In 2009 I documented a day in my life. Almost seven years later, this is what life looks like. I once heard that every seven years you’re new. I can confirm this.
Mafe Maria: Growing with a child to the biggest expression of ourselves
His name is Joaquin. He is passionate pursuing his interests, driven to learn and experience newness constantly, exceptional in skills and abilities, creative, energetic; and he was once diagnosed in the autism spectrum. He constantly dazzles me as he explores this life, as I see his joy experiencing and mastering everything new he understands, as I witness him moving into areas that were once difficult for him, as I see him growing more whole and beautiful every day .
In 2009 I documented a day in my life. Almost seven years later, this is what life looks like. I once heard that every seven years you’re new. I can confirm this.
In defense of self-directed learning at home, this is a sample of the life skills and functional abilities my eight-year-old is acquiring while pursuing his interests.
Joaquin’s latest film is shark drama at its highest. I helped animating characters or filming, but he took charge of direction, production, and the final story.
Talking with Kiki about school, college, work, and the need he will feel some day to be free from his parents and pursue and independent life.
Kiki and I enjoying spring and each other in a tent under the shade of our tree. He wrote a post about his experience, and we took photos to remember.
Bowling, basketball, hincha furibundo, Calvin & Hobbes, financial ambition, learning from movies, arcade fan, new interests, abilities, questions, and ways to express himself.
Watching Joaquin playing basketball made my heart sing. For a long time he didn’t show interest or ability in ball playing. This evidences a leap in his brain development.
Stimulus at Kiki’s bowling class made me realize my fear regarding kids around him. By dissolving my fear I gave myself joy and the chance that Kiki will mirror my shift and expand in this area.
“Moew”, pronounced “Moo”, is Joaquin’s latest culinary creation. Inspired by truffles we’ve made and enjoyed at home, he created an SCD recipe for yummy sweet bites.
Child of Fire saw me working on the backyard project and has decided that he wants to make his own construction. Horay for our life of self-directed learning!
He said “This is the day in which I am going to swim!”… and he did!
At 6 years old Joaquin can read though he hates it, but the last three weeks his motivation for reading and comprehension was on. He just finished his first book.
After eight lessons of formal instruction – or, as formal as it could be with this child– Joaquin is now teaching himself how to swim. During his lessons we were fortunate to have Nanette, his most recurring instructor. As soon as she learned from me about Joaquin’s learning process and sensory sensitivities (I didn’t want […]
All summer. Several times a week after Joey gets home from work. We’re so impressed by Joaquin’s ease at this. He doesn’t get tired, and he’s fast on long distances.
Two weeks ago, Joaquin decided that he wants to be the chef of our home; he wants to make his own lunch, his own way. I decided to support his independence with some structure: Only one time a week, he can make his own “rogue” lunch. I make my own with him. I deal with […]
I just returned from “Radical Authenticity” at The Option Institute (expansive beyond my expectations), and Kiki is working on a virtual road trip via Google maps from our home to the institute at Sheffield, MA . I’m loving the project and finding a number of learning opportunities and differences for him to perceive. I got […]
As I contemplate how far we've climbed –now starting to peek out of the Son-Rise greenhouse, Kiki asks me about Team Joaquin, why they came to his life.
Ode to a loved and almost outgrown tricycle and its wonderful powers exercising Kiki's proprioceptive and vestibular senses (and everything else).
Celebrating the challenge and victory I witnessed in Joaquin's first swimming lesson, one of our first experiences out of the Son-Rise nurturing bubble.
Narrative and photos of Kiki's project to create hiking trails in our backyard for a book inspired by the Hiking guide he uses on his weekend trips with papa.
Our piano teacher finally realizes how exceptional Joaquin is, and "graduates" him to a higher level of instruction.
A moment in time, an image, a thought that made me smile.
Who makes cookie dough out of sunflower seeds, cream cheese, and kombucha? —THE ROGUE CHEF!… Six-year-old Joaquin explains his GFSF recipe in our first cooking show video.
An SCD recipe developed by six-year-old Joaquin. His first muffin, and third concoction for his project of daily experimental desserts. I love the video tutorial!
01. A mural for animation With the filmmaking and animation motivations still alive, I offered Joaquin the idea to draw a long strip of landscape we could scroll in order to create the illusion of movement in a train. He got passionately into it, and surprisingly traded his beloved hour of computer time to draw. […]
As the time for vocal exercises started to approach its end, and with an emerging motivation for animated Disney films, I noticed that Joaquin was using my computer to record his own movies. It was so exciting!… Completely spontaneously, he’d impersonate characters and record himself with PhotoBooth, and he’d even bring costume props to enhance […]
Time to make the popcorn and get cozy… It’s finally time for the world premiere of “Leon”, a filmmaking project that kept Joaquin and I busy and very motivated all February and part of March. The movie is about a little lion and his friendship and adventures with two friends he meets along the way. […]
Joaquin's persistence and surprising skill getting through phone operators to share some joyful news with papa.
About a month ago, I purchased Aaron Anastasi’s Superior Singing Method. I was discovering the music of “Les Miserables” and felt very motivated to learn to sing better; I wanted to rock songs like “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” in the solitude of my kitchen. As I started doing the vocal exercises in my free […]
Joaquin’s newest passion is to write illustrated STORIES (whoo hoo!). He started a few days ago, and as I’ve added variations, it’s become a new favorite activity for him. I love his illustrations. They’re 3-dimensional and so expressive. This is “The boy who recharged his batteries” (we often talk about me needing solo time to […]
A celebration of love three years into our Son-Rise program. Watch our amazing Team Joaquin and the miracles and joy they’ve helped us reach for our child.
He had never role-played before. Most of his non-verbal abilities were stagnant for years until I started using ABM essentials to awaken this area of his brain
Watching this was so exciting!… Even to Heidi, who at the time didn’t know much about the gestures goal… It’s been just two weeks of very subtle “work” giving Joaquin’s brain little pieces to figure out symbolic gestures, and today he spontaneously gestures “move the couch down”, then creates another gesture reproducing with his hands […]
Things are getting tricky and interesting at Joaquin’s house… Nineteen months after asking me to stop talking Spanish (in order to focus his verbal development), he has decided that he wants to re-learn “Español”. It started with this 5-year-old high-pitched voice nagging me every third word I said because I said it in English, and […]
This morning, right before waking up, I saw the image of an angel (?) all dressed in white, long blond straight hair, and really huge dark eyes. I thought that maybe he’s someone in my team. That concept of “team” is very recent. Like perhaps from Monday night, when I went to sleep and saw […]
This inspiring video documents the last 12 months in Joaquin’s son-rise Program. It’s a celebration of our journey, Joaquin’s growth, and our team of volunteers.
Over the last month before turning three years old, Joaquin started writing numbers, drawing their outlines, spelling words and writing some, all by himself. His memory is amazing. His focus, passion, and control when drawing and writing is (I believe) extraordinary. All signs of a beautiful mind at work. And, as exciting and reassuring as […]
In celebration of our child and us, and the parents and volunteers working every day in son-rise playrooms, watch and feel the miracles seven months into our program.
Juicy month full of challenging stimulus with Kiki seeking control, me growing as a nurturer, and new exciting developments in Joaquin.
01. Help! Exhausted. Having to cook every meal every single day really drains me. Wish I could buy prepared food once in a while… And with all this cooking spilling over the weekends, I don’t have time to prepare games for therapy. By the end of each day I’m tired and can’t work (on games) […]
01. Giving SCD a Try During the few months after diagnosing Joaquin, I have resisted all the special diets and biomedical approaches collective wisdom recommends for autistic kids. Joaquin does not show signs of GI problems, but recently I decided to try SCD, the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, just in case that his intestinal flora is […]
06. The Romper Room Joaquin’s romper room (i.e. Son-rise playroom) is AWESOME!!!… Still haven’t closed the door, but with the massive migration of toys into it, the bollo is already spending time in the room, and I’m loving it. 07. Calling the Beacons of Light! Remember that exercise we did where we got on groups […]
Lately, Joaquin is the bright center of my universe. A developmental summary of 2.5-year-old Joaquin, six weeks after starting the son-rise program.
Bollo’s latest hobby is to type on my computer. He selects a key, presses it, and says out loud the name of the corresponding character. Letters and numbers used to be fun, but he’s now totally into three new characters: guion (-), igual (=), and his favorite ever: slash (/). Check out the pride in […]
If I have ever been able to get nice photos of Joaquin wearing my handmade products for kids, those days are starting to fade surely, and not very slowly. These days, now that we walk, run, roll, play, and have an agenda of our own, every time I pull out the camera and aim it […]
While carrying a screaming two-year-old, moving him from room to room, yelling at him “CALM DOWN!”, my mind starts to wonder why the heck, after the two times I’ve found traces of an overnight nose bleed in Joaquin’s crib, it never occurred to me to search online for that article on how to deal with […]
I once heard that Rottweilers lock their jaws when they bite… Nap time is approaching, so I offer Joaquin his toothbrush. Of course, he’s busy playing with clothes hangers, and he decides that he doesn’t have time to brush. He drops the toothbrush and I threaten him with a serious brush your teeth or I’ll […]
Last week, my babycenter newsletter called Joaquin a “preschooler”. It also warned me, in case I’ve been bracing myself for the arrival of the “terrible twos”, that what’s truly terrible is the second year — the one we just passed — because the “twos” (or third year of life), newsletter says, are a much tamer […]
Remembering the satisfaction I got from making Joaquin’s pirate costume last year, it was kind of implied that this Halloween he would wear a mommy-made costume again. So after a short talk with Joey, we decided that the only requirement for this year’s character would be to include a mustache, just because we loved last […]
A typical weekday in my life in 2009.
Walks around “our property” (the backyard) like Simba, the lion king. Announces poops and pees — and perhaps, farts — by becoming very serious and saying “popó” in a solemn tone to express the “gravity of the situation”. Demands more than two choices to select a video to watch. “Two?!”, he moans and quickly points […]
Is it ok for a 19-month-old toddler to still sleep on a wearable blanket?... I wondered when my baby recently outgrew his XL Sozo sleep sack. I didn't have to think too much about it, though. He asked for a handmade cat sleep sack, and so I delivered.
It’s been almost two weeks since I was given the names and numbers of five 12–year–old girls who live in the neighborhood and perhaps could babysit Joaquin. Despite a recent horrible day of depression and swearing that I will NOT have a second child, I haven’t called one of those girls yet. Joey asks me […]
Understands my words way more than I expect. Signs “milk”, and says “mama” and something very close to “bird”. Reads books out loud and talks in an adorable unknown language that includes words like “apbm”, “capbm”, and “puapua”. Knows exactly what we’re talking about when we sing the tune made by a certain toy, book, […]
Our baby has started signing
No. Not from the breast… Turns out, Joaquin stopped breastfeeding exactly at the year without any trauma. It happened in the most natural, gradual, perfect way I could’ve possibly planned, except, I didn’t have to plan it and execute it. It just happened, and all three of us involved (Joaquin, me, and my boobs) didn’t […]
It’s crazy to realize this, but it seems that some trigger suddenly went off on Kiki’s brain, because over the last two days I’m seeing things that were not there before. Yesterday, towards the end of the day before daddy got home, I was feeling a little tired. In these cases it’s best NOT to […]
On the countdown to Joaquin’s first birthday, allow me to indulge on a little bit of shameless mommy blogging and document my baby’s last week as a baby (major sniff). Today’s morning was no indication at all of what the afternoon would bring. Joaquin had a terrible time at his Little Gym class. And I […]
This Tuesday — I’ve been told — Joaquin’s nursery mural will be featured in an article on Cookie Magazine. Imagining that they might link to my site (maybe not), I thought it would be cool to have as a welcome mat that Christmas e–card/slideshow template I’ve promised to give away. So I got the template […]
(At least it would be, if I could take any credit for it.) As I child I was a terrible eater. I distinctly remember a female figure spoon–feeding me and begging me to please swallow. My tiny mouth closed shut with several bites of food still inside, unchewed, stuck in there since the feeding begun. […]
Joaquin is getting more and more mobile, and giving him a bath on your own is becoming more and more difficult: Baby wants to sit up, and he loves to lean to the side to touch and play with the container of fresh water we keep by the bath tub to rinse the soap and […]
This has been going on for a few days now…Towards the end of the day, nursing the bollo becomes almost more stressing than speaking in public. Why, you ask. Well… It so happens that Don Joaquin recently has decided that he no longer has the patience to suck for longer than 3 seconds to get […]
Don Joaquin has officially started eating solids and I thought his fan club would enjoy seeing him take his first meal of cereal, milk, and bananas. Please notice the face he makes, and how he throws himself and holds on to the chair on the last bite (towards the end of the video)… What a […]
Silly, I know, but it had never occurred to me how difficult it is to learn to do the things we do so effortlessly with our bodies. It was only several weeks ago, when I saw the expression on Joaquin’s face while he was holding a rattle with his left hand and mom offered another […]
Only three days after my mom left — and really just one day alone at home with Joaquin — I started to worry… How can I be new to this baby every day?… The question was twofold: How can I always be energetic to be there for my baby day after day?… and also, where […]
Right between getting a breast ultrasound (no worries, it was just a cyst) and falling prey to a terrible cold with a fever of 102°F, I went to the baby store to shop for some toys for little Joaco. Wasn’t planning on buying anything big, when suddenly this awesome product crossed my path… The Bumbo […]
This will have to be a short one. Gotta run and dry my hair so we can go out later to the aquarium, the next destination on Joaquin’s getting–out–of–the–house training series. In a few words: Bolliti HATES the car seat. HATES the car. Tolerates motion in his new lightweight stroller, but HATES the stroller if […]
For the last week or so, putting Joaquin down to sleep his mid-afternoon nap has become mission impossible. Mom and I, the two victims of this new behavior, keep theorizing about what may be “wrong”. We strategize. We experiment. We discuss. We fight. We keep trying to make him sleep. I read that a two-month-old […]
Today my son has officially turned one month old. It’s hard to believe it… When I think of the time that has gone by since I first showed up that morning at the hospital, it feels like it’s been years. But when I see Joaquin… how chubby he’s gotten… the little pimples on his face… […]
Soooo…. It’s been four weeks since Joaquin was born… Those of you who have had babies — specially moms — will probably understand that as much as I’ve wanted to write about my experiences, and share that christmas e-card template I promised, it is really hard to get much done between baby feedings… It takes […]
Our sweet baby Joaquin is finally here! In just a few days I’ve lived the worst and best moments of my life. There are so many stories I wanted to share, like what it felt like to be among the 25% of pregnant women who deliver via a c-section. Obviously I was not prepared for […]