Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Pictures

It is always hard to pick a few photos to post. I got the video up fast figuring it was timely, but took a few days to decide what to post for stills. These are some of my favorites. I loved Braeden's expressions and I felt like I caught a moment with Thane's Handy Manny radio (he played with it half the day, too) as his happiness was clearly visible. It was a good day, even if we were all too tired.

I guess I should mention that the night before Christmas we all headed upstairs to watch Rudolf. Thaney couldn't sleep until about 1:30 a.m. It is the first year he really has a solid grasp of Christmas, so every tree branch brushing the roof had him asking if Santa was here yet, or if the reindeer were on the roof. It was cute, but I was worried he would go down and open everything all by himself.

Then after he was safely asleep, Braeden woke up . . . and noticed Dad wasn't upstairs. So we talked and talked about things, including the mystery of Santa. Dave came up and explained that the ice backup was making rain come into the sunroom again, so he was downstairs sopping up water and drying furniture, plus he went out to rake the roof. It was after 4 by the time Braeden was asleep. We woke them up at around 10 or 10:30 a.m. and they were both pretty sleepy. Dave and I were doing better, but Dave ended up sleeping a bit in the afternoon. That seems like a holiday tradition!

Thane spots Rocket right away!

Braeden checks out his new kicksled.

Thane hides in protest to something said.

I love the eyes!

Thane examines a gift.

A smile emerges as he figures out what it is.

Complete glee down to his toes!

Braeden hunting behind the tree.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Feliz Navidad!

Please check this out . . . it's a very cute!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let it Snow!

Happy Hanukkah! Happy Winter Solstice! It is snowing here, and seems like it will be snowing off an on through Christmas.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Thane's 5th Birthday

One of Thane's big requests for his birthday was balloons.

Every time he got one, he wanted one more!

He took to jumping on the couch

We went for a small gluten-free Rocket cake.

I like this picture of him peeking through a box.

He had fun with the piƱata!

Thane flying a shuttle around.

In the end, it probably was for the best to just have a party at home with the four of us and Misty -- she got a treat bag with jerky in it, so she was pretty happy. It still feels somehow off to me, but he got what he wanted and seemed very pleased. It was certainly easier than having a big shindig, and he didn't meltdown once.

I've had some of those wistful moments thinking that he is already five. My baby is FIVE! I think back to the baby who was born earlier than I planned, didn't want to grow, slept and fussed . . . all the puke, the rashes, constant running nose, and never having a solid poop until he was gluten-free. The temper tantrums where he would throw himself backward and smash his head.

The toddler who would learn a new word and then lose another, and how it angered him so much when we tried to push him to speak. Now he speaks pretty well and even sings louder than his classmates. I love his little stories and his little voice. Every child deserves a voice and I am so glad he found his. He has made me laugh and smile so many times. I remember worrying he'd never really speak, and now I can't imagine what it would be like if he didn't.

The boy who never blew raspberries, never gave kisses, never said mama until he was almost three, and now he can do all of those things . . . and even chooses to do them. He is such a little lovey. He greets his teachers with hugs and he is just so sweet. I still worry some about his future, but for the most part I am so impressed with him and how far he has come. He is so determined and strong for such a small little guy. A lot of these things haven't come easily to him, but he's made it happen. He's such a treasure.

Happy 5th Birthday, Thane! My little lovey!

King for a Day

Thane got to be King for a Day on Wednesday as he celebrated turning 5 years old. It is so hard to believe he is five already!

One of their traditions is to make a crown and the child can help decorate it with one of the teachers. Above is a picture the teachers sent me from school. He was very happy with his birthday celebration at school, and from one of the other pictures it looked like all the kids enjoyed their gluten-free cupcakes.

I had Thaney pose at home with crown too. I call this one King in a Swing.

Santa at Preschool

It has been crazy busy around here – probably everyone else, too!

Let me start my catching up by showing Thane’s visit with Santa today. Santa Claus visited his preschool today. The children sang for him and Thane was too cute. He sings at the top of his lungs. It’s charming in a goofy kind of way, and it makes everyone smile. He was in the front row too, which was a bit of a surprise to me.

I wasn’t sure if I should go as I haven’t been feeling well this week and I knew I couldn’t stand through kids singing and visiting Santa. Dave was kind of enough to talk to teachers and make sure they reserved a chair for me.

Both of the older classes were in the studio for the party, so it looked like 20 kids, perhaps more. Thane was the second one to go see Santa. He cheerfully sat on Santa’s lap. He said he has been good this year and asked for a ball (and people think I am kidding when I say just about any boy is happy to get a ball, or several, as a gift). He was given a present there, a book. All the kids brought in a wrapped book to be handed out as presents for the kids – I thought that was a great idea.

As soon as Thane looked up, he saw me. He had to point me out to Santa, who waved and Thane was entranced by the bells on his wrist.

He got his book, ran to hug me, unwrap it, and immediately ask if he could go home. That’s Thane – when he’s done his part, he’s done with it all. I suggested he sit, so he sat down and read his book through. Then he went up in between kids to thank Santa, which I think Santa thought was cute.

But then Thane came back and again asked to go home. I was starting to feel two things – the seat of the old chair underneath my big butt starting to crack, probably because I had to perch on it in a strange way, and that Thane was behaving differently from other kids. The other children would go back and rejoin their group, but Thane was really feeling that I was there and it was time to go. Thane went to talk to Santa a third time and I heard him suggest in a very jovial way that Thane should allow other children a turn.

I looked at the treat table and realized there was nothing there he could have if I dared stay perched on that chair, and he asked four times to go home. He looked disheveled and very tired, and it sounded as if he was cranky in the classroom before the party. I asked if it was okay to just take him, and was told it was.

One of the teachers was very sweet – they all are, really, but this one really goes out of her way for me without making me feel like the problem I feel like I am. She got Thaney’s bag from the other building and brought them to the car. I told her that I broke the chair she reserved for me and she didn’t miss a beat, she was very sweet about it. I asked if she could please remove it before someone actually got hurt on it. Sigh. Preschool’s just don’t tend to have furniture built for very large people. I’m just glad I got to tell her and that she was nice about it.

So I have some mixed feelings about the day and the visit to school. It is clear to me that Thane thinks of me as his ticket home, so he doesn’t really want me to be there for another reason. I was really stressed about going because I just haven’t been well this week, but I didn’t want to miss him seeing Santa. In a weird way, I feel like I handled it okay, even if it was one of those events that I dread. A friend of mine actually shattered a chair recently and I was so impressed with her for just thinking it was hilarious. He was thrilled to see me there and to share his book with me, but I feel like I cut his party short. He did come home and have an upset tummy, though, so I am sure it is better that he didn’t stay in the same room with all those cookies and such.

I made up cards for the teachers and gave them each a beaded bookmark as Thane likes to help me with those. It feels like rather little in comparison to what these teachers do for and with Thane, but there were also seven of them to give gifts to today!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Explaining Birthdays

One of our challenges has been trying to figure out how to explain birthdays and age to Thane – how does one explain this kind of thing to a child with autism?

I know I have posted before that Thane decided over the summer that he was “just one” because there was only one of him. Of course, people like to ask little people like Thane how old they are and the look on their faces when he said he was “just one” was priceless.

I thought perhaps the Montessori Method of marking birthdays – the child carries a globe around a candle that represents the sun – might be a way to do it. Time and years don’t really make sense to a child Thane’s age regardless of their development, so certainly taking a child who thinks a bit differently and explaining age and years is a challenge.

Thane’s speech therapist suggested we make him a birthday book – like a social story – showing him as he has gotten older. I have been reluctant to do it because I had to sift through the “failure to thrive” photographs before he started eating a gluten-free diet in 2006 and sprouted up 8 inches and gained about 10 pounds over the next year. I also knew it would start us on the path of him wanting a birthday party and a birthday cake.

To teach Thane his name – and to answer the often-asked “What is your name?” – I wrote him a little book with pictures and named off a bunch of people he knew. It took a long time, 5-6 months, but it ended with a priceless moment of me calling him peanut and him saying, “No, I Thaney!” that I caught on video.

Anyway, last night I decided that with less than a month left until he turns five – gasp! – I really should get the book done. I spent a few hours putting something together, being repetitive in my text as suggested, and printed it out. Braeden wanted to read it to Thane, which was fine with me . . . though Thane wanted to just grab it and read it himself. Thane was happily looking through the pictures of him as a baby, and some of Braeden when he was younger too, but he has decided that on his birthday he will be nine. He doesn’t want five. He wants nine! He gave the book back, probably in hopes I would fix it and make him nine . . . but pretty much after all that effort he ran away screaming.

Picture Day

Today is Picture Day at Thane's school. He'll get his individual portrait done, and then pictures taken with the class. I ordered a medium-sized set of prints so I hope they come out well.

Braeden's pictures were done at school yesterday. I think the photography teacher, who does the pictures at his school, saw that he had his hair cut and figured it was as good a time as any.

We had Amy Wilton, the photography teacher at Riley and a professional photographer, do family pictures a couple of weeks ago. I will just post a couple of my favorites here.

Busy, Busy, Busy

People can blog from their telephones and all such, but it would be really nice if you could just be waiting to fall asleep in bed and think “I should add this to my blog” and somehow it would magically appear without having to reconstruct at a keyboard later! There certainly would be more posted here that way.

Life is a little crazy around here, but as my friend Melissa pointed out, it is all positive. Dave is taking a stage combat class and he his friend are having fun with that. It is just one evening a week, which is why I signed them up for it (they were thinking about it, then I got an email about a couple of spots left and I just went ahead and registered both of them!). Dave is also doing a bell choir and appearing with Braeden in the Waldo’s “Believe.” Add to it that this week Braeden has two performances of “Going, Going, Gone with the Breeze” at school and then both Dave and Braeden are appearing in something on Saturday night too . . . it’s a lot of things at once.

We had vaguely considered driving to Rhode Island for Thanksgiving, but it would be so hard on Thane. We figure it would be best for him to do a day trip – so get up early and drive down, stay for awhile, and then go home. Then we decided it might be better to try something like that on a day less travelled – it just seems safer. One thing I can't really figure out is how much trouble to go through for Thanksgiving.

Do we make it all gluten free and egg free so that Thane can eat whatever he wants, or do we buy a couple of pies and things like that realizing chances are slim that he'll want to try any of it?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Braeden Then and Now

The black and white pictures are some of Braeden's school portraits that gave me quite the chuckle in 2007. The color shots are ones I took while sitting in the backyard a couple of weeks ago. He looks a lot different, in my opinion, but there is a sameness in the images nevertheless.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Photographs from Trick-or-Treating for Halloween:

Unfortunately, I have to say that this was one of my least favorite Halloweens ever. Thane was so contrary and out of sorts, and Braeden was pretty ambivalent about it all. Braeden was cheerful, don’t get me wrong, but he just didn’t seem that interested in hooking up with friends from school, his old school, or even the kid who seems like his closest friend. Instead he chose to be with us and with Thane, and then to meet up with friends for a hayride at the local Baptist church. He stayed with them and went home with them for a while before coming home at 9 p.m.

The day was pretty mellow before Braeden and I went to pick up Thane at school. I sent Braeden in to get him, but got out of the car when I heard Thane crying and screaming. He wasn’t hurt; he just didn’t want to leave with us. The hard thing is that it really had nothing to do with me or with Braeden, but it sure felt like it. I wanted to cry because I felt really hated at that moment. I felt like his teachers must think we take him home and beat him and then stuff him in the closet with duct tape over his mouth.

The teacher who was trying to help him transition ended up being knocked off balance by Thane as he tried to hide behind her. There were also a couple of parents going through to get their kids too, so I felt rather on display (though the moms were perfectly nice and supportive, it is still so uncomfortable when your child is yelling that you don’t love him).

In some respects, we were lucky. Thane went to knock on a door and the lady opened it before he got there. He was about to fall apart, so she quickly closed the door and let him knock. It’s nice to run into someone who is both insightful and accommodating. Dave said he did need to explain to some people that his autism made some of this difficult – he wanted to do it, but he didn’t necessarily want to accept candy from everyone. I do wonder if it was worth it or not. Just as I wonder if it is worth even trying to go on the Polar Express. When Braeden was younger we did anything and everything to make his holidays special and fun. With Thane, sometimes it feels like our efforts to have him even participate in holiday activities is a form of torturing him. I think the hardest part is that one can’t always predict when he will have fun and love the effort, or be miserable and totally stressed. And am I totally dumb that I can’t figure yet when to push and when to just stay home and let him do his thing.

At the end of the night, Thane ended up having one of the cameras we took with us fall and hit him in the cheek as he was being difficult about getting out of the car – so now he has a big bruise that might look like it confirms how evil I am. Dave’s reaction – toward the camera – was frightening to me, so at that point I finally broke down in tears and declared it the worst Halloween.

I suppose I should end on a good note . . . The church did a really nice job with their festival – Braeden had fun. I also have to give kudos to the local fire department and the King Solomon’s Lodge. They had a nice set up in town where they gave out bags of treats, light up necklaces, maze pens, and allowed the children to enter a contest to get a ride to school on the fire truck. Braeden took down his carved pumpkin from Cub Scouts and it was lit and placed on the fire truck – which I have to say looked really cool! I doubt either boy would actually get a ride to school on a fire truck since neither goes to school in town, but it was nice to see such a nice community effort. Definitely a bright spot in an otherwise lousy Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Talking Too Much

Yes, this is too many posts in one day, but I am more awake than usual. The last couple of nights Braeden has been reading to Thane again. What's different is that Thane has been listening and even participating. As a mom, it is so cute to see them in a recliner together. Thane still likes footie pajamas, so he was sitting there in a bright red sleeper which gives him that last bit of baby look. Braeden was looking like a mini-teenager that you wouldn't expect to be reading to his little brother and enjoying it. Not only did Thane listen and "baaaa" in the right part in one of those song books, but he listened to three books in a row. We're moving beyond books that only have a sentence on a page too, which is really cool.

I also had those "I remember when" memories because I used to read Braeden as many as 20 books in a day, and now he is reading some of those old favorites to his brother.

Difficult Time

I wasn’t feeling well yesterday, so Braeden was trying to be the one to help Thane out of the car. Braeden and I both said I was having a difficult time and Thane replied in a very angry voice, “NO! I am having a difficult time . . . . . . . . FOREVER!”

He won. I helped him out of the car.

Happy Halloween

We only did a Thane-based Halloween card this year as Braeden is getting a little old to dress up and pose for me . . . though he would have if I asked because he is such a sweet kid. (Click on the pic if you want to see it larger)

Diet Blues

Yesterday was the first time in awhile that Thane’s diet restrictions bothered me. I guess it started on Monday when one of his teachers offered him candy corn. I’m glad he refused because it was a triangle because it had an allergen warning on it for both wheat and eggs. The problem is that he decided later on that he wanted a candy corn and we simply couldn’t find any that was safe for him.

I saw these nice looking new gluten-free crackers and I really wanted to get some for him to try. The reviews were all wonderful, so it sounded so promising. I had searched them first on Amazon, but Amazon has stopped listing full ingredients. I had to check one of the gluten-free sites and found that it contained eggs. I told Dave it really made me want to try Thane on eggs again because avoiding gluten and eggs is harder than gluten alone, but the last time he had egg he was in so much pain. Plus now isn’t the time . . . the child hasn’t had a solid bowel movement in awhile. I know that is too much information for some, but anyone who has a child on a special diet, a child with stomach trouble, celiac disease, or anything like that can understand that this becomes worrisome.

He still seems to be growing fine – he is moving into size 5 just before turning 5 years old, so that seems pretty typical (especially in a family where mom is only 5’1”!). But we did buy the slimmest looking “regular” jeans we could find, and still need to crank down the adjustable waist by 6-8 button holes . . . and they still are loose. I am trying to decide whether we should try slims, but he just doesn’t really look like a slim build to me. I’m probably being silly.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Backwards Day

I’d like to that we’re continuing the fabulous skill development that we saw over the summer with Thane, but while we’ve seen some progress in areas, we’re also seeing some steps back. The most noticeable is how stressed he has been getting about things. I am seeing him stim (self-stimulating behaviors) a bit more – like rocking his head back and forth against the headrest in his car seat, some more obsessive behaviors (“I know I am not supposed to peel the labels of crayons, but I have to, really I do. In fact, I will sit here for hours and peel crayons. And since I know I am not supposed to, I will either apologize with puppy-dog eyes or sit in a corner doing it and try to hide. If there is a crayon anywhere, it needs to be peeled!”), and he is definitely being defiant and a bit more backward than usual.

I’ve been trying for awhile to get Thane to say what he means. Often he will say “I don’t want to play [insert game name here]” but what he really means is that he does. Or he says he can’t when he means he wants to. I noticed my pushing was stressing him a bit, but he does need some shoves in this manner because otherwise he won’t be understood by the vast majority of people he encounters.

Today he has been a bit more backward about other things – not just negatives. For example, he told someone to stop leaning on him when he was the one leaning.

As usual, I find myself grabbing the humor where I can . . . I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person! He was offered candy corn at school. Luckily he didn’t take it because it was a cross contamination risk with wheat, gluten, and eggs. The humor part is that his reason for refusing it was “I don’t like triangles.” That’s right, no triangle food for Thane.

Braeden got the mail out of the mailbox and came back and told Thane he had two letters. Thane said he didn’t want a letter. Actually, he told us three or four times that he didn’t want a letter while I was backing up the driveway. I told him it was okay, he didn’t need to have a letter, but he still repeated he didn’t want one. Then as we’re getting out of the car, he looks at Braeden and says “I want a you.” Huh? This is where repeating comes in handy as he added something: “I want a letter u.” Brae is much quicker than I am and replied, “That’s good, because you got a U – I just unbuckled you and unbuckled starts with U!” And yes, that worked and Thane was perfectly content.

Halloween at the Stable

We had no power on Sunday so we decided we might as well go out. In the next town over to the south, there was a Halloween event at a stable that someone suggested we consider as a place to get riding lessons for Thane over the winter. It was a good excuse to check the place out. It was pretty impressive and Thane had fun (Braeden did too, but it was definitely the type of thing that is geared toward the younger kids). Braeden played photographer. The first is part of the horse costume parade. The second one is Dave and Thane on the hayride.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Getting Portraits

I guess the best reason to hire a photographer is to get good portraits . . . we haven't done it in years! These are some that I took as a practice run. Thane was mostly uncooperative and I am totally unskilled at dealing with the light. Hopefully the photographer images are better!

I made Dave a collage of pictures of mostly Braeden (I had already done Thane a week ago).

Below is what Thane really wanted to be doing . . . walking in circles around the base of the tower on top of Mount Battie.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Horse Show Pictures

The ride begins.

Smiling at Dad.

Concentrating on a job . . .

Displaying the smiley face he made.

Another ring (and some help).

Placing a ring on a post.

Thane takes the reins.

The joy of trotting!

After dismounting, Thane pets Frost.

Thane feeds Frost some apples.

Marcie presents Thane with a ribbon.

Doesn't he look proud?