Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Team Stimey Rocks

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Godot Cam

As Far As it Gets

We're as far from Christmas as we can ever be. Hope you had a good holiday, we certainly did.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

I will be spending the day avoiding the Birthday Bird- a story I shall one day share with you guys. Let's just say, this is my Bad Luck Day. Yay, me.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Out Into the World

Well, folks, we emerged from the Snowpocalypse today, little worse for the wear. we were not amused to find our town sucks at clearing roads, while just across the bridge, the arteries are clear and beautiful. We had speech this morning at 9; I left plenty of time, and we did so well, we got to stop and have Second Breakfast before the appointment.

Then, since were out of my driveway and actually in the world, we decided to kick butt and take names with errands.

We did some stuff for my mom at her office. We got folks paid who needed to be paid. We got the holiday cards in the mail (will yours reach you by Christmas? No idea. But Merry Christmas anyway. I feel fortunate I got to write them at all this year). We picked up a few things at the grocery. I even took the boys to lunch!

And what a lunch it was! It is our favorite little place to take the boys, so we had a lovely time. The boys actually got up, got plates, served themselves food, and sat down. By themselves. Without any peeps for help from a mom. It was kinda weird, actually. And when they wanted more food? They got up and got it.

My babies are all growed up.

After such success, we went home and made snowmen and watched movies and ate popcorn and drank hot chocolate and stuff. because that's what you do when it's day 3 of the Snowpocalypse: you just sit back and enjoy the snow.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The semester is officially done.

Yes! Yes! I have turned in the grades, and Hell Semester is officially over! Now I can get back to the good stuff: Christmas and blogging. Where has the time gone?

This will probably be another thin posting week, but you never know with me. Hopefully I'll be really, really back to everything after the guys go back to school. But then, I have three classes to revamp (especially in light of Hell Semester 2009).

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hey, Look! It Snowed!

Hmmmm. I think it snowed this weekend. This was our Saturday Morning Jaunt into the snow. We lasted about half an hour, because the snow kept blowing into our faces- and coats, boots, mittens, hoods...

This is still the morning venture. By the time we went out for the afternoon, Joey was in snow above his knees to go down the sidewalk. He got snow in his boots, which made him very unhappy. But the morning for him was OK.

Boys exploring a winter wonderland like they have never seen.

We got about 18 inches, maybe 20. It hasn't snowed like this here in a while. It was the fluffy stuff, too cold to pack- maybe tomorrow the sun will hit it enough to be able to make snowmen. Or something. Virginia usually gets wetter snow, so the depth is a little deceptive. Rule of thumb is that wet snow is half as deep as dry snow for the same about of water. So this storm would have been 9-10 inches or normal Virginia snow. That would still have been major (in my opinion, more major, as wet snow is heavier to shovel and doesn't blow or sweep as well as dry snow). This was an awesome storm. Think the whole winter will be like this? Spring semester will be a disaster!

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's snowing.

Joey pops his little head down the stairs. He's supposed to be in bed, but hey, its officially Christmas Break! There's a big, lit tree in the front hall, ornaments everywhere, excitement abounds! And now we're being hit with a lovely snowstorm!

"It's snowing!" he announces gleefully. He hops down the stairs.
"Whatcha doin', Buddy?" we inquire, the cue to tell us if something is wrong.
"I want kisses!" he informs us. "Two!"

Happy Snow Day.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why I Love the Child Across the Street

Coming off the bus, his first question is always, "Can I play with Joey and Andy today?"
"Sure," I usually reply. Andy gets off the another bus, because the friend is slightly older, but he and Andy are quite compatible in terms of energy. Andy likes having someone to run off energy with. We wander over to our house together.
"Where's Joey?" He stops, then says, "oh, I forgot, he's on another bus." That is all there is to that, a statement of fact; his friend is missing, he misses him, he wishes Joey present, but will be patient.

"Let's go outside," he announces; the weather is nice, and he wants to be out in it rather than playing with Andy inside. Besides, my glass is up, so he can't bounce in here. Joey wants to watch the Disney Santa laugh, so he doesn't move. Andy tosses on shoes and coat. "Aren't you coming, Joey?" Joey doesn't respond right away, so the child says, "OK, then," and out he goes; as he reaches the door, Joey finally gets the words out, "I want to watch Santa laugh first. When this is over." The child looks slightly disappointed, but responds with another version of "ok, then."

Andy and the child race up and down the sidewalk with trucks, they are actually playing two different games, but the games mesh nicely. Andy then races off forward, is fussing with a tree; the child glances at our van. He has seen it dozens of times before, but suddenly notices my bumper stickers. He reads them aloud.
"What's autism?" he asks.
"Autism is a different way of thinking, having your brain wired a little differently. It causes kids to have different strengths and weaknesses than people expect. Autistic people often have trouble talking or having a conversation, for example."
"Joey is autistic."
"Yeah." He reads another one. "Autism is not a tragedy, ignorance is a tragedy. What does that mean?"
"It means people often don't understand people with autism, or what autism is, and they think it is a bad thing, or they think autistic people are stupid."
"Joey isn't stupid."
"No, he isn't..."
"He's one of the nicest kids I know!" the tone is one of offense; he is upset that anyone would think badly of Joey. I have seen him struggle with trying to include Joey, trying very hard to play with him, talk with him. I have often wondered what this child thinks of my son, since he has seen Joey react in unexpected ways, answer in unexpected ways, or not react or answer at all. Now there is no doubt, the fierce look, the sharp tone, the grim brow tell me everything. This child finds the idea of JOey being "different" to be perfectly acceptable, and people who think less of Joey as being ignorant.

And he's quite right.

I do love that child. He can bounce through my house anytime he pleases.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pre-holiday Grabbag

The holidays are upon us.

Santa is working hard to find a large dinosaur, hopefully plastic, articulated, and with a roar, and somewhere in the range of $30. Decorations are going up. Tomorrow's plan: clean the kitchen so I can spent the majority of Tuesday. Wednesday, and Thursday baking. Oh, wait, that would be today's plan. Yes, tis the season for insomnia, too.

Also its the end of the semester. It is much like the huge deadlines faced by folks with real jobs. We all call it Hell Week- no, its not the finals that are the problem. Grading is no problem. The student whining, however, is enough to make your head explode. And this is the time of year when the whining is loudest, and the most useless. It is too late. This year, they went whining not just to me, but to my department chair. There is nothing that feels like a punch of stomach like having the students you have spent the entire semester supporting, giving breaks, coaxing, pleading, pulling out all the stops trying to get them to understand material and perform at the college level complain to your boss that you are "unprofessional." No, wait, how about an email from said boss asking you to "do some soul searching"? It sure makes you feel sorry you have standards. Life would be so much easier if you didn't. Students who get As rarely complain ("getting" and "earning" are two entirely different things).

No, wait, what about realizing you've dropped a ball? I've called the school Joey will be in next year- no, more accurately, I have emailed, as I was told to do that rather than call- three times. The first time I actually got a response from the principal's secretary saying he would call. He never did. The other two messages? No response at all. I should have already been in to see classes, meet teachers, and get the transition process rolling. I should be planning spring IEP now. Instead, I have done nothing, gotten nowhere, and been summarily and consequently ignored. I run the risk of Joey suffering as further consequence. One of those days I planned for baking will likely be swallowed by trying to stand in the office in protest until someone deigns to speak with me. It's a little more important than cookies, don't you think?

I still have holiday cards to send. I haven't even taken a good photo of the boys yet this year. With my computer crash, I lost a bunch of addresses and am still trying to track them down. I pulled out last year's cards, but of course the address I want most is the envelope that is missing.

I need to put together teacher presents. These folks have worked their butts off. Joey's teachers have really done gangbusters for him this year, now that the schedule is settled. This is likely to be the last year to give a present to Mrs. H and Ms. Macy, so I want to have something super-spectacular for them. Joey's speech therapist has been a godsend. Andy's teacher has been nothing short of a miracle.

I ordered some books last month from scholastic. I wonder why I haven't gotten them yet.

The boys have been so good, and got such good report cards, I took them to Charles d'Fromage for dinner. Two ecstatic boys. I signed up for coupons, which made it even better. Andy likes to go up in the tubes, there is a lion cage above where I set up basecamp. It roars when you go in. He can also sit up there and call down to me, and to his brother. Oh, and know when the pizza arrives. It must be a fabulous view. Joey won a bunch of tickets at skeeball, he was so pleased with himself. Yes, nothing like an evening of listening to Chuck and his pals singing classic Christmas carols, like "Big Band Santa" and "The Twelve Days of Chuck E's" .

Two more final exams tomorrow. I already have two who have called in sick. But I got their number. I put up an online version. They can do it nicely from home- where they claim to be as they send me email.

I gotta get these grades done. This semester desperately needs to be over.

Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Introducing: Godot

Our newest family member, and tankmate: a golden mystery snail. I don't care what the kids decide to name him. To me, he shall be Godot.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Decorating the Cookies

(note that my guys are running about the background of the pic)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Is Your Refrigerator Running?

We will know Joey is really on the way to independence when he can really tell a joke. Not the zinger kind (he does that already), but the staged kind, the kind you rehearse and know the lines and deliver. Like a knock-knock joke. Or, as JoeyAndyDad has been working on, the Fridge Joke.

What? Don't know the Fridge Joke? It should go like this:

First Person: RING RING RING!
Second Person: Hello?
First Person: Hello, this is Bob from Bob's appliance repair! Is your refrigerator running?
Second Person: Well, yes, it is.
First Person: Then you'd better catch it!


This is what it sounds like in our house:

Joey: RING RING! Hello!
JoeyAndyDad: I'm supposed to say hello. Hello!
Joey: Do you have a refrigerator?
JoeyAndyDad: Um... Yeah.

JoeyAndyDad: Hello?
Andy: Do you have some cash?
JoeyAndyDad: Um... I could use some. Do you have some?
Andy: Yes! And a refrigerator! I will buy you one!
JoeyAndyDad: Cash and a free refrigerator! I'm all about that!

Joey: Hello, Daddy!
JoeyAndyDad: This is Al from Al's appliance repair. Is your refrigerator running?

But it's coming along. At least they get the idea that something funny is supposed to be happening, and we can all laugh. Laughing is good. We'll take plenty of laughing.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

For My Mom

Was it last year, or the year before? It must have been last year, Andy was in school. Mom called me, all excited- she was driving down the road, when she saw the Budweiser truck parked at a local farm. And lo and behold, there were the Clydesdales!

And the next day, they were still there, so we were driving down the road and Mom says, "There they are! There they are!" and we stopped. All I had with me was my cell phone, and I had no idea how to take pictures with it. So I poked buttons until it looked like I was taking pictures.

It was amazing how many folks were just driving by. We were the only ones who stopped. I hope they don't mind us taking pictures, but they are just so gorgeous.

And then, I had no idea how to get the pictures off me phone, or what quality they would be. But now, I have persevered, and present to you: the Budweiser Clydesdales, resting on a farm in Virginia.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Gingerbread House!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy Holidays Are Here!

Hello, Santa! Let the fun begin!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Overheard at our house II

"Andy, stop! You're scaring my skeleton!"

"Once upon a time, there was a dinosaur and a ghost. And the ghost sneaked up on the dinosaur. So the dinosaur ate him."

"I'm going to let Daddy sleep for EIGHTy HOUrs!" (We wish)

"I’m made of yucky stuff."
"No, you’re made of snips and snails and puppy-dog tails- that’s what little boys are made of!"
"NO! Half of mommy and half of daddy! That’s what boys are made of!"

"Clams do not have heads."

"Ok, Joe!"
"His name isn't 'Joe.' It's Joe-Y."
"Yes, but I call him 'Joe', too. Maybe should ask what Joey likes to be called. Joey, dear, do you prefer 'Joe', or 'Joey', or 'Joseph' best?"
"Urmmm...I like them all."
"Oh, good. What about you, Andy? Do you prefer 'Andy' or 'Andrew'?"

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Holidays Have Begun

We had a nice, quiet Thanksgiving at Grandma's. The boys got to eat lots of food, and Grandma had a big chocolate turkey for them. We watched the parade and Santa coming to town. Ah, tradition!

We also had some new books to read while we waited for dinner to cook. Andy liked one about drawing dinosaurs. He spent a good part of the afternoon both before and after dinner drawing dinosaurs. But I think the chocolate turkey was the big hit of the day!

The boys did really well, even with their schedules being up in the air and our guest (yay, Evan!) Both guys have been doing so well lately, I hate to put them in upheaval for the month, with all the decorating and celebrating and excitement. But then... there's so much decorating! and celebrating! and excitement!

Ah, the yumminess! Now it's time to take down the fall decorations and get moving on Christmas. Right now, it looks like I'll have some spare days to get the decorating done, including some things I haven't had time to do in the past, re-wiring some of the garlands and fluffing out some of the decorations that haven't been used in a while.

Yes, it is official! the holidays are here!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Secrets, secrets

"Andy is going to go to Grandma's and make something special for Thanksgiving."
"Really? What?"
"Apparently it's a secret."
"It starts with P!"
"Oooo... umm... parsnips?"
*giggle* "No!"
"Potatoes? Parsley?"
*giggle* "Nooooo! It's pie!"
"Yeth! A P pie! Pie that starts with p!"
"Oh. Pumpkin? Are you making pumpkin pie?"
"Aaaa! You guessed it! Daddy, don't tell, its a secret! You're not supposed to guess!"
"Oh. I forgot already what kind of pie..."
"Pumpkin! Pumpkin pie!"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Goldfish Lessons

So we have our goldfish, Chris and Quille. And they are still alive, thank you very much.

Unfortunately, goldfish was not what I was planing to have. I was thinking of some smaller, less territorial fish. But goldfish is what we have. And goldfish get big, they are highly territorial, and if they get pissed off at each other, they tend to chew each other's fins off. So I woke up one morning to discover Quille basically had no tail fin, and his dorsal fin severely munched.

I made some changes. I don't have a second tank. I have been keeping the water superlatively clean, and I re-arranged the stuff in it so that Quille can hide in the fake plats and get away from Chris. However, the damage is done. Quille's tail and fin are healing, but I doubt they will ever fully recover. Also, the injuries were severe enough that he was a pretty sick fish, and so Chris has now well outstripped him in size. Quille is looking better, but he's smaller than Chris. Hence Quille's ability to hide in the plants and avoid his nemesis.

Yesterday, Joey noticed.

We were watching the fish, when Joey started insisting that Chris was Quille. With the kind of odd, since he knows the two fish and can tell them apart, or at least he always had before. When corrected, he frowned.

"My fish is small. Quille is the smallest fish ever. He is small, small, smaller." We began a spiral into the depths, and just before school is not a good time. So I put on my mommypants and tried to talk about it while we put ourselves together, while we walked to the bus, while we waited.

Yes, Quille was smaller. He had been sick, but now he was better.
Nope, that wouldn't do.
I reminded him that fish do not live long. We talked about acceptance of others as they are, about Nemo and Gil and their fin issues, and what it meant to love a pet or anybody- just as they are, not as we wish they were.
But Quille was still small, small, small and Joey was still upset, upset, upset.

And then I remembered watching the fish darting around the tank that morning. You would think a bigger fish with a bigger tail would win that race, but our little Quille is a tough little fish.

"Well, because Quille is smaller, he is faster than Chris. And he hides better."
"My fish is faster?"
"Yes. Quille is faster, because he is smaller."
"My fish is the fastest!"

On to the bus he went, quite happy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Entrance, Exit

This time of year, I am often holed up on the weekends working, scoring essays for the GRE. One of the perks of the work is that occasionally boys saunter in for kisses.

Andy pops in. He is bearing a number of small pieces of paper he has colored for me. "I'll put them here, mom," he assure me as he gingerly tucks them into frames of pictures in the room. "There! Now don't lose them!" He pops out.

Joey wanders in. He looks sad, and he sprawls on the bed. "Are you OK?" I prompt. "Daddy says I have to stay in my room one hundred years." "Wow, thats a long time. What happened?" "Andy sat on my arm. I am Buzz Lightyear." That may not tell you much, but for me, it conjures up a scene where Joey is annoying Andy by pretending to be Buzz Lightyear falling down the stairwell, complete with slow-mo and shocked face. At the end of the sequence, Joey pulls off a glove to pretend his arm has come off (or he hides an arm in his shirt, pulling it out of his sleeve- but the "sat on my arm" indicates glove). Andy then sits on the glove, probably purposely, but you never know. Joey proceeds to take action to recover said glove. Result: the crying I hear downstairs and a Joey in my bedroom.

Andy comes wailing in, tears down his face, and into my arms as I swiftly move the computer aside. All attempts at conversation are repulsed; I hug him, kiss him, and he darts away. I haven't a clue.

Joey bounces in. "Hi Mommy!" he calls loudly, probably letting his Dad know that he has not gone to his room as he was told to do. "Hey, little Buddy! Whatcha up to?" "Mud is brown!" "Yes it is." "Ducks are blue!" "Are they?" "I'm a green caterpillar!" "I see!" He hugs me and leaves without another word.

Andy comes in, with a big bag and a soda- lunch! Yum! "Hi Mommy!" he chimes as he gives me the bag. "Do I get a kiss, too?" He giggles and lets me smooch him. "I miss you, Mommy!" "I miss you, too, sweetie." "I'm not a sweetie! I'm a Andy!" I guess he doesn't have the concept of "synonym" down yet.

Joey appears, grinning. He has small pieces of blue painter's tape all over his face. He comes over, and puts one on me. "I'm sick," he says, drawing an exaggeratedly sad face. "Oh dear," I respond helpfully. "Do you have the polka-dot pox?" He doesn't respond to this, but moves the tape from my arm to my face. "Your face is broken. I fixed it." "Thank you," I respond, hoping it is the correct response. You never know. "I'm so cute!" he announces, snatches the tape from my face, and bounces out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Harvest Concert

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A Day in the life.

A little boy comes creep-creeping into my room. Beside me, JoeyAndyDad snores lightly. My feet are covered by a warm kitteh. The boy crawls up onto my bed and flops in the narrow gap between me and JoeyAndyDad, created when I rolled to see who was creeping in- as if I didn't know. I cover him with the quilt, and he snuggles down with the half-dozen stuffed toys he has brought with him, and his beloved and now-repaired Blankie. I can feel his ribs. He's just grown again, so he's thin as a rail. He sighs. He's asleep.

Its three in the morning. Or maybe two. I have to get up, or fall off the bed. Besides, I need to toddle to the bathroom.

I return to find a boy spread out comfortably in my spot. He's resting, I won't disturb him. I take up my new regular position, reclined in JoeyAndyDad's big recliner, swathed in a quilt. I roll some of it under my chin so my mouth won't hang open if I fall asleep, and dry out my mouth and throat. I have enough trouble with my voice this time of year.

Note the "if." Now my brain is whirling. I try to derail it, pulling up a fiction story I've been toying with, one of the ones that never really get anywhere, because I am not terribly good at writing stories all the way through. My characters are too flat to get far. Perhaps its because the live ones in my life are so intensely interesting. My brain catches on one drama, and what might happen. It swirls to another. It follows a detail of it to thinking about school, about my own students, about some situations here, some there. I'm spinning wheels.

The alarm goes off. That's JoeyAndyDad's alarm. It is five o'clock? or six? I forget. I hope the time has come so quickly because I drifted off somewhere in the spinning. JoeyAndyDad climbs over me, trying not to wake either or the boy or me. He starts his routine. I hear my other boy creep in, climb into bed next to Andy. He's whispering to himself. I catch a few words, he's echoing an episode of Peep. I listen to the little voice, hoping again to drift off for the remaining... hour? Whatever.

The alarm goes off again. It's time to get up.

I fold the chair, remove the warm quilt, rise to my feet. JoeyAndyDad is still in his routine. I start mine, kissing boys who are awake, or letting them sleep is they are not. Today, they are awake. Andy giggles and makes silly faces. Joey repeats a phrase. Neither make any clear sense, other than being something to say. I sing to them, kiss them, tickle them.

Then it is time to get dressed. I take my meds, check my sugar, check my weight. The scale is going in the right direction, but slowly. I get ready, get dressed, get boys into the bathroom to dress and prepare themselves. A circus of boy-ness ensues, but we're through and dressed in clothes in about fifteen minutes, not bad at all. Having a new clothes organizer for each other them has definitely sped up the process. We tumble down the stairs. JoeyAndyDad has managed to escape to work without me seeing him, because his car is gone.

I track down socks and set the boys to the task of putting on their shoes. I toss food into their bags; breakfast, lunch, snack. I make sure homework is in the folders, along with needed money, forms, etc. Joey helps me feed the cats. I feed the fish. I'm not sure Quille is looking so good, but have no idea what to do for him. I ponder what to tell Joey if we find him bottom-up one morning. They have already lived longer than I expected.

I get coats on two boys, between the three of us we get them zipped up, bookbags on backs, and we're off to the bus stop. The boys run to the corner, then wait. We cross and are joined by other families. They talk about things with no relevance to us, after-school care and sports and sleepovers. The bus arrives, with Joey's bus now right behind it, because the schedule has changed again. I wave to both boys, and they are whisked away into their own worlds.

I am on the corner, the families drifting back to their own lives, or huddled together with me outside. We say goodbye, I walk back to the house. Today, I have about an hour and a half before I have to head out. I do some cleaning. I was doing painting, but its getting too cold for that. I take a shower. I check my lectures, make sure my memory stick is in my pocket. My brain is already on today's lecture. I think of small corrections I need to make, ideas they will need to connect to other material, problems in the new textbook. I pop A Christmas Carol into the CD player in the car, and whirl off. I hear some of the story, formulate some of the lecture in my head, but most of my concentration is the driving, the swift see-and-ID-and-gone of moving down the road. I note landmarks. I'm at the bridge. I'm at the light. I'm at the town.

I'm at the school. I park, wander in to the adjunct office, stopping to say hello to folks at the front desk. We banter in the office while I make fresh print-outs of my lecture notes. It's time to setup. I drag the video equipment into place, get it fired up. Some students straggle in. I'm ready to go, but tardiness seems to be the theme with this class. I start taking attendance, its quick with so few attending. I start the lecture. Students continue to straggle in, until the room is full.

The lecture goes OK. I bounce around, the students look bored, every with the spiciest story. There are a couple awake out there, I teach to them. I worry. Making Byzantine art relevant to students who have no idea where Byzantium even is? That;s a challenge. And unfortunately, it will take me several lectures to really do it. My voice is croaky. Not good.

They disperse, I get in the car and plot my course. I'm headed over to the office today, Mom and I have bookkeeping and stuff to do. I ride down the road, we're in Christmas Past now, Fezziwig is being described. My brain spins. Fortunately, this isn't my double-dip day, I don't have to comeback for another lecture. I have grading to do. The boys will need to be engaged this afternoon, and it looks like rain. I forgot to buy laundry soap. I need to change the fish water. I run through the plot lines of the several soap operas we have going with folks connected with the office. I worry about all of them. I wonder how Nik is doing. I forgot to send a birthday present to the kids of some of my friends. I plot out my grocery budget for the rest of the week, since I have the foresight not to burn through it on grocery day, because I always forget things.

I pull into the office parking lot, My stomach growls. I realize I forgot to eat this morning. I wander into the office and start getting caught up on the news, making lists of things I'm supposed to be doing, wondering if I will get around to opening up my eBay shop this year. It's November already, its really too late, but perhaps I could get a few things up. Or not. I forgot to toss my laptop into the car. She's freezing. I wonder if I shouldn't be writing the novel based on the characters that swirl about there, rather than the bland, banal tale I've been spinning in the dead of night to myself.

We finally decide we're hungry, and head over to my favorite Mexican place for lunch, at least a half hour, maybe an hour, to talk with my mom. We ponder the soap operas. More constructively, we talk about the boys. We plot out school. I complain about the students who are driving me crazy, and chat about the students who make me proud. But best of all, its my mom. I take a deep breath, and the lunch is done, I have to take her back to the office. I watch her go in. She's still cold. I'm worried, because no one will tell us why she's having spikes and crashes in blood pressure, or what to do about it.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come glides into the pawn shop, Old Joe is tallying up the ill-gotten gains. I pull into the driveway. I have a few minutes before the boys will be home. I turn on a video, even though I won't get to see the whole thing. I try to pick up the livingroom, which is scattered with paper, crayons, toys. I toy with the idea of getting out a game. It isn't raining yet. I pull out popcorn for snack. My time is done. I walk down to the bus stop, chat with the neighbors a few minutes. We lament the loss of some of the trees on the street, they complain about their grandson who is due off the bus. He gets let off first, and bounces down the street. I have no idea what they are complaining about. He's bouncy like Andy.

Andy's bus comes down the street. One of the other neighbors comes to get her child. She's got an older one with Asperger's, so we know each other better, but there's no time to chat. The bus is here, Andy is pulling off his backpack. He puts his hand in mine, chats about his day. Andy has a beautiful, ringing voice. The words may not be clear, but the joy is. He runs forward, kicking up leaves. Joey's bus turns the corner as we come up to the house. Andy jumps for joy, bobbing on the sidewalk at the edge of the street; he wants to "get Joey all by myself!" Joey hops off the bus, hugs his brother, and barrels to the door. I wave as the bus pulls away. They're home.

We hang the backpacks on the hooks. Andy wants to play with the child from the corner, so we go outside. The boys run with trucks and draw with chalk. I want to be knitting, but instead I take my laptop out and start answering student email and working my online classes. I glance up regularly, so it takes longer than it would later, but later I need to be putting together more material for the class I picked up for my sick colleague. The child from the corner comes over. I'm glad. He plays with Andy, and they even get Joey into the game at times, though he tends to wander off, talking to himself. They run; he sits in the grass, intent on his own play. It's still grey, but still not raining. Andy and his friend are playing something with pieces of cardboard, being bossy with each other as only young boys can be. Joey saunters up onto the porch, and I set my computer aside as he mounts the steps; he leans in to me, taking my face in his hands.

"I like you," he says, breathless.
"I like, you, too," I reply.
"Do you like Doritos?"
"I do."
"Nacho cheese or Cool Ranch?"
"I like Cool Ranch."
"Can I have some Doritos?"
"Certainly. Bring some out for the others." He disappears into the house; I have to remind him to close the door. He appears with the snacks and doles them out. Andy sets his aside, he's too busy to eat. Joey sets his out, takes a chip now and again to munch thoughtfully as he draws- no, he's putting numbers into columns, dividing them by hundreds, tens, ones. He asks me for a three-digit number, and I give him one. we go through this several times before he wanders off to write something else, out in front of the garden. Andy and his friend are running in and out the house, fetching toys. I remind them to keep the door closed. I keep answering students, check the news. The inane headlines tell me nothing has really happened today. I close up the computer, just in time for JoeyAndyDad to drive up. Its time for the friend to go home and get ready for his mom; its time for my boys to go in and calm down before trying to feed them; they are tired. I realize I have once again forgotten to start dinner, now I have to come up with a quick something that requires little cooking, as Joey gets upset when I cook.

I get a brief from JoeyAndyDad on his day, and give him a run through mine. He heads upstairs to change and breathe for a few minutes. the boys beg for some TV, and I turn it on before heading to the kitchen.

I decide on chili, as Joey is eating that now. Andy breaks into his chip bag at last, I toss the dinner together as the boys watch Peep. Well, kind of. They are mostly chasing each other around the house. I offer the back yard as an alternative, but am turned down. I'm short a can of beans for my recipe, I dump in a can of corn instead. I get it into the oven. I check the fish. Quille is still looking small. Chris is looking strong.

Andy had fetched paper and markers from the art table I have still set up in the kitchen, he is drawing dinosaurs. Joey is writing times on paper and cutting it into strips. I ask him why, but the answer makes no sense to me. Last week he was drawing Buzz Lightyears and cutting them out. Oh, and cats. But today. its strips of paper with times on them. A fight breaks out between them. The Witching Hour has arrived, delayed by the outside play.

I serve up the chili, Andy makes "yuck" noises. Joey sits and eats, Andy wants his in the living room. I can't have chili out there, we all sit and eat, JoeyAndyDad joins us. we try to get the boys to talk about school. I remember that Andy has a homework sheet to do. Andy pops up to "go get something". He has eaten some of the cheese off the top of the chili. Joey is finishing his. Andy pops up again. And again. JoeyAndyDad tries feeding him, a strategy that often works, but he honestly doesn't want the chili. He wants Doritos. I offer apples instead, but that is refused. We get a few bites of chili in him, and he's off.

We have more Peep and more drawing of dinosaurs and time slips before bedtime. I check some blogs quickly, see what is new in my corner of the world. Its time for baths; I send the boys up to undress and feed the cats and fish. Quille seems to be eating fine and unmolested by Chris, but I think Quille's tailfin looks ragged. I can't afford a second tank.

I wander up the stairs, turning off lights as I go. I pop open the laptop again, trying to finish the blog check as Andy takes his bath; then I go out to hug Joey and see if he wants a story. He doesn't. He's busy with Stybirde and Stymegard, playing something with a flashlight. the flashlight batteries are dying, he starts to perseverate on the dying flashlight. I'm out of batteries. Andy is ready for stories, Joey is sent to take his bath, still upset about the flashlight.

Andy and I find some books. One he knows so well, he recites the lines with me. I have him try to read another book himself, this one is about spiders. He likes knowing the word "spiders" but gets tired halfway through. I put it away for another night, let him pick out another book. He is playing as I am trying to read, his bed scattered with small toys. Its time for sleep. I turn off the light and turn on the CD. I make a motion to leave, and he protests. Mom has to snuggle him to sleep. He tells me a story, I can't follow the plot, but he's very pleased with it. We play Piggie. He settles. By the time the music goes off, he's asleep.

I then go in to Joey, kiss him, tuck him in. He is telling me about his play with his cats. He is repeats some lines from Toy Story, and we sing the theme from Peep together. then I give him another kiss and leave him to his play. Dad must have found a battery, because the flashlight is working.

I have to run out to the store and fetch the forgotten groceries, by the time I get into my nightgown, it's nearly ten. I still have grading to do, and the finishing touches for a lecture. JoeyAndyDad is watching something on his computer, and I work. I take a brief break to finish my blog perusal, then work some more. Its after midnight again when I snap my computer shut. We settle in the darkness, my brain spinning. Evan has a new job, I wonder if he'll be able to come for Thanksgiving. I have a few students who need swift kicks to get them moving, or they are going to flunk. I think about the news from the blogs. I have to work in the morning before my lecture, I won't have that time to clean. I wanted to make a quilt for a friend for Christmas, but I haven't even started. I worry about my mom. I worry about my guys. The wheels spin.

A little boy comes creep-creeping into my room. I think, he won't be little long.

Friday, November 06, 2009

All quiet on the holiday front

As we embark upon the Holiday Season, I am glad to report that we are, for the most part, quiet here. Joey has had normal ups and downs, and is working well with his speech therapist, Ms. Leslie. Still no word about OT, but that's OK for now, because I am still trying to pay off their bill that I thought was paid long ago, and I still have no clue how much I still owe because of the way they bill. Andy is his usual bouncy self. We have been mitigating the bounce factor by encouraging outside play. My plan for today was to work on the back yard, but unfortunately, I am in the grips of a sinus yuck that I am hoping is an allergy.

Someone at school is into Spongebob Squarepants I guess, because Joey's words of the week are "Tartar sauce!" and "Barnacles!" with a smattering of, for unknown reasons, 'yucky cookie!"

Not wanting to sit outside in the cold yesterday, I surprised with them with a popcorn an movie party when they got home. It was the first afternoon in several weeks that I was not drowning in grading, lecture-writing, discussion boards, and other teaching stuff. It was nice to be caught up. It seems a shame to waste it on being sick, though. I have also begun my annual showings of A Christmas Carol when the boys are not home and I am. 'Tis the season.

So we are in the calm before the storm. Time to take a deep breath of air before we plunge in!

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Yes, the Big Night arrived: time for Trick or Treat! A little light rain didn't hold us back. Fleece washes. So Buzz Lightyear and the Purple Chipmunk were out and about to get their share of sugary comestibles.

I will say the boys did a fabulous job with their jack-o-lanterns. Neither of them wanted gooey hands this year, so JoeyAndyDad and I did most of the disgorging of slime, but I then had them draw their faces on, and I carved them out just as they were. Andy preferred round eyes (he has trouble making corners still), and Joey did lots of triangles. I also recommend those little electric lights instead of candles- that way boys can play with the pumpkins even after dark.

We were greeted at many doors with, "Oh! Buzz Lightyear!" which we expected, and then quizzical looks and "and... um... uh..." and Andy proudly informing his audience, "I'm a purple chipmunk!" Which we also expected. A couple folks asked me what character he was, and I had to tell them as far as I knew, this costume wasn't from a book or TV show. Andy just is into the color purple right now, and into chipmunks right now. So there you have it.

We did a lot of walking. I wandered down to my friend's house, but they weren't home. They must have figured we weren't coming because of the rain and taken their guys to the mall or something for treats. In consequence, we got a lot more candy than usual, because we hit houses all along the way. I expect to have two little guys with feet in the air and hands clutching tummies, but so far, they have been pretty good about the candy.

Happy Halloween, and Trick or Treat!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Yes, here is your update: Unexpected!


Around here, we collect the unexpected. Somewhere I have a little list of "Things You Never Thought You Would Ever Say." Such as "Please don't hit me with a llama, I'm trying to eat." But you take these things in stride, because when you became a parent, you took a parent oath.

You know, when I took the Mommy Oath, I always wondered about the part that goes, "Children can be anything they want for Halloween. And if my son wants to be purple chipmunk for Halloween, by God, I will make him a purple chipmunk for Halloween!" When you ask, "Hey, sweetie, what do you want to be for Halloween?" you just never expect to hear those immortal words out of the mouth of your child: "A purple chipmunk!"

Did you know that you cannot go to a store and buy a purple chipmunk costume?

But as many of you know from Halloweens past, I have a sewing machine, and have now gotten pretty good at the animal-costume-with-hood pattern. So I went to the store, joyfully bought on-sale purple fleece and the pattern for a $1 (woo-hoo!) and got to work.

I promise to update with photos.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, JoeyAndyDad!!!

We love you!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Good morning

It's still pretty dark when the alarm goes off. Andy has finally gone back to sleep. Joey is not in bed, he managed to stay in his own all night. I miss him.

JoeyAndyDad is almost ready to go, but we're on a tight timeline. He cuddles Andy. I get up, take my meds, brush my teeth, brush out my hair. I'll shower later. I just need to get any knots out and tie it back up for now. When I emerge from the bathroom, the room is still very dark. JoeyAndyDad is gone. I miss him, too.

I kiss Andy awake, and he curls and stretches, a luxurious kitten. "Time to get ready for school!" I sing, and he giggles. I kiss his tummy, and he giggles some more. Then I have to go get Joey up.

That room isn't as dark. Light is creeping in, and his faux fishtank is on, changing colors in a constant loop, red, blue, green, pink, red... I kiss him awake, too. He opens his eyes and smiles, stretching, happy to see me. "Time for school!" he chimes. I agree.

We tumble into the bathroom for morning routine. Joey needs help with his shirt. Andy want to toss him underwear in the air. The clothes organizer has helped a lot- we lay out clothes for the week, and they just take Monday clothes out on Monday ad put them on. I hunt down some socks. How do we lose so many socks? I send them down the stairs with armfuls of stuffed toys and pair of socks each.

They busy themselves with socks and shoes, and I put together the day's food. I have things in ready reach, ready to go. I haven't had time to repackage the carrots, so that takes some extra time. This week's fruit is apples, so that saves some. It all evens out in the end. The boys have their shoes on, no one needed help this morning. That's an accomplishment. I praise the shod feet. They are busy drawing while Joey plays Peep on his computer. Joey is writing words, his favorite. Andy is drawing a house, and talking about who is in all the windows: Rabbity, Beavery, Chipmunky, Twisty-Twirly Tail, Chris, Smiley Lolly... Its time for coats. We hunt down the jackets we forgot to put away properly when we came home yesterday. Joey gets his own zipper up, all buy himself. That's a huge accomplishment. Praise ensues. Andy gets upset because his zipper is being persnickety, and he needs help. Praise ensues for asking instead of screaming. Backpacks are pulled on, and we're off to see the Wizard.

The morning is crisp, and the boys race each other to the corner. Now that I am assured, from practice, that they will go to the corner but not into the street, I permit the race without comment. They bicker about who won. We hold hands and start to cross the street together, but both boys let go and race across from about halfway. It's fall, the street is full of leaves- mostly ones someone has taken care to remove from the sidewalk. The boys commence creating a large leaf pile in the middle of the sidewalk.

We're about halfway through this process when Joey notices that picking up leaves gets your hands dirty. He starts to get anxious. I assure him it is OK to wipe his hands on his pants, because I have nothing to wipe them with, and I would prefer he not wipe them on me. They get clean enough to calm him, and he resumed leaf-collecting. Then they start jumping on the pile and giggling wildly. I wish I had a camera with me.

They are starting to rebuild the pile when the bus comes down the street. Andy races on without giving me a kiss, excited to see his friend K today. I wave an "I love you" to him as he settles into the first seat. He sets his fingers, then waves them back the same. The bus is gone. I miss him.

Joey and I amble back to the house, hand-in-hand. He is motor-mouthing the announcement for the buses from the end of the day: "V van, R rabbit, T turtle, W watch, please *mumble mumble* boys and girls!" (He actually mumbles in the middle in a very exact imitation of a mumbled and muffled announcement. Its actually pretty cute). Then he looks at me and bursts out with, "It's fall!" We cross the street. "I have a boy dog and a boy cat. They are pretend," he explains as he pretends to hold leashes. I pet the new pretend pets. "The dog is Sy. The cat is Beryl" he tells me as we wait. I hear the familiar brakes, and give him a kiss. "I love you, Mommy!" he chimes as the bus turns the corner. I wave to the bus driver. He is on the bus, settling into his seat. I wave my "I love you," but I'm not sure he even sees me. That's pretty par for the course, actually. I wave anyway. He's gone again. I miss him.

I fetch a broom, wander down the street, and start sweeping the leaves off the sidewalk.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Glimpse of the Future

We had our department meeting tonight for one of the college I work for- the kind of meeting where everybody sits around and complains about students not doing any work and trying to figure out how to trick them into having to do some. I got a rather rude awakening to the future in this banter, as many of the students who were considered "problems" were disabled students- some documented, some not. The excuse for not wanting to deal with these kids? "We're not trained to do that!"

Disability accommodation requires everyone involved to be proactive. This means that people need to do more work, and nobody- especially a bunch of adjuncts who get paid next to nothing- wants to take on more work. However, it's a whole breakdown of communication and reversion to reactive tactics: the disabled person doesn't want to admit disability due to stigma, real or perceived; the disability office needs to contact faculty who will be teaching a person with a disability to make sure accommodations can be and are made; and the faculty needs to be proactive in requests and getting training and support for accommodating disabled students. Community college faculty are especially in need of support, and the community college setting is often inclusion admission, and seen as a "safer" environment for disabled students. Students can stay at home with familiar resources and services, while still furthering their education.

Naturally, I opened my big, fat mouth, and started in on "you know, there are some very simple things we can do to accommodate these students which don't require any real training..." Things like turning off florescent lights and keep noise to a minimum never occurred to these people. Letting students sit in the front row, allowing for movement breaks, and visual schedules? So simple, if you know they are needful. Why they can't include real accommodations on those silly letters we get from the disability office (I think if you have any kind of disability, they just give you a letter to excuse you from timed tests, and send you on your way. Who needs individualization, after all?) Why are faculty, most of whom have never had to deal with disability in their own lives, left to flap in the wind- and thus leaving those students flapping, too?

Mobilizing to change attitudes here. "We're not trained!" is not an excuse to not accommodate; it is a call for action to get trained.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just what I needed: something else I want to do in life

I'd really love to be able to do this.

But I have to do this first.

It's on my to-do list. Seriously.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tattered on the fringe

So we had part of my high school 20 -year reunion last night. Very odd. Reunions are kind of like proms- you don't over-analyze, you just go. And funny enough, people are glad to see you- even if they had no clue who you were 20 years ago. After all, being teenagers together is very intense. You never know who was watching you as you rolled down the tunnel of your own existence.

The folks who organized the reunion (and they did a fabulous job) got their hands on some of the footage that was taken just before we graduated. Most of it is from the final senior awards ceremony, the pep rally, and folks getting ready to take the big group class picture in cap and gown. That was fun to watch, partly because I wasn't in a single frame. The people who flickered across the screen were exactly who I expected to see there: the popular kids, arms around each other, living in a world from which I was excluded.

I think some folks were surprised to realize I didn't hang out with them in high school. I was a bit of a character there, with black clothes, big buttons, and the wildest earrings (clip!) that I could lay hands on. I was sad to learn the other kid who was voted Most Unforgettable was gone. Like I said, you never know who was watching. It was just odd to have people come over and want to hug you, when twenty years ago- the last time you saw them-they didn't have two words in a row to say to you. I'm not into hugging strangers (I don't even like doing it in church), and though I keep trying not to think of these people as strangers, the vast majority of them really and truly are. I was on the fringe of these people's lives, a fact made sparklingly clear by the video, those echoes of the center of the past. I wasn't even an accepted part of the fringe. I was completely absent, not even passing in front of the camera on my way elsewhere, in the lunch line, in the library.

If I was making video of my high school experience, it would include a lot of people whom these people didn't know. I was far more at home at CTY and with the folks I met there. Even of my "friends" at school, I can only think of three who were actually friends to me; most of the time, I felt begrudgingly tolerated. With my CTY friends, I was just one of them. I think it is kind of the same thing those popular kids felt, sitting about the senior courtyard, hugging and singing and laughing together. A kind of "we're all in this together" feeling. Watching them laugh and talk to the camera and hug each other, kind of reminded me of sitting about the lounge of Franklin and Marshall. I might still have been on the fringes, but I was an accepted part of the fringes. The center didn't push me away, they even actively included me, asking me to come along with this or that. Being invited along is a mark of acceptance that becomes so important for teenagers on the fringe. I suspect most teenagers feel themselves on the fringe, even when they are in the center.

Sitting at the table nearest the door, it was fun to watch people step into the room, and get the look of "I don't know anyone here!" People change over 20 years. I found that guys change more than girls- the faces of the women were mostly recognizable, if I ever knew them. For the men, we were all glad we had nametags. I was also surprised at how old people looked. After all, we're not forty yet. There was a good deal of grey hair, faces with more lines than I expected. I even went home and looked in the mirror again, and seriously, I do not look as old as these people do. I wasn't expecting any of us to look like teenagers, but seriously, am I that old? Perhaps I ought to be happy that I am "better preserved" than some of these folks? I mean, some folks looked right on the money, right where I think I look... but a whole lot more than I expected looked old. Weird.

We're supposed to have a picnic today, so we can meet the kids and grandkids (!) and all. Might be interesting. Or it might not. Might give the kids something to do after being penned up from the cold and wet for two days...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Adventures in Living

It is never a good day when it starts with your husband calling you to say, "The car is totaled. I'm fine, I was at my desk, it was parked, and the bus hit it." And wow, did they hit it. I'm glad no one was on the bus, and that JoeyAndyDad was not in the car.

I arrived to help get everything out of the car, then drove to my class. And that is when I realized I didn't have my memory stick with the exam on it. I had to quickly reconstruct the thing, only to find a quarter of my class didn't even bother to show up.

Great. Apparently we have a sudden flu epidemic. Now I have to figure out a make-up exam.

Oh, and that Ford recall? Where they say if x and y are happening, fire in immanent? I've been having x and y happening for over a year. So I called, and they aid oh, yes, 15 minutes, bring it right in. Well, apparently they hadn't done a van yet, and discovered was is a 15-minute fox in a truck or SUV is an hour fix in a van. (They weren't any happier about it than I was- it ties up their mechanic!)

Papers to grade? Oh well. Classes to plan? Oh dear. Lunch? Forget it.

Ah, the fun and joys of the daily grind. I can hardly wait for the boys to come home, so I can squish them. Witching Hour be damned.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sita Sings the Blues

This is the coolest film ever. Seriously.

Oh, we had a kinda weird day. My mom's been having trouble with low blood pressure, at least that's what we now think the trouble might be. A bit on the scary side. The boys have been incredibly patient, riding all over the place to get Grandma to the doctor and get her medicine and stuff. We're planning an excursion to Charles d'Fromage tomorrow, they've been so good lately. Good days are good to have, especially when things are so up in the air.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What Saturday Afternoons Should Look Like