Wednesday, May 31, 2006

One Final Contest Note

The paper came out today covering the final round of the vocal competition. I was dreading it. It wasn't too bad, actually, it made me quite teary-eyed. Thanks, again, to everyone who came out...this is for you:

From today's Wednesday Journal article by John Rice:

"No one received more vocal support from the audience than MommyGuilt with her legions of fan screaming 'Tina,' MG took third place with her hand clapping version of 'Son of A Preacher Man."

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Melting in the Midwest

HOLY Mother of Pearl!!!!!!!!!! Yes, it was HOT this weekend - uncomfortable, hard to breathe thick air, bad hair (gee, thanks Humidity), just being dressed makes you want to pass out, oh please let's go grocery shopping just so I can stand in the freezer section for a while, too hot to cook inside and too hot to stand over a grill outside, I love you truly but don't touch me cuz I'm all sticky and sweaty....getting my drift? UGH it was AAAWWWWWFUL! I don't have my window AC units in yet because, well, this is Chicago - it could snow tomorrow.

My longhaired Obnoxiously Cute Furball (OCF) was absolutely miserable. She is the younger and, usually much more energized of my two cats. She will pounce without provocation on Charley (OCF #1), do laps up and down the stairs, over the know, cat stuff. For the last three days, she hasn't moved except to voice her extreme discontent. I mean, her discomfort is like a human standing outside at high noon in the middle of the desert while wearing a full length fur coat - accessorized, of course with a fur hat, mukluks, fur lined gloves, and the biggest warmest scarf. Suffice it to say she was one pissed off kitty. She wouldn't touch her food, wouldn't play, wouldn't even move to a cooler spot unless we put her there ourselves. She was NOT amused. The only place she was even slightly content was on the cool tile of the first floor bathroom floor.

We were all miserable, cranky, and tired. It's amazing what a little heat and humidity can do to a person. By far, though, SmallBoy suffered the most. What I find interesting about the sensory issues that go along with his Asperger's is that he can absolutely tolerate the cold in the winter, we have to convince him sometimes to wear a coat; in the summer and the heat, TOTALLY different story. He feels it 100x more than any of us do. He can't focus at all, he gets irritated much faster, the overload comes on almost instantaneously. He becomes more tired than we do, but knowing that he "shouldn't" feel like that gets him worked up and he refuses to sucumb to that and just snooze for a bit. He was bored on Saturday, or maybe it was Sunday and asked to go to the park. It was scorching, so I tried to persuade him with other things - I even went so far as to offer him video game time (which he turned down...woo hoo!!!). So, off to the park we went. We had a riot. He ran up and down the sled hill, all over the soccer field, played on the equipment until he had had enough of the sun (about 20mins) and we went home. I suppose I was more than okay with that, not so much because of the heat, but because he had me crawling through the equipment, playing chase with the camera. He took that one of me.

This morning, back to school, was rough. The kids had Friday off also, so he had to readjust after a four day weekend. Yeah, that's a pain in the butt to begin with, but his was a long, busy, and sticky hot weekend. I woke him up at 6:45, like I always do. I woke him up at 6:50, like I always do. Usually he's up and getting dressed by then and is ready to give me a kiss by the time I leave at 7:10. Not today, but that's not usually anything to panic about. I woke him at 6:55, 7:00, 7:05, 7:07, 7:09, and on my way out the door. Nope. I talked to PC this morning and SmallBoy wanted nothing to do with waking up until 7:55 - 5 minutes before the bell rings at school. Needless to say, he was totally panicked and set his day down the wrong path. He seemed to be handling things a bit better this afternoon, and, by about 7:30, the temperature had dropped almost 20degrees. I'd bet it's in the upper 60's right now, low 70's. We just had a storm blow through, and the breeze is fantastic. He's tucked up in bed now. His new favorite way to sleep is in his sensory tunnel. I'll get a pic and post it for you next time.

Tonight, it has cooled. We walked into Girl's recital at 6:15, and in less than 45 minutes breathe again. The house is open and the breeze is the same refreshing feeling that comes with diving into an ice cold pool on a reallllllly hot day. The tensions, real or heat-induced, have all but vanished and it seems, once again like a nice calm end of May evening. The storms have passed, but with the weather conditions going back and forth, who knows what may spring up tomorrow. I think I'll take what I can get for now and be thankful for this welcome respite. I think I'll take advantage of this perfect sleeping weather and do just that....sleep.

Friday, May 26, 2006

And The Winner Is........

Not me. I placed third. Fortunately, the 2nd & 1st place winners were absolutely phenomenal and deserving of their awards. The contest was a huge exercise in trust, in stress management, and in learning lessons.

I went into last night with a poor choice of song for my vocals (had I had the Aretha Franklin version of the backing track to Son of A Preacher Man, I would have been able to breathe some more life into it, but alas - no time for what ifs), lack of preparedness (hell, I work full time and have a family to tend), and a big ol' hole where my confidence used to be, especially because I knew going into the evening that I was screwed on the song and that there was nothing I could do but give it everything I had (which by 6:00 yesterday, wasn't much). I came out devastated (oh you should have seen me - the oldest contest in ANY category bawling like one of the little kids), I came out feeling old, I came out feeling not good enough. I knew that my performance was just...UGH...I know that none of that is an issue, but I just really wanted to be mad and upset for a while. I'd like to blame the judging, but it wasn't that - my performance last night was SOOOOOOOO not worth first place, and it would have been terribly unfair to the other deserving contestants if I had won based on my previous performances and not this one (cuz they were REALLLLLY good).

My woes, sadness, and tears were all given a big reality check this morning when my boss called to see how I had done. I told her that I had come in third, and she told me that she was really proud of me, and she genuinely meant it. I've heard this same line from my family and friends too; the difference being, my boss was on her way for chemotherapy for a God-awful cancer that's tearing her apart. Talk about putting things into perspective. Yes, I may be 36 - very late in life as far as the music biz is concerned, I have a family that needs me - a little difficult to pick them all up and keep them on the road on a tour, and I have the rest of my life ahead of me. Yeah, the next few days will be tough, smiling, and telling everyone that I came in third, having my whole town, parish, and colleagues read in the paper that I didn't win as expected (even by the woman who was the head of the studio running the contest). I'll get by. I'll live another day. I'll stand with my head held high and the support and love of my family and friends. I'll go find another contest that will be more money so I can donate to Cure Autism Now and The Alzheimer's Association and my children's college fund. I'll go play with my band tomorrow night and rock the house. Life goes on.

Lots of hugs, loves and thank yous to my family and my friends who came out for me, who voted for me to get me as far as I did. PC & Girl - thank YOU for making me do this, for making me get past the fear and to just suck it up an do it. Thank you to PC, Girl, Large & SmallBoys for dealing with my freak outs, my unbelievable stress over song choices, wardrobe choices and MY meltdowns - I love you so much, I can't even put it into words. Mama - thank you for Gram, thank you for your love, your support, your push, your pep talks, your hugs. Dad - thank you for your song choice, for getting KR, for being there every single time, for your love and support and pep talks. Meem & Poppy - thanks for being there for me, for the love, for letting me be a big baby last night, for PC and all of the things you've given him to help him be such a wonderful man, for ET and raising him to be such a great guy to let me cry on his shoulder, to give me his famous pep talks. K & J - for, you know, WHATEVER! Snood, my other "daughter", thanks to you for coming to the rounds, voting for Pedro, cheering me up, and keeping me going. For YOU - my blogging buddies, thank you SO much for your support, your good vibes, your song suggestions, your comments - this stress is over, so I should have some more time to return to writing.

PC, my Love - thank you. Typed, it holds no feeling, but you know absolutely how much is there. SmallBoy - thank you for being SO incredibly patient and for your unending supply of hugs and for all of your "GO MOM!" yells. LargeBoy - thanks for your HUGE support, for your love, for your technological help, and for having so much faith in me. Girl - as you're heading off to camp this weekend, take my gratitude, my love with you. Thank you for being a cheerleader for me and for keeping PC sane after listening to all of my endless rants and freak outs. I know that I'm not saying nearly enough to all of you, but thank you most of all for believing in me and for your love.


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Two-fer

My older two children seem to finally be awakening to SmallBoy. I posted for you LargeBoy's paper on an "Aspergian Utopia", which he wrote for class after reading Curious Incident. Girl had a chance to do some extra credit for her English class (she didn't want "just an A"), so she decided to write a paper on Asperger's. She did the research - seriously, I have my own little library collected - and edited as much as she could to make it easy for her classmates to understand without putting in TOO much information. The second part of her paper talked about SmallBoy. I want to share that with you. She told me not to cry - and I didn't till the end.

My brother SmallBoy has Asperger’s Syndrome. Being his sibling can sometimes be easy and can sometimes be hard. It is hard to deal with him when he goes into a fit about the littlest things going wrong, especially when it is in school, or when I have to babysit him. It is also hard when I have to comfort him, and just do not know what to say.

Even though there are things that my brother does that are hard to handle, he also has some great qualities to him. My brother is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. He can name all the EL stops down to the city, before we even get on the train. He can remember all the turns and streets we take to a certain person’s house.

Things to do to help people with Asperger’s are making routines and schedules, and sitting down and taking the time to explain things slowly to them so they understand. My brother needs to have the same routine every morning and every night, or else he gets upset. If there is a change made, you cannot just throw it at him, you have to tell him before hand. At times I have to explain even the smallest things to my brother over and over again so he can understand what I’m trying to tell him.

There is nothing wrong with having Asperger’s Syndrome or being Autistic. Some Autistic children can function exactly the same way that children who aren’t Autistic do. They can still go to school, they can still get a good job, and they can still play sports. I will admit, that yes, at times my brother can be a handful because of the Asperger’s, but he can also be the same annoying little brother everybody else has. I still have the same treatment of having to wrestle him to the ground or beat him up when he takes something of mine, or him tattling on me for doing something wrong. We still make fun of each other and call each other names. But we also have those great sibling times when we play games together, or when I give him advice on all the different teachers at school.

My brother has very unique characterisics to him. Some may say he’s weird. Some may say he’s a “cry baby” or that he has a weird imagination. But he is my brother and I admire him for everything that he has gone through and will still have to go through later on in life. I know that he is going to face many hard challenges later on, and I know that people will not know how to treat him the way he needs to be treated. Even though my brother is smaller than I am, I will always look up to him for being a strong, tough kid, and being a great example for all other Autistic children

Isn't she amazing? Ok, ok, so now I have to share, a little egotistically, the blurb from the article in this week's local paper. I'll just share with you the part about ME (cuz, you know it IS all about ME....LOL), but if you want to see the entire article (no pics of me, of course), click HERE.

Web Posted 5/23/2006 10:00:00 PM
Article :

FitzGerald's Main Stage will be the site when the "Danza Viva & Wednesday Journal Talent Search 2006" reaches its dramatic conclusion, as 12 performers in four categories face off in the finals. But the audience will not just be treated to great amateur performances. Danza Viva's One World Dance Theater will also take the stage. There's a cover charge of $10 per adult, $5 for children and the dancing and singing will kick off at 7 p.m.

"Talent Search 2006" began more than a month ago at FitzGerald's Side Bar. That night, contestants were hoping they'd survive the elimination rounds to return to the Berwyn nightclub. Only three made it in each of the four categories-Youth Dance, Youth Vocals, Adult Dance and Adult Vocals.

Among the survivors in Adult Vocals this past weekend was
MommyGuilt. At 36, the Oak Park resident is also the oldest performer in the contest. When she's not working her day job, MG sings with her band Code West with husband PC on lead guitar. When MG performed in the semi-finals at La Piazza's jazz club, Sotto, PC made the mistake of leaving his seat. The club was so packed he found himself standing the rest of the afternoon.

MG thrilled the Sotto audience with her bluesy voice on "The Chokin' Kind," a song selected by her father. "The crowd was insane," MG said, "and the venue was wonderful." The judges thought MG was wonderful, citing her "confidence and conviction." They loved how MG made the song her own.

Singing solo is quite a bit different for
MG than fronting a band. "There's a sense of urgency," she said. "You really have to bring it. There's more leeway with a band; you don't have to showcase your voice."

During auditions,
MG showcased her voice on "The Star Spangled Banner," a song she had also done at U.S. Cellular Field. Later, at Slaton's Supper Club, she raised the room temperature with "At Last," an Etta James number. "It was quite an experience," MG said. "Nothing compares to it. Not even the White Sox game." She wasn't just excited by the crowd's reaction, she was happy that the black dress she wore cost only $5.

MG has been singing the blues since she soloed on "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" in fourth grade. Although singing is a hobby, she'd like to make a career out of it. As for the contest, "I could use the money, but I'm in it for fun."

So the last paragraph is a, wrong....I sang "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" when I was, like 4 or something, and it was into a microphone my parents had to record into their 8-track player (somewhere I have that tape and have to get it converted). In the fourth grade, I did my first solo, but it was a Christmas song which I performed in my yellow robe, slippers, and stuffed Mickey Mouse. If you look at the article itself, the writer only used my first name once - the rest of the time I was always called by my last name - much to the delight of my dear friends K & J Whatever. Also, I did say I could use the money, but I'm in it for the exposure - hell, I ain't getting any younger! Win or lose tomorrow night, I can't wait for this to be over. I need to sleep!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Life has been crazy lately and I've had NO time to write, though I've thought about it. I've been totally focused on the kids and their activities, oh, yeah, and this vocal competition (I found out yesterday I made it to the finals!!!!! This Thursday night at Fitzgerald's in Berwyn - 7:00pm, $10cover for adults, $5 for kids under 12. COME ON OUT if you're around!) I thought I'd try and recap and catch everyone up on the boys, the girl, and...well, I just caught you up on me. I've tried to take lots of photos to keep you posted. Some, unfortunately, are still in my camera, but I'll get to those later. These are the ones I REALLY want you to see. LargeBoy - yes, he gets to be first. He finally got a haircut! Woo hoo! He was hoping for a simple trim and to keep the length - cuz, you know, he's in high school now. He came home and hid from the camera for days, until I managed to sneak this candid photo of him playing guitar at a family party. We gave him grief, though, when he came home from getting it cut. With the shape of his face and the way he had his hair combed, he looked like Jim Carey's character in Dumb & Dumber.

Girl, in all her softball glory, played her butt off this weekend. She had a tournament Friday night, Sat & Sun. She missed Friday night's game for "the last dance" of the school year, and then was out at the tournament - about 45mins away - by 8:00 Sat morning. They played 4 games ( I think), and we finally made it there for the last game. We won in three extra innings. The games were set for a one hour-15minute time limit. We were tied at 7:00 (regulation), so we had to use international tie-breaker rules - batting team gets one runner and one out. We held them , and they, us, for the first extra inning. They brought in two runs in the next inning, so did we . They had to turn the lights on at the ball field, as it was closing in on 8:00. Thankfully, we held them, and then we scored! WOO HOO! What did winning that game do for our girls? Secured the 8:00am time slot for the next morning - add to that the required hour early arrival. Yep, these poor girls- out in the sun playing softball ALL day, then having to be back by 7:00am the next morning. And Girl wasn't done, we still had a family party to attend. The pic behind the plate is obvious, but in the other, she's playing short. I consider these "action shots" for her for softball....

SmallBoy.....HE had an incredibly busy and WAY overstimulated, and over scheduled weekend. Friday night, we all just hung out and had some friends over to play music. SmallBoy LOVED that. He got to stay up a little later, listen to music, play. He was happy. Saturday, he snoozed until probably 9:30 or so - and for SmallBoy, that's LATE on a weekend. After he got up, he listened to his discs for his listening therapy, hung out, watched some tv, and then he and PC got to work on their next Cub Scout project - the Raingutter regata. Similar to the Pinewood Derby, this is a race, only it involves racing a "sailboat" powered only by the boy's air down a length of gutter. The boys can either blow directly on the sail, or through a straw, but the use of hands is a big no-no. The boats are very light weight and only allowed to be sanded - no cutting. I'll have more pics for my next post - those are the ones still in the camera.

After finishing the boat, we headed out for Girl's softball game - the first part of our afternoon/evening. SmallBoy went and hung out, cheered for his sister, climbed trees (isn't that just THE best pic?), and had TONS of fun - until we went into extra innings. I had mistakenly told him the game would be over by 7:00 (silly me - extra innings are always a possibility), so we had to work on an exercise geared towards "being flexible". He was hungry, it was starting to drizzle, and he wanted to get to the party. Eventually we got there, and he ran around with Princess and the other kids, toasted marshmallows, played hide & seek, and was so NOT ready to leave when it was time to go home. He hid. We freaked, but all was well. Home and off to bed. Sunday, boat race, mom's competition. LONG DAY. It was well past lunchtime when we got done with the race and left directly for the competition. We knew it was an Italian place, so we figured that even if the menu was not kid-friendly, we could still manage a plate of pasta - nope. Thankfully, PC was able to get them to pour us milk for him - he hates pop, the carbonation makes his sensory issues scream. He was hungry, it was crowded, it was unorganized, it was loud, he couldn't sit with me. Poor guy. PC, my love, my saving grace, let SmallBoy wrestle with him for most of the competition - pile drivers, wrestling, dogpiles, steamrollers...SmallBoy was in heaven. That PC of mine - he's awesome.

And my poor poor baby goo-wah (baby girl, in Girl speak, when she wants to be a wittoow goowah). She fell asleep at the family party. Sitting in front of the bonfire, with PC's jacket under her head, she wouldn't leave the party spot. We offered her a room inside, but she wanted to hang with us. Poor sleepy Girl - and she was up at 5:00am the next morning. Oh yes - they went all the way out there, got up super dooper early to be at the tourney by 7, lost, and were home by 10. It was a blessing in disguise, though, because she and I were both disappointed that she would have to miss my competition. Her loss got her to my win. Since it was Girl and PC who convinced me to enter (threatened to enter me if I didn't do so myself), it was very important to me that she was there. Love you Sweet Pea!

So, enough about are all of YOU?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Mother's Day 2006

Happy Mother's Day!!!!! I am certain we'll all be busy doting on our children and OUR mothers to be posting tomorrow, so I thought I'd post today. Every mother deserves a big standing ovation (at the very least) for doing the most difficult, yet most rewarding job in the world. We receive no monetary payments for our job, our only chance for advancement is to "grandmother", but the love, caring, happiness, joy, satisfaction, and mommy-moments we are given in return are the best payment in the world - especially when they come in the form of, "Mommy, I love you."

Many of you moms out there have help in the form of a second parent, many do not, and are doing BOTH jobs. I salute ALL OF YOU. I have done both and both demand just as much from us. Phenomenal Women - yes, that's exactly what I call each of you.

I am so happy that PC has such a hard time holding on to gifts until it is time to give them. If he could hold out, then I wouldn't have gotten this beautiful bracelet - from Meem - until Sunday, instead, I got it Thursday! I am so excited to now have my very own autism awareness bracelt, made by A Ray of Hope, Autism Awareness Jewelry. Please check out the site, you'll love it! It was a wonderful gift and, of course, I cried. I think what really got me, though, was that SmallBoy knew - sort of - what it was. Meem, fabulous MIL that she is, had remembered that way back in November I had put an awareness bracelet on my birthday wish list, but it was just that - a wish list. What a truly meaningful gift this was and I am so happy. I will wear it always. I urge all fo you to please go and check out the site. The more aware we make people, the more that can be done AND the less ignorance there will be about autism. Oh, SmallBoy took the picture for me. He did a great job. He is so very proud that his mommy has this bracelet - and he knows that it is for HIM. Love him to pieces.

I wanted to delve into the listening therapy I spoke about the other day. Listening therapy looks like this. Headphones, a portable CD player (ours has a little waist pack so SmallBoy can be "hands-free"), and whatever else your child wants to do. SmallBoy listens in the morning before he gets out of bed and again, in the afternoon or evening doing whatever he wants. Sometimes he'll just hang out on the sofa and listen, sometimes he'll hop on the computer, other times, he'll listen while he's doing his homework. We changed discs on Monday at our last OT session. This time, J gave us a Mozart disc to help with modulation. I LOVE this one...of course, I love Mozart. SmallBoy, on the other hand, isn't too keen on it, which is surprising, because our musical tastes are very similar. Perhaps it is in the placement of the frequencies. On the last disc, the frequencies were very obvious, and on this disc, they're very subtle - placed in trills, violins, flutes, etc. I never had to remind him to listen to his music when we had the first disc, but this one takes a little prodding. We go back to OT on Monday. I'm curious as to what J will have to say about SmallBoy's lack of interest towards this disc. It doesn't seem to be having an adverse effect on him, though. I am noticing the same calmness, connection, etc, that I saw with the last disc. I am very eager to see the results of the whole program.

My mama and me! I'm sorry Mama - I know you'll hate the pic, but I would be remiss if I didn't post a pic of the two of us and our "better sides" tee hee tee hee...This pic was taken at the vocal competition last weekend. My Mama has always been there for me - whenever I've needed her. She has held my hand, she has cheered my on, she taught me how to walk - again - after life brought me down to a crawl. She has been my bodyguard and my safety, my cheerleader, my conscience, sometimes, even, my devil's advocate. I am truly lucky, blessed, and every other word under the sun to be my mother's daughter.

Meem - I have NO pics of you and me :-( . I must make it a point to get some! Not only do I have a wonderful mother, but I have the great fortune of having an incredible mother-in-law. Wow - that doesn't happen to many people (and, Mom, PC says the same of you). A good mother-in-law is hard to find, but one who is so loving, giving, selfless, generous, compassionate, and supportive is a treasure. I couldn't have been luckier!

My loves - my Mother's Day. I love them so much and cannot get over the joy they bring into my life. They have taught me so many lessons. One would think it is the parent who is the teacher, but truly, it is the children. They have taught me strength, discipline, how to love deeper than I ever thought possible. They have taught me defensive and offensive strategies. They have taught me generosity, humility. They have taught me how to live. My loves, how much do I love you? More than any little......

To all of YOU - mothers AND dads -I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day this year.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Formal Invitation for YOU

WOW!!!! I never thought I would get this far! If you've been following the Wednesday Journal articles starting with the May 10th article or the wonderful emails from my loving husband, then you are aware of this vocal contest in which I am competing (at the urging of my family - who, by the way, threatened to enter me if I wouldn't enter myself).

The final elimination rounds were held this past weekend, ours in a very fan-packed Slaton's Supper Club (so packed, in fact, the police had to come and stop the contest until a better seating arrangement was, well, arranged). I competed with 12 other fantastic vocalists, and, with the exception of one contestant, I was the only one well over the age of 16.

To a very crowded room, and with the judges sitting less than 2feet away, I performed, "At Last," by Etta James. I was exhilirated when, in mid-song, I realized that even I had stopped breathing in amazement at what was happening. According to my adoring husband, and my family and friends, the whole room stopped breathing. Even with the hoots, hollers, hoorays, the standing "O", and the wonderful comments from the judges, I still was not convinced that my performance would advance me to the semi-finals.

I finally exhaled yesterday when the call came in confirming my inclusion among the 6 contestants selected from 13 to move on to the semi-final round. From this round only 3 will be chosen to move on to the finals. I will be competing with a phenomenal group of singers, including the young man who won the "Chicago Idol" contest. They are all incredible.

75% of our scoring comes from the panel of judges - all of whom are very talented and successful in their fields of performance. The other 25% comes from YOU!!!!!! My friends and family, I need your support. Your votes count! "How can I vote," you ask? The contest rules state that all those who attend the competition can vote for their favorite 3 performers. I would greatly appreciate your support and your votes.

The next competition is Sunday, May 21 4:00 in the jazz club at La Piazza, 410 Circle Ave in Forest Park (they are
having a special $8 Tango-tini's). If you can be there, I would love to see your face and have your support. I would urge you to get there EARLY, as it WILL be crowded. The doors open at 3. You will be my favorite aunt, friend, choir director, cousin, sister, father, brother-in-law, blogger, etc...if you come!

Monday, May 08, 2006

#300!!!!! HOLY COW!!!

OH MY GOD! This is my 300th post! I'd like to go on and ruminate about all of the posts, the people, the comments, the ideas, the love, the "family", but we do that all that time. Instead, I'll answer the most common question about the previous post:

What's with the SmallBoy and the bottles?

Every year, the music teacher does a project with the class wherein they have to invent a certain type of instrument. In the past, they've been instruments you pluck, instruments you make vibrate. This time around, they were charged with the task of creating an aerophone - an instrument through which the sound is created by blowing into it (air passing through it). We opted for a panpipes kind of instrument, with a little variance. We had a few bottles with nothing worth saving (or drinking) in the bottom, so we washed them, peeled the labels, stuck them together with duct tape, and filled each one to a different level...we actually managed to get the two larger ones in tune with each other. In the picture, he was showing off his completed project - decorated with dandelions, glitter glue, and a "few" stickers. We haven't gotten the feedback from the teacher yet, but WE sure thought it was cool!

The next most asked question in the last post's comments was about the listening therapy. The label on the disc case says "Vital Listening". SmallBoy has OT tonight, so I'll see if I can find out anymore info or get a website for you. It's really been a wonderful thing for him. We will be switching to a new disc today, and I'm curious to see the family's different reactions to it again - particularly Smallboy's, of course. Update: I talked to J, the OT extraordinaire, tonight about the music. We use the Vital Links Therapeutic Listening Program. There are different CDs for dysregulation, disconnection, modulation, spatial awareness, and after that, there is a basic core program. Click here to go to the Vital Links site. There is also another program in which the protocol is laid out called The Listening Program - I don't have

Hmmm, let's see...oh yes, contest....Etta James, apparently was a showstopper - that's what PC, my mother, my father, and my friends tell me. I don't want to tempt fate, so I'll wait and see if the phone call comes in the next few days, then I'll tell you how I felt about it. I'll keep you posted. I really really will need song ideas, though, so ANYTHING you think would be able to top that song and come in under 3 1/2 minutes would be most helpful. Smackwater Jack I would LOVE to do, and we do it with the band, except they put this caveat on us - it has to be "appropriate for family enjoyment"...RUDE (no, just kidding - I don't think the part about what happens after Jack goes shopping would go over well with the judges).

Almost time to go home and start my rushing around - what would life be without 12 places to be after work? My desk is covered in paperwork and resumes, so I'd best clean up before PC arrives to pick me up. Oh I hope he has SmallBoy with him! I will post again tonight or tomorrow about the listening therapy!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

One Sport, Two Therapies is somewhat "normal" again - if you can call it that. Things have been beyond crazy and stressful lately, so much so, that I haven't had time, or the urge to write - (UGH! That's so sad). Most of my stressors seemed to have temporarily leveled off for a bit thanks to some help from family and some HUGE miracles (98% family). Additionally, Girl is down to ONLY ONE SPORT!!!!!!! HOORAY!!!!! Volleyball is officially over and it's just softball now. I was hoping to have some pictures for you from this past weekend, but her tournament got rained out - 45 degrees and 7 hours of rain are NOT conducive for softball.

SmallBoy is truly starting to make some noticeable progress. I am noticing it and I see him everyday. Know how when you don't see someone for a long time, it's quite obvious if things have changed? Like a baby growing - you don't notice the gradual changes of your own child because you see him every day, but others will notice from one visit to the next. Same thing with this and SmallBoy. The growth, the strides, the maturity, the improvements that I have begun to see in him are absolutely astounding. He is using manners, he is not melting as much, he gets it when I tell him WHY something is not the way he likes it or in HIS grand scheme. Part, I'm certain has to do with the fact that WE are working as a unit, a complete unit. Ex, well, he doesn't even come to OT for his fleeting 20minutes anymore. When SmallBoy goes to visit for his alloted few hours, it's similar to a child tagging along with Mom and Dad to visit one of their friends. The rest of his successes I credit to his OT & his therapist.

J, his OT, has started, in addition to the physical aspects of his OT sessions, a listening therapy that he does at home. He listens to this funky music through headphones - one speaker has the melody playing softly, faintly almost, while the other speaker has these varying frequencies running through it. He listens 30mins/day 2x/day. The disc he is working with now is to help him with his disconnection. As SOON as he began listening for the first time at J's office, the change in him was apparent. His breathing slowed and he became calm and relaxed. He wasn't in meldtdown mode, or even high energy mode, but just a little extra energy. The effect of this musica was instantaneous. PC listened to it also and it had the same impact on him. Personally, I couldn't stand the music. There were frequencies that just made me think of going to the dentist and did the complete opposite for me - there was no relaxation. What mattered, though, and what is truly important are SmallBoy's reactions. WOW - that's all I've got to say, WOW! His behavioral thrapist has us working very short social stories with him to help explain the rules at dad's house vs the rules at mom's - how even though they may SEEM different, they are, ultimately, the same. These are still in the drafting stages, but look to be promising.

In his English Lit class, LargeBoy(REALLLY old pic, he'll HATE this one, he still has braces in this pic) just finished reading Curious Incident. LargeBoy was surprised and, at the same time comforted, to find out that there are many others - just within his class - who have Aspie sibs. Can you imagine what he'll do when he realizes the numbers of students in the entire high school with Aspie Sibs? For the paper on the book, the class had to write about an "Aspergian Utopia". He, of course, used his brother as his model. I felt compelled to share this with you. As a mother and a grammar geek, it was difficult for me to not edit, but I left it for content.


People with Aspergers Syndrome are tough to deal with. They need certain thing in the right order and they act as if it would be the end of the world if they went near something that they don’t like. But it is not their fault. I know this because my little brother has Aspergers Syndrome. He can get upset just by taking a different way to school in the morning. But there are things that make him really happy also.

My brother gets angry very easily. When our living room was painted red, he got mad and said he didn’t like it. My mom then said to him “It will eventually grow on you”. My brother then thought that the paint would grow on his skin and he freaked out. But my mom has my brother do a number of things to make him settle down. And I think this would be his own little Utopia. It would be large and open, probably staying the same color. He would be the all-seeing ruler, where anything that was about to change had to be aproved by him first. People that are mean and don’t have much of an imagination probably couldn’t come in, or people who would try and hurt andyone. But one of the main atractions would be video games.

My brother loves video games. Unless you pull him away, he probably won’t leave. And if he’s not playing video games, he’ll be watching a movie. But not just once, he’ll watch it three or four times and catch and memorize every little thing. Ocassionally he might read a book or two, but he’ll probably stick with the games and movies. But one thing I know he would have would be a room with a giant trampoline. Jumping is like a sport to my brother. He has his own little mini trampoline in the back yard for him to jump on if he is to excited or needs to settle down a bit. This gets him tired and more relaxed.

My brother would only let select people in to his Utopia. He would probably let his entire family in, his closest friends, and lots of animals. But my brother would also have a button or something. This button would be used to bassicaly send every one out of the Utopia at any time. He might do this for fun, if he just wants to be alone, or if he is mad at someone in the Utopia. He would also have his music playing. The music that he would play is almost as bad and evil as hell itself but he likes it. It is Kidz Bop. He (like every other kid) loves this music because it is sung by other kids. My brother would also have main food supply come from the Ramen Noodle Company. My brother eats at least two packages of Ramen Noodles a week.

This is what I think my brothers Utopia would be like. I don’t know that this is 100% right because it is all in his head not mine. But since I have lived with him for the past nine and a half years, I have a pretty good idea.

As for me (and PC), we're exhaling again. I'm feeling a lot more relaxed and he's right there holding my hand, as always (Thanks, My Love). This weekend is round two of the vocal contest. I will be singing "At Last", by Etta James. From this group of 13, we will be narrowed down to 6 for the semi-finals...EEEEEEKKKKK. If I make it though that round, I'm going to need some help finding another that will out-do Etta AND be under 3 1/2 minutes (so if you've got some suggestions, you know how to hit the comment button - or send me an email). Oh, and the pic.....I realized I hadn't posted one from the band's gig at Fitzgerald's last week (or week & 1/2 ago), so here ya go! (Just for the record, my 13y/o daughter scolded me for going out of the house "dressed like THAT!!!")