, I¬†will be honest with you and tell¬†you the real reason I have been MIA. ¬†Deep breath…and the reason I have been MIA for so long is because…..

I have been on a holiday with my one true love, my soul mate George (Clooney of course). We have been traveling the Italian coast and it was just breathtaking (Seinfeld reference anyone???).

Lounging  on his boat by day and eating and drinking (LOTS of vino) by night. It was hard work. It is not easy being wined and dined by a handsome movie star. However, the relaxation, romance, and blogging material alone, was well worth the trip.

And not without further adieu I bring you my Random Monday Thoughts….

1) What’s in a name?

Apparently NOTHING if you are Kim Kardashian¬†and her Baby Daddy Kayne West who named their new baby daughter North. Yes, if you hadn’t heard (if say perhaps you were in a coma or living on the moon) their baby’s name is NORTH WEST.


These are 2 grown adults, both in their 30s, and they named their child a direction on a map?¬†For months all I read about was how Kim and Kayne¬†wanted nothing more than to have children. A baby girl was all they ever wanted because as Kim said (I am totally paraphrasing) “What is better than a baby girl?”

So you know you are having a girl (for at least 4 months¬†right?) and this¬†was THE absolute best name 2 well-rounded, well-traveled, ADULTS could come up with –¬†North – Nori for short????!!!

I think it is a safe bet, that in the weeks, months and years that Kimye¬†and North are in our lives, we will forever hear¬†the meaning and reasoning behind their baby’s¬†“unique” moniker. Who knows, maybe we will grow to love it too (not).

Let me just say this,¬†when I was growing up “Nicole” was not a common name. Jennifer, Lisa, Mary and Susan were¬†THE names of the times.

Never did the chick on Romper¬†Room¬†“see” my name in her¬†Magic Mirror and I had a better chance of winning the lottery than finding¬†the¬†name “Nicole” on a cup,¬†key chain or necklace at the mall.¬†¬†Good luck North!!

2) Mimosas ROCK

Saturday I was VERY lucky (thank you Mom, Aunt and¬†the husband – it takes a village to have 4 kids)¬†to be able to meet 2 of my dearest friends¬†for brunch. I have written about¬†R & H before and how¬†we have known each other since 1986 and been there for almost all of each others’¬†“firsts.”

No matter how long the span of time in between visits, we can almost always pick right up where we left off and this past Saturday was no exception. As soon as we sat  (and H ran across the street to get some chilled champagne) I knew we would have a good time.

In between catching up on our families, talking about work, pop culture and Candy Crush, R&H were also able to give me a bit of slack about my sudden blogging hiatus (I didn’t tell¬†them about George, I didn’t want them to be jealous).

Thank you R&H. Thank you for being a¬†part of my life,¬†loving me despite my flaws,¬†and “getting” my¬†sarcasm. Most of all, I would like to thank you in advance for NOT making¬†fun of me, or giving me a bad¬†“grade” when it is my turn to plan brunch.

Next stop for us Mall Day!!

3) Milestones galore

When you have 3 kids with¬†June birthdays (well¬†2 are twins so do they count as 1 or 2???)¬†, it’s¬†a busy month. ¬†Throw in a kindergarten¬†AND a pre-k graduation (a week apart) and you have¬†mayhem!!

First J, my blond-haired, blue-eyed Buddha Baby turned FIVE!! Wtf, I remember J’s birth more clearly than any of the others, how the heck can he be¬† 5?????!!!!!

J had a great day with a paper crown, party at school, dinner at Red Robin and vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing. Top that with a brand, spanking new bike and you got yourself a kick ass 5th birthday.

Next came the twins Kindergarten graduation. OMG my babies, the boys who at the age of 3 hid behind the door for 2 hours every Wednesday at YMCA art class were done with kindergarten.

As I sat next to my mom and watched M sing and J stand there frozen, I could not help myself from reliving their lives in my head.

When they were born, I remember crying, begging actually, the nurse to not release me. How can you let me take care of not 1 but 2 babies??? I have no idea what I am doing??? I sobbed.

While I have no been the best parent these past 7 years, I guess I have not been the worst either because the twins made it to 7 (well next week) and completed kindergarten Рyay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Class of 2025

Class of 2025

M asked me the other day when he will be a man. HA!! Little does he know that he will ALWAYS be my baby.

Lastly, we had J’s pre-k graduation this past Friday.¬†Never have you seen a graduate more excited than J. Look here he is marching in with a grin from ear to ear.

The Graduate

The Graduate

J deserved every bit of that excitement too. He has¬†worked harder than anyone I know to battle his ASD and¬†come so¬†far in such a short time. I am proud to be his Mommy.¬†Congratulations J!! I can’t wait to see what else you will accomplish in the years to come.

Congratulations J!!!!

Congratulations J!!!!

Thanks for reading, have a great week!
ps – H I dedicate this post to you, xoxox

Random “Monday” Thoughts

Hello and Happy sorta Monday friends. I know it’s really Tuesday but let’s be honest, the Tuesday after a long weekend actually feels worse than any regular Monday doesn’t it?

Was I the only one who woke up today totally stunned, thinking it was Sunday with a slight knot in my stomach when I realized I had to actually go to work today?????

The family and I had a pretty busy Memorial Day weekend this year. Sadly, we were not able to visit the Jersey Shore (in-laws live in Long Beach Island) but we did get invited to a couple of bbqs and the twins marched in their first ever parade with some tball teamates (and daddy).

The weekend was filled with lots of children fighting and many margaritas which could be why my pants are feeling a bit snug today.

And now without further ado, I bring you my random thoughts….

1) Horay for the long, open front cardigan

I could literally hug the person (HAS to be a female) who invented the long, open front cardigan. It is by far my absolute favorite fashion go-to item. If I had to guess, I would say I wear one at least 2 times a week.

I own them in a bunch of colors and fabrics. Some have pockets, some have dolman sleeves (for when I want to look like I am a bat) and some are strictly for winter months and others, like the new one I am wearing today, just scream summer!!

Today’s is white, 3/4 sleeves AND the back is a little longer so it covers by butt. Seriously, does it get any better than that?? I was able to find this beauty at the Loft this weekend AND it was on sale for $44.00 with an extra 50% off.


2) I suck at Candy Crush

A few weeks ago, I talked about my new app obsession Candy Crush. I play it all the time on my iPhone and even got the husband hooked.

I hooked up my Facebook account and now I am able to see how many “friends” also play and what levels they are on (their FB profile pic appears on the cute Candy Crush map).

However, as much as I love this game, I think it is time I come to terms with the fact that I absolutely SUCK at the game.

I have played Crush for at least 3 weeks and I am only on Level 38. This is not “normal” and I am beginning to think I should just give up.

First, I thought it was just a fluke that it was taking me a few days to pass a few levels. I would waste all my lives in a 10-minute setting and was constantly Googling tips to cheat beat the level I was on.

A couple of weeks ago, after being stuck on Level 33 for almost a week, I actually asked someone in work if they would clear the level for me and keep it our little secret. (in my defense this guy is on Level 216).

Well I never had the work guy beat my level, I was able to do it myself but I have been on Level 38 for a week and I don’t think I will ever clear it.

The husband has well surpassed me and I see FB friends whizzing past me daily. I’m torn, do I give up or stick with it? Thoughts anyone???

3) Sometimes being a mom isn’t so bad

As most of you know, my son J was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder about 21/2 years ago. The journey with J has been a roller coaster ride of emotions and “stuff” .

J has really good days, really bad days and everything in between. Through it all J has put on a brave face and is almost always smiling (unless he is angry). When he is happy there is nothing more beautiful than his big, blue eyes looking back at you.

The last couple weeks I have been in an “ASD SUCKS” kinda mood. I know… it can be so much worse; I should be thankful J is doing so well; there are so many others that are worse off yada yada yada. Still, when it is your kid and you have to watch him/her struggle daily it doesn’t matter it just sucks.

This past weekend, however, was A-Mazing with J. It started last Friday when J’s school hosted a talent show. J attends a school for kids with special needs so I was really not expecting much from the talent show.

J’s teacher had mentioned that she had worked with his class for weeks on a routine but kept it a secret. All we were told was that the kids should wear black pants and a white shirt.

The morning of the show, I asked J what he was performing in school. He gave me a shy smile and did some hand motions that made no sense to me at all. Ok, whatever I thought as I got him ready for the bus.

When I arrived at his school, the parking lot was packed. I quickly grabbed 2 seats, the husband was meeting me there, and anxiously waited for the show to start. I grabbed a program, and quickly became annoyed at THE most annoying special-needs- mom in the row ahead of me. She had saved the entire front row and there was no way I could see over her huge ponytail (and big mouth).

The principal handed out programs and under Jake’s class it said “My Girl”. It all made sense, J is in a class with 5 boys and 1 girl. OMG this is going to be awesome….but will J do it or freak out????

J was act #6 and it felt like FOREVER until his class got on “stage.” Finally I heard the music and in walked J’s class. The boys were wearing top hats and bow ties and the little girl sat in the middle on a bench covered in pink tulle.

They all took their places and did the entire routine to perfection! I could not believe my baby was doing that in front of a room full of people. No way that could have happened 2 years ago. To me it was a miracle.

When they took their bow, the room erupted in applause as the teachers shot confetti into the air. They did it – J did it!

I don’t think I will ever be able to describe the feelings I had when J walked off the stage. It was a combination of so many emotions and feelings all mixed together. I just remember thinking that everything would be ok and J will be alright.

My Guy

My Guy

Have a great week everyone and thanks for reading.

It’s the little things

Hello friends out there in the great and almighty blogosphere!! I am back from another blogging absence that was far too long.

I don’t know what happened. One day I was home with my herniated disk (and 3 pinched nerves) blogging about Snow Chairs¬†and the next thing I know over a month has passed¬†and I have written¬†no blogs – gasp!!

Friends and family dropped hints and even offered up some blog topics but nothing worked.¬† It wasn’t really a writer’s block, more like lack of motivation.

I was home over 8 weeks on short-term disability and while my back was healing and I was feeling better, I just felt blah.

Maybe it was the tail end of winter or the kids being sick or just life in general. Who knows. Whatever it was it caused me to almost fear the blog. I would think of a topic or idea and completely over think it.

Thoughts like Is this funny? Would anyone like it? Maybe this topic is too boring or Suppose people laugh???? were consuming me.

Once I started comparing myself to other blogs and bloggers I knew it was time for me to take a mini vacation.

I reminded myself that I started this blog for myself, not to get followers and fame (not that I would mine either LOL). I decided I would not blog again until I felt ready.

Which brings me to today Monday, April 8, 2013. Today is my first day back at work since February 5th and I was more than a little nervous to come back.

I felt like I was starting at a new school, not coming back to the place I have worked since November 2000.

I tried not to be a total Debbie Downer this morning, even when the twins yelled at me that they were too tired to get dressed.

All morning my stomach was filled with butterflies that would not go away. I changed my outfit three times before finally giving up since the kids would be late for the bus.

In the van waiting for J’s bus, I started to think about some blog topics, hoping the “right one” would magically pop into my head.

J was not a happy camper today. J is my 4yo (almost 5) with autism spectrum disorder and he is very “routine driven.” For the last 2 weeks, J’s entire routine has been out of whack and today was his first day back at school.

J sat in the van writing out words on the back of a car seat instruction manual, quietly whining that he didn’t want to go to school or see his beloved teacher Miss Heidi.

I tried telling J that I understood and that Mommy didn’t want to go to work either (what? he was the only one there to listen to me complain) but J wasn’t buying any of it.

When the bus pulled up he took a deep breath and ran toward it (he wanted to beat his friend C to the door). I yelled Hey wait…give Mommy a kiss! but he didn’t hear me or didn’t care.

I watched as he buckled himself into the bus seat and chatted with my neighbor. Suddenly the bus doors opened and the driver called my name.

Startled I asked what was wrong Nothing…J wants to give you a kiss she said.

And with that my little boy appeared, tears in his eyes, and gave me a kiss before getting back in his seat and buckling himself in.

J and I got to¬†spend a lot of “alone time” together¬†the past couple weeks –¬†a rarity since he shares me with 3 other brothers. Sometimes he gets lost in the craziness of our house and the demands of life.

When I got to work I was not in a good mood. Sure, I put on my “game face” as I greeted people who pretended they were SO happy to see me back in the office.

All morning I could not shake the image of J’s face when he left. Just thinking about it now makes me a little sad. I looked through the pics on my phone of some of the stuff J and I did the past couple weeks and decided (with the nudging¬†help of Mrs. Jeter) to do a blog.

I don’t know if this is my best blog, or if it is interesting or thought-provoking. However, I do know that every once in a awhile I need to step back and appreciate what I have and smile at the little things.

Happy Monday – hope everyone has a good week.

Angry Birds bike helmet

Angry Birds bike helmet

Liberty Science Center

Liberty Science Center

Strike a pose

Strike a pose

Somewhere on the spectrum….

On January 10, 2011 my son J was diagnosed¬†with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I can remember everything about that day.¬†It was¬†a Monday and I had taken the day off work. The temperature outside was in the teens and¬†so¬†J and I were both bundled in our puffy coats patiently waiting¬†for J’s name to be called.

The waiting room was not child friendly, surprising¬†since it was a children’s hospital. There were some torn books scattered on a table and some weird mirror shaped like a fish that reflected everything upside down.

J tried amusing himself as I filled out what seemed like a million forms.  There were insurance forms, privacy forms, health history and family background questionnaires. I answered questions like:

How much did your child weigh¬†at birth? Has your child ever had surgery? Does your child look at you when you call his or her name? Can your child point his finger in the direction of an object? How many words can your child say and at what age did he/she say their first word(s)? Was your pregnancy “normal” ? and¬†What age did your child crawl?

After what seemed like forever, J’s name was called¬†and off we went to get weighed and measured¬†before being ushered into¬†a¬†tiny room with a huge table and a bunch of toys. I was introduced¬†to the Advance Practice¬†Nurse (Sally) who¬†asked me pretty much every question I had just answered on the forms in the waiting room.

Sally then asked¬†J (who was pretty non-verbal at the time)¬†questions before¬†she “observed” him¬†in several different controlled settings. J was¬†asked to “play” with things like¬†baby dolls (I mentioned J is one of 4 BOYS right?), goldfish crackers and a magic¬†wand

Nurse Sally explained that there was no definitive¬†“test” to¬†diagnosis autism. Rather, children must meet¬†a number of¬†criteria in a developmental screening or standardized¬†assessment, to determine if they are on the ¬†autism spectrum.

Well, J is fine, I know he does NOT have autism, I thought to myself as Sally babbled away.

Finally after a half hour or so the nurse turned to me and very matter-of-factly said …your son has Autism Spectrum Disorder….

My world was shattered. All the hopes and dreams I had for my blond-haired, blue-eyed baby were gone.

The weeks and months that followed¬†J’s diagnosis are a blur. Suddenly the only things I talked about concerned¬†OT, PT, sensory-seeking, redirection, speech therapy, story boards, PECs, ABA, IEPs, support groups, dietary concerns and whether¬†I would allow my almost 3yo to ride the “little” school bus to his new, ABA, autism, inclusive preschool.

WTF happened to our lives? Why my J??????

Slowly, VERY slowly, things started changing with J. He started to become¬†more and more verbal, using words for things like “cookie” and “tv. ”¬†He stopped pointing to get our attention and started to write his name and do “normal” preschool activities.

In the 2 years since J’s diagnosis we have had many highs and even more lows. For every new milestone it seems like there is¬†a set back hanging out on the horizon.

I often tell people¬†having a child on “the spectrum” is like riding a roller coaster. Just when you start to get used to something and think everything is going to be ok, you plunge into another unknown and feel like you are back at¬†square 1.

J’s teachers and therapists have alwayst¬†told me it’s all about the “baby steps.”¬† I need to focus on how far J’s progress has come and NOT dwell on ¬†how far he still needs to go. While I know this advice is true, it is ALWAYS easier said than done.

Last week was President’s Day and J’s school had a small assembly. J’s teacher sent a note home that J¬†gave¬†a small¬†speech¬†about¬†our 4th president James Madison. Miss Heidi said J worked on his speech for weeks and was VERY proud when he was finished.

I saw the laminated “speech” in his backpack and decided to ask him to read it to me and my mom. The little video that follows is nothing short of a miracle. Here is a little boy who, 2 years ago, could say only a couple of words and now he was reading about James Madison!

The look on J’s face at the end of the video says it all and the pride I feel and love I feel for J is overwhelming. He has worked SO hard and it pays off everyday.

Having a child with autism is not easy and there are days I wish J was “normal.” However,¬†then¬†J will do something really, really great, like this video, and I think to myself everything IS going to be alright.

Bippity boppity boo

Bippity Boppity Boo

Bippity Boppity Boo (Photo credit: Adg’s Screen Caps)

So today I met with a colleague at work to “revisit” my February performance review. Back in February, it was brought¬†to my attention, in a rather constructively critical manner, that I was a bit of a clock watcher and basically inept (per one partner). However, it was decided¬†that I would be given 4 months to “improve” and then be given the opportunity to “revisit” the issues – I know you are jealous.

Well it has been over 4 months but I was in NO hurry to be¬†reviewed again. Sitting across a desk from someone¬†as they rattle off a list of negatives (no matter how “constructive”) is not really my idea of a good time (such as say a PAP smear) so I ignored the 4 month mark.

Honestly, I thought work was going pretty well. I was covering for another paralegal on maternity leave and that had kept¬†me busy. I was working with different lawyers and it was a nice change of pace. There were no major catastrophes (at least that were brought to my immediate attention) and I was feeling somewhat confident – anyone who knows me knows that me using the word “confident” is a big deal¬†since I am not typically a confident person.

Anyway, I decided to bring the review up last week when my supervisor was visiting my office and figured I wouldn’t hear anything more about it. Wrong.

So here I am today feeling OK about myself as I shut the door to C’s office. I make myself comfortable, amidst the folders and papers on her guest chair, and brace myself for the news. C starts off telling me that the majority of¬†the “talk” was “positive” BUT there were some episodes of “self-sabotage” and plenty of room to grow (I do too much personal stuff and one partner never knows when I am “around”) but overall I had “improved” since February. Whew…but wait there is more.

It seems the overall opinion, among the lawyers, was that I am¬†not very “remarkable” and that I do nothing to distinguish¬†myself¬†from any other Tom, Dick or Harry that could sit at my desk.

Do you feel the love???

How does one respond to that? Do you smile and say thank you? Do you cry and leave in a hurry or do you just take it all in and pretend to give a shit?

My reaction was a combination of all three. After a HUGE pep talk I left C’s office feeling…well…like crap but knowing it was up to me to make a change because no one was going to do it for me.

C said I was allowed¬†a brief moment of pity (I took an hour) and then I needed to focus on what I could do in my life to make me happy (in work and home) and “shine”.

I feel like I am at a cross roads lately. I know that there is no way I was put on this earth to be a paralegal. Seriously, there had to be some other purpose for me other than being unremarkable at a law firm satellite office in Princeton, NJ. But what??

C had asked me today in her office what I liked to do and what made me happy. I toyed with a sarcastic rebuttal but decided against it. Instead I told C that I enjoyed blogging and working with parents of kids’ who have autism (like my 4yo).

Ok, great, wtf¬†am I going to do with those 2 thingd?? While I would love to be¬†a professional blogger, I don’t¬†think¬†bloggers get medical benefits¬† –¬†a necessity with¬†4 kids (one of whom has ASD). Also,¬†I really have a clue as to how you become a full-time professional blogger.

As for working with parents, this is something that sort of took me by surprise. Last year, I was given the opportunity to sit on a parent panel at an autism seminar. At first I was terrified thinking who the hell would care what I would have to say????

Then something strange happened that day,¬†not only did people listen to me but they asked ME questions and even emailed ME. They actually cared about what I had to say and to paraphrase Sally Field “they really liked me”. It was a great feeling and I volunteered for any other future parent panels.

I started networking among¬†the ASD¬†professionals and even volunteered to work at a carnival¬†hoping to get my name out there and be remembered. I don’t know if my efforts will pay off one day but at least¬†I know that a couple of times¬†a year I get to take part¬†in something that really makes me feel good about myself and¬†makes me feel like I am making a difference.

C told me today that I can’t expect instant gratification and that I need to keep working and making a mark for myself, to plant the proverbial seeds that will someday grow.

I guess C has a point but all I could think of when I got home is how I wish I had a real Fairy Godmother who would swoop down and shout bippity boppity boo! before making all my wishes come true.

I know, I know, I am a 40 yo mom of 4 and I can’t expect anyone, let alone a Fairy Godmother, to make my dreams come true. It is up to me to do that but really, just one time, I think it would be FABULOUS!!!

In the meantime I will continue to do my best at work to be¬†more “remarkable”. I will put on a fake¬†smile and look happy as I sit at my desk “working” and¬†doing NOTHING personal (like everyone else is doing). Who knows, maybe it will all pay off and someday I will get to do something I truly like.

In the meantime, I will keep hoping and praying to hear the magic words bippity boppity boo!!

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