12 Days of Christmas -- SPD Version

12 Days of Christmas -- SPD Version

On the first day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
A meltdown Oscar worthy!

On the second day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
Two heavy blankets,
And a meltdown Oscar worthy!

On the third day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
Three screaming boys,
Two heavy blankets,
And a meltdown Oscar worthy!

On the fourth day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
Four spinning Egg Chairs,
Three screaming boys,
Two heavy blankets,
And a meltdown Oscar worthy!

On the fifth day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
A five hour migraine,
Four spinning Egg Chairs,
Three screaming boys,
Two heavy blankets,
And a meltdown Oscar worthy!

On the sixth day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
Six ears a-covered,
A five hour migraine,
Four spinning Egg Chairs,
Three screaming boys,
Two heavy blankets,
And a meltdown Oscar worthy!

On the seventh day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
Seven squishy stress balls,
Six ears a-covered,
A five hour migraine,
Four spinning Egg Chairs,
Three screaming boys,
Two heavy blankets,
And a meltdown Oscar worthy!

On the eighth day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
Eight hours of brushing,
Seven squishy stress balls,
Six ears a-covered,
A five hour migraine,
Four spinning Egg Chairs,
Three screaming boys,
Two heavy blankets,
And a meltdown Oscar worthy!

On the ninth day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
Nine packs of chewing gum,
Eight hours of brushing,
Seven squishy stress balls,
Six ears a-covered,
A five hour migraine,
Four spinning Egg Chairs,
Three screaming boys,
Two heavy blankets,
And a meltdown Oscar worthy!

On the tenth day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
Ten hours of heavy work,
Nine packs of chewing gum,
Eight hours of brushing,
Seven squishy stress balls,
Six ears a-covered,
A five hour migraine,
Four spinning Egg Chairs,
Three screaming boys,
Two heavy blankets,
And a meltdown Oscar worthy!

On the eleventh day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
Eleven relatives left speechless,
Ten hours of heavy work,
Nine packs of chewing gum,
Eight hours of brushing,
Seven squishy stress balls,
Six ears a-covered,
A five hour migraine,
Four spinning Egg Chairs,
Three screaming boys,
Two heavy blankets,
And a meltdown Oscar worthy!

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
SPD gave to me
Twelve gluten-free cookies,
Eleven relatives left speechless,
Ten hours of heavy work,
Nine packs of chewing gum,
Eight hours of brushing,
Seven squishy stress balls,
Six ears a-covered,
A five hour migraine,
Four spinning Egg Chairs,
Three screaming boys,
Two heavy blankets,
And a meltdown Oscar worthy!

Can anyone out there sing? Want to record this for me? That would be hysterical!!

Email me if you are interested,

My Son's Angel

I met an Angel just a few weeks ago.

She is not the kind that lives in heaven, but the other kind, the kind that lives on earth.

She doesn’t have a halo (at least not one you can see). This Angel has blonde hair and a smile that reveals her missing tooth--giving away her age much like the wrinkles around my eyes give away my own.

Like most other Angles that you read about, she came at a time that she was needed, and gave Hope to someone who needed it desperately.

What makes this Angel special to me is that she came to help my son, Gabriel.

You see, this young girl is in my Gabriel’s class, and unlike the other 20-something children that are only able to see how different he is, this young girl sees how alike they are.

This special girl chose to become his friend and share a unique kind of compassion that only the purest of heart can have. The kind of compassion granted to Angels.

But not every child has the strength to follow their heart and do what is right. For that matter, not every adult does either.

Which made me begin to worry. Worry that the burden of being my son’s friend would be too much for this child. Any child. I worried because I know that standing up for someone who can’t stand up for themselves is a test for anyone at any age.

And I knew that she would be tested.

Tested by older children and their mean words on the bus; tested by classmates who ridiculed her for being friends with my son; and tested by her own internal desire for self preservation.

I wondered how she would react and how her parents would feel about her choice.

Then one afternoon Gabriel came home and shared with me that his new found friend was tormented relentlessly on the bus until the young girl broke down and cried.

All for being friends with my son.

Gabriel tried to console her. Not sure why the other kids were being so mean, not concerned for himself, just for his friend. His only friend.

As Gabriel was retelling the day’s events, my heart broke for this young girl.

And as night fell I was consumed with worry about the burden this child had chosen to carry—a burden much heavier than her small shoulders should carry. And one much heavier than I feared she could carry.

Night turned to a new day and Gabriel had been invited to help her celebrate her birthday.

We arrived on the young girl’s doorstep that afternoon, me with butterflies in my stomach and Gabriel clutching a present wrapped in a special bag adorned with pink roses that he had chosen just for his friend.

After the cake was cut and the presents unwrapped, I decided it was time to tell her mother of the sacrifices her daughter was making in order to be friends with my son.

“Your daughter has become my son’s only friend and the other children are teasing her. I am so sorry for your daughter’s tears.”

And with conviction her mother replied,

“She is strong. She is a leader. Her father and I have told her that she can show the other children to have love in their hearts and be friends with everyone. The other children will follow her. We believe she can do it.”

And I cried.

Tears of joy.

Standing in her living room. Taking in the idea that this woman was strong enough and open enough to teach her child to be capable of true acceptance and compassion so rare that they would elevate her to be my son’s Angel. I was grateful. Deeply. Immensely. Grateful.

I don’t have the words to describe the deep unrelenting pain that grows in a mother’s heart every time her son complains of being lonely, of having no play dates, of not being invited to birthday parties, of being bullied or just simply having to eat lunch at a table all alone.

And I struggled to find the right words to thank this woman for raising such a beautiful daughter both inside and out. Thank you for giving her the strength and support to become the kind of woman, the kind of person, that this world needs. That my son needs.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

I have always known that one person can change the life of a child. But I left that birthday party knowing that this child, along with her family, had changed the life of MY child.

So with each passing day Gabriel gets on the bus, I know that he isn’t going alone. He has a very special Angel beside him. But don't look towards heaven or try to spot a halo because you might miss your chance to see her. Instead look for the small blonde girl with the missing tooth--she is sitting on the seat next to my son.

Here's to hoping there is an Angel for each of our children,

I encourage you to leave a comment for this young Angel and her family. I would like them to know how moms of special kids view people who are able to rise up and see not just our child’s disability, but the beautiful child that is inside each of them.

(Angel photo from mattstone.blogs.com )

101 Sensational Stocking Stuffers 2009

If you are parenting a SPD kiddo like mine, or one on the spectrum, then you can relate to my challenge with filling my kids' stockings with things that don't get played with--it is like a big fat waste of money.

Not this year.

This year I began researching things that were worth spending money on, things that would benefit my kid in multiple ways (sensory, social, small motor skill) and that my kids would like. You will see some of these things you have already thought of, but hopefully you will think of it it a new light, and some of these things will be new.

I am using this list to do my shopping and I sincerely hope it will at least provide you with inspiration for your holiday shopping.

101 Sensational Stocking Stuffers List 2009

1. Spin toothbrush -- we love these disposable things, and chew through them quick!

2. Animal flossers -- good for your teeth, and great to keep little hands (and mouths!) busy.

3. Flavored toothpaste (vanilla from Tanner's Tasty Paste) -- this stuff tastes like REAL ice cream; if your kid hates to brush, this may be the answer (they have chocolate, creamsicle and fluoride free too!).

4. Peek-a-Boo Bags -- this is a great sensory activity for little ones with tactile defensiveness. A easy way for mom to do some sensory work at home, since these adorable little bags full of soft pellets make "therapy" fun!

5. Webkinz -- it is always nice to ease anxiety by having a "friend" with you.

6. Snacks -- something not candy, so that when they open their stocking, they can eat what they get--even for breakfast. The link goest to my favorite new meals (Gabe takes them every day for lunch) which are prepackaged--but not crap. They even include a dessert in each box. Mmmmm.

7. GFCF Candy -- this is an extra special treat for kids on the diet. The link is a list of options, so you can pick what your kid would love best.

8. Fidget Toy -- we have this great, metal, small (a little bigger than a quarter) fidget toy that is just as fun for me as it is for Gabe. Originally designed for kids with ADHD. Use discount code save15 when ordering--the company has offered my readers a discount. WOOO HOOO!

9. Chew Stixx -- this is a great, scented, safe to chew, pocket sized object for kids to carry with them. We have 4 of them. :) Use discount code save15 when ordering--the company has offered my readers a discount. WOOO HOOO!

10. Pencil toppers -- lots of options out there, but toppers you can chew are terrific.

11. Pencil grips -- good for children that are struggling with handwriting (like mine!)--ask your OT for good direction on which grip will work best with your child.

12. Rubix cube -- something to keep your child's mind and hands busy--a requirement at our house.

13. Numbers slide puzzle -- old school but still fun. My boys love ours, and truthfully, so do I.

14. Personalized puzzle (Snapfish) -- take a photo of your kid, and make it into a puzzle you can do on the go. Obviously you can just buy a puzzle too. LOL

15. “Happy Thoughts Book” (Snapfish) -- a small flip book full of the most fun memories your child has--visit from Grandma, birthdays, family vacations--pull it out when you need to "snap" him out of a bad mood (do you think that is where "Snap"fish got its name? hmmmm). The smaller books are also AMAZING to buy in bulk and give out to family and friends for any occassion (especially wiht multiple book discounts!), they can be seen here.

16. Paint Brushes -- give your little artist a new set of brushes; these are specifically good for young kids or kids with lower small motor ability.

17. Smencils--Scented colored pencils -- scented pencils give an incentive to practice coloring and writing.

18. Sensory videos (Bear in the Big Blue House) -- although this only covers 5 of the SEVEN senses, it is a pretty cute show. I tried to get them to make it all seven senses, but they won't take my calls (something about a restraining order? Kidding--LOL).

19. Water Flutes-- noisey, but great fun in the bath.

20. Water bottle with straw -- great for in class, in the car, or just hanging out at home--these are especially cool because you can get it with your child's name on it.

21. Bath Squirters -- keep bathtime fun and add in some pinscher grasp work.

22. Bath paints/Crayons -- have a hard time getting them in the shower? Let them color the walls and practice handwriting--at the same time.

23. Glee Gum -- all natural, gluten free and allergen free. I am ordering some for Gabriel today--they also have "make your own gum" packs as well as "make your own gummy candy" packs. And if you click on the Glee Gum pic on the navigation bar (top left of this page) OR YOU CAN CLICK HERE you will be taken straight to a Buy One Get One Free coupon that Glee Gum created esepcially for HLW3B readers! I LOVE THIS COMPANY!!

24. Slipper socks with grippy feet -- cold feet are no fun, but slipper socks with grippy feet are terrific at any age. These are from Lands End, a fave of mine.

25. Scented lip balm -- 'tis the season for chapped lips. Stop the cracking with some festive holiday scented lip balm. Careful they don't eat it.

26. Gloves/mittens -- keep hands warm with soft cotton gloves or mittens. While you are on Old Navy's site (which has flat shipping), check out the matching hats and scarves!

27. Whistle -- great for proprioceptive input -- and pretending you're a cop.

28. Kazoo -- hum along to all of your favorite songs.

29. Harmonica -- teach them to play for real, or just let them pretend.

30. Wii Sports -- I recently learned how this game was being used to help kids "cross the midline"-- what a smart idea! This is the only thing on my list that is expensive--so don't let it throw you off!

31. Diji games -- kind of like DS, only educational. Great incentive to work on spelling and math.

32. Spy scope -- give them a secret mission -- spy out the windows or search the house.

33. Small note pad -- encourage writing smaller with their very own little note pad to write down clues.

34. Magnifying glass -- got to have something to find the clues!

35. Small car -- great option for traveling; a must for any adventure and a new one only sweetens the pot.

36. Action figures -- just like having a car, a Star Wars guy, Transformer, or whatever girls carry with them (wow, clueless on that), is a good way to increase dramatic play.

37. Key chain for backpack -- my boys love to have things on their back pack -- plus it gives them something to play with on the bus or while waiting in line at school.

38. Sand Blocks -- these are going in our stockings this year! Also check out the water and glass bead versions--great visual!

39. Watch -- great for kids that are learning to tell time, or just those who are concerned about what time it is -- all the time.

40. Bubbles -- blowing bubbles is a great proprioceptive activity--don't let it be just for summer!
41. Pokemon cards -- or whatever other kind of collecting cards your child is into--encourages reading and gives something for them to focus their organzing energy on--mine's a little OCD :).

42. Handy Manny tools -- these have been great for my 4 year old--he can "fix" things all over the house.

43. Music cds -- get your child's favorite music, whether they like classical or "Kidz Bop" like Nick, you are sure to have a hit.

44. Noise Quieting Headphones -- keep ears covered and muffle the sounds of unwanted noise--and look cool doing it.

45. Fruit -- OK, my mom-santa gave me fruit when I was a kid, and I hated it; now I love giving it to my kids (Gabe really loves to find an orange in his stocking) because it takes up so much room. I don't give them Harry and David, but I sure wish Santa would give some to me. LOL

46. Card game (Uno, Go Fish) -- Uno (they have themed decks, like this Christmas Charlie Brown one) is a great game that the whole family can play!

47. Flash cards -- give them the first 100 site words, math facts or other educational cards. Having their "hands on" the lesson makes learning more fun.

48. Legos -- small Lego sets can easily be built and then taken apart to do again. I also found this great Lego Advent Calendar which is a terrific way to show visually how many days until Christmas--great for reducing anxiety.

49. Bionicles -- a small motor skill building activity is vauable any time--and a good play date toy to engage new friends in.

50. Bakugan -- I know nothing about these, but do know that lots of kids are into them which gives our kids an opportunity for social play that NT kids might relate to (and they fit in the stocking nicely!).

51. Peek-a-Blocks -- great for toddlers, and they have a few different sensory sets, including this one which is "sounds".

52. Little People -- great for little hands, especially with the little vehicles for both girls and boys.
53. Ta Doodles -- bring out the artist in your little one without worrying about small motor skills--these fit easily in little hands and are adorable!

54. Playdoh/clay -- great to have any time.

55. Playdoh accessories -- there are so many, including Star Wars stampers, confetti makers and this adorable Hungry Hungry Hippos set.

56. Stamp w/ink set -- this is a great activity, the pressing and transfering is great for our kiddos.

57. Taggie Blanket -- no matter how old you are, a nice soft blanket with a satin edge can be calming, especially on the go.

58. Santa Buddies-- a new movie is always a hit for us on holidays! It gives structure to the day and allows for a "cool down" period (especially under a heavy blanket).

59. Books (Junie B. Jones or Magic Tree House) -- find a good kid's holiday themed book to encourage your child to read, and give them something to hold onto the holiday spirit.

60. Tickets to movies -- with the AMC Sensory-Friendly films showing all over the country every month, tickets to the movies couldn't be a more sensational gift.

61. Microwave popcorn -- makes everything better.

62. Fidget balls -- these are great for sensory input when your child needs to sit for long periods of time or just seems to need something to do with his hands.

63. Flash Light -- we can get enough of these--but don't forget the batteries--in bulk.

64. Ornament -- this one is adorable (I love the song I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas), but any special ornament with their name or year is a special treat.

65. Scarf -- your kid might not like this, but I assure you it will keep them warm (and seriously, how dang cute is this scarf for only $5 at Old Navy?)!

66. Stress ball -- another great thing to squeeze in your hand.

67. Ear plugs -- funny as it may be, having these on hand reduces the sress in our house. Remember to use care when putting these in your child's ears, and PLEASE ask your doctor if you have any concerns about it--shocking to find out, but I am NOT a medical professional, nor do I play one on TV--I just write. : )

68. Hand warmers -- a good thing to have for snow play.

69. Goggles -- keep them for the bath or shower (or we use them in the hot tub).

70. Electronic Bubblewrap -- really, just genius.

71. Tootsie Roll Bank -- a tradition at our house.

72. Temporary Tattoos -- get holiday ones and give your kids something to do after they open presents.

73. Theraputty -- they have a great 2 oz version to fit right in their stocking, and then in your purse! Don't forget to ask your OT which color would work best for your kid.

74. Ceiling Stars -- bedtime struggles are made easier when they have glowing stars to look at each night.

75. Flat Friends -- this product is new and really cool. It is made of 100% pure Australian sheepskin which has been shown to have calming and therapeutic effects. I personally love the wolf. Thanks to Sherri at Sensory Assault Ops for telling me about this!

76. Ice pack (themed or shaped) -- some of my kids hate ice packs, but usually a good character version makes the "owie" get better quicker anyway (even if the "owie" is really just an overreaction).

77. Band Aids in favorite character -- their own box of bandaids--go crazy!

78. Stickers -- in their favorite character are always a hit.

79. Polly Pocket-- a very cool option for a little girl, great at home or on the go. I also found this Polly Pocket Advent Calendar as well as a My Little Pony Advent Calendar which would be a fantastic way for you to count down the days to Christmas.

80. Littlest Pet Shop -- great option to encourage imaginative play.

81. Cookie Monster Building Set -- we have built the Ernie over and over, but Cookie is my favorite.

82. Barrel of Monkeys -- a great game that will help with hand eye coordination, turn taking and encourage social skill building.

83. Bike Bell-- decorating your bike is always cool.

84. Yahtzee -- a great way to have fun with the whole family -- while practicing social rules like taking turns, being a good sport and losing graciously. And this "A Christmas Story" version would only be better if the container was shaped like a lamp...if you know what I mean. : )

85. Wind Chimes -- help the wind make a new sound-- music!

86. Jump rope -- good for inside (maybe...) and outside play; help your kids' engine run.

87. Frisbee or flying disc -- fun to throw, and a great activity for increasing coordination.

88. Foam Glider Plane-- we love these.

89. Paper Dolls -- simple, classic, and still fun.

90. Bean bags -- having a few of these on hand, homemade ones are great, give a fidget toy and an instant game at home or away. The set I have linked to, is the alphabet (and they have numbers too!); a GREAT GREAT way to have a multisensory experience with letters. Love it!

91. Mood ring -- they are coming back! Give your kid the ability to monitor their own mood (sort of...I at least like the idea that they are thinking about monitoring their mood, even if the ring is inacurate).

92. Interlocked metal mind puzzles -- these are more complex than the one we have, but my boys love them and do these forever.

93. Mad Libs (or Mad Libs Jr. or Star Wars or Christmas or Christmas Carols) -- fun for kids with a good sense of humor, and even better for encouraging writing. Do you remember how fun these were? Can't wait for Santa to deliver these to our door.

94. Chewlery Bracelet -- I have said this before, but I stick by it because it WORKED for us. They have new versions, so feel free to look around at other options.

95. Sling shot Monkey -- this is just hysterical. Let them have fun, it is Christmas and you've been stressed for over a month. ; )

96. Straw Glasses -- any kind of straw is a great way to get input for our kiddos--but this just makes it silly.

97. Tape Measure (real or pretend) -- my little builders love these. You can get them at the dollar store and then when they ruin them, o well.

98. Tangle DNA Puzzle -- this is just cool. It is textured and glows--can you say multi-sensory? need I say more?

99. Blob Ball -- this is gross, and my kids usually pop them, but they are fun sensory activity while they last.

100. Super Ball -- this is one of our favorites! Take them to the local public school playground and they can throw them against the building in the covered play area. GREAT outting even in the rain!

101. Slinky -- ending with a classic, not to mention it helps with problem solving and feels cool.

Good luck shopping and Happy Holidays,

Now for the disclaimer:
I am sure you know this, but I have to say it any way -- I am not getting paid by any of these companies to suggest their items, just as I cannot personally vouch for any of the suppliers (although wherever possible I tried to go with larger suppliers like Amazon); this is a place to get inspriation and buy whatever strikes your fancy. It's all on you.

Soft T-shirt Winners!

Thank you to everyone who read my interview with Jessica about her great new line of clothing, Soft.

We had 18 entries to win one of Soft's amazing sensory-friendly t-shirts and what is even more impressive is the 1700+ page views HLW3B received over the last two weeks. WOW.

I am so happy to have reached new people-welcome to everyone that joined. I have some great things planned as we close out this year, including a special 101 Sensational Stocking Stuffers list that will offer cool ideas and even a few discounts on some of the most fun sensory-friendly items out there. So stay tuned!

And now for the winners...drum roll please...


1. Your Therapy Source
2. Kath
3. emmabenefiel
4. gary
5. Kari George
6. Amy
7. dgoneau
8. missouri flat travelers
9. Faith
10. Patty Mullins

If your name appears above CONGRATS! Please email me your name and address, plus the size and color of the shirt you want (you can check out your choices and more at http://www.softclothing.net/). And a big THANK YOU again to Jessica E. Ralli from Soft Clothing--keep us posted on your new products!

I can't wait to see all of your little ones in those Soft Tees--send me a photo if you want it posted!

Thanks again everyone,

Perpetual Whack-A-Mole

I had a relatively emergency meeting with Seattle Children's Autism today.

We only needed to adjust meds.

I am still anxious from it, and it went perfectly. Dr. Stobbe is always helpful, reassuring and never leaves me without verifying I know EXACTLY what I am doing until I see him again.


Nice to have some one leading. But scary to actually list one-by-one the challenges we are facing. They seem so daunting when you see them in black and white.

But, all in all it was great. Including a meal with just Gabriel, Jeff and I at a real restaurant (NOT fast food); a first in MANY years.

Now, I am focused on my IEP meeting tomorrow.

Why does that cause so much anxiety? I have no idea, but yet each time I am floored by the fact that it does.

This time, however, we are entering out first ever *autism* based IEP.

Before he only qualified for speech, which he does very much need, but that was it. With a diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder only, he didn't get services.

Although our school has always been ridiculously helpful in giving him any accommodations he has needed--IEP or not.

That said,

I feel a mess tonight.

It is just the anticipation of hearing what they will (or will not) be offering him. I feel so vulnerable, like they are in control, and I have no real say. I'm just a little controling. Just a little.

My mind keeps going--

What if? What if?

I have to stop playing that game and have faith in the fact that they have gone out of their way to help him every single day he has been in thier school.

They are doing that NOW.

That isn't going to change. That should just get better.

But, against all logic, I am concerned.

Probably because this week has been full already--

In addition to the apt today, my hubby and I went to meet his new "MBA Team" on Tuesday evening at a cocktail party full of newlyweds and empty-nesters who are all going to school to get their MBA. Jeff is one of them.

It was great to be alone, to laugh, and be social.

Yet, hearing the guy on the mic say that we should anticipate "20-25 hours a week" of work on this made my heart sink...just a little.

One woman on my hubby's new "team" actually said to me, "You seem like you can do it without him."

I laughed and said, "My life keeps running at full speed whether he is there or not--it isn't exactly a choice."

True statement.

I sent this via twitter earlier, so if you are one of my 100 followers (THANK YOU!), you have already heard it, but I truly feel like raising a kid like mine is a perpetual game of Whack-A-Mole.

You know, it is like you are always swinging at what pops up next. No joke, huh?

For me, I am swinging at new labels, academic challenges, behavioral issues, social problems .... it is like a new one pops up all the time.

As unexpected as the Whack-A-Mole varmints.

Although you'd think your reflexes would improve with practice, they don't seem to. Not in mommy-hood. Not in Whack-A-Mole.

Yet, the same level of intensity (on a different scale mind you) and the same rules of engagement are required for both parenting a child with Autism and playing Whack-A-Mole.

Keep on your toes:
Don't blink:
Be hyper vigilant:
When you see it--strike--fast:

Today I don't feel like I can swing that plastic hammer any faster or any harder, yet those damn moles keep on comin'.

Which brings me to the fact that I haven't made dinner. And you all know it isn't going to make itself, now is it? LOL

Keep your hammer at the ready,

And the photo above is Gabriel in his new Soft Tee--win yours here.

Social Challenges For All 3

I have recently been dealing with not only Gabriel’s challenging mood swings, but the fact that he is now keenly aware that he does not have “play dates” or other friendships.

It has come to be that Nick, my darling yet O-so-NT son has a social calendar that rivals most teenager's.

While I get emails from the parents’ of Nick’s friends, who ask for play dates and go out of their way to make their schedules match ours, I do not get that same luxury with Gabriel.

Which he hasn’t noticed until now.

I was told when we first went through social skills classes about a year and a half ago, that it was second grade where the boys and girls mostly stopped playing together—where birthday parties would be just boys or just girls.

At first I thought that is totally what is going with Gabe this year; a natural progression with age. He is in second grade and it is getting worse, that should be expected.

But, wait.

He has friends at school that are girls.

But by friends I also mean girls he *thinks* are his friends. For the record, I am not entirely clear on his criteria for someone being his “friend” other than they go to school together.


That said, when I call his classmates' parents to arrange a play date, I don’t get a good response (technically, the last message hasn't been returned; maybe they'll call...). But, if I weren’t me, and I had NT girls, and the mom of an autistic boy called and said, “Hi, my son wants to play with your daughter,” I might not be as understanding or nonjudgmental as I would like to think. I don’t know.

Anyway, what I have figured out, is that Gabriel has the same number of friends at school and the same number of play dates this year as he has every other year of his life: none.

What has changed is that Nick has started school and Gabriel is able to see what his brother is doing. What friends he has. The kids that line up, literally, to play with Nick at recess. The parents who email every week to get Nick to play at their house, and when asked, how quickly Nick has a list of ONLY BOYS who are invited to his birthday party next month. Suddenly, Nick has a real social life and Gabe is clear on what he doesn’t have.

It is so sad. Heart breaking.

I have begun calling the moms of other kids with HFA that can relate to Gabriel, that can have him at their house and handle the conflicts that may arise and that like me enough (I sure hope) to do *me* the favor of having my son over so he feels like he has friends. I could cry.

I know he needs friends. Everyone knows that kids need friends. The school asked us at conference time if we wanted to implement an Autism Curriculum where Gabriel, among many other things, would be assigned a friend each day to sit with at lunch and play with at recess.

I am not ready for this. It feels so inorganic and foreign to me.

But I feel awful because I think Gabriel needs it more than he is letting on.

He has begun telling us that he plays alone every day.

That no one sits with him at recess.

And that kids are calling him names.

We actually talk openly about this. I have noticed that the more honest he is the better he seems to feel. But I have also noticed that he is having a harder time overall. He is more irritable and is usually in a foul mood.

He told me that his teacher had told the class that they should all make a point of talking to new kids. I am sure this is aimed at my kid, but am very thankful that this is discussed with the broader group as to not single him out.

So, Gabriel was sitting at recess, on a step, and two other seven year old boys sat down (or the opposite, he sat with them, I will never know).

Gabe says, “Do you want to talk?”

And the kids laugh.

My little B&W thinker was taking the “talk with other kids” statement literally, and the 7 year old boys (who were not in his class) are not accustomed to other kids asking them to talk in that manner.

I did a little lesson in that minute about how when we want to talk to someone, we talk about things that we may have in common--instead of asking them to "talk". Like let’s say the kid has a Star Wars shirt on, then you say, “Hey, I like your shirt—I loved that movie--have you seen it?”

And Gabriel says, “Yes, people like compliments.”

“True. Did you leave after the boys didn't want to talk?”

“No, I talked to the kids.” He says.


“What did you talk about?”

“I explained to them what Gluten Free was.”


“OH, what did they think?” I knew what they thought, but was hoping for the best.

“They laughed at me. They didn’t think it was cool.”

“Yeah, I can see that handsome. I am sorry they laughed at you.” I say.

We have been talking about the word “privacy” as it relates to not sharing those kinds of things with EVERYONE. We go over this concept again.

My heart hurts for him. He just doesn’t get how those social nuances work. Period. And I don’t want to teach him to be embarrassed or to have to hide any part of him. But at some point, he needs to stop talking about these things in an effort of selfpreservation.

Which brings me to last Friday.

Apparently the kids were sitting at circle time and were sharing “something you should know about me” when the principal came to the door, so the teachers left. Both teachers stepped out into the hallway.

Leaving Gabriel to share about himself unsupervised. Seriously.

So, my darling and naive son decides to educate the entire class on SPD. It went something like this,

“I have SPD. The ‘S’ stands for ‘Sensory’ the ‘P’ stands for ‘Processing Disorder’ and I don’t know what the ‘D’ stands for. It is when you have a hard time sometimes. Like sometimes I need to push things and sometimes it is overwhelming.”

Not bad.

But he says the class’s reaction wasn’t good. They didn’t believe him and didn’t think it was cool. I can hear you gasping that a room full of seven year olds didn't find SPD cool or interseting. Ugh.

So what does Gabriel do?

He hits them with his trump card: The Gluten Free Diet.

And, really truly surprising to him, they don’t seem to think learning about GF is cool either.

What do I do?

I am not sure what these kids tell their parents about Gabriel, if they talk about him at all, but I can’t imagine it is good. Can you? And that explains why no one calls for a play date.

Which brings me back to Nick.

Remember how Gabriel was keen on the compliments?

Apparently the school counselor is talking to the lower grade classes about self-esteem—or sort of anyway.

The story she tells is about a guy who has an invisible bucket. Each time something good is said to him or he has other good interactions that bucket fills up a little more each time. When someone does something bad to him, or hurts his feelings, that person is “dipping” into the guy's bucket.

The kids are able to practice giving compliments to each other in an effort to fill everyone’s bucket.

Great lesson. Very true.

When the lesson is complete in Nick’s classroom, he raises his hand and says, “My brother Gabriel is a dipper. He dips into my bucket all day.”


Nick has been sat next to a child on the spectrum in his kindergarten class. Nick is very tolerant; he lives with Gabriel every day, so this is a natural role for him.

That said, at his conference last week, his teacher asked us if he ever complained about this kid, and the truth is we had never heard of him.

She gave Nick permission to complain. We talked about how this kid is practicing being a good friend, and he wants to be a good friend, so if he is poking Nick with a paper clip, or touching his face or body, then Nick should tell him to “knock it off”.

To which Nick replied, “I thought that was an adult word.” :) My rule follower.

We agreed on some other words and Nick was ready.

And he has reported on this child’s actions every day since.

I talked with his teacher, who is ridiculously understanding, about the fact that I don’t want Nick to have to be paired up with every kid with an ASD just because he can handle it. He has to handle it every day at home. I want him to have some respite at school. Some other social life that isn’t based on what his brother can handle--or what Nick can tolerate.

She agreed, having some personal experience with just this scenario.

Then Nick came home on Friday and told me that he is going to be changing classrooms, every other day or so. LOL

Not sure what that means, but that boy is always right (he gets that from me), so we’ll wait to see where that goes.

Nick and Gabriel are still great friends. They truly are.

But they are beginning to go their separate ways socially and academically. Not sure how I feel about this yet, but I do know I want them to both be the best they can be. And having their own lives apart from each other will be key. I guess that means I am (should be) happy.

On a more uplifting note, Matthew got into the Early Intervention Program! (read the original post here)! That is him in the photo above on his 4th birthday last week--this time not touching the fire (which he did on a previous candle).

Although his biggest challenges are sensory and social (he is so his dad), he qualified in small motor skill and large motor skill in addition to social (social is simple: he isn't interested in other kids. At. All.).

I should’ve seen the motor skill thing coming.

He never sits at the table to do virtually anything besides eat or play playdoh.

He has no interest in balls.

He has no interest in his bike.

He has no interest in playgrounds; aside from the water fountain and mud.

He really isn’t a “large motor skill” kind of kid.

And as for the small motor skill stuff?

He likes to cut and play blocks, but the testing basically showed that he had some advanced skills (learning from his brothers and using a screw driver successfully for years are keys to that) but didn’t have the age appropriate ones. He was all over the map.

There has never been a mom with a more NT child than Matt as crazy-over-the-top-could-pee-her-pants-happy as I am to have him in special needs preschool. An emotional relief. People who get it. Who get HIM.

We met with his new teachers last Friday, my hubby even stayed home from work to go with me (I love that guy), and they seemed ready for him.

He immediately fell in love with the trains, not shocking there.

And the visual schedule!

I haven’t had a visual schedule for him, ever. Duh!

I have the boys’ school routines and bed time routine visually mapped out and posted, but Matt and I pretty much have no schedule during the day (which he does fine with).

He was fascinated with the schedule, until he realized he wasn’t going to get to finish the entire list of items before he had to leave. Tantrum. Short, but nonetheless.

Sounds like school will be amazing for him.

The teachers asked me when how to regulate his body for sensory issues, and I said, “Matthew still relies on me for regulation. I believe Rosemary White called it ‘physiological co-regulation’ where he comes to me when his body is out of sync for squeezing or rocking, instead of seeking it out in his environment.”

“Oh, you see Rosemary White?” (She is a OTR/L that specializes in sensory and DIR/Floortime here in Seattle with a great reputation).

“No, she was on the panel discussion at a Fundraiser our group held last month, along with Drs. Eide and other experts—that was her explanation to a question.”

“I think you are going to be too intimidating to have in our class.” They said with a laugh.


“Oh, I hope you find me to be the opposite: a true resource for your entire classroom.” I responded with a smile.

I guess we’ll see.

But, I don’t expect Matt will be their hardest child. Nor their easiest.

Now I must be off to our last “Blue Pumas” flag football game with Nick.

Don’t forget to enter the Soft Tee Giveaway,

Soft Clothing Interview and Giveaway

Please welcome Jessica E. Ralli to my blog! Jessica is the co-founder and creative force behind Soft, a new line of clothing specifically for children with sensory issues like mine (and yours).

She has been kind enough to not only do an interview with me so that we can all learn more about her amazing new sensory-friendly clothing, but she has offered to give her ultra-soft-no-tag-seam-free T-shirts to 10 lucky readers (YES! I said 10). Before we get to the winning, let’s get to the questions.

Jessica will you tell us a little about yourself—mom, wife, business woman? What brought you to make clothing for sensational kids? How are you touched by the lives of children with sensory differences?

I grew up in a school—literally—my mom ran (and still runs) a nursery school in my childhood home—which eventually inspired me to get my Masters in Early Childhood Special Education from Columbia Teachers College. I was a teacher in the NYC public schools, working mostly with children with SPD and Autism, before starting Soft in 2007. I worked a lot with OT’s and was fascinated by the different therapeutic methods they would implement for children with SPD. I truly believe in inclusive education and tried very hard to include my students with special needs in the classroom and school community in meaningful ways.

I turned thirty this year and got married in August, so kids are down the line a little bit! We live in a very creative arts community in Brooklyn filled with entrepreneurs and artists of all kinds and my husband is very involved in the creative arts and music scene here. I think I was always looking for some way to combine my passion for teaching, inclusion, and working with families, with something purely creative. It has been wonderful to tap into the arts community for Soft-related photography and design projects.

How did your experience drive you to start Soft? Tell us how the idea to make this clothing line came to be.

Soft came to me while I was researching solutions for one of my students who had extreme sensitivity to clothing and textures (tactile defensiveness). I was shocked when I Googled “soft clothing for kids with sensory disorders” that almost nothing I could actually buy came up. There were no companies out there, small or large, that were catering to this large and growing population. I did 2 years of market research through surveying, exchanging info on forums and via email. I discovered a world of frustrated kids and parents—looking for simple solutions in a one-stop AFFORDABLE shop. With the help of a few close friends who work in fashion here in NYC—I began designing the first Soft collection.

I partnered last year with Suzy Kogen Friedman— a mom, entrepreneur, advocate, and family member to a child with Autism and sensory sensitivity—for whom she does most of the clothes shopping. We both shared a common vision for solving these dressing issues. Suzy is a visionary and her experiences shopping for a child with extreme sensory issues guides our design process.

From my perspective, it seems you have really focused on the basics: Classic clothing that is versatile and can be worn every day. My boys loved their Soft T-shirts—my older boys are still wearing them today (two days later). Tell me about what inspires you.

I am a fashion nut. I read fashion blogs daily, go to and look at fashion shows online, and as I mentioned—have friends who work in fashion in NY and Paris and I absorb a lot of what they talk about and look at like a sponge. I love basics—and so that is where I have chosen to start---but future seasons are going to be a lot more trend and seasonal focused. Our basics will always be there though.

Since I was three—I insisted on dressing myself and since then have had a strong sense of personal style. At the same time, growing up in a school, with a teacher for a mom—I am deeply aware that children need to be comfortable in their clothing—so as not to be distracted from the important work of childhood—play, socialization, and academic learning. I wanted to create clothes that were both trend-conscious and comfortable so that any fashion crazy kids out there could enjoy mixing and matching to express their style, and kids who just want to roll around in the mud will find what they want and need at Soft too.

Although I do not have girls (bummer), I hear many parents talking about how they wish their daughter would wear a dress, or something “dressed up” for special occasions. Does Soft have clothing that is “dressy”? You know something kids can wear -- even boys -- for the holidays.

At Soft we are all about comfy dressy clothes! We decided to launch with dressy looks for both boys and girls, and will be adding to these collections in April 2010 and again in September 2010. Our “Soft Party Dress” for girls is based on the classic holiday/party dress silhouette—with a full pleated skirt, empire waist belt, and a sateen faced collar that shines and sparkles! We used a heavier interlock cotton, and bio washed and brushed it until it felt to us like cashmere. The dress comes in four colors and can easily be dressed up or down. Inside the garment—there is not one tag or one raised seam. We tested it (and all our clothes) on children with sensory sensitivity.

For boys, we are offering a classic “Chino” in khaki and navy. We worked hard to get the fabric we used (baby French terry—essentially sweatpant fabric) to behave and fall around the body like classic woven chino fabric. The details (pockets, buttons, fly) are all “fake” and topstitched on—so that the style of the chino is there—without the uncomfortable details. We also designed a “tie tee’ to pair with the chinos as a dressy top. We will be doing a lot more of this photo-printing so that we can offer the look of jewelry, leather, denim, suspenders, etc…but without the discomfort. Our cardigan looks great with both the boys and girls dressy looks.

I have to say that I am not only impressed at how truly soft your clothes are, but that the prices are reasonable. How are you able to have such high quality without charging exorbitant prices?

Affordability has been a part of our mission from the very beginning. I worked mostly with low income families when I was teaching, and grew up the child of a single working mom. I know how necessary this clothing is going to be for so many families, and I don’t want to take advantage of that need by selling the clothing for obscene prices. By selling directly to our consumer through our website, we are able to cut a lot of costs and avoid retail mark-ups. We outsource our fulfillment to a warehouse partner in Michigan, meaning our overhead is low (no warehouse to manage or staff). Our manufacturer is as committed to the mission of Soft as we are and has absorbed a lot of start up costs to help us make this a reality. Lots of other logistical things like this went into making sure our prices will remain low. Our margins are high enough to keep us going, keep our clothing in production, and of course donate a portion of our profits to non profit groups relating to Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder—which we plan start doing soon after we launch.

Now we come to what is probably most important: SOCKS. Tell me, please, that you have a sock solution for our kids?

We have finally found a factory that has been able to produce samples that meet our high standards. We are improving upon the construction of the hand-linked seamless toe sock offered by a few companies already out there—and are experimenting with using Bamboo and other natural fibers that wick moisture away from the foot. These will be available asap—as we are still finalizing prototypes! It is a long arduous process getting factories to re-think the way they make basic clothing.

WOW Jessica, sounds like you have really put your heart and soul into making life easier for moms like me--and sensational kids like mine! Now for the important part--where do we go to get your clothing?!

You can find all of my clothing at http://www.softclothing.net/ which will be ready to ship by the end of the month. Until then you can check out our Look Book here www.softclothing.net/resources/lookbook and please take a minute and sign up to be the first to know when the clothes are ready to be shipped, get coupons and shipping discounts by joining our mailing list here : www.softclothing.net/resources/contact-us.

That said, the fastest way to get your hands on one of my new Soft T-shirts for boys and girls, which come in 6 colors is right here! I am giving away a classic T-shirt in your choice of color and size to 10 lucky winners--so enter below and you'll have one of the first kids with sensory-friendly clothing!

Alright Jessica, thank you so much for taking some time away from Soft to speak with us. I appreciate your time and your dedication to making the lives of children like mine just a little….well….softer. : )

Now for the free part! See that photo right there? Yes, the one above these words...those are the shirts that you can win! My boys have blue, white, grey, & purple (which is a beautiful wine like color...I want the shirt in my size!).

Here is how you can win:

1. You will need to follow this blog (publicly through Google located on the top of the right column) and

2. Answer the following question as a comment to this post (click on the word comment below my signature):

"If you could buy a three pack of socks--what three colors would they come in?"

OK, once you have joined and answered, you are officially entered. The contest will run from Tuesday 11/10/09 to Sunday 11/22/09 and will end at 7pm PST.

Assuming we have more than 10 entries, they will be selected by random drawing and results will be posted here on Monday 11/23/09.

That's it--thanks again to Jessica and good luck!


Beauty Is...

My two oldest boys decided that they wanted to enter the school wide "art" contest sponsored by the PTA this year. They, of course, couldn't simply draw something, they wanted to use my camera to be real photographers.

I took each of them out separately today and allowed them to capture an image that fit into this year's theme of "Beauty Is...".

Here are their entries:

"The Speedy Ducks" by Gabriel

His answer to why this photo fits into the theme was, "The water is beautiful; you can kind of see reflections and the ducks make little waves and you can see blue on the ducks if you really look carefully."

"Berries With Leaves" by Nick

His answer to why this photo fits with the theme was, “Beauty means colorful. The picture shows berries that are reddish-orange. The reddish orange berries show a lot of beauty because there are two colors on them which is beauty.”

I am ridiculously proud of their photos, and had more fun than an adult woman should teaching them the basics of photography--including using the camera, focusing the lens, lining up the subject, perspective and lighting.

Now I just have to go pick up the final product at the local drug store 1-hour photo, mat it and submit them on time tomorrow. It is hard work being the mom!

They might be a little sad if they don't actually win (Last time we "entered" something it was to get our letter to President Obama in a book, and Gabriel's letter was actually selected, setting an awful precedence)...but they are both winners in my book.



Our house has been in awful crisis/chaos mode for the last week. I am lost in it.

At this point in my life I do know that it will get better--that life ebbs and flows--but that knowledge doesn't exactly change the fact that special kiddos create special kinds of family chaos.

So in honor of that and this being November (Thanksgiving and all), I am going to say what I am thankful for just a few weeks early.

If you would like to do the same, leave a link to your "Thankful" post or your own list of items below in the comments. We could all use some inspiration.

I am thankful...

1. For the stability of my marriage (something that hasn’t always been the case)

2. For being off anti-anxiety medication for over 9 months

3. For my husband’s job and not being affected by the recession

4. For our family’s overall health

5. For the support of my parents

6. For the continued strength that god has given me

7. For the friends that I have found that “get” my life

8. For the people at ASTAR (now Children’s Autism Center)

9. For my son’s “Team” at school and in private therapy

10. For my dog’s continued love even though we haven't been to the dog park in over a year

11. For my book being finished and close to release

12. For the sun that is actually shining in November in Seattle

13. For full day school (no more early release)

14. For my 'other' friends who are able to lift me up by spending time talking about real and "not so important" things to ease my mind

15. And for writing--something I cannot picture my life without ever again.

Don't forget to take care of yourself,

A Day In My Life

Monday, October 26th, 2009

6:00 AM Wake up, roll over go back to sleep.

6:55 Hear TV show playing downstairs; Nick’s up.

7:07 Gabe arrives in my room; send him back to bed; it’s a little too early for him to already be awake and that means that he will be over-tired before bed, which is just a nice way of saying he will meltdown more than normal this evening if he doesn’t get more sleep.

7:15 Gabe is back in my room, this time getting himself dressed because Grandma gave him a new “Lions” shirt from her vacation; I allow him to go downstairs and mentally begin preparing for an afternoon full of meltdowns.

7:23 Matt is in my bed. I love waking to that small child. We cuddle, and talk about our dreams. He is sweet and happy. He is still my baby.

7:44 Get up; go to the bathroom to find the toilet is clogged. I decide that I am too tired to unclog it now (because apparently I must think I will have more energy later?), I can hold the pee for now, I let the dogs outside; tell Nick to turn off the TV and get on routine (starting with getting dressed); ask Gabe to get on routine too.

8:00 Monitor Gabe’s progress on routine, pack lunch, check backpack, pack teacher’s snack donation for the Teacher Appreciation Snack Bar in honor of conference week (otherwise known as the hellishly-long-early-release week) and the part of Gabe's book report that is a pumpkin made to look like Curious George; load everything into Gabe’s backpack for heavy work before we get on the bus.

8:12 Nick comes downstairs in shorts and a T-shirt; send him back upstairs for weather-appropriate clothing (preferably that matches, but not pushing my luck) and socks (which he hates, but wears).

8:22 Gabe needs to wait while I get Nick ready; go upstairs (for the upteenth time), Nick is still in shorts. Dress him myself while telling him how frustrating it is that I have to dress him like he is 3 (this doesn’t go as anticipated, and since I was hoping for a little “proof” of him being older, I am annoyed when he just lets me dress him).

8:25 I go downstairs, problem-solve the breakfast fight; Gabe eats the last bar that Nick wanted to pack for his lunch; I dig through the van for a plastic bag of snacks that I know has another bar in it. Victory! Disaster avoided.

8:30 I pound the stairs again to get Gabe’s medicine.

8:35 I get their coats on; they run to the bus and make it on time (in the pouring rain).

8:40 Matt watches the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse "Choo Choo Express" movie for the first time today; I check email.

8:48 I email all of the photos from last week's Sensory Showtime to Carrie Fannin.

9:00 I realize that I didn’t send the written portion of Gabe’s book report to school with him. I call his teacher.

9:05 I am overwhelmed, so I deiced to repost my Sensory Friendly Halloween Guide instead of writing something new; I tweet my new posting and then eat breakfast (7 “fun size” Kit Kat bars and a Diet Pepsi).

9:10 I realize that I forgot to tell Gabe’s teacher that I cannot volunteer anymore (Matt is not in school because we are waiting for the Early Intervention assessment) and that Gabriel will ride the bus home on Tuesday; I email her.

9:13 And then I email Nick’s teacher the same thing.

9:15 I go over the new book layout for my Children's Book, This is Gabriel Making Sense of School, and then email the Illustrator my critique and a reminder of how excited I am to see the 5th illustration this week!

9:41 I respond to a friend’s email request to start our Halloween celebration EARLY. Sorry, but that’s a no.

9:50 Attempt to arrange a play date for Nick on Wednesday so that he doesn’t drive Gabe crazy all week.

10:00 Call my hubby who is out of state on business; he is too busy to talk but will call back.

10:01 Matt’s movie is over, time for PB Sandwich and some fort building; a new found fave (the fort, not the PB sandwich).

11:01 Hubby forwards me a grant application from Real Foundation, I forward it to FEAT of WA

11:15 Watch Handy Manny and play Halloween colored playdoh with Matt.

12:00 Clean up the kitchen; empty recycling, pick up toys, get a snack for Matthew, sweep the floors.

12:32 Decide I am getting a shower; bolt all outside doors, lock office, put another show on for Matt, rush upstairs.

12:33 In shower. Ahhhhhh, warm water my friend, how I've missed you.

12:38 Phone rings; out of the shower.

12:40 Talk with Children’s Autism Center; reschedule Gabe’s apt with Psychiatrist to January; insurance issue.

12:48 Second call coming in, they tried twice, I have to answer in case it is the school, thankfully it is not, it's my mom.

12:55 Call mom back, in my underwear still, realize the boys are going to be off the bus in 5 minutes; tell her I need to call her back.

1:05 Dress quickly; rush to greet boys at bus stop.

1:10 Boys in the house, on afternoon routine (backpacks up, hands washed, shoes away, snack).

1:12 Gabriel is upset it is a half day; can’t choose something to do, says he isn’t hungry.

1:15 Jeff calls me back, finally, ask him if I can call him later. : (

1:25 Still asking Gabriel to find something to do; dogs are running laps through the house after being outside in the rain.

1:27 Give Gabriel to the count of 10 to chose one of my three ideas; Matt helps me count much to Gabe’s displeasure.

1:27:30 Matt grabs M&Ms and begins to have a meltdown that he can’t eat them. And Gabriel is lying on the ground crying that he has to choose something to do. I let him push himself around on his back with his feet to help regulate, and then I help him up; he is yelling, throwing things and my all time fave; grunting.

1:30 Gabriel decides on coloring, but is upset there are no markers; Nick and Matt are watching Jungle Junction.

1:31 Begin dishes, load, get snack for Nick, and keep verbal reminders with Gabriel.

1:40 Gabe finishes coloring, not completing our “30 minute” activity requirement; I get him a snack and set the timer over for 30 minutes. He must stay on a single task for 30 minutes (helps with transition home if I can get him to do it).

1:45 Done with his snack/TV watching choice, after only 5 minutes and decides to go upstairs to play flashlight games, prompting the other two to need new batteries in their flashlights.

1:50 Find batteries and realize that the problem lies in the fact that two of the three NEW flashlights, less than 24 hours old, have lost the spring required to make them work. Great.

1:55 Gabriel is finally calming down, finding an activity, plays flashlights/cars/planes and other make believe things with Nick. Crossing my fingers.

2:16 Receive email from FEAT of WA saying it is a “go” on submitting an application for the Real Network’s grant offering; I am helping to edit in order to make the deadline; Nov. 1st.

2:20 Gabriel asks that I print off Halloween Coloring pages, but the printer is out of ink; I hand draw a Haunted House for him to color. Then get lunch for myself based on the fact that I haven’t eaten anything that I would personally consider food up until now; water and tuna w/crackers, and more PB for Nick and Matt.

2:45 Gabe is done with the picture and he decides it should be for his teachers; he writes their names and his on the back of the paper; only flipping out and falling to the ground once over the final letter. We pack his Book Report and Curious George book in is backpack for tomorrow.

2:50 Gabriel sits on my lap. He smells like he didn’t wipe. I force a “clean butt check” and a re-wipe. He is angry and it forces a meltdown. But his butt is clean now. He heads upstairs with the “I don’t want this shirt” and “I don’t care” about everything I say. Door slamming ensues.

3:00 Nick finds the new chapter books on the counter; he reads quietly to himself from the thickest one. Gabe and I do some pushing, pulling to get his body up a little.

3:28 Ding Dong! A package arrives via UPS; Matt’s birthday supplies; Gabe carries the box for heavy work. Dogs come inside after getting wet again; more laps.

3:34 Matt comes downstairs naked from the waist down, with a new tube of toothpaste in his hand, mumbling about brushing his teeth—fine, but he needs to wipe his butt too. Making me 2 for 3 on the day for wiping my boys’ butts.

3:37 While cleaning the strawberry toothpaste from the counter and dressing Matt, he says, “Ewww. I stepped in pee and slipped,” after he falls to the floor. “I think that was toothpaste.” “No, it was pee.” He says. “I don’t see any pee.” “There it is.” He says pointing on top of the step stool, which is obviously covered in pee. “Who did that?” “It was me, Matthew.” He says proudly tapping both hands to his chest. “No, Matt! You can’t pee on the stool, where are you supposed to pee?” I say. “In the backyard or in the toilet,” he says. “ONLY in the toilet,” I remind: Probably a waste of breath.

3:41 Downstairs where Nick and Gabe are climbing behind the couch (squishing and crawling all good sensory activity) and shooting each other with what Matthew refers to as a “Buer”, cause that’s the sound it makes “Bue, Bue, Bue”. :) It quickly goes bad.

3:45 Agree on watching a movie, The Little Vampire (old kid’s movie, PG), in my room w/popcorn. MUST USE HEAVY BLANKET.

3:57 Matt watches Choo Choo Express for the second time with popcorn, after a good toe nail clip (we do this daily; it is a sensory thing for him)

4:00 Research Children’s Book Awards that my new book, This is Gabriel Making Sense of School will qualify for, and determine if I can nominate myself! (Tentative release date of 2/1/10)

4:50 Gabriel bursts in my office to share, in unintelligible monologue, the movie up to this point, ending in “And they opened the barn and the cows fly!” Matthew and I leave the office and head to the family room to cuddle on the couch giving lots of kisses and a great deal of input.

5:22 Movie is done, meaning calm time is over. Gotta get dinner now. Nick goes upstairs to find something to do while Gabe flips out because he can’t think of anything to do. Another transition induced meltdown.

5:25 Send him to his room to regroup.

5:25 Follow him upstairs so I can stop him from eating paper and destroying his room. Recognize that he is low; have him come downstairs for heavy work/movement, he refuses.

5:30 Go upstairs and get him, ask him to help me help him (my fancy way of saying ‘cooperate’). Yelling, mean words, take him to the bathroom, turn on the shower, ask him to get undressed so he can use the shower to calm down. He says he wants to be IN HIS CLOTHES in the shower. I agree thinking “who am I to tell him that feels awful?”. Turns out he didn’t mean it and is upset his new shirt is wet. Terrific. Meltdown gets worse, take his wet clothes off, he storms to his room telling me he hates me and that I should leave the house. I tell him to stay in his room, without ruining anything more and try to relax; I need to regroup and relax myself so I can think of my next move

5:40 Gabe begins yelling “Kill Buster” to the dog. It’s going to be a long night. Especially without my husband home.

5:45 I head back upstairs to see if I can solve the problem. He is surprisingly lucid given the chaos that has just ensued. We talk about how words can hurt (especially me) and we agree that he will get jammas on and take a break upstairs with his flashlight. We hug, and I remind him of what an amazing kid he is, how good-hearted and sweet. I get a big kiss.

5:50 What was I making for dinner? As I head to the garage, I hear Gabriel upstairs crying. He can’t find his flashlight, and can’t get his mind to shift to another activity. Nick lets me know that Matt “scraped” him with his teeth. Where was I? Oh yeah, meatballs from the garage.

6:05 Get meatballs in oven, pasta sauce on the stove, Gabe comes down and asks when dinner is. I tell him 13 minutes, get a great big hug from a smiley boy, and he decides to jump on the trampoline while he watches Franklin’s Halloween show with Matt and Nick.

6:25 Time to eat—signaling the end of the day for me. Cross your fingers it goes smoothly.

6:30 As we eat dinner, and do our “High Lows” Daddy calls and participates with us on speaker phone. Fun and nuts at the same time with everyone talking over each other.

6:35 The dinner conversation turns to talking about kids being mean to Gabriel at school. He says that there is a boy that we know from last year’s class that won’t stop saying, “Open the gate, who do you hate” every time Gabe walks up. I get the feeling the kid is insinuating that he hates Gabriel, but Gabriel thinks that the kid is trying to get Gabriel to name someone that Gabriel hates. Gabe doesn't get that he is the joke in that scenario. Makes me sad. Nick has TONS OF IDEAS on how to solve this social dilemma. My favorite? Teach him “The Sign” that means, “Stop that but we’re still friends” (demonstrated in the photo above) and if that doesn’t work, use the good old standby of “Do it back to him.” Ah to be a neurotypical-know-it-all 5 year old. School is just so much easier for him.

6:47 Dinner is over and the boys are given 20 minutes warning before it is time to get in the bath. But as soon as they are gone, I hear water running.

7:00 Gabe comes back down showered, hair washed and in his underpants. He needs his back scratched. Nick finishes round two of dinner, since he can’t seem to stay at the table, and Matthew is sucking down a juice box; the 5th of the day. I realize I haven’t bought dog food, so the dogs have cut up frozen apples (that our garage fridge accidentally froze), old hot dog buns and some shredded cheese. Hoping I don’t pay for this in doggy diarrhea later.

7:30 Bath time craziness. Get everyone cleaned up (only washing “stinky parts” and skipping hair), and in pajamas.

8:00 Read Shel Silverstein’s Where The Sidewalk Ends, which is referred to as the “Poem Book” at our house. Hungry Mungry, Peanut Butter Sandwich, Lazy Jane, and various other ones before bed. Matt reads Little People open the flap book before he joins us and insists on re-reading the PB Sandwich poem and sleeping with the book by his side.

8:10 Brush teeth; last pee, and into bed.

8:30 Rock Matthew, giving proprioceptive input through tight squeezes, hugs, and pressure against him in my lap. We sing. Sing. Sing. He asks for me to “not squeeze; hug!” and tells me that he just wants to “run, run, run” which is a great indication that he realizes his body is out of sync; we use it as a teaching moment and remind him that the feeling of “run run run” means he needs some tight squeezes. I hold him close on my lap while we sing. I am proud of how much he communicates to me about his body, and inside I smile because I am proud of Gabriel for all he has learned allowing Matthew to have a mommy that understands him.

8:35 Gabe yells, “I can’t sleep,” I yell back, “Yes you can; stop talking!”

8:45 I put Matthew in bed, but no one is asleep. Matthew refuses to stay in bed, and when I lay with him, he is won’t settle down; instead he just chats me up about Handy Manny and his Lightning McQueen birthday party. I am getting more and more frustrated.

9:00 I have hit my breaking point and I am yelling (not my proudest parenting moment). Matt wants me to lay with him, which I don’t want to do (I am tired as hell), and is being ridiculously bossy about how I should sit, not lay, upright in his bed. I leave to regroup in my room alone.

9:05 Matt comes running into my room telling me that Nicholas needs his “Candy Cane” (a small stuffed dog that he hasn’t slept with for MONTHS). I assure Matt that Nick is fine. When I am putting Matt back in bed, I say to Nick, “Tell Matt that you don’t need Candy Cane!” Nick bursts into tears insisting that he DOES need Candy Cane. Really? Can’t someone help me out here?

9:10 I end my search for Candy Cane. Tears from everyone. But that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t find the damn stuffed dog.

9:15 I give in and sit in Matt’s bed, following his instructions to a T. “Sit up Mommy!” “Like this?” “No Mommy! Not like that, lower.” “Like this?” “Perfect.” And in less than 10 minutes he is asleep.

9:30 I call my husband to let him know how resentful I am at him for being out of town. For getting to relax in a hotel room and for taking the night off from parenting and the bed time routine. I am really jealous. Not my proudest wife moment. I tell him that I should get off the phone and just go to bed, because I am tired. He agrees. I can’t stop thinking about the fact that he is gone for 3 nights this week, 3 nights next week, 3 nights the first of December and 3 nights the first of January. It makes my head spin, so I click So You Think You Can Dance off and go to sleep. I have to start all over again tomorrow and I still haven't unclogged the toilet. *sigh*

Good Night,