Cradle Song

Sleep, sleep, beauty bright,
Dreaming in the joys of night;
Sleep, sleep; in thy sleep
Little sorrows sit and weep.

Sweet babe, in thy face
Soft desires I can trace,
Secret joys and secret smiles,
Little pretty infant wiles.

As thy softest limbs I feel,
Smiles as of the morning steal
O'er thy cheek, and o'er thy breast
Where thy little heart doth rest.

O the cunning wiles that creep
In thy little heart asleep!
When thy little heart doth wake,
Then the dreadful night shall break.

William Blake

4 Shhhh!!

Monday, 25 July 2011
Image Source
Taz does a really good stern face.  He's had a lot of practice.  He's been pulling exaggerated faces for at least the past 18 months if not longer.  He's constantly making the Bubs and me crack up because of his practicing and mixing of expressions.  An old favorite was narrowing his eyes into a death stare while raising his eyebrows in surprise as high as they would go.

A new one is something I can't easily describe, kind of like a really deep scowl with one eyebrow raised really high, the expression a mixture of surprise and horror.  After pulling this face he raises one finger to his lips and gives a sharp "Shhhh!" in response to whatever you're saying.  Because apparently "shhh!" is an appropriate response to "do you want strawberry or raspberry yoghurt?" "come in and wash your hands", "be gentle with your sister" or "it's time to go potty".

He doesn't always do the scowl though, sometimes he'll just scrunch up his nose instead.  It's become a real habit though, he's constantly shushing me!!  I guess it doesn't help that half the time I bust out laughing because he takes me completely by surprise with his forceful little "shhh!".

10 Anger

Friday, 22 July 2011
Betty is angry because Taz keeps covering her head with stuff (blankets, towels, tshirts, napkins, dishcloths, whatever he can find!)  She's also angry because she dropped her cookie on the floor and the dog ate it.  The fact she's not exactly nimble on her feet (read: keeps taking tumbles) is further fueling her frustrations.

Taz is angry because I'm ruining his awesome peek-a-boo game (preventing his little sister from getting smothered to death.)  I'm also not letting him throw toys out the window or use pens on the tablecloth which, let's face it, is plain mean.

I'm getting a little ticked off from the constant crying and complaining, and because I can't turn my back for one second without Betty getting drenched/smothered/carried off (!!), the dog getting covered in play doh or Taz channeling his inner rock climber to reach all kinds of forbidden goodies, nearly tipping the chair (stool/toy box/ random object) he was standing on and breaking his neck in the process.  The fact both the kids' favorite game is to empty drawers and shelves and stuff things (phone, keys, etc) in random drawers/corners is not helping.  Did I mention Taz' new thing is to hide toys in the oven?

4 Star Negotiators

Friday, 15 July 2011
That's what The Bubs and I are: Star Negotiators

The Bubster and I had been preparing ourselves for a lot of resistance from Taz regarding what clothes he was going to wear to the wedding.  We figured he'd accept a pair of suit trousers since he usually doesn't fuss too much about what he wears on his legs.  We also got him a little cream vest and tie to wear and my mother-in-law bought like 3 different white shirts, all different styles and materials  in the hopes that he would accept any one of these items of clothing.

He didn't accept any.

This is how Taz went to the wedding:

Fortunately a lot of the parents with toddlers ran into the same communicative breakdown with their little ones as we did (although lot of kids accepted short sleeve collared shirts and things like that so they still looked smart, whereas Taz' sensory aversions made him a little more difficult to dress up).

Anyhow, I guess it was fun for people to see which of the kids had put up more of a fight for what they would wear.  After the service when we were all gathered for the reception, a few of us had broken away to a little playground and a friend of ours joked about how Taz had completely gotten his own way, so I immediately stepped in crying "the shoes!!  He's wearing the shoes!!" and he laughed shaking his head, "riiiight, so that was the compromise was it?  He's wearing the shoes.."  It was pretty funny, and at least we could say he was wearing a tiny bit of his outfit.  Maybe next time he'll accept more...

All in all Taz had a great weekend.  Apart from wearing what he wanted, being able to play around on the slides and swings during the reception and getting to eat wedding cake, he also...

**drumroll** to drive his grandpa's lawnmower!!!

I never got to operate any heavy machinery when I was little...  **shakes fist at parents**

4 PECS Crash & Burn

Thursday, 14 July 2011
We've crashed and burned with the PECS.  Taz doesn't like them.  He was all into them at first, excited and motivated by these dinky little pictures he could use to get what he wanted.  The novelty wore off pretty fast though.

At first it was just with me.  He'd go floppy when I'd ask him to use the PECS, or when I'd bring his PECS book so he could tell me what he wanted, he'd just try to knock it out of my hands and would turn away.  "No PECS, all gone PECS, finished PECS" turned into a favorite phrase.  I kept at it, but I started noticing that his behaviour was deteriorating during his sessions with the EAS (Early Autism Services) lady who sometimes comes.  The people from EAS were the ones who were most pushing for us to use PECS even though we'd started off using signs.  All the exercises with the EAS lady were taking twice as long because he would give the right answer, but wouldn't want to give the right answer using PECS.  We'd literally have to do hand over hand to get him to place the picture in the right place and guide each finger to pull off the sentence strip.  It all seemed so pointless.

The (ABA) Supervisor is also not a big fan of PECS.  We talked about it and decided that for now we would try to focus just on his vocalizations, and maybe end up supporting those with signs if needed, but hopefully we won't need to.  Taz is much happier about using signs, I guess cause he associates them with fun things, like from the action nursery rhymes we sing and all that.  So when it comes to getting him to sign he's usually pretty compliant.   He'll even bounce up and down sometimes doing really exaggerated hand signs just cause he's so excited to be doing them (especially if we're singing along to something!)   We've already had our last EAS session until September, so I'm hoping that we'll see a lot of progress in the next couple of months and PECS will stop being an issue.  I'm excited to see how things progress especially since he's now seeing all the acronyms: EAS, ABA, SLT & OT!

5 Reasons I Love Being A Mother

Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Okay, so perhaps I was being a little less than honest in the title.  This is less a post about the wonders of motherhood and more about how motherhood is disgusting, smelly and vomit filled.

I let Taz sleep as long as he wanted this morning.  He eventually woke up around 9:45am, that's so unlike him!!  He's usually up by 6 or 7 at the absolute latest.  Anyway, poor kid woke up starving.  He wanted pancakes.  Ha, fat chance, kid.  He had some water and a tiny bit to eat, then went to lie on the play room floor.  He has this play tent he likes to play in so he was just lying there face down looking at the carpet when I heard his stomach lurch.  He vomited so much, I don't think he's ever vomited that much before.  I quickly tried to take him into the kitchen to minimize the mess but it just went everywhere.  All over the floor, splashed all over the walls, the chairs, the recycling bins.

When he stopped vomiting I washed him up and took him to the living room to watch something.  He ended up puking all over the couch, he somehow managed to hit every pillow on it.  I ran out of carpet cleaner really quickly and Betty kept crying hysterically each time I'd try and leave her at the other end of the room while I cleaned up vomit.  The first time Taz threw up, Betty crawled right through the vomit to get to me while I was taking him to the sink.  All three of us had to get changed that time.

Anyhow, this has gone on most of the day so unfortunately I've had to cancel the ABA sessions tomorrow.  It's really annoying too because today I got these really great flashcards I ordered for the program from Natural Learning Concepts, I was excited about introducing them.  Also, we only see Susan on Mondays and Wednesdays and it's a really long time till next Monday so I know Taz will miss her.  At least he'll get to spend time with Gina on Friday though and he has fun when he sees her.

2 The Vortex, the Bunnies and the Devil: Part 3

Thursday, 7 July 2011
The Devil Made Me Do It

Around late May I started realizing that I was outgrowing a lot of my clothes.  Obviously I had shrunk my clothes somehow, I told myself, snacking thoughtfully on Kinder chocolates.

It wasn't till a couple of weeks later (during the course of which I'd baked (supposedly for Taz) and pretty much polished off by myself

* 2 batches of corn bread
* 4 batches of banana bread
* 3 batches of Panque Marigas - a rum cake my mom used to make when I was little)

that it occurred to me that my bursting seams might not be down to my crappy homemaking skills...

So I finally bit the bullet and weighed myself.  And oh what a rude awakening it was!!  I was actually heavier than when I left the hospital with Betty!  Stunned, I slipped into denial and gorged on junk food for another week or so until I finally got it together and started a diet.

Calorie counting.  I've entered my own excruciating little circle of hell.

While I was assimilating all this fire and brimstone into my life, and since it had just been my birthday, I (very uncharacteristically **ahem**) impulse bought myself a not-for-daily-use-ridiculously-high-heeled pair of shoes.  Feeling guilty for spending money on a pair of shoes I won't be wearing that often, I went and bought Betty some really cute, really cheap pants.  Ooops.  Oh well, at least she actually needed them.

And all this before I'd even bought the one thing I really needed to buy: a dress for the wedding we're going to this weekend.  I have a dress I could have worn to it had I not turned into a such huge sow after having two kids, but as it stands, I probably couldn't get one gelatinous leg into it.  To save money I decided to buy my dress from ebay with plenty of time to make returns or exchanges if needed.  What a false economy that was.  The idiots I bought the dress from still hadn't sent it 9 days after I bought it!

I wrote to ask them where it was and they said delivery typically took between 17-23 days.  **Sigh**  I asked how that could be since on the listing it had said standard delivery 2-3 days.  They replied apologizing and said that they would send it out straight away.  When I did get the dress and tried it one, I realized they'd sent me one 3 sizes too big.  I wrote back asking for an exchange, but they didn't have it in my size anymore.  I scoured ebay for someone else who sold that dress, eventually found someone with a dress in stock (slightly different colour, but still the same dress) and bought it.  They sent me a dress that was 2 sizes too big.  I couldn't believe it, I was having to return two dresses and I still had nothing to wear for the wedding.  (I found out later both ebay shops were run by the same people so no surprises there).

In the end I had to drag everyone up to a really big shopping center relatively near us (takes about 45 minutes on train and bus) to get everyone the things they needed.  Bubs already has everything for the wedding since he wore most of it to our wedding, but everyone else needed something.

Taz needed shoes and a suit.  He freaked out about wearing the jacket though, so we decided not to get it.  He also has a thing about the shirts, I think it might be because of the material, so I thought I'd get him a white polo shirt and hopefully he could wear that.  We couldn't find one with long sleeves though so unless I can find one today, he's going to have to go in a long sleeved tshirt.

Betty was easy, plus they were having a huge sale, but finding my stupid dress took forever.  I didn't even know what my size was so I was trying a million things on, everything was too expensive or didn't fit and I was starting to get really stressed out about not having anything to wear for the wedding.  Finally towards the end of the day I found a pretty dress that was like 50% off and actually helped hide how fat I've become.

Oh yeah, and the dieting?  I've lost like 6 lbs over the past month or so (lots of ups and downs) and it has seriously been torture.  Having to calculate what everything "costs", reaching the end of the night realizing I can barely have anything for dinner because I've already used up all my calories.  Giving up beer...  24 lbs more to go before I get back to "normal" (pre-Taz).

6 The Vortex, the Bunnies and the Devil: Part 2

Sunday, 3 July 2011
The Bunnies

As cute as they are, they have been an endless (and time-consuming) source of worry and aggravation.  The Hubs has been really great about it though.  They used to live in an enclosure like this.  Taz would love climbing in and spending hours playing with them, which would be fine, if he wasn't so obsessive about it.  I didn't like that he was spending all his time crouching down, he was getting filthy playing in there, and because he kept climbing on top of the pen, it started collapsing.

Another problem was that the bunnies kept digging, we kept rotating the pen through the garden and the lawn was getting ruined.  Astrid would pace obsessively round it and she made track marks all over the garden.  Because the rabbits kept digging, they kept escaping (which Taz *loved*) which would mean chasing them all round the garden trying to round them back up and put them back in the pen.  Sometimes, Taz would let Astrid out into the garden while I was trying to round them up and then all hell would break loose.  The bunnies would tear across the garden with Astrid hot on their heels, Taz would be squealing with delight, watching from the window with Betty wailing at his side because she doesn't like it when I'm not in the same room as her.

By the way, Astrid is pretty good with the bunnies, she just likes chasing them.  The first time this happened in the spring she actually managed to catch one, I wasn't there, but the Bubs saw it and said he thought that was it for Clark, but when he went to recover him, he saw that Astrid had just pinned him.  Clark was fine, albeit completely slobbered.  So Bubs fished him out of Astrid's mouth and put him back in his home.  Astrid just likes to chase them when she can.  I don't like it cause I don't like her scaring the bunnies (though who knows?  Maybe they enjoy it?  Sometimes it seems like they're just taunting her) so I try and prevent it as much as possible.

Anyhoo, eventually after much running and shouting I'd get everyone under control and back where they were supposed to be.  This happened frequently and I felt like I would lose my mind if I had to spend one more afternoon chasing after those stupid rabbits.  We even considered trying to rehome them, but Taz loves them so much and frankly, so do I.

Enter Bubs.

The Bubs went to the DIY shop to buy some wood, came back all "in the zone" and started sawing, hammering and building away.  It was awesome!!  He made this huge pen on what used to be the vegetable patch (which we never got round to actually doing anything with) complete with a little gate and latch to close it.  The bunnies have much more space now, it's so much easier to go in and visit them (so Betty loves it) and you should have seen how excited Taz was to see them in their new pen!  He was jumping up and down, shouting and laughing and stimming excitedly.  It was also really cute when Bubs was building it because whenever he was hammering or using the sledgehammer, Taz would run up to him and say "Taz' turn!" and Bubs would have to help him to have a few gos and then he'd say "okay, Daddy's turn" and Taz would let him work again for maybe a couple of minutes before he'd run up again jumping up and down and saying "Taz' turn!" again.

Anyway, Taz spent all his time running in and out of the pen and that was the first problem we encountered.  At first he kept forgetting to close the gate behind him, so the rabbits would escape (more afternoons wasted trying to round them back up), but then he started deliberately opening the gate for them so they would run out into the garden and he could run around chasing them.  (More afternoons wasted trying to round them back up.)  So Bubs bought a little sliding locking thing to lock the door, but Taz figured it out straight away and that didn't keep him from opening the door.  (More afternoons wasted trying to round them back up.)  Finally Bubs wired the whole gate shut.  So now everyone has to climb over to get in.  But problem solved!!...

....Or was it?

At first I thought (I guess stupidly) that it was just a tunnel they were using too cool down, but they kept digging and digging until...

...They finally claimed the garden for themselves.  And anytime Astrid would acctidentally get let out (Taz keeps letting them out, it's actually really becoming an issue now, Taz an the animals.  If he's not letting them out he's overfeeding them or giving them inappropriate items and just generally making a nuisance of himself) they would just let her chase them round the garden a few times and then quickly hop back into their enclosure.

The Hubs has managed to patch up all those holes and the bunnies haven't escaped for a few days...  And despite all the mishaps I'm still really happy with their new home.  Everyone is much happier and I'm really impressed with Bubs' mad DIY skillz.

4 The Vortex, the Bunnies and the Devil: Part 1

Friday, 1 July 2011
The Vortex

**Whew**  It's been a long time!  I officially took the month of June off.  Not intentionally, I just seem to have got sucked into some kind of a temporal vortex.  It all started with the stupid poker...

**shakes fist at party poker - I want my life savings and deed to our house back you blood-sucking weasels!!**

Haha, just kidding.  Though I did end up taking a bit of a beating there...  **ahem**

You'll be glad to hear I invested in a wonderful book called Kill Everyone: Advanced Strategies for No-Limit Hold Em Poker Tournaments & Sit-n-Gos.  Next on my reading list?  Harrington on Hold 'em Expert Strategy for No Limit Tournaments  **oh yeah!**

But I digress...  So yeah, first it was the poker, then it was my birthday!  Bubs gave me a kindle!!  So then I spent forever looking up all the free kindle books, cheap kindle books, poker, autism and SPD kindle books.  My kindle is stocked.  Bring on crashing on a deserted island, cause I'm ready, dammit!

Betty has started cruising too.  It all went by so quickly!!  One day she was pulling herself up to standing with whatever she could reach, wobbling for a few seconds and then slumping back to the floor.  Then she started standing for longer, started dragging her feet towards things while she was standing and now she's getting pretty good at cruising!  She's even stood a few times completely by herself for at about 5 seconds before she crashes down on her butt.  I found cutest pants for her by the way, but that'll come later, in the "Devil" section...  **winks**  And though she hasn't started talking yet, she has been pointing at stuff when we look at books together...  So that's a positive sign, right?  Shared attention and all that?   There's no need to worry, there's no need to worry..

We've also been pretty busy going to the occupational therapy appointments, getting together all recommended items for that.  I fought and fought the Bubs to put this swing up in the middle of the diner/playroom part of the kitchen, he put it up and it all came crashing down after a couple of days.  That was my fault.  Not that I sat on it or anything, just that Bubbi had said that we shouldn't put it there because of all these structural (??  **yawn**) reasons,  he finally caved and like he said, it didn't work.  Now we have all these holes in the ceiling.  He said he'd plaster over it, paint it and we'd "never speak of it again"  **lol**.  Anyhow, he has a place in mind where the swing could go so at least it hasn't been a total waste.

We've had our ABA training!!!  I can't tell you how excited I am about finally getting started!  And before the actual training we had a few visits from each of the therapists that will be coming so we could all get to know each other.  It's funny because the ABA supervisor and each of the two therapists all have children with autism.  Anyway, guess I'd better give them all names.

I'll be really original with the supervisor and call her: The Consultant!  Then there's Susan and Gina.  Why name them after the actresses who played Thelma and Louise?  Don't know.  But Susan is the more down to earth one.  I can imagine her being a tomboy when she was growing up.  She's funny, seems to have a really calm, unshakable quality to her and is very no nonsense, yet very warm and affectionate towards Taz.  She's tons of fun, reduces him to fits of giggles with her rough play and is very bubbly in her interactions with him.  I should really call her Mary Poppins, but no, we'll stick to Susan.  Gina is also really nice, I met her first.  She's a lot more girly and seems to have an emotional streak to her.  When we talk about certain things I can see her eyes misting over and her doing her darnedest not to let it show.  She's also very loving and warm, is bright and cheerful and you can tell she really really cares about what she does.

Karen V was right!!  I got there in the end!!  I feel incredibly lucky to have got such an amazing team together, I'm literally buzzing I'm so excited about about finally starting our ABA program this coming Monday!!  **woo**  And not a moment too soon either since uhh...  Taz has definitely been exhibiting some uhh...  Challenging behaviour....  Yeah, let's go with that..  **snort**
The Clod and the Pebble

"Love seeketh not itself to please,
Nor for itself hath any care,
But for another gives its ease,
And builds a heaven in hell's despair."

So sung a little Clod of Clay,
Trodden with the cattle's feet,
But a Pebble of the brook
Warbled out these metres meet:

"Love seeketh only Self to please,
To bind another to its delight,
Joys in another's loss of ease,
And builds a hell in heaven's despite."

William Blake
Real Time Analytics