Tuesday, February 28, 2012

If I Ever...

If I ever were to get a tattoo, I'd get something that had to do with a life changing event. I always admire people that put a deceased family member on their arm or ankle... wherever they see fit. While I'm not so big on tattoos EVERYWHERE, I don't mind a few. I've always been a major chicken, though. I mean, huge. The whole "growing old with it" thing just freaks me out. I love the idea of growing old with my soul mate (wherever you may be!) but growing old with my... skin??!.... freaky. However, if I, personally, were to get a tattoo, I'd probably want something that has to do with my faith, autism, and.. of course.. my little guy.

Which leads me to what I've been pondering lately. This little number:

It means Faith (cross), Hope (anchor), Love (heart). In case you aren't sure. I'm not so sure about incorporating Cay (DOB??), but the phrase so happens to be what I have driven on my car for the past  5 years... pretty much all of Caydon's life. Which brings me to my story of my car. Pooooooey....

If I EVER were to be in another car accident, I'd like to be in one like I just was in. We were ALL ok... and I didn't even have to deal with the "oh, my neck" lines from the person I hit. Did I mention I was totally at fault? I was. Did I mention that they completely let me go... without so much as getting any information? They did. Crazy? I think so. BUT, I am not going to fight it. I actually tried to (I would) doing the whole "but... what if you find a leak when you get home?!" and "what if you decide that big cave I just made in your trunk won't be your favorite thing in a few days!?"   Obviously, I'm not so used to people being nice for no reason. We do live in 2012, after all. ((OH, and a few people said that maybe they weren't insured/registered. Explain the madness. But, they were...))  They go to my church, and gave me a hug with a "your car looks a lot worse than ours..." excuse. I'm trying to be content with that. ;)

See, the thing is... on that Sunday I confirmed with a member of our church the day that I am getting baptized. March 4th. I always, always wanted my hubby to be baptized at the same time as me. A hopeless romantic, I totally am. However, I've come to realize that it's time to live the life God intended for me without this trying to wait for a hole to be filled... or try to fill it myself. I've been praying hard for God to fill the hole I have with patience, and contentment that I know I absolutely can get from His love. You single mommy readers know the hole... the one that I occasionally have when nights get lonely as a single mom. Or, the hole that randomly appears when I have to weed my backyard all. by. myself. like I did attempted to do, but gave up on, this last Sunday.  I've been praying for a fullfillment to come from God. Really, I have. Now, granted, if God wanted me to get married someday soon, would I mind? Let alone fight it? Absolutely not. However, I'm not going to push things. Rush things. Attach to things. Things, or idiot guys that I seem to find easier than I wish I could. (Where the good guys are is an answer I will gladly share when I know!)   I want a hope and fullfillment that I can find in Christ, because deep down I know that He loves me more than any husband possibly could. So, no more waiting for my hubby to be either the one dunking me, or the one getting dunked with me. It's happening, folks. Truly. This lady here is getting baptized and putting her life 100% for God. And, I couldn't be more excited.

Ok. Back to the car. Based off of this "spiritual high," I was kind of not paying as much attention as I should have. Ok, I was on the phone. I can't would rather not lie... I was hanging up a message with my grandparents on their answering machine telling them to mark their calendars. Which reminds me, I was never able to call my other set of grandparents. I need to get on that! I was a bit distracted when the jeep in front of me stopped suddenly by a red light runner. My reaction time was too slow. My car is huuurrt. It appears (by my own car guy's visual inspection,) that I will need a new hood, bumper, "grill" (the criss-cross part of my car where the toyota label sits.. whatever that may be called,) new lights, new wiring, and a new side of the car. Not to mention what may be wrong with the engine once we get to it. Read: Totaled.

On a totally randomly good note, I get to drive this little baby (with only 4,000 miles... read: new car smell. MMMM..) all over town:

I love it so much, I want to buy this bad boy. I've always wanted  more of a "mom car," but I'm really willing to splurg "settle" for this little bad boy. I guess time will tell. Money would help, though. Truly.

So, there you have it. A story about my ache for a husband contentment with my life, my need for a new car, and my excitement about baptism. Think of me this Sunday when I get dunked! :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Song of My Life...

Lately I've been praying for contentment with where Cay and I are. I want to be content with our little 2 person family. Let's face it, God intended for families to be nuclear. Be mad at me all you want for saying it, but it's so obvious when dealing with bills all by yourself, when you need a break from the little one, or those lonely nights when you get lost in a book (or tv for those of you that watch it) so that you have company. Yet, it's not going to happen on my terms. Regardless of how hard I try, the perfect guy isn't going to come around until God wants to bring him into our lives. Patience is such a virtue... and contentment is absolutely something that I pray I am filled with sooner than later. God is absolutely able to be the missing piece for Cay. He is able  and willing to be the 3rd part of our family that provides, who is always there (more so than lots of parents can say these days!), and that loves unconditionally... even to a child as "difficult" as one with autism. ((My last boyfriend didn't like Cay because of how "difficult" he is... hence why we broke up... so a guy who can handle the boy is HUGE to me!)) God absolutely is a father to the fatherless!

Ever have one of those songs that completely fits the bill for your life? What about a movie or a book? Maybe an article? I totally do right now... which hardly ever happens. Us single moms have quite unique scenarios. Some artists can absolutely understand what I'm going through.. but it's often so gloomy and depressing. Single motherhood isn't all bad!!

This is what I've been listening to non-stop lately. It's such a great song!!!

Coolest part? Right now, K-Love is giving a free download of the song, Just Another Birthday by Casting Crowns, to any who want it. Awesome, right!? Be prepared to make it your new anthem, too :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

For All Things Random & HIlarious

... and drrrrreaaamy.

Check out the new Balancing the Bucket Facebook Page to see what I'm talking about. ;)

Monday, February 20, 2012

The New Argument to Stay Up Late

"When I grow up, I be a dad. See? I growing up. So I be a dad now and I grown up. So I no sleep because I a dad now."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

You REALLY want to play the cognitive game, huh!?

You'll have to excuse the rant, and checklist format of this post. I'm in a mood. I had a LONG day (car accident... long story), and I really want to be all hyper-active-IEP-advocate-mom instead of search-for-a-new-car-with-a-lack-of-funds-single-mom. Bare with me...

The other day, at Cay's Review of Existing Data, his school IEP team decided to tell me that they suspect more than the Autism/ADHD/ODD/ED labels that he's been slapped with.... Wait for it... You sure you want to know?... ok, here we go... ((breathe, self. breathe))... Cognitive Delay. REALLY!? Albeit the fact that they did have a relatively decent explanation as to why, but it still wasn't one that amused me much. If they only knew how hard and often we work on his name, his personal info (he still asks me how old he is.. let alone other info), and work on phonics/numbers....

So, along with a bunch of other assessments (another post for a different rant day...) they will be testing his IQ again at a very in-depth range. At least I was able to do this with the advocate side of me.

Confession: Is it bad that I started bawling once I got into my car? Seriously. I teach special education for a living, for goodness sakes. I know the value of kids with cognitive delays. Helk, I want to adopt a baby with Downs someday. But.. ugh... my Caydon!? Really?! For some reason, that was quite difficult to take in. I think it was a slap in the face for the progress we HAVE made, while giving me a dose of potential reality.

Psychologically speaking, parents actually do mourn for their child upon a diagnosis. As if they are mourning the loss of the child that they thought they had. Truly, I practically took a class on it in my undergrad program. Is this what the tear works were? Hmmm.Maybe those tears weren't so odd, after all.

Anyways, I'm getting really sidetracked. I don't care about my tears, I care about Caydon's "cognitive function." Onto google I go. Cognitive Function concerns for a 5 year old with Autism.   Too complex. Cognitive Function concerns for a 5 year old. Period. Hmm. Closer. Congitive Function.... erase.... Typical 5 year old milestones. Closer. Normal 5 year old milestones. Bingo. Really? I had to dumb down my question?? I had to use the word "normal" verses "typical"? Hmmph. Google. Not a good night for you, I take it. Well, crappy day for me, too. I'll let it slide this time.

What I found:   (source-Medline Plus @ http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002016.htm)

Physical and motor skill milestones for a 5-year-old child may include:
  • Gains about 4 - 5 pounds per year (sure does)
  • Grows about 2 - 3 inches per year (check)
  • Vision has reached 20/20 (nope.. this reminds me, I need to push those glasses he needs up on my priority list. Hmmmm. Car or glasses? Focus, self. Focus.)
  • Erupting the first permanent teeth (most children do not get their first permanent teeth until age 6) (hah, he got his first tooth at 14 months. Which I was THRILLED about. Easiest breastfeeding ever... did that until 17 months. Rockstar mom. Sad boobs. Maybe they were right about me having ADHD)
  • Developing increased coordination (come again?)
  • Skipping, jumping, and hopping with good balance (attempts. I was just happy he tries...)
  • Maintaining balance while standing on one foot with eyes closed (pah, I don't know if I can even do this..)
  • Showing increased skill with simple tools and writing utensils (he likes his tools like his mommy does)
  • Can copy a triangle (nope! but he can hold a pencil now! AND he finally draws pictures!!)
  • Spreads with a knife (this is his gig. thank you, Ikea, for your cheap plastic knives. blue, of course.)
Sensory and cognitive milestones:
  • Vocabulary increasing to over 2,000 words (yes, I count this consistently. REALLY!?)
  • Composing sentences of 5 or more words, and with all parts of speech (sort of. really, really bad grammar. Gosh, I am SUCH an English teacher!)
  • Identifying coins (ehhh, no)
  • Counting to 10 (yes, most of the time, he doesn't mess up! but this took a LONG time to do)
  • Properly naming the primary colors and possibly many more (yes)
  • Questioning more deeply, addressing meaning and purpose (Mommy, why did God stop making dinosaurs? Mommy, can I make a nesting ground to make more baby dinosaurs again? These count... right?)
  • Responding to "why" questions (he finally asks "why" questions... that's what they mean, right? No, awe man. Appease me)
  • Behaving more responsibly and apologizing for mistakes (hah)
  • Decreasing aggressive behavior (decreasing? possibly. worse because he's stronger? certainly)
  • Outgrowing earlier childhood fears (just beginning to get fears. hmm)
  • Accepting other points of view (but may not understand them)  (sooo far from it)
  • Demonstrating increased mathematical skill (he can count up to 10 now. finally. this counts!)
  • Questioning others, including parents (always has... even when he didn't speak, he still questioned me)
  • Strongly identifying with the parent of the same sex (well, since this guy is MIA. Let's just say, "N/A")
  • Having a group of friends (sadly... no...)
  • Engaging in imaginative play (for example, a trip to the moon)  (YES! The boy loves "We're going on a bear hunt!"  This mommy used to teach preschool, oh yes, she did!!)
Ways to encourage a 5-year-old's development may include:
  • Reading together (check!)
  • Providing the necessary space for physical activity (my house is a therapy and craft center, plus he has a backyard all to himself)
  • Instructing the child to participate in -- and learn the rules of -- sporting activities (check. effort here!)
  • Encouraging the child to play with other children, which helps develop social skills (always...)
  • Playing creatively with the child (ehhh I encourage it!?)
  • Monitoring both the time and content of television viewing (we don't own a TV. Check!)
  • Visiting local areas of interest (Dinosaur Museum? Always...)
  • Encouraging the child to take responsibility for small household chores, such as helping set the table or picking up toys after playing (Yes! Lots of hand over hand, but we're getting there!)

Hmm. This gives me a lot to think about... and a lot to stress about. I really shouldn't give those darn milestones that much thought, anyways. Who defines a "typical" child!? Really! There is no such thing as "typical" because the "typical" child is "atypical" to his peers in some way. Or so that's my quirky theory.

Am I the only one who runs wild with what someone says about your child? Tell me I'm not the only one with a kiddo on the spectrum who hears the "Cognitive Delay" thing!?! Any suggestions for the situation we're in... besides mommy stressin' out about it!?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Wow, Memes are Us!

Apparently my Autism Mom meme (aka something I did out of boredom) was a hit. Seriously? Thank you, you guys! It has completely made my day!! :)

I had a few people request for an Autism itself meme, and I couldn't resist. Advocacy? Something I'm passionate about? Absolutely happening!!
What my friends think I am- This part makes me sad. Actually, a lot of this meme makes me sad. But the final part makes it worth it, so bare with me.  I chose to do a kid that was getting teased/gossiped about. I see this waay too often in my job, and I HATE it. I actually make the kids that tease a student with autism come in at lunch to do an autism awareness lesson that I've designed for this sole purpose. Awareness, kids!!!

What my team thinks I am- I categorized everyone who is on "Team Autism" (Or, "Team Caydon" as we call it in my house) under one category. It's a fairy common idea that kids with autism are stuck from the real world under some sort of foggy glass. Another sad way to look at it, but we all know that our kids view things from a different perspective...

What society thinks I am- Rain Man! The biggest autism stereotype there is, right!?!

What the government thinks I am- Another advocacy pic. The sign reads, "Toxic Vaccines? Just ask me!"  Which I think shows how this controversial topic effects our kids with autism personally.

What I think I do- I used a junior scientist observing a stack of pennies because of our kid's way of looking at the world in their own unique way. The stack of coins... well, it reminds of how Cay lines up his dinosaurs and sorts everything he can get his cute little stubbers on.

What I really an- I love this poster that I've seen floating around, and what a better time for it! I couldn't put it any better... our kids are SO much more than Autism! The poster speaks for itself:

I also received a request for Autism Dads, so stay tuned. This one shall be interesting... as I have NO CLUE about  this wonderful, but rare, breed of guys! Any ideas??

Friday, February 17, 2012

Autism Mom Meme

I couldn't resist... us moms, we deserve our own little play on the popular meme that's going around. I know it's my perception, but I'm assuming I'm not the only one that experiences these stereotypes.

Here we go:

What my friends think I do- Apparently, we fight meltdowns all day. I would be lying to say that most of my friends have left us hanging... stopped inviting us to playdates and birthdays.. because of Cay's differences. Whether I agree with it or not, it's reality. What's sad is that those who look deeper realize that there is so much more to Cay than meltdowns, most just choose not to. I'm so thankful for the friends who have taken the time to realize that autism doesn't define my child or my parenting, and that meltdowns don't define autism.. it's just a part of our world and the meltdowns are a result of a rough autism moment.

What my mom (and dad) thinks I do- My mom, who has her grandma goggles glued on tight, refuses to think that Caydon's autism is more than a reaction to my facebook addiction. Let's just say... I don't own a computer, and I don't own a T.V.   I read when Cay is asleep. So, really? Autism is a result of my facebook addiction? Umm... ok. sure thing, mom.

What society thinks I do- Oh, my, if looks could kill. My favorite moment is when Cay is having a meltdown or doing something quirky, and someone gives me a dirty look. I am absolutely the person who says something back, often along the lines of "staring won't cure his autism!"   I don't neglect or abuse my child... he has autism, and I have nothing to do with it except for trying to help him out. But, wow, the looks I get when I have to restrain Cay so he doesn't dart in front of a car or hurt himself.   'Nough said.

What the government thinks I do- Hah! I think the Jenny McCarthy stereotype kind of rubs off on people that don't know autism beyond her advocacy and "rain man". The government seems to think that we are all a bunch of anti-vaccine (even though I am.. but I'm so much more complex than this!) fighters who don't have anything better to do with our surplus of time than to fight it. Really? Fight for what my kiddo needs? Absolutely. Fight for it just because? Umm... not so much. Fight excessively? Far from it. I like the time.   Just because biomedical treatments seem to be effective for some kids, and vaccine seems to make sense for others, doesn't mean I'm a green shirt wearing, tree-hugging celebrity. ((I should also mention that this isn't intended to be a McCarthy bash. Kuddos to her for helping her son, even if I would have done it differently...))

What I think I do- Get ready for war! Some days I love autism.. it makes my boy SO unique and awesome. Other days (when he's beating me up and I can't do much to stop it but wait for the change of tides, for example) I absolutely hate it. Then you add on the fact that I teach special education and I'm in a world of autism... and, yes, I go to war with it daily. Maybe I'm not quite as prepared as one that has on her military gear, but some days, I could use it. I am still adamant that I do this, on a 24-7 basis. :)

What I really do- Without a doubt, I love my boy! I can assume that any parent who helps their kiddo that has autism, without a doubt, loves their little one. This picture is actually of Cay and myself, when he was a wee one. I adore it  because Cay had just gotten stitches. No "owie" seemed to phase him for the longest time, and he was happy as a clam when walking into ER to get stitches. After the fact, he was being super sweet and cuddly. Couldn't resist a little photo session, and I'm so glad I did. This picture reminds me that, even when he couldn't communicate love, I know he felt mine and he felt it in return. It makes me smile because it took place before he was able to tell me he loves me, but how can you possibly second guess the relationship the two of us have?? I'm certain, without a doubt, that this relationship goes on for all families affected by autism. We all share the willingness to do anything for our kiddo(s), while sharing the confidence that love can be spoken, even when words can't be used.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I am so VERY excited to share with my bloggy friends the news that Cay has been accepted into a study called, the "Nutritional and Dietary Treatment Study for Children and Adults with Autism," which is sponsored by Arizona State University. 
I had to push a bit for Cay to get accepted (the squeaky mouse gets the cheese, right!?), and then Cay had to "prove" his autism through the ADOS assessment. Let's just say his autism was "proven".. and it's still just as classified at his current level as he was back when he first regressed. I didn't even have to show him our huge stash of files (it's a file-bin purse) collection to them! As in, none of his prior levels mattered. Bitter sweet, ya'll. Am I the only one who goes to sleep dreaming that maybe their kiddo is progressing so much that the "autism" label won't apply anymore? I know, I know. Coming straight out of the mouth of a special education teacher. But... I'm honest, right??!  He does still qualify into the label as "Autistic," even if I do think he is rockin' in his progress. Hmmph...
Awesome Sign from the place that did his assessments! :)


We are accepted. I am THRILLED. I prayed hard about it.. whether it was the right thing to put Cay into (I so do NOT want him to be a guinea pig) and then for us to be accepted if it is God's will. Apparently, it is!  :D

It consists of studying the affect of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, carnitine, digestive enzymes, magnesium sulfate, and the GFCFSF diet. Everything but the food is free! We went to a lengthy meeting (where Caydon told everyone he was make "nesting grounds for [his] cretaceous period dinosaurs,") and came home with a huge copy of the power points.

This is the "jist" of it::

The purpose of this test is to give the DAN! doctors and those of us who believe in Biomedical Treatments for autism a leg up when we approach insurance companies and state legislators. I'm very intrigued!!

So, stay tuned. I am full of anticipation as to what can be a result of this study for Cay. Possibly huge progress, and possibly a little. Either way, regressions are rare... I'm definitely not complaining.
This weekend, I wake Cay up for midnight pee in a bag twice, and syringe it into little tubes (gross), he starts a heavy vitamin supplement,  and then I try to comfort Cay through 13 blood vials Saturday morning. Ick. 

My face...

My little man was featured as a "Face of Autism" back in my Modern Mom, Redefined days. Here is the link... it's kind of old, but still holds a special place in my heart :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

For the Love of Hands

Caydon has a lot of teachers. I mean, really, he has six. The joys of special education: he has an emotionally disabled/ "structured behavior" class, integrated classroom, and daycare. I wanted to do something crafty, cute, easy for Cay, and affordable... but not "cheap". My favorite gift as a teacher is one I can actually use, but that's still from the heart. ;)

This is what I came up with:

It was actually rather easy. Start off buying some of Bath and Body Works' little lotion. We chose the newer scents... They smell amazing! 3 for $10. The sweet lady gave me the clear baggies and ribbon. Free! :) Drop each in and tie with little man's "help".

With paint we already had... Acrylic.. We stamped out little man's cute hand onto card stock. Free... Already own! :) Then I cut out the shape.

Using Cay's markers, we came up with corniness using the terms "high five," "hands down," "you deserve a hand," etc. He proudly wrote his name... His newest accomplishment.

With a hole puncher, we tied the hand to the bag, and finished with a bow.


Total of about $22. The only expense was the lotion. 
Time spent was about one hour... the paint dried quickly. :)

Cat Lady in Training

Right now I'm feeling like a bitter old hag. I mean, seriously. Can't we just skip tomorrow? Or, can I at least take the day off from work? I have been practicing being excited for the cheesiness my students will surely want to talk about when their boyfriend gives them their carnations and dollar store chocolates. Keh. I told you I'm bitter. Especially since I really should be married about now. I should be having my third... as Caydon so willing tells me. He even asked me frequently if I have a baby in my tummy. Nope!

Patience and contentment are hard! Especially when everyone I hang out with is married with another newborn or one on the way. I really am trying to be excited for them, and not just totally jealous. But seriously, everyone I know is expecting. Just the other week I told my friend, the last one who only has one kiddo, that she better not get pregnant so I'm not the only one having baby fever. Besides, who else can I drink my one margarita... All it takes... with? So, we go to a sushi restaurant where we can eat our raw food and drink our martinis, and she ends up telling me that she couldn't participate upon arrival. Yep, I jinxed it.

Stupid day tomorrow. And even stupider boys.

Cheers to being bitter. And thank you, God, for chocolate. Chocolate wine, that is...

I need to start liking cats.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Snip, without the Buzz

Autism. Haircuts. Nail clippings. Shampooing hair.

Never a good combo. 
Well, at least not until lately.

Today, I successfully gave Cay a tear-free haircut! Oh, yes, this mommy did!!

I recently discovered that he is afraid of certain noises, touch, and what he isn't familiar with. Surprising for a kiddo that has sensory processing disorder? (SPD- something most kids with autism have that basically means that their senses are hyper and difficult to process.)  Not so much.

The first big feat we had were his nails.. as mentioned in my blog before this. I let his nails grow out into claws. Seriously. Claws. They were disgusting. He looked like some poor neglected child that CPS was waiting to take away. Too bad he is the OPPOSITE of neglected. Anyways, I gave him a break from nail clippings so that he would "forget" about the fear... while, in the meantime, clipping my own non-stop around him with a smile on  my face. This is how I first convinced him to give clipping the nails, without screaming in fear, a shot. When it comes time to do his own, I give him a tight secure hug (he's sitting on my lap) and he has one hand on my hand (the one holding the clippers) and the other hand is where I'm holding one of his fingers. I tell him he's "helping" me get his nails shorter. Once we get through a few nails, it's sticker and phone time! I then do a few more nails the next day, and the next, and then the next. Ideally, this makes it a consistently scare-free event, and I reinforce it with lots of praise after (including a sticker/phone time). 

As for the shampoo part, after months of only dry-shampooing his hair (yuck) and months of swimming lessons, he now tries to do his own hair. The bad news is that his hair looks greasy because he doesn't quite wash out the bubbles. The good news? We don't have to fight for it, his hair isn't as nasty/flaky as it was when we were in our dry-shampoo phase, and his hair smells edible. Mmmmm.

 Now, we just need to work on my scissor skills. But, at least we've taken care of the hardest part..