Thursday, October 16, 2014

Art Room Paintings

We moved into our new home over 2 years ago and we had an extra room, an extra bedroom that is.  We don't get overnight guests so with some thought, my daughter and I decided on an arts and crafts room.  I wanted to scrapbook and she wanted to everything else Michael's and AC Moore had to offer.  Lol.  BUT I wanted this space to be for everyone so a bit more planning went into it. 

With my son's permission, all of his LEGO's and K'nects were organized and placed into a part of the room, then daughter decided she wanted LEGO's also so she has a section for hers as well.  I changed the closet into all craft storage filled with tons of labeled photo boxes and made a table.  Yes, I made a big art table made out of a door.  It gives us lots of space and overall it is working for us.  All my scrapbooking things are there but still untouched.  I'll get to it. 

While watching a TV show, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, (I watch it because of the drama....don't judge me) one of the women had shown a painting mural in her home.  It was a bunch of small canvas paintings her family and friends had painted over time and I really loved how it looked.  So I thought we could give it a try. Packed up the kids and off to Michael's we went for supplies. 

Side note.  Now, one of my favorite facebook pages is Autism Art Project.  That page is filled with beautiful artwork from the creator, Beth and sprinkled with artwork from her son.  She also shares her adventures into their world of autism.  It's one of the pages I do read often.  If you haven't checked them out, you won't be sorry.  She is an amazing artist.  

My family decided that once a season we would all gather in the art room and paint together.  The first time my son didn't really like it.  He took black paint and angrily painted 2 eyes and a mouth then yelled and stormed out.  We all remained calm and kept painting.  Eventually he came back into the room and asked to paint another picture, this time of a red flower.  He got another canvas and it came out beautifully!!! 

So, I am presenting our little family project representing spring, summer and fall of 2014. I'm hoping to eventually cover the entire wall with our work. 

Spring, Summer and Fall of 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Friendship and Drums

UPS came to my house yesterday and delivered a surprise package for my son.  A snare drum.  A very loud, very awesome snare drum. 

Last week I  told you about his music teacher who did his own research about autism and decided on an out of the box way to teach my son.  This technique was going to be used for a while until the teacher thought he could handle learning how to read sheet music.  Being a black and white thinker, my son decided he couldn't practice unless he had his very own snare drum.  Tricky little guy. 

I received a call from my dear friend and her hubby who live out of town and they wanted to give my son a drum.  Do you have a friend who you've known your entire life that even when you don't talk often it's like you pick up where you've left off without any hesitation?  That type of friend. 

So excited to see what was inside!

Her hubby was a drummer for many, many years and wanted to pass on one of his.  Floored at the generosity, I accepted but didn't tell my son. 

As we were waiting for the drum, he had another lesson.  This week his teacher decided to introduce him to actual sheet music because he nailed the previous weeks lesson work. Without practicing.  Yes, I'm bragging. 

Back to the drum.  He opened the box and was so excited!  My drum!  I have a drum!!  Thank you! Thank you!  He ran up the steps and brought down his sheet music and sticks and started drumming.  Drummed all night long. 

Drumming away.

Dear friend and hubby, thank you so much for the snare drum and thank you very much for the earplugs.  They help.  How come I didn't realize how LOUD drums were?  LOL.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Musically Inclined


Music seems to be 'his thing' so far this year and we couldn't be happier.  In July he told us he wanted to play drums.  Thinking it may be a phase, I didn't pursue lessons.  We signed his sister up at the end of the last school year for Viola lessons and in July is when we went to rent her instrument.  He loved the smell of the old music store, the creaking of the wooden floor and was immediately drawn to all the instruments and music books.  That's when he started insisting on drum lessons. 

When school started his teacher asked if I'd think he'd be interested in joining Chorus.  We decided to give it a shot and he was fantastic!  The Chorus teacher asked if he could sing a solo at the Winter Concert because his voice was beautiful.  Awesome right?  What is funny about that is we hear tons of verbal stimming and not so much singing.  Verbal stims rank high in this house but apparently this boy can sing and can hold a tune.  Didn't get that from me.  LOL.

During parent teacher night we met with the Music Teacher and told her about his interest in drum lessons.  Because the school year already started and percussion lessons were already filled for the year our other option was to find him a private instructor.  Now, in our household, we were pretty much filled with after school obligations.  Like so many other autism families, he has therapies after school.  We have tried many over the years but currently he goes to an after school therapeutic socialization group, also swim, speech and occupational therapy weekly.  Not to mention his sister's activities.  So to fit in drum lessons? That was going to be tough.

His wonderful Music Teacher gave us a place where we could check out for lessons.  Over the phone I asked if this instructor had any experience with teaching children on the spectrum.  Guess what they said?  No.  My first feeling was 'then they can't teach my son' but I made an appointment to see if the instructor and my boy would mesh.  He really wanted to learn how to drum.

We went to meet the instructor and he was very open to learning how to teach my son.  We spoke about his learning techniques, interests and most importantly, the instructor let my son go to town on a drum set.  Interested in what he was hearing, we decided to move ahead with lessons.  Just so happened that the day and time slot that was open for lessons, we didn't have anything planned.  Fate.  Plan old 'this is suppose to happen' fate.

What a fantastic lesson! The instructor went ahead and decided on an 'out of the box' teaching method.  How refreshing to have someone else do most of the work. I don't know who was more excited, my son, the instructor or me!  Turns out he has some natural ability when it comes to music and because he wants to do it, he listens to the instructor.  I promised to keep the GJOP readers updated and I will but for now, the boy wants a snare drum.  Have to find a non expensive snare drum.  Any ideas? 

This is how he is learning.  Instead of notes for now,
 he is learning right and left.  After a few weeks, it will
be converted to notes.  Loving his music instructor!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sunday Sickies Suck

Yesterday was Labor Day and I get that it was Monday but the Sunday Sickies appeared anyway.  What are the Sunday Sickies?  It's when my boy gets so filled with anxiety about the new school week that he starts pleading and begging not to go back to school.  I feel horrible seeing him that way but homeschooling for us isn't an option plus once he is back, he loves his school, kids and teachers in his autistic support class and the typical classroom. 

Last night was a bit different.  Last night he threatened to run away.  Went all out and even wrote a note.  I didn't get to read the whole thing but it started off like 'Deer Famile' then he hid it from me.  Fortunately for us, he told us where he would run away to and luckily it wasn't far; right across the street exactly.  I spoke to my neighbor to give her a heads up in case he did come over to her house one day.  When he was a little guy he did wander off.  One of the scariest day in my life. 

Back to "I'm outa here." 

I gently explained that the neighbor didn't know where his swim lessons are so I'd better go ahead and cancel swim with Miss Allison.  With that, he ripped up the note, immediately calmed down and went to play with Ruby the Rescue Therapy cat.  Boy, I love that cat. 

We got through last night but what about the future? Not sure.  He hasn't been on any type of anxiety meds yet.  We are big into teaching him his own coping methods and to work through things.  I'm also looking into all natural calming methods.  Essential Oils are on the way! If they don't help then maybe anti anxiety meds may be the next step. 

In the mean time we have Ruby the Rescue Therapy Cat to help. He loves her and she puts up with him.  Lol. She needs a cape right?     

Ruby the Rescue Therapy Cat helping to ease my son's anxiety.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Shopping for Gifts

At the end of each school year I like to give a gift to all the wonderful people who have worked with my son throughout the year.  Most of us do, I think.  For my daughter, it was easy.  She is NT and has one teacher.  One teacher = one gift.  My son, on the other hand, has a teacher plus a bunch of aides and professionals.  He is autistic and is in an autistic classroom.  Every year I try to figure out the perfect gift to give these professionals to express my gratitude, all unnecessary, but I still do. 

As usual, I turned to the Grape Jelly on Pizza Facebook page to see what others are giving and many of you had awesome ideas!!  We all had one thing in common, many people work with our children and we didn't want to spend too much money. 

Not sure what to do, I went to the source and asked my son.  We went down the list of adults who work with him and he knew right away what two of them definitely had to have.  So, I decided to take it to another level and with a budget in mind, we went to my son's favorite store of all time....Walmart. 

With the list in hand, he took his time and picked out the gift he wanted to give each individual.  This year, there were only 6 at the school.  We were lucky.  I saw it in his eyes that he really thought about what each person should receive.  Some I was like, "Are you sure?"  When he absolutely was we bought it.

When we got home, he wrote out thank you notes.  When I say that, I mean the front of the card said Thank you so he wrote his name on the inside the wrote the person's name on the envelope.  We dug out all the gift bags we had received over the years and he went thought each one to put each gift in.  Someone received a Valentine's Day bag but I let it go. 

It was fun to see his take this from beginning to end.  As a mom, I find it hard to let go and not to take over but I think he handled it perfect.  I'm sure the receivers will think so also. 

Six gift bags all ready to be dropped off at school.  He did
a great job picking each one out.  Very proud of my boy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Siblings.  My two are close in age and some days it seems like they continually argue and pick on each other.  Many years ago I had my son enrolled in karate to see how he would like it.  Long story short, after about 5 months, I pulled him out because I was the one getting the workout.  Getting him into the car and eventually into the dojo would make me break out into a sweat, not to mention I had his little sister with me and her bag of things to do.  All this work for 1/2 of him not listening, making faces in the mirrors and yelling and screaming.  So he didn't go anymore. 

A little over 3 years ago my daughter decided she wanted to give karate a try and being familiar with this dojo and the sensis, I enrolled her.  It ended up she really enjoys it and has started her black belt testing which is a series of 5 days of tests.  Very intense.  Here's the thing, he loves to watch her and encourage her but hates to be in the waiting room.  I can't tell you how many hours she has waited for him in waiting rooms, most of the time without complaining and he can't stand waiting for her.  Not one bit. 

A picture he took of his feet in the
Karate waiting room.
In the beginning, he refused to even go into the building;  it was an awful waiting room experience.  We even had his BSC meet us there to work on his coping skills.  We should show up with a backpack filled with stuffed animals or let him play on my phone or bounce a ball or whatever his preferred was.  We had lots of sensory toys also and pressure activities.  Sometimes I would even park in the front and have him wait in the car for her but that used to make me incredibly nervous.  I believe it was the actual waiting room with yellow walls and florescent lighting that would drive him crazy, not to mention all the parents and siblings also waiting.  Sensory overload at its finest. 

He watches her through the glass and
 tells her, "Great Job!"
After all these years and all the belts she has gained, he has never attended a graduation until the end.  We usually took 2 cars and hubby would leave with him after he had too much, which was usually after 15 minutes but 3 months ago....he insisted going into the dojo packed with people and stay for the entire graduation!  This was big, I mean HUGE!  After she earned that 3rd degree brown belt we started talking about May, she would be testing for her black belt.  He repeats, "Black belt in May?" many times a day.  He also checks the calendar to make sure May is coming.  This makes my heart so happy that he working on his coping skills so he can be a part of this, encourages her daily and is genuinely excited about her accomplishing her goal.

 I can almost guarantee he will be in the dojo cheering her on.  She is his biggest fan and vice versa. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

When you are at your Witts End....then what?

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing goes right?  You are exhausted and can't seem to wake up.  Coffee doesn't work, candy doesn't and you don't even have enough mental capacity to do anything?  Your stress level soars out of control.  You can't seem to get it together and then to have a screaming toddler who keeps coming at you and at you and at you.  What do you do?

A long time ago when he was little, that was one night at our house.  One night I hate.  It was awful and I don't even like to think about it.  I choose to look on the positive side of things so going back gets me rattled.  People read about many good things that go on in my son's life, our lives and I prefer that but let's get real.  There are also dark sides to having a child with autism. 

This one particular night was horrible.  He was so little.  We didn't know he was autistic.  I had a newborn.  When my son was little he never slept.  I had no idea how he could even function.  It seemed so odd.  He would wake up every 3 hours and was like that for so many years.  Every single night he would get up.  Then add breastfeeding a newborn to that one and guess how much sleep I would get?  Sometimes hubby and I would be talking and I would have absolutely no idea what the heck he would be talking about.  There are events, days, weeks that I couldn't recollect and it still happens.  Sleep deprivation. 

Back to the day.  There was no sleep for me.  My son was particularly cranky and wanted full on attention that day.  It was difficult for me to juggle the two kids because I wasn't able to think clearly.  That early night, my daughter was sleeping and I needed a moment to myself.  Just 5 minutes.  That's all I wanted.  I put my son in his room and he started crying then yelling then screaming.  Screaming.  That's all I heard.  I had had it.  He needed to stop because if he woke up his sister I swear!!  Hubby was working long hours and he too wasn't getting much sleep either.  He needed to work...he was the only income.  All my son had to do was go into his room, filled with toys for 5 minutes so I could regroup myself.  That doesn't sound like much.  Just 5 freaking minutes.

But no.  No.  No.  No.  The screaming was loud, I was starting to freak out.  I kept putting him back in his room and trying to shut the door but he kept running after me straight to the door.  Over and over again.  I started crying.  He was screaming.  I started yelling.  He kept screaming.  I was yelling and sobbing at this point and trying to keep him in his room.  All I wanted was to close the door.  5 minutes.  All the sudden my husband came up the stairs and started grabbing my arm and yelling at me.  I didn't know what the hell was going on.  I started to put my son back into his room and hubby started yelling at me.  Crying, sobbing I lost it.   I turned to hubby and told him to get my son out of my face.  I ran down the stairs and outside.  Sobbing.  I couldn't believe what was happening.  I lost it.  I didn't hit him.  I wanted to screaming to stop.  I only wanted 5 minutes to myself.  Just 5 minutes. 

This night still haunts me.  I feel like it was such a low as a parent.  I don't like to think about it.  I had no where to go for peace and quiet.  There wasn't anyone I could talk to that would understand.  I felt so alone.  We felt so alone, hubby included.  So when the Grape Jelly on Pizza readers tell me how they feel I do understand.  We all go through this at some point and if you don't, then you are blessed.  Go ahead and tell me about your lows, you won't be judged.  You will find others do understand. 

That was so long ago.  Things have changed.  My son now sleeps for the most part which means I catch some Zs also.  We also have a great relationship.  That will be another blog, another day. 

He was only 19 months when he refused to sleep in his crib
anymore, so he got his big boy bed.