Release the ya-ya’s

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

After being housebound for a few days due to the snow, we had to escape. Husband was under the weather and us girls needed to move.

The problem with the colder months is simple, Jess doesn’t like it. She was born a southern California girl and is definitely a flower child.

The downside to being anti-cold is it means she slows down this time of year and that effects her morning constitutional. Mall walking seems to solve our dilemma and it’s also our go-to place to expend energy. When the footing outside is bad and the wind is up, this is a hospitable place to be. There are other advantages; walking before the Mall opens means there are no crowds, window shopping is good and it’s free.

She tells me where she wants to go.

Jess has two speeds, stop and go. We don’t walk the Mall, we run.  In fact, we have a land speed record there. Not to brag, but we also hold the land speed record at the Baltimore Aquarium. One day we’ll go back and look at the fishes. I’m pretty sure she didn’t notice them the first time.

In a half hour, we can do two laps on the upper level and two on the lower. The other mall walkers are very encouraging and don’t mind when Jess passes them with unbridled enthusiasm.  Running for her is liberating and she is deceivingly fast.

On her wish list

By the end of our “walk”, Jess was ready to talk. She told me what she wanted at the market and then asked about discounts, I knew she had been listening to me when I told her earlier that apples were on sale and that we’d make more applesauce.

Once the ya-ya’s were released, we leisurely ran our errands, made it home before the crowds and all was well with the world.

The mother ship…Jess takes her AAC iPad everywhere

It’s all in the timing

Jessie, Roxy and I were driving home from the market. I know this sounds like the beginning of a joke, but really, I want to share that Jess told her first joke!  We had modeled jokes years ago on her Talker, but they didn’t seem to interest her at the time. Besides, she prefers slapstick humor.

I was surprised, she had good timing.

“Knock Knock”

    “Who’s there?”

“Mama Mia”

     “Mama Mia who?”

“Mama Mia movie”

She looked at me after each sentence and waited for me to answer. Then we laughed. There is always a thread of truth in humor. Humor is a powerful tool to get other people to do things that you want. 

Jess does everything in her own way, in her own time. Her joke today, reminded me of that. 

The sleep sagas

Oh what a beautiful morning, 

Oh what a beautiful day,

I got a full night of sleep,

and it looks like it will snow all day.

When your sleep has been disturbed for a couple of months, you’d break into song too.

Inspiration struck when I wasn’t even looking and the answer was right in front of me the whole time.  After watching a video of a therapy dog in action, I turned to Roxy and said   “I could use your services”.

Roxy already plays a support role.  She’s been an integral part of Jessie’s social network and watches over her like a good sister, but now I’m seeing that there are other ways she can help.

Before we adopted Roxy, we considered several different breeds. Mama would have loved a dog that didn’t shed. Goldendoodles are sweet as could be, but we were downsizing from Golden Retrievers and I couldn’t justify spending $2,500 on a designer mutt.  Besides, there’s an abundance of rescue dogs and certainly we could find one that would fit our family.  To make a long story short, Roxy wasn’t what I was looking for.  She was a white-girl, an English Pointer mix, and I wanted a smaller, black & white, Boston Terrier.  When Roxy saw us, she jumped up and down like Donkey in Shrek saying “pick me, pick me”.   She had the I-want-to-please personality and immediately sat in Jessie’s lap and kissed her, which made it a done deal.

Jess is still insisting, DEMANDING that I stay with her when she goes to bed.  Last night I asked her if she would like Roxy to stay with her instead?  Both Jess and Roxy gave me a watcha talkin’ bout look.

As anxious as Jess has been about sleeping alone, Roxy was feeling the same way about changing her routine.  Since this was new to both of them, I was needed to chaperone.

It occurred to me that this was Jessie’s first girl’s sleep over!  There was lots of giggling and wiggling and stories told.  For a moment, I feared this wasn’t going to work, but eventually they settled down and drifted off to sleep.  I made my way back to my room and everyone slept happily ever after. 

The next morning, we woke to kitties in the bed and snow on the ground.  Jess had a lot to talk about over breakfast!  Hopefully, this new arrangement will resolve everyone’s problems… crossing my fingers and praying to God it does.

Making applesauce

It has taken some practice, but Jess is finally getting the hang of peeling apples. 

Her first attempt, she peeled half an apple before walking away.

The second attempt, she’d turn the handle in the right direction, but the middle of the apple there was more resistance and  she’d reverse the direction.  This is a simple tool and going backwards doesn’t work well. 

Today was her third attempt.  By Jove, I think she got it!  Still not perfect, we are going in the right direction. 

Jess carried the pot of apples to the stove and went to town adding the cinnamon.  We are still working on portion control.

The first thing my Mom taught me to cook was applesauce. It was quick, didn’t require a recipe and kept the attention of my seven-year-old self.  The best part was eating the fresh sauce while it was still hot! 

Mom’s method was to cut up the apples, add water, bring to a soft boil, cooking till fork tender.  When the apples finished cooking, she then used a Foley food mill to remove the skin, making the sauce smooth and then would add the rest of the ingredients.  Some people like to leave the peel from red applies because it gives the sauce a blush color.

Instead of using a food mill, we prefer an apple peeler. I like to get the work done up front and it is more fun for Jess to use.  The peeler removes the core and 99% of the peel.  Add a couple of cups of water, a hint of brown sugar, a dusting of cinnamon, a splash of lemon juice and a few grains of salt.  Soft apples like Macintosh don’t take long to cook.  Finish using a potato masher.

Maybe by apple season, when the fruit is plentiful, we will go into production.  Jess just might make her own Christmas gifts for 2017.

Jess needs lots of encouragement to build her confidence.  I love how Jess grabs another apple at the end.  She makes me laugh.

New activities encourage her to use her Talker more.

The best part about cooking together is our conversation. Jess does more talking when we are doing something fun, especially when it involves food!.


Call me mom, call me exhausted…

I’ve come to the realization that our life is a cross between Seinfeld’s bizarro world and Mystery Science Theater*.   Where the majority of our friends are becoming empty nesters, planning their flights of freedom, we are firmly planted on the ground with a third wheel.  Just as we were seeing glorious independence, Jessie crashed, forcing us to be grounded. 

Little bird didn’t break a wing, but she might as well have.  Jess has been having sleep issues since the beginning of the year.  Actually, she doesn’t have trouble sleeping, she just doesn’t want to be in her room alone.  It’s a mystery as to why now would Jess suddenly need her mom?  Anxiety, constipation, seizures or effects from a full moon?

When Jess was a baby, she comforted herself and went to sleep without a hitch.  Now the only person that gives her comfort is me and that is turning me into a sleep disturbed mom.  I’d use stronger language, but am not in the mood to rhyme.

The other night, as I headed for bed, I found Jess sitting in an arm chair, in the dining room.  She jumped up and gave me the look. Full of anxiousness.  She placed her hands on my shoulders, looked me in the eye and reached up to remove my glasses. During the day, she insists that I wear them, but when they come off, it’s a sign that it’s time to turn in.

I know this look.  I’ve seen it these last few weeks.  I walked her to her room.  She gets  under the covers and settles in, but as soon as I turn to leave, she scrambles out of bed, bolting for the door. 

Out of desperation, I’ve resorted to telling her to move over. She’d then flash me a loving, peaceful smile.  When the snoring begins, I tiptoe out.  The rhyme “step on a crack, break your mother’s back” comes to mind.  Jess wakes up and we have to start the process all over again..Damn you squeaky floor boards!  (Husband, I’m adding this to your honey-do-list).

Eventually, I make it to my room. Husband is snoring, everyone is asleep but me. A few hours later, around 2:30am, Jess takes herself to the bathroom. She then looks for me. Imagine that I’m in my own bed… she insists I return to her room and I’ve complied.  All I want to do is sleep. All she wants is to be comforted.  This system has worked for awhile, but it was only meant to be a temporary stop gap solution.

While in the midst of this non-sleeping-mystery, we decided to try Charolette’s web.  We had nothing to lose.  I sought out info from mother’s that I know who’ve had success. (for seizures, as well as processing issues).  Jess had a drop in the morning (which made her sleepy) and a drop before bed time. 

The first few days, we didn’t notice a change, but on the fourth, Jess had her best day ever!  She connected all the dots without hesitation. There were no processing delays and she was an eager, willing participant.  It was remarkable!  Unfortunately, it lasted only a day.  Slowly her attitude deteriorated. Even worse, for the first time, Jess stopped using her Talker.  It became obvious that this was not going to perform any miracles for us. There wasn’t suppose to be any residual effect, but It took her a few days to return to her center.

It’s been a week since she had the CBD oil. Last night was the first night Jess slept in her room alone.  This didn’t happen without a lot of drama.  Even when she took herself to the bathroom and insisted I return to her room with her,  I stood my ground.   Enough is enough.  I’m sure she will try to wear me down again, but I have to break the pattern. I predict the next few nights are going to get worse before they get better.  Jess is very hard headed and stubborn, but so am I.

Some day, I’m sure she will tell me what caused this, but for now, it will remain a mystery.  All I can say is that this game show host is not going to break, she’s just tired.

*Forced by evil scientists to watch bad “B” movies until he breaks, a host (Joel in the early years, Mike later in the show’s run) and a bunch of captive robots comment on the films in order to keep sane.

My perfect Valentine

They are beautiful!

If there is such a thing as a perfect Valentine’s Day, it would be like this:

  • There would be extra hugs and kisses.
  • We’d start with breakfast together.
  • We would each receive a thoughtful, homemade gift, or something that would delight the other person.

Sigh….some of us rose to the occasion and someone phoned it in (and I won’t mention names).  Two out of three ain’t bad.

Not to be ungrateful, but for years I’ve let it be known that I don’t care for candy or flowers. Thank goodness they weren’t roses, but more like daisies, which are my favorite.

This year, what I really wanted was that jar of dates that we saw at the market.  Not the kind you eat, but filled with notes with ideas for dates!  At this stage of our marriage, creativity is what’s needed, not more stuff…sigh

My gift was food, I served stuffed grape leaves, pita bread, Labneh and salad for dinner, all which was homemade. This took time and effort and I knew it was what, whose name I won’t mention, enjoyed.  Will share recipes in another post…

Hands down, Jess was the Valentine’s winner this year. Not only did she come home with a card she made, but she had a break through at her program. Over lunch, Meghan started the conversation by mentioning to the group that Jess wasn’t sleeping in her room.  She said “your mom thinks it’s because of the movie ET”.  The rest of the group told her she shouldn’t be afraid, it’s just a movie. Jess sat and listened to everyone before replying on her Talker “isn’t movie”.   Meghan shared this conversation with me because she knew we were trying to guess what was bothering Jessie. I loved the fact that Jess was discussing this with her peers.

That afternoon, I told Jessie that I heard that ET wasn’t the reason she wasn’t going to bed at night and she nodded yes.

“Did your friends make you feel better?”, she said yes.

“So do you think you could try and sleep in your room tonight?”, she said “yes” on her talker and then looked at me.  That is the sign that she means it.

After a month of avoiding her room like the plague, Jessie settled in her bed. I wasn’t planning on her wanting me to stay with her.  We watched TV for a little bit before she fell asleep. 

At 10:30, I tiptoed back to my room. Felt good to snuggle in my bed.  Unfortunately, Husband was snoring, so I tiptoed to the guest room.  And this was how I spent my Valentine’s night!  

Believe it or not, I was happy.  Finally, Jess was sleeping in her own bed. The next night I had to stay with her till she drifted off in slumber and was able to return to my room.  

Maybe someday, Jess will tell me what all of this drama was about…but for now, I’m happy that we are all getting a good night’s sleep!  When it comes right down to it, sleep is the best gift of all.

PS-  Husband, I LOVE YOU!

If you have to go shopping.

Typically, we don’t run errands on the weekend. I hate crowds and traffic and especially hate standing in lines, however, yesterday we were out of cheese….  If you need cheese, you probably are going to want some crackers to go with it.  If you are an adult, you are bound to want some wine too.  Even though I began with a list, I kept thinking of other things we needed, like coffee, gas for the car and deer repellant.

This is not my photo, but if I had a dog bed outside…

Because the ground was snow covered, the deer started munching on the bushes by the front door.  We enjoy their visits, but they will eat all available vegetation down to a nub, a gardener’s nightmare!  Husband banged on the window to get them to move along, which they did, on to the bird feeder.  Fortunately, the birds didn’t leave much seed behind, so the deer kept moving.  They didn’t go far. 

The next morning there were snow tracks that led to the back of the house and there were six grassy spots for the two moms and their four kids of various ages. The warmth of their bodies melted the snow.  I was surprised how close they slept to the house. 

We do share our property with the deer and many other critters. I’m okay with them spending the night, but prefer not to feed them dinner, so it was imperative to add deer repellant to the shopping list.

the grassy spots are where the deer slept

Three pit stops later, we headed home, but then decided to stop at the local market for milk so I could make yogurt. Sometimes I suffer from that “just one more thing disease”.  While in line, the cashier asked Jessie what app did she have on her Talker?  Oh my goodness!  Someone actually recognized her AAC device! (why it’s Speak for Yourself of course!) This is a first for someone to know it wasn’t a game.  I kind of wished she asked Jessie “how are you?” instead, but it’s exciting to witness awareness when it blossoms.  Needless to say,  I was thrilled and Jess was proud.

If Jessie is not feeling pressured or rushed, she will answer questions on her Talker.  She’s doing her part about raising awareness, I hope everyone that is reading this is raising awareness too.  My motto, the more people that know that iPads are used for talking, the bigger our world gets!

P.S.-  The deer don’t like how the bushes smell and there was no wine with my cheese, but we did enjoy the crackers that went with it.

I wonder if one of these was the fawn that visited us one spring?