Sunday, April 19, 2009

Star Wars Fighters

Here is a riddle for you:

What do you get if you cross a star wars fighter space ship with a character from the movie Cars? This is what you get:

Now, just to refresh your memory, THIS is what a "real" star wars fighter looked like:

Now, do you get the resemblance?

Well, not to worry, I didn't see it either! But if you are Frankie, they are pretty much the same thing! As long as Victor shares his opinion and plays along with him, Frankie does not care if anybody else agrees with his "creation." Of course, Victor is the biggest fan of Frankie's creation, since he is, without a doubt, his little brother's mentor. In our family, we have gotten accustomed to Victor's contraptions and original costumes - we are not surprised with anything he comes up with but with Frankie, well, that's a different story. See, being in the Autism Spectrum prevents Frankie from naturally playing pretend games or "pretending" that toys are things that they are not. This is why, creating a car that has supersonic abilities to fly and shoot in space was off the charts for him! Clearly we have taken the Star Wars frenzy a little too far in our household ever since the Christmas arrival of "the helmet," the light sabers and later on "the gun" for Victor's birthday...if you add the movie watching marathon, I believe we have ruined the boys forever....Well, I do believe that as long as the famous Lucas' films allow our kids (ALL of our kids) to dream, to create and to enjoy their fantasy world, May the Force be with them!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Rain

There is something magical about a rainy day. It's especially magic when it's quiet enough that you can hear the drops falling on the roof. It's soothing. The gloomy, rainy days of Seattle are like a dream come true for me. I must be very different from most people, but my spirit is lifted when I wake up to a rainy, cloudy day. The smells of a rainy day are so intense for me they awaken my senses and most often bring a smile to my face. Nobody else in my family shared this love for the rain with me, or so I thought, until the other day when Frankie gave me this picture he painted at preschool. I asked him what it was and he told me it was "the rain." This started a long conversation with him about the rain - a perfect opportunity to pick his brains! His eyes had a special light when he talked about it and his face was lit with enjoyment when he told me how much he liked the noise the rain made against the window of the car. He told me the rain was cold and that he liked to open his mouth to drink it (???) but most important of it all, he told me the rain made him happy. I do know it's true now because I watch him looking out the window when it's raining, when we are driving; I can check him out in the rear view mirror and he has a smile in his face...I often ask him if he is happy because of the rain and he answers with a big "YES!" It makes me wonder sometimes if being in Seattle is not only an opportunity to get help for our son and to provide a better life for all of us but also, in some special way, if this little piece of heaven was always meant to be home for us...I know that so far, Frankie and I are enjoying the rain, the smells it awakens from the earth, the soothing sounds it makes when it falls and the promise of a better tomorrow it often brings along.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Big Brother, Little Brother

During a recent visit to the library, the boys came across this book and went bananas over it - especially Frankie.  He started pointing at the book cover and identifying the boys in the book with Victor and himself.  As a matter of fact, I must agree the boys pictured in the cover share some physical similarities with my two boys but what's really the substance here is the story it tells.   This is not a blog entry about a book review, really, but the main idea behind this story is how these two brothers relate to each other and how they "understand" what the other one wants.  It wasn't too long ago, when Frankie was still non-verbal, that Victor was the main interpreter for his brother...I am starting to see the favor being returned by Frankie when Victor has an occasional meltdown.  These two complete each other in a way I never realized before when I was growing up myself.  I had siblings, sure, they were fun to play with and now that we are adults, I know I can count of them unconditionally, but the relationship that Frankie and Victor are building is nowhere near anything I have seen in other family siblings.  Frankie completes Victor in the way that he provides him with the audience he needs, the adoration, the attention, and makes him feel responsible and in charge, in two words, a Big Boy. Ever since Frankie started school, Victor comes along to drop him off in the morning, making sure other kids are nice to Frankie and helping him get through the "morning" social ritual of saying hello and commenting on the new backpack, the new haircut or the interesting stuff brought over for sharing.  I can see how Frankie follows Victor's leads and cues in the hard game of being "cool" and relating to his classmates - he is so blessed to have a big brother to look up to and Victor is so lucky to count on his little brother for unconditional admiration. They are beginning to understand who is the Big Brother and who is the Little Brother and they are both relating to their role pretty seriously...I can only hope they stay close to each other as they grow up and more than brothers, that they become life-long friends.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Book Club

Trying to find common ground with my "tween" daughter, I finally gave in and started reading the Twilight series.  After all, they are not that bad and as a matter of fact the books have turned out to be quiet entertaining but the best part of it all has been the bond it has helped me build with Rebecca.  Ever since she discovered Twilight, she has turned into a "bookworm" and I am quoting her teacher by the way!  She devours book, after book, and there is no budget that can keep up with her addiction and no library that can provide her with the books she wants, when she wants them!  By pleasing her, I have reclaimed that long lost love for reading I used to have in my own teen years and it has also reminded me of how I used to raid my mom's book collection too. I guess the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree after all and although Rebecca does not look ANYTHING like me in the outside, I can see a lot of myself in her ways.  Reading together in her room has become a new thing to look forward to - a new opportunity for her to act like a child again and cuddle with mom.  I can see how it is becoming harder and harder for her to show affection to me - hey, it's not cool to get mushy - I get it, but when we are both together, reading our books, although we are in our world, we are also sharing time and space and feeling like the generation gap is no longer there.  We have conversation sessions about the characters and exchange opinions about the plot; it's beyond stimulating for me - it's an opportunity to look inside the forming character of my little girl, soon to be a young woman.  In more than one occasion, our reading sessions end being "sleep overs" and although dad is not a happy camper, it feels good to spend this kind of quality time with Rebecca...she doesn't know she needs it but she does.  

One thing I do know for sure, if I can be cool enough to read Twilight (and all the other stuff she wants me to read!), I can probably convince her to trust me with all the other "dreadful" stuff  I will have to endure as I help her make her way through "teen town."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Eggs, bacon and lots of love

One of the great things about our "new" life since we moved to Washington has been having meals together, at home. I'm sure that most people who live in a big city, with big city jobs and demands and long commutes, must have the same problem we used to have back in Miami. We pretty much had meals together only in the weekends and always at restaurants. Sometimes we used to have breakfasts at grandma's house but most always will go to a little Cuban cafeteria by our house that was good, fast and affordable. Since our move, I've become more "domestic" so part of the experience has been cooking; like everything in life one must do as a chore, it really was not something I looked forward to doing. Regardless, now that I'm in charge of feeding this troop, I'm actually taking pride in pretty much every meal I put together. My parents teased me the last time they visited that every breakfast at my house feels like a Sunday Brunch at a restaurant; although they were exaggerating a bit, they were right indeed! I do try to make daily breakfast special at our home but on Saturday and Sunday, I really go all out. I must confess that when we first moved, we did try to continue having breakfast out on weekends but the wait was always annoying and the kids would be unruly but the time we sat down - it was not very enjoyable, to say the least. I ended up realizing that pretty much everything we ate out at breakfast time, with the exception of dim sum, we could make at home ten times better. We decided to try breakfast at home and little by little, we gave up the restaurant outings. Originally, it was my husband's job to cook but I'm not sure exactly when I took over! Breakfast cooking doesn't feel to me like "cooking" - there is something about it that gives me an opportunity to show my family how much I love them. Making breakfast it's not just about cooking the usual pancakes, eggs and bacon but also making more sophisticated stuff like quiches, rice/eggs/cheese cups, ham/cheese empanadas, oatmeal & honey loaf breads and even throwing in some fresh fruit with whip cream! It is indeed something I look forward to doing, although I still give my husband a hard time for quitting his job as our original breakfast cook.

I always knew that weekend breakfast was a labor of love for me but I had no idea that the kids realized this too. Of course they always say thanks for the yummy food when they are done but what Frankie did last Sunday was off the charts. While he was enjoying his scrambled eggs and inhaling his bacon, he stopped to breathe and said: "I love you mom and I'm happy!"- then he got up from his chair and gave me a hug. Not only did he tell ME that he loved me but also went around the table telling everyone else how much he loved them too! We all pretty much melted with such display of emotion from our little guy so, in turn, we started to say "I love you" to each other too. I don't think that a moment like this would have taken place at a noisy, busy IHOP!

Life can be a little tough for families dealing with autism but there is not enough said about the joys to be experienced too. I think that because you work so hard to cope, you also become more aware and more in tune, not only with your special kid but with your entire family too. Sometimes I feel like I was asleep before and that I didn't wake up to life until Frankie came into our family; I regret all the years I missed from my kids' lives because I was just going through the motions without really experiencing each moment. I must say that there are some sorrows in my life today but also much more happiness. Most days, I'm not sure of what lies ahead for our family or of what we are going to be doing next month or next year; what I'm certain of, is that on Sunday morning I will cook breakfast for my family, not only so we can eat together but so we can enjoy each other's love.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I'm not sure where I have been.  Probably I got lost in the fog (January 20th entry) and after being angry for the first time in months (March entry) I just crossed over to the DARK SIDE...not sure what it was but I am back to writing on this blog to get my "therapy" going again or maybe just for kicks!  Perhaps it was that I had so many things on hold and nothing definite coming out of it -  I'm certainly not the kind of person who enjoys playing "waiting games."  Some of the things I had "on-hold" have finally gotten some closure;  Frankie started preschool last month; we finally found a new house to move to; all the birthdays have come and gone and so have the family from Miami. Today, I don't face uncertainty anymore but I see "projects," ready to be tackled; There is the move to be completed; Rebecca is going to her big 6th grade camp trip; we are in the way to finishing Victor's ADHD diagnosis and treatment; and we have finalized plans for a quick trip to Miami.  Of course, getting my sister settled with us after her big move in the summer will be a whole different project on itself!  All and all, it's all good - really positive stuff - just my ticket!

I really do feel like that song about seeing clear when the rain is gone, even if there is always rain in Seattle!  Although the weather is still cold - and we still have the occasional snow shower - spring is starting to peak; summer is more than a promise, it's  a certainty and the light at the end of the tunnel is bright and invigorating.  I'm starting to feel like I am waking up from a long winter's nap and ready to be alert, alive and back to blogging....This is our life and it matters to record the good the bad and the ugly, if not for posterity, at the very least to get a good laugh TODAY!