Sunday, December 30, 2007

Day and Night

Joey has been having a few rough days. I suppose i ought to put quotes around "rough" because it is sometimes hard to tell if he thinks the day is going fine or not. Perhaps it would be more accurate to just say he's been spending a lot of time spinning, watching things spin, asking for fans to be turned on, tracking, and clearing his usual circuits so he can follow them systematically. He's also enamoured with the pin ball games witht eh flashing lights and flippers and music that Santa brought him. On the other hand, he's been playing happily, smiling, laughing, and playing with his brother. Being as unique as everybody else, trying to decipher Joey's actions and communication can sometimes be... well, unique.

Anyway, he's spinny-tracky. Perfectly understandable- no real schedule, the house stuffed full of strange sparkly things, new toys, and unusual foods. And this week, we do it all again. I'm getting off track again. The point is, I can understand him having some stimmy days in the midst of chaos. Today was particularly stimmy. Spin, spin, spin. Took him out to Grandma;s, and he carefully removed all the furniture and rubbish and whatnot from his usual circuit along her persian carpet, then tracked it for a good ten minutes striaght, then kept returning to it. We gave up and took the boys out to eat.

Where he promptly pulled himself together perfectly, and had a perfectly normal conversation with the waitress.

Her: Did you have a nice Christmas?
Joey: Yes.
Her: What did Santa bring you? What did you get? What was your favorite present? [In quick succession... folks need to remember to give any child an extra heartbeat to answer; and she didn't know Joey is autistic]
Joey: (pause.) A bike. Ride a bike.
Her: Wow, a bike!
Joey: How was your Christmas?

At this point, Grandma and I start search for the teeth that bropped out of our mouths when our jaws hit the floor.

In the meantime, Andy is also having a bad stretch, and I can definitely say that these are "bad days." Cranky, whiney, can't-sit-still days. So while this conversation is unfolding, we have a T-Rex growling and stomping around the other side of the table- the only reason he's not doing this all over the restaurant is because Mommy and Grandma and Waitress are corraling him whilst bribing him with dinosaur coloring sheets and red crayons. Grandma noticed that he can't seem to articulate what is bothering him- and being who we are, now we're worried. Even if its sensory, we'd think he's have some kind of language to sommunicate the problem, even if its "hurts" or "feels weird." But all he can say is "yes" when we ask (in several different formats) if there is something wrong that is keeping him from sitting down. Ack! Ack! Ack!

The waitress got very confused when she returned to find us in tears and hugging both boys, so we of course had to explain that Joey doesn't ask questions and have conversations, especially with strangers; and the other one needed more deep pressure to try to calm him down. I think the waitress felt honored to have been graced with Joey's attention, which continued in starts and stops for teh rest of the meal.

And hey, they both ate.

Victories and challenges, all at once. That's my life. How's yours?

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Big Turkey Adventure

With two boys in tow, one must find new adventures- or old reliable ones. So after lunch today, we drove out to Wakefield- mostly on a lark, just to drive somewhere. Nice, comfortable adventure, to see sheep and geese. Yes, indeed.

The sheep were out when we walked up the path, even the ram. I worried about the ram being out, so I didn't let the kids get too close to the sheep; they sat right down and giggled at them from a few paces distance. Then over by the Blacksmith building, I could make out a big tom turkey! The fox problem must be solved- new coops! The turkey was in the usual circuit to the pig pens, through the gate to the tobacco garden, then another gate back into the walnut trees and back to the center. Well, he was just off it, so I warned the guys to keep distance, and we were on our way to gobble at the turkey.

Never gobble at a free-ranging turkey.

Suddenly four turkey hens came racing out of the blacksmith shop towards us (the ranger later said they probably thought we had food). We stopped where we were, because turkeys are pretty big, and I didn't want the kids to be bitten. But suddenly, the tom came running- right at Andy! We turned to run, and the turkey leapt up on poor Andy!

You know, if a turkey comes running at us, I really don't mind turning and moving away, which is what we started to do. But jumping on my kid with big talons is not cool.

I think he chose Andy because Andy was wearing a santa hat, and he may have mistaken it him for another turkey. I swept the hat from the child's head, and told him to run as the turkey turned and leapt upon Joey. Mind you, that damn bird was as big as Joey when his wings came out. Joey backed off and I got between the boys and the turkey, and they kept coming at us, finally getting around me to jump on poor Andy again. I smacked the turkey with the hat to get him to back off. I finally told the guys to "keep moving", and off towards the gate and the pigpens they trotted.

I fended the thing off, and caught up to the guys in front of the pens; everybody was OK. Then... from behind came the harrowing sound of gobble-gobble-gobble, and the turkeys were charging again! I got the guys through the gate, and beat off the birds, then turned to catch up with the guys, who were halfway to the second gate and the walnut trees.

Turning around is apparently a bad idea when one is battling turkeys. Here they came, making a ruckus. I turned back around fast and smacked him with the hat again, and gave my own battle cry. The tom backed down and strutted towards teh first gate with his harem milling around him. The guys had stopped to watch; I called to them to keep moving. They got through the gate, and I had to run to try to keep them in sight. I looked around and realized another family had been watching our battle from across the fields. We called to them to stay away from the turkeys.

But those turkeys weren't done. I got the guys gathered and hugged... they wanted to go back and look at the sheep, but I wasn't about to run the turkey gauntlet again- when here those damn birds came again. The boys ran. I fended them off with the hat, then chased them into a little side lane, and I guess they finally decided I meant business. I managed to get the boys turkey-free to the center. We recounted our adventure to the ranger, who promised to lock the monster up.

So you guys can have fun imaging me slashing through the air, wielding a santa hat like a red fluffy sword, fending off the ugly blue mug of a tom turkey, gobbling his fiercest.

Merry Christmas.

Get the word out

(Thanks, Christschool!)

If we can get those stupid Ransom Notes shut down, we can get this place shut down and the folks running it prosecuted for child abuse.

Just because my Joey has a hard time telling us, he definitely feels pain. He has emotions. Having communication disorders is not the same as not thinking, not feeling, being defiant, or being disrespectful. Communication disorders do not require punishment. It does require special paretning and patience that not everyone can handle. Please, people, send your children into loving, supportive environments, not into places that torture children and adults into submission.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Little Whine with the Cheese

My house is overrun.

One thing everyone can send to my boys is toys. And giftcards for toys. Amazing. With Christmas, we get snowed in with new playthings, WE have new fishing poles, new games, new cars, new racing sets, new bikes. You'd think the boys would be so busy with the newness, they'dhave no time to whine.

If you think that, you have no children.

Joey's new joke is to ask you drink from his cup or take a bite of his food, then mock-whine, "{Your name, beautifully whined}, why you drink my drink [or eat my food]?" The everyone else in teh room is expected to turn a reproachful eye to the accused and tsk-tsk them, then Joey laughs hysterically. I will have to warn his teachers.

Andy has decided it is funny to be the one who take teh sip or pretends to take a bite.

So I have two bored children, wandering around laughing hysterically at each other while whining Andy's name.

Yes indeed.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Eve

The bike is on the porch.

The dinosaurs are tucked into the stocking.

The cookies are eaten.

The first letter to Santa has been removed from the special envelope and strategically preserved.

The packages are sorted and stacked, and decoratively arranged in the livingroom.

The bayberry candle is done.

Merry Christmas. I'll let you guys know how it goes here.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Party party!

I got the chance to go to Joey's holiday party at school, and took it. I also took Andy. It was a blast. A little surreal in some ways, but maybe that's because they are growing up so fast, and every moment is so precious to me.

The party actually had two parts- a sing-a-long, where the kids sat together and sang holiday songs, and then a classroom party. The classroom party was organized to keep the kids engaged for the hour by dividing the group into four stations, and having them make somethign at each station, then at the end, Mrs. S turned on the Nutcracker and they ate their snack. Really well done, I was really impressed.

Anyway, most of the parents sat in the gym in these rows of chairs behind the kids, who sat on the floor in two big blocks. Andy and Joey insisted I sit with them, and since I wanted Andy to participate and feel a part, I sat my butt on the floor with them. It was an excellent choice. Those other parents? They missed the best part of the fun! To sit in that sea of children, with my two little guys, and sing and laugh and cheer together... yes indeed. I wouldn't miss that for the world. One of the parents afterword told me I was having way too good of a time. My response? No such thing as "too good of a time" with my boys!

Some of the second graders sang special songs and even got up in front of the school and performed. Joey was beside himself at that point, wanting to get up with them and sing and play instruments and dance. He did work himself up to the point Mrs. Macy had to take him for a little walk and a drink of water to calm down. He SO wanted to participate! Don't worry, little Buddy... you'll be up there so very, very soon. The time will just fly. You'll see.

Then the party! The inclusion class joined them, so it was a pretty good group- about two dozen kids, making crafts and icing cookies and eating those cookies and other goodies and having a jolly good time. They noticed I was taking pictures, and I have some hilarious ones of other kids in the class. Andy and one of Joey's classmates got along famously, buddy-buddy for the whole party. A good time had by all.

Joey and one other little girl didn't get excited about the picture-taking, but that's OK. Andy blended right in, even with the noise and the chatter, so that was fanstastic. I think that child is school-bound at last. Growing up. Thats my boy.

But I did notice that Joey was a bit isolated. Whereas Andy picked up friends and other kids were hugging and chattering and playing together, Joey did his thing, on his own, then sat a little apart to eat. There was another little girl doing this as well, from the inclusion class. It was so marked, I figure she's probably an aspie or "HF" autie; they kind of shared the same corner, even though they didn't speak to each other. I worry about the communication difficulties Joey has, which seem to isolate him in groups. He tries so hard to be a part, to participate, to play with the kids; but usually ends up slightly apart, alone. I'll have to stay aware; is this his way of being comfortable, or will this eventually depress him? Stay tuned.

He is his mother's child, though. He wore his reindeer antler hat almost to the end, long after everybody else's was cast aside. Silly hats. That's my boy!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Last Day of School

Just fair warning: tomorrow is the last day of school before holiday break. I've already ben sparse with the posts and sparser with commenting on my usual blogfriends' posts, but it is about to get sparser. I expect to be entertaining a Little Bear and a T-Rex 24/7 for the next, oh, two weeks. I may not get much computer time, and the time I do get will probably go to setting up my classes for next semester.

All I want for Christmas is 28-hour days for the next few weeks. Is that so much to ask?

Wordless Wednesday: Deck the Halls

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Tis the Season to Meme

OK, got this one in the email. Instead of forwarding it and takin gup precious storage memory and bandwith, I thought I'd post it here and invite anybody who wants to play to just join in. It's meme-ing time!

Merry Merry Christmas Meme!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Wrapping paper
2. Real tree or Artificial?
I prefer real, I actually have artificial. A nice ten-foot field tree would be best.
3. When do you put up the tree?
Usually the weekend before Christmas. This year, the boys and I just finished getting it up- but none of my other decorations are up.
4. When do you take the tree down?
Usually the weekend after New Year’s.
5. Favorite Christmas beverage?
Egg nog with nutmeg.
6. Favorite gift received as a child?
Doll’s house.
7. Do you have a nativity scene?
8. Hardest person to buy for?
My husband. What does he want hat he didn’t just buy himself?
9. Easiest person to buy for?
Mom. Joey and Andy are close seconds.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I always appreciate the thought behind the gift, so if the gift is “bad”, I tend to just forget about it.
12. Favorite Christmas movie?
Christmas Carol, Sir Seymour Hicks (1934). [Actual title is "Scrooge", for you purists out there.]
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Dec 26.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Jelly Nests and Peppermint Ice Cream. Not mint chip.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Yes. Both straight-burn and blinkers. And plenty of ‘em.
17. Favorite Christmas song?
March of the Kings (NOT “We Three Kings”)
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Stay at home.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Yes. Even Bartholomew.
20. Angel on the tree top or star?
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas morning. Christmas afternoon. All twelve days of Christmas. What’s Christmas without a few presents every day?
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Grumpy people.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
Angels and Three Kings. Blue.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
Prime Rib with shrimp dip as asparagus.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year?
Ten minutes of snuggly boys. And I bet Santa arranges it, too. J
26. Favorite Christmas tradition?
A Clementine in the toe of the stocking.

These are an old tree pics, BTW. I'll get some pics of the new one up when I get a chance. :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Bike

A bit and a half ago, when we went to see Santa, Andy declared to Santa his desire for dinosaurs... and Joey had no idea what he wanted (and answering "What do you want for Christmas?" was a little too much to ask, anyway). Then he discovered what he wanted was a bike. A real two-wheeler, with training wheels, please. Yes, that's what he wants. A bike.

My baby is growing up.

But anyway, in order for Santa to bring said bike, Mommy had to go out and purchase said bike. Fortunately, Toys R Us is openuntil midnight this weekend. I'm not a big fan of Toys R Us. When I was young, it was great- a warehouse deal of toys that were cheap and simple, the haven of Star Wars figures. Now its an expensive place to get toys, and all they have are toys where the company I believe pays them to basically rent the space to display their merchandise- the higher fee you pay, the more prominent spot your toy gets. Variety? Gone. Everything marketed, splashed with TV characters or packaged more for Mom and Dad than for little Johnny or Janey. And service? what's that?

So I wasn't really surprised when I waited half an hour just to get someone to come help me with choosing the correct size for the bike. I've picked out a nice red one. There was a beautiful green Schwinn, but too pricey. He's probably going to need a new one next Christmas, anyway, so no point shelling out the big bucks just to get it green. Red is good for a first Christmas bike. A shiny, red bike. With training wheels.

So I pay for it, and pay for them to assemble it. See, that's the advantage of Toys R Us. Our Walmart don't assemble.

The cashier takes my name and number, and says someone will call when it's ready, but be sure to pick it up tomorrow or it goes off hold. (That would be today). OK, no problem.

Except that no-one called.

So I call and ask what is going on, if there is a hold up or a problem or something, and I get told that they don't take names and numbers unless there is a problem, and he doesn't see a bike with my name on it back there anywhere... and he finally got snippy with me and told me (in that snap-snap sort of way) that if I showed up with my receipt, he's find my bike. Click.

I don't like being hung up on.

So off to teh toy store I go, and present the receipt with a brief explanation of the snap-snap attitude problem. She makes a call on her walkie-talkie, and everything becomes, "yes, m'am."

Long story short: There is a very pretty red bicycle hiding in the Jeep. Don't tell Joey!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Christmas Retrospective

Monday, December 10, 2007


Once upon a time, I was tagged for a meme. I didn't forget, I just have been very, very grumpy. So ok, mcewen, you got me. Here's the meme:

1) Link to the person that tagged you, and post the rules on your blog.
2) Share 7 facts about yourself.
3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
4) Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So here it is:

1. Once upon a time when I was young, I played the baritone. Actually, I played the euphonium, but most folks don't know what that is. In fact, an awful lot of folks have no idea what a baritone is, either. But I loved it, and wish I still played it. I also played the flute and the valve trombone (that not the one with the slide; it looks kinda like an oversized trumpet, and is used for some marching bands, so you don't whack folks in the head with a slide).

2. I collect Christmas ornaments. I have both a silver collection and a blown glass collection, seperate from the rest of the tree ornaments. I display them in garlands over the doors. Keeps little finger and little kitty paws off them.

3. I like bleu cheese, sauerkraut, and winter squash. I liked none of these things when I was young. My parents still do not believe I eat them.

4. My ideal evening right now would be to curl up on the couch with a fire in teh fireplace, and with a fresca, a bowl of mint ice cream, and three boys, watching five different versions of A Christmas Carol. Usually, I would want to be watching either Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension, Time Bandits, and Life With Father followed by the entire extended- version Lord of the Rings. I dislike watching new movies, especially in theaters. I tedn to get very high fevers. My favorite version of A Christmas Carol is the 1934 Scrooge with Sir Seymour Hicks, closely followed by Patrick Stewart (1999), George C. Scott (1984) and the Muppets (1992). I strongly dislike the Alastair Sim versions, which will get me hatemail, but you wanted facts.

5. I adore Jane Eyre. I dislike Wuthering Heights. This will also win me hatemail, but I just don't get a "love" story where a bitch and a bastard can't get it together and destroy all the lives around them in the process. That's not love, people. That's being selfish jerks. (Did I mention that I'm feeling grumpy?) Jane sticks to her principles of right and wrong and creates her own happiness. Much more satisfactory.

6. When I was little, I always wanted my own goat. So when I got a little older, my folks got me goats. I miss my goats, though I have no idea how I would find time to care for one now. When I went to college, my poor mom had to take care of them for me. She's really good with animals.

7. I taught myself to knit in three hours. I arrived for my GD test for Andy with a kit and instruction sheet, and left with five inches of scarf. The nurses were in hysterics when they realized what I was doing. But hey, when youre going to be sitting somewhere for three hours, what would you do? With Joey, I did needlepoint kits. I had to do two three-hour tests with him. The nurses at the lab thought that was funny, too (who's ever heard of having to take TWO?)

I'd tag, but this time of the year, who has time? So if you'd like to join in the fun, please do; or store it for later, when you're not in the midst of holiday craziness.

I hear Andy stirring. I'd better go help him get dressed... thanks for sharing this moment of quiet in my house!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Lighting the Way

I have a special fondness for Saint Lucia. I know that according to the canonical calendar, her feast day is December 13, but the old tradition places her on Solstice. She lights the way through the world's midnight to bring us into spring.

Advent candles are something I have less affinity for, more because I am unfamiliar with them than anything else. They are a new-fangled event in the Methodist world, brought in to appeal to folks more familiar with other sects and a heavier dose of ritual than I was brought up with. However, light is light. When we were asked to light the advent candle this week, I didn't pass on the opportunity to bring some light into the world. I never miss a chance to think of Saint Lucy.

Some folks are probably irked to find pagan ritual, symbol, and tradition in Christian traditions. It never bothers me a bit. In fact, it speaks to me of some of the basics of my faith: God made everything. Because God made everything, I like to try to represent everything in my celebrations of the life God has given to me. That certainly includes Christmas. Christmas at my house just bursts with the world God has gifted us, no strings attached. You don't even have to believe in Him. Here it is. Enjoy.

So the connection with Saint Lucia to pagan ideas of Brigit, to the Solstice, to traditions of light far older than the Christ, doesn't bother me one wit. God made them, too. Besides, God made me on Solstice, too.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Yes, it is that time of year

We've been busy, busy, busy trying to clean and get ready to decorate for Christmas. I know people who can clean their house in about an hour, complete with scrubbing the bathrooms. In about an hour, i can often (but not always) clear a path from my front door to the kitchen. It seems very strange to have tables, buffets, servers, and other assorted surfaces cleared and cleaned. I'll feel better when the decorations clutter everything up again.

Joey decided today he wants Santa to bring him a bike. With training wheels. Thanks, Franklin. He saw some in the toy store, and when we told him he would have to ask Santa for it, he demanded to see Santa that instant. Of course, the toy store did not have a Santa there. I have no idea where he would ride said bike. I have no idea how I would afford said bike. But I think I need to go bike shopping.

Andy wanted to have a slumber party with Mommy and Daddy this evening. He would have let me sing Christmas carols to him all night if I wanted. Then he came in to snuggle in our room for a while. Then he wanted more songs. Anything not to sleep.

The excitment is also partly the blame of the trains. We took them to see the trains at Watson's and Stebbins, an dtoday we went to a local show. The local show was not nearly as good, and cost money to get in, but they were excited anyway. Joey almost had a meltdown because we wouldn't let him touch the tracks or the little buildings or the cars or the trains, and there were lots of people and some kids had balloons and it was just very exciting. Mom is thnking abot putting a train up for him at her house. I'd like to try to put one up under the tree here. I miss my Christmas garden. But then, my whole house kind of turns into a one big putz village.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Shameless Plug: Free Shipping

Cafepress is offering free shipping for orders over $75 through Dec 9. Your order can come from all different sellers. Head over there, type in "autism" and see all the great stuff! And don't forget to visit the JoeyMom shop! Thanks!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ah, a moment of quiet

The baby is sleeping in. I love it when Andy has a lie-in. For one, he's perkier during the day (that has its pros and cons, but I still think the pros outweigh the cons). For two, I have five minutes to blog. It is kinda like the quiet of a snowstorm in teh woods, with the hissing of the flakes all around you, but otherwise... absolutely still. Nothing here but the sound of my tapping fingers.

We've had plenty of excitement, all the good kind. Everybody seems to be healthy now, which is an excellent thing. We went up to Baltimore to Valley View to see "the Christmas" (and Watson's, who had camels insted of reindeer this year, very exciting, and Stebbins-Anderson to see the trains). I'll leave you to imagine chasing two excited boys around three stores full of sparkles, glitters, trains, and Santas, as well as packed with people- one three years old, the other autistic. No one melted down. If I figure out how to put up video, I'll put up a short clip. It's well worth it.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Life is a Parade

Busy. busy, busy... Christmas is a-comin' and the goose is gettin' fat! Yesterday we went riding around looking at the first Christmas lights. Today we saw Santa, in the flesh! And we went to not one, but two parades!

The boys did better than Mommy this morning with Santa. I called to see when Santa would be starting, and the lady told me ten o'clock. We got there shortly before ten, to find not a soul waiting... there was a breakfast with Santa event, and the pictures wouldn't start until 10:30! I was hot. Really hot. But we made it through, and actually got a decent picture of Andy. Woo-hoo!

Then we dropped Daddy off to do some Christmas shopping, and drove out to Grandma's to see the Spotsy parade. It was OK, but with only one band, Joey's interest didn't hold. In fact, he was pretty scattered and everywhere. Andy did OK.

Then we went to church- Andy sat right in the front row like a perfect little angel the whole time! Not even a flinch! And Joey got to play drums; then we went outside to the Fredericksburg parade. Joey, being his love-the-world self, made himself a friend; a nice lady who helped me keep him on the curb, and made sure he got candy, and even got him into her lap when he got chilly. Andy tried a cinnamon candy, but I don't think he liked it much, too hot. The parade was so long, though, we had to leave, after being there two hours and no end in sight. :P

So a happy opening to the holiday season... Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

On The Brink

Today is the day.

We stand poised between holidays at my house. Today is the day I looked about and thought, "I need to get these fall things packed up." But for our house, its a hair too early to put out Christmas things. Just a cople of days- Advent calendars need to appear on Saturday- but just that moment on the brink, between fall festivities and Christmas holidays.

I should spend this moment cleaning, making the house ready for the decorations to come. I have an extensive Christmas decoration collection, so I need everything cleared and cleaned. I was originally planning a whiz-bang Christmas decorating campaign, but with Andy not in preschool, there's no time. So just normal levels- the door garlands, the trees, the mantel, the greens, the baking... we'll see. Here at the brink, anything is possible.

Fortunately, Joey loves Christmas, and gets happy about the Christmas decorations; but I do think it throws him off. We have increasing trouble with him through Christmas. After all, everything is so exciting and different and strange. New things to do, sparkles everywhere...

I have four weekends between now and Christmas. I'm hoping to work two of them. This weekend, we have the parades; Joey loves parades. We're hoping Andy is well enough to go to at least one of them, too. I might try to sneak a trip to Santa in here, too- but Andy won't like that. Next weekend is our trip to Valley View. Then two Saturdays of working. The tree will probably go up the evening of the 21st, and be done by the evening of the 23rd. That's teh way to open the Christmas break! By then, everything else will need to be done.

Yep, here we are at the brink. Anything is possible.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Food Consumption Resumes

Omnicef. Yay. His ear still hurts, but at least Andy is eating again. Kinda. More than not eating at all. I'll take it. Fruit snacks make headway into the household. Dinosaur-shaped, for extra positive reinforcement and enticement.

Why they don't just print "candy" across the box... oh, right. Marketing.

Need to clean things. House. Disaster. Child needs more tylenol before he starts screaming again. Nothing done. Printer out of toner. No chance of getting to Staples today. Again.

i need to eat something.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Still Sick, Still Not Eating

So we're up to chocolate milk, juice, and lollipops. And the meds, if I use a syringe. Thats it. That's all he'll eat.

Doctor tomorrow.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Five Good Things

Ooo, meme games. Cool. I've been working all day, and will be working tomorrow, so being able to fall back on memes is a good thing. I don't have to think too much.

This one is from mcewen (Whitterer): five good things.

1. A long hot bath by candlelight with Sting on the CD player (MP3 player?) and a glass of wine in the hand. Followed by lots of moisturizer, powder, a very thick, soft white towel, and a warm bed.

2. Tickle fights. Whole family tickle fights.

3. Santa entering Herald Square. {That's my tipped hat to Thanksgiving!}

4. A bushel of crabs, a case of good beer (very cold), a long table full of friends, and all night ahead of you.

5. Four rolls of quarters and four rolls of dimes at Marty's Playland in May, when all the Christmas prizes are "half-tickets".

So... what are your five good things?

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Word About Snail

We're in Franklin Mode here, especially Andy, so I see way too much of it. But I have a favorite- Snail.

If you are unfamiliar with Franklin, the series focuses on a turtle who is generally a good kid, but he makes mistakes and then has to learn what to do about them. He has several friends who help with this. Snail is one of Franklin's best friends, and often share in interesting adventures.

Why Snail? Because Snail needs help with some things. He's slow, so he needs a ride to the bus stop or home. He can't be a hider in hide and seek because he'd take too long to hide. He cheers at teh soccer games because he doesn't have feet and can't run.

But best of all, he is never referred to as disabled, handicapped, or otherwise labeled. It's simply part of who he is- he's Snail. He's a snail. It's just the way it is.

I liked best how it was discussed in the episode "Nature Walk"- snail just has his own snail way of doing things. He's been a snail all his life- he's pretty good at it by now.

May that someday be the attitude towards all people. They are the way they are. They have their own way of doing things, and should be allowed to do the things they can do- and yet not be afraid to ask for help when they need it.

Andy Food Update

Today, he ate one french fry.

Perhaps it was a reward for Mommy, who took him to see the dinosaurs at Natural History after dropping Uncle Evan off at his apartment.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

And then there were none

Anybody have a child who just completely stopped eating? We are on day three of Andy's Chocolate Milk diet. Granted, he has a bad cold... but to not eat anything? I can't even get this kid to eat cookies. What's the deal?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Once Upon A Time

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Day In The Life

There's nothing quite like going about one's day, looking up, and seeing this:

Especially when your first thought is: "I wonder how long that's been there?"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Meme x 8

Ok, Stimey. I'll bite.

8 Things I am Passionate About:

1. Allan.
2. South Asian art and culture.
3. Individualized education.
4. Raising my children (not just letting them grow up).
5. History and wildlife conservation.
6. Christmas.
7. Crabs and beer.
8. Spreading smiles. (Ever just walk around a store smiling at people to see if they stop looking so sour?)

8 Things I Say Often:
1. Honey/Hon
2. Oh my goodness.
3. Good job, Buddy!
4. You are going to drive me NUTS.
5. *disdainful grunt at hearing something absolutely ridiculous*
6. What did I come in here for?/I can't remember why I came in here.
8. Squish a boy!!!

8 Books I have Read Recently:
1. Harry Potter (I just lump them all together...)
2. The Lord of the RIngs (again, I just lump them all together...)
3. Jane Eyre (it doesn't say "for the first time" after all...)
4. North American Indian Art
5. The Camel Who Took A Walk
6. The First Thanksgiving
7. Franklin Stays Up
8. Where the Wild Things Are

Oh, don't bedtime stories count? I don;t get much time for reading...

8 Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
1. See the Minakshi Temple in Madurai.
2. Start a local school dedicated to individualized education offering services in an inclusive setting.
3. Pay off my credit cards.
4. Go to my daughter's wedding. [Note that I do not currently have a daughter.]
5. Open an herb farm. On 1000 acres With a potter's wheel. Oh, and learn to use said potter's wheel.
6. Write a book about my grandmother and her painting career.
7. Meet the Dalai Lama.
8. Win the lottery, a really big one, to fund all these cool projects.

8 Songs I could listen to over and over:
1. The Good, by Rachel Coleman.
2. A Thousand Years, by Sting
3. Take On Me by A-Ha
4. I'm Alrght by Kenny Loggins
5. No Myth by Michael Penn
6. Walking in Memphis by Marc Cohn
7. Quinn the Eskimo by Bob Dylan
8. Alice's Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie

I could go on. But this is todays list.

8 Things That Attract me to my Best Friends:
1. Ability to call each and every one of them at 4 am if the need arose.
2. Quirk of character. Normal people are boring.
3. Strength of presence.
4. Ability to laugh... no matter what.
5. Acceptance. After all, I'm a nutcase.
6. Connection. Most folks are so closed off, they just can't connect. At least I can't seem to connect and plug into them.
7. Familiarity. I don't have to put on my Sunday Manners. Makes putting on Sunday Manners all that much more fun.
8. Willingness to share interests. I don't mind folsk who don't have common interests with me, but Ido like to know about them and what they find interesting, and why!

8 People Who Should Totally Do This Meme:
1. The bored person.
2. The blogger with no material for the day.
3. The person who likes memes.
4. The folks who feel they have an interesting list to reply with.
5. Someone who likes to "shift" memes to add interesting new twists.
6. A personwho has never done a meme before.
7. Somebody trying to look busy at work.
8. You.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Other parents

One of the other parents in our school district wrote an editorial in our local paper, and I thought I'd comment here, maybe a first draft of a response.

First, I'd like to be clear that I have mixed feelings about the author of the editorial, and I do know her son, but have not seen him in over a year. My feelings are mixed because I have great admiration for her ability and energy to fight for her son. However, this is a case where this lady got what she wanted at everyone else's expense; her battle casualities included the best preschool teaher I have met, and being on the preschool circuit for three years, I met quite a few- and certainly this lady was the best teacher we had in that preschool. On top of that, clearly we disagree about how to deal with autism. She has a clear agenda for what to do; I, as usual, believe in individualization.

I'll start at the beginning.. the scenario of devastation as the screening comes back "on the spectrum." I am all about fighting this right here. I understand the feeling of devastation. I also know the root of that pain is ignorance. When a child is diagnosed autistic, arents are caught unprepared. It may be the first time they had ever heard the word "autism." They know nothing about it. Until you are in the world of special ed, you have no idea what it is, or who is in it. Our culture values the "beautiful people", and anyone not fitting this mainstream idea of "normal" is cast aside one way or another. Your child is diagnosed with autism, and all you know is you have a long road ahead of you, and have no idea where that road is going.

I started this blog to chip away from the panic. I think the editorial was Gleibys' way of trying to chip away at the panic. There should not be any reason to panic. At least for once, we have the same goal in mind. Get past fear by making it something not completely unknown.

And the next step is, I believe worthy. You are doctor just informing a parent that Little Johnny is autistic. When this happened for us, the doctor gave us a book that we discovered was well out of date, the phone number for his nurse, and advice to call the school. Needless to say, this was woefully inadequate.

So here is my Quick Guide for Parents for the Day After Diagnosis:

(The Day Of Diagnosis, just go home and enjoy your child. Maybe put a fresh pot of coffee on, or take up drinking coffee.)

1. Here are the people to call:
Local Autism clinic, if you didn't get get the diagnosis there. Here, that would both Kluge Children's Rehab and Kennedy Krieger. Some centers, like Kennedy Krieger, take a year to get an appointment for anything. Kluge takes a couple of months. A year is a little long, but a couple of months is OK. This is urgent, but not an emergency. Besides, you have other folks to call and get going.
The local school district. Many of teh supports your child needs are the responsibility of your local school district. You want to get a feel for the place, have an eval, get into the system- even if you decide to homeschool.
Your insurance. KNow what they will cover, and what they will not. Many insurances will cover OT without batting an eye, but will not cover speech therapy because it is "educational." Some insurance see "autism" and cover NOTHING. Some see it and cover EVERYTHING. Some therapies are considered educational and not medical- and this can be different from insurance to insurance, state to state. You may choose interventions that are not covered, and you need to know what you will be paying for, how much it will be, and what you will need to do to cover it.
The speech pathologist. Some centers have them, some local hospitals have them, and there are lots of private practice ones. Be sure they are going to work on communication, not just speech. Do they do sign language, switches, PECS? How do they use these as tools for communication, and not just learning to speak? How do they use them to encourage- but not force- speech? Do they also work with reading and other visual communication?
The physical therapist. Many autistic kids have gross motor problems that need to be addressed. Many don't need a PT (Joey doesn't need a PT).
The occupational therapist. Ask specifically about sensory integration therapies. Most autistic kids have some form of SPD (though not all!). You don't want just a buttons and zippers OT, you want one that will take an integrated approach and can address the needs of your child.
Your pediatrician. Be sure they are immediately aware. Ask questions. What will they do for you? What do they know abotu autism? Are they willing to do some research or attend a conference or workshop about autism? If you have a doctor who seems ignorant of autism- and many are- and is unwiling to beome educated, then you will be needing a new ped.
Psychologist. You may need some testing done in ways the school doesn't accomodate, some understanding of your child's mental health, and yes, you may need medications. Be prepared.
Your local Disability Resource Center. These types of organizations can help you navigate local resources, prepare for things like Medicaid Waivers, even help you understand disability law and rights. They can also help you network with other parents of disabled children.
State agencies for the disabled. Many states have offices specifically geared to helping people with disabilities and protect their rights. Its a good idea to be familiar with these offices and what they actually do in your state or locality.
A Lawyer. You're about to become an expert in disability law. School districts and insurance agencies can be not fun to work with. Be prepared. Find a lawyer and advocate who deal in disability and educational law. BE prepared in case you run into problems- its a lot easier to prepare for a fight if you already have your champion lined up, rather than waiting until you have a problem. I haven't met a parent yet who didn't have a problem.

I know that is a lot of phone calls. Prepare ahead of time- get a big loose-leaf notebook to keep paperwork, evaluations, even phone messages in. Just keep it by date; when you make a call, note it on a sheet with the date and a summary of what was discussed, and put it in the notebook. When the evals come, just put them in the notebook. Bills. Letters. IEPs. Anything. I even have Joey's birth certificate at the front. I'm on our second 3" binder.

2. Here are things you need to do:
Relax. Your child hasn't changed. You just have a new label to point you to resources you might need.
Read. The books I recommend are: From Emotions to Advocacy by Pete Wright.
1001 Great Ideas For Teaching and Raising Children with Autism by Zysk and Notbohm.
That will give you a start. I encourage folks to include their favorite resources in the comments.
Read some more. You will need to research different methods and strategies used with autistic children. Some I can think off the top of my head are ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis), PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), Floor Time, Sensory Integration, Therapeutic Listening, GFCF (Gluten free/Casein free diets) {and other possible allergies and diets- if your kid has sensory issues, allergies can drive them crazy!], ABLLS (Asessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills), TEACCH (Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-disabled[or handicapped] Children).
Get online. Check out the links I have in the sidebar. I've developed a handout for new parents here in Virginia, I'll be happy to email it to you. Also, you can network with more great folks like us. :)
Go out and have some fun! Remember, your child hasn't changed! Go out and do the stuff your child likes to do! Try to introduce your child to new experiences- as you would any child! These outings may take more preparation(and work) than for non-autistic families, but it's worth it. Keeping kids locked in the house will drive you crazy, too, and deny them living. Yes, some folks will stare. You may get unkind comments, or offensive comments. But you know what? You would have gotten them even if you didn't know about autism. Now you know how to support your child in the face of these people- "My kid's doing a great job with this new experience. What's your problem?"

Summary? You now know your child is autistic. Now you have a better plan for moving ahead and educating your child- which now makes your life better, not worse. Yes, now that you know the kinds of resources you need, you now have work to do to tap those resources- but now you have narrowed the field to the resources you may need!

See? Not scary. Just needs a little information!.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Turkey is a-comin'!!!

We are all excitement here. Evan is coming.

My house is a disaster. Joey is sick. The guest bedroom isn't set up, and is in fact still full of boxes of I-have-no-idea-what-because-I'm-a-packrat-queen. I got the shower re-caulked and a new showerhead, but the showerhead isn't installed. Andy is hoarding again. But it's okay. Evan is coming.

Families are funny things. Families usually have two parts- the part that you were born with, and the part that appears over time. Folks who don't get the whole humanity thing forget about the second part of the family (often while complaining bitterly about the first part). They see them as outsiders, keep them at arm's length, forget to let them in and enjoy them. More and more and more people I meet are like that- there is an isolation of humanity in today's culture. We have become so focused on nuclear "family" that the rest of it drops into a grey abyss, our children not given the skills and understanding to expand their families and relish them. After all, all families are strange. They are full of people. People are here to be loved. Too many folks now expect people to meet certain ideas and expectations before they will even acknowledge the other person's existence, much less refer to the person as a "friend." Instead of taking people as they are, and start from there, and see what happens, they automatically exclude everyone until proven otherwise. Safer? Maybe. But you miss out on a lot of family.

Joey loves the world and the world loves Joey. People like to be accepted, no strings attached. Joey has a knack for that. "Hi, Friend!" he cheerfully calls to all and sundry. You're invited- you’re a friend until proven otherwise. Andy doesn't have this talent. He's far more of a question first, be friends if the answers are OK kind of guy.

Anyway, Thanksgiving is one of those family holiday things. People's families get together and celebrate being on the earth and get to have some time to just hang out and enjoy each other. We can appreciate Aunt Susie's love of carrot cake, the lopsided way Cousin Johnnie smiles, take joy in Grandpa's old war stories and Grandma's taste in clothes. We can pick up on the little clues that speak to who we are.

When we grow up, and go out to make our own little nuclear units, holidays are great times to remember the rest of our families. Those brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins who may not share our bloodlines, but remain our families. Those connections to humanity that remind us that we're all in this together, we might as well enjoy each other for this brief shining moment.

Evan is coming. Christmas is upon us.

I love Christmas.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wordless Wednesday: Retrospective (Andy)

Moral of the stories: They aren't little for long.