Thursday, December 8, 2011

The darndest things…

I love watching Bill Cosby’s “Kids say the darndest things”. Jackson might not say the darndest things, but he definitely “does” the darndest things. Those things lead you to wonder where on earth did he learn how to do that?  My favorites are the ones that amuse Jackson the most giving him the contagious belly roll laugh.  The newest of these magical darndest things I have no idea why or where he got it from. If Jackson finds a tissue (used or clean), drier sheet, or cloth of some sort he will lift my shirt to pretend wash my belly.  Sometimes he scrubs it really hard and it leaves scratch marks.  I try to get him to wash Sara’s belly and he will for a short period of time, but he is more interested in washing my belly.  He has made it into his own little game and I am not sure where on earth he learned that.

The other day Jackson was over at his grandma SInky’s and grandfather Patrick’s.  Jackson’s favorite game to play at their house is playing ball on the stairs.  He loves to drop the ball between the wall and the banister so you can retrieve it and toss it back up to him.  Recently grandma and grandpa had their basement refinished and Jackson loves to run around silly like in the big space.  As we were watching him he was pushing his ball around while running he decided to roll over the top of it.  He didn’t do a full summersault or anything, but his head kind of skid across the carpet a ways…about a foot.  I thought he would stand up crying, hurt, or having carpet burn on his forehead, but he didn’t.  He thought it was fun and laughed as he continued to do this new trick.  We laughed along after we saw that he was OK.

Jackson is learning more signs thanks to his therapists and our hard work.  He has these baby sign language flash cards that he absolutely loves (I love Amazon: Baby Flash Cards).  The flash cards have a picture with the word on one side and the sign with the word on the other.  They are very colorful and grab his attention. Besides dumping the cards out of the box or making it rain with the cards Jackson has 5 favorite cards: Duck, Bubbles, Bath, Dog, and Hat. He will dump the cards out and look through all the cards to find those particular cards. When he finds them he gets really excited. He can say or make sounds for some of the words like duck and bubbles (bubbas) or he will do the sign for the card. Sometimes he will do the sign and say the word at the same time. The sign for hat is like putting your hat on top of your head. Since I wear hats all the time this is the same sign they are using for him to say my name, Nana.  We pronounce it like Nah-Nah not pronounced like the nickname for someone’s grandma. Lately I have noticed that he is also reading the words besides jut looking at the picture.  The duck card was upside down and he pulled it from the deck saying duck. My kid can read! When I got home from work yesterday Jackson started feverishly doing the sign Nana.  He was really excited to see me, although it took me a minute to realize that he was saying my name and not saying hat.
Besides his sign langue flash cards, he is using signs more often.  He is also pairing signs together mostly with please, which is good because being polite is important.  Last night he signed, “Cracker please”.  It made me chuckle because one of our favorite comedians, Mike Birbiglia, who does a skit on Cracker/Cracka Please. Although Jackson means the food; Cheez-It’s to be exact. Sometimes I don’t know what sign he is trying which has to be super frustrating for him at times.  I always feel bad and sometimes have to call Sara in to interpret.  He was making this sign I wasn’t familiar with, eventually I figured out that he wanted to play with my cell phone.  Seriously though, is there a baby class they take in the womb on how to use a cell phone?  I saw this with my nephews when they were toddlers, hand them the phone and they are calling people, texting, taking photos, changing your ringtones, setting calendar appointments, downloading games, turning it into a ninja weapon….  It is truly amazing what toddlers can do on those cellular devices, mostly better than most adults.

When we got the Christmas tree out this year Jackson walked up to it and started helping separate the branches and he pointed to the lights. Well maybe he was just feeling the branches, but it looked like he was separating them to me.  Pointing to lights might not be a big deal in most people’s minds, but for Jackson pointing was not an easy task to learn and at times he still struggles with pointing to things that he wants.  I was very excited that he pointed to the lights. The tree skirt has bells on the end, he really enjoyed shaking them. I say he was practicing for his performance.  We tried to put a few ornaments on the tree, got our fancy camera out to capture the moment, but Jackson enjoyed the noisy boxes in which the ornaments live in.  With some hand over hand assistance we put two ornaments on the tree and found that they came off more quickly than they were put on.  So we placed the two up high where he cannot reach and that is as far as we have gotten so far this year.  We might try again when is not around and see if he notices, otherwise we will have a top half decorated tree this year, which I am totally fine with.
This post could go on about all the darndest things that Jackson does….I think I will make it a monthly special and document them as my son does the darndest things.  I will end this post with the vamped up game of Peek-A-BOO!  I don’t know if this is a Fragile X thing or not, but Jackson loves to be startled.  He will close himself behind a door and open it expecting you to say Boo!  He will push you behind something, run away, and come back expecting you to say jump out and say Boo! He absolutely loves it when you startle him to the point where he jumps or falls down, like Sara’s does when she sees a spider.  He will even close himself up in a dark room and open the door waiting for you to jump out and get him.  I have never in my life met a toddler who loves to be startled or scared, but Jackson will hysterically laugh while playing this game.  I think he is receiving some sort of sensory input out it or he is becoming an adrenaline junkie. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

I’ve caught the Holiday Spirit bug

I haven’t been giving myself much time to blog these days and it has almost been a month since my last post. To be honest, I have been in funk.  The season change from Fall to Winter gets me every year.  It is dark when I leave for work and it is dark when I get home from work.  Usually when I sit in front of the computer to write a blog it comes out easily, but the last few times I ended up just staring at a blank Word document with the flashing cursor blinking at me.  Feeling uninspired even though my son gives me plenty to be inspired about each and every day.  I have just felt..  Meh..  but all that has changed after this past weekend..

First before I get to what has inspired me to get back to my blog….I want to rewind back to Thanksgiving.  The past few years we have been trying to find a happy medium for the Holidays by trying to figure out the best way to celebrate with both of our families.  Sara and I are both very fortunate that both our families live within less than 20 minutes.  The past few years for Thanksgiving we have either split the day between the two different families, celebrated at one families house on Turkey day and then the other families the next day, and we have also given hosting a try by having both families come to our house and enjoy having everyone together.  Sadly none of these three things have worked out so well and have been very stressful on the both of us.  This year we went with a different approach all together, we hosted just dessert. 

Thanksgiving Dinner
We cooked a meal for just the three of us which consisted of a Smoked Cajun Maple glazed turkey breast, sautéed green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted squash with apples and cranberries, and croissants.  If you mouth isn’t watering yet…here is a picture to get those salivary glands a pumping.  After we enjoyed our meal, we had time to relax before both our families showed up with many different desserts to share.  Sara’s dad made homemade apple pie, my mom made chocolate cake with cherries and whipped cream on top, my sister made pumpkin cheesecake bars, my sister-in-law made chocolate cherry cake with chocolate icing, and we supplied a pumpkin pie and my homemade oatmeal cookies. It was a wonderful dessert table to say the least.  Sara and I took turns with entertaining Jackson.  He was super excited to see his cousins Owen and Andrew. Jackson also loves to see his GG, my grandma.  Our house isn’t that big, but we managed to get everyone in and hopefully comfortable.  My brother Alex was not able to attend because he works for Wal-Mart and had to prepare for Black Friday. Jackson had a tendency of getting too close to Owen from time to time and he had a few hair pulling incidents. Other than that we had a wonderful evening and for the amount of people in our house Jackson did very well. It was a wonderful day all around.  

Jackson's new recliner
We did some black Friday shopping at some furniture stores.  Sara finally broke down and said I could have a recliner.   Oddly Jackson does well in all stores accept furniture stores.  I haven’t figured out if that is due to the lighting, the annoying sales people, or the fact that these stores are not stroller friendly.  I am sure he picks up on my anxiety in these stores as well.  After a few stops, we opted to wait until we could discuss what we truly wanted and we were home by lunch time.  Jackson fought taking a nap and got into his restless period.  So Sara called her mom to see if she would watch him for a little bit while we gave a few more furniture stores a try.  All I wanted in my recliner was brown, easy spill maintenance (fake leather or microfiber), rocking, and soft hug-me comfort.  Sara wanted a chaise rocker. We went to Ashley first, then Weekends Only.  I really hate going into Weekends Only, those sales people are like evil vultures.  Last time we were their this guy stalked us, we told him we were just looking, and when we were ready to buy something he wasn’t any where in sight so we found someone who was available and not creepy.  This creepy guy’s sonar went off from across the showroom floor as the sales woman was filling out our paperwork he came from out of nowhere and started yelling at her about stealing his customer right in front of us.  We made mention of how inappropriate and unprofessional he was from the beginning as we were filling out paper work. He continued to get irate in front of his manager.  So I get super nervous every time I go in that store.   Luckily this time it was crowded and the customer to sales associate ratio was 5 customers to 1 sales person.  The selection of recliners was 4 times that of Ashley.   Then there it was… a brown, microfiber, hugging, rocking, chaise recliner.  It was love at first sit.  Sara gave it a try, it was heavenly.  It took awhile, but we were able to find a sales associate and it was meant to be, only one left in the warehouse besides the floor model.  A quick call to Sara’s dad to see if we could borrow the truck and it was purchased, picked up, and hauled up the stairs in our home.  I was so proud of Sara for helping me get it nestled into it’s spot.  Not only do I love the chair, but Jackson loves it too.  He watches his Mickey Mouse Club House while rocking back in forth for 30 minutes or more.  It has been a wonderful addition to the family.  The rest of the weekend we were all so exhausted.  Jackson is finally over the day light savings hump and sleeping his normal schedule.  We even got a family nap in on Sunday. 

Jackson enjoying the stage
This past week has been full of events.  Tuesday night we went to have milk and cookies with Santa hosted by TouchPoint.  We went last year shortly following Jackson’s diagnosis of PDD-NOS. The event has face painting, a comic magician, a balloon animal/character artist, Christmas carolers, plenty of milk and cookies, and Santa.  Last year we had melt down issues when waiting in line for Santa, but we managed to get Jackson on his lap.  This year we knew it would be difficult.  We brought the portable DVD player loaded with Mickey Mouse Club House and plenty of Jackson’s favorite treats.  We were early this year hoping to get a good jump in line, only this year as we got in line they changed it and decided to call the children up by table.  So we went from 4th in line, to back at our table waiting patiently.  The line kept getting longer and they stopped calling tables at some point. There was little boy at our table that was having some major sensory issues and his mom was doing such an amazing job calming him.  We asked him if he wanted to share the Mickey Mouse Club House movie, but he wasn’t very interested in that.  He was much older than Jackson, so maybe not his cup of tea.  His mom sat with him like we did with Jackson as his dad took his sisters to the line.  I thought I would take Jackson over to the open area and let him run, but he was obsessed with the stage that was set up that had pre-decorated theme Christmas trees for the Autism fundraiser which was the next day.  I let him go up and down the stairs, but feared him bolting to one the trees and knocking it over. A volunteer came over to say hi to us.  She was in love with Jackson.  Come to find out she works in the play room at TouchPoint and started working a few weeks after we went through the parent training program. Jackson was pulling my hair a lot while we were talking.   The volunteer leaned in too close to Jackson and he swiped off her glasses.  As I was saying sorry she said not to worry she was used to that.  It is nice to be able to go out in public and not have to worry about explaining that your son has some impulsive behaviors.  Sara came over to us and we took him to mingle with some of the other kids.  He wasn’t interested in them, but the DVD player was working well.  We went back to the table and I left for a few moments to go get some more cookies.  When I came back, Jackson was pulling Sara’s hair and a volunteer was helping her.  Jackson did not like that I walked away from the table.  The volunteer was able help free Sara’s hair from his hands.  As Sara was thanking the volunteer Sara said, “I don’t think we are going to be able to make it to see Santa.”  With that the volunteer walked away and returned with a gift for Jackson. I almost cried.  He got a Teddy Bear that when you squeeze the hand the cheeks and belly light up.  He loved it and started giving it kisses right way.  He was getting really tired, so we left the event shortly after.  Hair pulling aside, Jackson was all smiles and seemed to really enjoy the event, we did too.

Friday night we went to a fundraiser “Holiday Lights of Love Gala” hosted by Action for Autism featuring special holiday performances by the children of Howard Park Center (Jackson’s school) and the American School.  The world-renowned artist Jesse Barnes was at the event and auctioned off several of his amazing paintings.  There were raffles and silent auctions throughout the event.  The night started off with the children performing before dinner was served.  I brought my video camera hoping to be able capture Jackson’s theatrical debut.  Since Jackson was performing, we received free tickets, so our table was at the back of the room, but that just meant I could stand and film.  All I can say is that Jackson completely stole the show.  His little learners class, which consists 2 year olds of half typical and half with special needs, was by far the cutest of the evening.  I wish I would have had my Tripod, so I apologize for my amateur shaky video.  I am also upset that in the middle of the performance the camera picked up on something else to focus on besides the children, but I was able to get it back in a few seconds.  All of the other video I took that night did not have the blur out problem, so I blame the Hamilton Black Cloud of luck.  Either way I was able to capture some amazing footage.  Jackson was not intimidated by the 100 plus people staring up at the stage.  He shook his bells without throwing them, well until it was over at least.  He smiled, he laughed, he danced, and most importantly he truly had a blast. He even made the crowd giggle at one point.  Jackson absolutely loved the stage.  Not that it makes any difference, but all the children that were on stage with Jackson were his typical peers, he was the only one with special needs.  Jackson did so well and I couldn't be more proud.  When all the performances were finished all the children handed out ornaments they made in class to all the attendees.  Jackson’s teacher stopped by our table with him in tote and he could care less that we were there.  He was trying to get her to take him back to the stage.  It warms my heart to see my son taking after his mother’s love for the stage and theater arts. Until Friday night, I was not ready for Christmas at all, but Jackson has definitely put me in the spirit.