reading together

Thanks to the cool picks of the week recommendation from what is becoming one of my current favorite podcasts, Spawned, Daniel and I are reading together

this book.

Oh my goodness! Have you read this book, Wonder?

You should. Your kids should. Your parents should. Everyone should.

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He’s about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you’ve ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie’s just an ordinary kid,with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, despite appearances?

~publisher’s description

For Daniel, he has so much to relate to here. Daniel and Augie both yearn to be ordinary and blend in like the rest of their middle school peers. But, as we read this book together…and OMG, we are reading this together with Daniel voicing disappointment when it is time stop reading this book together until tomorrow…Daniel is, just like Augie, realizing that it is almost impossible for him to blend in when he clearly was born to stand out.

There is so much to love, love, love about this book for me…a character Daniel can identify with and somehow stand taller and prouder as he shares that…the fact that Daniel is reading, reading well and enjoying reading something that is not video game or Lego related…but one of the best things I love about this book is it reminds Daniel how he lives is the best way always.

When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.

After reading Mr. Browne’s September Precept, Daniel looked up smiling.

That’s me, Mom. I always choose kind…because it’s always the right thing.

As we all should…always.

Read this book.

conversation starters

Working on interpersonal interactions, Daniel had homework to do; homework that was basically conversation starters.

Was I willing to do this exercise with him, he wondered?

But of course! I’m his mom. I’m his super nerdy-homework-is-fun-as-long-as-it-isn’t-math mom.

So we sit down together and work on our conversation starters exercise. I am to start and he is to continue answering back with two to three sentences. We’re working on interpersonal interactions here because it has been proven on occasion that not everyone wants to talk about Hot Wheels cars and Lego sets and video games.

Crazy, I know!

Glancing at the ten conversation starters, I’m thinking this is going to be easy-peasy, lemon squeezy. Daniel sighs because mom is saying easy-peasy, lemon squeezy again.

First one: So I heard that there was a fire on your street…

There was a fire? Oh my god! Where?

No, son. There wasn’t really a fire. It’s the conversation starter. I say, “So I heard that there was a fire on your street..” And you answer back…

So there wasn’t a fire on our street.

No son. How about you answer back something like, “Yes, last night in front of my neighbor Don’s house…”

Don’s house?! Don’s house was on fire? But you said there was no fire.

There was no fire. We’re just pretending while we practice conversing. Pretend that there was a fire.

Why would I pretend something so bad like Don’s house being on fire?

Don’s house isn’t really on fire.

Then why would we talk about something like that? It’s not even true! Oh my god, mom!


Do you have any math homework?

But what about my Speech homework?

because the searching is more than half the fun!

Easter is coming and more than anything else in the world, except for all the Lego Batman sets and the Lego Batman 3 WiiU game, my son wants an Easter Egg Hunt.

But wait! He hates eggs…hard boiled, over easy, sunny side up, any other way…he does not like eggs. He doesn’t want to eat them.

But he wants to hunt for them.

Because he wrote a letter to the Easter Bunny. And he is hoping for an Easter Egg Hunt.

We’ll discuss our failure as parents to make this child, living on the spectrum, who takes almost everything at face value…if the Easter Bunny is not real then is God really real later…or y’all can get in line behind this wonderful woman offering your sage advice on raising a child with special needs because you have already successfully done just that. Later.

Right now this kid wrote a most sincere letter to a bunny rabbit and is hoping for an Easter Egg hunt come Sunday morning..

So I consult Oh Mighty Pinterest and…


Of course I realize that this is an Easter Egg Hunt for your hubby...which serves to remind me that not only have I mom-failed but most definitely wife-failed too.

Whatever Pinterest!

I’m taking this idea and working it for me, for my son, because it’s Easter and he believes in the Easter Bunny and he wants to hunt eggs.

Hunt eggs he shall!

You thought that I would make this easy?


It’s going to be fun. Really.

There will be New Testament talk too, I assure you…imagine any Big Bang Theory Penny ~ Sheldon dialogue and don’t judge…unless you are living a life on the spectrum too.

It’s his life, on his time, and it is more than okay.

The hunt will come in two days, as Easter Egg hunts do.

inclusion, exclusion, privacy, the 1st day of school and, sigh, picking the battles

Here under The Big Top we are officially BACK TO SCHOOL!

Can I hear a YEAH, BABY!!!??


And for the first time since 1997 I only have one child of mine heading back to school which means…

yeah, I know it means this is my last baby and all my babies are growing up…

More importantly, this means that I only had ONE ream of repetitive back to school paperwork to fill out, also known as “Mom-work” in Daniel’s classroom this year. For the record, I got my Mom-work done.

Leading up to the first day of school was so much excitement and nervous energy…totally normal I assure Daniel. Hazel excitedly shared the day before how she couldn’t wait to go to her school and see her name posted under the name of her assigned first grade teacher. Who would it be? She was so excited with the anticipation of it all as were pretty much every other K-8 child in this town. It’s part of the Back to School tradition.

Daniel wanted to be a part of that too. Last year we went to his school the day before the first day to view the class lists and…nothing. We downplayed it reminding him that we had the letter from the district telling him what school he would be going to and he wiped away the tears but not the worry…what if his name wasn’t there for a reason? But the next morning the principal assured him that yes he was at her school and in Mrs. B’s 4-6 SDC class. It’s privacy concerns she tells me when I ask why his class list wasn’t posted.


Privacy. People might KNOW that he is in the SDC class, she explains with a warm smile.

Um, okay. They already know.

So this year I decide to call the school and ask do I bother to drive over to the school. Do I put my child through that feeling of exclusion again?

You don’t need to come, I am told. Daniel will be in Mrs. B’s 4-6 SDC class.


YES! Daniel is thrilled. Daniel is also kind of disappointed.

Disappointed? The principal wonders why.

Well, he doesn’t get to participate in that annual ritual of going to the school the day before the first day and looking for his name…and then the names of his friends.

I’m reminded again of the importance to respect his privacy which is why the SDC classes are never made public…at least at this particular campus in the MUSD district.

I think the principal heard my head thud on my desk because she then commented that I might not like that policy.

I don’t. Daniel (and his classmates in Mrs. B’s 4-6 class) are known on campus. All of them spend some length of time every day in mainstream classrooms. They participate in all activities on that campus. Everyone knows them.

Respecting their privacy?

I don’t get that.

My son, and his classmates might be differently abled. Perhaps they learn at a different pace or in a different way. Still they are included in classroom settings with their also “normal” abled peers…and the benefits abound. We’ve seen it in interactions through the years with Daniel’s teachers, with his classmates and with their families. And we have seen our son, and his SDC peers thrive…thrive in the least restrictive environment for them, for their classmates (normal and different), for their teachers and support staff and for the families. Yes, some families and even a few teachers struggle with this, but overall the results are positive all around on campus and I imagine, wish, hope and pray will continue to grow and flourish as my son becomes a young man.

No, I don’t get it. I respectfully disagree with respecting their privacy, I explain to the principal. I’m glad that I called the school first, I tell her. I’d hate for Daniel to again feel excluded from this back to school tradition.

She never thought of it that way, she tells me.

I know.

I could fight. I could argue with her. But I don’t. You pick your battles. This isn’t even an argument I decide.

We need to focus on this.

6th grade life, people!!!

And let us not forget, 1st grade! Hazel Faye is now a 1st grader!!!

the last week

It’s going to be a short week. It’s going to be a busy week. It’s going to be a hectic week. It’s going to be an emotional week…so many feels…there’s no getting around that. It’s going to be a happy week. It’s going to be a week of graduations, celebrations and lots of pride…so much pride.

Let’s start it off right with this.

I can’t imagine never not being amazed with this kid of mine. I imagine that he will soon grow tired of my amazement because he is almost a teenager as he likes to remind me pretty much every day. That’s okay. He can do that. I, in turn, will always marvel over the miracle that he is because, trust me, sitting by his bed every single day of those 132 days in the NICU watching over him the last thing his father and I could imagine was moments like this. Living through all those days filled with so much pain, anxiety and hope we kind of earned the right as NICU parents, because although we left the NICU with our baby boy 12 years ago, the NICU never leaves us. So yeah, we’re just a little bit emotional and over-the-top proud of this amazing, miraculous child of ours.

He’s proud too.

He should be. He worked very hard all year long for this.

Of course his teachers, aides and even the principal are proud of him. I like that you could see that pride reflected in the faces of his teacher and his principal as he accepted his awards today. I know that his principal gets just how remarkable all of this is for Daniel and for us. Having sat with her many times in a NICU years ago caring for her baby and supporting her I know that she knows.

And now there is literally only three more days of school.