Monday, May 23, 2011

The Sound of "Nigh-Night"

Just recently I shared with you an account of the "Nigh-Night" game, where the interactive people-play Joy-giggles had me fit to be tied.

The game has morphed a little bit, such that the phrase "I love you so much!" causes even more delight than the nigh-night.

Listen to the Joy! (it's an mp3 file, about a minute long)

OK, that's about it for me this evening. Nigh-night!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Joy Rocks the Field Trip

The end-of-year field trips are flowing thick and fast around here. Several times while I've been down at the Capitol in the past weeks, I've seen gaggles of kids going through the (in-defiance-of-court-order) metal detector screenings to get into The People's House. Rose will get her turn to visit with her class this coming week, though given our spring-break advocacy, she's already got some experience!

For Joy, the whole field trip thing has been a different story.

The field trips for her kindergarten class started way back this fall when we were still struggling to make it through the day without injury. Technically we would have been within our rights to demand that Joy's school personnel find SOME way, ANY way, to take her along on each and every field trip. However, we also prefer to avoid putting people in unwinnable situations. Sooo many field trips involve standing in line, waiting, lecture situations, sitting through performances. They're generally things that Joy wouldn't... well, enjoy... and I wouldn't attempt with her myself, even in the absence of the crowd-control aspect... so why would we make Joy and everyone else miserable by forcing them to go through it?

But finally with the end of the year nearing, her classroom teacher sent home a notification in the class newsletter that made my eyes shine. A field trip to a kiddie gymnastics facility!

I made known right away that I thought this field trip had "Joy" written all over it, and her staff agreed. There wasn't even much advance prep to do, at least that I knew of, other than the fact that she needs one-on-one supervision both in school and out. Joy has been generally cooperative on city bus rides, so I didn't think the transportation would be a problem.

Friday was the big day! And when I came to pick Joy up at the end of the day, when her classroom teacher came leading her classmates out of the building, he gave me a great big grin and high sign. "It went great!" he said! Sure enough, when her special-ed teacher brought Joy to the doors, she confirmed that it had been a grand success. Joy had sat independently on the bus on the way there, gotten her wiggles out enthusiastically at the gym, and snuggled happily on her aide's lap on the bus ride home.

Rose told me later that when she'd seen Joy & her aide in the hall that afternoon, the aide told Rose that she wished they could have something like that for Joy every day!

It's hard to believe that we're just a couple of weeks from the end of the school year. Joy will turn seven soon, and she'll be done with her kindergarten year. I'm just so pleased that she got to have a successful field trip to help round off her first year of elementary school.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fit to be Tied

Most Sunday evening at our church, you can find worshipers wearing clothing that runs the gamut from business-casual all the way to gardening or bicycle-wear. We've got a tradition of coming-as-we-are to worship, secure in the belief that God loves us as we are and we don't need to prove our devotion with fancy garb.

However, the other Sunday a group of young men from the Mennonite Voluntary Service household showed up wearing neckties, something we'd never seen them do before! One of the volunteers is getting married soon, and they invited us to help him get used to the idea of dressing up for the wedding by wearing ties on Sunday evening in solidarity. So ties have been appearing around the necks of unexpected people at church recently.

Last Sunday I saw a delightful interaction. Joy's former daycare buddy has a younger sister, an adorable curly-haired toddler, not yet two. Little Sister was sitting on her daddy's lap during the service, giggling over his necktie, which he never wears ordinarily. She was trying to stick the end of the tie into his mouth, and he was playing along, lipping at it and then pretending to spit it out. Just the sort of playful little back-and-forth interaction that automatically happens when you enter the average little tyke's world during the peek-a-boo years.

Not every family gets to have that experience with their toddler, though.

Joy certainly wasn't interested in that kind of back-and-forth interactive people play at that age.

So I'm feeling extra-blessed and grateful that we're getting it now.

There's been just an explosion of back-and-forth giggly-games in the past few weeks, building on the "funniest things in the world" snippets that I've posted about occasionally this past year. The game might involve yawning back and forth. It might involve her greeting one of her therapists with an expectant "woof! woof!" at the door (shades of John Elder Robison!) There have been "in, out" games involving toys and a bucket. There have been "on, off" games around stacker-toys (and, less ideally, light switches!) Lots of peek-a-boo, with variations: "bye-bye / HELLO!" "Where's the turkey? / GOBBLE-GOBBLE-GOBBLE!"

My favorite recent game, though, goes like this:
Joy comes over and leans on me for a cuddle and says "NNNNIGH-nigh!"
Then I hug her, stroke her hair, pat her shoulder.
Then she pops up with a mischievous twinkle and announces "GUCK-guh!" (wake up!) And then we giggle and do it all over again -- JoyDad and Joy are upstairs playing the nigh-night game as we speak.

Y'know, I could tie myself into all sorts of regretful knots, in the comparison that Joy is only NOW doing -- at the age of almost seven -- what comes naturally to a kiddo five years younger.

I choose instead to rejoice in our blessings, and to enjoy this delightful interactive peek-a-boo stage to its fullest.

Maybe I'll celebrate by wearing a tie to church tonight...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

What a lovely Mother's Day!

Rose painted me a watercolor card. Talent, the girl's got talent!
(I Photoshopped out her signature & JoyDad's for anonymity's sake, but Joy's signature manages to be pretty anonymous with no help from me.)

JoyDad got me a box of chocolates. The good stuff. I tried to share a piece with Joy, who nibbled a corner but then pushed it away. (Aw, shucks, had to eat it myself.) She was thrilled to be given the chocolate-brown ribbon from around the box to paly with, though.

Then we had home-made waffle-breakfast with Rose's friend Elizabeth and family, complete with maple-syrup and the last of the frozen strawberries from 2010. Spring came late this year, but the first strawberry blossoms did open this weekend.

Then we got out the bouncy castle for the first time this season. Joy was delighted. She bounced and bounced, both on her own and in the middle of a boisterous ball game between Rose & Elizabeth. I had to remember how tentative Joy was about her new castle when we first bought it almost three years ago. Some gifts she just has to get used to, maybe grow into. (Maybe if I plied her with high-end chocolates at regular intervals, she'd learn to appreciate them? The world may never know...)

And if all that weren't enough, the whole family went downtown to the Capitol Square for an activist Mother's Day picnic event and Solidarity Singalong. I made a new ALEC sign:

This one is protesting yet another piece of ALEC legislation that is fast-tracking its way through the Wisconsin legislature: AB110, the "Special Needs Scholarship Program Act." (They say "scholarship," I say "voucher.") Parents whose child has a public-school IEP would be able to take that child's share of public-ed tax dollars and spend it to send him or her to private school -- losing all their IDEA rights in the process, with no guarantee of any special-ed services at the private school. Though some families would surely benefit (most likely middle-to-upper income families, because the family pays the difference between the voucher & private school tuition), the big winners are those with corporate and religious interests in pushing private schools, and our public schools would be the big losers. (Here's a document of myths and facts about the bill.) So many things to protest, happening so fast!

But that's mother-commitment in Wisconsin, these days.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day! I'll close with a salute in the form of a Facebook status-post that was making the rounds on Sunday:

For all the moms out there who had to wait longer (or still wait) to hear a first word, who spent more time in doctor's offices with their child than on playdates, who find joy in the uniqueness of their child even when others don't get it....For the moms who promote the ABILITIES and gifts of their child everyday, we salute you.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

What Rose Did On Her Spring Break

I'm happy to report that we survived both spring break, and the following week! Joy didn't have too much trouble with the break itself, but the first few days back at school last week were reportedly rather rough. Fortunately there were lots of giggles in the latter part of the week, both at school and at home.

I didn't quite realize how much we had done, until Rose told me about an assignment for her class. They were to write an "A to Z" poem in rhyming couplets about what they did during their break! Our spring break was a "stay-cation," with only a day-trip on Easter Sunday, but somehow we managed to pack a lot in. As evidenced by the poem that resulted! (Spelling is original to the author; I did change the one name in keeping with this blog's pseudonymous practices.)

A to Z Spring Break
by Rose

A is for April the month of Spring Break
B is for Baskets we fill with eggs that are fake
C is for Candy that fills the fake eggs
D is for my aunts Dogs who walk on four legs
E is for Egg hunt out on the grass
F is for Family who's love always lasts
G is for Get togethers with all my friends
H is for Happiness 'cause the fun never ends
I is for Illinois the state I traveled to
J is for Jelly beans that are fun to chew
K is for Kugel which I ate at Aunt Lou's
L is for Looking to buy some new shoes
M is for Matzoh a passover food
N is for Nice when I'm in a good mood
O is for Oven for baking bread
P is for Press confrence where speeches are said
Q is for Quiet time with books to read
R is for Running outside at great speed
S is for Sister who's really great
T is for T-shirts to decorate
U is for Under the tree with my sister
V is for a Visit with Senator Risser
W is for Walking the Autism Walk
X is for X-tra time to talk
Y is for Young plants begining to grow
Z is for Zoo where we didn't quite go.

Yes, the girls and I attended a press conference in the Senate parlor at the Capitol, followed by a meeting with our state Senator in his office to lobby about education and autism insurance. An unforgettable spring break civics lesson! Joy rode in her jogging stroller, and happily played with a cheerleader pompom and ate pretzels while all the action was going on.

And we did plan to go to the zoo one morning, but had a schedule change at the last minute. Oh well. We'll look for a nice spring-like zoo visit day soon.