Saturday, July 31, 2010

Delicious Irony

Will had a birthday party a couple of weeks ago.  He went to one just before that and is invited to two more.  Ahhh, ironically it seems as if Will is the most popular of my children.

Lizzy was invited to two birthday parties within two weeks.  Will is still ahead but she is breathing down his neck.  Bri forgot to go to a party last night so she has forfeited the competition.  (I haven't reminded her because at this point it doesn't do her any good.)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Winding Down

Day camps end this week.  Swim team ends next week, and Bri will be gone for a week of sleep-away camp in New Hampshire.  Will’s summer vacation starts the week of August 16th.  He’ll go to lose the training wheels that week.  (I want him to learn how to ride a bike so badly that I tense just thinking about it!)  We’re thinking about going to Virginia Beach the following week.  I called my friend who just moved to Pennsylvania and we are going to hang out with them on the way down.  We have kids almost identical in ages but they have one bonus and Will isn’t interested in playing so it doesn’t exactly work out.  It will be great to see them for the first time in three years.  Alycia is funny.  She asked if we would be there on Sunday.  If so, she was going to ask over some of her other friends with autistic kids and fill the house . . . it’s nice to feel wanted.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Coming Together

As I was driving Bri home from swim team, she complained that a Lady Gaga song she’d heard on the radio that morning was still in her head.  She turned on the radio before I could stop her --  I liked the song that was running through my head.  Then karma kissed me straight on the lips.  Neon Trees’ Animal was playing . . . yeah, the song I’d been singing all day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


It’s been a productive week for Will’s programming, a little upsetting but exciting too.  Will has done an activity schedule since he was three or four.  For the last few months I wanted to change the setup.  He used a three ring binder that had choices of activities velcroed on the first page.  He’d pick an activity, put the word on the Velcro in the middle of a page, do the activity, turn the page, and pick another activity.  Neither Joan nor I were thrilled with the activities as many of them weren’t age appropriate but it’s hard to come up with new ones.

Will is eleven.  When he is twenty I don’t want him flipping colored plastic pages in a three-ring binder choosing activities.  He doesn’t need that level of support now.  He will even stick out more if he does that in nine years.  I thought about how to change it for a while and came up with a recipe card box.  

On the inside of the lid I wrote “Activity Schedule” 

I am all done.

This was a big change from before when he knew how many activities to do based on how many colored pages there were before the “I am all done” page.

Then I wrote on three green cards:  Choose from these activities, Working On and Done.  On a pink card I wrote I’m done.  I wrote on individual cards activities he can choose from and put a timer in the box because many activities have a time limit.  The idea is that he will pick an activity from his choice pile, move the card to Working On, then when he is finished move the card to the done pile.  

The hardest part of doing an activity schedule for Will is coming up with activities he can do independently.  He’d rather play on the computer, or iPad or listen to music all day.  But I think it’s important that he has non-electronic activities as well.  I’m trying to expand his interests.  Joan worked on a word search with him this week.  He likes it but it’s hard.  It’s fascinating how it works with him.  I tried doing word searches with him over a year ago.  He loves letters, spelling, typing, writing so I knew if he figured it out he would probably love it.  And then he would have a leisure skill for life!  But he wasn’t ready.  Now he is.  I tried to teach him how to use a keyboard when he was little and gave up in frustration, a year later he came home from school and could do it – and hasn’t stopped since.  It’s hard to come up with things he likes.  But if we don’t spend sometimes significant amounts of time teaching him how to do something he can’t make that determination.  So, often we spend a lot of time teaching him how to play a game, for example, only to find out he doesn’t like it.  Or does he?  It’s complicated.  When we walk down the street sometimes I try to explain things.  Occasionally he’ll listen.  But often he says, “All done.”  Translation: stop talking before I pinch you.

On Wednesday, he picked legos as a choice in his activities schedule.  He stuck legos haphazardly on the clear plastic ignoring the design below he was suppose to copy.  Suddenly a light went on my head.  He was BORED!  I ran in the playroom and grabbed a couple handfuls of legos.  I put them in front of Will.  He started playing with them.  I hate it when people underestimate Will because of his disability and verbal scripting!  And I hate it even more when I do it!  Even though Will needed to start with learning to play with legos by copying designs, he was past that.  And suddenly I realized that he had been past that point for several months.  He doesn’t verbally acknowledge boredom with activities and will continue to choose activities he doesn’t like because he is rigid.  I need to step up my game.
Joan and I also started doing dry showers with Will during his therapy session.  I’d like him to be able to shower independently by the time he is a teenager.  With a dry shower Will keeps on his clothes and pretends to take a shower.  Then I follow up by doing it with him when he takes one.  I like the dry shower because it’s more respectful of his privacy.  If we have to, we can give him a real shower but I don’t think we will.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Welcome to Holland

When you have a child with special needs inevitably at least one person will  send you a poem titled Welcome to Holland.    It's a cute poem but my response was always, "I don't know where I am but I doubt it's Holland."  And I didn't really relate to poem.    I've come to the conclusion that it's because I didn't hear it recited by a man with an accent.  Suddenly I really like the poem.  Or perhaps I'm just a sucker for a man with an accent.  Craig Ferguson . . . where are you?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It’s Super Fun Here

My mother-in-law is here this week.  Unfortunately, my husband is at scout camp with Jake.  I know it’s great planning; but my father-in-law had a conference in Maine this week, and the date of Jake’s scout week was set by the troop.  So, I guess it was meant to be but it’s still a little sad.  My husband’s absence during at least part of the time we have visitors is kind of our family’s personal tradition.

Last year I planned activities for my kids and mother-in-law almost every morning.  I think I wore her out.  This year I went in the opposite direction.  I made her drink two green smoothies and sadly haven’t taken her anywhere but Target and BJs.  (Nothing but good times here!)  But between Lizzy’s 8:30-12:30 summer camp schedule, Will’s 8:00-3:00 school schedule, therapy Tuesday and Wednesday, a Wednesday grant writing seminar, swim meets on Tuesday and Thursday, swim practice Monday and Wednesday, a piano lesson, a private swimming lesson for Lizzy, a play date today.  I’m kind of busy.  Fortunately, Jake’s not here so I don’t have to fit in his summer camp, writing tutoring session (that takes 2 hours with drive time) and scouts.  

I’m done with summer.  Well, not really because I’m very excited for Will to learn how to ride a bike!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Trying to be a little healthier

My sister Eileen has gone organic, is feeding her kids more vegetables, etc.  And since she thinks I should do everything she does, she is dragging me along with her.  Last year I signed up for a share in an organic farm but I was overwhelmed with green things.  So, I didn’t do it this year but now I am reconsidering.  We’ve have bees on our roof, a composter, and my husband planted zucchini by our mailbox and somehow that makes one either a lot odd or a little crunchy (probably both – but hey, at least we’re not boring).

Eileen’s latest thing is green smoothies, smoothies with a base of spinach or kale.  She sent me links.  So, naturally since I do a lot of what she tells me to do.  I made one yesterday.  I put two bananas in my blender then stuffed it full of spinach and turned it on.  Then I turned it off, took out most of the spinach, added a little water, turned back on the blender and added spinach a little at a time.  Once that was blended I added a drizzle of honey (because I’m expecting I have to start using a lot), frozen blackberries (which turned the green smoothie brown).  Then I gave it to my mother-in-law . . . and Lizzy, Bri and I even drank a glass myself.

Lizzy, since she apparently wasn’t listening to the conversation preceding the smoothie, eagerly drank hers then became a little put out when she understood what was in it.  Brianne swallowed the only spinach leaf that wasn’t blended and castigated me for the oversight.  I thought it wasn’t bad and decided that Will should get a daily veggy smoothie because I know he’ll love it.

At lunch today, Bri asked for a green smoothie.  This time I started with a ton of spinach, added two bananas and then half a package of frozen mangos.  It was pretty good.  It didn’t need the honey so now I’ll have to come up with a new plan for using up my honey.  Perhaps a honey smoothie, or honey chicken, or honey over zucchini.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Will’s Party

Will had his first birthday party with friends ever on Saturday.  It was awesome!  We played party games, had a scavenger hunt, played charades . . . kidding!  But it was still awesome.  I had a lot of “mom” friends from his school that I wanted to invite but I decided his party couldn’t be about me.  So, I invited his favorite friends from school.  And I talked to him all week to prepare him for kids coming over to see him.  He has a tendency to disappear when a lot of people come over and I wanted him to have fun and interact with people. 

On the invitation I said we had a trampoline, two swings and a fenced backyard.  (No party games.) My friend Cat came over and made balloon animals, guns whatever the kids wanted for two hours.  Pete painted himself with a Popsicle, three autistic kids jumped together on the trampoline, Brian didn’t want to leave and Will only left the party to watch his new DVD Toy Story so I consider it a pretty successful party.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Addendum to Books

I forgot to mention I also read The Messenger by Lois Lowry.  Naturally, it was wonderful.  I didn’t realize that it was a sequel to Gathering Blue until I started reading it and recognized characters. These books are part of the Giver Trilogy and all are well worth reading!

I’m in the middle of The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell.  This has been on my mental list to read since I saw her on Jon Stewart some time ago.  It’s interesting.  It’s different from the history books I usually read.  It’s conversational rather than “just the facts ma’am” history I’m use to.  I think I like it.  I definitely will finish it.  But I put it down for a week while I tried to wrap my head around the idea of a history book this different.  Since I already understand the difference between separating and non-separating Congregationalists and have some background knowledge of this time period; I’m enjoying reading Vowell’s asides and viewpoints juxtaposed with the history.  

(But after reading the NYT's review I'm concerned that it's just because I think I'm cool that I already knew most of the stuff about the Puritans -- Ack!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Bri and I just read The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  It was wonderful!  I read it again, right after I finished it the first time.  Coraline scared me but I'm a sucker for Newbury Medal winners so I picked it up.  Good choice.  Hopefully he'll write a sequel.

I read Years of Dust: The story of the Dust Bowl by Albert Marrin.  I thought it was a great pictorial history book for children.  I'm going to make Bri and Jake read it for some background on that period of time.

I also read Heroes of the Valley by Jonathan Stroud.  Stroud wrote the Bartimaeus Trilogy and thus would be hard pressed to do wrong in my eyes.  It's a good adventure novel with a less likely protagonist.  Bri will love it.

Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst is a fun modern fairy tale.

The Roar by Emma Clayton was interesting.  I'll read the next book in the series.  It's a younger young adult fiction book, a negative utopia.

For adults I recommend The Big Short : Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis.  It's a great read; infuriating and depressing naturally, as is anything that is written about how financial companies robbed us.  But don't let that stop you from reading it.  I loved reading about Michael Burry, a one-eyed physician turned stock picker who was later diagnosed with Asperger's.  (I always root for people on the spectrum to be successful.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Note to self: The next time Marcy says it will be fun to go on a 12 mile bike ride, say No!

Because #1. It’s not fun.  Ever.  Not useless you are a masochist or biking enthusiast.  Neither of which I claim to be.  #2. I remember my “biking glory” days in college when I could ride 3 miles in 10 minutes and it only took me 15 to ride home up a MASSIVE hill. Then I think about walking my bike up a hill now and get depressed.  #3.  It’s hot and humid and even after at taking a very cold shower my face is still redder than my hair. #4.  When I am taking a break and want to throw the contents of my water bottle on Marcy I won’t because I am hording the water.  #5.  My butt hurts now when I walk up the stairs.  #6.  I have a heat and bike riding induced headache. 

The only decent thing was that it ended up being 11 miles instead of 12 because Marcy lives a mile away.  hehehehe

Attention Marcy’s Fan Club (AKA my family): I assure you there is no need to send me concerned emails that I’m unkind to her.  She’s just fine.  I’m thinking about breaking up with her anyway.  Other people don’t make me ride my bike and hurt my butt . . . 

Friday, July 9, 2010

“You don’t need a house, you need a bigger car!”

My husband said in response to my complaints about my day as I was driving home from dropping the kids off at swim practice.

Wednesday’s Schedule:

Briefly mourn husband being out of town

7:30-8:30 Get assorted kids really for school buses

9-12:15 Teach classes at the Y

(12:15 Wonderful Marcy takes Bri to her friend’s house so I don’t have to rush her to her piano lesson during Will’s therapy.)

12:30 Show up one half hour early to Parent Group Meeting at Will’s school – I briefly consider voting myself in as President but reconsider as I’m too lazy.

Lizzy gets off her bus, walks home and a friend picks her up for a play date

1-2:30 Parent Group Meeting

2:30 Take Will and drive home

3:15-5:15 Will Therapy

5:30- 6:15 Pick up Bri from piano lesson and drop her off at a pool party

6:50-8:45 Lizzy gets dropped off, then I take Jake to scouts (Will busy with iPad, I read, Lizzy runs around with other kids like hooligan)

9:00 Bri dropped off at home

Thursday’s Schedule

Briefly mourn husband being out of town

7:30-8:30 Attempt to wake up grumpy Lizzy, feed other children, send them to school.  Drop Lizzy off at her bus stop without eating breakfast and with unbrushed hair.  [I don’t feel so bad about the lack of breakfast as her first class at Summer Scene is No Bake Cooking.  Unfortunately, she later informs me that they made cucumber sandwiches which she DID NOT LIKE! (Emphasis mine.)]  Thus, I remain blissfully unaware of my child’s hunger for several hours.

8:45-9:20 Write blog post about 4th of July Fireworks

9:30-11 SP-ED PAC Board meeting, I attempt to redeem myself as sub-par secretary by taking notes on meeting.

11-4:30  Return home pick up Bri, talk to Linda on the phone (attempt to hurry Bri as I suddenly had a brilliant idea to pick up Lizzy from Summer Scene instead of waiting for the bus to drop her off because that will give me an extra 30 minutes.  Unfortunately, the mountain moves for no one and my plan fails miserably.)  Bri and I return home to wait for the bus.  The three of us drive to Uno’s for lunch with Marcy and Dav.  We were having a fundraiser for Lose the Training Wheels which we are bringing to town in August.  I speed home to drop off the girls then back to pick up Jake from his summer program.  Decide he should have a sleepover.  Drive him to Holliston for EmPOWER tutoring.  Stop at a grocery store on the way home for apples.  

4:30-5:30 Unload the groceries, shove something in kids’ mouths, yell at them to hurry, drive them to swim meet, drop them off, return home and decide I don’t want to wash dishes.  I’d rather veg.

8:00-9:10 Bri calls and says the meet is over.  I drive to pick them up.  Husband says on phone I need a bigger car in response to complaining over busy summer and grumpy children.  Arrive at pool, Lizzy is missing, talk to other parent while Bri attempts to remove Lizzy from friends in the locker room.  Drive home with two girls and Jake’s friend Ben.  Feed Lizzy grapes then put her in bed.

9:20 Go on walk with Linda

Wash Dishes

11?  Boys go to bed.

Spit at summer.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fireworks of Multiple Types

I’ve mentioned before that I have awesome friends Tiffanie and Don who, because they are insane, get up early on the Fourth of July, drive into Boston, bring a cooler of drinks, snacks, a sunshade and set up to spend the day on the Esplanade.  They do all this to watch fireworks at 10:30 at night.  The best part of this is that I can show up at 7 or 8 pm with my gaggle of children and watch fireworks from an incredible spot, while sipping an ice cold drink and eating a snack.

My plan went a little awry this year.  Not at first, at first it was awesome.  My husband’s aunt was in town visiting my husband’s cousin and her husband.  They mentioned that they were going to meet up with another couple and see the fireworks.  I told them which two speakers my friends were between and that I’d call them when we got there to meet up.  Well, in a crowd of over 700,000 people THEY FOUND EACH OTHER!  They have NEVER MET and they found each other!  Unbelievable!

We got there later.  My husband dropped us off by Storrow Drive and found a garage to park in while I took the kids and tried to find everyone.  Unfortunately we walked a while before we even got to speaker one.  I should have realized that Will was on edge when he started crying when his dad didn’t get out of the car with us.  I explained that his dad would come after he parked the car and thought everything was fine.  But we walked and walked and there were so many people – too many people for Will.  He doesn’t even like to be in a room with many people.  And Will started to make his displeasure with his surroundings known.  He started yelling and pinching me, really pinching me.  Digging his nails in my arm (I still have the marks) kind of pinches, over and over again.  I starting holding his hands together, saying “calm hands” while trying to balance two bags and keep track of my three other kids.  By the time I got to speaker number three I wanted to go home.  By the time I got to speaker number five I threatened that he could not play with his iPad if he keeps pinching.  After that he tried harder not to pinch but there were so many people and he was freaking out.

We finally found our group and I collapsed in a chair with stinging arms.  This is the point at which I would almost like to kiss Steve Jobbs.  Will sat in his chair and played with his iPad until I took it away from him to force him to watch the fireworks.  It was sooo preferable to the last time we went when we pulled him out of the Charles River four times!  Unfortunately, the dark side of Will’s obsession with the iPad was that it (possibly combined with his understandable aversion to using porta potties) distracted him from going to the bathroom and he pooped in his pants.

Fabulous!  My husband and I walked him to a porta potty and stripped him down.  Can I tell you how disgusting that was?  Pretty disgusting!  I started squirting disinfectant on the wet wipes and wiping him down.  I tell you that when I was 18 I never saw myself stripping down my BAREFOOT child in a porta potty, with a flashlight stuck down in my bra, while my husband held a bag for me to put poopy clothing in.  Honestly, if either of us had had that vision we might not of gotten married.  Now, of course, my only fear is that I’ll get poop on me – the rest . . . not so big a deal.

And after I stopped hyperventilating about what my child touched in the porta potty and if I had used enough disinfectant gel (I’m pretty sure I did) – the fireworks were pretty awesome!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The (Fourth) Grumpy Dwarf

Because I am an idiot, I let Lizzy stay up to watch a concert and movie in the common last night as part of our town’s Fourth of July celebration.  Because I am even a greater idiot glutton for punishment we are driving into Boston to watch the fireworks tonight.  I had her lay down with my husband (our version of Snow White) while he was taking a nap.  I gave Lizzy her pillow pet and blanket and told her she had to rest for a half hour.  When I peeked in, my husband was sound asleep, Lizzy’s head popped up and she asked if she could get up.

And yes, I am the wicked queen but the dwarfs are winning, and it would probably take an apple liberally laced with Benadryl to get Lizzy to take a nap at this point.
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