kids

Our life.

I am really getting used to just doing our own thing wherever we are. Sometimes being self-conscious will still creep up on me, but mostly, I OWN IT. As Jasan gets older, I appreciate who he is becoming even more. I keep reminding myself to step back and look at the big picture. I may not totally understand everything now. But, I picture myself looking back at his life when he is in his twenties and it all making sense. Why does he have an obsession with appliances? What is it about fahrenheit and barometric pressure that makes him smile so much? Why does my son prefer Best Buy over Toys R Us? I don’t know, but I’m his biggest cheerleader.

We hung out at good old Best Buy for quite awhile today.

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Refrigerators were a hit.

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There will always be the beloved washing machine.

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And now, the most recent addition to fun spots to go in Best Buy? The printer aisle. We had a lot of fun with sound effects and powering multiple different models on and off.

On a BUSY Saturday afternoon was I spotted taking pictures of my son LOVING on appliances from many WEIRD angles?

Yep.

Did I care?

Nope.

Did a million Best Buy employees come ask us if we needed help?

Yep.

Did they look at me weird when I said my son likes to hang out by the washing machines and we are just pushing buttons and listening to sounds?

Yep.

Am I cool with all of this?

Yep.

It’s our life.

I LOVE IT.

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Sleep…love.

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There are certain nights during bedtime routine that I just fall in love with Jasan so hard it’s beyond my comprehension. All of you parents out there know the kind of love that you feel after you have your own child. There are no words to describe what love feels like after you have had that experience. Of course I love him hardcore…ALL OF THE TIME. But certain nights, he just grabs me and pulls me in even more.

Tonight was one of those nights. Jasan and I have quite the lengthy bedtime routine; it’s not the quick: read a book, lay in bed, lights out, “see you when you wake up!” kind of scenario. He is very detail oriented and routine based. We do the same thing, all the little steps, EVERY NIGHT. I have to admit and be honest…sometimes I am just exhausted and I wish he WAS one of those kids that was super easy to put to bed. Evenings (few and far between) that I may want to go and have an adult evening out past 7:00 pm, I review my whole thought process of why I do things the way I do. Maybe I should just work on getting him to fall asleep alone and not be so dependent upon me. It would be awesome if he were the type of child that ANYONE could put to bed. Wow. If that were the case, I could just hire a babysitter like every other adult and go out for an evening!

But you know what? He’s not that kid. He never has been. What I LOVED about tonight was that I sang him to sleep. As I had him cuddled up next to me with his head nestled on my chest, I was reminiscing about the baby days. During that time period of life, we were alone most of the time. I would put play lists together of slower songs that I loved to sing to. I was a very hands on and physical touch kind of mom, so he basically never slept in his crib. (I know there are many different opinions out there on sleep and what the right way is, but this is my belief. DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR FAMILY. That is all that matters.) So, with that said, Jasan was basically my snuggle bunny. The thought of him sleeping in his crib away from me and his dad was just not happening. Jasan’s father is of Mexican descent, so in his culture is was natural and normal for your babies and kids to sleep with you. When his dad and I were still in relationship, that was what we did.

So, blissfully for me, I was able to be a stay at home mama and he would fall asleep in my arms to his heart’s content. I would play music ALL THE TIME. Music is a huge part of my existence, so I wanted it to be a core part of him. When he was a little baby, I would dance around the room with him every day. I wanted his body to feel the rhythm through my body and movement. I would gently tap the beat of the music on his back. I would sing to him… and that became a staple for bedtime.

As he has gotten older our routine has changed ever so slightly into what it is now. He is much more adamant about me being quiet and it being a “Jasan Do” kind of situation which OF COURSE, I welcome! When I find myself completely in the moment, like I did tonight, I feel so happy. It is so easy to second guess the past and the choices that I made in certain situations. There are also a lot of things that I did during his first couple years of life, even as naive and inexperienced as I was, that I am so proud of. Those things are what forms a huge part of who he is now. I am so excited to see how his personality forms as he grows. I know that as uniformed as I was when he was first-born, there were special parts of being human that I wanted to be drilled into his existence.

Music. Touch. Unconditional love. Quality time. Mother-son bonding. Fun. Laughter. Adventure. Dancing. Listening. Togetherness. Safety. Trust. Admiration. Self confidence.

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Physical touch. Huge. Being a past massage therapist, I know the benefits of it. But, I also understand the healthy emotional benefits of it. It comes natural to me, and I really wanted him to be a child that was accustomed to lots and lots of snuggles, hugs and kisses. God knew I would be perfect as his mama because he is such a sensory seeker. He craves touch. There isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t need to “crash” at some point. With the amount of communication skills he has lacked and still lacks to this day, God balanced out with physical touch for me. Knowing my personality, I would have had an extremely hard time with an autistic child that lacked speech and did not like to be touched.

Tonight hit me because he was very calm. He was extra snuggly, and being able to sing quietly and then hum to him as he fell asleep brought back so many precious little teeny guy memories. It made me feel good because I did a lot of things right for him. Knowing him and all about his autism now, makes me think back with a different set of lenses about those early months and years. I love how sometimes things are just meant to be.

Without a doubt he was meant to be my son. Just the way he is. Autism and all. I was meant to be his mama. We have a bond that is indescribable. He knows me more than I think he does. He feels EVERYTHING that is going on. I know I understand him, but I wonder if he is SO MANY LEVELS beyond where I think he is… That is what my intuition says.

My gut is never wrong. He is something special. His life is going to be spectacular.

This I KNOW.

Every now and then I need a bedtime like tonight to wash away any doubts about why I do things the way I do.

Our routines are in place because this is what FEELS right between my son and me. I know what he needs. He is still so young and I am willing to sacrifice what I may want from time to time to build the emotional foundation of safety, confidence, and self-worth for him. If that means he needs his mama to lay with him as he falls asleep, that is what I will do. Gladly.

The photos above were taken some time ago…

The photo below I love. Jasan is having a loving moment with his Grampie. As he was running around the house half-naked (as he loves…who needs clothes, really?) he is giving the best hug EVER.  (And when you are 4, who cares if you are naked at home anyway?) Heehee. 🙂

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Degrees fahrenheit.

I used to have a habit of turning on the weather channel in the morning. (Pre-iPhone. Now I just check the app. I don’t have to wait for the weather on the 8’s. Was it 8? or 7? I don’t remember…but you get the idea.) He has always been attracted to numbers, so of course the weather channel was right up his alley with all of the temperatures. Now that he is getting older, I usually have him check the app every morning for me and we discuss what they day is going to look like.

His item of choice lately to carry everywhere is one of the indoor/outdoor digital thermometers. The brand is Acu-rite; therefore, its name is “Acu-rite weather.” He has two, conveniently, because one was missing for a time period and that was NOT OKAY with Jasan.

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His love of numbers and digital things translates very well to ovens and microwaves. (As long as they are mid-1980’s or newer.)

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A good old-fashioned oven thermometer is also fun though. I took these photos of Jasan sometime last year and it proves he still in fahrenheit love for the long haul.

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Notice how he has two of those as well. Don’t you love when kids just drop things SOMEWHERE in the house and you search and search and it’s NOWHERE! But then it shows up. Gotta love duplicates. (Especially with an autistic kid and an object of obsession. Oh my.)

This past week he has been stuck on the microwave and oven in our kitchen. My thoughts… “Time for a photo shoot!”

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He gets so very excited when the fan symbol light comes on when the oven is on the convection heating setting. Big smiles. It’s the little things… 🙂

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I think I love just hearing him talk about degrees and fahrenheit. It sounds so darn cute… ❤

Interesting stuff.

“If you want autistic kids to be interested in interesting stuff, then show them interesting stuff.”

Temple Grandin said that when I saw her speak this summer at Northwestern University. It sounds so redundant, but that is what makes it perfect and simple. Go out and do cool things! Whenever I get the chance to add to Jasan’s internet (brain) to fill more web pages (experiences) I do my best to go for it! He remembers everything, and he is constantly connecting things together. A friend of mine knew that he would love to check out this CAT skid loader that he was utilizing on a job site. He invited us over for Jasan to check it out and to take a little ride with him.

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Once inside for a few minutes, he started to feel at ease and realized how cool this piece of equipment really was…

This photo cracks me up every time. 😉

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Sounds.

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We have now entered a new level of sensory awareness. Both of us.

In the past month or so, Jasan has been having a really hard time with sounds. (Hence the noise reducing headphones.) It doesn’t even matter if they are loud…or if he has heard them before and knows what to expect.

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At first I was confused. Why, all of the sudden, was he having a hard time flushing the toilet in our house? He has heard that sound a million times. At my friend’s home where the beloved washer & dryer Whirlpool Duet lives (see this past post) the sounds are now a startling issue. He has literally spent hours in that room watching the cycles and has every sound perfectly memorized and can mimic the machine flawlessly. What’s going on with my little man?

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Well, he’s growing up. His awareness of the world is heightening. And so is mine. This is something that all parents of children with special needs can relate to. I need to overthink life when we are together. While he is at this young age, I am his protector. I am his hand to hold when things get too loud or surprisingly startling or too bright or too dark or too wet or too smelly…should I keep going?

Things that neurotypical kids regulate without even knowing, our “sensory sensitive” kids don’t. There is a lot going on that I don’t understand, but you know what? I KNOW MY SON. I can learn his patterns and his fears, I can look ahead to foresee possible issues and help avoid or lessen them. This is part of my passion as his mom. His life can be just as comfortable as mine, it will just look a bit different.

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Through this journey with Jasan I have become more patient. More kind. More understanding. More compassionate.

You never know what another person’s reality is.

 

 

Brutus.

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My brother named my stepdad’s truck Brutus many years ago when he was stuck driving it during a time period where he was car-less. It cracks us all up because the name is so appropriate. It’s an older truck that is an extra vehicle for our family. Sometimes you just need the bed of a truck to move things and it’s convenient to have one around.

Because this is an extra vehicle, it’s older. It’s not pristine by any means.

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Unfortunately, Brutus had made contact with a deer in the past. 😦 Whoever owned Brutus previously definitely smoked cigars in it. (Ick.) And, this lovely truck has no functioning A/C.

But, Jasan loves the truck. He has the sound of the windshield wipers memorized…

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And he’s a boy. Trucks are just cool.

It’s mulch spreading time of year, and Brutus is being utilized to move big piles around the yard. Jasan likes to hang with his Grampie, so I caught these shots yesterday.

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He was content in truck world.

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When the neighborhood kids come over, they all like to hang in Brutus.

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Boys and trucks. 🙂

Gauges.

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Do you see Jasan?

He is in gauge heaven. I have appropriately titled this shot: Altimeter reflection. 🙂

Here are a few more fun airplane photos…

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He sure does love being in this plane. I feel so grateful that he has had these experiences.

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So is he.

 

 

Love & Bedtime.

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I shot the photo above a few nights ago while Jasan was in bed with his flashlight. It’s part of our lengthy bedtime routine, but as long as we follow it, he goes to sleep without a problem. Usually, he falls asleep to music every night, but tonight he switched it up on me.

A couple of days ago he was perusing through the music on our iPad and came across this song. He has been stuck on it since he heard it. This was his request for sleeping music…this one song, on repeat. Because it is mellow and something he could most definitely fall asleep to, I obliged.

Up until tonight, part of his sleeping routine included dancing to one song before we turn off the small lamp in his room. Tonight was different though: he wanted me to hold him. I picked him up and cradled him in my arms. We danced around the room just like we used to when he was teeny tiny. (I used to dance with him to all different kinds of music when he was a baby. I would hold him, dance to the music and gently tap his body so he could feel the beats of the music through my hands and my body movements. Now that I know he is autistic, I am even happier that I made a point to do that daily. I am sure that is a lovely body memory for him.)

Tears started streaming down my face while I started listening to the lyrics of this song. (He loved the dancing so much that he requested it three times in a row. I couldn’t say no!) Each time I connected to something different. I know that this is a love song intended for a romantic relationship, but I’m changing it around tonight.

I have realized, on many different occasions now, how extremely connected my son and I are. He knows what is going on within me just as much as I know what is going on within him. There is something undeniable about our situation and our existence together. I have been in a bit of a funk all day, and so has he. But at the end of the day, when it is all said and done, here we are. Together. In our comfort zone, doing what we always do. God works through Jasan so much to speak to me.

The whisper I heard was to listen to these lyrics as if it’s my relationship with my autistic son. It’s beautiful, and it’s a journey. Having a child has shown me how deep love runs. Jasan has shown me how MIND BLOWING love IS. Real LOVE enhances our existence here on Earth. Having my son and embarking on this journey of self-discovery has brought me to a place of happiness that is hard to describe.

I Won’t Give Up

When I look into your eyes
It’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
Well there’s so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No, I won’t give up
I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use the tools and gifts
We got yeah we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we didn’t tend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn, how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I got, and what I’m not
And who I am

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up
I’m still looking up

I won’t give up on us
God knows I’m tough, he knows
We got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it

I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up

I won’t give up when times get hard as a parent. I won’t give up trying to figure this autism thing out. When I get sidetracked in life sometimes, all I need to do is look into Jasan’s eyes. He is my focus. Continuing to unravel my layers and become more self aware in my own personal journey enhances how I relate to my son. There is no other way than to stay positive. I have made that choice for us.

I could have gone down another path and been frustrated with my “single mom with autistic kid” status, but no way. God did intend for Jasan and me NOT TO BREAK. We are learning to understand each other’s different realities, and the world is not going to bring us down. Jasan’s energy is addictive to others. He is going to BE SOMETHING GREAT. We are going to be a great team together. That’s my attitude. That’s my intention for him and how I will guide him.

If I don’t keep learning about who I am, we won’t grow together. As I learn and change, I become better for BOTH of us. When he ages and needs to go and navigate, I WILL be waiting for him. I WILL be here to guide him when he needs me to. I will always be his Mama rock. I will be his safe haven…his consistency. Unconditional love.

I needed that attitude adjustment tonight and our bedtime routine led me right to it.

Thank you son. Thank you for enriching my life more than you will ever know.

Happy Father’s Day to all the deserving fathers out there.

The Laundry Room Series.

An obsession of Jasan’s. I keep capturing it. He loves it.

I’m getting behind on posting these images… so why not make it a mini series.

For the love of laundry.

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I love how he wanted to wear my comfy sweater. 😉

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Here he is looking in to his favorite laundry room (that resides at our friend’s home…) most likely in admiration.

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And then their is the laundry room that was also a highlight while we were on vacation in Florida. 4 generations in the photo below (including the one behind the lens.) ❤

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