Monday, September 28, 2015

Every Moment is a Teachable Moment

So this weekend GP and I went to Target and we "met" our very first Transgender Teen. A very pretty young lady in customer service who had the booming voice of a young man going through puberty. I had been in line for a little while so I was not surprised when she spoke to me. However, GP had been wandering around and when the girl addressed him he LITERALLY gasped. He quickly caught himself and thankfully whispered," Um, that voice". I pretended not to hear him and finished my business. We walked away and I took this opportunity to talk to him about being Transgender. 
How do you explain being transgender to a developmentally delayed young man? The same way you explain homosexuality. As simply as possible. 
I explained to GP that that young lady was girl who was born a boy, and transgender people are people who are born with opposite sex body parts. So her deep voice was probably just a sign that she was going through puberty and that would change later, when she was older.
He smiled, and said, "Oh, OK. She talks like a boy." I told him, "Some transgender people look like boys but talk like girls. That's OK too." 
He smiled and I kid you not, he said, "I'm going to Newbury comics."... end of story. 
And just like that, we now know that there are boys, girls, gay people and transgender people.
AND it's no big deal. I am so grateful for that young lady, and how she helped me explain what I thought would be so complicated, in such a simple way. 
She's just a girl, that was born a boy and now works at Target. 
And I'm grateful for the way GP accepts everyone, without prejudice. 
If only others would accept him that way too...

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I Still Believe...

A few years ago I told GP that Santa didn't bring teenagers presents, he only brought presents to children and that parents were responsible for gifting to teenagers. He didn't believe me, so he went to talk it out with Santa on one of his weekend day trips with his Dad. Ummm. That was a problem, Gino had no idea what Santa had agreed to bring him. LOL

For the last few years I have been the Scrooge in my home (the "Non believer" in GP's eyes), so he has gone to talk with Santa "on the down low" with Gino. This year, Gino has moved away and GP asked me to take him to talk to Santa. 
I once again, explained that Santa will not bring him presents , and he once again gave me the "yeah, yeah, whatever you say" look, and explained, "I need to check on the naughty list". I asked him, "What about the naughty list?" and he explained that he needed to check that he WASN'T on the naughty list. OMG! That was the funniest thing ever... 
The saying, "Dear Santa, I can explain..." came to mind. I just had to laugh, and then I took him to "check" on that, LOL

This is GP having his "talk" with Santa this year. I think he was explaining his wrong-doings and hoping that he could talk his way off the naughty list. But I think he might have snuck in some "Amazon gift cards" in there, maybe after his remorseful speech.

Every year, when GP goes to see Santa and Santa hugs him and tells him whatever it is that he tells him that makes him light up like a Christmas tree, I receive a gift; a special gift that money cannot buy, the generosity of a stranger, who brings joy to my son's life. And every year I wonder if that Santa knows how much I love him, for putting on that suit and being so patient and attentive with my son... and for helping me believe in the magic of Christmas. 

It's the season of giving. I think so many people forget that the best gift is the one we can't buy... time, love, attention. 
I hope you receive them all this season...and you just might,
if you still believe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It won't Be Long Now...

It won't be long now before the trees start going up at the mall and the velvet chair comes out to greet the little ones (and Big ones in GP's case), and Autism Speaks just announced that it has partnered with Simon Property Group to offer children with special needs a time to go and meet up with the Big Guy. This is such a fantastic opportunity for parents to take their kiddos in and let them enjoy their visit without the pressures of "fitting in" and rushing them. 
I have so many stories that I could tell, but they all bring me to tears so I will just say Thank you, Autism Speaks and Simon PG. You have no idea how much this means to moms like me. 
Please share this information with any parent you know who has a child with disabilities. Let's not squander this wonderful gift of one on one time for our kiddos with Santa. 
For more info on this go to:
I'm so excited about this, and I'm sure I'm not alone. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

If only I would get what I paid for....

Call me crazy but I am a sucker for a sweet gift. I see it, I love it, I gift it. Done. A few weeks ago I received Williams-Sonoma Halloween catalog and I fell in love with these. 
How stink in' cute are they, huh? Oh, and they were mini's so how could you possibly go wrong? They're "figure friendly", and they're a fruit, ahem... ok, so fruit might be a stretch but hey, they're still "mini" (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!). 
Needless to say, I just loved them and I ordered them as a gift for my sister who like me, loves all things Halloween. I didn't tell her about it, I figured it would be more fun if she just received them, out of the blue, so to speak. So I waited, and I waited, and I waited, and no word on my gift. It had been so long that I was beginning to think that maybe they hadn't received my order. Hmmm. I'd have to go through my emails and see if I had received a confirmation. Too much going on, so I put it on the back burner for the weekend. THEN, just yesterday, my sister (who was scheduled to arrive last night for a weekend visit with me, calls me and says she had received the caramel apples and thanked me. She says she thinks I might have ordered them a while ago because the card read, "I can't wait to see you, in a few weeks!"We had a laugh about it and she packed them in her suitcase to share (you can't leave caramel apples in the fridge for days on end, they're perishable, ahem!)
So.... when she unpacked her suitcase last night and handed me these to put in the fridge I was a little taken aback.
Is it just me, or do  you see what the problem is? Here, let's do a side by side...
Needless to say I was on the phone with Customer Service first thing this morning. And yes, they are sending a replacement, but the whole thing was that it was a surprise... a HALLOWEEN surprise, not an "I look like I could have been bought at a supermarket" surprise. The lady at customer service asked me what apples my sister received, I told her she received, "The I'm too ugly for your website apples! The I could have been picked up at Walmart's produce department apples. The I'm so NOT Halloween apples... with the cheap red twisty tie bow!" and she told me "We do sell red bow apples on our website." She did. I went back and checked, and no they do not! 
They're too freakin' ugly to be sold at WS. 
OK, I'm breathing...breathing...
Sometimes I get all worked up over stuff like this because when you send a present based on what you see in an image, you expect the recipient to get what you paid for. I didn't pay $30 for four crappy looking apples. I paid for cute little apples with spider web drizzle and Halloween bows. I got big clunky apples with red twisty ties. I mean really, that was not what I paid for, and if I had seen these side by side I would have thought they were comparing Walmart to WS. 
I shop at both, I know the difference. 
This happens to me more often that I care to admit. I order this gorgeous bouquet, I pay extra to send the "premium" size and then I get a picture and I think, "If that's premium what the hell is regular?" but for the recipient it's a beautiful surprise so I "let it go"... and I have to tell you, I have just recently decided that I will no longer "Let it go". I will get what I pay for or complain; because $65 for a bouquet of flowers that looks like the $9.95 bouquet from the supermarket is not OK. I would like to pay for Mini Halloween Caramel apples and have my recipient receive something "close" to mini Halloween Caramel apples, and not some "generic looking, red twisty tie apples, I could have picked up at Walmart and sent in a flat rate envelope for half the price" apples. 
I would really just like the recipients of my gifts to get what I paid for... is that too much to ask?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School

     As some children head out to school for the first time and more and more pictures of them come up on my Facebook wall, I stop and wonder what this milestone must be like for parents of a typical child. 
     I only have one child (God knows what he does, I could not have handled more than that) and my experience, although life changing, was not typical. GP was non verbal, and there was no excitement. There was only dread. There was the thought that while other children his age stayed home and played blissfully, he would be in school struggling to communicate with strangers. He wasn't even potty trained. It was such a sad time. I remember sitting in my car and sobbing uncontrollably after leaving him at school. Then, I remember deciding that I would not leave him, and staying in school with him until I weaned myself off the drop off. It took a long time...
Again, it was a heart wrenching experience. There were no pictures, no smiling faces or Disney lunch boxes. It was such a horrible, horrible time. 
My FB wall has smiling faces, excited children, happy parents and once again I stop and think, "What if???" I will never know. 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

It's Not About Falling, It's About Getting UP!

I read an article this morning on Autism Speak's website about a local shop that had custom built a bike for a child with autism and it made me think of GP's biking journey.

When GP was a little boy and he was of "biking age" he already had a diagnosis. He was still nonverbal and had more tantrums than I would like to relive, but we bought him his first bike anyway. Not knowing that his sensory system was not only affecting his learning, but his gross motor skills as well, we went about facing this milestone without much forethought. We bought him a bike with training wheels, a helmet, elbow pads, knee pads, and everything but a tushy pad to keep him injury free, and off we went to the culdesac behind our house. Turns out all the pads in the world couldn't keep him on the seat. Seemed like the seat was too hard;  he cried and wanted off... we tried a few times, and gave up. A few years later we bought him a mountain bike (with training wheels of course), and by this time he WAS verbal and he told us in no uncertain terms that he couldn't do it. The training wheels were too small, the handlers (Gino and I) too inexperienced to help him navigate the training wheeled bike with him on it, and he was having none of it. He wanted off... and he was done with it. Discouraged and thinking it was just one more thing he would never do, I was saddened but had bigger fish to fry (like multiplication, division and fractions), I was done too. 

A couple of years later I found a website for children with special needs and I found out that GP wasn't the only child with special needs who could not master the bike BUT that there was a solution... a tricycle. WooHOO! I was totally psyched. I had never even considered a tricycle. I thought they were for old people and for some reason it just never crossed my mind, duh. So I told my then-husband that I wanted to buy him a trike (not an inexpensive suggestion, mind you)
Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that a tricycle would cause so much arguing in a home. I had no idea that a riding a tricycle would  "make him (GP) look like a weirdo". I thought it was all about the kid and enabling him to do something FUN... ugh. I was so angry. I relented and kept the peace by not making my son "look like a weirdo". For years (and I do mean that literally) I thought about the trike and how much fun he might have zooming around with the wind in his hair....

A few years ago I got divorced (after eighteen years of marriage) and not having anyone to answer to, I bought GP his first tricycle. Hoping he wouldn't be self-conscious (now that he was almost a young adult), I took him to Walmart and after a short test drive in the store, I bought him a tricycle. 
It sat in the garage for a day or two but he eventually decided he'd give it a go.

*Here he's thinking about getting on.*
*Now he's struggling to get up the hill without Mom pushing him.*

It was very challenging at first, even with the large wheels and the years of working out to build his gross motor skills, but he now zooms around like Sonic the Hedgehog...
Words cannot express the joy I feel when I see him with his hair stuck to his face and his shirt drenched in sweat from peddling away. It's something I never though he would do.  I wish that I hadn't been discouraged by someone else's opinion and more importantly, that I wouldn't have given up without trying;  because that's what I did, and that's something I work really hard to forgive myself for, and probably will work at, for the rest of my life. Oh but life's lessons are usually hard and it's just one of many... 

But back to the point of the story. GP took his first real "spill" a few months ago when he discovered that his tricycle has a "speed limit". He was banged up real good with scrapes all the way up his arm, and leg. Not a pretty sight. The worst part was he said he "couldn't ride again". And I told him that he had to go riding again because, "Everybody falls down, Gene Paul. It's not about falling, it's about getting up.  When you get up, you are the winner. If you don't get up, you lose.  So get on the bike and peddle slowly if you want, but you HAVE to get back on." All bandaged up he got back on his trike the next day, and said he would only go "very slowly"... yeah, that lasted about thirty minutes. After that it was WOOHOO, all the way down the hills at the Edgewood Cemetery. 
*Flying down the hills at the Edgewood Cemetery in Nashua, NH. 
He's but a little spec in the distance*

I truly believe that riding a tricycle is a lot like living a full life. You have to work hard to learn how to stay on, then you ride along, then you think you know it all, then you fall down, and then you learn that you didn't know it all, and you learn to proceed with caution... but still have fun. I am so glad that he fell, and he got up. A painful lesson for sure, but proof positive that it's not about falling, it's about getting up. 
May you always get up, because as sure as day turns into night, we all fall...we just have to remember that to win, you must get up! =)

Monday, May 26, 2014

Baby Steps...

After two years in my new house I am just now starting to think of "living" in this new space. Seems as if I have done nothing but put out fires since I moved in and I am now at a point where the fire is burning slow and steady. The fires are still there because there is ALWAYS something that needs to be done, but it's nice when it doesn't need to be done "yesterday".  Last month I actually found my dinning room table. TADAAAA!
I even cleared the mantle of "things to be put away" and put some of my treasures on it too. That was a long time coming, to put it nicely. This is what it looked like when I was done. 
I've done some "tweaking" since then and things have changed up a little but for the most part. 
I think I can live with it as it stands... for now.
Turning a house into a home takes time. I think I am working my way there... 
but I think that although I figured it might take small steps to get there, it will actually be more like baby steps... slow and steady I go.
Now if I could only put up that darn wallpaper in my kitchen....
June project???