Archive for January, 2011

You Can Do It, M

Monday, January 31st, 2011

I devoted some of this past weekend to cleaning my office: organizing work, home, and family files and materials.  Fans of My So-Called Sensory Life already know how much I adore Clutter Guru Peter Walsh (Read my Mr. Clean Post here) and after a marathon of his new OWN show, I was energized and ready to conquer the clutter.

I’m proud to say that I cleaned and cleared away most of my unnecessary files and dumped loads of dated paperwork.

I’m also thrilled to report I stumbled on a few treasures.

One of the treasures is today’s gift:  one of M’s favorite books You Can Do It, Sam by Amy Hest.

It seems like just yesterday I read this book to him over and over while he lay in his crib eyes riveted to the book.  My husband and I read this Sam book (and another one called Kiss Good Night) so many times that we could recite the lines anytime, anywhere.  Like magic words, they calmed M (and J) and became our nighttime lullaby.

My other memory is the very vivid one about M’s early attachment to books.  From the moment he could hold a book, M has loved every part of them.  Books offered a calming object to his sensitive nervous system and a favorite object to touch and hold.  Books were an early obsession for M.  This seemed great until he decided to explore the books by tearing the covers off, then pulling the pages out, and finally making piles of paper to roll around in and use as a non-book activity.  The first time I saw the ripped pages of a favorite book, I felt physical pain.   After that day, I listened intently every time M was alone with a book so that I could hear the second he started to tear a page.  We lost many beloved characters during M’s tearing phase, but happily he grew out of it and his book obsession eventually lead to his early reading prowess.

I’ll never forget Sam or Mama Bear — they were a real part of our early journey with M and J and Sensory Processing Disorder.  And now I have a new memory about the book:  when I showed it to M tonight, he held it with love, kindness and the gentle touch reserved for a beloved object. Deep down, I always knew M (and Sam) could do it.

CCD

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

Today’s gift:  M really likes Sunday school (CCD)!  And he’s a star in class!

Last year we policed his CCD class and had to give his teachers elaborate plans (and safe pencils because he almost swallowed several erasers from chewing on them) so he could stay on task for the hour-long class.   It was a struggle each Sunday and he missed many classes.  It was very hard for all of us; M wanted to do it, but once there it was too much for him.

Yesterday, as he did last week and the week before, he told us that he really likes going to CCD and that it is “great” — especially the  good snacks.  When class ends, he recites the lesson of the day and thoughtfully discusses it with our family.  It’s getting through to him and it’s a huge milestone for a guy that struggles going to school M-F.

As my relatives from the old-country used to say, someone is looking out for us upstairs.

Amen!

The Wake-Up Band

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

6:00a.m. — Ring, ring, ring.  The phone call canceling school severs my connection to a sweet dream.

Ah, but wait…silence.  The twins are still sleeping.  I settle in to catch a few more zzzz’s.

7:00am — Tap, tap, tap.  Clap, clap, clap. Whisper, whisper, whisper.  Giggly announcement in unison in my ear:  “The Wake-Up Band is Here to Wake You Up!”

At the foot of my bed — J and M prancing and using “delicious” words to wake us up with an original song about the time, the snow, alarm clocks and instruments.  They have a real groove going and skillfully play their real and makeshift instruments.  Is that a Bob Dylan riff I hear during M’s harmonica solo?  I know that the tune J sings is based on a Hannah Montana song.   Of course, she has props for her part of the show — dried flowers from Nana, a basket, a diaphanous scarf she skillfully twirls.  The twins sing and dance in harmony. The crescendo and then it all ends with a jump on the lumpy down comforter hiding Mom and Dad’s legs.

I can’t wait for the next snow day and the return of The Wake-Up Band.

One Word

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Today’s gift:  acceptance.

Friended

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Today’s gift:  new friends!

I started blogging in March 2010 for many reasons (click here for my About section).  One unexpected gift of blogging:  I’ve reconnected with old friends, found favorite colleagues, reunited with former bosses, and increased my communication with everyone in my life (family and friends).  The biggest surprise:   new friends.

Today, I celebrate the gift of new pals because I’m astounded by these wonderful people.  They inspire me, cheer me on, support me, teach me, embrace me, and confirm the power of my story and My So-Called Sensory Life.  Through posts, discussions, comments, emails, and social media My So-Called Sensory Life changes my life every single day.

Friends old and new alike — thank you!  I vowed to make every day feel like Christmas morning here and I couldn’t do that without you.  My cup runneth over.

How Two Words Can Change Your Life: 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik (Book Review)

Monday, January 24th, 2011

“Until you learn to be grateful for the things you have, you will not receive the things you want.”  –from 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik

Dear Mr. Kralik:

Thank you for writing 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life (Hyperion; January 2011, $22.99).

From the moment I heard about your book and later saw you on “Good Morning America”, I could not stopping thinking about your story.  And when I read your beautiful thank you to your 7 year old daughter, I knew that your book had to be one of my blog gifts.

As the working mother of twins (one is a special needs child), it speaks to me on many levels.  Readers will find themselves in your thank you letters–they will connect the way you connected as brothers, sisters, parents, friends, lovers, co-workers, even strangers.  Your decision to dedicate one year to saying thank you is a lesson to all of us about gratitude, purpose and fulfillment.   Thank you, John.

Like many readers, I am moved by how your daily act of giving thanks turned your life around and in turn, teaches us that giving thanks is one of the greatest gifts we can give to others and to ourselves.  It literally changes lives moment to moment.

365 Thank yous is a guidebook for anyone seeking to change his or her life–one day at a time.  As I read the book, each chapter delivered sensible and accessible advice.  For example Chapter 5 “How Are You?” shows readers how the simple act of using the words thankful and blessed can set in motion self-fulfilling possibilities and attract good.

Reading your book this month, I was inspired to add a new resolution for 2011: to begin my own daily gratitude ritual.  Every day I blog about a daily gift here at My So-Called Sensory Life.  Starting today, I vow to take an extra minute to say thank you — beginning with this note to you.

Thank you for sharing your ups and downs, your sadness and joy, your self and your family.  Whether you were thanking your sons, your sister, the Starbucks employee or Grace, your heartfelt gratefulness for the big and the small proves the power of the human spirit.

I also want to thank you for illustrating  that life is really like a marathon:  your personal marathon victory proves that even during the dark moments when you feel like you can’t go forward when you open your heart anything is possible.  365 Thank yous proves that the glass can always be half-full.

Thank you for today’s My So-Called Sensory Life gift.  I know my readers will love it!

Warm regards,

My So-Called Sensory Life

P.S. : Congratulations on your appointment as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. I was cheering you on throughout the book!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJGBujEmxKs&feature=player_embedded

http://www.365thankyounotes.com/

http://www.hyperionbooks.com/book/365-thank-yous/

ABOUT THE BOOK & AUTHOR:

The art of the thank you note is sometimes seen as a dying custom. With e-mail, cell phones, and other means of instant communication at our fingertips, the thought of hand-writing and mailing a card seems outdated and inconvenient. And following two years of economic struggles, environmental disasters, and other worldwide worries, it often seems difficult to find anything to be thankful for. At the end of 2007, John Kralik would have agreed. His law firm was operating in the red, his divorce still wasn’t finalized, his apartment was the size and temperature of a toaster oven, and his girlfriend had just broken up with him. At the age of 52, it seemed as if he had nothing to be grateful for, and that he was about to start 2008 at an all-time low.

A walk through the hills on January 1, 2008 changed all that. Unhappy with both his lot in life as well as his attitude toward it, he realized that if he could somehow be thankful for the things he already had in life, perhaps the things he wanted would follow. His plan: send 365 thank you notes in a year, one for each day. By the time he was finished he had lost weight, ran a marathon, raised money for charities, turned his law firm around, reconnected with old friends and relatives, and gotten back together with his girlfriend. 365 THANK YOUS: The Story of How a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life (Hyperion; December 28, 2010; $22.99 hardcover) is the incredible story behind this inspiring feat, and proof that the personal touch can sometimes make all the difference.

John Kralik was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended the University of Michigan for college and law school. He practiced law for 30 years, and was a partner in the law firms of Hughes Hubbard and Reed, Miller Tokuyama Kralik and Sur, and Kralik and Jacobs. In 2009, he was appointed a judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court. He lives in the Los Angeles area, and continues writing thank you notes to this day.

365 THANK YOUS:
The Story of How a Simple Act of Daily
Gratitude Changed My Life
By John Kralik

Hyperion
$22.99 hardcover
ISBN-10: 9781401324056

Home Sweet Home

Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

Back from the Birthday Or Bust Trip!

Today’s gift:  sleeping in our sweet home.

Dreams Come True: The Magic Kingdom Part I

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

Before I began blogging, I drank the Disney Kool-Aid and became an instant believer that the place really is magical and that Disney really can make dreams come true.  This after a life-altering trip with the twins.  I’m still stunned about this myself.

For the record, I am not a theme-park fanatic and prior to this “Dreams Come True” trip, our family experience with Disney included a visit when the twins were 2 1/2 (and we were clueless about M’s needs) and M rode one ride (Dumbo) after massive coaxing and bribing and then spent the rest of the time on the slimy Disney pavement in front of the Pinocchio Cafe, face down, crying, screaming, tantruming and I vowed never to return.

Fast forward several years:  armed with crucial parental knowledge, a Sensory Processing Disorder Diagnosis, The Unofficial Guide To Walt Disney World (by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa) and my burning desire to conquer our past failure, we decided (somewhat spontaneously) to try The Magic Kingdom again.  Why? With all the sensory stimulation, crowds, noise, lines, social expectations why would I ever put M in that situation again?  G.A.C.

Guest Assistance Card.

Accidentally, I discovered that Disney has a program for guests with “invisible” disabilities and challenges like Autism for example.  Upon entering the park, families with special needs children are issued this card (go to Guest Services before entering; the child must be with you) and then the magic begins!

M’s issues were handled with kindness, generosity, and respect. In fact, we were all treated like royalty.  Every person in a Disney uniform that glimpsed our card became an instant friend or cheerleader or guide.  Without the G.A.C. we could NEVER experience Disney.  NEVER.  And J could NEVER experience it as a typical child because M would be on the ground in terror just like he was at 2 1/2.

I can’t rave enough or say enough about the doors the G.A.C. opened for our family — literally and figuratively.  We saw pure joy on our children’s faces and my husband and I felt like kids again.

Thank you Disney — a dream is a wish your heart makes!  I can’t wait to return!

# # #

For More Information:

1.  Google Disney Guest Assistance Card

2.  Follow this link and read about the card in The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World:

http://books.google.com/books?id=HnBMWdps1-0C&pg=PA367&lpg=PA367&dq=the+unofficial+guide+to+disney+guest+assistance+card&source=bl&ots=zvy7cUk358&sig=-lqx89IWK_bYjxVN_PzdrFCp1jA&hl=en&ei=lfNATcGUDYSesQP_zaX7Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDwQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

3.  Buy the book:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/047061529X/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=047046030X&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1HGCG51NFYMTV5R6GQR7

You Tube, I Tube

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Today’s gift:  YouTube.

M loves YouTube.  I love YouTube because M loves YouTube.

*He uses his fine motor skills to type in his searches.

*He practices visual skills when he sorts and selects videos.

*He learns expected vs. unexpected when he picks subjects.

*He follows directions and rules and obeys his timer.

Best of all — I just used YouTube as part of a Social Story and an Expected vs. Unexpected lesson for M.  More to come on this in a future post!

Go Pats!

Sunday, January 16th, 2011

I’m not a natural football fan.  I come to the game (and the Pats) by way of marriage to a New Englander.

Fortunately, my twins are half-husband which in wife-speak means they were born with the New England sports gene I am missing.  Red Sox and Patriots blood runs through their veins and their devotion to these teams is surely part of their DNA.

J’s loyalty to both teams already comes close to her father’s decades old fan membership.

M’s enthusiasm rivals my husband’s.

This afternoon J prepped for a Pats divisional playoff game as if it today was Super Bowl Sunday — she had decorations, special snacks, commercial break entertainment and a half-time show.

Witnessing the legacy of my husband’s lifelong enjoyment of his favorite sports teams alive in the twins is an unexpected and completely joyful gift that I know they will always treasure and one day share with their children.

Go Pats!