Saturday, January 24, 2009


We have heard a autistic family in the area is falling victim to ignorance. The child is a "runner" and managed to escape the house. A neighbor spotted the child and called police. The police have locked up a parent and have the child in the custody of social services. Such appalling ignorance on the part of the police and social services should not be tolerated.

I do not have the family's permission to release any details or identifying information, because I have not spoken with them directly. However, please join me in praying hard, and working towards educating our public servants so that this kind of ignorance does not tear apart other families.

Friday, January 23, 2009


We've been having some communication issues here. Andy wants to play with Joey. Joey wants to play with Andy. Andy asks Joey to play by calling his name and inviting him to look at things and join games ("Look, Doe-y! Look what I made! I made dis for you! Let's be monsters, Doe-y. Doe-y! Look!"). Joey's preferred method is to invite Andy to sit with him ("Come sit here at your computer, Andy. Come sit with me. Play on computer number two.") Sometimes Joey ignores Andy altogether, unable to pull himself from his micro-super-focus to engage the world around him. The result is a lot of frustration. Andy doesn't want to sit next to Joey, he wants to play with Joey. Joey wants to do his own thing, but he wants his brother with him while he does it, but sometimes he doesn't want to really talk to his brother. This has aggravated the Witching Hour and two brothers who really love each other have a breakdown in trying to connect to one another on their own terms.

So today, after Andy had another fruitless attempt at getting Joey to play with him instead of beside him, and various other issues and events of the day, it was suddenly decided that Andy could go for a sleepover at Grandma's house (it is his turn, anyway, and this would give me some rare one-on-one with Joey). A great fuss was made about packing Andy up, announcing he was going to Grandma's, and generally making sure Joey understood that plans had changed and Andy was not going to be home this evening. Kisses and hugs were exchanged. Joey asked when he would be going to Grandma's (in his way... which is to state, "I'm going to Grandma's on Tuesday. Andy goes to Grandma's on Wednesday." Translation: I want to go to Grandma's, Andy should stay here.) Andy, pleased as punch (who doesn't want to go to Grandma's to get one-on-one attention and red pancakes?), settled into Grandma's truck and off they went.

Joey was in the kitchen with his computer. He had Andy's computer open, too. "Come sit at your computer, Andy, and play," Joey called. Andy was already gone.

I took some time to sit with him. I explained that Andy was at Grandma's house. Joey looked sad, and let me watch him play a few rounds of Tic-Tac-Toe. He told me he would go to Grandma's on Tuesday (BTW, he can't go to Grandma's on Tuesday, because he has school on Wednesday). Then he got up, moved to the livingroom, plopped on the couch, and stared at the silent and blank television.

"Do you want to watch something? You can watch anything you want," I offered in an attempt to cheer him.

"Oswald," he nodded. This was an out-of-character request, but I did have a few episodes recorded, so I turned it on for him, then knelt in front of him and gave him a snuggle and a tickle to get him to giggle. He pushed my face up to look into it.

"You love me." Was it a question, or a statement? It can sometimes be hard to tell.

"I sure do!" I assured him.

"And Grandma loves me."

"Yes, indeed! We all love you! You're the bestest boy that ever, ever was!" (This is a common statement of endearment in my family.)

"And Daddy. And Andy."

"Yes, we all love you."

"I love you, too. Play a game with me?"

"Of course!"

And so we entered a World Championship match of tic-tac-toe until JoeyAndyDad got home. And he kept beating the socks off me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Taking a Rest

Mrs. Obama's Gown

I find myself in good company when I say, with all due respect, that I was disappointed by Mrs. Obama's ball gown. Now, seriously, I am no fashionista. In fact, I know almost nothing about fashion, and haute couture just annoys me. Fashions made for stick figures just don't do anything for me. I just didn't like the dress.

Not that it was a complete disaster. It just was such an opportunity to wear the perfect dress, and that opportunity, in my humble opinion was missed.

What the dress did right:
I liked the bare neckline (or would have, without that shoulder thing. Let's pretend that shoulder thing didn't exist for right now.) Mrs. Obama has good shoulders, which is a "rare fair feature" and I am glad they featured it. Also, as an art historian, the showing of strong shoulders creates such a wonderful, powerful image of a self-assertive and powerful person, it was a good thing to emphasize.

I liked the swing and flow of the skirt. When Mrs. Obama turned, there was a dramatic sweep of motion in the skirt, and I think that created a sense of motion and mystery, energy and flow that really worked.

What I would have done differently:
White? White is a color you put on really skinny people to give them an illusion of weight. And I mean really skinny. Brides wear white our of post-Victorian tradition, not for flattering the figure. In fact, many bridal dresses pull out a whole host of other tricks for flattery to make up for the color. On top of that, Mrs. Obama can really wear color, so why not take advantage of that? A rich green. A bright peacock or royal blue. (I'm not into red for inaugurations).

The textured fabric? No, no. no. What were those things? Flowers? The dress needed some sparkle, but keep it flush. Don't look like a bunch of random butterflies just landed all over you. That's more for a kid's prom dress, not an adult's ball gown. Maybe some beading, or some sequin work, a little flash without overdoing it. I'd prefer beads, but they can be a little heavy, and you don't want to disturb the motion in the skirt. Maybe a shimmery material of some kind. LAce is OK if it isn't pop-up.

Waistline- oh dear. Mrs. Obama apparently has a high waistline naturally, so why not go with a faux empire waist to flatter? Especially with the white...

The shoulder thing. Dump it. It was distracting. It was way too heavy. It looked like an afterthought, disturbing the lines of the dress. What was the point? Was that added to help her get in and out of the car or something?

So I think in the end, I wanted there to be more elegance, more of an adult feel to the dress. To me, the dress looked like a glorified prom dress, not a formal ball gown.

I put out this critique not really as a critique of Mrs. Obama. She has the right to have her own taste, and to select any gown she feels is appropriate. This critique is really more about what I feel are appropriate and desirable qualities in a a wife, a mother, a First Lady, and a woman in today's world, as communicated through clothing. In other words, this is not about the Obamas, the designers, or even really a dress; it is about me, how I feel, and what I want. So, Mrs. Obama, go for it. Set your own style, and never wear anything you don't love. Show us your ideas. We want to know!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What is hope?

Waking up at 3 am to find boys all snuggled with you.

Asking Joey what he did today... and having him tell you.

Listening to the boys playing in the next room- and realizing they are not only having a conversation, but bouncing a little story back and forth between them, making up the play narrative together.

Joey practicing for the school spelling bee.

Reports of another good day at school.

Watching the cat voluntarily jump up on a boy bed and settle- with the boy still awake.

Asking for a boy to bring you a glass of water from the kitchen- and having two handed to you.

Two boys strapped in their seats ready to go, and you never touched a seat belt or buckle.

Two boys dressed and playing on their computers downstairs, and you discovered this after rolling out of bed and realizing it was really quiet upstairs.

An SOL nine weeks test with only one question missed.

"Knock knock." "Who's there?" "Orange." "Orange who?" "Orange is not yellow!"

Monday, January 19, 2009


Whenever my father makes an appearance, I go a little nutso-bonko. My father and I don't generally get along. More accurately, we often find we have nothing to say to each other. Growing up, nothing was ever good enough. There was always something you could do better. Something more you could have done. Something that should have been done differently. And stranger still, he really couldn't have cared less about it, just that it should have been better.

I have tales I could tell that made even my therapist look at me funny and question my recollection, because it was just incredible. Truth really can be stranger than fiction.

Even when a "visit" is going fairly successfully, I get left with this vibration of "you should have done this. You could have done that." Oh, and "the house is a mess." Such strangeness comes out more when things go wrong. For example, this round, Joey apparently swallowed too much pool water Sunday morning at swimming, and the result was waxing on my father. Score: Joey, one. Father, zero.

JoeyAndyDad bravely and diligently got Joey to the bathroom, and I tried to hail the waitress for a mop. The other customers in the restaurant quietly and tactfully packed up, paid their bills, and skedaddled while I waited for a mop or towels or something to appear to help clean the mess. Finally, I was informed that she couldn't get a mop, because the mop was in the men's room.

So I fetched it. Joey was still sick. Hot water was slowly fetched- then the mop placed in my hands. Huh? But the smell was getting to me, I had to get it cleaned up. Where were my children? My father? My husband? Apparently the husband was being bundled up with the sick child to take home. Car seats needed to be moved. Waxxing still needed to be cleaned. The other child was hungry. There was pizza in there somewhere, and the salad I had been eating disappeared. When the dust settled, JoeyAndyDad had taken Joey home to rest, and I was caught at the mercy of my father with Andy and my father's wife at a pizza place that would really rather we just leave.

Right. As we finally packed up and went to pay for the pizza, it was just my father and I at the register, waiting to pay for the pizza.

And now I will toss in another tidbit. Remember that brother I haven't seen or heard from in ten years? Apparently he made an appearance at the family Christmas gathering we didn't go to because driving to Pennsylvania with two small children, especially small children who may get carsick, for a two-hour upheaval in a new place, is just not a great idea. I learned this because last weekend, my cousin's husband showed up with the Cousins, and we were driving to the pizza place (yes, the same one- I got in the car with him so he wouldn't get lost), and he thought I knew, so started talking about it. He thought I knew because my aunt and uncle have already been by since the event. I think they didn't mention it because they probably thought my dad should be the one to tell me, which is perfectly reasonable in this kind of situation.

So we stand at the register, just us. Perfect moment to start a conversation about something. Anything. Would he tell me? Would he have something else to say, like "the boys look good" or "you seem to be doing a great job" or even "gee, the weather sure is nice."

We stood there in silence. Was it my place to say something? Should I have just gone ahead and put something out there? But that isn't how we work. Um, well, I guess we don't work. Silence reigned. The entire visit finally passed without one mention of my brother. I did hear a lot about their trip to South Dakota, though. Oh, and I heard about my porch needing repairs. He'll come help if I hire a few other people to help.

Skip to today, and lingering insanity. I made pot roast for dinner today. I managed to get it together enough to get the potatoes cut, the carrots in, the meat in, and turn the crockpot on. Hey, that's a big deal around here. The boys got a new toy from my father, a Mickey Motor Speedway. I don't recommend it. It would be a fabulous toy if it stayed put together. But it doesn't. I might get the glue out tonight. The boys have been playing with it. Then it falls apart, and there is much screaming until I can get it back together. Joey decided he wanted the other car. That was a mess, involving deliberate pulling apart of the toy. Really, I can't much complain, but it was enough to be on my nerves with my nerves not so great to begin with.

Poor JoeyAndyDad came home tired. Not hungry. Must have packed enough food for him today when I packed his lunch bag last night.

Six o'clock arrived. I wandered into the kitchen, took up the lid on the pot roast and looked at it. The edges were too dark. It looked dry. I must have forgotten to put in the bouillon. Why did I make it, anyway? No one is going to eat it. The boys don't like pot roast. It will sit upon their plates. Joey will poke at it, and might eat it if he's really, really hungry; more likely, he will just say he's full and push it away, then ask for a peanut butter sandwich. Andy won't be so subtle. "EWWWW!" is his favorite dinnertime word, followed by, "I don't eat that! It's yucky!" JoeyAndyDad already said he probably didn't want any.

Why did I even make it? Was it for me?

I slopped the roast into a casserole and stuck it in the fridge, and fixed the boys food they would eat- sliced raw green pepper, a PBJ for Joey, some rolled lunchmeat for Andy, some grapes, and a cheese stick each. Andy even ate a couple slices of the pepper.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Notes to self

If you have two computers, and one is larger and gotten dinosaur stickers stuck all over it, guess which computer both children want to play on?

A crayon lost too close to the fireplace will melt if you light a fire.

If today is the day your father has decided to make an appearance, it is not the day to forget to take your antidepressants.

Do not leave blankets lying on the floor around the house. Cats prefer them to litter boxes.
Corollary: Cat pee rolls off cheap pressed-polyester blankets. Have paper towels handy.

If your child is looking pale, refusing pizza, and seeming to cover his mouth with his hand, it is already too late to get him to the bathroom. Just get a mop.

Do not tip the waitress at the restaurant who makes you do the mopping.