Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Now We're at "AWSBURGER's" - he dropped the G

Long story and I'm exhausted, but let me start here. We caved on the wallpaper. The walls that you see in this first picture, and the wall on the other side of this door, probably have the smallest wallpaper area. The progress shown here took PC and I TWO days. This stuff was just unbelievable. People had recommended this wallpaper stuff called "Diff". We scored the walls, followed the directions on the Diff and every once in a while we would get a piece to peel up. According to the directions, all that was necessary was spray, wait 15 - 20mins, and peel the paper off. HA! Not OUR wallpaper. So we got some OTHER stuff that was supposed to be better. That only required waiting 2 minutes. I'll tell you why, though...it peeled the paint. After 2 days, a lot of gouges on the wall and enough frustration that had there been a sledgehammer available, these walls would be non existent, we caved and called a professional.

M., our professional, arrived at approximately 10:30 on Friday morning armed with his gear. He tried the Diff, he tried water, he scraped, he pulled, he peeled. Finally, after 14 hours of fighting with the wallpaper from hell, he finished shortly after midnight. He said that this was the worst wallpaper job he'd ever had. Given the hold this paper had on the wall and the ever so slight coat of paint between the wall and the plaster, he figured that the paper had gone up original to the house....which meant it had been hanging since 1922. He surmised that the paste had been some hefty paste and that, when that had run out, the hangers had used some form of super glue to adhese the rest to the wall. The gouges in my wall are UNREAL. We sanded and spackled, sanded and spackled and yet, there are still very visible gouge marks. They are now our "textured" walls; our New York brick, if you will. Even the professional agreed that the wallpaper was evil. Seriously, if I end up in Hell, my punishment for my sins will be to remove this stupid wallpaper for all eternity.

The Stones...well, they were fricking amazing. Except for the moron behind us with the free radio station seats (still WAY the hell up in the nosebleeds)who wouldn't let us stand up and dance, we LOVED it! They opened with "Jumpin' Jack Flash," did "Honky Tonk Women" on the little extended stage that was VERY close to our seats, and ended with "Satisfaction". It was funny to think that these guys are all pushing 70. If I'm THAT skinny and still have that much energy when I'm closing in on 70, I will be SO happy. My favorite thing, though, was to hear "Tumblin' Dice" live. When I was a little girl, I, of course, would think words to songs were different than what they really were...of course, not being able to understand Mick contributed greatly to that. Regardless, the part of the song that goes, "Got to roll me," I always thought was, "Macaroni." To hear them sing "Macaroni" live was so much fun!

I would have gone hoarse, but I spent the whole first half of the concert being pissed off and muttering things under my breath, and a little out loud to the schmuck behind us. He picked the WRONG day to mess with me....since Ex called me earlier in the day and informed me that indeed, he would NOT be taking SmallBoy for the weekend. He told me that since I hadn't done anything about SmallBoy's behavior that he couldn't have him at his house any longer. I told him that SmallBoy's behavior is perfectly fine at home, that we are very well versed in Asperger's and know exactly what needs to be done. I told him that we have charts up in the bathroom and in the shower and have checklists, that we know how to deal with his outbursts and are working on controlling those with different technigues. Then screamed at me, and said, "Haven't you listened to a f*cking word I've said?" He said that SmallBoy lies to him, that it's not just that he doesn't wash his hands, that he's afraid SmallBoy's going to "F*cking Kill [his] son!" He told me that it was MY job to teach SmallBoy how to act around HIS baby. Um, first of all, I don't have a baby and that's not my concern, secondly, SmallBoy wouldn't hurt a flea, and thirdly, if he wants someone to teach SmallBoy how to treat a baby, perhaps HE should do it. He told me that until SmallBoy can behave and not harm "[his] f*cking son," that he was not allowed to come over anymore.

Ex argued with me about school and threatened to take me to arbitration (not mediation, can you tell he hasn't a clue) if I don't yank SmallBoy out of his school and put him in the public school where he thinks he'll get more services (NOT.....according to the school AND the district, he can receive the same services at BOTH schools AND, regardless of what school he attends, he will only be eligible for the services if he is in academic jeaopardy...which he is NOT). He also said that he wants SmallBoy put in an self-contained class because he talked to "some of the kids in the class" (3rd graders, mind you) about how SmallBoy acts in class and they told Ex that SmallBoy crawls under the teacher's desk and that's "not f*cking acceptable behavior". What really boggles me is that Ex was present at the parent-teacher conference in November when the teachers discussed this with us and told us that it is perfectly acceptable, that that's what SmallBoy needs to do for his downtime and to recover when he gets overloaded.

I spoke today with the assistant prinicpal, and have calls in to SmallBoy's teachers and the principal. We discussed the services with the district. She told me that to receive district services, SmallBoy must be in academic jeopardy. He is not. As a matter of fact, he is excelling. His comprehension wasn't spectacular, but not enough to be considered in jeopardy. I also talked to her about the going under the desk thing. She said that a) Ex going to SmallBoy's classmates to find out what he is doing was unacceptable and b) that it is a modification made for SmallBoy and that his classmates are very understanding about the AS and the need for modifications. She said he is perfectly fine in a mainstream classroom, that if placed in a self-contained classroom, it would do more harm than good. She said, as does everyone else who "gets it", that pulling him out of a classroom, let alone a school, where he is stable and comfortable is not in his best interest (and I love her because she actually said "it is not in SmallBoy's best interest").

She offered to carry on this conversation with Ex if necessary and, see, now I really love her, with an advocate on SmallBoy's behalf. It's wonderfull having all of these people on SmallBoy's side. I also need to mention how much I love my children. LargeBoy actually stood up to his father, on the phone, and told him that if SmallBoy wasn't allowed to come that he would not come either. Ex asked him if I put him up to this and LargeBoy said, "No, Dad. It's my decision and what you're doing is wrong." I didn't hear anymore of the conversation, and I didn't ask LargeBoy, because I respect what he did for his brother. It took a lot to stand up to his dad. Girl went, but only because it was her step-sister's birthday this weekend and they were having a party. It's harder for her because her step-sister is for her, a release from the boys - nice to have a sister once in a while. She did tell me, though, that if her father brought up SmallBoy, that she was going to tell him that was off -limits and that she didn't want to discuss it. We didn't really tell SmallBoy the truth, in case Ex changes his mind - besides, it's up to Ex to tell SmallBoy that he doesn't want him there. We did, however, tell SmallBoy that it was a boys weekend with Mom, and a girls weekend at Dad's. He thought that was just fine. Ex asked if he could take the boys out to dinner on Saturday to celebrate step-sister's birthday. At first I was angry about it and didn't want to let the boys go, but really, it was their decision. The boys went, we prepared SmallBoy in advance by having a "manners lunch" and discussed how to sit properly at a restaurant and the two "Ps" of eating out - politeness and patience. When Girl talked to PC about this yesterday, she said SmallBoy was spectacular at dinner. I'm not surprised! My children are amazing.

Oh yes, LargeBoy, being a goof and getting in front of my picture. The trim in our living room is probably going to be a brown that complements the wood floor, with the ceiling a cream. For now, though, it's white and fabulous, and NO MORE WALLPAPER. OH, Girl...basketball....they took 3rd place for the 2nd of her three leagues in a spectacular playoff game on Saturday afternoon. She, as usual, was fantastic.

Do Me a Favor, K?

Hey all. As I mentioned, the hell that was my wallpaper, combined with this sick that won't let go of me, have kept me from reading all of my friends' blogs lately. I know you'll all forgive me, cuz I've got SCADS of reading to do. In the meantime, though, can you do me a favor and pop on over and say hi to Lora & Griffin? Lora's been feeling particularly down lately and I think some friends would do the trick...even a little blog hug would be lovely! Thanks - you are all truly fabulous people!

Monday, January 30, 2006

I'm Still Alive

HI!!!!!!!!! I've missed you all so much! Thanks for the comments on the previous post, you women are truly amazing! I have so much to catch you up on, including the latest bout with Ex (oh yes, it will get ugly), the wallpaper (from HELL -I forgot to upload the photos before work, so that post will be later), and I'm STILL sick...oh, and lest I forget - THE STONES (DAMN, they rocked!)

Until then, here's a little lesson from Bill Gates for all of our children. This was meant for ALL children, but I think a little more emphasis leans towards OURS.

Bill Gates recently gave a speech at a High School about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teachings created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept set them up for failure in the real world.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, butlife HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Could the Unthinkable Actually Happen?

Ah, finally, a coherent thought process, though I must give Marti credit for the inspiration.. THE hottest topic in the nation right now - not Iraq, not the return of the gas pump price gauging, not the economy, but the, apparently, inevitable confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, and the uncertain future of women's reproductive right. The controversy surrounding this confirmation is of epic proportions. I have gone to great lengths to keep blatant political opinions out of my postings, although, I think you have all pretty much figured me out by now. Honestly, I don't think it matters on which side of the abortion debate you sit, you have to be a little bit befuddled at how this particular topic, out of all of the issues, has become the focus of any appointment to the bench - Alito, and those to follow after him. We ask why, but after 33 years of rights, of protests, of violence, the confirmation of one judge could potentially, and most likely will, change history - again.

Indulge me, if you will, while I tell a tale of two friends. They can be any friends, sisters, your best friends, co-workers, schoolmates. Two friends, both unexpectedly pregnant, each faced with one of the toughest decisions of their lives. One friend chooses to have the child, one chooses to end the pregnancy. Pre 1973, the friend opting to terminate found a place that would help her out. Post Roe v Wade, the outcome was the same. Pre R v W, the odds of the woman having proper care and no complications were slim. After R v W, the chances were much improved.

Aside from the obvious difference, and all of the other choices the woman could have made, one word stands out "CHOICE". One, currently - post R v W - chooses to decide if termination is a right or a moral option for HER. Before R v W, women still had a choice. Unfortunately, one of the choices was dangerous, potentially life threatening, and illegal. The clincher though, is that they had the right to make up their own minds, to CHOOSE what to do. Why send our country back into the dark ages of back alley or coat hanger abortions? Women defied the law and risked their lives before legalization. Women will do it again if it is overturned.

Changing the law will not lesson the demonstrations, the letters, the controversy, the violence. No. It will only serve to escalate it. A woman can believe abortion is morally wrong and still exercise her RIGHT TO CHOOSE to carry the child. A woman can believe that abortion is a medical procedure, and nothing more, and still CHOOSE to carry her child. It is up to each woman, individually, to take her own personal opinion to heart and to CHOOSE what she thinks to be the right answer for HER, not for the government.

I was a woman with a choice to make. Unless you know me personally, you don't know what I chose...but I had what women have a legal right to - a CHOICE - a choice to decide what was right for me. I pray that, perhaps as a society, we are getting too over excited and worked up over nothing. I will continue to pray until Roe v Wade is safe.

Tonight Basketball, Tomorrow Night - THE STONES!

Yes, yes. It's finally time...almost...after one more night of basketball (to make 5 nights out of 6...and it's not over yet). The tickets that PC and I bought in July as our agreed anniversary present, since our anniversary was in December. It seems so long ago. The tickets have been sitting in our room taunting us since they arrived. Now, like I countdown to events with SmallBoy, only one more sleep!

Today is my last day at work this week (it's like Friday!!!!) and I've already finished up everything for today and everything that I need to hand off. I'm dead tired cuz PC and I stayed up very late last night working on stuff and learning stuff for the band (can you tell I'm tired by my writing? "stuff?" I sure can.) Tonight, though, even though I'm totally exhausted, I have a feeling I'll be wired by bedtime. Girl begins the playoffs tonight for the second of her three basketball leagues. If they lose tonight, I think they're out. If they win, they go on to play Thursday night. The team they will face tonight is the same team from Pack the Place last Friday. We wiped the floor with them. This is going to be an ugly game, cuz they're gonna be looking to avenge their loss. It is early enough that we'll have time for celebration afterward, before SmallBoy goes to bed, when we get home with ice cream, or time for consolation with the requisite chocolate ice cream if we lose...but we'll win.

We'll be up late, yes, win or lose. Why? Because the only reason I need to get out of bed in the morning, early, is to take LargeBoy to school. Ok, ok, I'll stop in and workout on the way home, since I'll be up anyway. What a great way to start the day. I'll be home when the kids get home and will get to actually spend time with SmallBoy afterschool, before his art class. I'll get to help him with his homework. These are things I normally don't get to do, and it makes me crazy. PC and I will probably go and get dinner, since didn't get out for our anniversary...we had friends over, Girl had friends over, it was fun. I'm sure I've got a post on it in here somewhere. Anyway, it will be nice to have a free day. We'll start process of removing the hideous wallpaper and putting on a new coat of paint. Haven't decided on a color yet, but we've narrowed it down to two completely opposite shades. I'll let you know what we go with when it's done.

Rambling today, sorry, folks! This is the time of year when I don't want basketball to end, because it means it will have ended with a loss, yet I'm conflicted, because I'm SO tired of it and rearranging our schedules around it. Like a mom, though, I want her to win. So we'll cross our fingers that tonight's game comes out in the "W" column, be glad that ther is not a win or die playoff game tomorrow night to conflict with Mick, Keith, and the boys, and prepare for Thursday's game.

Wow, it's only 12:30. Are you guys as bored today as I am? I could just sit here and read all of your blogs, but I'll do that this afternoon when the boss is out of the office. Til then, write something that makes sense and show me up. I wrote like crap today. Ever have those days?

Monday, January 23, 2006


I NEEEEED my West Wing. Just last night, PC and I, the West Wing junkies that we are, finished our 5th season collection (which we ran out and bought as soon as we finished the 4th season cuz we're SO bad). This morning, I open my email to find this article in an email from K about West Wing being cancelled in the 7th season due to the ratings. I'm DYING! Of course, I understand that if the writing's gone sour or the plot is just lame or whatever that yes, it is time to quit while they're ahead. I am in mourning, but for now, I need a fix! I need Season 6. I found that it is available in the UK, and has been since September. Dear blog friends, might any of you happen to have Season 6, and, if not loan it to me, at least tell me what happens to Donna!!! Please, please please...begging.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Pack The Place

Pack the Place: The School's biggest "to-do", spirit night, whatever you'd like to call it. It's all basketball, 5th - 8th grade, all night. It's running through banners (like this one, for girl's team), it's having starting line ups announced, it's pizza, it's raffles, it's shoot for cash, it's everybody-in-the-whole-school-come-out-night, even-if-you-don't-play-or-have-a-child-or-sibling-who-plays-basketball. It's hats, it's beads, popcorn, hot dogs, balloons, streamers, blue hair, blue & white Seuss-like hats. It's the night when they players play their tops, they go all out, even if they're playing a bad, or worse, team. It's LOUD, it's the peak of excitement, it's no where to sit unless you get there for the 5th grade game and stake out a seat for the 7th and 8th grade games. In short, the place is PACKED - standing room only, the balcony is open and it's still packed.

Friday after school, Girl stayed to get prepped for the game. Nope. This didn't involve practice, meditation, pre-game, Phil Jackson like Zen, nothing like that. It began with the ritual of the hair braiding. Usually one of the moms volunteers (or gets suckered into) braiding the teams' collective hair. This year, one of the teachers offered and the girls more than happily accepted her offer. It took poor Mrs. G 2 1/2 hrs to braid the whole teams' hair. Girl just stayed, she had brought her basketball stuff to school, since she had wanted to be there for the 5:00 game anyway. I didn't see how the 5th grade did, but the 6th grade lost, fighting furiously in the final minutes of the game. When Girl last played this team, the game had been very physical with three girls getting injured, between multiple elbows and a head bang on the floor (nope, not the game that girl got hurt, although she got an elbow to the cheek that game). I'm certain that everyone was expecting this game to be physical, also. (Oh, btw, I would be remiss if I failed to tell you that the fire around the jersey in the poster was Girl's idea).

The girls were pumped. As soon as the final buzzer of the 6th grade game sounded, the 7th grade girls bolted to the hallway to get ready for their big entrance when the team was introduced. As the fans lined up along the "entrance route", the team began chanting in the hallway, behind the banner, pumping up not only themselves, but all of the fans within earshot. The room was thick with anticipation. Finally, Mr. G - who ALWAYS announces, also one of LargeBoy's coaches last year, began his long awaited - BIG ENTRANCE. The team burst through the banner, ran through the human corridor and high-5'd all the way, while making their way to the bench to await the announcement of the lineup. They chanted and cheered all the way to the bench. The crowd chanted and cheered. It was so exciting! The girls were pumped. They were determined to win this game. The coach abandoned the "squad" rule and told the girls they would finally be allowed to play as a team (which shows you how HUGE this event is).

The line up was announced and the girls got psyched for tip-off. Honestly, I can't remember if we won the tip off, because all of us collectively exhaled from the anticipation and then drew our collective breath again to await the outcome of the just started contest. (In the picture here, of the braids and the lineup, Girl is 3rd from the right, #33). It was sometimes funny when watching the game and calling out, "Good Shot, Girl," only to look at the number on the jersey and find out that it wasn't her at all, but #51 who also has blonder hair and in 2 french braids. There were some GREAT shots made at this game. Girl had a couple of points (including a long two-pointer swoosh) on the night, some fantastic defense, and didn't foul out. No need. She played her defense well, the game didn't get too physical, although, I do think the other team left a bit of skin on the court - but not too much. The game was great! At halftime, the visiting team only had 1 point off a free throw to our 15 or 17. Ultimately, our girls prevailed and we pummeled the other team. It was a great victory for them. The carried that energy over to the game they played Saturday night (at 9:00, no less) and won that game, too. Tonight they play at 7:30, a make up game, and then the playoffs begin. No, there won't be too much withdrawal, volleyball starts up right after basketball, sometimes they even overlap, and softball tournaments start in April. YIKES!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

To My SmallBoy

Dear SmallBoy,

I thought that perhaps, in all of this craziness with some people not understanding what it means to have an aspie child, or to BE an aspie child, that I should stop and talk to you. I want to tell you how proud I am of you.

You are the one who first felt something was different and struggled to understand what it was. You are the one who was lost at how to express sadness, frustration, and anger so that we could understand what was wrong. You are the one who had to cling to your preschool aid, the one who had to listen to your first grade teacher, Mrs. W - who also didn't "get it" - ask you why you couldn't just behave like a "normal child." You are the one who felt the pain in your ears from the buzzers at LargeBoy & Girl's basketball games, the one who was terribly frightened by the auto-flush toilets at school because they flushed with no warning (and I'll admit, the thought of the toilet flushing when you merely shift your weight is rather frightening).

You, my little love, are one of the strongest and bravest people I know. It took a lot of courage to finally come to me and, through your tears and sniffles, tell me that you were confused and afraid, and that you didn't know why you felt that way. You are the one who sat through 8 hours of testing so that we could officially put a name to what was troubling you, Asperger's Syndrome. You are the one who continues to go and sit through sessions with Dr. M. to talk and learn about new ways of identifying and dealing with your feelings and emotions. You are the one who, with me, PC, LargeBoy and Girl, has been on a mission to learn everything you can about Asperger's. You are the one who, even though it's very hard sometimes, is trying to stick with lists and charts to stay on track. You are the founding member of Team SmallBoy, and are determined to include everyone who touches your life as members of that team. You are the one who asked me if you could start a blog to help other aspies and their families.

You are such an inspiration. You have taught me how to be strong, to stand my ground and to fight for what you, and your brother and sister, deserve. You have taught me so much - like how it is perfectly fine to think and learn and express yourself differently, and that we - you and I - need to get out there and educate people on AS. It is SO important that it is better understood so that those people who don't "get it" may find it easier to "get".

SmallBoy, studies have shown that Aspies tend to be very good at music, computers, engineering or math. I can see you doing any of those things, or anything else that you set your mind to. Ultimately, though, I see you making your life helping people who are affected by Asperger's and other ASDs. You have shown me what brave and strong really mean. You have taught me to stand up for what I believe is right. You = my favorite little SmallBoy in the whole wide world. And I love you more than any little SmallBoy in the whole wide world. And everybody loves you, especially....And you're the most adorable little SmallBoy in the whole wide world, of course. And Team SmallBoy is the best and everything's going to be fine.

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Few Words About Parenting MY Child (all of OURs, actually)

"What we need in our household are cheerleaders. Lots of them. We need back-patters, snack-givers, tickle monsters, hug-snugglers and people who will take the effort via communication books, emails and comments areas to drop very sweet supportive notes.

And we’ve already got all of that and then some."

This comes from Sal's post, (I'm having trouble with the link. If it doesn't work, go to her post #92 at octoberbabies)but it pertains to each and everyone of our children. I'm finding myself looking for REALLY good, deep down to the soul, things to say to Ex when he goes on his rants about SmallBoy. I found this one to be truly impressive (thanks, Sal!). I heard another really good one while watching an episode of The West Wing last night. This came from season five, I believe when the parents of twins, not married, are discussing Dad's involvment (for those of you who watch, this is Toby & Andie). She said to him, something along the lines of:

You are either in or out of your children's lives. You can't just drop in and volunteer to be a part of their lives.

I guess I just don't understand how he could possibly NOT want to "get it". My dear friends K&J sent me this in an email:

A good word J. gave me for your ex, makes me sad that he doesn't want to make any effort to change for the sake of SmallBoy.

nescient : /nessint/ • adjective literary ignorant.
- DERIVATIVES nescience noun.
— ORIGIN from Latin nescire ‘to not know’

Yep. Right on the money. Ignorance. He has no desire to know. In his mind, if HE thinks that nothing "real" is wrong, (which there can't be, because this is HIS child) then SmallBoy must just be a bad kid who doesn't like to behave. GOD he's a moron! And Kyra, in her comment to my "AWGSBURGER's" post said:

i cannot, for the life of me, get why this man doesn't take the time to learn about his OWN SON.

Yes. He is nescient. That is the only logical explanation that I can come up with. He has no desire to learn or be educated. He would prefer to be ignorant on this subject. Yes. The other words I could use to describe him are not suitable for print, so I will just leave you to substitute words of your choice for these:

bad word, Bad Word, BAD WORD!

SmallBoy, and Girl and LargeBoy, will one day understand the deal with him, although I do believe that LargeBoy & Girl are beginning to finally see a glimpse of the big picture. Mom said all along, during the divorce, that I shouldn't worry, that he would ultimately shoot himself in the foot. I think he's already pulled the trigger.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Bit About Chelation

First and foremost: I am not asserting my opinion in this posting. Check out Moi's posting of a small article about the controversy surrounding the child who died as a result of his chelation. Truly, it doesn't matter on what side of this issue you sit. It explains that the result of the autopsy was that the doctor did, in fact, administer the wrong thing. It does not open the floor to discussion of whether or not chelation is the answer. It simply states the findings. Wherever you stand on this issue, pop over and take a look-see.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Ex & Asperger's (Oh, I'm Sorry...AWGSBURGER'S)

Yes, Ex is up to his antics again. It was his weekend with the kids just this past weekend. He picked them up early, for a change, at 4 instead of at 6. Personally, I don't mind when he picks them up at 6 because it gives me a little bit of time with them after work. As always, though, he operated on his own time.

Earlier in the week, maybe Thursday, he had told me that I would need to pick the kids up early on Sunday. As a season ticket holder for the Bears, he had dibs on playoff tickets and, of course, snatched them up. He didn't offer to bring his wife, though, so she was available to be with the kids if I couldn't get them, but, in his world, that wasn't an option. go figure.

On Saturday, Girl had two basketball games, one at 5pm and one at 9pm. His family had a party to attend that afternoon and he had told Girl that she couldn't go to either of her games. When he was the coach, three years for her and two or three for LargeBoy, the only legitimate reason for missing a game or a practice was death - the player's, not a family member. She really wanted to go to the game and, from what she told me, she went head to head with her father. She couldn't understand why, now that he's not the coach, he would change his standards; why, after drilling into her head that sports comes before all else (he went so far once to say that sports came before God), he would contradict himself; why, after watching his brother's kids always missing family parites fo rsports - and applauding him, he would change his position.

Finally, he told her to call me and see if I was going to her 5:00 game and, if so, to find out if I'd be willing to drive her out to the far western suburb to the party following her game. If and only if I was willing to do that, he would consider, maybe letting her go. So she called. I didn't know that he still had to render an opinion on if he'd let her go if I could drive. OF COURSE I said yes; not to spite him, not to say, "See, Mommy loves you," but because it's important to her. She has scholarship potential and she needs every game she can get to work towards those so that she can go to college. If she wants to play, then , damn it all, she's going to play.

After all was said and done, she got to both games. They lost the first, won the second. I picked the kids up from his house at 12:30 on Sunday after they had gotten back from church with Step-mom (I find this new church going thing hysterical since he used to ridicule me about spending more time at church than with him). We had plenty of time to get SmallBoy to the Cub Scout outing from my previous post (go ahead, take a look). Thankfully, we had him for that, because Ex won't do it. I'm fairly certain why, but I'll let you draw your own conclusions. the rest of the day went on fine; ET & Princess stayed for dinner and we all hung out since we all had Monday off.

Have you heard "Come Monday/It'll be all right..." by Jimmy Buffet? Wasn't true this week. I woke up sicker than a dog Monday morning, and the day spiraled from there. The biggest twist in the spiral, however, was when Ex called to tell me that SmallBoy was awful at his house this weekend and that he doesn't

"buy this AWGsBURGER's shit as an excuse anymore."

I asked him how much he knew about ASPERGER's - had he glossed over only the book I loaned him (which hasn't been returned, btw), or had he read hundreds of books and done hours upon hours of research like I had. His reply:

"Well as far as books, the more books you read, the more bullshit they throw at you. It's all a bunch of crap anyway."

I asked him how many other parents he had spoken with who had kids on the spectrum, and, of those parents, how many of them have seen their kids exhibit exclusively NT behavior (I translated into his language, of course). I asked him if he has joined any parent support groups or support boards or read any blogs or gotten to know ANYONE with a child on the spectrum. No answer, except to continue his rant. He said that SmallBoy lies to him and gave me this example:

He walked into a room and told SmallBoy to stop playing with something. SmallBoy threw it down and screamed at him that he wasn't playing with it.

Hmm.....let's see. Option #1: SmallBoy is a 9 year old boy. More often than not, if a 9 y/o gets busted doing something, he's not going to 'fess up to it.
Option #2: Did ex, perhaps stop to think about how AS kids take things literally? Perhaps SmallBoy wasn't playing with whatever he was holding. Perhaps he was looking at it, trying to figure it out. In his eyes, he wasn't playing with it, because playing implies that he was using imagination or using whatever he had as a toy.

He went on to further explain that SmallBoy never washes his hands after wiping his nose or using the bathroom and lies about it. He said he's worried that SmallBoy is going to hurt the baby with the germs and get him fatally ill. I told Ex that I was well versed on the effects of not washing hands. PC was violently ill with the rotavirus on our honeymoon - to the point where I was afraid for his life - he contracted this through the food prepared at our rehearsal dinner for our wedding by someone who did not wash his or her hands after using the bathroom. I informed Ex that handwashing is top priority at our house, not just for SmallBoy, but for everyone. I told him that when that when it comes to SmallBoy, he needs a lits, a checklist, and he needs to check him after each step. I told him to try it more as a game format, make it fun, not a chore.

He, of course, let everything I said go in one ear and out the other. He told me that he's tired of having to spend all of this time "watching" SmallBoy,

"What am I supposed to do? Lock him in a closet? Do you expect me to watch him 24/7?"

Um, HELLLLLOOOOOOOOOO, McFly! Oh, wait, here's the kicker,

"You know, if it wasn't for the baby...."

I let that one roll off, and said to him that SmallBoy needs as much as he can give him. He needs to know that everyone around him loves him and is there to support him, to help him, to teach him. I told him that, yes, indeed, SmallBoy needs extra. He doesn't require round the clock supervision, he's perfectly capable, but there are times when he needs guidance, someone to help him understand something or to explain why something metaphorical is just that, a metaphor, not something concrete. He needs someone to watch over him and make sure that he does follow all of the steps for washing his hands or for taking a shower. He needs love, he needs guidance, he needs everything that any other child needs, just sometimes, in greater proportions.

He ended the conversation, clearly upset that I held my own, knew my stuff, and that I was completely calm (thanks to a lot of deep breathing - I knew Lamaze would come in useful for something), by saying, "Well, I have to think about this."

I'm waiting. I know he's going to pull this crap again. SmallBoy starts his art class up again this afternoon and I have to call and make sure that Ex will pick him up to take him (he's forgotten him before, leaving SmallBoy in tears). Next time he says he can't take SmallBoy for the weekend anymore, I'm calling in the big guns. No more Mrs. Nice Guy. I let him walk all over me in the divorce and total screw up my finances...well, I will NOT let him mess with my children. So there!

Monday, January 16, 2006

Scouting Over the Weekend

I have so much to catch up on today that I don't know where to begin. I feel like crap, though, so it may take me a while to get everything posted. For now, though, I'll start with the fun from the weekend.

The kids were with their father this weekend, but only until noon on Saturday because Ex had tickets for the Bear's game. That turned out to be in our favor, because then SmallBoy was able to go to his Cub Scout outing that afternoon (Ex wouldn't have taken him). Their outing took the to a forest preserve grove where they hiked and learned how to clean up after themselves and others. Mr. G. took them to a site that obviously had been visited by a few parties over the weekend. The boys each had a trash bag and were instructed to pick up the garbage (except for the glass, we grown ups did that). The kids were shocked to find beer cans, food wrappers and even articles of clothing. They simply couldn't understand why people couldn't throw out their garbage. Their incredible intellect also helped them to deduce that the "culprits" of this mess were likely to be teenagers because, "teenagers drink beer sometimes and hide it." Ahhhh, wise beyond their years. Let's hope that they learned how NOT cool that was. Yeah, I know, but I NEVER did that. Stop laughing, I didn't.

Once the boys finished the clean up, Mr. G. told them about how to leave food for the deer and other animals. He had them cut up an apple or a pear, or helped them if they didn't have a knife (using his machete - boys thought that was really cool). Then he showed them how to bury it or smush it into the ground or between the bark on the trees. The boys were just loving this. First, the machete was just "da bomb" in their eyes and, second, they got to leave food on the ground and maybe get to see some deer! COOL! Mr. G. told the boys that we had to finish this clean up/hike, go back to our "base" to build a "litter" (which confused the heck out of the kids until he explained it), and then perhaps, if we were lucky, we could hike back in and maybe see some deer feasting on the snacks we left behind. PC had gone to pick up ET and Princess from the train station when we started the hike, so he missed this fun part, but, as we emerged from the woods into our "base", the three of them were there and SmallBoy came tearing out of the woods when he saw Princess and screamed her name and gave her a big hug! He was so excite to see her, and she, him.

Back at the base, Mr. G. asked the scouts if they knew what a "litter" was. The answers ranged from a bottle of pop (which he corrected as a "liter"), to litter that they had just cleaned up after the "beer drinking teenagers", to poop from the cats, to a bunch of cats or puppies born at the same time. Bright group of boys, huh? Following the barrage, he explained to them that a "litter" is a stretcher and told them that the reason they would need one is if they were hiking and someone in their party got injured and it was too far for them to hobble or that the person was injured too badly to hobble even a little. He had brought with him some limbs, so that they wouldn't be taking from the forest preserve. He showed the boys how to fasten them together with string, duct tape, etc...and whatever material they had on them...sweatshirt, poncho, towel. He demonstrated to them, before assembly, the diffence between a litter and a chariot, pulling it behind rickshaw style.

The troop divided into two groups and, together with the help of the parents, ET & PC, managed to get their litters built. It came time to do a weight test to make sure that each letter would safely carry its precious cargo without causing further damage. We thought we'd start small and work our way up in weight. We started with Princess since she was clearly the tiniest and lightest of us all. Unfortunately my camera decided to be stupid at that juncture, so I do not have one of the cutest pictures...all of these boys carrying Princess around like Cleopatra. Oh God, she LOVED it! After it was determined that it would hold her weight, each scout got a turn until we made it to grown up weight. Thankfully, Mr. D volunteered to be the tester. It held him nice and strong, so we knew it was safe. He thought we should have a mom volunteer also. I said NO WAY. Once our litters were made, tested and used (played with), the boys used them to load up the trash bags and carry them to the garbage cans instead of making several trips. It was nice that they got to see that these things had practical uses...made it a bit easier to comprehend for them, I think.

Mission accomplished, the boys (and girl) lined back up to head off into the woods in search of the deer for whom we had left the snacks behind earlier. The kids were excited so much at the prospect of seeing the deer that they could hardly contain themselves. Mr. G. told them the rules: Single file, QUIETLY, no running, no talking and to watch him for hand signals. Oh good! Rules! Smallboy was in heaven! Thankfully, all of the boys (and girl) thought that these were some pretty important rules and the never made a peep or strayed from the line. ET, being extremely experienced at the outdoors (he has done many many an Outward Bound Program and has taught his knowledge to his daughter), took Princess around a back way so that they could get closer to the deer. It would be tough for a group the size of the boys to get really close, and he wanted her to have an opportunity to see them up close and personal. We took our walk back around to our original spot, where we had "planted" the food. On first inspection, we didn't see any deer. We walked around to another spot to look and there they were. It was incredible. No camera with batteries, although, I don't think I would have taken the picture anyway, the noise would have scared them off. Mr. G. took the boys as close as he could safely get them and they were in awe. I think the funniest part of this was that we could see Princess and ET hiding in the bushes - but only because of her very pink coat. She was hard to miss. THEY saw about 5 or 6 deer from about 10 ft away. VERY cool.

All in all, we had a very productive afternoon. It was really nice to have ET & Princess join us. I have a feeling she's going to want to abandon brownies and join cub scouts! Which reminds me - Girl is selling Girl Scout cookies! If any one would like to buy some, grab my email off of my profile and let me know what you'd like. They ship well and freeze well. I've been bad and haven't gotten an email out to my family yet, so you've got DIBS!!!!

I've got MUCH more to post about, including my lovely EX, once again, having issues with "AWGsBURGERs" ( I finally corrected him this time) and with SmallBoy (he doesn't "buy" that the behaviors are AS related and thinks he's just being a horrible kid)...tune in later, I've got more. PLUS, the parking ticket saga still lingers...THAT's another post all to itself. Tune in next time for the next installment of: Ex, AS, & Parking!

Friday Furball on Monday

Sorry this is late...I promised this last week, but I didn't make it. Here is the Maizeycat hanging out on the rocker on the front porch.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Even MORE Mind Boggling

Remember how I told you it was in the 50's in Chicago yesterday? Well, it's snowing like crazy today and we're expecting an inch of slushy snowball snow. Tomorrow it will be in the mid - upper 30s so it will still melt...but COME ON already! Don't mess with me! Snow or no snow. Cold or mild! Enough already!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

It's The Little Things

He looks so comfy, doesn't he? He's quite happy, in his element, lying on the floor watching SpongeBob SquarePants. He's just too cute (no, I'm not bragging at all!)

We were settling in to the early evening/after school & work routine when we discovered that SmallBoy, as is usual, had left his coat on the sofa after returning home from school. He is getting much better at doing small things like cleaning up things that don't require much effort - or time away from whatever he happens to be doing. He hung up his coat as asked, but then I discovered that the house key was still on the couch, waiting to be swallowed up by the cushions. Knowing that drastic measures had to be taken to save the key, I grabbed it and tossed it to SmallBoy and asked him to put it in his backpack. He did, after prompting him a couple of times.

Girl and SmallBoy walk home from school together. He IS 9, and both Girl and LargeBoy walked home by themselves at that age, only a much shorter distance, as we lived closer to the school. I don't let SmallBoy walk home by himself because of many factors. PC pointed out to me the irony in sending the key with SmallBoy. He is MUCH more responsible with it than Girl. SmallBoy will ALWAYS make sure that he has it, whereas, Girl will assume she does and then, more likely than not, end up locked out or praying that someone left something unlocked. I find it very peculiar, though I'm not surprised, that the Asperger's has made SmallBoy much more attentive to that part of his routine...ah, yes....it's part of the routine. Isn't that interesting?

On occasion, LargeBoy has gotten home before them and been locked out because he never takes a key. He relies on the younger siblings to be home before him, which makes sense because he has much farther to walk then they do. He has not learned from this, however - that perhaps he should take a key ANYWAY! Have you noticed any ASD traits that have truly been an advantage to your child?

Mind Boggling

Just a quick, "HOLY CRAP" moment: It's something like 55 degrees here in the Chicago metro area today!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Learning Something New

Ah yes, my SmallBoy loves to learn, particularly when it involes learning something he likes, something in which he is truly interested, something that is done by someone he admires. School - no, not so much. I mean, he likes it, and he learns well, but he would prefer that things went his way and that he could learn the subjects he prefers as opposed to the ones that aren't favorites.

SmallBoy likes to learn new games, even new routines after a while. He likes to learn new things about stuff he likes. He doesn't like to learn things he's being made to learn if he's not ready. He doesn't like learning a new routine initially. He doesn't like learning a new way of doing things. He doesn't like learning new situations. HE LOVES playing guitar. He loves that he has someone who can teach him. In the picture, the OTHER three guitars belong to PC.

It has been said, by some, more, acutally, by most, that some people on the spectrum develop fantastic math and music skills. SmallBoy is most definitely in that category. He has shown interest in playing an instrument for years. I never thought that he was quite ready for the discipline that goes along with the learning process or that he was ready to understand that he couldn't just pick up the instrument and play like a virtuoso. He watched his brother play the cello (which he later abandoned for the bass guitar - but not without gaining some much need knowledge of stringed instruments), and his sister play the piano and the viola, which she plays in the orchestra at school and, most likely will continue to play in high school (scholarship maybe?). He has been asking to play. We started with piano lessons taught by me. I can't play but to plink out a melody and to learn my line in the music I sing at church. I CAN read a treble cleff and I know where fingers go on the keyboard. Unlike the computer keyboard, I can't make my right and left hands work in sync. He is learning the most basic of the basics from me. I will leave the guitar to PC. SmallBoy ADORES PC.

Together they have sat and PC has taught him two chords. He taught me three, but since I haven't been keeping my nails short, I haven't been practicing and, well, frankly, have forgotten. This is such a wonderful thing for my two guys. SmallBoy's Asperger's is delightfully giving him the discipline to practice and to stay on target. He's well ahead of where I am. It is also giving the guys yet another opportunity to cement the bond that they are forming. Hop over to his blog and read his little blurb about his guitar lessons...again, bragging about PC. I think it's so great that he's got a father figure in his life who "gets it". Who works with him. Who understands his quirks and idiosyncracies and works WiTH them instead of against them. These guys of mine are awesome.

I LOVE Meeting New Friends

Yesterday I introduced you to Jess, a single mother of three struggling with the issues that many of us have faced as parents (if you haven't stopped by yet, please do). Today, I want to share SquareGirl with you. She was brought to my attention through Sal that SquareGirl not only teaches children on the spectrum, but was diagnosed at age 3 with autism. Hmmm....think she's got some insight? Stop in and read her posting about that, but also check out her whole blog. I think you'll like her!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Cuteness and Kittens

Ok, so they're not truly kittens anymore, but check these out:

I just couldn't resist this shot of Charley in the tree....she was just, well, so cute and totally framed. It was a kodak moment waiting for a camera.

This is just, well, self explanatory....Two sleepers....Ironically, neither cat nor husband moved when the camera flashed. I'm dangerous now that I've got this camera working. No one is safe.

Stress Tips and Mom-in-Need

While visiting Cheryl's post, I discovered some fabulous tips that all of us could use to deal with the stress of every day life, and found, through her posting, a mom who is really really pissed off at the world right now. Cheryl's post will give you her background, but I'll give you a brief run down: Jess is a single mom of 3. She's stressed and fed up with the way things are going in her life, with her family, etc...She's got a great group of friends looking out for her, but sometimes a word from someone who's been there can help. Stop in and lend her an "ear". Thanks Guys!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Cars & Basketball UPDATE!!

What an eventful weekend we had. Oh yes, I've got plenty of pics. I'm home today with Girl, I'll explain shortly. Let's start with Friday.

Friday was the weigh in for the Big Pinewood Derby. We dropped Girl off at basketball practice and headed over, car, weights, graphite, and coins in waiting for the pre-race day weigh. We were completely prepared and ready to add or remove weight if necessary. Thankfully, we didn't need to remove any weight. PC had bought some washers and weighed the car with them on it. It came in right at 5oz. It was a beautiful thing. We also passed the 3/4" track clearance. The PackMaster logged in that SmallBoy's car was official and we were ready to roll, no pun intended.

Saturday was a basketball day. Girl and her team were playing in a league with a constantly running clock and 5 minute quarters. She had gotten a ride to the game because PC and I were finishing up a nasty project that he, Girl, and I had started earlier. We did pretty good on time, but were still running a bit late. Thankfully, so was the game before hers. Once underway, the game got moving. The girls got shut out the first quarter 8-0, but in the second, came back to hold the other team to only 6 points, whereas, we scored 12. After half, the game was tied. A LOT of fouls led to the other team getting the bonus, shooting free-throws for every foul as opposed to just shooting fouls. Thankfully, the other team was not very good at free-throws, or the score would have been OUTRAGEOUSLY high - because we fouled them A LOT. Into the fourth quarter, the game got a little hairy and we were behind. The coach, as per the new school policy from too many parents complaining, rotated in the not-as-good players, and the score got run up a bit. He rotated back in the good players, including Girl. At 27seconds left, we were down by 4 and Girl had the ball on her way downcourt. She got tangled in a fight for a ball, got the ball swiped and, as a result, ended up hitting the floor. Unfortunately, the momentum threw her back and she pounded her head on the floor.

My tough little girl who usually will hold it in until after the game was in tears IMMEDIATELY. The coaches pulled her out and iced her head. The sound from her head sounded like a bowling ball being dropped on the lane. It was all I could do to sit there in the stands and not rush to the floor....which would have been breaking one of the primary rules of being a sports parent: Let the coaches handle it. After the game the coaches bought the whole team a snack and we started for home. On the way, however, the pain started hammering inside her head and she was feeling woosy. To be safe, we took her to the ER where they did a CAT scan and ruled out any bleeding or skull fractures. She was, ultimately, diagnosed with a concussion. Poor baby girl. Yesterday she went downtown, full of Tylenol, to go see Wicked with my SIL. She seemed ok when they left, but by the time they returned, Girl had a stiff neck (probably just sore from the fall). As the day progressed, she got worse and worse and ended up throwing up - which is typical for a concussion. She was just absolutely miserable and I felt SO helpless that all I could do was hold her when she was begging me to make the pain go away. She is home today and I'm taking her to the doctor in a half an hour for follow up. She's still got pain in her head and neck, and I'm sure that's normal, but you know how we moms are.

RACE DAY!!! Here are the creators posing before the official weigh in. Leave it to PC to make a face...always does. My guys were SO excited about this race! It made me so happy to see how thrilled they were and how giddy they were about the race. The car, as expected, weighed in at exactly 5 oz. We were in good shape. While we were waiting in line to be weighed, PC noticed that one of the back wheels wasn't rotating at all because it was pushed up against the car so tightly. This, we believe resulted from it being played with that morning and being carried and held by the wheels. PC did what he could to try to remedy the situation, but we turned the car in as it was and hoped for the best. The room was buzzing with boys, parents, hand tools, "car talk" and just general excitement. One would have thought, just walking into the room, that someone had walked in and fed everyone sugar!

The race was about to begin with the youngest of the troops. The boys, all the troops, gathered under the tables to get a perfect view of the track. It really was quite exciting. The track could be compared to a scaled down ski hill...steep and tall, with lots of straightaway at the bottom to slow down. Finally after watching the Tiger Cubs and the Wolf Cubs run their 18 heets (so that each car got at least one run in each track of the three laned track), it was time for the Bear Cub Den. We watched as the Scouts handed their cars to the "placers" who placed each car in its assigned lane. We waited as the Scout leaders took their time, building up anticipation before finally dropping the gate. We cheered as each leader emerged from the pack, and "OH'd" and "WHOA'd" if a car jumped its track into another car or jumped off the track entirely. We felt for the kids whose cars were clearly wrecked after the first run.

Finally it was SmallBoy's turn. Like proud parents we were so excited that we found the best available site from which to view the race and, in our excitement had forgotten about - or at least put from our minds - the fact that his wheels weren't spinning. The gate dropped. The cars FLEW down the hill. Two of the cars kept flying down the straightaway while SmallBoy's stopped dead. We had prepped him for the large possibility of NOT winning - and he was good to go on that. What we hadn't prepped him for was the small possibility of not winning, not because his car finished last, but because his car hadn't finished at all. You can imagine what happened. PC and I watched as the face turned from sheer child like glee to utter disappointment. His car, his pride, his project that he had spend so much bonding time with PC building wasn't even going to get to the finish line and, in fact, had stopped several yards short. He kept his "calm" while getting out of the circle, but once he was out, he let loose and was just bawling his eyes out. While he was trying to get to us on the other side of the room, we were trying to get to him as calmly as we could, knowing what we were facing.

Once he spotted us, he took off for us with no regard for anyone else in the room or anyone who might be in his way. He SLAMMED into a boy, at least two years older and considerably larger than he and crashed to the floor landing on his arm. He let out this scream that would lead everyone to believe that he had just cut off his arm. EVERY head in the room turned. I got him up and, I must confess, I didn't use the best tactics that I could, but was reacting like a parent whose child was freaking out. I told him that it didn't hurt as bad as he was making it out to be and that he needed to apologize to the boy. He got mad and screamed again. Finally, I managed to get him off to the side, near the restrooms and talked to him to get him to chill out and to try to understand why the car didn't finish. Of course, being an Aspie, he was too upset to hear any of what I said. He said that he was fine, and I let him go back to the group. He had missed his second race - probably for the best, but got out in time for the third, where the same thing happened again. He freaked. I finally got him to calm down.

We stuck around for the rest of the races, so that he could watch the others and that we weren't simply removing him from the situation. I knew that if he stayed for a while, he would ultimately calm down and I would finally be able to get through to him. Besides, the Scout masters were borrowing our microphone to do the announcing, so we had to stay til the end. Eventually he was fine, understood what we had talked about and had gone off to play with his friends. It's a good thing we stayed, though, as his car took 3rd place in the design category for his troop. He's showing off his medal and his car here in this picture. He was MUCH happier then, and, in his mind, that reward meant that his day had, indeed, been a success.

Last night, all was right in the world of SmallBoy, but Girl wasn't doing well at all. The decision was made that neither she nor I would be going anywhere today except to take her to the doctor, which, by the way, we are back from and she will live. She's got a stiff neck and the doc has changed her to small doses of Ibuprofen since we're more than 24hrs out of the BHT (blunt head trauma - or as Girl thought the nurse said, "blonde head trauma") . I've got her back home now on the couch watching movies. I think that the prognosis for both Girl and SmallBoy is good. So - did YOU do anything exciting this weekend????????

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cars & Basketball

So the title's a little backwards. Tonight has been a very busy, yet fun and exciting night. Shortly after I got home from work, PC & I dropped Girl off at the gym so that she could watch the 5th and 6th grade basketball games before hers. Then, off to the store to do a quick grocery shop, run home to start dinner, put the groceries away, eat dinner and get back out the door in under an hour to get back to the gym for her game. In this pic, she is the one with the lighter color hair. I kept missing all the good shots because it takes my stupid camera so long to actually take the picture once the button clicks.

Our team played the rival Catholic school from the North Side of Town...othewise known as the Rich Kids. Most of them are REALLY nice, but there's kind of a Cubs/Sox, North Side/South Side rivalry between the schools. It's a lot of fun and we're all familiar with all of the kids on the other team as well, since they've been playing each other forever. Here Girl had just inbounded the ball.

Gee - before the inbound this time. I would love to have gotten some of her action shots. One of the girls on the other team is a friend that she plays with on her traveling softball team. Girl catches and the other girl pitches...so they're very good at reading each other. Girl and N always end up on each other in basketball. I don't know if the coaches set it up that way because they know how well the two of them play or if they just ultimately both end up in the same position. Oh, that reminds me, in grade school, at least in Catholic grade school, they don't NAME the positions, they number them..."You play 1, Girl you're at 3, Little B at 5, etc..." Girl plays them all and plays them all well.

Ok, here's that action shot. She's the blurry one on the far side of the shot...the little blurb of white shirt just to the side of the far away girl in black. When I clicked to take this shot, Girl was behind the close girl in black and MUCH closer to me. I'm pretty certain they were on defense at this point. It was SUCH a tight game all the way through. Girl played hard. This game, though, she didn't foul out. She did get tripped and thrown to the floor a couple times, but that's just cuz they know how good she is.

Standing on the line waiting to shoot her foul shots. There was NO WAY that I was going to shoot during the shots and distract her. I know better. We were down by two and Girl had taken the perfect shot, but the foul kept her ball from dropping. There were only about 10 seconds left on the clock that would start again immediately after the second free throw. First one missed. Damn! Ok, miss the second, go for the rebound and the shot for the tie. Second one missed, but there was a foul and we got the ball back. Girl threw in the ball, but the girl she threw it to got sandwiched and she lost possession. The player on the other team, seeing 3 seconds left, just bounced it. Buzzer, game over. So SAD. BUT they played well and had no problems with the loss except that the coach seemed to having a problem calling time-outs to save his players when they were obviously trapped. Oh well.

Enough about basketball....now for an update on the car: SmallBoy and PC took on the task of painting it today. PC had gone back to the BSA store and found some great metallic-looking race car paint and some killer accessories - a fin, lake pipes, and an "engine". I'll show you pics of that assembled later. But here, stepdad and stepson were continuing their bonding time and working together on their project. They look so intense in these pictures, don't they?

Notice PC's silver paint stained fingers. He sacrificed his skin to hold the car while SmallBoy painted with the spongetip brush. Surprisingly, this process took only a few minutes. I figured it would take them forever, a couple of coats, blah blah blah. Nope got it done before I even knew they had started.

My guys are having so much fun together doing this project and I am SO enjoying it. I can see PC beaming with fatherly pride (which is a hell of a lot more than SmallBoy's dad would do) and as much as I am, enjoying watching the excitement of this project and watching SmallBoy get so ecstatic at the completion of each and every step of this process.

Oh I cannot WAIT to show you all the finished project. See, you're all in trouble now that my camera works again. I'm going to be filling my articles with pictures and you will tire of seeing my endless photos of my family....LOL, but I won't!

PC and SmallBoy

I am kicking myself for buying generic storebrand batteries for my digital camera. My camera is so particular that it will only take a name brand - give it a store brand and it turns on just long enough to say, "OH! Store brand! F - You!" Lacking "real" batteries, left me without my camera last night when I desperately wanted to capture the moment. I suppose I will, therefore, have to create the picture for you.

Once upon a time, in a cozy Midwest kitchen, SmallBoy and PC sat with a block of wood, four wheels, and some nails. "Whatever for," you ask. You see, SmallBoy is a Cub Scout and it is the time of the year when all of the different troops (aka - The Pack) gather for the BIG RACE...The Pinewood Derby. The goal: have the fastest car and win the race....DUH! The beauty of the race is really in the many different car designs, colors, decorations, styles, etc....Truly, however, the amazing part is how all of those cars came about.

The boys are given a kit, such as pictured above. They are then instructed that the have to turn that block of wood into a car that weighs no more than 5 ounces and doesn't exceed any ground clearance or length and width rules. Oh yes, yes yes....the BOYS are expected to do this themselves. As with all projects involving tools, we know who ends up creating the car....yup, the parents - more often than not, dad, stepdad, big brother, etc. The moaning starts early, upon receipt of the box, "Oh come on! You know I'm going to be the one who ends up doing this. It's going to take forever. How do they expect 7-11 year olds to do this themselves?" Well, DUH...hello! The BSA knows full well who this contest is really geared towards - MEN. It's a testosterone battle....downhill car racing for big men who never got to race off the line. It's a battle of my car's cooler than yours, my car can go faster than yours, my car's more aerodynamic than yours. (Note: that is not our car)

Oh, sorry. I got away from the real story here. Back to my guys. There they sat at the kitchen table with their block of wood. The big race is only a few days away, yet there they sat with the block of wood in front of them. Finally, the two realized they should create a design before digging in with the saw. SmallBoy sat down and designed, while PC taught him about aerodynamics and speed. This is where the Asperger's became a true advantage. SmallBoy took the knowledge he was learning from PC and altered his design accordingly, while constantly checking in for approval of every change, modification, and nuance of the paper car. Once the design was set, it was time to plan the actual manufacturing of the car.

As a Christmas gift from GR, SmallBoy had received a set of "tools" to help with the "molding" of the vehicle. PC had gotten ahold of a vice, and the two set to work. The basic outline of the design was drawn on the car - oops, block of wood, and the block of wood, then, was locked into the grips of the vice in order to be cut with the tiniest of saws. This was NOT an easy process, by any means. PC had to change blades on the saw a couple of times, but ultimately, with some elbow grease and sweat, the cuts were made and the block of wood began its transformation. Slowly, the paper design began to take shape on the wood, the guys constantly checking with each other for approval.

As the time for SmallBoy's bed drew near, PC promised him that he would get the sanding done so that the paint could be applied the next night and then it would be ready for the weigh in the following night. The excitement in the kitchen was explosive. I'm not certain if it was real or imagined, but I could swear that I saw drool coming from each of their mouths. The guys discussed paint color to imply speed, and placement of the really cool decals (also from GR), and then SmallBoy headed off to bed, knowing that his car was in good hands.

A man of his word, PC set about the tedious task of sanding the car. In the tool kit was a circular strip of sandpaper and a sanding "tool" on which to place this paper. PC, being the incredibly intelligent man that he is, remembered that there was still some heavy duty sandpaper from the current house project. Once he found it, there was no stopping him. The car was sleek, aerodynamic, and REALLY COOL! One would have thought by watching him, that he was having FUN!

Did that do it for you? How was the picture? I hope it matched the one in my head (KH, I hear you laughing!). This morning, SmallBoy was ecstatic as he HOPPED OUT OF BED to go back to school from break. He was thrilled with what his personal carpenter had created. Tonight the painting begins. I MUST remember to get REAL batteries to further document this. OH, and stop on by this article that SmallBoy wrote last night while PC was using the saw (not for SmallBoy hands to use).

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I've Got The Urge Again....

I'm getting that horrible urge again. The one that I get every now and then, now that my children are grown-ish, well,out of diapers and relatively self-reliant and able to babysit each other. This urge creeps up on me, when I least suspect it, when I'm at my most vulnerable, when I'm feeling like I need something MORE in my life. I look back and think, "Wow, my life seems to be complete, whole, almost perfect. Wait! I said 'almost'. That means something's missing."

This is such a hard urge to fight, yet, at the same time, due to my finances and not being able to take major time off of work and throw myself further into the abyss of debt in which I've already got one leg and another up to the knee, makes no sense to act upon. By the same token, though, making this HUGE sacrifice could, ultimately, futher where we are as a family. It could better our financial status.

Oh SHAME ON YOU!!!!!! That is NOT the urge about which I am writing. WhatEVER gave you THAT idea? No, you big sillies. I want to go back to school. I wanted to teach. I wanted to teach special Ed. Now I'd like to expand on that and take that out a bit farther where I can help MORE kids...I'd LOVE to go back to school and get a degree in psychology (and, ultimately, a doctorate). I'd like to use my experience and the knowledge that I would gain going back to school to help children, adults, families who are dealing with the spectrum, with other disabilities, perhaps, ultimately becoming an advocate for them. At my age, though, I'll be dead - or at least close to retirement age - before I ever finish that up. You see, for me to finish any kind of a degree in a reasonable time frame, I need to go back to school full time. Since I never finished, I barely have my core classes done, let alone a degree (LOLOLOLOL)! Unfortunately, that means I need to not work during the day...that would be a problem.

That's when it really bothers me...that I'm really at a plateau in my life. I CAN go back to school to further our family and our finances AND to be doing what I WANT in my life, but I can't afford to take the time off of work AND take on school loans to go back to school....GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR....so I guess I'm relegated to where I am and to be happy with it. At least , at my job, I'm learning the things I need to help SmallBoy when the Asperger's starts to affect his learning.

Hey, thanks for listening. I needed to get that out. I was looking at colleges yesterday, in my area, trying to figure out how to make all of this work..you know, working 40 hrs/wk, going to school fulltime, and still having time to spend with my family...and that's not even considering all of the OTHER stuff I have to do. I'm so glad to have all of you to listen!!!! Oh, btw, check out the post below and go meet Hal, Linda, Amber, & Beau - new to our blogging family!

New Year, New Family

Wade - huge thanks to introducing me to this wonderful new blog, Art to Cure Autism. You're probably right, they will probably draw fire for the "C" word, but so what. They are doing what they can for their son. What a wonderful family. I'd like you all to stop by and meet Hal, Linda, Amber, and Beau. Beau is 10 yrs old and is on the spectrum. Hal is an artist and is using the funds from his artwork sales to help battle Beau's ever growing medical bills. Wherever YOU stand on autism and cures, be sure to stop by and greet this family. It's always a bit more comforting to know that even if you agree/disagree with the reasons for/cures for autism, that there is someone else, another family, more kindred spirits out there looking for an ear to bend, a shoulder to cry on, support, an opinion, or a laugh. Stop by. Hal, Linda, Amber, Beau: Welcome to the Family!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The OCFs and The Dog

You've seen kid pics, now it's time to bring you up to speed on the pets in the household. This is our younger (yet bigger due to all the fur) OCF - Obnoxiously Cute Furball, Maizey. We call this picture "Cat & Mouse." She is obsessed with the laptop. One of the kids had a screensaver that was set up like a marquee with the words streaming across the screen. Well, Furball, here, being a cat, was desperately trying to catch the words. She would watch them go across the screen and the run to the back of the computer trying to catch them and was totally befuddled when nothing appeared on the back. It was very cute. This is a pic from last summer, she's MUCH bigger and furrier now...but THIS is what she looked like when we got her at 14wks:
She looked like a little rat with a tail and now she's a big ol' ball o' fur! Gotta love her. And she's SUCH an attention hound. I swear she speaks, just in Cat.

Here is my older, sleeker, and much more delicate cat, Charley, looking like she just came out of an afternoon in Foreman's basement (if you watch "That 70's Show", you know what I mean). She got her name due to her distinguishing markings: The part in the center of the black patch on her head and the little "mustache" under her cute pink nose. We only had two choices - if we were naming her for her appearance...we decided that naming her for Charlie Chaplan was much more suitable (and better, by far) than after the other person with the funky hair and the little mustache under his nose. Charley, despite her appearance in this picture, is much more aloof, sober, and more of your typical cat than Maizey. She has come around and gotten a bit more social since Maizey has joined our household...perhaps some of that aloof cat-ness is an Aspie trait?

That leaves the Dog. Yes, Ella. This was back in '03, I think, when she first arrived "home" She is a tad heavier now, but still, well, just a dog. She came to us as a "rescue" effort...not from a proper Rescue, but as we were still getting over doggy grief from '01 when we had to put down our beloved Buck. My sister called me at work and said, "There's a friend of a friend of mine from work who is moving and can't take his dogs with. If he can't find a home, he's going to put them down!" Gee, who's the sucker now? She is truly dumber than a stump, but the kids love her to pieces. The really funny thing about her is that she and her brother (no, someone else took the other dog) were a pair. Ella's brother's name was "Meemee"...guess what her name was? "Youyou". Could explain a LOT.

Well, there you have it - the Mommyguilt family pets.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Starting the New Year by Catching You Up

Hi everyone! Welcome to 2006! So far it's been great...relatively unhungover, kids had a blast and our anniversary was lovely. I had a request for photos from last night, but, alas, I have none. I did, however, manage to find a new download cable for my camera and emptied it out today. Since I have to work tomorrow, I figured I'd load you up with some of my favorites. Not all of these are from 05 - some go all the way back to 03. Here we go!!!!!

We'll start with LAST New Year's Eve. This photo is from our wedding, when PC and I are receiving our "lectures" from our guests. This began with FIL, as a joke, and continued on throught the dinner hour. In this picture, we're getting our "lecture" from Girl.

This photo is from Christmas 2003. It is me and my sisters. I am the oldest, and my youngest is a year and half older than LargeBoy. Talk about freaky. She lives in Kentucky with her mom and was in town last week for the holidays. Thankfully, I didn't mess up our schedules too terribly, so I was able to spend SOME time with her. Middle sis - fabulous Chica that she is, is 6 yrs younger than me. LOVE my sisters!!!!

Ahhhh, the Christmas program. This one was from two years ago when SmallBoy was in 1st grade. It was SO cute! None of them had any front teeth. How nature worked that out is beyond me, but DAMN, it was cute. SmallBoy would be the one in the red with the glowing eyes.

Large and SmallBoys, probably summer '04. Sadly, that hideous wallpaper still adorns my walls. The sofa cover doesn't exist, though. It was wonderful, but totally didn't go with the scary ass wallpaper! It is on my to-do list to take that down. The boys really look identical, despite what you see in the picture....with a 6yr and hair color difference.

This picture is a tradition in my family. Believe it or not, this large group is only a small portion of my family. Every year, we gather to walk along the shore of Lake Michigan for the Alzheimer's Association's Memory Walk. We always stop, no matter where everyone is in the process, and take a picture on the stairs leading up to Buckingham Fountain. This year, I think '03, there was a group of Asian tourists who volunteered to take the photograph for us so that no one had to be excluded.

Another tradition in my family is our annual cookie baking day in December. We gather and bake, decorate, and eat dough (yes, we're SO bad). This picture shows Girl painstakingly decorating Grandma Rosie Cookies....they're roll out cookies, sometimes mistaken for sugar cookies, only better. Girl would be the one in the blue...LOL.

Oh yes, one of the things I was discussing in the last post about feeling old. This would be LargeBoy immediately following the graduation ceremony. Out of grade school, on to high school....GOOD LORD! To think I have to do this again with girl next year!

Now that my camera is cleared out, I can start taking more current photos for you. HOORAY! You know you're all screwed now, right? I've got another really nice picture of Girl that I'd like to add, but she looks SO beautiful, I think for her own good, I'll leave it stashed in the memory of the computer!