Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Too much to do and not enough time. The next 48-72 hours are going to be insane.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"I Drink Your Milkshake!"

and other stuff that makes me laugh.

The kids rule the pool. Nic's not happy unless I am focused exclusively on him while he's out there. And he's swimming with the timed group now. My younger sister jokes 'Michael Phelps' but when I think of how far, how fast? It could happen.

Media training yesterday was not a waste of time and in fact sealed some collaborations--present and future.

Considering options about the Friday thing. Not sure where--if anywhere--I'll go with that.

The weekend made up for much. Boys both won a round of bingo, had a great time at Sesame on Saturday (and G had a great time at opening ceremonies for tee-ball), and Sunday we not only had a successful outing at another (non township) playground, we had a great time at a barbecue with friends.

Also had an online chat with SIL y'day about the playground incident, and she's right--you can't change how people think.

Speaking of that, DH and I watched a movie that did make me laugh out loud quite a bit, "There Will be Blood" (see the above title). DH was so impressed with DDL--"the guy's a genius"--but if I hadn't seen that contempt for everyone coupled with an entitlement complex twelve times the size of God IRL I might have found it a little more amusing and a little less unsettling.

I have known a person like that. I strongly suspect that person is every bit of what s/he was today. More so, probably.

But I can't think of that line without laughing out loud.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Something to the previous that may or may not be worth mentioning. A man walked purposefully toward us as we walked back to the car. He suddenly became preoccupied and random as he got closer and realized I was crying.

Probably one of the parents. And he wasn't coming to apologize.

Which begs the question, if he were coming over to tell me off, don't you think he'd apologize when he saw upset I was?

But he did not. He simply turned and walked away.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


It happened on the playground nearby yesterday evening. Gabriel wanted to go; Nic did not. It's a nice afternoon, so we went.

Nic was sulking on some equipment while I pushed G on a swing. Two girls about Nic's age came over and sat on the next swings, and I clearly heard my son's last name.

There is no 'sounds like' for the name my kids have. You know it when you hear it. And these girls were talking about my boy like he was a freak.

I glared at them, and the girl who initiated pulled the other girl off the swing and they continued to whisper about him behind their hands. They came back. And kept on whispering about him.

My increasingly hostile presence made the girl who started ask 'what?'

"What are you saying about my son?" I tried not to snarl. Really.

The expression on her face changed immediately. Defiant gave way to scared. "I'm sorry."

"You SHOULD be sorry. He has autism. Do you have any idea how hard it is for him to try to be normal? Do you have any idea that his brain does not work the way yours does?" I pushed Gabriel on the swing as I spoke, not really caring how eloquent I was or wasn't. I was more than angry--I was seeing red.

"I'm sorry..." Clearly, she had no idea what she was dealing with--or who.

"Do you REALIZE how HARD people like YOU make life for people like HIM?" I spat the last words out, excused myself to G to go rescue Nic. When I came back to the swings, they had gone, retreated to play basketball at the courts. Still whispering.

We left a few minutes later. They slowly moved back to the playground, looking my way. And I stared them down.

And ended up sobbing all the way back to the car, Nic trying to make me feel better, Gabriel clutching my hand.

Sometimes, I just have hate in my heart for people like this. They should know better, yet they don't. There's no excuse for it. It just is what it is.

At Bingo later, R's mom told me I did the wrong thing. "I would have talked to their parents," she said.

"Where do you think they GET these ideas?" I snapped.

Back when I was helping Nic's class with a writing project in the first grade, a little girl pulled me aside and asked "Nic's special ed, isn't he?"

I was floored. There is no way a first grader would get there without parental input.

"Just worry about your writing," I told her.

Attitudes like this start at home. And as Nic gets older, it's really clear to what degree his presence is unwelcome in our district. Home school? Not so much--give them their props, by and large they have worked well with me.

These girls were from another elementary school. But they knew him.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Deep Water Swimmer

It's official. Nic is finally in the ranks of deep swimmer-dom. We did 14 laps together the other night ("You are *good* at this, mom!"), and he did another 6 with whoever he could hijack to swim along in the deep water with him.

But he's doing it. Eight years ahead of schedule, no less.

Gabriel growled at me. He didn't like me spending this kind of time with Nic, but he *can* do it, too--he just doesn't *want* to, yet.

Summer at the pool will be easier because he'll be able to keep up with his peers. Gabriel will be less of a worry and more flexible, too.

Good stuff.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Spider Roll Envy

Gabriel is telling me to inspire him to dream big.

Don't I? Every day of his life?

He's my gift. Much of my life and the way I view it is affected directly by his presence. He is like a silent cat most of the time. Right now he is in the kitchen either grooving to Sail On Sailor or avoiding something that Nic is doing on his computer.

I need to think about a few things. Well, maybe talk about a few things right here, right now. Today was rough. Actually, I've been coming off a rough few months. It's good that work has faded down for the moment, because the school sitch for both boys are in play for right now.

So Nic was eating alone at lunch. DH wanted to storm the school. I wrote a few well placed emails. The upshot is that his regular education teacher figured out a way to get her class involved in socializing Nic. Really, her idea is good and Nic and the kids were very excited to put it into practice. And today was a success.

But what's sad to me is that Nic would rather be alone than try to talk to anyone. He doesn't WANT to be alone, but he will choose it, because it's easier.

Anything worth doing is not easy.

Then we started the evaluation process for Gabriel this am with the school psych. That was a different kind of painful. This is not the first IQ eval he's had. His processing is slow. He (predictably) had an easier time with the harder stuff. But it was so hard watching him NOT get what was expected of him at some points and KNOWING he was not getting it. The crushed look on his little face broke my heart.

My good friend K (whose DH is getting her spider roll tonight for dinner) reminded me that his getting what he doesn't get is a good thing--it will drive him to try harder.

You know what, my kids have to work twice as hard to get half as far as their peers. That drives me bugf*ck.

Anyway. Talking to the psych, I told her I was considering the big bus for both boys in the fall. It does not make me happy that I have gotten my boys accepted in every freaking corner of the universe BUT THE BLOCK THEY LIVE ON. That bus stop is the last freaking frontier.

She told me I need to suck it up. DH already told me he would put them on the bus. I love him for that.

I don't do well in Queen Bee Central. But I will suck it up for the sake of my kids.

Just have to add a few more lines about my life in narcissism central. Really been a little bizarre surrounded by "Enough about me, what do YOU think about me?" I am never going to be famous because I am just not self-centered enough to pull it off.

Or destructive. Or manipulative. Or wanting minions to do my bidding. Or wanting to twist innocent minds to my nefarious ends. (Do I sound bitter? I'm sorry, having been at the receiving end of narcissist bullsh*t, I am particularly sensitive to the sociopaths who try to bend me to their will--didn't work before, won't work now, good luck with it).

But these are the idiots I have to train my kids to be wary of--people who see them as prey, because they themselves are predator, and everyone else they see is prey. That's why I work so hard to take the targets off my kids' backs--I don't want to have to hurt anyone. But I will do the needful, as ever.

Momma bear. That's who I am to my cubs. And that's the way it has to be.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

quick updates

Mended some fences. Had a good night out and conversation with my brother on the way to and back from the Flight of the Conchords concert at the Tower last night (he had an extra ticket and invited me along).

So, work--I have stuff to catch up on, so I'll be doing that this week. G and I set up his batting tee and practiced for a good hour this am, first batting, then throwing and catching. I got Nic's bike out of mothballs, and he cruised up and down the street (it's true what they say about not forgetting how to ride a bike, but this was his first time on THIS bike--and without the audience of the neighbors). He did well. I hope he and B can ride bikes together this summer. I have not completely given up on this kid, in spite of my better judgment.

And soccer went well, particularly with Nic--I think he's ready for township, but we're holding off on registering him until we see how this session goes.

G caught a fish at the reservoir yesterday--we cleaned and froze it and hope to catch a companion this pm.

And I was part of a panel at the ed conference yesterday--which went really well. Rob does a better a job of promoting me than I do myself. He also told me he wants to talk to me some more about something I shared at the retreat last December. I am impressed that I can offer a seasoned pro insight that he hasn't come up with on his own.

We'll see. His book put me on the map in this community. There may be room for future collaboration. One hopes.

But whatever happens, happens.

The weather is going to change, so we're getting out and enjoying the day.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Exclusion, mourning, whatever

I am not happy at the moment. Letting go of a friendship is always hard, but some one I thought to be a good friend has let me know that she is stepping back.

I'm not exactly sure why, but I think it has something to do with my hellbent ways of integrating my kids. She hasn't, and I never judged her for what she's done or not done with her kids. But I think she's judging me. Or maybe she is assuming I am judging her.

In any case, she is dumping me, and I need to accept that.

Might be easier to accept if we weren't having the same ol' with the neighbors, and the looks, and the whole nine. I backed out of our driveway with her driveway full of preteen girls looking at me. I ignored the overriding urge to flip them all off.

Of course it would be easier for everyone in my neighborhood if I shipped my kids elsewhere. But easier is not better. Not for them, not for me.

But I hate hate hate my life in this neighborhood. I know moving wouldn't fix this--my kids will forever be THOSE kids. And I have the nerve (THE NERVE!) to think that they can be like everyone else.

No, I don't want them to be like everyone else. I just want them to be able to hold a job, support themselves, and have relationships. I want them to be the wonderful selves they are going to be.

But I have to deal with people stuck in high school in the meantime. There is nothing worse than a middle-aged woman thinking she is finally FINALLY Queen Bee.

And I have the misfortune of having them on all sides. Sucks.

Signs of progress

So yesterday was the classic pile up of planes over O'Hare. I had work, track, tee-ball, a side trip to the camp to pick up supplies and the Resource Fair. I was probably going to be late for everything.

Then weather knocked out T-ball and track--at least I think it knocked out track. I never heard anything, so I don't know for sure. So, the kids came off their buses, we headed to camp, then made the trip up to camp to get my supplies for the fair. The kids wanted to stay in the van and listen to O Brother Where Art Thou while I did my thing. Then off we went to BK. And Nic ate all of his kid meal and most of G's--so I had to get another burger for G. That was pretty funny if not outright annoying, but next time, I won't be so distracted as to NOT see that Nic was eating everything in sight.

So he did his math homework right there while G went into the play area. Nic even went in to play with the other kids, which in it of itself is impressive. Then off to the fair, with a promise from Nic that he'd do the rest of his homework in babysitting.

The big surprise? He did finish his homework in babysitting--despite all the distractions. That's a first.

He's going to have a ton of homework tonight because he decided to wait to the last minute (he really is my kid) for two projects due tomorrow. And G and I are going to work on his t-ball skills today.

Oh, for me, the fair was good. Had some good conversations with a few parents, and it's nice to be in a position where I can provide some useful information. Maybe some new families coming to the camp, too. Good stuff.

Lots to celebrate. Even the mundane stuff is a sign of success in this house. And we like success. It means independence, self-sufficiency, strength, and collaboration. I feel lucky to be able to celebrate it all--big and small.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Did I drink the Kool-Aid?

The short answer is no.

I had an enlightening lunch meeting with a friend from high school who finds herself on this extraordinary journey that is parenting a child with autism. It's amazing how much you learn about some one by the questions he or she asks. It was good stuff! We are in interesting places relative to one another on this road, but I'm in a place where I can actually be of some help.

I like that, because there are plenty of people I rely on for help as I wade forward. As my kids get older, this road does not necessarily get easier. R asked me if I discussed with Nic what he has going on. The thing is, Nic notices the difference but hasn't asked me about it. I'll be ready to talk to him whenever he is ready, but this will not be one conversation--it will be many, over many years.

As much as possible, it won't be medical. I don't want him ever thinking CAN'T. He throws that word around a lot--particularly when he doesn't WANT to do something. Big difference between can't and won't. And he knows it.

I never want to hear can't. But I hear it a lot. So we press on, and he proves to himself time and again he CAN.

As for school, he continues to prove that inclusion is working for him. He has come so far from the Kindergartner he was. He still has so far to go, but I didn't think it would ever be possible for him to do any township sports. We're there. He's not a great success, but he's DOING it, which is its own success.

And I get irritated at times when people tell me that it's only because 'Nic is so high functioning that he can...' First of all, I hate the whole high functioning--low functioning dichotomy because it's stupid and it says nothing. These kids have challenges no matter what their level of conversational speech, ability to tie shoes or ability to infer is. I look at other kids are regardless of where they are in the spectrum, they are members of the tribe no one really wants to belong to.

Nic is where he is not necessarily by luck, but because he works his butt off. I work my butt off and all the teachers and aides he's had through the years have worked THEIR butts off to help Nic get where he is. Nic as he exists today did not just *happen*.

But having said that, we had a lot of raw material to work with. Nic has speech. He was potty trained. But he also had severe disruptive behaviors, major anxiety and little to no conversational speech.

Wow, he has come a long way.

But...we have such a ways to go.

Anyway, he does well at school, and increasingly the behaviors we see are when he gets pulled out. I'm thinking it's time to tone down the number of pullouts and move to the big bus.

Getting there.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Catching my breath

Work has slowed enough so I can work on getting my house back. I have a few calls to make, then beat this place into shape. The break comes at a good time--swimming, track, t-ball and soccer are all taking off at the same time. I have to make some choices about who goes where and when because things are happening at the same time. Feast or famine, as ever.

I have a few things I want to do, so I'm hoping weather works in my favor when and where needed!

I got the kids out for a 2 mile walk yesterday and am doing a better job of limiting computer and video now that I am not so crazed myself. Going to take advantage of the downtime to organize and plan out the next little bit.

And yay, much to celebrate this week. The kids are doing well, DH is almost done his grant stuff and taxes, and I have some time and space to figure out what I need to know next. It's nice to not have fires to put out.

But hoping things pick up just the same. Otherwise, we'll need to retrench. And I'm fine with that. We'll do what we need to, when we need to, and how we need to, and it will work out, because it always does. We just don't know the 'how'--only that it DOES.

Which is good enough for me. If I knew everything, I would find life quite boring.

I'm proud of the people the boys are becoming. Would be great if I could get the religion thing sorted, but I'll settle for what we've got. I owe Fr. M another note because he knocked it out of the park again on Easter.

I love that man. He is too cool.

He has DH listening, too. That's quite an accomplishment.

On another note, some one sent me this video. I can't embed it, but it's worth looking at to see what's possible. It made my day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Spring Cleaning for My Head

Just got back from a good walk with the boys. Saw some turtles, a big bullfrog, deer, squirrels, and --my favorite-- lots of different birds. I had a good time pointing them out to the boys.

Time to make some dinner--home made mac n cheese and fishsticks with some green veggie or other. Gabe wants to help and is prompting me to get off and work.....

That comparison thing again

We didn't do tee-ball with Nic.

There was just no way it would happen. We had so many other priorities with him that it didn't even enter our consciousness to try sports at age 5 with him. Which is why we are where we are now with him and sports. Because's actually possible.

Having said that, tee-ball seemed like a good idea for G. After all, he doesn't have many of the behaviors Nic had and he can actually blend.

Or so I thought. I've been schooled at tee-ball this week. If G doesn't look autistic, then he doesn't look like he's very bright. And as usual, I was out there working with him hand over hand, thinking that this is supposed to be a learning experience for all these kids.

Then it hit me on the way home. In this sports-crazy township, the parents all pre-teach the games to the kids. I remember seeing next-door neighbor boy working with his dad in the back yard on tee-ball basics last year.

"They were playing," DH admonished.

"They were *working*," I retorted. I know what playing looks like, and this wasn't it.

SO. Before next practice, I know what G and I will be doing. And maybe it will work out. If it does, great, and if not....well, well get through it and move on. Like we do everything else.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Well, that was interesting

Track was not an unmitigated success--I am not delusional--but it could have gone a lot worse.

There's always next week.


Okay, my desk is cleared and it's time to bat cleanup on the domestic stuff. There is (as always) much to do. Of course at the top of the list is taking the kids out for their journeys. Nic starts track tonight. And I have to figure out how we are going to navigate the next couple of months, since we have more that one activity happening an evening a few times over the next month and change.

And I have other stuff going on, too. Trying to figure out my next six months, then wondering whether I should get my cert in SPED. Hmm. I'm not sure that's what I want, but I know there's a need. Is that a good enough reason to pursue something?

In a perfect world, I'd be on exactly the same clock as the kids. That's where my head is these days. I am 'sort of' there. Lucky for the fact that everything I do I can do from here--home, which is how I planned it all from the start. It's been a balancing act, but one that's worked.

So. Figuring out the next little while. Need to make the best and the most of my time now.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Let me see if this works

Two of my favorite videos on YouTube. Just saw them for a first time in a while.

Monday, April 6, 2009

In, er, somebody's own image

Just pondering stuff. Nic continues to push onward in swimming, pushed in equal parts by mom and little brother. Little brother just likes to shame Nic into doing laps and mom would like Nic to face his fears and overcome them. He does, albeit somewhat resentfully. He prefers to be in his head, with his elevators, and G and I interfere with that.

I struggle with this. Don't want to be a stage mom, don't want Nic to be more than a successful adult when his time comes (success? i define that as he is holding his own job, living in his own space, has a significant other he is an equal partner with, whatever form that will take). BUT? Yeah, sometimes I fantasize him as a phenom of some sort. But the phenom--really--is the person he is becoming. He really is amazing.

But I can't settle for that. He can be extraordinary. So I push him. I'm mean.

Anyway, his eyes lit up when I told him that if he gets to swimming regularly in the deep end at a good pace, he could travel, and stay in hotels with elevators.

But he has to be good. And he has to work at it.

Gabriel's more interested in being Nic's pace swimmer. Or his conscience. Nic always swims better when G's in the water.

This has me linking other thoughts with where I've been, where I'm going. This month marks 21 years that I am with DH. A miracle in itself, that we have grown up together, that he has never tried to rule, ruin or change me, or make me over in his image, or bully me into following his tastes, or in any way ever try to make my mind up for me. He's always let me be me, in all my weirdness, and my family has been the beneficiary to his open-mindedness.

I'm thankful to him. He has been an amazing partner all these years. Maybe I just need to take a page from that playbook and let Nic be Nic.

But Nic does need to be nudged.

So, nudge him. He won't get where he's going unless he's pushed to be as good as he can be. I just have to remember not to impose my baggage on him. He'll have enough of his own, thanks.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Two firsts, a second and a fish

Okay, so it was a good thing I showed up at church early. No youth lectors. So I dragooned another lector to be the voice and I did the rest myself. Not only did it work out fine, I had people complimenting the way things went. I smiled, thanked them, apologized profusely to Fr M (who was fine with all, praised my reading and the fact that I do so much on the fly, as does he--"Rigid people make me nervous," he told me as I left. It was a nice thought to leave with, because I concur.

So Nic swam, scored first twice and a VERY close second in the third race. This from the kid who two years ago wouldn't go into ANY pool--ever. Yay for my boy.

And trout season opened yesterday, so we spent the rest of the day fishing. Nic brought in a nice one we cooked up for dinner. And then he did a few things to guarantee to curtail our trip and lose computer privileges. Ah well, we can never seem to have a wholly perfect day. We'll take what we can get.

B'more is postponed until the work is off my desk--which it will be by tomorrow.

So in short, all is well for the moment. Will be better once I finish all my work once and for all. Then on to a good week with the boys. Looking forward to it.

Dinner last night, swim meet today

Had another black tie dealie to go to. We had a good table, so it was a lot of fun. Got to catch up with a fellow warrior mom whose 17 year old at long last is doing well. My niece had a good time with the boys, we can do this again.

Forgot to mention Nic's report card. He did well, but a test in his bag marked adapted showed me that while he got 100 in the test, it was 'dumbed down'--he was asked for one example, whereas the rest of the class was asked for two or three. I already told them I expected him to do the same work his classmates were doing. Meeting the Tuesday we come back, this will be at the top of the agenda...followed by the school bus and the crazy driver.

So Nic swims today. I hope G will be allowed to swim in the play area. I'll bring his suit--just in case.

Meeting friends in B'more and NY later in the week, local friends this weekend, and Easter. Still have two of three items on my desk, but they'll go in the next couple days (and it's fine). Another project on deck but I'm not doing anything with until next week. It's all kids, all the time this week.

Even got the house cleaned yesterday, so don't have to deal with that.

Off to get coffee, and then to church. The Youth lectors better be reading today.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Onward and upward

Okay, we tried roller skating--had a birthday party for a friend's daughter at a rink. Thought my kids would love it. I loved roller skating as a kid.

Neither of my kids like falling down. They both lasted a half hour--or exactly one lap around the rink. I went a few times on my own. Then the skates were off and we watched everyone else.

Not exactly a disaster, but when we were coming home, I was stopped at a light, and noticed a little girl of 3 or 4 getting out of her grandmother's car and going hand in hand with her into a house.

Kind of sad. My kids will never do the overnight at grandmom's. Never did, never will. I try not to impose the stuff of my childhood on my kids--they have their own lives and will have things that they will be happy to remember that they did. I can't think it too sad that they have their own memories, but when I think of some of the stuff they are missing out on by virtue of what they have going on, well, it just sucks.

Back to thinking of Nic Version 3.0. We haven't done him wrong.

But there is still a lot we need to get right.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Er, what was I saying?

Nic made his first trip to the principal's office today. It wasn't the fisticuffs so much as the "shut up!" to the driver.

Time to reconsider the small bus and maybe opt for prime time and the zoo that is bus 19 or whatever the hell the route number is.

Meh. I was in the second grade the first time I landed on the carpet, so I actually consider this a small accomplishment.

Good place

This week is finishing up better than I could have ever expected. Seminar is going really well--except for bombing out right now! LOL

To answer my earlier thoughts, thinking about the terrified little boy in the videos and second guessing the intervening 6 years, I had a vivid visual of Nic, three years ago, coming into his classroom with a big smile lighting up his face and his big green eyes.

My big guy, with his big green eyes and his big smile, standing in front of his elevator poster for the science fair this week.

How can I second guess? He's swimming in deep water now, has his first swim meet on Sunday, starts track next week. He's come great distances in the last 6 + years.

So have I. But we both have quite a way yet to go. But we will. Together.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is it Friday yet?

The work situation is more or less contained but not yet done. The autism situation has provided me with much fodder for a someday book. The house situation....ugh, don't get me started.

Just got G on the bus after a morning of Candyland and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. No one on earth finds me as amusing as G does.

And the scramble continues. I am very much looking forward to putting these projects to bed so I can sleep for a few days.