Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Alone in the Car

I like to listen to music when I'm driving and I like to sing along.  While I was driving home from Curriculum Night at Lizzy's school when Crossfire came on the radio.  I haven't heard the song for a couple months but I remembered the video because it's basic math -- Brandon Flowers + Charlize Theron = awesome.

I do, however, have a couple of comments.  1.  Brandon seems dangerously careless.  My husband suggested that he probably felt it was worth it to get rescued by Charlize.  I'll give him possibly, but if I was in danger and my rescuer looked like that -- I'd stay close.  2. . . . well, er, I guess I don't have any other comments; except that Sawdust is my favorite Killer's album.  Just in case you were wondering.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Husband’s Navigator and I are Having Issues

Some days you should just turn over in bed, pull the covers over your head and stay there.  The problem lies in figuring out if it’s one of those days before you get up and what you will do that will trigger the ensuing collapse of society.

My problem today involved driving.  I fully expected the little woman who lives in my husband’s navigator to climb out, slap me across the face, unplug the navigator from the cigarette lighter and throw herself out the window.

Will and Jake are taking a sailing class in Boston.  My husband’s navigator’s maps are a couple years old, and it’s Boston.  Things have changed.  It’s easier to find places now that The Big Dig is over but come on, if you don’t know where you are – you don’t belong here!

So, the last time I drove them into Boston the woman in the navigator told me to get off the Pike and drive through Boston and go through the Callahan Tunnel.  Which is absurd as the pier is very close to Logan.  I figured it made so much more sense to stay on the Pike.  Today I decided to ignore the woman and then assume she’d forgive me and help me find my way once I was close to the pier.

And my plan would have worked to . . . except, I forgot that I’d lose the satellite in the tunnel and it took so long to get it back and the little woman only knew one way to get there and it was the original way she wanted us to go and the next thing I knew I was headed back towards Boston and there wasn’t a turn off before the Pike entrance and I thought, “Well, there goes another $3.50.”  Then unfortunately we lost the satellite again and ended up driving back through the Callahan Tunnel to get there.  I should have just listened to the little woman in the first place!

I do have a plan to outwit her next week.  I shall sneak out of the house and follow one of the three people who offered instead of listening to the little woman who clearly likes to be obeyed!  Besides I think she cursed me.  Because after the sailing lesson we went back to the car to find that we and another car were blocked in.  Someone had parked right behind us.  A policeman was standing right there looking at the cars.  “Is that your car?”  He asked.  Then he walked off to find out whose it was.

We waited for a few minutes then saw a woman with bare feet, obviously in pain, and a little off slowly and painfully make her way to the car.  She got in, rummaged around for a while then walked back.  I motioned the policeman over.  “Is she alright?”  I asked.

He told me she’d refused medical help and had lost her keys.  I saw them walking around looking for the keys on the grass.  I told Jake to get out of the car and we’d help them look for the keys because I wanted to leave!  I walked around looking at the ground.  Jake chased a few birds then started looking too.  The woman started yelling, “Smitty, Smitty they’re going to tow the truck!”

The policeman asked me if she was yelling to anyone.  I didn’t think so.  She started yelling intermittently.  Then turned the other direction and started yelling to another person.  At that point I went back to car.  Only to discover the car next to me was gone!  “How did it get out?” I asked Amy.  Then a man standing next to the car said he could get me out too.  “Seriously?”  I asked, “How?”  My car was completely blocked in.

He did it.  I basically moved my car parallel to the next parking space by pulling forward and back while turning then backed out diagonally.  He saved me an hour and I told him I would marry him but I was already married.  (Surprisingly, I don’t think he was interested in my offer.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recovery? They're right in front of you!

“Recovery -- what does that even mean?”  I read the question on a post and started to respond but soon realized I was writing the first paragraph of a position paper.  And anything that long didn't belong on someone else's blog without the subtitle Guest Blog by LifeastheMotherof4.  Thus I didn't click publish.  I recognize that the question is rhetorical but something compels me to respond anyway because I’ve read several versions of the same question or statement.

What does someone mean when they talk about their child's recovery from autism?  Clearly they don't mean their child is physically missing and they’ll find them if they merely step outside and holler out a name.  Believe me when I say I try to be aware of where William is physically at all times and I doubt I am unique in my vigilance. Recovery has nothing to do with location.

Autism presents differently in different children.  Some children have symptoms of ASD from birth, others develop normally then regress.  Assuming everyone with ASD follows a similar trajectory or that all children must have shown signs that their parents missed through ignorance or denial is foolish.

Recovery has to do with regression, with the loss of ability.  If a child never had a skill -- therapy and medical intervention is intended to help the child progress and improve their functioning.  If a child regresses -- therapy and medical intervention is also intended to help the child regain that lost skill.
I’ve noticed an attempt to pigeonhole autism into a single experience.  Some professionals and parents believe that a child must have shown signs from birth.  If one believes that each child must always have been autistic, naturally recovery seems absurd as you can never recover something that never existed.  If, however, a child had a skill and then lost it, it is natural to hope for and refer to a recovery or restoration of the skill.

I have watched regression.  It is incredibly distressing to watch a child lose joint attention, sociability and, horrifyingly, even the ability to request a drink.  When I talk about recovery for my son I remember his social engagement at a year and a half.  I remember how he played with his siblings and how he pushed his way into any activity because he wanted to be with them.  Now William has a friend he adores and I'm working to help him recover the same skill level of social interaction he possessed at 17 months.  All of his therapy is designed to help restore and surpass previously acquired skills, as well as to acquire new ones.

“Recovery?  He’s right in front of you?” . . . Is he?  Is he right here?  Well, physically, of course, he is.  Emotionally, socially and academically autism gets between us.  Our relationship lacks subtlety and emotional reciprocity.  I have occasionally related to Shylock crying out “If you prink me do I not bleed?” – although, usually when William is pinching me.  But at other times it feels as if we are more emotionally different than similar.  He has either become so complete within himself or is so unable to reach outside of himself his aloofness sometimes seems impossible to breach.

It might be easier if he’d always been like this – adorable and adored . . . but lacking in social reciprocity, stimmy and turned inward.  But he wasn’t.  I am fully aware of how he changed and what both of us lost.  I can see William separate from autism – and that’s a gift, albeit an occasionally painful one, but a gift none the less.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Stupidity is staying up to 11:30pm when you have to get up at 5:30am.  Does that stop me from doing it?  . . . Obviously not.  It's been several weeks now.  Hopefully at some point I'll smarten up.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"No Dentist!"

I left two notes on bathroom mirrors, so that I’d remember that Will couldn’t eat or drink anything this morning.  A friend had recommended an oral surgeon to me.  One who has a lot of patients with special needs and does general anesthesia in his office.  Saving over a thousand dollars should have felt better!

I talked to Will about going to the dentist and getting his teeth pulled.  “No dentist!”  He insisted.  Then he added a “no school” because he didn’t want to go there either.   

I felt reassured by the other patient in the waiting room – a teenager with special needs.  His mom said that they’d been coming there for years.   I told Will he’d wear a mask and go to sleep.  He practiced his snoring in the waiting room.  I was nervous for him.  He wasn’t thrilled to be there.  But it was over quickly.  I think he pinched everyone in the room when he woke up.  (I trimmed his fingernails when we got home.)  Sadly, I’d forgotten to warn him about his face feeling funny and hurting and he was not calm enough to listen to me after it was over. 

It was very sad.  He sobbed for 15 minutes in the car on the way home.  Then he pinched me.  As I stared at the blood on my arm, I felt slightly less sad for him.  But his day was ruined.  I kept him home because I didn’t think his teachers would appreciate non-stop pinching when presenting Will with a demand.

When we got home he said, “cut.” I thought he asked me for a cup.  I turned to the sink and filled up a glass.  He didn’t.  He picked up scissors and put them by his lips.  Even though I didn’t think he’d cut himself, I was afraid to leave him alone after that.

Will’s mouth minus five teeth had better equal no braces!  Because if it doesn’t -- I need arm guards . . . and possibly a blood transfusion!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I’m so busy, I’m basically going non-stop this week.  (Warning:  complaining will now commence.)  Keep in mind that I now have to get up at 5:30 to drive Bri to seminary (a religious education class) every morning.  She loves it but I can’t wait until she can drive herself.

Monday:  Wake Bri up at 5:30am because she overslept.  Drive her to Ashland wait.  Drive three kids to high school and drop them off.  Return home at 7:30.  Get Will on the bus at 7:50.  Workout, go to grocery story, Lizzy stays home because of a “stomach ache,” Pick up Bri from swimming, take her to piano, take Will to MyGym class, pick up Bri from piano.  After school hours absent from home:  5-7:30. 

Tuesday:  Up at 5:30 back home at 7:30.  Marcy makes me workout, library, get Will of the bus, pick up Jake from school take him to EmPower, get home 2 hours after I left, go back to Jake’s school for Back to School night.  After school hours absent from home: 3:15-8:00 minus a half an hour.

Wednesday:  Leave at 5:40 to drop Bri off.  Drop Jake off at school at 6:30 for river rafting.  I have to wake up Will and take him with me because my husband is in North Carolina.  Teach classes at Y, finish at 12:15.  Skip parent group meeting from 1-2:30 at Will’s school because I need to sit down.  Will’s therapy is from 3:15-5:15.  Pick up Bri from swim practice at 5:15.  Will’s piano lesson.  Pick up Jake at 7:00 from school and drive him and Bri to a roller skating party.  A friend took Lizzy to her 7:00 activity.

Thursday is my light day.  Marcy made me workout with her then I came home and wasted time online.  Will has therapy.  I have to pick up Bri from swimming and I’m looking forward to a back to school night at the high school tonight.  Then if I have time I’ll go walking with Linda.

Marcy told me to downsize but I’m conflicted . . . I mean which kid should I list and should I go with Craig’s List or Freecycle?

I’m definitely keeping Jake because when I got home from dropping off Bri on Monday and Tuesday he had given Will a shower, gotten him dressed, fed him breakfast and packed his lunch!


Will had his first piano lesson yesterday.  He loved it.  He was adorable!  He learned to play the ABC song.  I think he’ll really like this and he’ll be so happy to play songs that he likes on the piano.  He loves music and anything that helps organize his brain can only help him. 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rawlings vs. Meyers

Anyone who reads children’s and young adult fiction and wastes time on the internet googling things like Stephanie Meyers (and sadly, I must admit that I occasionally fall into that category because oh, the amount of things on the internet that I can waste my time reading about boggles the mind) runs into arguments over who is the better writer.  In the Rawling’s camp there are such luminaries as Stephen King while legions of Team Edward girls defend Meyer with emoticons and misspellings.

I think the whole thing is silly.  While there is some overlap, the audience the authors are writing for is different.  I like them both.  Do I think their books have staying power?  I don’t know.  Maybe both of them will be like the Nancy Drew series or oh, oh, oh the Bobbsey Twins.  Their future barren, doomed to be read only by nerds like me who read absolutely anything I could get their hands on.  I enjoy all their books but they both have strengths and weaknesses.

J.K. Rawlings is responsible for many children discovering a love of reading.  She is responsible for children actually reading.  The first “real” book Jake ever read was a Harry Potter.  Nothing less motivating worked.  And a nephew who hated reading learned to read because of that series.  Parents around the world, including me, praise the name of J. K. Rawlings.  But . . . reading her books aloud is painful.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love her books.  I’ve read them all.  She tells a great story, has a vivid imagination and is wildly creative.  But her editor should be put in a corner and never be allowed to edit another book!  I had the brilliant migraine inducing idea of reading the first book out loud to Brianne.  I am a speed reader, my dad is a speed reader, and sadly, Jake is a speed reader.  It’s genetic.  I hate reading out loud because it takes so long I get bored.  So, while I was reading Harry Potter out loud to Bri I had plenty of time to read ahead.  And unfortunately, I also had time to think about what I was reading.  I noticed Rawlings reused words frequently.  Snippily, I’d think in my head “she’s used that word three times in two pages.  She should have used ­­­­­­­­­____ this instead."  (And no, I can't write as well as she can. Yes, she is better than me.  That’s why she has a lot of money and I am considering moving in with Bri when I’m old.)  I don’t love her word play.  I tried to stop reading the book to Bri, but she was enthralled.  When I finally finished I decided to read Bri one of my favorite books from elementary school.  A book so beautifully written that the words made me ache despite the fact I was far too young to fully understand it.  Bri refused to listen past page 3.  I was dismayed; perhaps I should not have pointed out the language to an eight year old.  Well, regardless, Tuck Everlasting remained unread by her for five years.

I read Twilight a couple of years after it came out.  The benefit of doing so was not having to wait to read the next in the series.  Reading it reminded me of adolescence, boys, the anxiety of relationships and dating.  And as I read it I remembered those feelings.  I had forgotten them.  Stephanie Meyers nailed it.  And that’s why girls and women like her and explains why men are baffled.  She has taken an every girl, or at least someone who feels like an every girl and she is pursued and desired.  And while if I had to pick a team it would be Team Jacob, I like that Edward sparkles and has a cool power.  Then Meyers makes sure it works out for everyone in the end.  And I like that!

One doesn’t have to be a better writer than the other.  What criteria do you judge them by anyway?  Both mothers are wildly successful and have encouraged more people to read and buy books.  Find a better reason to compare them than that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Yes, I am a brat

I took Bri to Macy’s today for their One Day Sale.  We couldn’t find anything for her to buy.  (But I bought a floor steamer.  I think I’ll teach Will to use it.)  Bri had a difficult time and scratched herself on shelving but all was not lost as she found her phone that has been missing for TWO MONTHS in her purse.  She had a replacement four year old phone that a family she baby sits for gave her but the battery only lasted an hour or so on it and it didn’t have a keyboard for texting so she pretty much ignored it.  

Bri is very obsessed with Kingdom Hearts (it’s a video game) she watches it on UTube, she bought a Playstation 2 specifically so she could play it, she found the piano music for it and plays it all the time.  And most painfully she likes to talk about it.

She started talking about it at the mall.  She talked about it for 20 minutes.  I won’t listen to Jake talk about any game for 10 minutes and this was agonizing.  She talked about Kingdom Hearts as we walked to the car.  She talked about it while I was driving home.  She was still talking about it as we drove up the hill to our house.  I saw a kiddy pool by the street.  Here when people want to get rid of something they put it by the side of the road and whoever wants it can take it.  You can get some pretty cool stuff that way.  Well, I wanted that pool for bubbles for the Fall Festival at Will’s school.  I stopped the car.  “Go get the pool.”  I told Bri.  She didn’t want to.

She finally agreed.  “. . . Ok, but I won’t get back in the car if you don’t listen to me talk about Kingdom Hearts.”  She grabbed the pool and started running up the hill with the pool on top of her head like a giant hat.  Thinking that I really didn’t want to listen to anything more about Kingdom Hearts anyway and that she was adorable I started keeping pace with her.  Everything was fine until she decided to run and jump on the back of the van.  Panicked that she would get hurt I slammed on the brakes.  Unfortunately, she didn’t expect that and ran into the back of the van.  I thought that was quite amusing and decided to tease her.  I drove forward a little, waited until she got close then drove forward again.  Suffice it to say that she walked the rest of the way up the hill and I felt really bad when I parked and looked down on the passenger side to see her shoes.  Honestly, I am really surprised that I didn’t have to go back for the pool!

I told my husband and he was not happy with me. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


It’s harder to gear up this school year.  Last Tuesday, after all my kids were on a bus I started to freak out; I called Marcy, “I’m antsy.”  I told her.  “I don’t know what wrong.”

“It’s the first time you’ve been alone in months.”  She said.  “You’ll be fine.”

At Will’s back to school night.  I talked to his special ed. teacher about his math curriculum and told her I’d send in a spelling list for him to work on.  Although Will can decode at a higher level, his comprehension and fluency place him at a D reading level.  But since he’s my boy he has splinter skills.  He is a better speller than Jake.  In my inexpert opinion he probably spells at a fourth grade level.  

I scrolled though a few of the close to three thousand notes he’s written to find misspelled words – there aren’t many.  It wasn’t as much work to type them as it sounds since probably a thousand of the notes only consist of the word “thy.”  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe he likes how it sounds.  I could start using it.  No, too much work.

I noticed a few things.  First – contractions he’s got “they’ve” down but doesn’t know them all.  He gets confused with homonyms such as to, too and two; or bee and be; knew and new. His punctuation isn’t perfect.  He loves typing …… And he misspelled: noise, organize, immediately, proudly, extra and energy among other words.

Now if only everyone else thought I was as awesome as I think I am right now

I just saved myself over a thousand dollars.  Sweet!  A friend recommended an oral surgeon who pulls teeth under general anesthesia in his office for $250!  He treats kids with autism all the time.  So, yes I just earned myself an ice cream cone.

And secondly the music class for kids on the spectrum I wanted the Y to run has come to fruition.  It will start the end of this month.

My husband and I took Bri to see Wicked last night at the Boston Opera house.

I signed Jake and Will up for 4 sailing lessons.  And JORDAN signed up too so Will can see him.  I am even sacrificing TWO haircuts (well, really only one) and my poor husband still has to go camp out with scouts even though Jake won’t be there.  That is actually the reason I can’t get my hair cut.  I have to drive the boys into Boston since my husband will be busy sleeping on the ground.

Let’s see, is there anything else?  Ah, yes . . . I get to sleep in the next two nights because 3/4th of my kids are out of school.  I know that no one else cares about that but it makes me happy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

“Put the phone up to your ear.”

A little girl in the neighborhood called Lizzy this morning.  She wanted to play.  Lizzy put her on speaker and took the phone in her room.  My husband, who was in the next room, periodically would call me in and laugh.  “She’s telling her to do her jobs.”  He chortled.

I overheard the girl saying, “Put the phone up to your ear.  Do your jobs!  Do your jobs!”  Lizzy has a list of jobs she’s suppose to do everyday.  But the rub is – she hates me to tell her what to do.  And since she is often happy enough playing by herself or with one of her siblings she isn’t always motivated by a reward of playing with friends in the neighborhood.

This summer we started off with a job list and reward board.  She chose the rewards!  They varied from a Japanese eraser for 6 points to Six Flags for I can’t remember how many, probably for a month’s worth of jobs.  She could earn six points a day.  I think she earned 8 points and decided to stop.  Maybe I should have made it cumulative.  Maybe I’ll try that.

But when kids come over to play with Lizzy not infrequently the first question they ask Lizzy is, “Have you done your practicing?”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Two Kisses

I stopped Will at the sink.  I’d sent him to get a drink of water.  “I want two kisses.”  I told him.  He looked at me and considered my request.  “One, two.”  I said and I leaned in, trapping him between me and the countertop and kissed him.  He laughed.

“Two kisses.”  He responded and kissed me.  “One,” he looked me in the eye and pursed his lips.  He kissed me.  He paused.  “Two.”  He said with pursed lips and a giggle.  And kissed me again.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Blue Cross of California

The teeth in Will’s mouth are crowded.  Many of his baby teeth haven’t fallen out and his teeth are large.  Two orthodontists recommended that he have five teeth pulled.  Naturally there is no possible way to do this while he is conscious as there would be blood spilled – including a not insignificant amount spilled by the oral surgeon.  Thus there is a need for general anesthesia to knock him out.  The last time he needed dental work under anesthesia.  Our health insurance paid for it.  Well now, Blue Cross of California decided not to cover general anesthesia for people with disabilities.  Awesome.  I’m so glad I pay extra money for a PPO, on top of what my husband’s work pays, for our insurance not to cover something deemed medically necessary by two orthodontists and a developmental pediatrician.  Stay Classy Blue Cross.  Stay Classy.  No, no I’ve got this.
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