Archive for March, 2010

Wet Ones

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

My morning started with a soppy slipper, but instead of sulking over my flooded basement, I am thinking about the other wet thing that started my day:  M’s big, fat kiss.   I actually crave those wet kisses.  In fact, the wetter and longer they are, the better.  (This is starting to sound X-rated !).

M is the perfect kisser — he always indulges my  “Please give Mommy a kiss!” request — usually bestowing a few extra.  Unprompted, he frequently surprises me with a delicious, spontaneous, unexpected smooch.

His technique is simple:  first, a huge smile, followed by a small giggle, and then he moves into position.  He has no idea he’s literally showering me with his kisses (and I do not mind one bit) and his aim is precise. Regardless of whether it is the right or left cheek, his little lips lock onto his target and they linger just long enough to make a cute kiss-y noise.

This all happens in an instant and then, just as quickly,  he’s back to being a boy full of energy, unable to sit still, driving trucks, running away from his sister…but if I glance quickly, I can catch the faintest hint of a pucker on his little lips as my cheek dries.

Mr. Clean

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Today’s gift:  this morning with M, I rediscovered organizing guru Peter Walsh’s book  It’s All Too Much in my massive book collection (I used to work in book publishing) and the title is my new motto for dealing with some of M’s sensory integration issues at home.

Did I just hear a collective “huh”?

Let me explain:  After reading many books and googling a lot about SPD (sensory processing disorder), I quickly re-read the book and decided to create a daily routine to tackle surface clutter throughout the house and in particular in M’s room.   As a result, I will create a visually calming home environment for M.

As a selective clutter-er (translation: some rooms have clutter and some do not),  I am addicted to cleaning shows and clutter-conquering advice.   Armed with the best inspiration possible (M), I have the impetus I need to make a small but significant daily impact on M’s day.

Embarking on this de-cluttering mission together is a gift M and I can share with one another (and the entire family) every day.

Here’s to my daily Clean Sweep (I couldn’t resist one more ode to Mr. Walsh).

http://www.peterwalshdesign.com/

Author photograph: Discovery Communications

The Kindness of Sisters

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Pure, powerful and passionate — these words describe the bond between our twins.

As a non-twin though, I’m not sure I can ever really describe their relationship.  It’s deeper than sibling love and it’s something that is a physical part of each child.

Witnessing the two together sometimes feels spiritual and even sacred to me.  It’s a unique gift for the frequently crazed parents of twins to witness — and I am especially grateful as the mother of a boy with sensory/social issues.

Perhaps, the best way to share today’s gift is to show you my daughter’s card for her sick (with an ear infection) twin brother.  She told us that she “ran out of room to write all the love she has for him.”

These spontaneous acts of love between the twins are mutual and unprompted.   On this chilly spring afternoon, I hope today’s gift brings you a little bit of their sunshine.

The Early Bird

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

It’s common knowledge that here are two kinds of people — folks that get up early and folks that don’t (me).

Our twins each chose different sleep schedules.

Of course,  M is the early riser — he gets up at 5:00am every morning like clockwork.  The house is still chilly, the beds perfectly warmed and deep breathes emanate from every bedroom except for M’s.

And, of course, without fail, I always wake up, too.  And, since the day he moved into his own room, I always go and see him.

In the old days (translation: pre-baby days),  I’d often miss breakfast on the weekend rising around noon.  Staying up late is something I love and I’ve always felt that the night is my best time.  After the twins were born, I literally considered toothpicks to keep my eyelids from drooping.

But as you know from reading my blog, I’m lucky to find a new gift every day.  Today at 5:00am, I realized that my 5 minutes alone with M each morning is his quiet and easily missed gift to me.  The time is ours alone.  Mother and son in a sleeping house.  We snuggle and kiss and say our first good mornings to one another.

Then, M reads his books, listens to his music and calms his body before the busy day ahead.  This morning routine regulates him and  is a crucial part of each morning’s schedule — even on the weekend.

I wouldn’t miss those 5 minutes alone with my little early bird for the world.

Chirp, chirp.

I gotta have faith, faith, faith…

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Faith

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Faith is the confident belief or trust in the trust or trustworthiness of a person, concept or thing. The English word is thought to date from 1200–50, from the Latin fidem or fidēs, meaning trust,derived from the verb fīdere,to trust.


Early in my motherhood, I learned that our journey with M would be a marathon rather than a sprint.  From the age of 2 weeks, baby M began having more medical experiences than most infants, including surgery at 6 weeks.   He’s been so brave and so strong and so fearless.  I can’t say the same about myself until recently.

This Easter will be the one year anniversary of my own very personal discovery of a deep, soulful, moving faith in something bigger than me and my life.  This faith brings me the spiritual peace and confidence that I need to be a good mother and wife and to face the challenges that will surely come.

On many levels, I need to thank M for bringing me to the gift of faith but today’s gift is really a group gift from M, his twin J and from my incredible husband and my family.

Easter 2010 is one week away and I can’t help but think about where I was one year ago and where I am today.    I’m so glad that I have the gift of faith to unwrap every time I need a little extra.

Patience, patients…

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Patience is not one of my strengths.  This is a very well known fact.  And, in my opinion, it’s not a coincidence that I’m not particularly fond of the other  “patients” either.  (Translation:  I do not like when my children are sick and turn into my patients).

Personally, I like to live in the magical land of instant gratification where everyone is always healthy.

So, this afternoon, when the school called to say that M had a fever of 102, I raced downtown to rescue him, already wondering when the fever would go away.  Armed with Motrin and Tylenol, I was eager to attack this fever and restore my happy little world.

As soon as we walked into the house, I took his temperature.  Now, after seven years of parenting, I know that it takes about an hour for the medicine to begin working and for the fever to go down.  But as soon as one of my children is ill, especially M, I lose my ability to have any patience and become as anxious as a child awaiting a throat culture.

It took all the restraint I could muster NOT to take his temperature a dozen more times to see if the fever was down.

During one such moment when I was reaching for the thermometer, M turned to me, with a sixth sense, and remarked in a calm and very patient voice, “We just have to wait a little bit, Mom.”

In that moment, M showed me all I ever need to know about patience and patients.

Heere’s Johnny!!!

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I’m a girly-girl.  I don’t like dirt, bugs or generally-speaking, boy stuff.  And I never have.

So, of course I find it beyond ironic that I now know everything there is to know about John Deere.  I can identify the types of tractors (Johnny Popper) as well as the construction equipment (skid steer).  I know all the video theme songs from the All About John Deere series and I often catch myself humming “John Deere Heaven.”  In fact, I even know the guys at the local JD store!

This brings me to “Johnny” — an important member of our family.  He arrived in Santa’s sleigh a few years ago and now he lives in the garage.  We say hello to him every day.  M loves running by him on the way out the door and like clockwork regardless of rain, sleet or snow, asks “Can I drive Johnny today Mommy?”   Johnny gets a lot of attention:  every night he is the main character in our bedtime stories, and he is a key player in many of the twins’ make-believe games.  Johnny has tons of personality — he’s funny, fast, curious, and really nice.  He doesn’t like baths and doesn’t like to stay inside in bad weather.   He always says yes and he never gets mad at M.  He always puts a smile on M’s face and is a great outlet for our guy when he’s had a tough day or when he has extra energy or when he needs to push something heavy around as part of his sensory diet.

Drinking the green and yellow John Deere Kool-aid along with my boy has been very unexpected and I chuckle all the time when I catch myself saying out loud when I am alone in the car,”Oh cool, there’s an 8020!”

M’s been my tour guide in this new land and I really have come to appreciate the beauty, craftsmanship, quality and attention to detail of all things John Deere.  I’m proud to be a genuine fan.

In fact, I’ve already scoped out a cute green John Deere t-shirt to add to my spring wardrobe.

m-iTunes (read my-Tunes)

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

“Without music, life would be a mistake.”-Friedrich Nietzsche

“Want to come in my room and listen to my music, Mom?” -MT, age 7

Like many of you reading this blog, I believe music inspires, moves, soothes, and speaks to us.  Music has always held a very important place in my life (just ask my brother how my musical tastes shaped him!).

I love all types of music and have particularly vivid memories of the 80s and my time following my favorite bands (can you say r.e.m. addict?).  We play music all the time in our home, in our car, on vacation.  Our children are growing up with what we hope are rich and varied musical tastes that include jazz, rap, hip-hop, country, rock, alternative, bluegrass, and more.

Today, my musings here are not about music and why I love it or can’t live without it, but rather about my unexpected gift to see, feel, hear and discover music in a new way thanks to my son.

Many children with sensory issues or autism spectrum disorders have a unique and special connection to music.  It creates calm and focus. It connects them to the world.

When he was little, M immediately adored the soundtrack from Baby Mozart and wanted to hear it over and over again.  As he got a little older, our Music Together class soundtracks quickly took the number one spot on his playlist.   When they were toddlers, I happily observed how M and his sister loved music and enjoyed dancing.  In fact, I grew up dancing in my parent’s kitchen at every opportunity (especially during the holidays) and wanted to carry on that tradition in my home.  My observations about M’s love of and connection to  music weren’t earth-shattering — I thought it was cute and not much else.

Then, one day in kindergarten after a grueling day trying to figure out why he was having such a tough time in school, I stopped and really looked and listened and realized that M was deeply engaged in the music I was playing — not like a child, but rather like me or my husband.  He was actually listening to the music, the instruments, the guitar riffs, the impromptu jazz solos and he was really appreciating it.  As time went on, we learned that he could tell us if a song was Mozart or The Beatles or the Rolling Stones or Madonna or Ray LaMontagne.  He hears the harmony, can keep a beat and loves classical and rock and everything in between.  His hearing is very sensitive.  Kindergarten was a rough year for us all — we were still in the dark about a lot of M’s needs and challenges.  But, that light-bulb moment in the kitchen opened a door for our whole family.

Today, as I watch him, I feel the excitement and wonder I felt when I was young and playing Motown records in my room or the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever or listening to the radio for a song’s debut or attending my first concert — but it’s on a completely different scale.

And as my son discovers  music, I discover it along with him — his way.  I hear the details.  I feel the beats.  I see the songs.  And I experience the lyrics and magic along with him.  And, I’m happy to say, I react like he does (sometimes  jumping on his bed or crashing into bean bag chairs, or spinning wildly — all great for sensory input). He rewinds songs to play me a certain phrase or a specific part of the tune and time stands still.  We listen, faces pressed close, breathing in sync, giggling and smiling.

Now, he regularly asks for copies of the latest albums from Lucinda Williams or the Black Eyed Peas or Bob Dylan.

It’s hard to explain, but when my son invites me to join him in his room to listen to his Cd’s — I feel like that teenager again, like I am hearing it for the first time as we sit there on his racetrack rug, Cd’s scattered all around us, pillows and lyric sheets sandwiched between John Deere tractors, car-y the car pillow and his Lightening McQueen fleece blanket, like the only two people in the world.

There is freedom in music — there are no rules for listening and no rules for how to enjoy it.  Most of all, it is a sensory experience for all of us, not just my son.
Rock on.

Post-Olympic Gold

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

I remember feeling on top of the world in high school when our team won a field hockey game or I placed at a track event (I have to add here that I was a sprinter so you can get a sense of my everyday pace).  All was right in the universe and celebrating our victory was fun and exciting and lasted the entire next day.

Recently, my twins watched portions of the Olympics and enjoyed the winter sports enormously.  We are big sports fans (the twins knew the names/positions of the entire Red Sox team before they could write) and the kids immediately focused on the Gold Medal winners.  In fact, for their birthday party, they asked that one of our game prizes be kids sized Gold Medals which we still have all over the house. (They came in a 100 pack — who could ever use that many fake Gold Medals????)

Anyway, fast-forward to today:  I saw Olympic triumph and victory here in my dining room after many spirited rounds of  a cheap cardboard BINGO game.  My little princess kept winning and winning — dancing and prancing about the house with a magical smile on her face and multiple gold medals around her neck .  Like me, she’s quick and speedy in almost everything she does.   She clearly had the advantage over her brother (since he sometimes struggles with motor planning and can’t always quickly process data).  I was happy to see her joy.   My son, on the other hand, was feeling the agony of defeat with each new round and kept asking what he needed next to complete his BINGO.

Trying to be a good Mommy, I squirmed in my seat praying to the BINGO Gods like I was sitting at a Vegas roulette table.   PLEASE, I silently begged, PLEASE let the next one be on his card…

Finally, after switching cards and chips and seats (and after several sugar filled snacks), he was able to scream the elusive BINGO! at the top of his lungs.   Then, he ran sprinter-style and grabbed one of the last Gold Medals that was NOT already on his sister’s neck and which I promptly and ceremoniously hung around his little neck.

He joined his twin sister in a victory dance around the house — the two of them hugging and celebrating as if they were on the streets of Vancouver.

The wait for that W was worth its weight in gold.

A Diamond in the Rough

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

I love sparkly things — and those who know me know that I especially love things that come in a certain blue box (hint: see my first post).   It’s funny then, that the MVP of my jewelry collection goes to a rock.  Yes,  you heard me — a rock.  As Moms, we all adore the hand made crafts our children bring home from school.  In fact, I have almost every one of those things from the twins (dating back to pre-school).  I treasure the special gifts they crafted that are intended for me the most.  Which brings me back to the rock.

Fine motor skills are tough for my little guy — especially writing, painting, coloring, and any precise task (like everything related to art!).   As I thought about this post and my first official gift, I kept coming back to the rock.  As I said in my inaugural post, I’ll unwrap my daily gifts with you dear reader and sometimes those gifts will be actual gifts, but I suspect that many days my gift will be something even more precious (and fleeting).

Today’s gift then:  my son came home from school, unpacked his backpack and with a huge smile on his face, unveiled — a hand-painted (“all-by-myself”) rock dangling on yarn.  “It’s a necklace for you Mom,” he said and proceeded to put it on me.  “It’s got green, your favorite color.” His smile was so wide that I promised to wear it every day (oops).

His sparkle was more dazzling than anything that could ever come in my favorite blue box.

So, I’m off to find something that matches rock, smiling widely because I can’t wait for tomorrow.