Thursday, November 30, 2006

Finally - Girl's Award

I know that I had promised to write yesterday about my fabulous dauther and her fabulous award, but I needed to write about the dog and get that out of my system. Thanks, everyone, for all of your kind words. If you haven't had a chance, go and check out SmallBoy's comments. They're so dear. He definitely understood, and felt sadness, yet compassion.

Compassion for others - that was one of the qualities listed about Girl when she was being presented with her award. Let me pull the quote from the school's website (of course, I wrote the text and she's MORTIFIED by the pic I sent the school - so I'll give you a different one.):

On November 28, Girl was the recipient of the Optimist Award, which is presented by the Optimist Club of [Our Village]. Mr. S represented [Girl's] School and presented her with the award at the Optimist Luncheon.

Girl was recognized for her pleasant outlook, her loyalty to her friends, her team spirit, and her compassion towards others. The Award also commends school and community service. Girl participates in Girl Scouts, is an altar server and currently serves as Student Council Activities Director. Congratulations, Girl!

I'm SO proud! She deserves it. Her character speaks for itself, and if you've ever met her, you'll agree. She's hardworking, she's giving - to the point of overextension, sometimes, she's compassionate, she's generous and selfless. I am SO glad to have her as my daughter. I am so blessed.

Great job, m'ija. Te amo!

Oh, wow! I just realized it's the last day of NaBloPoMo. That went fast. I'll miss my little yoda. Maybe I'll figure out how to get him permanently in my side bar so I don't miss him til next year. Kyra, Laura, did I see you two chatting about NaDecWriMo? Give me dish - especially since it's November 30! Is this something REAL? Do I dare? I've been kinda having fun making sure I write (it's my reason to "get" the computer from the rest of my family!)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I'm really not certain how to post this. We had to put our dog, Ella, who we affectionately call SmElla (cuz she stinks), down today. She was our "replacement dog," if you will. We had put our 11 y/o yellow lab, Buck, down about a year before we got her. My sister worked with someone who knew someone who was moving and going to put down his two labs if he couldn't find a home for them. Well, I had finally gotten past my I'm-Not-Getting-Another-Dog-Because-I've-Got-A-GORGEOUS-Garden stage, and was getting the cravings again (dog, NOT baby). I caved, and Ella became a member of our family; let me rephrase that You-you became a member of our family. We renamed her. Her sister's name was Me-Me (not Mimi). Yeah. Awful.

She was pretty high strung, as is typical of yellow labs. We were told she was 3yrs old. We were just so excited to have a dog again, that we figured she'd outgrow the hyperactivity, like our other yellow lab did. She did pretty ok at staying out of the garden because she didn't like to be outside more than to do what a dog needs to do outside. She much preferred the inside and some would call her an attention whore - to the point of obnoxious. But we loved her.

She was the elephant in the china shop. Labs have a tail that can clear a coffee table just by walking past it at the same time the tail wags....but that would be all the time. Even up til this morning, when she was in so much pain, the tail never stopped. No, it didn't wag as much or with as much enthusiasm, but it wagged. A Lot.

I thought that telling SmallBoy what was happening was hugely important. He's 10yrs old, it's not like I could just make up some BS story, and it's important that he is learning about the tough things in life, and dealing with sadness and acceptance. I was forthright with him. I told him that Ella was sick and in a lot of pain and that we would be taking her in to the vet this week. He asked if she was going to the vet so that she could die. It was with the sweetest innocence. I told him that she was old, and in a lot of pain. That she had to keep chewing at her pain so much, that she would make herself bleed. He knew that, he knew why she had been in a cone since summer. He's seen the bloodied sofa cushions and saw, every night and every time we left the house, that we piled chairs, ottomans, speakers, whatever we could, on top of the sofas to keep her off of them because, even with the cone on, she still managed to get to some part of her rear quarters.

I felt awful when we talked. He asked, "Mommy, is the doctor going to kill her?" And it truly was innocent, not accusatory in any way. I replied with, "Sweetie, the doctor knows that we can't do anything to make her better and that she needs to be relieved from her pain. The doctors will help her to die gently so that she doesn't hurt anymore." Then, knowing how incredibly literal Aspies are, I felt it necessary to add, "That's just the way it is with animals. Not people." He made his peace with it, said his good-byes and was ok. He should be getting home from school right now to a house now ruled by the cats - ok, so they always ruled, but you get my drift. I hope he is able to pull upon that memory and remember that he understood why this was necessary.

PC brought home her chain. I'll let SmallBoy keep it. LargeBoy has Buck's chain. We will all miss her. She was a good dog who loved EVERYONE, and loved to be loved. She was faithful, loyal, and everything a dog should be. Rest in peace, Ella B.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush

Guess what! I know you've missed them. It's time, once again, to rant about Ex. Oh yes, he has returned from the hole in which he's been hiding. I thought that perhaps he was coming around a bit. No, no, I'd never expect a complete turn around, change of heart, thinking how smart I was to leave him because he was a total and complete ass, that would be WAY too much to wish for in one lifetime. I just thought that maybe he had finally backed off and was maybe, kinda sorta considering, just maybe seeing SmallBoy again and was going to leave us alone.

Boy, was I wrong. I give to you an abridged version of my journal post - only because if I rewrite it, I will get so worked up about it that I'll probably explode here in my office. My desk is glass, it wouldn't be a pretty sight. PM, Girlfriend, let's do that chat thing again soon. I'll fire you off an email in a bit. Ok, so here it is:

Journal Entry

On Saturday, Ex called and asked me if I had claimed the kids on my 2005 tax returns. I told him that I would have to check them and get back in touch with him. That was not a satisfactory answer for him and he demanded that I answer him immediately. I told him that was impossible. His response, then, was the beginning of the tirade that has been whirling itself into a storm with hurricane force winds since.

He began by stating that he checked the divorce agreement and that I was only entitled to claim one of the children, SmallBoy, specifically, as a deduction. I told him that since the agreement was modified at the end of the two years following the divorce, as per the agreement, that I was now entitled to all three children. He said he would need to consult “his accountant” further. He said to me that he would not be paying any of the fines or penalties for this, because “his accountant” told him it was my fault.

I remained calm and told him that I would not be doing anything until I found my returns and, that, if it turns out that, indeed, it is my responsibility, I would take care of paying out whatever was necessary. He, then, changed gears and calmly said to me, “Well, no one has to do anything, you don’t have to pay me anything. We just have to write an addendum to the IRS explaining the situation.” Fine. I was satisfied with that. That would mean that whether or not this was my error or his, this was the end of that and all would be settled.

Nope. I heard nothing from him on Sunday, but yesterday, he called and left a message on my cell phone saying that he, again, had consulted his attorney and that I needed to get this taken care of as soon as possible, because this was going to be amounting heavy fines and late fees, which he has no intention of paying. He said that he had checked the divorce agreement and that according to [it] he has the right to claim LargeBoy & Girl, and I get SmallBoy.

I knew exactly to where he was referring. I went and looked back at my documentation and found the exact paragraph where it says, basically, that while I was receiving
unallocated support and maintenance, upon which I was paying taxes since it was unallocated, he was correct in his interpretation I also looked further down the page to where it stated that upon termination of the unallocated support and maintenance, that we would review the allocation of the right to claim which child(ren).

I then referred to the document that we signed, drawn up by HIS attorney, in January of 2005, and entered into court stating that he was no longer paying me unallocated support and maintenance, but a considerably smaller amount in child support –
NOT unallocated. This was when the number of children we claim was changed.

He screamed that he never signed such a document and he disputed its validity and told me that it was all bullshit and I was making up lies. I told him that I was looking at his signature on the agreement that HE worked out with HIS attorney. He left it with “Well, this isn’t the end of that. I never signed that. Was [my terrible attorney for the divorce] in on this crap?” I told him no. This document was written up by HIS attorney, worked up with HIM and that all I did was read it and sign it. He hung up on me.

When the phone rang 3 minutes later, he made no mention of the fact that he had been incorrect about anything. He just hammered into me that, in fact, [the agreement] said that “upon termination of unallocated maintenance and child support payments”…He said to me that he checked with his attorney, who, I might add, is the godmother of the new baby, and that I was wrong. He said that indeed the unallocated maintenance had been terminated, but not the child support. That as long as it said “child support” and not “support”, that I was wrong, he was right.

I tried to calmly explained the error of his ways and that it was for maintenance and child support; it was one LUMP sum that I received. It was not designated, allocated, as one thing or the other. The term encompassed both the maintenance AND the child support. The termination of that meant that he was no longer paying me an unallocated sum of money each week and was now paying strictly child support – that the money I received each week was, in fact, allocated as child support.

He still didn’t get it. He said that was bullshit, that his attorney told him that as long as he is paying child support the tax agreement is in effect, that the paragraph about the effects upon termination of the unallocated maintenance and child support said “child support,”….he kept hammering away on this. He was not getting the picture that when he no longer is required to pay child support that it won’t matter who claims the children, because neither of us will be.

The conversation began to get incredibly ugly at this point. He made some serious threats against me (not physical, but serious) if I did not pay him immediately, because he refused to pay the penalties and fines. He said he was proceeding with actions immediately and calling his accountant. He said that he refused to let me get away with this “kind of bullshit,” because I’m just trying to “squeeze more money than I deserve” out of him.

Ok, readers, exhale here, take a new breathe, and hold....

I reminded him that what he pays for child support is barely enough to cover one child’s expenses, let alone three – and one who needs extra "services". He, of course, defaulted to, “Hey, I pay the minimum that the law says I have to pay and that’s 32%. That’s what YOU get. If you’re so poor and broke, then how come you went to the Rolling Stones concert? How could you afford those tickets? Huh? Where did you get the money for those? Did you use the money I give you for the kids?”

I didn’t justify him by defending anything or arguing. That was back in January. He must have been stewing over that for a LONG time. I could have thrown back that he goes on vacations all the time, sends the kids to concerts, built a deck on his house and re-sided his house. I could have asked where he gets all that money. I could have alerted him to the fact that I am entitled to part of his wife’s salary in addition, but I didn’t. I stayed cool.

Not getting the rise out of me that he wanted, he played the tax fraud card again. He told me I was committing tax fraud AND violating the divorce agreement. I was done. I couldn’t keep biting my tongue. I also had to fight for SmallBoy. The gloves were off, but I was classy about it. I reminded him that at the time of the divorce he made almost three times as much money as I did, and I’m only seeing a tiny bit of it. I reminded him that when we renegotiated the figures, I didn’t fight, though I should have, for more child support. He, of course, said that didn’t matter, that he has to work overtime to get that extra money and I’m not entitled to his overtime anyway. I said that he makes more per hour than I do, quite a bit more, to be exact. I advised him that I was married to him long enough to know that he gets a raise every June and that amounts to a lot more than when we divorced. He said it didn’t matter, that I wasn’t getting any of it.

I also reminded him that HE was violating the divorce agreement by not taking SmallBoy. I didn’t delve any further into all of the emotional damage he is causing his son, the emotional abuse and abandonment. He bullied me, threatened me, attempted to blackmail me into removing the “emotional abuse” grounds out of our divorce agreement. Back to SmallBoy. He said he checked with his “experts,” and he was doing nothing wrong. I didn’t take it anywhere, because that’s an argument for another time. My guess is that he talked to someone who is not familiar with what’s going on, nor with SmallBoy, and said that he felt SmallBoy was a danger to New (almost 18mos old) Baby, and that person, being totally ignorant of the situation, said that he was perfectly within his limits. This is the same man who has made no attempts, nor desires to make any attempts, to become educated about Asperger’s Syndrome and other ASDs. The same man who refuses to come to OT sessions, that our OT saw at the bar down the street after our OT session when she went to go get some food. The same man who doesn’t know his son because he won’t spend any time with him. The same man who told his son that he can’t come back over to his house until he
stops Being a LIAR.

I finished the conversation with, “Ok, write up the information, the fees, where things need to go and give it to me.” I did not say that I was going to pay it. I have every intention of being armed and ready with an attorney. I may pay it forward so that we don’t have to worry about it, but then go back into court and get this taken care of once and for all. I’m done.
Mama Bear has to fight for her cubs, and I’ll be damned if we get stuck because he refuses to take care of the children.

His sole objective is to leave me broke as punishment for divorcing him. He never once considers the children. Just SMALLBOY alone is not covered by what he gives me per week. He refuses to pay for high school fees and costs because, “it’s not in the agreement.” He doesn’t help pay any of the incidentals – field trips, donations to school for out of uniform days, donations to the teachers’ gift funds, anything for the cub scouts (SmallBoy couldn’t go to camp last year because we couldn’t afford it), donations to the Christmas Angels programs in which both Girl & SmallBoy are required to participate for their classrooms, mandatory fund raising programs at the school. He also insists that Girl play sports, softball included, yet refuses to pay any portion of the overwhelming fees because, “it’s not in the agreement, and therefore, I don’t have to.”

I’m getting entirely too worked up at the moment, so I’m going to end this entry. However, I know that this is not over and we will be hearing more from Ex on this subject.

Ok, Dad, unclench your fists. PM, let's chat. Mom, exhale. Meem, FIL - I applaud you both for having raised such a wonderful man as PC. He truly deserves to be called a real dad. I know how much my children love him.

Anyone else have any thoughts or just your basic comment of "What a F#*!%ng A**%&!#"? I am going to have a very productive workout this afternoon and put "Fighter" by Christina Aguilera on terminal repeat:

After all of the stealing and cheating you probably think that I hold resentment for you
But uh uh, oh no, you're wrong
Cause if it wasnt for all that you tried to do, I wouldnt know
Just how capable I am to pull through
So I wanna say thank you
Cause it
Makes me that much stonger
Makes me work a little bit harder
It makes me that much wiser
So thanks for making me a fighter
made me learn a little bit faster
Made my skin a little bit thicker
Makes me that much smarter
So thanks for makin me a fighter

So, now I want you to go to yesterday's post, look at the pics and have a great laugh! Look forward to another post, probably tomorrow, though, about Girl's award. GO GIRL!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hi, Moo!!!

I want to send a HUGE hello out to Moo - I believe Meem said you're in CA? I'm so happy to know I've got another reader out there.

Moo, I'm sure Meem has bragged about her LargeBoy, Girl, & SmallBoy, and I'm sure she's shown you, or emailed you pictures, but I doubt she has any like these:

We did these with this hysterical photo program that came on my mother's new laptop. We had such a scream doing them. I'm only in two or three near the end, but you really can't tell it's me. In one, though, it's a dark black background with a blue scratch effect - you CAN tell my glasses are on! There's another kind of Andy Warhol - ish at the very end that's SmallBoy & me. The rest are the kids with each other, and then the kids & PC. MUCH fun was had with this! Mom, we're stealing your laptop!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I Had an Epiphany

Just when I was at a loss for something to post and actually considering just posting something, ANYTHING just to get today's post done, it was time for SmallBoy to shower. This is the boy who, a year ago, we couldn't keep OUT of the shower. He loves to take baths now, but has been giving us much more resistance to taking a shower. Tonight, we insisted on the shower. He was dirty from lots of playing, dirt, the mud that's been brought about by the weird, yet beautiful weather we've been having inChicago. His hair STUNK. No way was I having him sit in the tub, wash himself, then wash his hair in the water that now contained all the yuck that was on his body. It was a tough one, not ugly, just tough, but ultimately, he agreed to the shower.

We've discovered lately that SmallBoy, when he bathes, be it in the tub or in the shower, never completely washes his hair. In fact, it is rare that he even does more than just rinse the back of it with water. HELLOOOOOOOOO! DUH!!!!!!!!!!!!! If he's not getting ALL of his hair, then what are the odds that he's WASHING his hair completely, or, for that matter, at all.

Armed with this new found knowledge, PC and I discussed a couple of options, none of which we liked, especially since he is 10 years old.
Option 1: Tell him to make sure he washes his hair and do the smell test when he gets out. Pass = carry on, fail = get undressed and go back and do it again.
Option 2: Go in and wash it for him.
Option 3: Stand in the bathroom and watch him do it.

Pros to all three options: Only one - we know his hair got clean. Cons: Let's start at Option 1. Most kids would be pretty pissed off if, after they were out, dried, and dressed, they were told to go back and do it again. Ask an ASD child to go back and do this. The only thing PC and I could see coming out of this option was a mound of stress and frustration for all of us. Option 2: He's 10yrs old and old enough to be mortified by his mother washing his hair for him. Option 3: Same as option 2, but at least this time he'd be doing it himself. We settled on option 3.

I went in and walked him through it. As he was wetting his hair, I noticed that he, again, only got the back of his head and the back of the top of his head wet. I directed him to close his eyes, lean his head back like he was looking at the ceiling, and step back into the water. This took a number of tries before he would do it. He wanted to look down and let the water roll forward (all while standing with his back to the water - I tried having him face forward, but that didn't fly). Once he got his hair wet, I made sure he used a decent amount of shampoo, but not so much that would create a lather that, for him, would take a while to rinse. I observed that his washing pattern was the same as his wetting pattern - back and top of the back. I instructed him, as I had with the wetting of the head, to get the front and the sides. As he lathered, he put his head down and ran his hands forward, thus creating a runoff of soap. It was here that the light bulb clicked on!

SmallBoy did not want to get soap in his eyes. He'd had a bad experience with that once and I can't blame him for getting upset and trying to avoid that situation again. I carefully walked him through a good rinse and then, when I was satisfied, I left him to his privacy.

I shared my epiphany with PC who immediately chimed in, "Well, let's get him some swim goggles! Yes, I married a genius. Now, the question remains - where can I find swim goggles in the winter? Before I ran out and started the impossible, I wanted to share that shining moment of clarity with each of you. Tomorrow, I should have some pics to share.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Another Day

I hope each of you is still enjoying this long weekend. It feels much more like Sunday than Saturday, but I certainly will not argue with the calendar. I quite enjoy the fact that there is still one more day to do all of the things that I still have yet to accomplish (everything). I have scads and scads of laundry to do, leftovers to retrieve, dishes to do...and the list goes on. I did not work out this morning like I'd promised myself I would, but Girl, PC, & I did take a nice brisk walk this morning; granted, it was to the local coffee shop and a quick stroll around our arts district, but a walk nonetheless.

As much as we try to sleep in on the weekends, that plan is usually thwarted by one thing or another. Today, nothing was standing in the way of spending some quality time snuggled up with my favorite pillow and my favorite man. I could sleep til 2 if I wanted. Well, apparently my internal clock had other plans. I was up. Early. Not insanely early, mind you, and still considerably later than I have to wake up tomorrow or the rest of the week, but too early for my last day to sleep in. Once we got moving and went for our walk, though, we were motivated for the rest of the day.

It's only a little after noon now and we've accomplished our major goal for today. Retrieving the Christmas decorations, starting to decorate inside, and assembling the tree and testing the lights. Unfortunately, with the tree, comes the elevated stress levels as we try to figure out branch goes where, and which boy end plugs into what girl end of the lights, and why a strand in the middle of the tree doesn't work, and WHERE THE HELL are we going to put the furniture that lives where the tree goes (it's not like we've got a big house). See the corner to the right of the window? That's where the tree lives. It means taking out the end table and lamp, sliding the loveseat down all the way to the wine cabinet, thus displacing PC's guitars. It means pushing the sofa all the way to the door so that when it opens the person sitting on it gets hit with the door. We'd put it on the opposite side of the room, but we have a baby grand piano and moving it is just not an option. SO, the tree lives in the same corner every year.

SmallBoy stayed at GR's last night and had a sleepover (he called her and asked, too! He LOVES SmallBoy & GR nights). Knowing the amount that the stress level gets raised on tree assembling day, we realized that putting it together today would be the best thing to do. With SmallBoy not here, he wouldn't be absorbing any of that tension. MARVELOUS thinking! Tomorrow, with SmallBoy, we will decorate (around softball practice, though). He only stays interested in the decorating for a little while, but there's no way that I will decorate the tree without my bug.

Girl, aka She-Who-Is-All-About-Christmas, began singing Christmas music in July -when we went through that God awful heat wave that melted my candles (or was that August). She was having a difficult time getting into the spirit today - ok, not a difficult time getting into the spirit, but having difficulty thinking that it's really time to be decorating, since it's, again, in the mid - 50's today. Next week, though, TOTALLY different story. ICE BOX! The guys are supposed to go on a camp out with the scouts next weekend, too...indoors, of course, but heated only by a wooden stove. Yeah, that should be a real adventure for my little Aspie who perseverates on how cold he is...once he finally gets cold,that is.

We've got basketball in a few hours, followed by dinner at my mother's, so I should probably get a move on and, well, you know, shower. Happy Leftovers to you all!

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Day After

Did you get up and shop at the crack of dawn? I sure didn't. We stayed at Meem & FIL's last night until very late and got home around midnight. Was way too tired this morning to get up and go deal with throngs of people on a mission to get the new playstation or whatever the new game is, and really didn't feel like fighting my way through the parents trying to get the last new Elmo. I slept. I slept off my dinner. We PIGGED last night and it was so fabulous. Here are just a few pics of what we had, mostly prepared by ET (check out his catering site):

After dinner we played charades while we let our food digest in preparation for the dessert/birthday pie. We split up the family and had a blast. Girl played with Meem, MH and GA, and I think Snat came in and eventually joined them. Our team was PC, ET, Princess, SmallBoy, me, and eventually FIL popped in to help SmallBoy out with a clue.

(MH asking "Why are you playing? The dishes aren't done yet?" - they were, we knocked 'em out right after dinner)

We really had a blast. After charades, we had birthday/pumpkin pie and played Apples to Apples ( I HIGHLY recommend that game. It's hysterical and they even make a Jr. version).

This morning, no, I didn't go shopping. Girl had to be at basketball practice at noon, so I stayed in bed til 11:something-or-other, straightened my hair enough to pull back into something resembling a ponytail, dropped her off at the gym, and then went and worked my ass off at Curves.

We were going to put up the Christmas decorations today, at least the outside ones since it's almost 60degrees today (TOTALLY RARE), but opted not to. Girl is over at Snood's, LargeBoy is out with friends, and SmallBoy is going to GR's for a sleepover tonight. PC and I will, kinda sorta have some alone time. So, I got part of one of my birthday wishes - SOME time alone with my husband AND we didn't hear the smoking lecture at ALL last night.

Hope you all have enjoy the rest of your long weekend!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

It's Official. I'm Another Year Older

Oh, yeah, and Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all have a wonderful wonderful day! This morning, before going with ex, the kids made me breakfast in bed - scrambled eggs on buttered toast, covered in a slice of cheese (nice and yummy in my tummy), coffee, and tension tamer tea. Delish! The kids gave me the Carrie Underwood CD, and Chocolat. From my dearest PC, the 7th season, and final, season, of West Wing.

The kids are gone now. If you missed a post in between, ex so graciously decided that he could drop them off at Meem's house. So now, PC and I are hanging out. We just finished watch the Macy's Parade (I hate typing the "M" word, it's blasphemy in Chicago), and we're now settling down to watch the dog show and prepare for our day. We'll head over to Meem's around 3:00 or 3:30 to lend a hand and give ET a hand in the kitchen (marvelous chef, btw - check out his catering business). I still have last night's make up on, I'm half in my pj's and have dressed for the day, unshowered, and still kinda sleepy and lazy. It feels GREAT. But I'm older now, right, so since it's my bday, I'm allowed.

Thought I'd share with you a mini clip from Girl's game last night. They won, of course:

Note at the end: She's not the girl that fell...Girl is still standing under the basket. Like her skills ( I refuse to write it with one "l" and a "z")?

Today I am thankful for so many things: my family, my friends like you, all of those who are finding ways to help support and educate about ASD, the fact that it's a sunny day with a forecast of mid to upper 50's. I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Thanksgiving day!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I'm Stumped

Last night while I was posting for yesterday, I had tons and tons of ideas for todays post. Now, I'm at a loss. I think I was so intent on staying on track for the big gigantic post that I wasn't about to stop and write down my ideas, lest I change tangents mid-post. So, in the meantime, while I'm wracking my brain for ideas and reading YOUR posts, go back and read my two posts from yesterday and then look at the slide show post from our weekend.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Anyone Need a Caterer?

If you're anywhere even close to Chicago and you are looking for someone to just do the damn cooking for you for something special - party, party, gathering, party, etc...I STRONGLY urge you to check out Paper Street Catering. This is ET's Catering business. Is he a good cook? Well, HELLOOOOOOO - why do you think I gained 10lbs and have to go work out again?

Stranger Things Have Happened

- Dentist
- Ex
- Workout
- Hair Tip
- Birthday list
See, I've got so much I want to talk about today that I had to post myself a mini-outline to keep myself on track. I wonder if it will work. Can't wait to re-read when I get to the end and see - it's kind of like playing telephone. Ok - here goes:

Dentist: If you read yesterday's rant about Ex, your up to speed on this whole scheduling crap. If not, here's the scoop: Got a call at about 9:15 Sunday night from Ex telling me that "he forgot" that he had scheduled a dentist appt for the kids for Monday at 4, throwing everything up in the air, schedules, prepping SmallBoy - you know the IMPORTANT things.

SmallBoy, of course, found this info out after he had already gone to bed, had trouble sleeping, stressed about it all day at school, having stomach aches and "itchies". MoronMan - yep.

Anyway, I got home and then the kids arrived sporting nice clean bright teeth and brand new toothbrushes. SmallBoy was THRILLED - NO CAVITIES. That, in and of itself is amazing since toothbrushing is a battle, let alone PROPER toothbrushing. Instead of doing the tray flouride or the rinse & spit flouride that makes all three of my kids either gag or hurl, he did a new paint-on flouride. That seemed to over MUCH better. SmallBoy's engine was at a pretty regular level and he was in a fabulous mood. By bedtime, he was ready to roll, climbed in, told me that he was glad that the dentist day was over, and went to sleep.

I wonder if all of the oral sensory stimulation he got at the dentist was actually a good thing. I was worried that it would be too much, but when I sat back and thought about it last night, it seemed that just the opposite had occured. All of that sensory input in an area where he least gets it and most needs it....amazing. Perhaps we should make a daily appt with the dentist - ok, weekly, it's just down the street from J the Fabulous OT. Ok, maybe I'm going a little overboard, but WOW.

Ex: The wonderful report from the dentist was just the first surprise of the evening. After the children all came bounding in with their smiles and toothbrushes, Girl told me that Ex needed directions to Meem's house so that he could drop off the kids on Thursday. (STOP. PAUSE. PICK JAW UP FROM FLOOR.) I really don't know what made him decide to do this, especially after his attitude on Sunday night, but I'm not going to question it. The only reason that makes sense to me is that he's looking at this as an "I won" moment. Hence, he still gets the kids, even on my birthday, because they'd rather be with HIS family. Yeah, see how TOTALLY mature that is? Either way, I will also be giving thanks on Thursday that SmallBoy is having a blast with his cousins and not bored sitting at home until we get ready to go to Meem's.

What his pea brain doesn't realize is that I'm not doing this for him. I'm doing it for the kids. Having THEM be happy is a wonderful birthday present!

Workout: I have recently started to workout again on a regular basis...ok, so not regular yet, as I've only been back for 3 workouts, but you know what I mean. I worked out Thursday and Friday, skipped Saturday morning, but, if you think about it, got a very INTENSE cardio workout at the gig Saturday night, worked out again yesterday and am going again tonight. I'm excited, got my iPod loaded with some good tunes and I'm ready to get my tone back, dammit!

Funny story, though. The way that Curves is set up is a circular, well, circuit. It alternates, machine, cardio station, machine, cardio station, spend 30seconds in each station, go around the circuit twice and in 30minutes you've completed a rigorous workout. Last night, I was all pumped up, got there a bit early, before the after work crowd, and jumped into the circle. Cardio first, then leg presses, then cardi-oooooooohhhhhhHHHHHH.

One of the things that I like to do on the cardio station, which is just a raised cushioned board, is the Flashdance thing - you know, how she worked out in her bare feet up and down up and down on her feet faster and faster, and "Maniac" was playing. Come on, you know. So, anyway, I do that and it really REALLy works my butt and my calves and thighs. Yesterday, I stared to get moving with this and my ass just SCREAMED at me, "OH YOU BITCH!" It hurt. LORD did it hurt. So, I turned up my iPod and did it harder. The words that were running through my head started with the letters "m-f", "S", "G-D!" Of COURSE I kept going. I knew that I was working the right muscles. No Pain, no gain. By the end of the workout all was well, and my buttocks had forgiven me. Hopefully they will foregive me enough to allow some room in the back of my gig jeans.

Hair Tip: I've got nothing on Marti's tips, but I'd like to add one. Not often do I let you guys see pics of me with my hair in it's natural state - curly. I DESPISE my curls. I love OTHER PEOPLE's curls, but I hate mine. Why? Because they have a mind of their own and refuse to work with me, whatsoever. They are evil and they must be stopped. And so, I fry them and straighten them out, which then leads to my hair punishing me by drying and breaking. Bad deal, huh?

Our bass player in our band is dating this woman with THE MOST beautiful curls I've seen (next to Marti's of course). At our gig Saturday, she looked fabulous, and so, I was compelled to ask her her secret. It's definitely not one I'd ever heard before. After washing, rinsing, conditioning, and repeating, oh yes, and getting out, turn your head upside down and dry, not with your terry cloth towels, but with - are you ready for this? - PAPER towels. You will use a lot of them, but it's SO worth the cost of buying extra rolls for the bathroom.

The reasoning behind paper vs terry cloth is that the terry cloth pulls out the curls. Obviously I never knew this or I would have started pulling out my curls as soon as I could hold the towel. The paper towels, remove the wetness, not the curl. Starting underneath - well, that makes perfect sense, because what part of your hair gets the wettest and is least exposed to the air to dry. Yep, underneath.

I tried this little tip last night. It worked. I let my hair airdry, as anyone with curls will tell you to do (unless you don't have time, in which case you use a diffuser and a cool-ish setting on the blowdryer). And get this....I had GOOD curls. When I woke up this morning, I STILL had good curls. I only had to do some minor wet & scrunch to revive the areas that I had slept on and was ready to go. The front of my hair is another story completely. My hair is so short there when it curls up, that I can't do anything with it, yet it's long enough that if I don't do SOMETHING, it does the Napoleon Dynamite thing and just goes off to one side in a poof. As a result, I had to straighten just the base of the front section so that I could retrieve enough length to pull it back off of my forehead (and I'm way too old to be doing that with my hair). Regardless, it was a complete success. I recommend this to anyone curly hair - and a bit of non - sticky, non - heavy curl juice for some extra bounce.

Birthday List: Pumpkin, wait, it's Thanksgiving, I'll get that anyway. A new house or someone to fix my house (all of it, not just a little bit). I'd also like someone just to come in and do all the stuff I don't have time to do - like cleaning up the dog hair, dusting, giving the bathrooms a heavy duty cleaning every once in a while - you know, all the stuff I don't have time to do because I'm so busy trying to do the necessary things that I don't have time to do. Which leads to the next thing I'd like for my birthday - MORE TIME. The Winning Lotto Ticket. My sisters. Someone to sing the 7:30 and the 9:00am masses on Sunday. TIME. ALONE. OUT. OR IN. WITH MY HUSBAND. My children. A noticeable absence of "The Smoking Lecture" at Thanksgiving (which is intended to make those who smoke quit and those who don't smoke fear the evils associated with smoking, except that it's a lecture we all have memorized). A new camera to replace the one that's still lost somewhere in Michigan. TIME WITH MY KIDS. A weekend free of having to be in 20 places all at the same time (and no, Thursday and Friday don't count). A nap. To sit on the couch Thursday morning with PC and watch the parade and the dog show - oh, no, wait - we WILL be doing that, but it's on my list every year. Yeaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Those are the things at the top of my birthday list.

THIS JUST IN: Girl has been awarded the Optimists award by the Village of High Priced Everything in Which We Reside. She will receive this award, officially, next week at a luncheon at one of our historic "clubs". She was nominated by her peers, then, as a finalist had to write an essay (on what, I don't know; I just found out about the contest this afternoon when she called to tell me she had won!). Hers was chosen from the three finalists from her school. I find that pretty fabulous; this wittew goowah who has watched me go through hell and back, to the bottom of the poor box and back, and still is ever the optimist!

So, did I do it? Did I stay on track?

Read Post Below - This wouldn't add in the first time

Don't worry, I've got more coming today.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Oh! It's Monday. Oh. Hooray.

I'm so tired that I could just curl up here in my ridiculously uncomfortable desk chair and sleep til tomorrow. I've got pics and rants and raves for you , though, so I'd be disappointing you (and myself) if I failed to get them posted because I chose to be so completely self-centered and listen to my body and succumb to the exhaustion. I'm not sure where to start - the rant or the rave. Oh, it's been a while since I ranted about Ex, so I'll start there.

I may have posted just a tad on this earlier because it's been on my brain, but I'm not certain, so I'll start at the beginning. Since the divorce, the kids have gone with their father on Thanksgiving because, well, they have more fun playing with their cousins than hanging out with grown ups doing the family thing with my side - no offense to MY family, the cousins just didn't really hang out and do anything fun...just eat and do dishes. Now, we go to PC's family for Thanksgiving and have a blast, and the requistite smoking lecture for PC & ET, but still, we have a riot. The kids usually leave the house somewhere between 10 & 11 while PC and I catch the end of the parade on TV and then sit on the couch doing nothing except watching the dog show and drinking coffee.

This year is a little different. This year, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving. I "get" the kids for my birthday and, when it falls on Thanksgiving, I "get" them for the whole day. Well, after going around in circles with Girl and being terribly selfish, wanting to have my children ALL day on my birthday, I consented and told the kids that they could go with their father, especially since we don't usually go to Meem's house til later in the afternoon.

In the past, Ex would meet us at a McDonald's on his way back home, which was about 10mins from Meem's house. I said that this year, since I'm already letting him have the kids ON my birthday - and I'm doing that for the kids, NOT for him - that instead of meeting at the McDonald's I'd like him to drop the kids off at Meem's house, which is just 10minutes out of his way - not even out of his way. He said, "Well, I'll have to call you back on that one."

Um, hello! MORON! I have driven 45 minutes to drop the kids off at one of his sisters' houses, and an hour to drop them off at another of his sisters' houses and 45 minutes to drop them at his parents' house. It's not like he has to walk them to the door or anything - just pull up, open the door, make sure they get in the house safely, and leave. Is there a reason that this should be so complicated? That this should require "thought" and a consultation with New Wife? Truly, the reason is - well, because he would be doing something that would make MY life a little easier. OH, and did I mention that when we meet at this McDonald's every year, he is ALWAYS 30mins to an hour late? We've left our family parties to go pick up the kids and been gone, sometimes for an hour and a half.

Here, you're getting a two-fer. His other call last night was to say, "Oh, I forgot, I have dentist appts for the kids tomorrow at 4:00." Again, I say, MORON!!!!!! First of all, Girl has something she MUST attend to after school until 5. Secondly, hello!!!!!!!! - SmallBoy - you can't just DROP a dentist appointment on a child who needs to be prepared in advance, particularly for something as sensory oriented as a trip to the dentist! Not to mention that he can't just tell me less than 24 hrs that something's on the schedule for the kids and that he just "forgot" to tell me for the last 6months! So, not only did SmallBoy have to have a crash prep session for the dentist, we had to change his after school plan. gets better - SmallBoy was ALREADY IN BED at this point. ARRRRRGGGGGHHHHH

Ok, done with that rant. I stewed enough last night about it. YesterDAY, on the other hand, was a blast! Check out the post below for some pics from the gig, and some pics of SmallBoy baking. You'll also read that I did manage to have a voice for church after singing at maximum everything at the gig the night before. After we got back from church, I posted, went to wake PC and, as I had expected, fell asleep for an hour. Not too bad, but still in desperate need of more. SmallBoy's Scout pack had an outing to a minor league or semi-pro (whatever) hockey game. This would be his very first experience with hockey and stadiums and HUGE crowds and the volume generated inside of a stadium. PC and I were prepared for anything and everything.

On the way, we stopped for hot dogs at Gene & Judes (THE best hot dogs on the planet, and, yet, they don't have a site for me to link to). Stand in line, order, snarf. As is the style of a true Chicago hot dog, there is no ketchup to be found on the premisis - which means not only no ketchup on the dog (one would be shot on sight for that), but, sadly it means no ketchup on the fries...Ah, but the beauty of the fries is that they're homemade home fries. My arteries clogged watching them being prepared, but I quickly recovered when I put the first one in my mouth. The dogs are nice and crisp viennas with the skin on them. Oh,'s the best part - the dogs come with the fries AND, the fries are put ON TOP of the dogs. YUM. Ok, I'm drooling again, and all I get for lunch is a salad, so I should probably stop talking about this place!

Onward to HOCKEY!!!!!! Since we ordered tickets as a group, the scouts all received a coupon for a free hat and a free puck, and, a free hot dog & drink (just what he needed - another hot dog). We walked in the gate and turned to the left. Heh heh he...turns out our section was the first section had we gone right. I was so expecting my Not-So-SmallBoy to freak out that we had gone the wrong way, or that we were lost, but he didn't! We had been told to expect fireworks in the opening ceremonies too. Fireworks. Inside a stadium. Child on the spectrum who hates loud noises and has never ever been inside of a stadium. Guess what! He LOVED it!

The game was pretty good, for SmallBoy's first time. There were a couple of fights (and hockey would be so insanely boring without them), some awesome goals, a guy got popped in the mouth with a high stick, the game was tied at the end of regulation, so they went to OT (I have to write that out as "over time" because WE all think Occupational Therapy...LOL), and then finally ended in a shoot out - We won! SmallBoy socialized, he walked around with friends independent of us, he cheered, he yelled, he wasn't bothered by the loud noises. For a few hours, no one would have known. No one.

I forgot to tell you about scouts! PC took SmallBoy to scouts on Saturday where they refreshed on knot tying and then had to recite the Weblos Scout Oath, Law, Boy Scout Motto, and Slogan. SmallBoy studied his booty off and passed with flying colors!

Here's a bit of what we did this weekend. I couldn't get the slide show to work in this post, and I REALLY REALLY want you to see the pics, so click over to my myspace blog where I have this re-posted with pics. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cookies and Code West

The only reason that I'm awake and posting right now, after a very late night playing with the band, is that I had to get up and sing at 9:00 mass this morning. Take the "outside voice" that I use for the band, use it to it's fullest potential inside of a smokey bar, while consuming only water, and the product the next morning is pretty scary. Of course drinking the water made it recover much more quickly. I think after the opening hymn I was ok, the psalm was a little shaky, but after that...BAM! I was ok.

Girl's class had a bake sale after all of the masses today to raise funds for all of the fun stuff they do this year. Each family was required to bake 5 items, or 5 plates of items, for the sale. We made my grandmother's chocolate chips, toffee bars, and lemon bars. We had plenty! We spent our Friday night of nothing to run to in the kitchen. LargeBoy was out, so PC ordered a pizza. He and Girl went to the grocery store to get our baking supplies, SmallBoy and I did some quick OT, and then we hit the mixers. Would my post be complete without pics? No way! So here are a few for your enjoyment:

What I really enjoy about THIS pic is the cookie dropper he's using. In theory, his motor skills should make this incredible difficult, yet he did it with ease, while I struggled doing it the way my mom always does with a spoon & knife. Here's a pic of Girl. She was bummed that I didn't take any pics of her baking, since this was for HER bake sale, so I took one of her licking the spoon.

...and one of her getting groomed by our OTHER OCF, Charley - she does this when you have wet hair or when she's feeling particularly lovey - which isn't very often because she's more of your typical aloof cat.

Sometimes she'll even hold your head while she chews your hair. It's quite hysterical.

Our band played last night at a bar that gives us a mixed feeling. We played our very first gigs there for minimal pay and were absolutely elated about it. Since then our relationship with this bar has changed tremendously, but they called and asked us to play, so we did. When we first started there, we weren't very good at all, but we worked our butts off and, after a while, we picked it up. This is also the same place where PC & I met, and where we fired our first guitar player to hire PC. We rocked. I stood on chairs, PC and I totally played off of one another, I played with the band..we had a blast and were a far cry from the first time we ever played there.

Now, I'm going to go wake up PC - which means I'm probably going to crawl back into bed and go back to sleep for an hour or so. Then, our modified schedule for the day is minor league hockey game outing with the scouts at 4, Girl's basketball game at 7 (if we get back in time). Have a wonderful Sunday everyone.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Shorty But a Goodie

Today's been insane and it's still going on. We've been to scouts and basketball and now we're getting ready to head out the door to our gig. While straightening my hair and putting on my makeup, I realized I still hadn't posted today and would be able to do so if I waited to post until later. So, here's a little poster that I found while surfing through the autism myspaces. I thought we could all get some good use out of this - perhaps handing it out to those who are with our children on a regular basis, or just finding a way to get it out there. I will most certainly be putting it in with SmallBoy's stuff next time he visits his father.

Well, poop....that didn't come up like I wanted it. It' a great poster. Perhaps if you click on it? If not, I'll see if I can't find a full size (or at least a bigger version) to post later. It shows all of the different ways that autism "shows itself." Have a wonderful evening, everyone. I'm going to go make a big pot of coffee so I can get through tonight. I am SO ready to crash.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Crazy Thursday's Aftermath - and the iPod

Ahhhhh...Thursday is over! Yes, yes, it is finally Friday. SmallBoy and Girl are off today, LargeBoy is at school, and here I sit at work preparing for a busy day at the office and a quiet night at home. Isn't THAT backwards?!?! Yes, as it turns out, Girl is not squaded for tonight's game. She is going anyway to support the team, but we do not have to go and watch because she won't be playing. WOO HOO! And yes! I DID say a busy day at work! Our CEO, and the co-author of many of our programs, is having a video conference tomorrow with every center that we have nationwide (about 40) to explain how one school system in Pueblo, CO took our program, implemented it in their school and had tremendous success. Today, we set up the office for that. LOTS of work involved. MUCH coolness! And so, I post now while I can because tonight, I'm not going near my computer.

Last night was supposed to be one of our harriest nights of the week. We were prepared for much chaos, but had a plan: go to OT, haul ass over to cub scouts, and then book down the block to Girl's game. I truly believe, that because I stepped back and looked at the big picture (and got us somewhat organized this week), the Schedule Gods had mercy (or pity) on me. SmallBoy's OT was cancelled and, though it was MUCH needed, it helped ease our life just enough to breathe. SmallBoy was able to make it to his scout meeting in time to join in the flag ceremony. Not only did he get to join, but he got to be a line leader in the ceremony. Unfortunately, the picture of that didn't flash too well, but here you can see SmallBoy in his spiffy new Weblos uniform, complete with neckerchief & hat. Believe it or not, he's happy. Can't tell by the look on his face, though.

The flag ceremony was wonderful. He led the boys in, directed them where to go and was SO proud. Then it came time for badges. We missed a meeting about 3 or 4wks ago. Guess which badges were handed out and who didn't get one. Guess who melted. He was sobbing SO hard that I had to take him outside of the meeting to get him to pull out of it, which he did, eventually. Things got going again and the boys broke into groups to play "machine charades". Each den had to choose a machine to act out - not what the machine does, but the actual machine. It was really fun. Our boys were a bulldozer. When the boys were assembling on the floor in front of the stage, SmallBoy got his hand stepped on. Yeah, total meltdown. You'd have thought that someone was cutting his fingers off one at a time. I pulled him aside, calmed him and he pulled out of it and went back to the group, enjoying the rest of the meeting.

I hope that this is truly just the result of the chaos of the last couple of weeks. He's been much more on edge and much easier to break and crumble than is usual for him. I'm going to call J, the fabulous OT and see if we can't get in a makeup session next week, since we'll miss due to Thanksgiving - that would then be 2wks in a row with chaos and no OT.

After that, we boogied over to Girl's game. Thankfully, this one started on time. We were only about 15minutes late. When we arrived, our girls were up 20-1 almost at the half. 20 - 1! HOLY COW! The team we played was not the best, by any stretch of the imagination; it wasn't just a team having an off night, we've played these girls before and experienced the same sort of scoring. It was nice for our girls though, because the starters didn't have to work as hard and the bench got a great deal of playing time. Girl, who LIVES to be on the court or on the diamond or on the field, was actually kind of relieved, too. With as many games as she's played this week, it was nice for her to have some time to just sit. I'm not sure what's up with my camera, all of my pics are dark when I take them out and put them on the computer, and they're pretty decent in the camera...but I regress.

SmallBoy was THRILLED to be able to go to one of her games. Like I said earlier, he and Girl have no school today, so even if the game ran long, it wasn't a big deal, because bedtime was no longer such a key to the night, we could fudge a little if we had to. He took off to go run around the gym and play in the lobby with some of the other kids because, well, that's what they do. As I sat and enjoyed Girl's team crushing the other girls, I heard a yelp coming from the lobby. I was 99.99999% positive that it was SmallBoy, but didn't go rushing out because I want him to handle his own. About 30seconds later, I hear the screaming and the sobbing again, as only a mother can while inside of a noisy gymnasium. When I got to the lobby, I found SmallBoy lying on the floor with another, younger boy, standing over him. SmallBoy was in hysterics, so I calmly asked him what happened and he couldn't calm down enough to tell me. The other boy, said to me, "I can tell you what happened, I slapped him."

My ears not being able to clearly hear over the din of the crowd, I thought this boy said he had "slugged" him. I also know that this young man has some issues of his own and when you put two boys, both with social issues, together, who knows what could happen. I asked, "P, why did this happen?" He replied with a stone face, "I don't know." I let it rest and chose not to talk to P's father about it right then, that I would call his mom today (still don't know how to put this so that she doesn't break - she's right where we all were prior to diagnosis, pulling her hair out trying to understand "what" & "why." Remember that phase?). The final score, btw, was 43-7 - us.

When I was tucking SmallBoy in, brushing him (do any of you do that? SmallBoy LOVES it), and he was nice and calmed, I questioned him about it again. He told me that it was, in fact, a slap, not a slug. I asked him to tell me what was going on prior to the "incident". He said they were running around, but had no clue why P hit him. Well, Duh, MG...of course SOMETHING precipitated this. I wasn't about to call P's mother and say, "your son hit my son for no good reason," that would just be wrong. I'm not certain of all of the details, but Girl and P's sister are both in the drama club after school. Last year, SmallBoy would stay after with her, do his homework and play with P, who also stayed after with his sister. This year, SmallBoy walks home by himself on those days. Apparently, P angrily confronted SmallBoy about this and was resentful that SmallBoy was no longer there for him to play with. I'm clueless as to the happenings prior to the slug, or what words may have been exchanged, but I guess P has been harrassing SmallBoy about this for quite some time and now, finally, had his opportunity to express his misplaced anger by slapping SmallBoy.

My poor little bug. What a night. Tonight, we do nothing. Tonight we hang out as a family - watch movies, play dominoes, eat pizza or something. Nothing else. I'm looking forward to doing nothing, because Saturday and Sunday are both filled with doing lots of stuff, again.

Ahh, the iPod list. So far I have about 70 songs loaded. Here's just a smattering of them, brought to you by Maizey, one of the OCFs, doing her prairie dog stance (isn't this hysterical?!):

Carry On My Wayward Son - Kansas
Bad Moon Rising - CCR
(I need "Back in Black" to complete my Supernatural playlist)
Black Crowes
The Ramones
Dixie Chicks
some Janis - what work out would be complete without Janis Joplin?
Allman Brothers
"SuperModel" (Taylor Dane?)
The Gorillaz
The Offspring
Pearl Jam
Grateful Dead
Taj Mahal
Jimmy Eat World
Corrine Bailey Rae (or Rae Bailey - "Girl, Put Your Records On")
Code West ("Blue Star Highway" - written and sung by PC - you can hear it here)
and much much more. I really wanted to cut and paste the list out of iTunes for you, but I couldn't. Thanks for your suggestions. Oh yes, "Redneck Woman" IS going in there, but the only recording I have loaded into iTunes right now is with me on vocals and THAT is definitely NOT going in myPod.

Well, kiddos, work is insane today (Wheeeeeee!), so I'd best get back to doing my job. Tonight I will enjoy the lack of something to do, be at, drive to, make, etc. Tomorrow: workout, take LargeBoy Driving, freeze outside with the Scouts and then a gig with the band. Hey if you can make it, click here to find out the details on our myspace.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Duckwings - and Grown-Up Time (what is THAT?)

Duckwings: What SmallBoy used to call dumplings. My favoritest dish in the entire world is my grandmother's pot roast and dumplings. I am, personally, more a fan of the dumplings than the pot roast, but it just doesn't work without both components. For my birthday dinner every year, I always ask for Ps & Ds (as they're affectionately called now). This year, as my birthday will fall on Turkey Day, I had to move my birthday dinner to a different date. As fate would have it, PC bought THE most ENORMOUS pot roast I've ever seen - a 6pounder (of course, my gram probably cooked bigger cuz she had a house full of hungry girls to feed). He had a grand scheme to make his own pot roast recipe and to try something new. I begged, pleaded, and made sad puppy eyes at him to make dumplings. Who could resist? Not PC. So we reached a happy compromise that he could make his pot roast his way, as long as I got to have dumplings.

The roast was seasoned and browned well before PC loaded it into the giant roasting pan accomanied by big ol chunks of carrots, onion slices and mushrooms for extra seasoning. He added some beef bullion to the water, and some carribean jerk seasons for a little extra kick. He's desperately trying to change our very bland palettes to appreciate some "flavor." The really funny thing about this is that LargeBoy, Girl, & I all notice the extra seasonings when he adds them to things, and the last couple times, we've just kept our mouths closed and chugged our milk to put out the flames so that we wouldn't draw SmallBoy's attention to the "heat" - cuz he dislikes it tremendously. The last two times we've eaten something with a bit of zest (my BIL made some mashed potatoes with some of that green habanero sauce in them), SmallBoy was completely oblivious. Very very interesting. And so it went with our pot roast. Now the duckwings - dumplings - are cooked in the juice from the meat, so obviously, they picked up quite a bit of the jerk seasoning. Not only did SmallBoy eat a ton of it for the meal, but he also ate quite a large portion of the leftovers yesterday. I was shocked. Perhaps it had something to do with him helping to prepare the dumplings:

He helped make the dough for the dumplings, too. It's just eggs, flour and salt, but you have to keep adding flour until you absolutely cannot stir any longer, or, until someone with fresh arms who hasn't been stirring can't stir it any more. Nice and thick. It was good OT for SmallBoy to be stirring the mixture. He loves it, "More FLOUR!"

The actual cooking of the "duckwings," however, is the most fun. Dip the fork in the juice, dip the fork in the batter and get a HUGE mess of it (if you're like me and like giganto sized dumplings), and....

...put the fork full of the flour-y goodness into the juice, gently shake the fork to encourage the batter into the juice, and cook covered and enjoy the aroma until they float. Lord, I'm salivating. Good thing I'm going back to working out tonight (even my fat pants are too tight, and they're 2 sizes too big for me normally).

I think I said something in the title about grown-up time. What the hell is THAT? I don't recall. With the zanieness of the last week or two, we're not getting any downtime, really, until the kids are in bed. We used to complain because we got nothing done around the house because we felt guilty about sitting and enjoying a movie before bed. Now, we don't even have time to do that. Our "free time" has consisted of sitting on the computer, helping each other build our myspaces (band's, mine, his) to help further promote autism awareness and network with more parents who need support and to reach those who don't realize what a VAST support group the internet is, (oh yeah, and the band), oh yeah, and loading my iPod (I'll post on what's going in it tomorrow). We're getting to bed at about 12:30 or 1, and that nasty alarm gets earlier everyday. Tonight won't be any different except that, perhaps, we'll go right to bed instead.

Last night I did as I said, and stayed home while PC went to Girl's game. SmallBoy and I worked with his weighted ball doing some balance and spatial awareness and tone building exercises. The deal was for every 10 he did, I had to do 20. Yeah, tummy's a bit sore today. When we had finished, I had him make his lunch and brush his teeth right away with the promise that he, LargeBoy, and I would sit down and play dominoes IF he agreed that AT 9:30 we would stop whether or not someone had won. He did! It was wonderful!

Tonight - are you ready for this? I'm off work at 4:30 and going to work out. I'll get home around 5:30 and have just enough time to change and "deodorize" before running out the door to get to our 6:15 OT appointment. When we leave there between 7:15 & 7:20, we'll already be late for Cub Scouts which starts at 7. SmallBoy's Den is doing the flag ceremony tonight. He will miss it. He was upset, but came to realize that OT is SO much more important and that it's OK if he misses the flag ceremony, he won't miss the whole meeting. From there, whenever that ends between 8 and 8:30, we'll haul booty down the block (or perhaps cut through the school building) to the gym where, HOPEFULLY, Girl's game will already be underway - not like the other night when they started 40minutes late. Out of the gym by 9:30/:45 (optimistically), and home. Fortunately, Girl and SmallBoy don't have school tomorrow, so bedtime isn't necessarily a priority tonight, just some key SmallBoy time. He's excited, more than anything, because he'll get to go to his sister's game. IF I remember, I'll bring the camera and take some pics tonight!

Well, that was a nice long post. Can that count for two so I can skip one, oh, say, on Thanksgiving? LOL!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

50 Ways to Ease the Chaos

Ok, ok, so it's not 50. It's not even 5...just one. If you've been following the posts the last few days, you've seen what total insanity my week has been and is going to continue to be. You've read about how this absolute lack of structure is making my poor Not-So-SmallBoy melt, how my Girl is so overextended that she's forgetting committments, how LargeBoy is, well, LargeBoy, but a stressed LargeBoy, and how PC & I are just pulling our hair out trying to make the schedule work and keep everyone happy.

Last night was a basketball game for Girl and a meeting for me. Thankfully, both were at school. The timing, of course overlapped and it seemed like there was no way on earth that we could pull all of this off effectively. As it turned out, I left work at 4 because I had to make the bank deposit. Despite the long line at the bank, I was still home before 4:45. PC had been cooking the most divine pot roast since 1:30. SmallBoy and I made my grandmother's dumplings (I'll have pics for you tomorrow). Girl went early to her basketball game with some friends because they wanted to watch all the games prior to hers. One problem solved - we didn't have to get her to the gym 1/2 hr before game time which happened to be in the middle of my meeting. I didn't have to be at school until 7, so we still had time to sit down and eat sort of as a family.

To further maximize our time, since Girl's game was at 8:00, PC drove me to the meeting and went to do some errands. SmallBoy stayed home with LargeBoy and did the post-dinner routine. After the meeting, I walked over to the gym hoping to be on time for tip-off and to meet PC. Things seemed to be going well and running about as well as could be expected. Yeah. You know what THAT means. At 8:00, the scheduled start time, the 7th grade game had just begun the 3rd quarter. Lovely. Our Girls finally tipped off at 8:40. They fought hard, kicked some butt in the 2nd half to come behind, but just didn't have the defense (nor the offensive boards) to pull this one off. Finally, after post-game conferences and clean up, we piled back into the car at 10:00.

When we arrived home, LargeBoy informed me that his brother had gone to bed on time. We were glad to hear that, but surpised, since we could see his bedroom light on through his window when we came in from the garage. I went up to kiss him goodnight, and he was still awake, waiting for me to tuck him in and perseverating on where his Christmas list could have gone (he has to have this to his Grandma Pooh-Bear - Ex's mom by Saturday). I assured him that it was somewhere in the house and that we'd find it the next day. He finally consented to let me leave the room after tons of hugs and squeezes and squishes. I tucked him back into his sensory tunnel (something I've gone back to for his sleep since his being "off track" returned), zipped his bed tent and went back downstairs. Ahhhhhh, finally time to relax with my husband.

We hung out for a while and then headed up to bed, shortly after 12:30. Morning came entirely too quickly and it came in just the same way that the day went out - chaotic. I woke 10minutes before my alarm to Girl trying to rouse the dog. She was afraid that the dog had beaten us to the punch and decided to "go" before we could take her in for the "last doggy walk." Finally, she got up, but our hearts were all racing. Morning routine went as usual, start doing hair, stop doing hair to go wake up LargeBoy, come back upstairs to start waking SmallBoy, finish hair, get dressed, make up at work....I was on track. Then the phone rang as I was down to crunch time. It was my drummer, who is unbelievably difficult to get ahold of, calling to discuss our gig this Saturday. Yep. Schedule thrown. Rush rush rush, SmallBoy wanted no part of getting up because he was cold and, despite the darkness outside, it was still too bright. LargeBoy was running behind because he overslept AND hadn't made his lunch yet. We were now, officially running late. I still, miraculously made it to work on time, however.

Girl has a basketball game tonight. I have cantor rehearsal tonight. Of course the times that everyone has to be where they need to be overlap. I had already asked Girl to get a ride to the game and told her we would meet her there. My rehearsal is once a month and, as we're entering the Christmas season, there are a whole slew of things that get added into the mass, so missing it would not be very beneficial. After this morning, however, I called PC and told him that something had to give and that I would not be going to the game tonight. I am going to stay home and spend some time with SmallBoy. We'll do some OT work with his body sock and his pilates ball and his weighted ball and I'll let LargeBoy hog the computer and figure out my iPod (hooray, it just arrived! - I'm still taking song suggestions, btw). PC totally agreed. Instead of sending Girl off to her game, though with no one to watch her fabulousness (cuz Ex never goes if it's not at the home gym), he's going to go and watch her while I stay with SmallBoy.

I had a mixed report from the teacher yesterday, but, considering his last week or two, it was better than I had expected. Kyra, you're hitting it right on the nose about just the craziness being enough to set him running for cover and decompression with no where to turn, and there's another messed up no structure kind of week right around the corner. We'll be starting the communication notebook at school next week and PC and I will be going in to school the first week of December to present SmallBoy's book to the other 4th grade class and the teachers are inviting the parents and staff to attend (I'm SO excited! Again, Marti - God Bless YOU and Child for that!).

So here I sit blogging - at work. This is the one place, lately, where I stay put for 8hrs. The most running I do is going to the salad bar next door to get lunch. Here I will stay and enjoy my calm before returning to the chaos. At least it seems like today, though, and last night - generally, there has been some easing of the insanity. Btw, I'm still taking workout song suggestions for my iPod. Thanks a million to the ones that have come in. Smoochies!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My ONLY Chance to Post Today... right this very second. I have to make the bank deposit for work today and, thus, am leaving in about 40minutes. When I get home, it's run run run run - dinner, sacrament meeting for SmallBoy, Basketball game for Girl - ok, that's only three things, but we won't be home until almost 10:00. NO SmallBoy time built in there, cuz he has to be in bed by 9:30 and is still having a terribly difficult time holding himself together at school (see two posts below - sorry, no time for linking).

It's really kind of funny because this is one of the few times, that I'm dreading leaving work. No, not because I don't want to go home, I'm DYING to see my family, but simply because of the nonstopness (like my new word?) of it all. Of course, there is a big bottle half full of breathing red wine still on the counter. Perhaps a glass of that will keep me on an even keel. I AM looking very forward to Girl's basketball game tonight. It promises to be a good one. I'll try to make mental notes and post on it tomorrow if it's a great one - AND I recharged my batteries for my camera (NOTE TO GIRL: I STILL NEED A NEW CAMERA FOR MY BIRTHDAY TO REPLACE THE ONE THAT GOT "MISPLACED" IN MICHIGAN), so I should have some pics that actually turn out.

Ok, better run, but wanted to make sure that I got my post in today. Oh, and my iPod Shuffle comes tomorrow, not today like I had originally thought, so returning to the workout place will have to wait til Thursday when I've had a chance to upload some workout tunes - anyone have any good music ideas? I can do a post on what I used from YOUR suggestions!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

What a Wonderful Resource YOU Are!

I promised you a post on Parent-Teacher conferences. They were pretty much what I expected except that SmallBoy has had a much more difficult time holding it together. He's having angry outbursts in class, he's melting much more frequently and reacting poorly when someone asks him what's wrong. Academically, he's doing fine. I've been doing some work with him at home, work that we do at my job (a program I HIGHLY recommend for those with decoding and/or symbol imagery and/or comprehension weaknesses) and his last reading test was beautiful. It was mainly comprehension and he scored a 97%! I must be doing something right with that.

He's having difficulty, however, doing more than the absolute bare minimum of an assignment and becoming extremely agitated if asked to put in more effort. I know that when PC, Meem, Mom (GR) & I went to the conference with Dr. Baker, he had some suggestions on this, so I'll have to look at my notes. One example, when, PC and I first noticed his resistance to doing the whole assignment was when the class had to bring in an article from the newspaper about the mid-term elections, and talk about it to the class. He and I went through the paper and looked for something shorter and something with a bit of a different twist than what we thought the rest of the class might bring in. We found a short article about how, despite the new voting "technology", there were still entirely too many glitches. Obviously, an article written in the Chicago Tribune about an election is going to require some "translation," which I did. SmallBoy, however, took that as a substitute for reading the article. He did NOT wish to read it at all. It got so ugly that I, Ms Calm Cool & Collected, told him, "Fine. If you don't wish to read it, then you will have to take the consequences when Mrs. M asks you to explain it to the class."

So, anyway, we chatted about that at conferences and Mrs. M asked us for more ideas on how to help him out of a meltdown, how to help keep him focused, how to keep the outbursts at a minimum. These have really been reaching a peak over the last few weeks and we haven't noticed them, at home, anyway, until early last week. This morning I emailed the teachers. Oh - I forgot, the other 4th grade teacher asked PC & I if we can come in and present SmallBoy's Book to HER class (Marti...WOW!). We're SO excited. Here's what I wrote to the teachers:

Good Morning Ladies -

After speaking with you both at conferences on Thursday, we proceeded to SmallBoy's occupational therapy and spoke with his OT for suggestions. She suggested that perhaps a system of reward motivators that can be carried over to home so that his rewards stay consistent and come, ultimately, from my husband and myself. You could simply use a corner of the chalkboard and make a mark of some sort, without putting his name on it, or he could keep a card on his desk to keep track. That way, he's not receiving any extra special attention/rewards that the rest of the class is not. What he earns that day could be communicated home.

The system we use at home is a star system. The number of stars he receives is equivalent to the task he performs or the task & the lack of complaining. Additionally, he will receive stars for pulling himself out of a meltdown, if he does something without being asked, if he goes out of his way to help someone, if he demonstrates superb behavior, etc.

He uses these stars in exchange for video game/computer time with each star equivalent to 5 minutes.

To help make this system transfer from school to home, and vice versa, I've taken a cue from some fellow parents with children on the spectrum. They send a notebook back and forth to school each day to create a constant communication between the parents and the teacher. For example, if SmallBoy had a great day, but melted at one point over something, you could let me know. If he had a difficult time on his homework, or had a really rough morning, I could let you know. Even better, if he had a fantastic day, or was ready to melt over something and found a way to pull himself out.... We could also communicate about the stars he had earned that day.

Another suggestion his OT had was as far as keeping him focused or bringing his engine back down to a regulated level. What she has found works for him is giving him a sour candy. This works with homework, too. I expressed to her that candy in the classroom probably was not a huge possibility, but she mentioned to me how brilliant teachers are at subtlety and that simply walking past his desk and dropping a few near him (we would be happy to supply the stash), or if he could keep some in his desk and you could cue him when you notice he needs one, "SmallBoy, what can you use to bring your engine down?" or "SmallBoy, where's your engine right now?" (something like that).

After thinking more on what a hard time he's been having lately, we realized that our multiple schedules (Cub Scouts, OT, Girl's non-stop sports, meetings, work, etc...) have finally all collided creating many nights in a row when none of us are home together for any length of time. Additionally, our dog has been growing increasingly sicker and will, in all likelihood, be put down this week, on which he's been dwelling, plus, the "off" schedule of the last week has thrown him quite a bit. We were hoping that this week would be a bit calmer, since next week is going to be a shortened week for him, too, but it's even more crazy than the last few. We've made a visual calendar of just this week, though, so that he can see what activities are going on, and for whom, and on what days. I'm hopeful that will assist in his anxiety, especially now that the rest of us have a visual and can plan some quiet SmallBoy time accordingly.

Let me know what you think about these suggestions.

Ms. R - Looking at my schedule, I am unable to get away from the office until the first week of December, as my boss is out of town at a conference this week, and then on vacation for 2wks. However, if we can schedule the 6th or 7th of December. Also, I can check with my husband for his availability and perhaps he can come in and present sooner. As in Mrs. M's class, I know that SmallBoy would appreciate being a part of the presentation, so I would like to also coordinate with Mrs. M a time when we could "borrow" SmallBoy.

Thank you so much for taking the time to spend "learning" SmallBoy, and for working so closely with us. We appreciate the fact that he has such caring teachers, and a compassionate atmosphere in which to learn and grow. Again, let me know your opinions on the suggestions and if you have any others.


I would LOVE any other brilliant ideas or suggestions that any of YOU may have. You see where I already swiped the Communication Notebook (why haven't I been doing that all along? DUH!). You, my blog family, have been such an incredible fountain of knowledge & wisdom, and one of the many things for which I am truly thankful!