Friday, March 29, 2013

"Here I am waiting, I'll have to leave soon..."

One! Two! Three! Four! Five! I'm alive!

Y'all remember that one? Anyway...

ONE: It's Friday, but it felt like a Saturday because there was no school for PJ because it's Spring Break! I was so excited to spend the day with my boys. Today was the only day of PJ's vacation that we had to ourselves, between Pete's work schedule and our trip to Ocean City, MD next week. I even rescheduled a therapy visit from PJ's behavioral therapist because I wanted the day to be all. to. ourselves. But, a stream of texts from the staffing office at Pete's hospital, begging for help, cut our family day short. Pete decided to offer to help and to be honest, um, hello? Overtime pay?!?!?!?! We needz it. I was disappointed to cut our family day short, but happy that Pete was able to help out his very short-handed ER tonight.

TWO: With Pete off to work, it was up to PJ's Jewish mama to dye eggs with him! PJ had a great time at the egg dying party his aunt and uncle hosted for all of the cousins, but it was too much noise/too many kids, and he couldn't focus enough to dye any eggs. But with a smaller crowd (him and I), he did much better, plopping eggs into dye and marvelling at the transformation (" eggs!"). I forgot to bring my (ahemMarla's) camera in the kitchen, so I grabbed the iPad, and now I can't figure out how to get the pictures off of it. But trust me, the eggs are cute and PJ had a blast!

THREE: To quote the esteemed Kit De Luca (if you have to ask who that is, just STOP READING MY BLOG!) "What, you want me to name someone? You want, like, a name? Oh, God, the pressure...of a name...". That angst, right there? Of trying to pinpoint a certain thing? That's how I am feeling about making a decision on where we are going to live next and what that means about PJ's schooling. Our perfect apartment in the perfect spot in town is becoming too small, too noisy. We also would like to have another child, which would be a very tight fit here. All of those decisions, coupled with choosing the best school system for PJ, is making my head spin.

FOUR: In the past two weeks, I have become very lax in the exercise routine that I had been working so hard at since the new year began. Must fix. I wouldn't say that I have grown to enjoy exercise, but I had become committed to the routine of hitting the gym every day, and working out at home during the evenings. I am enjoying the change in my body even if I am not enjoying the process, so I need to push myself to get back on track.

FIVE: If you haven't read about it already, we visited the Liberty Science Center and were given the opportunity to visit and review the new Curious George: Let's Get Curious exhibit! I am offering a lucky winner two tickets for admission to the LSC, so please be sure to check out my post and enter! :-)

I am making a last-minute Friday linkup with sweet Joy of The Sowell Life!
Swing on by and tell her hello for me!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

" my mind begins to spread its wings, there's no stopping curiosity."

You guys! Look at my blog! We got a makeover! Elle from Dig Deep Designs waved her magic wand and made us look amazing! Keep your eyes open for more Elle-induced improvements and Elle, thank you, chickadee!
I lovelovelove it!


I adore going on "adventures" with my little family! Spending time with my husband Pete and my three year old son PJ fills my heart, and while I love a good, stay-inside-and-wear-pajamas-all-day kind of day, I enjoy getting out of the house and exploring with my best boys.

We were recently invited to preview a new exhibit at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ. Road trip! It was an hour and a half drive up the good old New Jersey Turnpike, but it turned out to be well worth it to check out the Curious George: Let's Get Curious! exhibit that is showing now through May 12th.

While my heart may love a good adventure, sometimes my brain can quash my spirit. My son PJ was diagnosed with Autism at the age of two, and what might seem to be no sweat for a typically developing child can be too loud, scary, difficult to navigate or stimulating for a child with special needs. Despite all of that, a trip to see one of my favorite monkeys was too good to pass up, so I just told my brain to shush, loaded my family into the car, and didn't take my foot off the gas until we were in Jersey City!

When we entered the LSC, I wasn't sure that we would make it past the entrance, as PJ was enthralled with the Hoberman Sphere, a "suspended kinetic sculpture" or, translated to three-year-old boy, a big silver ball in the sky that opens and closes!. PJ couldn't take his eyes off of it, but we tore him away and headed towards George.

The very first thing to catch PJ's eye was the Space Rocket, where he could climb into a space vessel and then exit down a bright yellow escape hatch- er, sliding board! PJ loved it, and it provided some great opportunities for body awareness and vestibular input for him as he climbed up the stairs and slid down the slide!

We left outer space and headed over to the Farm, where PJ spent the most time of any of the stations at the George exhibit. PJ built his own "whirligig" with Tinker-toy-esque wooden wheels and sticks. My husband and I really loved seeing PJ was explore imaginative play, along with using his fine motor skills. There was enough space for several children to work, promoting social skills and sharing.

Future Tinker-er.

Hi, George! I see you!
The exhibit was crowded with eager, happy families, all exploring the new sights and sounds of George's world. Everyone was very friendly and the children were playing so nicely, but the noise and crowds started to get to PJ. Thankfully, there are other areas in the LSC for younger learners, so we took a break and headed over to another exhibit. PJ was especially enamored with the turtles and fish in Our Hudson Home. And in the interest of full disclosure, I will admit- the turtle swimming around with his fishy friends was so cute, I wanted to scoop him out and give him a belly rub! We even spotted a familiar friend in the encased "shores" of the Hudson!

With PJ feeling calm, we headed back to George. PJ took a few more slides down the rocket ship and then took his father by the hand to go explore the Apartment. With colored windows and the look of a tall building, it was straight out of the cartoon! I half expected the Man With the Yellow Hat and the doorman to pop out to greet PJ! Much like the cartoon, it was colorful and bright while still soft and soothing- a quality that is one of my favorite things about the Curious George cartoons! Inside, PJ explored shadows, color and light, having a blast making shadow animals on the wall with his Dad. He also enjoyed building with blocks and shining lights on them to create different shadows.

If I met Adam Levine sitting on a park bench, I still don't think that my reaction could hold a candle to PJ "meeting" Curious George. It was one of those moments that are so sweet, you can't stop smiling! George sits, life-sized, perched on a circular bench filled with doors, knobs, wheels and other activities for the youngest visitors. PJ showered George with hugs, and graciously gave his Mommy and Daddy a smile and a pose.

PJ started to get tired (it was bedtime by the time we left!), so we said our goodbyes to George and his city world at the LSC. The outing that I had looked forward to, albeit with some trepidation, was a rousing success for my family.

If you have a child with an ASD, or with a sensory-processing disorder, try going to the museum at an "off" time, if possible. Right at opening or an hour or so before closing are often great times to avoid the crowds. You can even call and ask a customer service representative (the LSC website offers live chat!) and inquire about less-crowded times. We were there for a preview, so the crowds were unavoidable. Even so, if you child becomes overwhelmed, try another exhibit. In our case, the swimming fish and paddling turtle in the Our Hudson Home exhibit were soothing when PJ became hyper. PJ had some extra room to move, and with less people came less noise. After a while, he seemed centered again and ready to return to the George exhibit. Particularly, if you are like us and visiting the LSC with a child aged 2-5, there are many other exhibits that are age-appropriate. We found it very easy to navigate the museum and found so many things for PJ to try out!

We had an amazing time and I am very, very excited to have the opportunity to give a lucky reader two tickets for admission to the Liberty Science Center, to check out Curious George: Let's Get Curious and explore all of the amazing exhibits (be sure to say hello to my friend, the turtle!)! This is my first "real" giveaway and I am thrilled to pass on the opportunity to check out such a great asset to my lovely Garden State!

To enter, go visit the Liberty Science Center website and tell me what part of the Curious George: Let's Get Curious exhibit you think your child will enjoy the most by leaving a comment below! You can also enter by tweeting me at @abreezylifeblog, be sure to include #meetGeorgeatLSC in your tweet! Enter both ways to increase your chances, and be sure to pass on this giveaway to a friend with a young learner! This giveaway will end at noon on April 7th, with the winner contacted and announced that evening right here!


Saying goodbye to the Liberty Science Center!

Disclosure: Our giveaway tickets are being provided by the Liberty Science Center. We were invited to to attend the preview of the Curious George: Let's Get Curious exhibit free of change and offered the opportunity to review it. That said, all of the opinions here are my own and completely truthful.

A few more pictures from our time at the LSC:

Monday, March 25, 2013

"Where on earth is the sun, anyway?"

It's a very strange springtime Monday here in NJ, as the snow has been falling steadily all morning. I love how we made it through the entire winter season with nary a flurry and we get snow the first week of spring.


I've been relatively absent from my blog through this strange-weathered month of March, without any reason then that I just sometimes lose my words. I can usually tell as soon as I sit at the computer if I will have something to say and lately, I have sat down, reached in, and came up with nothing. And not because I didn't have anything to say, but that my inner monologue wasn't making it to my fingers.

A good friend of mine from my high school/youth group days is a screenwriter. His name is Jacob Krueger and he co-wrote the screen play for The Matthew Shepard Story, for which Stockard Channing won an Emmy playing Matthew's mother. Jake now runs a school for screenwriters. I am lucky enough to have once received some free advice from this now-seasoned professional: when you have writers block, just sit down and start writing anything. Write about how you need to take out the garbage, about what you had for dinner, whatever nonsense that you can think of and eventually, you will kind of release a real flow of words. It's a technique that I need to employ more often. I don't write for any professional reasons. I write because I enjoy it and because it is a release for me, so it's insane that I would avoid my computer because I don't feel like I'm spouting Shakespeare that day. For one thing, pffffft. My writing is more SpongeBob then Shakespeare, so why aspire to nonsense and for another, why walk around with a clogged brain when it's as simple as sitting down and just banging away on the keys? So there's that.

Last week we met with PJ's teacher for Parent/Teacher conferences. He has made so many amazing strides in a few short months, and while he still has a long way to go, we are very happy with how hard both PJ and his teachers/therapists are working. We went from PJ being a huge behavior problem to being well-behaved, learning everything he can get his hands on, being a friend to his classmates and an asset to the classroom. PJ still displays some of his nonsense when the activity isn't what he wants, or during transitions. But, he only needs to be redirected once and then he's "all in", as his teacher said. And in case you needed further proof that he is the grandson of my father, he scored at or above average in all of the mathematics objectives. Atta boy. :-) Last week I got to visit his class as the Mystery Reader, and it was so much fun to walk in and see him sitting in his little blue chair for circle time, smiling at his classmates. It's not like Early Intervention, where I was next to him for every single step. He's becoming his own little dude now and it is amazing and wonderful and it breaks my damn heart!

We are ready for spring around here. It was a long, gloomy winter and even though it's still hanging on, I can taste spring. I am longing for walks after dinner and time at the playground. We can have picnics after school and not wear jackets. My kiddo is an outdoors type of kiddo, and I can't wait to see what kind of blossoming he does with a little sun.

And now the news is on, which means that, as usual, I am up too late. It's time to call it a night and head off to bed.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"I'm always searching for something..."

{stream of consciousness}

I have been the worst blogger in the world. I have barely done so much as write a Facebook status update, much less sit down to write. It has just been one of those week. My allergies had my at their mercy and I didn't write enough, didn't clean enough, didn't go to the gym enough, and, if I can be honest, didn't parent or spouse enough. For a straight week I was in an allergy-induced, sleepy, nose-blowing haze.

Thankfully, PJ had a theme week at school, so at least getting him dressed didn't take a ton of thought! Monday was Red and White, Tuesday was Hat Day, Wednesday was Crazy Clothes (backwards and inside out!), Thursday was Crazy Socks and Friday was Favorite Places (he wore his Margate Lucy shirt!). School seems to be going so well for PJ in what has been a relatively small amount of time. He clearly loves his school, loves the bus, loves his friends and his teachers. I wasn't sure of what he would get out if school in terms of his own personal gain- mainly, if he would like it or make friends. He does and has. Who would have thought?

PJ had an evaluation with a local agency that provides ABA therapy. They came highly recommended and were the only provider that was in-network with our insurance. I thought the eval would include some one on one work with the therapist and PJ, but it was, essentially, and interview, with me answering a number of questions concerning PJ's development. To my dismay, the behaviorist didn't feel like PJ's behavior was bad enough to warrant ABA. Pete seemed to feel like it was a blessing in that a professional didn't think that PJ needed what could potentially be a back-breakingly expensive therapy, even with insurance coverage. But even though his behavior has improved by leaps and bounds, it's not the only issue that ABA would address. I don't want to be content with his progress and start coasting. PJ is so amazing and so full of potential and I want to capitalize on this time in his life that is so crucial to the rest of his life. So I am not sure where we go from here. It took me months just to get to the point where we're being told he doesn't need ABA, so I am frustrated to say the least.

It was a cranky week for me. I was feeling blah, and there was blah weather and blah life happenings to accompany it. Thankfully, a snowy, Friday morning visit to the coffee shop with some of my favorite women took some of the sting off, and the rest was blurred away by today- a sunny, perfect Saturday that was full with swim lessons, outside time, and playtime with cousins. My allergies are at bay and life feels a little like it's okay. :-)

At least, it does right now! Daylight savings time never wielded power over my life, but now that I have a child, hooooooo boy! So, it's off to gather my energy for that lost hour!

Friday, March 1, 2013

"Nothing's gonna stop us now..."

For the love of God, I am not sure what brought it on, but my allergies are completely nuts! I am sneezy, itchy, congested and clogged and it is not fun at all. Last night, I gave in and took two Benedryl and slept like a baby person all drugged out on anti-histamines. The sleep felt amazing, but I woke up with the magic drugs having worn off and back to feeling all allergy-y. So, it seems like my spring allergies are starting a little early this year. Feh.

RIght now is the most peaceful time of our day. PJ just got home from school and is quietly playing and decompressing from his day! When he comes off the bus, we hit the potty and then go through his folder and "talk" about his day. He still doesn't have the verbal skills to truly tell me about what he did, but I can ask questions and try to get an idea. He brought home some artwork today and I had to take a few guesses as to what it might be. I think it's a rock. One thing I didn't have to guess at was another reward for good behavior! It was a rocky first month or so, and it's still far from perfect, but PJ has really grown and is doing so well at school!

Deciding our next step in terms of where we will live has been a hot topic of discussion lately- or, it is when Pete and I have had a chance to talk! He's been working a lot this week! At any rate, we are having a hard time making a decision as to what will be best for our family. I find myself doing a lot of "what if" on issues that we have no way of predicting. Do we move sooner rather then later and put PJ in a pre-school program in a new district? Will we be as happy with it as we are with where he is now? IF we buy where we live now, will we want him to attend the only so-so high school in eleven years? If we move while he's in grade school, is it worth having PJ make new friends after he's become established in a school district? Will Autism make it difficult for him to make new friends either way? And can we ever afford to live in the school districts we are interested in?? Will I have to sleep with one- or both!- Property Bothers to get into a home??? It makes my head spin.

Another hot topic around these parts is getting PJ off the damn pacifier! I can't believe that I am one of those parents who has let his paci addiction go on this long. PJ is three years old, for goodness sake! I had imagined that the older he got, the less interest he would have in it. But nooooooooooooooooooo. Not my little nerd. He goes on a hunt for it as soon as he gets home from school! I tried hiding them, but he took to climbing his dresser to try and get to them! Holy Nimble Monkey, Batman!!! He scaled his shelves like he has suction cups in his palms- it nearly gave me a heart attack the first time I caught him at it! I gave up trying to hide the pacis because it's not worth a potential concussion, but I imagine that we should start saving for braces now. Fail, fail, fail.

Yesterday, pretty much everyone wished my sister Marla and her husband Steve a happy 5th Anniversary. Which is total bullshit because they got married on February 29th which may not be today but it was the day after the 28th which means that today is more their anniversary then yesterday was! So I am bucking what's cool (what else is new) and wishing them an amazing anniversary today! Marla's wedding was easily one of the best days of my life. For one thing, the whole event was just amazing and for another, we are far enough apart in age for me to remember that she wasn't supposed to make it to five years old, much less a five year anniversary. There were challenges then, and there are challenges now. I mean, when they promised "in sickness and in health" they did not joke around. I mean, for real. There's already been enough sickness for a lifetime of marriage! And they don't do it perfect, but they do this whole marriage thing, with the sickness and the life events and the change of original plans, with about as much strength and grace and brave as not-doing-it-perfect can get you. Which is pretty fucking good. I just talked with a dear friend this morning about how hard marriage is even in an ideal setting. It takes work to see the beauty in the everyday, especially when life throws so much in front of you. It's easy to just put on the blinders and forget about what we have. But my sister and her husband do the best they can to make sure they don't lose sight, and that is something to celebrate! So, Happy 5th Anniversary, Marla and Steve!!!

(So, did you see how I had five points for my Friday Five and I spelled out FRIDAY? Seriously. How do I not have a Pulitzer??)

It's the Friday Five, y'all!! I linked up with Joy from The Sowell Life for some end-of-the-week fun! Stop by her beautiful blog and tell that southern gal I sent you!

This is, perhaps, my favorite picture of Marla and I, ever.