Well Played

February 26, 2011

Today the Upward Basketball season came to a close.  I have really enjoyed watching Emma and Ethan play and seeing how they have improved from last year. Emma was the shortest one on her team again this year, but she still played her little heart out.   She doesn’t seem to mind when she misses a basket or if someone steals the ball away from her.  It’s more of a social thing for Emma and she is just happy to get to talk to her friends and wear the cute uniform.  I love to watch Emma as she skips and twirls down the court.  Ethan on the other hand is a different story. Ethan is VERY competitive and a bit of a perfectionist.  He doesn’t like to lose and gets upset if he misses a shot or makes a mistake.   The competitiveness helps make Ethan a good athlete because he is bound and determined to keep improving his game.  I don’t know if the difference in their playing styles is due to a boy / girl thing or if it’s just that they have different personalities.  Either way, I enjoy watching both of them play and I am looking forward to the next sport season which is Baseball.  Correction: I guess I should say Ethan is playing Baseball and Emma is playing Softball.  You’d think I’d get that straight after all the times I have been reminded by Emma, “I am NOT playing Baseball Mom! It’s called Softball for the girls”.  So I guess it’s goodbye Basketball and hello Baseball and Softball !

Those of you who read my post earlier this week “Tooth Fairy Trauma” may be interested to hear the second half of the story that played out this evening. In my earlier post I omitted the fact that when The Tooth Fairy left Emma her money she wrote a note in reply to Emma’s note that said:


Thank you for the nice note Emma.  I took a quick look around while I was here and found your tooth under the table so I took it with me to add to my collection.  Here are a few dollars for you. Have a great day at school!

                                The Tooth Fairy

This seemed like a good idea at the time, because that way Emma wouldn’t be worried about her lost and lonely tooth. However, when I got home from work this evening I realized that maybe adding that information to the note wasn’t such a smart idea.  Emma met me at the door and told me that the tooth fairy must have found someone else’s tooth because she found her tooth in the dining room this afternoon.  She had already written a note back to the tooth fairy and taped her tooth to it so it wouldn’t get lost this time. Emma’s note said :

Dear Tooth Fairy,

I think you mistook someones tooth because this is my tooth


(she had also drawn an arrow pointing down to her tooth taped to the paper)


Emma didn’t seem too concerned or even accuse The Tooth Fairy of lying. She is the one who came up with the idea that The Tooth Fairy must have found someone else’s tooth and “mistook” it.  She also told me that although she was leaving her tooth under her pillow with a note she did not expect to get paid again since that wouldn’t be fair.  She just wanted to make sure to get her tooth to The Tooth Fairy so there wouldn’t be any confusion.  Ethan wasn’t so sure about her honesty and suggested that maybe he should leave the tooth under his pillow and see if The Tooth Fairy would leave him money.  Nice try Ethan!

Stuffed Animal Idol

February 23, 2011

As many of you have noticed, reality TV shows are taking over primetime. They even have cartoon reality shows like “Total Drama Island” because … well, you know, we wouldn’t want our kids to miss out!  Personally, I am more of a sitcom kinda gal, but I have watched a few reality TV shows here and there.  I enjoyed the first few seasons of The Apprentice and I have occasionally watched The Biggest Loser (while eating pizza, cookies or some other fattening food).

One night I was putting away laundry and as I came up the stairs to the twins room I heard Emma talking about which stuffed animal was going to be “voted off” the bed. She had lined up teddy bears, stuffed cats and dogs and characters like Tigger and Winnie the Pooh on the edge of the bed. She had Mickey Mouse playing the host of the show and he was describing the challenge and then ended with, “Who will be voted off the bed and who will be the next Stuffed Animal Idol?”  I found this amusing and listened from the hallway as Emma continued to play out the drama of being a stuffed animal trying to win over the panel of judges to prevent being voted off the bed.  I almost had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing when I heard Bugs Bunny ask Tigger if he wanted to form an alliance.  Wow – she really does know her reality TV! 

One by one the stuffed animals were voted off the bed and discarded onto the floor.  First to go was the stuffed Chihuahua.  After the Chihuahua  the stuffed white and black kitten was voted off the bed.  Next went the brown teddy bear named “Teddy” that Drew has had since he was a toddler (but has now passed down to Emma because he is too old for stuffed animals).  Right behind Teddy went Winnie the Pooh but Tigger was safe because of his alliance with Bugs Bunny.  Slowly but surely the animals were all voted off the bed until the only two remaining were Bugs Bunny and a stuffed giraffe.  I guess that alliance thing didn’t work out for Tigger after all.  The host, Mickey Mouse, announced that we were just about to find out who the next Stuffed Animal Idol would be.  There was  a drumroll (provided by Ethan) and then Mickey announced that Bugs Bunny was the winner and had earned the coveted title of Stuffed Animal Idol.  Bugs came forward to accept his award as the giraffe was tossed onto the floor.  Ethan and Emma both cheered and congratulated Bugs to which he simply replied, “Eh … What’s up Doc?”

Tooth Fairy Trauma

February 21, 2011

There is nothing quite like waking up to your child crying, “Mom! The Tooth Fairy forgot me!” to confirm that the mother-of-the-year award will not be in your future. This is how my day started out on Friday morning. Emma had lost her tooth on Thursday evening and somehow between losing her tooth and bedtime she had literally “lost” her tooth. We looked everywhere but could not find the tiny missing baby tooth. Emma was in tears but I assured her that the Tooth Fairy would still come. “We can just write her a note and explain what happened.”

This helped calm Emma down a little and she said, “Yeah, just like the time Drew threw his tooth in the trash.” She was referring back to when Drew lost his first tooth. He had been eating a hotdog when he came running into the kitchen and said (with his mouth full of chewed up hotdog), “Mom, there is something hard in my hotdog!” Well, you never know with hotdogs so I just told him to spit it out in the trash. Later that afternoon we were waiting in line at Wal-mart and Drew was showing me all the all the things he “needed” in those nice little racks in the checkout lines when I noticed something different about his mouth. “Drew – look at me and smile” He looked up at me and gave me a big cheesy grin and I saw that little gap in his mouth. “You lost a tooth! When did you lose a tooth?” Drew just shrugged his shoulders and started feeling the hole with his tongue “Cool!” he said with a smile as he went back to looking at all the candy in the racks. All of the sudden it dawned on me … The hotdog! “I bet you lost your tooth when you were eating that hotdog at lunch, Drew. That was what the hard thing in your hotdog was!” Drew thought for a second and said, “But how will I put it under my pillow? We need to go home and find it. I bet we could dig through the trash and find it.” The thought of digging through the trash was not very appealing to me so I suggested that maybe we just write a note to the Tooth Fairy.

The difference between Drew and Emma’s experiences is that the Tooth Fairy was a lot younger and less forgetful when Drew lost his tooth in the trash than when Emma misplaced her tooth. Also, I (umm … I mean the Tooth Fairy) only had one child and not four to keep up with. When Emma woke me up at 7:00 am on Friday morning with her Tooth Fairy Trauma I was half-asleep and more than a little overwhelmed since I realized I should have been up a half-an-hour earlier and that I had fallen asleep before performing my Tooth Fairy duties.

I tried to think fast but all I could come up with was some lame excuse about the note we had forgotten to write. Emma argued that she thought the Tooth Fairy left the money where ever the tooth was so she wanted to look under tables, chairs and couches for the money she was sure the Tooth Fairy had left. However, since we were already running late I told her we didn’t have time to call out a search party for the money and / or tooth but that we could write a note when she got home from school and try again Friday night. I even promised to send an email to the Tooth Fairy since mommies have email addresses and cell phone numbers of all the important people in the world (The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, etc) Emma finally agreed and off to school she went. Friday night we wrote a nice note to the Tooth Fairy, placed it under her pillow and like magic there was money in its place when Emma awoke on Saturday morning. Emma was very pleased and happy and all order was restored to the universe … well, at least in our household.

Happy Valentines Day!

February 13, 2011

Emma and Ethan were talking tonight before bed and Emma said, “I am SO excited about tomorrow being Valentine’s Day!  I can hardly wait!”  Ethan just rolled his eyes and said, “I’m not … it’s just Valentine’s Day … it’s not like its Christmas or something.”  Ah, yes…Valentine’s Day is much more exciting for girls than for boys I guess.  The girls are all excited about the candy, the cards and the flowers and the boys can’t seem to figure out what the big deal is.

When I went to Ethan’s Valentines party at school last year he informed me that the little girl that sat next to him had said that she wanted to marry him.  I said, “Really? She said she wants to marry you?” He took a bite of his heart shaped cookie, smiled and replied, “Yeah, well … you know … I’m a really good colorer.”  And in First Grade that’s what all the little girls are looking for. 🙂

Caleb’s Voice

February 12, 2011

Our nine year old son, Caleb, has Autism and is non-verbal.  I have to continually remind others (and even myself) that although he cannot verbally express himself that doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand what we say to him. It also doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that he WANTS to tell us.  I can’t even imagine how hard it is for him to not be able to communicate.  It must be extremely frustrating to not be able to express his wants and needs or even to just make a comment or observation about everyday things we take for granted like what we did that day or what we had for lunch.

When Caleb was around four or five we discovered that he had taught himself to read and spell and he started using magnetic letters to communicate with us.  We had tried to teach him sign language for almost a year but he showed very little interest in learning the signs. However, he has a fascination with letters and words and so he loves to use his magnetic letters to spell words. He sometimes just spells his favorite words like “editor”, “lighting”, “effects”, and “Dreamworks” (his favorite part of any movie is the credits, can you tell?).  Other times he spells to tell us what he wants and so he will use his letters to write words like “apple”, “cracker” or “computer”.  His fine motor skills are improving and so now he also uses a pencil and paper to write out words or phrases to communicate.

A couple of years ago we purchased an Augmentative Communication Device (ACD) for Caleb.  An ACD is like a small touch screen computer with keys that have small icons or pictures. There are different menus for things like food, clothing, holidays, school, etc. and each of them has icons of things that are in that category.  Caleb can use the keys to build sentences and then when he is done the device will read the sentence for him in a computer generated voice.  He can also go to the QWERTY keyboard pages and type whatever he wants to say.  This has been a great help in providing a mode of communication for Caleb and has really opened our eyes to what is going on inside his head.  We have discovered that Caleb is a very smart boy and he also has a sense of humor. He has found there is a joke page on the ACD and will often tell his therapists jokes to stall for time and avoid work.  The more we see Caleb’s personality the more we realize that he is like most nine year old boys in that he loves to play and tries to find creative ways to avoid work. 

One afternoon my husband, Dwight, was visiting a member of our congregation in the hospital and since bringing four children into the hospital would have created quite a scene I just kept them in the van with me and we drove over to McDonalds and went through the drive-thru to get a snack.  I asked the kids what they wanted.  Drew wanted a coke and fries and Emma and Ethan both decided on chocolate chip cookies and milk. I also ordered french fries and a Sprite for Caleb.  We got our food and drove off to head back over toward the hospital.  Caleb started fussing and whining and continued to let me know that something was not right. I asked him what he wanted and he just continued to kick the seat and whine.  I was driving so I couldn’t tell what was bothering him and I asked the other kids and they couldn’t tell either. I said, “Caleb, get your talker” (that’s what we call his ACD)  “Caleb use your talker to tell me what you want or what’s wrong”.  He got his talker out and then I heard it say, “I want a cheeseburger” and then he added “Please”.  “OK Caleb, we will go back and get you a cheeseburger.” I said with a smile.  After all Dwight had not texted me that he was done with the visitation and so we probably had plenty of time.  I was looking for a place to turn around and head back towards the golden arches and I guess it was taking longer than Caleb thought it should because he grabbed his talker again and I heard, “A hamburger … with cheese”.  I laughed and said, “Yes, Caleb – I know what a cheeseburger is. We are going to get you one as soon as Mommy can get turned around and back to McDonalds.”

Caleb’s ACD has been in “the shop” getting repaired so we have missed it these past two weeks and have had to try and find other ways to help Caleb communicate with us.  He does pretty well with writing so we have used a good old-fashioned pencil and paper and also the magnetic letters so he has some way to let us know what he needs or wants.  This has worked pretty well, but there are times when he decides to find other ways to communicate and they are not always very pleasant for those around him.  He has this piercing scream that he recently has become quite found of.  This scream sound is pretty irritating to listen too especially since my motherly instincts associate screaming with a child being hurt or upset.  However, the more we have charted and tried to figure out the cause of the screaming the more I think that it is not a scream that means something is wrong, but rather an expression of protest  (what the ABA therapists call “avoidance behavior”).  Instead of saying “no” when you ask him if he wants to do something or wants to eat something he lets out this piercing scream (even though he is capable of saying “no” and /or shaking his head).  He will also produce the piercing scream if you try and get him to complete a task whether it be homework, cleaning up his room or some other not-so-fun part of a nine year olds day.  Last week he was in his therapy session and he was doing this screaming sound.  His therapist kept asking what was wrong and couldn’t figure it out so she wrote out on a piece of paper, “What’s wrong?”  Caleb took the pencil and wrote back to her, “What’s wrong with you?”.  “What’s wrong with me is your screaming.”   she replied.  Caleb wrote “no screaming” on the paper.  “Yes, no screaming.” She agreed.  Caleb put down the pencil and the screaming stopped.

These examples have helped to show me that Caleb can engage in a conversation if given the proper tools to help him.  He learns a lot from the world around him and we have to find ways for him to express himself in order to grasp just how much he knows.  I am always thankful for the times when God helps Caleb find his voice by allowing him to discover alternative ways to communicate with us.  I especially enjoy the times when his sense of humor shines through and he makes me laugh.  One cold winter day Caleb came up to me and sat on my lap and as I grabbed him to pull him close and hug him I felt his feet and they were freezing. “Caleb!”  I said, “Your feet are so cold … they are like ice cubes. You really need to have socks on!”  Caleb scooted off my lap, took two steps back, looked at MY bare feet and then looked back up at me.  He then started giggling and I could tell by the look he gave me exactly what he was thinking … Where are your socks Mom?

A few weeks ago when Caleb was in Sunday School  he took his paper and pencil and wrote,  “I love you” and handed the note to his teacher. She smiled and said, “Thank you Caleb. I love you too.”  She took the pencil and wrote back, “I love you Caleb”  Caleb looked at the paper grabbed the pencil and added “Elliott” after his name.  “Yes” she laughed and added, “I love you Caleb Elliott”

We went out to dinner last Friday night since we had been snowed in most of the week and cabin fever was in full swing.  While we were waiting for our food Ethan was telling us that he had been a little down because he got an F on his spelling test.  Apparently there were 11 children that got F’s since the week had been cut short with snow days and 2 hour delays.  We told him to not worry about it because it was just one spelling test and he would do better next week.  He seemed to brighten up when the food arrived even though he had eaten five waffles before we left the house (he must be going through a growth spurt I guess!)

Toward the end of the meal we were asking the kids what the best part of their day was. When we got to Ethan I said, “What was the best part of your day Ethan?” and then teasingly added “I’m guessing it wouldn’t be the spelling test.”  He laughed and said “No, definitely not the spelling test.”  Dwight asked him, “So, Ethan … was there a point in the spelling test when you knew that things weren’t going well?”  Ethan thought for a few moments and then Dwight asked, “Was there a certain word that made you think, ‘Oh, no … not good'”  Ethan nodded and smiled, but before he could answer Emma piped up and said, “Intelligence?”   We all burst out laughing and Emma just smiled and asked, “What? Intelligence is a word, isn’t it?”