Archive for March, 2011

Boy + Clary = Love

I just love teaching clarinet lessons.

My student B has been working very hard.  I am so proud.  His tone quality is vastly improving (his playing is sounding more like an instrument than an angry duck).  He plays  for at least 20 out of 30 minutes now, which is awesome– his stamina is increasing.

While he was putting his clarinet, or “Clary,” together, I did a 10-second “check in.”

“How was your week?”

“Good.”

“Have your been practicing?”

“Not really.”  Hmmmm.

“Do you still like playing the clarinet?”

“Yes!  I love Clary.”

“I’m glad.”

“Yep. Clary never disappoints.”

Awww.  A boy and his clarinet.

Isn’t it wonderful when we have something in our lives that we can count on that “never disappoints”?

For me, that which never disappoints is God.  I freely admit that I have my down times. I’ve yelled at God and wondered what the heck God is thinking.I believe that God has gotten me through a lot of “ick”. I’ve survived and become stronger.

That being said, I have to say that I am so thankful for music.  I can’t imagine life without it.  When I discovered the clarinet, I was hooked.  Being a musician and a clarinet player formed a huge part of my identity throughout junior high and high school.  In college, I majored in music and clarinet was my instrument.

Music has brought me joy.  I have mourned and celebrated through playing. However, I over did it. I played so much and was in (what I considered at the time) a competitive music school in college, that I got burned out.  My senior year of college I  dropped band and orchestra.  I joined choir where I could relax and have fun.  I still took clarinet lessons, as my degree required it.  At the end of my senior year, I played my senior clarinet recital, put “Clarissa” (my clarinet) on the shelf, and didn’t get her back out until much much later.

Now I am teaching music to others, and Clarissa is right by my side. Sometimes I need to take a break so I can once again fully enjoy playing.

At the end of our lesson, B said, “Let’s give Clary a round of applause!”  We clapped and cheered.

Clary never disappoints.  I’m  glad that B has found something that can potentially be an haven for him when the rest of life disappoints.  I hope that someday he will realize that he can count on himself, too– just by being true to himself, B will never disappoint, either.

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Chores, to-do’s, and more phone calls

I was out with my daughter at Daisies, and I received a phone call from my son.

“Hello?”

“Uh, Mom?”

“Yes, Philip?”

“I did my homework!”

“Great!  What’s next?”

“Uh, let’s see here…. hmmmm….. oh, chore!”

“Okay, I’ll tell you your chore when I get home.”

“What’s my chore?”

“I can’t tell you right now, I’m driving!  But I’ll be home.”

“But what’s my chore?”

Sigh.  “Ask Dad.”

“Okay.”

I hung up the phone.  5 minutes later…

“Hello?”

“I did my chore!”

“Ok, what’s next?”

“Um…. practice drum for 10 minutes.”

“Okay, practice your drum.  You don’t have to call back… I’ll see you at home.”

Click. 10 minutes pass.

Ring.  I ignore, because I’m driving!

One minute passes.  Ring.

Sigh. “Hi there.”

“I practiced my drum for 10 minutes!”

“Okay, what’s next?”

“Practice piano for 15 minutes!”

“Okay!  Go do it, then!”

Click.

And so on and so forth.

He was really self-motivated, I guess, because before he could play his X Box, he had to do all of his to do list, including homework, practicing, chores, packing up his backpack for the next day, etc.  A parent has to check off the to do list.  My husband was busy doing his mom’s taxes, so Philip called me.

As I said in a  previous post, I love hearing my kids’ voices on the phone.  I wonder if my mom still loves hearing mine.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.  And I’m proud that he is motivated to do his chores from his new to do list, and I’m happy that he is proud of himself, too.

I listened to my phone messages later.  Of course, one was from Philip.

“Mom? Mom? Humph.”

I saved it.

Phone messages

My kids regularly call my cell phone and leave me messages when I’m away.

Actually, sometimes I’m home.

Anyway, since I love it when they use words, whether or not they have autism, I cherish these messages and save them.  Right now I have about 9 messages saved that I listen to when I need a laugh or a smile.

Most of the messages are from my daughter:

“Oh, helloooooo, Mommy.  Would you please come home soon?  I would like to watch tv with you, or maybe a mooooooovie.  We could snuggle on the couch together.  Come home soon. Bye.”

“Mommy, I need to let you know that you should really keep your phone with you so that when we call you will answer. Remember your phone next time and answer! Bye.”

“Hi, Mom. I miss you.  I really do miss you.  Can you come home soon? I love you.  I really love you.  I miss you.  Bye.”

A couple are from my son:

“Hi Mom.  I need a snack.  Bye.”

“Hi mom, okay, mom… you need to come home.  Bye.”

I know that someday my kids will be grown and gone.  Sometimes, actually, I am excited for that day to come.  Other times, my heart aches at the very thought. I am hopeful, though, that these calls will continue as they get older.  I must be doing something right, because my kids love me and miss me. Even when I’m gone for only 5 minutes.

Hangin’ at the Hibachi

My son loves the hibachi. You know, where you and others sit around a grill, watch a Japanese chef cook and entertain, and then eat yummy food.  He was thrilled when we went to a Japanese steak house in Annapolis.

Since we usually go to the hibachi restaurants for lunch, not dinner, we were not used to waiting more than about 5 minutes for our chef to arrive. Philip was a real trooper, though. He waited patiently, gave me his soup, ate my salad… it was all good.

I admit that I was a little nervous when some strangers were seated at our hibachi, and Philip said something to me about it. But I explained to him that sometimes people we don’t know sit with us at hibachis, and he accepted this just fine.  Hooray!

When our chef finally arrived and began to twirl his cooking utensils like batons, my boy decided to be a little announcer.

“Ladies and Gentlemen!” he cried. “Give it up for… um… the guy who… plays with these things! Let the show begin!”
To my relief, the strangers at our hibachi laughed with me. We had a great time.

I’m not sure why I feel the need to “explain” my son to others, but when Philip got up to get an after dinner mint, I explained that he had autism. No worries, they said. Their friend had a son with autism, too, and they were hoping that he would speak soon. They said they were impressed with Philip’s speech.
Understanding, acceptance and fun while hanging at the hibachi. That gives me hope!

Update on going off the diet

Today was our annual visit to Annapolis, MD to meet with the folks from Pfeiffer Treatment Center.

I told the doctor that we were off of the gfcf diet now.  It seems like my son actually weaned himself off of it– occasional “cheats” and finally just quitting altogether.  This is what I found out:

The diet is apparently not meant to be life long.  It is to be done until the symptoms of leaky gut are gone, and the intestines have healed.  Signs that the diet needs to continue: return of bowel issues and return of the symptoms the were present before the diet was begun.

That’s pretty much it.

Not feeling so “light” today. We are really tired.  We both had trouble sleeping last night.  We probably both got around 3 hours, versus my 7-9 and his 9-10.  He’s also been off of his supplements / regimen for over 24 hours, and is off the wall– stimming like crazy!  So the supplements do indeed work.  They are too many to mention, and we are going back to compounding this next time so he has fewer pills to swallow.  To top it all off, the reason he’s off of his supplements is due to the lab work he was to have done today… which didn’t happen, so I’m extra frustrated.  Also, we think that his yeast issues have returned (which explains his carb feeding frenzy), so a really fun stool test will happen in the next couple of weeks.  Yay.

Ah, well.  At least we know that the sky is not going to fall because we stopped the diet, and that the supplements are working.  And if he does have yeast issues we can deal with that. There’s the lighter side. (Glad I found it!)

Dolly Partner and a dream come true

A couple of years ago, we had a year of Dolly “Partner.” (That’s what Josh called her when he moved in with us.)

Dolly Partner Parton is one of Josh’s favorite artists.  He thinks she’s young.  He can’t believe she’s old enough to be his grandmother.

When he first moved in, we would hear him singing in the shower, “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, JOLEEEEEEEEEEENNNNNN…”

He would listen to Dolly “Partner” every chance he got.  He especially liked her song called “Joshua.”  “Coat of Many C0lors” was another favorite.  He looked for CD’s at used CD places and yard sales.  He hung CD covers on the wall so he could gaze at Ms. Partner.

He dreamed of going on vacation to… you guessed it… Dollywood!

So,  a couple of years ago, we had the year of Dolly Partner Parton.  Not only did we go to Dollywood (which was somewhat disappointing to my kid because she wasn’t actually living there), but we made sure he got to go to see Dolly live in concert! I saw the ad in the paper, plotted with my hubby, got up early on the day they went on sale to get great tickets online. Since we could only afford two tickets, only one parent could go.  But what mattered most was that Josh would get to see his Dolly Partner.

We were all excited when we told him about the live concert.  He called his bio mom, and told her, “Yes, I’m going to go get to see her– ALIVE! On the stage!”

Since I’ve never been a huge fan, my husband took Josh to the concert.  I regretted it later. I had no idea that she was an accomplished, well-rounded musician. My husband said I would have loved it (and he, being an introvert, would have loved to have quiet time at home).

Anyway, the guys dressed up and left early for dinner. My heart melted seeing them go out for a nice, dream-come-true-evening together. I waited up late that night. I wanted to hear about Josh’s time at the concert, especially since I was the mastermind behind it all (ahem).

Here is how our conversation went:

Me:  “How was it?”

Josh: “Fine.”

“What all did she play?  Did she sing your favorites?”

“Some of them.”

“Which ones?”

“I don’t remember.”

Silence.

“Well, what was your favorite part about the concert?”

“It was kind of boring.  All I did was sit there.  But it was okay.  Thanks.”

And then he went to bed.

I sat there speechless.  His reaction was definitely either unexpectedly disappointing or unexpectedly funny.

I decided on the latter.

My husband told me that Josh really liked the concert, that Dolly could play a million different instruments, and that Josh really was tired.  He wasn’t used to being up that late.

The next day Josh told everyone who would listen about the concert.  He even said that his stepmom got the tickets and let him go with his dad, and that was really cool.

I learned that living joyfully and peacefully with others, especially those who have autism, usually means letting go of my expectations and accepting what is.  And I appreciate when others do the same for me.

Taking advantage of opportunities that come our way and accepting others for who they are– these things definitely lighten my life!

Write it down

I was going absolutely crazy with keeping the evening and morning routines going.  Getting the younger two kiddos to school on time was almost impossible and I was so stressed out when they walked in the building.

Not the way I want my morning to go.

I had asked my hubby to please please please help me get stuff ready the night before.  It seemed that when I went out for the evening (meetings, Zumba, etc.), the next morning was chaos.  Nothing changed.  I think dear hubby was very overwhelmed, too.

I finally took my own advice and made yet another schedule.  My husband and I brainstormed then decided where to hang a new schedule, what should be on it, how to make it not so overwhelming, etc.

We now have a simple schedule, hanging on the kitchen shelving unit, that is easy to follow.  It is really a to do list, since evenings are going crazy with new activities.Here’s what it looks like.  It’s amazing to me how much of a difference typing this and posting has made.  Making it a to do list allows our kiddos to adjust for evening activities, school delays, and unexpected things that come up.

daily routines by E. Givlerg activities, school delays, etc.

Recently, I started attending a Bible study based on the book Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food.  The idea is that we are all made to crave God,  but we fill that craving with food or other things that unhealthy for us.  (I can identify… stress and emotional eating is my downfall.)  We were challenged to write down our plans for eating– not simply keep a food diary, but plan the menu of meals and snacks, write it down, and shop accordingly.    I remembered that, last year when I lost 50+ pounds, menu planning and keeping a food diary were vital to my success.  Writing it down was very powerful.

I wonder what else I could accomplish just by writing it down.  Hmmm.  How about “breathe”? Or, “don’t wring any kid’s neck today.”  Or, “You are a sexy hot babe.” 🙂

Having a flexible plan and writing it down definitely lightens my load.  It also lightens, I remind myself, the loads of my kids and my family as a whole.