Friday, December 26, 2008

Larger than Life

Somewhat appropriate that Dennis Wilson is singing "Under the Moonlight" as I type. Talk about some one who was bigger than his physical self--I was telling some one yesterday that DW always looked so much taller than he actually was (5'9) and it was always a shock seeing him next to his literal big brother Brian (6'4).

Literal size has almost zero to do with presence.

So what is it, then, some combination of aura, physical stature and sheer force of personality? I just find myself thinking in terms of presence these days, and it might in part be a way of dealing with the physical absence of loved ones this holiday season. We went to my uncle's house Christmas Eve, and it was weird, not having Gran there, the first Christmas she is gone. He is doing well, better than I expected, decorating his tree as ever with help from me and the boys.

Gran wasn't there, but she was. The house is different now, but she was there at least in spirit. And my uncle, oddly, fills the space of the house in a way he didn't while she was still alive. He is a tall (6'4) man, but his reticence makes him seem smaller. Not so this year. Not so now.

Gran is gone, but he continues to care (in his own way) for the women who cared for Gran the last few years. He makes them dinner on holidays and has them over. They are his family, as are the cats he adopts.

My mom used to say he didn't have a life. I would argue that he does--a far richer and more nuanced one than most of us.

My hat's off to him. I think he gets things most of us have missed.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Misspent Youth and Other Thoughts

Just batting clean up on a few things, then onto baking and festivities.

I've been chatting with a good friend about a few things lately that have turned me backward via Ernest Hemingway and misspent youth. Thus 'Ed' was conjured.

'Ed' was an old boss of mine, one of those people you expect much to come of in life and are somewhat surprised to learn in the fullness of time that he is just like everyone else. I would go drinking with him and another co-worker after work--at the time, I wasn't legal, but where we went, that didn't seem to be a problem.

Anyway, on two memorable (if I could remember them that is) occasions, I managed to wend my way home afterward. The first time I went via the Market Frankford line and crashed on a friend's couch. Really, I'm not sure how I made it from 2nd street to 34th Street, nor am I quite sure how I made it to the safe haven right off of Drexel's campus. Angels? Have YOU a better explanation?

Looking back at my distant self, more than 21 years ago, I would have to backhand her a couple of times just on principle:

1) a)When you stand 5 feet 7 and change and weigh 120 pounds soaking wet, there is NO WAY IN HELL you will be able to keep up with, let alone out-drink, some one who is b) 6 foot 3 plus and over 200 pounds.

2)Drinking won't turn you into Ernest Hemingway--or anyone else. It's just you--only drunk.

3)Going ANYWHERE in such a state at night, alone (and see 1a) is a VERY BAD IDEA.

A few good things came of that night, but my presence necessitated that. And it wasn't my good sense that kept me here at that time.

In many ways, my misspent youth was laughably sheltered. I never did drugs, because I have a hard enough time handling life without chemical distraction; I like my wine and beer with an occasional scotch and port, but too much is too much. I moved out at 20 and have supported myself since, so most of my concerns have been in keeping food in my fridge, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head. That I do these things, have been doing them for two decades, without expecting some one else to do it for me, that's a source of accomplishment for me. Everything else is gravy.

I'm listening to the boys in the other room while I finish up a few things. Then we'll bake and get things ready for Santa. Giving thanks today for all my wonderful friends, colleagues, family and partners in crime who make my life a rich and wonderful place to be. Even DH remarked that I'm amazingly happy these days. (He was happy until I told him his gift was the stove, but he recovered).

Life is good. God is good.

To work with me.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Al on my mind

I love this guy. He's my best friend's husband, a navy guy, marksman, IT genius, superdad, and all-around mensch. He looks a little like Fred Astaire and fills a room with his presence, even though he's only a little taller than I am. He's lean, wiry, runs 4 miles a day, has a quick smile, and doesn't take shit off of anyone.

I was thinking about him this am, because he once said 'every house needs a staging area.' The irony is that his house does not have any such discernible feature--his and K's house is immaculate--and with 3 young boys, I don't know how they pull it off.

Actually, I do. Al is a navy guy, and he likes his stuff squared away. So it is.

Meanwhile, my whole house is a staging area. Despite my best efforts, IEPs, toys, bills, and other flotsam of our lives start in the dining room, trail across the foyer, into the living room, and office (where Nic's elevators take over), family room, mud room, back into the kitchen, thus we have come full circle.

Upstairs? That's where we run everything and shut the door if anyone comes over.

So, bringing this around to my point--for 2009, I want a STAGING AREA. Not a STAGING HOUSE. Organization. Simplification. All Zen. All the time.

(Now the reality--my multiple hats and responsibilities may not work well with this. But Al does as much--if not more--than I do).

I think a bottle of Aquavit may make him spill his secrets... :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

There is no "I" in Team

I have to get back into the mindset of being on a team again. It's been such a long time since I've really felt a part of any work environment, yet this am I came into an office and found two cards, a book , and container of Godiva Hot Cocoa waiting for me.

I wasn't going to come in tomorrow, but now I think I should. I have to spread some cheer around.

I am leaving after my meeting with the executive director to do a little shopping (still need to get something for DH even though technically the new stove IS his present)and baking. My pumpkin bread demands have doubled this year, so have to get more flour and pumpkin to make them, and yes, I am actually baking cookies this year. I told my little one at breakfast this am that I needed help with cookies, and his eyes just got huge.

So he's excited. 3 more sleeps until Santa.

And I have to do my book chapters, too. It will all get done.

AND still got have that bug. At some point I will be able to take myself off the BRAT diet, just not sure when. I ate the wonderful paella I made last night anyway--I'm paying for it today, but there was no way I wasn't going to enjoy that.

So, hmm. Making progress, always lots to do. STILL have not mailed Christmas cards, still have to get the care package out to CA. That'll have to happen today.

Baking, shopping and working! DH finally got the outside lights up, so we are looking festive at last. Have to take the kids over to see the Holiday Railroad this week. Probably after Christmas we'll get there.


AND what a wild windy night the longest night of the year was last night. Thank God for thermal underwear.

Did I say I was leaving after the meeting? Hah. I need to stick around a little longer than I was expecting--learning more about how to be a technological whiz. My role here at the nonprofit is expanding (alas, not my hours), but I think we're positioning for the big time (just had a good meeting with the boss boss).

In the meantime, I need a plan B for lunch--was going to eat that at home.....

UPDATE 6:45 or so, time to make dinner, made a huge dent in my shopping, all that's left to do is get some baking going, cards sent, and one last package to get together.

A good afternoon~!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Night Before Christmas--autism style

As my older son builds a contraption with a fishing net, masking tape, toilet paper and soap boxes, the following showed up in my inbox with impeccable timing:

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house

The creatures were stirring, yes, even the mouse

We tried Melatonin and gave a hot bath

But the holiday jitters, they always distract

The children were finally all nestled in bed

When nightmares of terror ran through my OWN head

Did I get the right gift, the right color and style?

Would there be a tantrum or, maybe, a smile?

Our relatives come but they don't understand

The pleasure he gets just from repeating and focusing

They say "He needs discipline, just a well-needed smack"

"You must learn to parent" and on goes the attack

We smile and nod because we know deep inside

The argument is moot, let them all take a side

For only we know autism's procession

The struggles and triumphs, achievements, regression

See, what they don't know and what they don't see

Is the joy that we feel over simplicity

"He said Hello!", "She ate something green!"

"He told his first lie!", "She did not cause a scene!"

"He peed on the potty, who CARES if he's ten!"

"He stopped saying the same thing again and again!"

Others don't realize just how we can cope

How we bravely hang on at the end of our rope

But what they don't see is the joy we can't hide

When our children with autism make the tiniest stride

We may look at others without the problems we face

With jealousy, sadness, or even distaste

But what they don't know, nor sometimes do we

Is that children with autism bring joyous simplicity

They don't get excited over expensive things

But we jump for joy over the progress work brings

Children with autism try hard every day

They make us proud more than words can say

They work even harder than you or I

To achieve something small, to reach a star in the sky

So to those who don't get it or don't have a clue

Take a walk in my shoes and I'll assure you

that ten minutes in you'll look with respect

at the little child who no one ever expects

To be larger than life because he's so quiet or so different

before being judgmental perhaps you should try it

Our holidays are different, they're special, it's true

Wondrous children make it so through all that they do

But our joy is no less, my lights just as bright

as I look at my child and say "Merry Christmas, good night".

Friday, December 19, 2008

Article is done, DONE!

Man, I hate to compare writing to labor (SO overdone), but this last project tortured me in ways I just am not accustomed to. But it's done, submitted for review, hopefully I'll have all my comments back by Monday, and I'll be able to invoice. Yay.

Then all that remains is the book. I have seven chapters in backlog right now and hope to get to a couple over the weekend, and do some here and there over next week. I think those are all due the Monday after Christmas. This is proof review, so it should be relatively painless.

And then some quiet until the new year.

We just got the tree up; the kids helped me decorate him--him?? My tree's a him, I'll be damned. (5 ornaments broken, think 2 can be repaired). G did his last holiday show at his preschool yesterday--that kind of caught me flat-footed how misty eyed that made me. And this is the first time in six years of attending these concerts that one my kids ACTUALLY SANG. (Nic cried through his first two, sat stone-faced through the third). Nic had his holiday party this morning, a holiday breakfast, and that went well.

And I had my first holiday party in years with workmates. I have some gifts that I put under the tree now to open Christmas morning.

Not a lot of Christmas cards this year. I haven't even gotten around to that yet.

6 days left. Nuts. I have a lot to do.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

All I want for Christmas

Remembering my dear departed dad today. He would have been 70 this year.

He's been with me much this past week, but this morning he made me smile.

My mom has said through the years that one of my dad's favorite comments at Christmas (They shared 17 before he died) was that if it weren't for Christmas, there would NEVER be any replenishment of socks and underwear.

We have home movies to document this. Mom opening a box and soundlessly (there's no sound on those old super 8 movies) rhapsodizing over a pair of granny panties she pulled out of a Christmas card box. I think of that image, her comments over the years, and I smile.

Because my socks are at least 6 years old and worn through. Don't even wish to discuss the state of my unmentionables.

Did I say I wanted nothing? Scratch that. Santa, please bring me some socks and underwear?

and a quick chuckle

href="" title="Pearls Before Swine">Pearls Before Swine

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

9 days left and I haven't started shopping?

Nope. It's a lean year, and my list is small. I'll be doing a lot of baking.

Had a nice set of parties last weekend, and the kids had a great time. This weekend will be quieter, but enough out and about to keep everyone happy.

Will be doing a lot of teaching the kids how to give. We've been fortunate, so we will be helping out those less so, because we can. My kids will be the ones doing the giving. I want them to understand that you get back so much more than you give.

I live that. I want them to learn it.

I also want them to learn what mercy is. There are so many adults who don't get mercy, so with a little help from Wikipedia, let me explain:

Mercy is a word used to describe compassion shown by one person to another, or a request from one person to another to be shown such leniency or unwarranted compassion for a crime or wrongdoing. One of the basic virtues of chivalry, Christian ethics, Judaism, and Islam, it is also related to concepts of justice and morality in behaviour between people. In India, compassion is known as karuna.

Leniency. Compassion. Traits sorely lacking in some people. A big conundrum with me is people who think the world owes them something. People who are bitter because they refuse to take responsibility for their own lives (self-determination, anyone?) or their own actions. It's so easy to point the finger at other people and blame others for what the blamer has failed to accomplish in his or her own life. When you are looking for blame? Find a mirror.

You make your own luck. You make your own decisions. Aspergers has cost me friends, jobs, relationships, but you know what, I don't blame Aspergers. I learn from my mistakes. AND I MOVE ON.

I encourage others to do the same. Own your lives. Own your mistakes. Take responsibility for your actions. Everything has a cause and effect. It takes so little to bring joy to others. Why not expend that energy for good in this season?

Make your life extraordinary. Make your corner of the world a better place.

Think the world owes you? That other people owe you?

Think again.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Had Gabriel's last meeting with the IU today. And it is the last, since finally we have all the pieces we need in place for a successful transition to Kindergarten.

And it's been a hell of a road. We've had eight meetings for G in the last year. We nearly went to due process last year over OT, and ironically, he's getting more of that (and without an argument) than any other therapy.

Today, his team was all there, and Miss M, his teacher from his regular ed placement, played a pivotal role today in giving the rest of his team a perspective that they haven't gotten. It's a marvel she gives so much, when really the only thing she is getting out of it is how to effectively teach MY child. How wonderful that she is so invested in his success. I am amazed and touched at how much she has done and continues to do for my little guy.

I feel much better about this big change ahead. I think he will be ready, and we will be ready, for what lies ahead.

On another note, Nic continues to make friends and headway in third grade. The neighborhood still leaves much, but that's okay. There's a bigger world out there that both my boys are preparing for. And they continue to amaze and inspire me.

The thanksgiving dinner happens tomorrow night--yay!

Monday, December 8, 2008


Tonight I am making a special dinner: roasted chicken with sausage and spinach stuffing, turnips, asparagus and cranberry sauce. I'm giving thanks. It's a special occasion.

It'll be the first time I'm using the new stove; indeed, it'll be the first time I cooked a meal in a couple weeks (or close to it). Andy took MIL back on Friday, I stayed home and played catch up with work and home stuff, and we went to our family retreat weekend Friday night.

The short report is that it was awesome. With a little tweaking it will be brilliant. My partners in crime not only heard everything I said in setting up, they heard a lot of things I didn't say, and the result was a weekend of healing and respite for all of us. We made new friends--and our kids made new friends, too. Nic had a great conversation with a brilliant 15 year old boy about the properties of magnets (they were working at the Magnetix table together, and I daresay they both learned a couple things from one another).

I had some great conversations with people I've previously been in the same room with, but never had time to talk to. Andy had some great conversations with the guys as they drank beer and did a service project together. We exchanged emails, phone numbers, and are making plans to get our families together offsite.

The boys had a blast. We had movie night on Friday, Saturday they spent moonbouncing, playing kickball, doing various sensory play, computers, swimming, running, jumping, and bouncing, and Sunday we all made a gingerbread house before closing up and heading home.

I got together with my family for a birthday party, and that let me down. I cried some going home. As near as I could figure, it was the contrast between spending the weekend with other people who 'get it' and then listening to my mom and sisters rip apart other people.

I stopped them a few times reminding them that it's not their place to judge, reminding them that I am well aware that people judge ME. They would cool off for about five minutes and then ramp up on some one else.

Andy asked me what was wrong, and I couldn't verbalize it.

But if I had the sense to say so at the time, I would have asked 'and what makes you so perfect?'

Andy says I take people--I guess meaning our families--too seriously. But he reminded me that plenty of people in our situation are actually estranged from their respective families of origin--but we are not.

Well, we are not because we both realize that our kids recognizing their tribes of origin is important.

But honestly? Sometimes my own family does me more harm than good. I want to shield my boys from the harm, but I don't know that it's possible. My brother and SIL 'get it'--and no one else in our families seems to.

And my boys always seem to know where they are welcome. They never want to leave my brother's--and yet despite all the toys as their aunt's house, when I said it was time to go, they were ready, jackets on, zero arguments.

It was also a long weekend.

But anyway, giving thanks--thanks for good friends, the family of my creation, those which do not share my blood but share my heart and soul, that there is a place in this world for my boys, and I know how to show them where to find it--and at worst, create that space, if it comes that.

I couldn't have appreciated this weekend without the contrast, but it was bittersweet, nevertheless.....

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's a Faith Thing

It's been an eventful 48 hours.

Where we are at this moment: it is unclear when or if nephew will show up to pick up and deliver MIL to her rightful residence. Adding to the fun is the fact that DH is somewhere to the north and west. Possibly at Costco. But we are not sure, since he left his phone plugged in here to this outlet, where it is not doing him much good.

MIL tried calling him repeatedly. Until I pointed his phone ringing on the chair across the room.

She started to admonish me for this, but thought the better of it. Good for her. She's figuring it out.

Necessity compelled me to speak with Perky this pm. She parked herself in my driveway while I was talking to G's bus driver. Trying to think if I gave her any ammo; it wasn't a bad conversation, but I always suspect she's on a fishing expedition to tease out something to discuss with Capri2.

You know what, I don't even know why I devote any bandwidth to this. She talks about everyone to everyone. Leave it there.

Nic owes me language arts homework. I'll sit on him in another 10 minutes to get that done.

A Christmas card from an unexpected source came today. I think for some odd reason that it will have some company in the coming weeks. It'll be interesting to see who else I hear from.

Poetic justice comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, colors and flavors. Savory irony is my favorite.

And I had lunch with a good friend today. I met my brother on Tuesday. It's been a good week to connect, reconnect and realign. I have a job on my hands straightening out my life sitch. It's not bad--DH and I have arrived onto the same page in different ways and different times, but we are here, and it's working out.

But I sketched out all my commitments--the work, volunteer, church stuff--and add to it my boys''s all gotten a little out of control. I tend to over commit because 1) I never turn down work 2) a lot of causes I care about are tied up directly to my kids and their services, so I am constantly volunteering and training with that in mind 3) my faith is important to me and I am trying to teach my boys the important role that God plays in their lives--with no help from my agnostic DH--so the church stuff is another nonnegotiable and 4) this isn't necessarily the real order of my priorities, it's just how they came out.

Part of this can be attributed that I am literally running from my house, which needs repair and renovation, neither of these things I want to address in this iffy economic situation; the other part of it is that I am running from my neighbors and giving my sons lives and friends beyond this street. I'm not saying this is the right way to do this, but it's what's going on, like it or not.

Actually, circling back here, my church stuff is what really gets DH's knickers in a twist. Which is tough, because it's the most important to me, and he's got to figure out a way to accommodate it.

My faith gets me through. A friend sent me this yesterday: Don't tell God how big your storm is; tell your storm how big your God is.

My entire adult life has been a leap of faith. And God has never dropped me.

I'll work it out. I always do.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

No Easy Fixes

Staring at the smoldering pile of ruins that was my image of myself. I know I am not always right, but being shown precisely how wrong I am and in such a detailed fashion is humbling.

Hand me the shovel and find yourself a good book, this could take a while....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Maybe not so much

So Andy came back with Nic and said that Nic started falling apart during the scrimmages. The North Hills kids on the team naturally have game, and Nic clearly does not.

This is something I can actually work with him on, having played myself. Whether he wants to is another story.

And Andy said there was a bunch of fifth graders making fun of Nic. One made the mistake of getting in Andy's face, and Andy flipped him off. Apparently that came as a bit of a shock to the offender, because that was the last Andy saw of him.

So, so, so. So Andy will bring Nic over to practice from camp on Saturday afternoon. We really can't afford to miss, so we need to keep on this.

Why does this have to be so fucking hard?

MIL is still here. Of course. She was on her cookie mission yesterday (she had all her stuff all over kitchen and instructed the kids to me for dinner....fortunately, she didn't have custody of the microwave) and she will be making pies today. And she HAS to stay until Thursday.

Here's the other thing. She could make the freaking pies at her place. We don't have any place to store them, since she BROUGHT 3 pies, no, make that 4--with her. I have a freezer full of food. I am guessing she is making these pies and nephew will schlep them back to his house, because there is no room at this inn.

Okay, *deep breath.* Time to fill that half-empty glass. Let's see, ample work to do? Check (get it done, you have a whole day to catch up). Clothes to wear? Check (do some laundry). Family with you? Check. (Hugging my little one).

God is good. Back to work.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Early reports of success

Nic is doing township basketball tonight. Dad's report from 15 minutes ago is that he is having a blast.

I think going with his peers was the right move in this case. More news as it comes in.

Ah, sweet escape

***************************deep cleansing breath************************

Now I can get my week off to a good start.

Figuring this Life thing out

Okay, so MIL has landed and no amount of bitching and moaning is going to make her go away.

Facebook is not letting me in.

It's just getting on 7 and the boys had a late night last night.

And I need to go into the city. I need to leave in an hour.

I spent yesterday with my buddy and her two boys--we met at a bounce around indoor gym, then went back to her house. She's had no end of troubles with her ex, her step mom, settling the kids into their lives post divorce. I spent most of the time listening, and whatever time I did speak trying to be helpful. I regaled her with my own recent adventures with the plagiarist, panhandling fangirl and Brian Wilson.

If nothing else works, I can be an amusing distraction.

Then we went home, had dinner, and DH and I went to see some friends play at a Vegan hookah bar two towns over. That was fun. But that's when I heard about how inflexible I am. All I can think is, what are they bitching about? She's HERE, isn't she? She's gotten her way again.

I guess she's not liking the hard stop to her visit, but I honestly don't understand why she needs to move in. She's an hour away; we can visit whenever she likes.

I think she likes to come here and fantacize she still has a house to keep.

I need to be more compassionate. But it's hard when she prefaces everything with a comment on my lack of experience...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Good Times

Thanksgiving this year was a treat. My brother hosted, so our drive was a whopping seven minutes (14 roundtrip)--and of course we were the last ones there, because DH needed to work (and was angry with me because his brother and mom are coming today and I found something else to do besides cleaning yesterday).

I bit my tongue. After all, he has to work whenever my family (as rare as that is) comes over and leaves all the cooking AND cleaning to me. Forgive me for wanting to share the love.

Back to Thursday. The boys did fine until dessert, and I had gotten a little too comfortable, or else I would have been guarding the dessert table. (Is there an apt war metaphor for this situation? Thinking not) So Nic, fortified with brownies and pie (really, sugar and this kid are not friends) began to make a complete nuisance of himself.

Which is a shame because those last impressions are the ones people remember--not the good behavior that preceded it.


Outside of the last 45 minutes it was a good time.

I always get strung up here because logic dictates you leave when the kids get like this. But Nic's goal was to get us to leave, so you don't want to reward that behavior, either. But people don't often get that.

So I took some me time and had my aquatics class--ahhhhh. And Andy let me have it when I got back.

So BIL and wife and dog PLUS MIL will be here this pm. MIL will stay here until Thursday. Thankfully, we'll be going to camp next weekend, so that will be a forced ending to her stay (else she might linger another week, or two, until she decides she needs to go back to her apartment).

I might be a little more patient if she weren't JUST HERE a few weeks ago....for almost two weeks...

I just gave the boys the speech that Nonna is coming and we will do things a little differently while she's here. They are both old enough to get that there's a lot of tension when she's here, and they love me enough to work with me. And they know that working with me allows Nonna to be here (they love her, too) so they do well.

No empathy, my eye.

I think what I resent the most about these incursions is that her presence forces us to do a lot of things differently. I find it's easier to re-route our lives than to try to explain to her why we do what we do.

But I resent having to. And I know regardless that she is going to run back to BIL, wife, niece with all these stories about what a horrible homemaker I am.

I hate the whole business. I really do.

And now for my moment of Zen:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankful for when things go well

Nic had a great time with B on his bowling adventure yesterday, but told me 'he missed me so much and am so glad to be back in my little home."

Methinks Nic is conflicted. He had a good time without me and he feels guilty that he had a good time without me. I am working on getting him to think it's okay to have fun in my absence. But I was the same way with my mom and can indeed hear her voice echoed in mine as I say "Go! Have a great time!" And mean it.

While he was bowling, in another part of the forest, I took my little G off to Build-a-Bear. His matter-of-fact demeanor in choosing his bear, accoutrements, stuffing, and naming (He wanted "Build-A-Bear" on the bear's 'birth' certificate but we settled on Tecumseh) belied his real feelings, because once we were out of the store, he was talking to his bear, cuddling up with him, and carrying him everywhere.

He was annoyed when he made the Bear stop at home instead of going to school this am.

G cuddled up with Tecumseh at bed time last night and slept very well. And he stayed in his own bed, for the first time in months.

I'm liking the bear. Almost as much as G does.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time to Breathe

Well, I finally finished the article trifecta and already have a fresh plate of projects waiting for me. I'm going to do some preliminary groundwork, but the rest of this week will be spent getting my family back, as I have been glued to my laptop for the better part of two weeks.

Having said that, I will happily add that I am grateful for it. Grateful that I can do what I do on the fly, that it pays my bills, that I am happy doing it, that the people I work for are happy with what I do (happy enough to keep me employed and don't you know the blessing THAT is in this economy).

I'm grateful for my good friends (you know who you are).

I'm grateful for my patient and supportive boys, who leave me alone along enough for me to get done what I need to get done. (now all I have to do is clean the house in preparation for another MIL incursion)

The boys are great, G is happy that he's with his friends at preschool all week and Nic is happy that he is going on a bowling adventure with B this pm. I'll bring G to spend his Build-a-Bear certificate at the mall and get some one-on-one time with him.

Nic' s teacher conference is this am. He brought home a report card that made me proud--not wholly unexpected, but satisfying nonetheless. He's in with his peers, he is keeping up, and he is succeeding.

Now if I could make sure he didn't do his 'twirly walk' at school, we'd be in REALLY good shape....

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Meeting Brian Wilson and We're Go for Township B-Ball

So I got to see Brian Wilson at the Keswick last night--AND I got to meet him. This is my fourth BW concert and IMO the best one yet. He dedicated his second set to playing That Lucky Old Sun in its entirety, and all I can say is wow.

This is really not the venue for BW, but I did meet him, and partly got to tell him what SMiLE meant to me, but the woman I had asked to take the picture started freaking out that she didn't know how to use my camera. SO I spent my Brian meet and greet time talking her off her ledge and then lamely apologizing to Brian and thanking him for his patience.

I'll upload the pic later.

But the meet up with the other fans beforehand was nice. I made and met a couple new friends, and my only regret was that Andy couldn't join me--he would have liked it.

Nic's b'ball coach just called and practices start next week. He has three friends on his team, which is good. I think this might be a good experience-I'm hopeful.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

That had to hurt

So I get G's eval back from Kennedy-Kreiger. Footnotes version: he is in their autism sibling study, and this is his five year eval. The paperwork came back and: What a kick in the teeth. His IQ scores are low average (84) His fluid reasoning skills show borderline delay. His adaptive behavior composite was worse--communication domain puts him in the 8th percentile; daily living skills 5%, socialization, 8%; motor skills 1% (1%??? holy sh*t); adaptive behavior 3%

I know what I know about G, but ugh, this hurts. sad.gif

Minor consolation, I missed his vocabulary and reading mastery sections. Full disclosure--he is not reading yet, but he's trying very hard to get the hang of it--I suspect dyslexia, actually--anyway, his picture vocabulary is at the 7 year 6 month level--oral vocabulary, grammatic understanding and sentence imitation are at 4 year 9 month levels. Relational vocabulary is under 3. Grammatic completion is at 3.

He's actually at K readiness for letter ID, word ID and word attack skills.

So it's not all horrible, but the IQ and daily living scores are depressing.

I have to finish up--have to get a draft out of here of my article because I have to leave here no later than 4:30 am for Pittsburgh...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Myriad of Goings On

Well, things roll on. Was officially kicked to the curb yesterday. Finished two BI assignments, now I need to do a draft of my Life Sciences article, then off to Pittsburgh for another training.

Feeling a bit dicombobulated. G had a rough night last night. I was in meetings most of today. Tomorrow, I'll be a cleaning, writing and organizing maniac, then out the door 4 am Friday for my flight....back at 10 pm. Or later.

Want to write a little about G's first day. I spent alot of that day with him in my lap, propped up against my knees. He looked at me with the sweetest little face (not much changed really from that first day, except now he is so much lighter). With his thick black hair, ruddy skin and cobalt eyes, he was my little (not so little, really, 22 11/2 inches and 10.1 lbs at birth) Tecumseh.

I remember thinking I didn't know him like I knew Nic. Nic was my 24 hour occupation for 9 months plus 3 years and eight months. So preoccuppied was I with son 1 that I felt like I needed to get up to speed with son 2.

I loved that little guy. I remember reading the nurse's logs (he spent most of his time with me, but because of some complications at birth, more doing with his size than anything) they wanted to observe him. Uniformly, every one agreed he was beautiful. And quiet. And alert.

And five years later, he is still these things. And much more.

Monday, November 17, 2008


It started in the wee hours of the morning today. I woke up around 2:30 am when G decided to wander in like a little ghost and clamber into bed with me. For some reason I was knocked sideways in time and found myself in Robert Wood Johnson Hospital early one morning while the night nurse bought Nic in.

I couldn't bear to be apart from Nic when he was first born--when I spoke as I reached from him for the first time, the expression on his face as he opened his eyes and LOOKED at me with that unmistakable expression of recognition--that "Oh, it's YOU!" And knowing pretty much from that moment on that there was something exceptional about him, that would require all the stewardship capability in my arsenal to protect him...

But I'm getting away from that night in the hospital room. I reluctantly let Nic go because I was so sleep deprived and exhausted, and I passed out into a dreamless sleep. I stirred, thinking I should call the nurse to get Nic, but here was the nurse, wheeling Nic in, handing him to me while he rooted and called for me, his mouth a smudge in the near darkness.

I keep coming to that moment, like a tape loop, Nic in the air, perfectly swaddled, mouth open, coming into my arms, knowing that my life is forever changed, and moved to tears, without really knowing why.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two Chores the Kids Like

We bought a new washer and dryer in August--our dryer died and the washer limped behind it. So, we (not wanting to make this purchase again any time soon) picked the front open model washer and the dryer to go with. The boys are like a pair of cats (my lion and kitten) sitting in front of the washer and watching it go.

I try to run it when they aren't around.

But Nic likes to load and empty both the washer and dryer, and he's gotten good at both. I'm learning to let him help when he insists on it. And it's good he's starting to insist.

The other thing is raking leaves--he actually came out and grabbed a broom out of my hands and started pushing them to the curb on Sunday. As soon as he got off the bus yesterday, he grabbed a rake and went to work.

Kind of cool.

Gabe and he got into a leaf fight, and they tried to engage the neighbor kids. Who were promptly ushered inside by mom, but who cares, their loss. It was really pretty cool to watch them running around together, laughing, having a good time.

The next two weeks are going to be crazy busy. Need to get to work.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Random Thoughts While I Bird-dog My Third Grader into Finishing Homework

Yay, he's almost done, and it's only taken an hour and change today. Ordinarily it can take anywhere from 30 to 120 minutes (most of those 120 minutes are spent whining that he can't do it and it's too hard--then he finishes in 10. But anyway.)

Still working through something that happened quite a while ago. Suffice it to say that what goes around, comes around. But I have to make my peace with the fact that I may never see it.

And that the damage done me that last go-round gives evil people the last laugh.

Is it coincidence my little one just climbed into my lap?

There are things he can't fix, but he tries his best to heal.

And she who resembles a witch has created a different sort of hell for herself. Ugliness goes to the bone.

Just desserts.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Mom Stands In

So we got back from the Franklin Institute about an hour and half ago. For the record, it’s 11:15 Sunday morning.

Nic just started cub scouts in September, with a pack that is accepting of special needs kids. I’d say about half the kids in the pack have something going on, and the other half don’t. This weekend, our pack, and maybe a dozen others from the looks of it, camped out at the Franklin Institute.

I told dad that Scouts was his activity—he wanted Nic in the scouts, so I told him he needed to take Nic to the meetings and do whatever needed to get done to make Nic’s scouting experience successful.

So dad had pneumonia this week. Mom ended up chaperoning. When I saw that I was the only mom in testosterone central, I was not happy.

Neither were the guys, but that’s another post.

So after I got over my initial disgruntlement, and the fact that Nic had NO interest in running with his pack, I decided to sit back and let him lead. And guess what—we had fun.

Without the constraints of crowds, he was free to explore all the exhibits in his own time without waiting, without fighting for a turn. He particularly liked the amazing machines, which we missed when we went with his class last May—he spent a good hour running a crane, working a hydraulic maze, and building his own gears.

We also had a number of firsts—he liked the Liquid Air Show, which demonstrated the differences in solids, liquids and gases in a very real, immediate and fun way. Not too long ago, he would have elected to skip such an activity. And the IMAX? He did it—and loved it. Again, dad had to leave an IMAX after the first couple of minutes with Nic about 3 years ago. Nic sat through the whole thing and enjoyed it—despite the lateness of the hour.

(My big quibble with this Camp is the hours it keeps—lights out didn’t happen til 12:30 am. I am usually out by 9:30. PM.)

This morning, after years of sitting out of his school’s planetarium assemblies at our middle school, he elected to come into the planetarium because I wanted to do it. And he loved it.

From a social standpoint (if you are using that yardstick), it was less successful. Nic wanted to do what Nic wanted to do and was less interested in sharing this with his peers than experiencing things for himself. It wasn’t a disaster, but he simply didn’t care.

And I think this is where I need the wisdom to get that this is okay. That this is a conscious choice that Nic is making—to be alone, or at least be alone with me or dad. That’s always been okay for him. On one hand, I want to push him to socialize—but on the other, he does just FINE at school, thanks very much.

Interestingly, he does not want to hang out with the other identified kids in the pack—I guess he feels like he gets enough time with them during the week. There’s one (unidentified) kid who dad said has been a jerk to Nic and that we should have tried to avoid. I answered that no one else seemed to want to hang with that kid and that he probably has issues himself.

But labels or not, don’t we all have issues?

I’m sitting here writing after an outing that could have gone either way. And I’m not saying it was an unmitigated success—after all, we had a number of times this am when he screamed “I WANT TO PUSH MY OWN BUTTONS!” and forced us to wait for the next elevator. And people averted their eyes, went around us, and left me feeling embarrassed to be with this kid, then ashamed of my own embarrassment. Yeah, we had about a dozen of those moments. But those moments become insignificant when measured against these very simple things he did—going to the demonstration, sitting and experiencing IMAX, and—wonder of wonders—doing the show in the planetarium.

I have made my peace with the things my son is not. But everything he is? It’s simply amazing.

I had a lot of misgivings about this outing—not the least of which was the price tag. But I drove out of that dark parking garage in the bright sunlight of a Sunday morning thinking that this experience—for so many reasons—is priceless.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Stephen Colbert is Hot and Other Thoughts

I love Stephen Colbert. He's tall, dark, handsome, and funny as hell.

I started the new gig today. It's good. I'm in a good space.

Just realizing some things. One of the hardest things about living with Asperger's is that I hold everyone to my standard of honesty--and am always amazed when I am not treated in kind. It's even a bigger shock when I'm played for the bad guy when I'm the person who was wronged.

Amazingly, I am not bitter. I could be, but I'm not. These things are learning experiences, and I find that the stuff that costs me the most is the stuff that teaches me best.

So, in writing this, I turn the page to the next chapter of my career. I am amazed at where I'm going now, and how quickly things have moved along. Part of it was luck, part of it was positioning, and part of it was letting go and letting God.

I'm feeling good. And even better, the other piece, my writing, is flying along as my blog gets more readership, and as the paying gigs are stacking up.

It's all good. I'm a lucky woman.

Friday, October 31, 2008

By the way, BOO!

So the boys are out on the town getting goodies. It's off to a slow start here--we've had all of three kids. Nic observed that no one wants to come to our house. Well, we'll see about that.

So my boys got to be what they wanted to be: G is Lightning McQueen and Nic is The Man with the Yellow Hat from Curious George. I'm room mom yet again for Nic, and was responsible for helping plan the festivities. The other room mom is better at this stuff than I am. I herded the boys to the downstairs bathroom and helped them get dressed. Nic required a full costume change. And as he was getting into his get-up, I reflected on all the grief and aggravation that went into finding the pieces of it (which culminated in a yell fest and a call to my friend to borrow her Curious George).

But it was worth it as we paraded through the gauntlet of friends, parents and relatives to hear the gasps "Look, it's the Man with the Yellow Hat!" And the complimentary comments. That was pretty cool.

I just received a packet from Nic's teacher with all of his progress, sort of a pre-report card. He's doing great at the stuff they are teaching, and not so great with the 'testing' stuff. I really in a way don't care about the testing stuff. Maybe I should. But in a way, doesn't affect him directly, since he's got an IEP. I don't know, I need to learn more about that.

We just had a flurry of kids. Including my own. Yes, my two knuckleheads just ToT'ed their own house.

I'm going to sign off for now. But I leave you a pic.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Offer on the Table

I'm moving into the next phase of my life, whether I like it or not.

I've spent a lot of the last week on the road, logging over 1, 000 miles. And that week finished with me sitting with a good friend and fellow do-gooder...who is now literally the boss of me.

The funniest thing about this is that I'm taking a big paycut. (I will not give up my writing habit and indeed, I'll still be doing that to make my monthly nut) And it was still an easy offer for me to accept.

Why? Well, I'm already doing this for free, anyway. A lot of this new job will simply continue the work I've been doing in the special needs community for the last 5 years. And in a sense, it will give me more street cred, if that's possible.

DH isn't so sure this is a good thing. But I just feel it's right. I walked away from a few opportunities early this year because they didn't feel that great, even though the money was awesome and I heard from a few quarters that I was being bullheaded.

I've always been all about the greater good, and now I get to put my money where my mouth is.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Best Time Starting Now?

I'm a strong believer in the idea of a door closing, and a window opening in its place.

When one door banged unceremoniously shut earlier this month (I knew the slam was coming, anyway), that gave me ample pause. What now, what next, what will become of us? I love freelancing for the freedom it gives me; I dislike it for its uncertainty, although I have to say I always seem to make my minimum required monthly nut.

Sometimes it is VERY minimum. But it's better than nothing, so I will take it.

Anyway, stuff going away has allowed other stuff to come into its place. Granted, it's unpaid stuff, but a lot of it is reimbursable, great experience and training, and doing what I love, which is working with children and families to help connect them to services, activities, resources, and whatever support they need.

My time at the conference was invaluable for the networking--even though I didn't accomplish what I INTENDED to, I definitely accomplished what I NEEDED to. Things are happening because I was there, talking to the right people, getting the right stuff moving in a positive direction.

My best time spent was with my co-presenter, introducing her to the local winery. She had no idea it was there, and she told me before we parted that this was the best part of her trip (best part of mine too, I picked up some good wine!)

My boys were happy to see me, and I've been cleaning up the 'bachelor pad' ahead of my second departure to Pittsburgh for an overnight training tomorrow. Gabe and I spent a good morning bonding; we will go with Nic's Scout pack to the hayride tonight, then I will leave tomorrow before first light (again).

But I'll be back Saturday.

And in the space of my being gone, two more opportunities presented themselves. I have to make some decisions about how my time will be spent. But there is some very good stuff happening here.

I keep saying stuff. Well, it is.

But it's GOOD stuff......

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sierra Cadre

I am alone.

My family is at home, and I am here at the conference. Let's see, a car caught fire in front of me on the turnpike, and my day's been at that level of excitement since. Most of my time has been spent doing work as county co-chair, and trying to get an event off the ground. Surprise, we got the space, now all we have to do is get the agency to cooperate.

Actually, I am not alone.

I had a lot of support among many parents, providers, organizers and friends the last couple of days. Many hands lifting me up. I love these people.

I miss my kids. I miss DH.

But it's been a GOOD couple of days. And another door opened today.

It leads out. I am going places.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My baby is 5 today!

Yay Gabriel! I can't believe my sweet little guy is already 5! Seems like only a couple of months since I held my cuddly little guy in my arms. But it's been 60, and I can hear him reading "A Birthday Cake for Little Bear" while Nic works on his homework.

I was up at 6 baking like a maniac, and it's been baking central here. My third item of the day is currently in the oven ( a chocolate cake that the boys helped make). Morning muffins went to G's am class, and banana bread went to his pm class. As soon as the bread was out of the oven, we were off to school.

I dropped him off, went off to my aquatics class (really the best thing ever), had an awesome workout, dropped off the bread to G's pm class, and met SIL for lunch. I love SIL, she is probably my best friend on the planet. We did a post mortem of the weekend and talked about the next few weeks of events in our households. I head up to State College early tomorrow am until Wednesday night, and I found out that I made the cut in the state training, so I will be flying to Pittsburgh Friday am and returning Saturday night.

Oh yeah, and Gabriel and I go to Baltimore for his 5 year eval on Monday.

So I will be traveling, DH will hold down the fort, and it will be an interesting week here.

Good stuff is happening.

And my kids are doing well, Gabriel had an awesome weekend and a happy day today with his friends. I love hearing his voice, and he and Nic are arguing about the interpretation of the story G's reading.

They are the best of buds. Five years ago today, Gabriel made our family wonderful. It was before, but he made a brother out of Nic, and that was the best gift of all.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

From the "You Can't Possibly be Serious" File

Okay, we just got back from the orchard. And I have to say, I am just.....gobsmacked.

Yes, we met up with friends, but as it happens, we spent more time with the 'bad' than the good. In a way, it worked out, because our good friends were having a day where they both just wanted mom and no one else. I can respect that.

However, I would have been happier had we done this outing alone. Dear son was a whining, complaining pain in the butt from start to finish. My sons actually were amazingly flexible in accommodating him--but the downside to that was that we were at their whim and mercy. And to that end, we were following them around.

We were out of the big corn maze in near record time. If I had a brain in my head, we would have gone separate ways. But no, we hung in. It wasn't awful, but I could tell my kids were not happy. And as we were waiting in line for ice cream, she actually said to me, "you know, I can take [dear son] more places than most kids with disabilities."

While she was saying this, dear son was deliberately upsetting Nic. I wordlessly moved Nic to my other side. I couldn't get our ice cream fast enough.

They left shortly thereafter, but not before mom made a parting shot about my kids.

That left my jaw on the ground. My kids were absolutely gracious about having dear son upend their outing. I furiously dialed my buddy, who was on the other side of the farm.

And our last hour was wonderful. The kids played well together, moms bonded, and life was good.

We came home, my kids attempted to play with the neighborhood kids. Points for trying.

The Days Are Just Packed

So my day began yesterday at 7:30. I dressed, jumped into the van, and headed for aquatics. I am LOVING this class. So after another kickass workout, I dressed, zipped over to the mall, picked up balloons and treat bags for Gabe's party (and eyed a Wii, in full supply at one of the game stores, so guess what I'm doing later in the week, Merry Christmas to us and I'm done shopping on one swell foop), off the Costco to get the cake, back to rendevous with my friend Carol to pick up her son Bradley to take to our party, back to our house to pick up the boys, and finally, the bowling alley).

Whew! I don't even get to catch my breath. We had 10 kids, including my two--and let's see, 5 had ASD, 1 ADHD, and another with physical issues. I'm laughing because issues or not, this bunch looked like any other bunch having a party there yesterday, except mine was (for reasons above) a smaller group!

It was fine. Gabe like the idea of the party better than the party. His classmates had a great time, and his former teacher was there as well as his current teacher (I love her, she is so good with G), and most of the other parents stuck around, so I was trying to play catch up with a couple of them while trying to keep our group together, keep the food and drink flowing, and maintain order in the preschooler bowling lane.

Love clean up, though--it was quick, minimal, and we zipped right over to soccer after.

Dad made dinner, and we had movie night, Cars. I have to say I liked it. I was surprised.

Fall cleaning right now, and then off to the orchard to do the corn maze with friends. Tomorrow will be G's birthday and I will be ready to drive up to Penn State for my conference. I'll find out whether the other training is happening for me tomorrow as well--in which case, I'll be back Wednesday, here to do haunted Hayride with Nic's cub scout pack, and flying out to Pittsburgh early Friday am to return Saturday.

Kind of hope it all works out.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's 70 and Sunny on Planet Gabe

We just got back from a wonderful day with G's Pre-K class at the orchard. We had J, a lovely funny boy with a Cars backpack and a cheery smile as our partner. They picked their very own pumpkins, enjoyed the hayride, got lost in the corn maze (that was quite a workout, sprinting to keep up with J), sliding down the big slide at the end of the maze, lunch, playing chase, ice cream, more running, and the bus ride home.

The day is not over yet. I may be headed out of town TWICE next week--not sure. We will all head out to dinner tonight to celebrate Andy and my 15 year anniversary.

It's a good day. It's a perfect fall day.

And Gabe wants me to read to him, so I'd better get busy!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Opportunities emerge from the dust

I am not going to jinx myself by saying that my job sit is settled, but doors are opening that suggest a new career path. I'll go through those doors and see if I can find some more to open.

Gabe is the oldest child in his IU class. I found that out at back to school night. We've come full circle; he began the same class two years ago as the youngest. And old, experienced mom ended up fielding questions about K transition (because I could).

Nic had a so-so cub scout meeting last night. He'll do the year. Gabe I think will be better suited for this. In two years.

Signing Nic up for township b-ball this winter. Thinking about transitioning to township soccer next year--both boys did great playing under the lights at half time on Monday. It was a good night out.

DH and I will be married 15 years tomorrow. G turns 5 on Monday. The next little while is busy for me despite the down time, , workwise.

Everything for a reason. Hanging in there and hoping for the best.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Lots of good things happening

So far Nic’s school year is going well—academically, his grades are all high As; socially, peer pressure is working in our favor. This time last year we were dealing with two hours in-class tantrums. This year, Nic is a hard worker spending nearly all of his day in his class with his peers, and his teacher is fully invested in his success.

We have the aide, but he doesn’t really need the aide. We’ll keep her because you never know. Besides, she helps redirect when needed, and while it’s not needed nearly as much as it was last year, it’s still needed.

We were shot down for the 1:1 aide in Gabriel’s regular preschool, although we have consults in place for him at his regular preschool. I think another meeting is in our immediate future. He is quieter and more passive than Nic, and I think because he isn’t an overt behavioral issue, he’ll get overlooked and slip through the cracks.

We finally figured out that those little end zone sprints, complete with a little dance to stick the landing, is how he processes information. He can’t write his name, but he can tell you in great detail the difference between a star and a comet.

We had a friend come in today, a little girl about G’s age. Mom and I discussed starting up a special ed support group for her district. Her little girl came armed with a coloring book and crayons, I guess thinking that she’d need to keep herself occupied.

After about five minutes, she came into the dining room, and deposited both on the table. I grinned at her mom and remarked that I guess she thought she didn’t need them.

Five minutes after that, she deposited her shoes on the table and whispered to her mom ‘they have a trampoline in there.’

Mom and I had a great uninterrupted conversation while our kids happily—and quietly—played in the next room. When mom and daughter left, Gabriel waved goodbye from my office window. And he stood there a long time after they left.

This is what breaks my heart; the realization and confirmation that my kids’ ostracism from neighborhood play is really affecting my little one. Much of my life and focus is on straightening out my older boy’s life situation. He sucks the air out of the room. My little one is content to take my time and attention as he needs it.

But this is my reminder; my little one needs his own space, his own friends, his own emotional nourishment. Yes, he is doing fine. But I need to help him do better.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cool, cool summer

We had the best weekend with my brother's family at the shore last weekend. A number of firsts, not the least of which was the water park, where both kids had a blast, but Nic shone. He and his cousin went on a number of rides together (G was angry that he was too small for some of these, but he did all right, playing in the kiddie area and doing his sprints).

Notable, Nic went over in his sandals with no socks. That's a big deal. And he went to the men's room on his own.

But the coolest stuff happened on Sunday. The kids did great at church, and both kids, for the first time, went in to play in the ocean. THAT was the single best thing that happened this summer.

Let's see all the firsts that happened: Nic's friend, the successful kiddie camp out, the successful sleep over and barbecue, the night at the shore where both kids were in their own bed, playing in the ocean, climbing rocks, wading in streams, the black-tie gala, swimming in the township pool, the excursions to new places, church-going, yep, it's been a pretty cool summer.

I can't believe school starts in two weeks. We have quite a bit left to cram in before it does!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

So I don't know best

Just a quick write up of the conference at PSU--great conference, we gave a great talk, and I make a cameo at the end of Webcast session 89 (Friday) at the hour 16-17 minute mark.

The closing key note is in direct contradiction with my previous post. Apparently, I need to pursue B despite what his parents think. Man, that puts me in a tough place. I get what they say, he needs his peers and friends among his peers who will have his back.

But as I've said here before, this last mile, this parent acceptance, is overall a mile of really, really bad road. The calls/emails will start shortly, wherein all the moms I NEVER hear from in the school year call or email to see what class Nic is in, the better to head off having THAT kid in THEIR kid's class.....

Girding for harder times ahead.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Friendship Arc

In the space of 10 days, an interesting picture has developed.

B and his brother came to the pool with us last Monday (the 21st). I was elated and happy that everyone had a good time. Until B's mom called and informed me that Nic had dumped mud in their brand new inflatable pool. I guess that was the beginning of the end.

B came alone with us on Thursday. That went okay. But more miscues between me and his folks.

I emailed his mom yesterday letting her know our pool schedule for this week, and when we stopped by on our way to the pool (they are literally right on the way), B answered the door, told us he'd ask his mom, came back, said he was busy, and went back in and slammed the door shut.

Well. I'm not going to chase this. Chances are better than not since they have their own pool up that they (B and his brother) won't be coming to the pool with us again. I moped about it yesterday until I noticed that Nic was hanging out with a kid, turns out he knows Nic from school, is a year ahead of him, and likes to hang out with him. I have to say, Nic's really widened his circle here, for better or for worse. I did invite B for an overnight this weekend, but something tells me that's not going to happen. Maybe I should be bummed?

Oddly, I'm not. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I refuse to glom onto any ONE thing for Nic's social 'salvation.' Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we are really busy ANYWAY? I dunno. Nic doesn't seem particularly perturbed, and maybe that's why I'm not, either.

And right now I have three deadlines for noon Friday holding a gun to my head so I'll dwell on this at greater length when I can breathe.....

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Reflections on People Past

I don't spend a whole lot of time dwelling on the past anymore. Most of my time is spent between the here and now and planning for my kids' futures. The here and now is mundane: bill paying, who we are going to hang out with today, what we'll do, how I'll fit in my work around Nic's rantings.

Every so often my thoughts turn to people I've left behind. In particular, I think of a vicious little PR campaign that happened over months that I knew nothing about until it was far, far too late.

I wonder about a person who seemed unhealthily obsessed with a friendship I had with a mutual acquaintance. And I am equally flummoxed at how fragile that relationship ultimately proved to be.

I wonder how people who have outed themselves as liars repeatedly are trusted implicitly regardless of their repeated transgressions.

I wonder about justice, and I wonder if the lack of it is actually a judgment against me, despite my own innocence.

I look at these events and know they happened for my greater good. But I wonder at the silence of the dozen or so bystanders. Does that mean they approved what happened, or does it mean they just don't want to get involved?

Understand, I have lost no sleep over this. But I do wonder sometimes.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Iron Nic

I have a hard time knowing whether Nic is being canny or clueless, because his cluelessness veers crazily toward genius when it comes to dealing with people.

He gets off the bus announcing he told everyone he wouldn't be in on Friday because he's having a slumber party. I emailed his teacher and told her that yes, Nic will be in--out of town guests are coming, but they aren't due until Friday PM. She promptly emailed me back and thanked me for the clarification.

So okay, he's decided he's more or less ODed on Bob the Builder (thank goodness). He spent a lot of yesterday afternoon working on building a track with the gear a friend clearing out toys gave him. After Gabe came in from ESY, they worked on it together.

So he sees the twins plus their cousin outside. He runs out, hops on his scooter and takes off after them. G wants to go out, too. So we get him together, go out, and Nic is yelling his head off, chasing the other three kids on their bikes.

It becomes obvious they are trying to ditch him, but I hang back. They go around the block, and Nic follows. I realize that it's better than okay for him to go--he knows the neighborhood, and he's with the other three, if not behind them. (And I realize that though the twins are nearly 10, THEY only stay on this block, so this is a first for everyone).

Girl twin comes by and asks where Nic is. I told her that he was following her and the boys. She looked embarrassed. Then I see Nic coming up the block.

A few altercations ensue. Twice I took Nic by the hand and informed him loudly that B & D DON'T want to play with him, take a hint. And twice, I'll be damned, didn't he march right back and insert himself in the proceedings?

I sat back, realizing I was actually doing more harm then good. The boys weren't chasing him off, and the younger one kept glancing my way. I wasn't about to drag him kicking and screaming away, so I just decided to let it play out.

But it was hard. You can't make anyone like your kid. Nic is inherently likable when he's not being obnoxious. The only way for him to learn in these situations is to DO--right or wrong, this is the school of hard knocks.

So Perky and the kids come out, on their way to another social event. Nic admonishes the son for waving a stick in Nic's face. Perky comes out. And Nic starts pelting her with details about the sleepover he's having, followed by the barbecue on Saturday, and she's trying to drive off, and not be rude, conscious of the fact I'm sitting there.

And I wonder to myself, how much of this is "Nyah, nyah, YOU'RE not invited?"

Gabe and I go back in so I can make dinner. Then I hear the door knocker. Nic has summoned me.

"MOM" he shouted (despite the fact that I am less than five feet from him) "D JUST CALLED ME THE MOST AWFUL NAME!"

"Did not!" D shouts back from across the street.

(and I smother a laugh and a smile thinking this is so 1970s Revere Street)

"What did he call you, Nic?"

"BUTTHEAD! It's a horrible, horrible thing to call some one!" And with that he hops on his scooter and heads back across the street for more abuse.

"While it's not the nicest thing to say, there are certainly worse things he could have called you," I yelled after him. I closed the door, thinking he'd figure it out.

He played with them until they left. Or near them.

He may be easily upset, but this kid is, underneath it all, made of iron.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What I am learning about my 8 year old

Nic confuses as much as he amazes.

He is a scary bright kid, with a wicked sense of humor, and the commentary he makes sounds precocious, but more often than not, it's said innocently--but people think he's a smartass. (I had the same problem)

We've had a lot of good here the last few days. He and G did great at a wedding on Saturday, birthday party on Sunday, and his day yesterday--good overall, bad in other parts....but even the little triumphs are big:

He came off the bus and wanted to play with the twins across the street. I'm finding now that he wants to play outside now, and the main reason is that now that Capri2's kids have left for the shore for the summer, it's 'safe' for him to come out and play. The neighborhood pecking order has changed--at least for a little while. We'll take that.

I'm also discovering how mean Perky's kids are. Nic went out to play with them, and they were really mean to one another--infinitely meaner than my kids are to one another, even when they are fighting. Nic thought they were joking--until perfect son made perfect daughter cry and run into the house. And then he told son off for being so mean.

Both kids went in. They came out again and called the twins over when my kids came in for dinner. And I wonder why I am having anger issues. But anyway.

We went to the pool for a bit after we got G, and both boys had kids to hang out with. I should say here that we were met with suspicion, since although this is a township pool and we are members of the township, we were the only white people there. However, Nic found one of his classmates and hung out with him--until the kid realized he could totally outswim my boy, who doesn't even get his head wet.

Then Nic stuck his face in the water. Any one who has ever had a kid who refused to get their head wet should realize how huge this is. And he did it several times.
So we have good here, my boys socializing, swimming, Nic getting more adventurous, until he went to the men's room to get changed. He came running out--jaybird--waving towel, suit, clothes yelling that he needed to show me something he found in the locker room.....

Two pennies.

I went ballistic and told him that if he EVER streaked like that again he'd lose his computer for two months. (as it is, he lost it for the rest of the week).

He wanted to go to the community center library (two blocks from the pool) and get some books out. We did, and he wanted to go check out the playground. That was fine until I realized he discovered some used birthday cake in a mini eating area and was eating it. "The rat needs to stop eating junk food," he said.

I went ballistic again, cursing Charlotte's Web and the county fair wherein Templeton gorges himself on the spoils of the fair--because guess who he thought he was? He lost video privileges and was reminded the eating found food could kill him.

(I think he still thinks he's a rat, but anyway).

So we came in from that excursion and he saw the neighbor kids, wanted to play, and that was okay. So what I've learned about Nic yesterday:

1) Peer pressure is an effective way to move him forward
2) He hates conflict and would rather think people are joking around than actually being mean to one another
3) He has the emotional maturity of a four year old in that he still thinks that whatever he sees in videos directly translates to real life
4) He is really motivated to have friends but still needs a lot of coaching from the sidelines. (Borne out by the fact that I had to call him over at the pool a few times and tell him to stop yelling for people to stop splashing--it's a pool and people will think you are WEIRD if you yell that. He stopped. )

So we will continue to push forward, get out as much as we can, get together with friends as often as we can, and I will continue to look for good safe opportunities for Nic to practice being a friend. It's hard work, but anything worth doing is never easy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Last Mile

The Last Mile

I’m in a bit of snit at the moment. You see, my kids are included in school . They are both mildly autistic but can get by fine with a little support (ie, my older son needs a little help still with social interactions, but after an exchange or two, he actually does fine.

So okay, I move mountains to make sure they are included and welcome wherever we go. For the most part, I am successful.

But there are days when I never see the wall and am literally gobsmacked when I hit it. Yesterday was one of those days.

I practically share a driveway with Perky, my perfect next door neighbor with her perfect NT kids. Apparently she had a party last night (outdoor) wherein she invited every kid in the neighborhood. Except mine.

My kids would not have been any the wiser except for the fact that when I was trying to get them to bed, there was a lot of screaming and carrying on right outside their bedroom windows. Yes. we are out here having fun and YOU AREN'T. I understand their right to have a party and to invite whomever you want, but....I'm thinking with a little heads up, I could have made sure my kids were elsewhere.

But as it was, we were here. And this is where buy-in from the community is still lacking. My kids are treated as if they have a communicable disease, not a neurological disorder. With all the autism awareness campaigns that abound, it is amazing that ignorance persists.

But it does. It does.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Discovering What's Possible

I know it's been a while. My life has been insane. Well, more so than usual.

I have much more to say but for right now, the following will have to do. The work sit is no clearer now than it was last week, but the heart palpitations have (for the moment) gone away. I came back from the seminar I gave on Friday and had a message from the magazine--so two stories for the ext two months are secure.

That's one part. I have another big chunk yet to account for, and I still don't know where that's going to come from. But I have two trainings in two weeks, plus some leads for additional sessions. And we will be covered for the conference again this year. So life is good. So far. For the moment.

But my mind was taken off these things by some bigger gains this past weekend. Nic had two issues he needed to problem solve, one at swimming, and another during soccer--and he resolved both on his own. He and Gabe sat through ten innings of the Phillies game on Saturday night--and did fine.

Sunday both boys came to church with me. Nic had a birthday party to attend (his second this year). It was laser tag, and definitely an iffy situation for him, but he went in with the rest of the kids and had a great time. The neighbor's granddaughter came over and knocked for Nic when we came back, and she and her twin played with Nic and Gabe for an hour before dinner.
All this stuff sounds amazingly normal and ho-hum, but when you take it with the fact that only a year ago, NONE of this would have been happening, it's pretty amazing, period.

May is shaping up to be a busy month for us, too. I remember a day not too long ago when I would have been scrambling for things for us to do, and it looks like suddenly, we have a lot going on. In a good way.