Saturday, December 27, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Speaking of memories, here is my favorite singer, singing my favorite Christmas song:
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The truth is that potty training, "cold turkey style" (pull ups out and underwear only), has been a different and trying experience for everyone in this family but mostly for the incumbent, Frankie, also known as Rudolph, Santa, Candy Cane, Frosty, Lolly Pop and lately "Baby Bear." He is taking on every make-believe personality he can just to stay away from being "Frankie," a.k.a., the boy who needs to grow up and stop using pull ups. Mr. Multiple Personality is trying to be slick and has decided that wearing underwear is not for him, although it implies being a big boy, usually his ultimate goal following on the steps of big brother Victor. This time, Frankie is choosing to remain a baby. I tend to believe it has been the "hard work" involved in using the potty that has convinced him not to grow up, at least for now....but then again, who wants to? I know, I don't, and I am pretty sure most of you don't want to do it either! Today marks a week of the beginning of our "intensive potty training," three-day extravaganza, which we were able to pull off with the help of our lovely elves from the UW Autism Center. After the party was over, the weekend was crazy and this week has proven to be no less than insane so far. The three-day stuff was intense but it was also fun; we played tons of games and enjoyed the holiday season together...movies, pizza, stories and of course accidents but most of all, we really enjoyed helping Frankie take the next step in his growing process.
One big helper in the potty training this week and the reason why Frankie is now "baby bear" instead of just "baby," has been "Big Mama Bear" (see above slide show). Mama Bear is busy using the potty, besides doing some cross dressing on the side (wearing Frankie's underwear). She also has an incontinence problem (needs to go all the time) AND is dealing with constipation (ALWAYS trying to do #2) so she spends all day on the potty. Frankie is responding pretty well to sharing the bathroom with Mama Bear and I think we are getting close to accomplishing our ultimate goal! The big red bin full of goodies is working out great for positive reinforcement and avoiding accidents but we've had to resort to the heavy duty stuff to inspire Frankie to do more: WALL-E toys/movie, along with some help from the Monsters Inc. boys.
Frankie's potty training is still a work in progress so we can't really say we are all done yet. Incidentally, it just crossed my mind that we, as adults, are rarely ever done growing, adjusting and/or evolving - we are always dealing with some sort of training, emotional or physical, at one point or the other. Frankie's choice to remain a baby, human or cub, does not seem like such a crazy idea after all when you realize how much easier it is to say NO to change than conquering your fears. In the end, it is all better when it's all done!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
It has been a hard year away from our loved ones and the place we call home. This Christmas, once more, we will be by ourselves during the holidays but at the same time, we will enjoy each other more. To end this year, we have a list of things planned from greeting Christmas Ships at the beach to attending tree lighting celebrations; from drinking hot chocolate in the morning to having eggnog in the evening; from having breakfast with Santa to attending Christmas day mass; from Nutcracker school field trips to experiencing "snow" in a mall; from parade to parade; from Downtown lights to Zoo-lights! We are going to do all the merry stuff we can and we are going to enjoy each moment!
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Raci has been out on a business trip for the past five days (and we still have four more to go!) and our bed has been invaded by three little creatures...the most interesting one of these creatures is a smiley cat named Frankie. He meows for milk in the morning and asks with a smile if he can have milk "pleeeeeease....meaowwwwww." It's so cute I can't say no! He reminds me of that sneaky cat from Alice in wonderland...I don't think I ever learned his name but I couldn't forget the "grin" - it was unique! Well, my cute little cat Frankie is pretending to be a kitty cat with purrs and all asking for milk at all times, including crazy times before my alarm goes off but who can't say NO to a smiling kitty? Not me! specially when the lovable feline goes right back to sleep after his warm milk is gone. I have no problem with that....One milk coming right up!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Frankie with Recess Monkey posing after the concert. He couldn't get over his band cool button!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Our AWESOME Fart-Portraits for this Christmas. We had a good time thanks to some very loud fart noises. Chill out, it was only gas!
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
My son Victor also casted his vote today but not for Obama or for McCain but for the Big Bad Wolf. He told me that he had heard the wolf's side of the story at school today (The Three Little Pigs) and then he was asked to cast a vote for either the pig or the wolf. After "careful consideration," he decided to vote for the wolf. He did believe that it all had been a tragic misunderstanding. He also told me that most of his friends voted for the pig and thought the wolf was lying but that he stuck to his guns and casted his vote for the wolf. I personally tend to believe the wolf was not entirely truthful in his account but I do respect the guts it took for Victor to stand by an unpopular decision. I was happy to see he was excited to cast his vote and make his voice heard and I was proud to realize my kid has found his own voice and is not afraid to vote accordingly. I trust that we all had the courage to get out there and vote today - whichever way we decided to vote, as long as it got done!
Here is the account of the wolf on the three little pigs case for your enjoyment:
SOMERSET PA (AP) -- A. Wolf took the stand today in his own defense. This shocked and stunned the media who predicted that he would not testify in the brutal double murder trial. A. Wolf is accused of killing (and eating) The First Little Pig, and The Second Little Pig. This criminal trial is expected to be followed by a civil trial to be brought by the surviving Third Little Pig. The case has been characterized as a media circus.
His testimony is transcribed below:
"Everybody knows the story of the Three Little Pigs. Or at least they think they do. But I'll let you in on a little secret. Nobody knows the real story, because nobody has ever heard my side of the story. I'm Alexander T. Wolf. You can call me Al. I don't know how this whole Big Bad Wolf thing got started, but it's all wrong. Maybe it's because of our diet. Hey, it's not my fault wolves eat cute little animals like bunnies and sheep and pigs. That's just the way we are. If cheeseburgers were cute, folks would probably think you were Big and Bad too. But like I was saying, the whole big bad wolf thing is all wrong. The real story is about a sneeze and a cup of sugar.
THIS IS THE REAL STORY.
Way back in Once Upon a Time time, I was making a birthday cake for my dear old granny. I had a terrible sneezing cold. I ran out of sugar. So I walked down the street to ask my neighbor for a cup of sugar. Now this neighbor was a pig. And he wasn't too bright either. He had built his whole house out of straw. Can you believe it? I mean who in his right mind would build a house of straw? So of course the minute I knocked on the door, it fell right in. I didn't want to just walk into someone else's house. So I called, "Little Pig, Little Pig, are you in?" No answer. I was just about to go home without the cup of sugar for my dear old granny's birthday cake.
That's when my nose started to itch. I felt a sneeze coming on. Well I huffed. And I snuffed. And I sneezed a great sneeze.
And you know what? The whole darn straw house fell down. And right in the middle of the pile of straw was the First Little Pig - dead as a doornail. He had been home the whole time. It seemed like a shame to leave a perfectly good ham dinner lying there in the straw. So I ate it up. Think of it as a cheeseburger just lying there. I was feeling a little better. But I still didn't have my cup of sugar . So I went to the next neighbor's house. This neighbor was the First Little Pig's brother. He was a little smarter, but not much. He has built his house of sticks. I rang the bell on the stick house. Nobody answered. I called, "Mr. Pig, Mr. Pig, are you in?" He yelled back."Go away wolf. You can't come in. I'm shaving the hairs on my shinny chin chin."
I had just grabbed the doorknob when I felt another sneeze coming on. I huffed. And I snuffed. And I tried to cover my mouth, but I sneezed a great sneeze.
And you are not going to believe this, but the guy's house fell down just like his brother's. When the dust cleared, there was the Second Little Pig - dead as a doornail. Wolf's honor. Now you know food will spoil if you just leave it out in the open. So I did the only thing there was to do. I had dinner again. Think of it as a second helping. I was getting awfully full. But my cold was feeling a little better. And I still didn't have that cup of sugar for my dear old granny's birthday cake. So I went to the next house. This guy was the First and Second Little Pig's brother. He must have been the brains of the family. He had built his house of bricks. I knocked on the brick house. No answer. I called, "Mr Pig, Mr. Pig, are you in?" And do you know what that rude little porker answered? "Get out of here, Wolf. Don't bother me again." Talk about impolite! He probably had a whole sackful of sugar. And he wouldn't give me even one little cup for my dear sweet old granny's birthday cake. What a pig!
I was just about to go home and maybe make a nice birthday card instead of a cake, when I felt my cold coming on. I huffed And I snuffed. And I sneezed once again.
Then the Third Little Pig yelled, " And your old granny can sit on a pin!" Now I'm usually a pretty calm fellow. But when somebody talks about my granny like that, I go a Little crazy. When the cops drove up, of course I was trying to break down this Pig's door. And the whole time I was huffing and puffing and sneezing and making a real scene.
The rest as they say is history.
The news reporters found out about the two pigs I had for dinner. They figured a sick guy going to borrow a cup of sugar didn't sound very exciting.
So they jazzed up the story with all of that "Huff and puff and blow your house down"
And they made me the Big Bad Wolf. That's it The real story. I was framed. "
Monday, November 3, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
My first born put me through it last year with her school transition and the pain and suffering we went through together, made me feel like a fifth grader again...If I would have competed in that program, Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?, I would have probably won! Just to put it in practical terms I am now on a first name basis with her teacher and we exchange friendly e-mails once in a while. At the time, I thought she was looking for attention since so much was going on with Frankie and our daily activities revolved around his evaluations, therapies, doctor appointments and so on...now I think it might have just been a whole different story.
For the second time in her short life, Rebecca faced a life-changing event and my little girl grew up, along with all the pains that accompany the process. The last time she had to deal with a big change it was after losing her grandfather when she was seven and we had to go through just about six months of grief counseling for that. This time, the symptoms were a little more subtle so I almost missed them. Fortunately, I could relate in so many ways to this change since I myself had to leave my country at seventeen and faced a different language, a different society and had to leave all my friends behind. I know a little bit about young dreams being broken and feeling your whole world is crumbling down on top of you head. Although I knew back then that moving was for the benefit of my entire family, I still had this bitterness inside for a while that made me want to be an only child.
After the drama of the horrible school year we endured with Rebecca, we decided she was not going to Miami for vacation as we had agreed when we first moved. We felt she needed to understand that her behavior during the year had not earned her such a privilege so we went ahead and grounded her. We were probably wrong to do this but at the end, a Summer with my daughter proved to be the best one for both of us. In the midst of lunches at the beach and at the park, along with afternoon walks, I learned to understand her better and to respect her feelings. Most importantly, I made the transition from treating her like a child to treating her like a teen; I was able to see through the soul of this precious being I call my daughter. On the other hand, Rebecca learned how to express herself in ways other than acting up and learned to trust me and speak her mind with respect. She learned that her needs are as important as those of her brothers and I learned to make sure she does not forget this. She is not here anymore as part of the "family move" but she has bought into the benefits of having a better education, of having mom at home and knowing that her brothers, specially Frankie, can look forward to a better future because of all of us pulling together as a family.
This school year has been wonderful so far and she has earned a few cooking classes on the side. To our surprise, instead of asking for a cooking class, she asked us to register her in a "babysitting" class sponsored by the red cross. She said she wanted to learn how to take care of her brothers and what to do in an emergency. I tell you, sometimes I think she is the adult and I am the kid - I don't think it has ever crossed my mind to learn CPR - I figured if I had an emergency I can always call 911!!!! Well, Rebecca did go to the course and is proud to display her certificate card on her wallet. Our little girl grew up.
These days I don't write so much about Rebecca because she is back to being a quiet soul, gentle and kind. She doesn't like the lime light and is contempt with being in the background, just tagging along to whatever the rest of us decides the course might be for our pack. Sometimes, more than I would like, I might just lose her in the shuffle of this crazy household but I do make an effort to remember to spend quality time with her like blow-drying her hair, doing each other's toe nails and just being girls. She can watch those dreadful Dr. Who episodes with her dad but that's entirely another blog entry!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Recently, Victor participated in making applesauce from scratch with his preschool class at the Shoreline Children's Center. Now, don't be fooled, it was not just any applesauce, it was a group effort and it was just delicious! All children were to bring one apple and participate in the process of peeling it, cutting it, smashing it and cooking it together with the rest. The result of their individual contribution, a "diverse" apple sauce, was shared and enjoyed by all members of Victor's home room (and some lucky parents too!). There you have it: An applesauce made with all kinds of apples (gala, granny smith, red delicious, etc) and sweetened by the pride of preschoolers who were delighted in making something so delicious, together. At the end of the process, this awesome applesauce belonged to ALL but was made from each one's individual apple. What a wise lesson of community involvement! One apple can't give you much applesauce but 30+ can definitely provide you with a big pot! These children are 3, 4 and 5 years old and are already being taught the importance of working together. No wonder Seattle kids grow up to be empowered citizens in charge of their own destiny, with a clear community vision and a strong desire to be involved.
By coming up with exercises like this one, Victor's teacher and her assistants have taught our son the way into becoming a responsible child, eager to learn and share his knowledge with his peers but most of all, he has learned to be kind, compassionate and proud to help others...this is more than I can ask from ANY school curriculum.
We are lucky to have moved to Washington and become some of the apples of this awesome applesauce!
Victor waits his turn and takes a shot at using the apple peeler during the "apple sauce" hands-on Project.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
The whole thing's got HUGE proportions for me because it made my day, my week and probably my last three months! Frankie is actually starting to pretend, to make believe and he is using his imagination - this time, spontaneously and without a prompt. He dogged out the "catcher" from the drawer and held it up for me to see it, then he looked straight into my eyes and exclaimed, "look, it's a bunny catcher!" and then went on telling me a story of how the bunny jumps and gets away from him but he runs after the bunny and catches it with his handy-dandy "bunny catcher."
If I would have not had the year I've had, I would probably think this is not a big deal but considering that I have been working so hard to get my kid to do things that are supposed to come naturally to him (eye contact, pointing, taking turns, sharing and so on), milestones like the "bunny catcher" are worth blogging about!!! During those really dark days of the initial Autism diagnosis, when we lived one day at a time, completing one task at a time and hoping for a miracle, I never thought I would see the day when a mixer attachment would become a "catcher"; furthermore, I never imagined how this would make me so immensely happy. It feels that the dark times are far behind us, yet it's only been seven months. The Frankie we enjoy now is not the quiet little boy who used to stare at the floor and into space but he has become this "chatter box" who does not stop talking, building complete sentences and expressing his likes and dislikes. We have gotten our son back and there is no limit to the amazing possibilities the future holds for our special child...He is now part of this crazy family, fighting like the rest of us to get a word in at the dinner table.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
You don't know "GREEN" until you move to Seattle. This is the typical collection day line up for Seattlelites: BIG BLUE CAN (recycling), BIG GREEN CAN (compost - ???) and small black can (regular garbage), ah, I forgot to tell you that collection day only happens ONCE A WEEK. For us new comers from the Magic City, this set-up was pretty strange - we didn't even know what compost was (how do you even begin to do that!) because the garbage disposal was our best friend - and we never, ever had enough stuff to recycle inside that BIG can. Every Tuesday (collection day), the black can was overflowing and waiting to be emptied to be filled again and again.....I endured this drama for about six months until I decided we needed to get a BIG BLACK CAN, despite the probable dismay of our neighbors and the horrible certainty that we ALONE, were the cause of global warming. The guilt did not last too long because I could handle the shame easily but not the garbage smell inside our garage - NO WAY! So, as we were the only house on the block with a BIG BLACK CAN, a half-way empty blue can and of course, NO GREEN CAN, everyone knew we were the people who came from Miami, pretty much a synonym with "waste" at this point!
After almost a year now of living in Seattle, we are faced with a new challenge: the big black can (which costs $10.00 more per month) is now half-way empty. Well, little by little we have learned to REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE (this is the motto of CleanScapes, our collection company) and although I don't go grocery shopping with a reusable canvas bag, YET, we have done away with our Styrofoam plates and cups (!!!!!!!!) and are actually washing our dishes - unbelievable, I know, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be and our daily lives are now consistent with what our kids are being taught in school. We still get plastic bags at the store but it's only so we can put our garbage inside and throw it in the big can....now, I hear that's not necessary when you "compost" your garbage...it turns out the secret is to use biodegradable bags, provided by the collection company, and use them to collect your food scraps and throw them inside the green can (the one we DON'T have) and let it just become a big old mess - smelly and horrible looking but very, very good for the environment - go figure! Well, who knows, I might just give it a shot and get a smaller black can (AGAIN) and get a green one to produce our own disgusting worm-feeding pile of garbage and contribute to the efforts of cleaning up the planet - or not. One thing is for sure, I am getting rid of the BIG BLACK CAN because I am not paying $10.00 extra to have it half-way empty! I am definitely into saving some GREEN $!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
In my constant search for balance and self-worth, I strive to have at least one moment of praying time during the day (or night) and establish that connection with a higher being but most of the time I am forced to find God in the ones I share my life with and this is more real than any rosaries I pray. I have, with the help of Mr. Coelho, discovered that the center of the universe is revealed to me by connecting me with my loved ones at light speed! In one split second, I can share their triumphs, their failures, their wishes, their hopes, their very souls. My kids came from my "center" and I came from someone else's and so life gets passed on through that hole in our middle....We are all connected with the Universe and the creator of it, through the miracle of life and the love that makes it possible. After this revealing moment in my life I can now stop feeling like the servant and more like the rock that keeps everyone grounded. Although at this time in my life, my own personal goals are "on hold", I feel like I am still growing and evolving and that I have found my center, with the help of those who I provide balance for: my family.