Thursday, December 28, 2006

My Christmas Vacation Essay:

I have been on vacation from work since I got off on Friday. I, sadly, will be returning back to the real world next Tuesday. This week is flying past before I can blink and I realizing that I should have requested two weeks off so that I could maximize the time with my family. This week, busy as it has been, has been terrific, exciting, fun-filled, and, at the same time, completely exhausting, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. You know that I'm a picture geek, so just be prepared, I've got a lot of catching up to do. Let's start with Christmas gifts (I know, it's materialistic,but I want to show off what I got!). This beautiful watch I received from my beloved PC. I am always needing to know what time it is, and without a watch on my arm, I'm lost. For the last year, I've been watchless. This has kept me from leaving the office on my lunch hour, for fear of coming back late. Isn't it beautiful? And it's a silvery, antique looking, very feminine watch to make me feel very lady-like (I need help with that sometimes). He's such a love, only finds the best for me!

I got another Marti piece from my MIL. I now own three "Martis" and I love each. This particular piece is called "Bo Peep." It's a sweet little necklace, very innocent, and subtle, yet making sure it's noticeable that people say, "Wow! Great necklace, where did you get that?" You know me, I can't resist the urge to plug a sister blogger, let alone a sister blogger who is family! I proudly say, "OH! It IS wonderful! Let me write down this site for you. Each piece is individual, so if you find one on her site that you enjoy, snap it up right away, because it may not be there the next time you visit." Had I better photography skills, this might have been a little closer of an image and you could see the detail of the sweet little flower pressed into the round clay of the pendant and the bit of bead detailing leading up to the chain. If you've not checked Marti's site out in a while, GO NOW (then go check out her blog)! You'll fall in love!

After reading the post by Mom-NOS, I knew that I MUST have this book and put it so far at the top of my Christmas list that everyone wanted to go out and get it for me. I received George & Sam from my father this year and I can't wait to dive in. I'm terribly excited, as I received two autism books this year - this and Al Capone Does My Shirts (from Meem). I'm very excited not only because I've been dying to read this books, but because they'll give my poor brain a break from doing sudoku every day at lunch!

This beautiful bookmark, from Auntie, will help me keep my place. I don't get to see Auntie very often, but she's always so thoughtful and loving and generous. My memories of Christmas with Auntie are so wonderful. When we were kids, my family would always spend Christmas Eve at Auntie's doing the big Italian Christmas - mostaccioli, sausage, meatball, and my grandfather's calamari. We got stuffed, opened presents, spent wonderful, memorable evenings being big goofballs (never once making a nice, straight face in our pictures), and having a blast. As adults, we were there telling our children to make straight faces and not be goofs, policing up the gift wrap, keeping the children from running amok, and snarfing fabulous food! I miss Christmas at Auntie's, but we're "all growed up" with kidlets of our own now, and lots of places to be all at the same time. Auntie always keeps us close to her, though. Thanks, Auntie, I love it!!!!! Merry Christmas! (Can you see the charm? It says "#1 Mom"!!!)

Lots of wonderful presents were given and received. Girl made me some wonderful soaps and a coupon book - my favorite coupons being, "A whole day of the computer all to [my]self," "One free Scwatchy," and -this one's hysterical, "I will pee for you," because I'm constantly asking people to go for me because I'm usually too busy to stop and do it myself.

Meltdowns were at a minimum for the SmallBoy for Christmas, at least with me. He did go to Ex's, but they were not there for the whole weekend - because they were all sick - RIIIIIIGHT! Oh, and we also found out that there will be another new addition to Ex's family, so we know that SmallBoy will never be visiting Ex's house for any extended length of time.

We made it through Christmas day, miraculously meltdown free - I sent him off to Ex's with NO game system, but promised him that I'd bring it for ours. When they got to Meem's I let him have it and let him play to decompress before we bolted out of there (sadly, didn't have time for dinner because we had to get to MY family's in time for presents). We went on to my aunt's house, opened presents, and went home. NO melting - there was a lot of boredom and wanting to go home, but no meltdowns - til Tuesday at Dad's, and even that wasn't bad, that was just speaking out loud and inappropriately about how he didn't like his presents - he wanted video games, I told everyone not to get video games, gave them lists - weighted balls, boxer shorts, board games, cool light up toys. He really did want these things, and was glad to have them once he got over the fact that there were no video games. We had to get through the, "but I don't WANT these! I didn't ASK for these!", but we did. When we left my father's though, we got to take KR home with us!

I'll put together a slide show next time I get the computer, but here are some of the fun things we did. We spent the day in the city yesterday, KR, PC, SmallBoy, and I - enjoy these!


Our first stop after we got off the train was to go see the windows at Marshall Field's (I refuse to call it the "M" word). The theme this year was Mary Poppins. It was cute, but the characters looked kind of creepy - but the children watching it were SO excited! You could just see the light and the wonder in their eyes as they looked at THIS window - trying desperately to figure out how they got the display to float, as in the "I Love to Laugh" part of the movie.


We had a BLAST when we went inside Field's and hit the hat section! Here are SmallBoy & KR modeling! We had some silly moments and some people who just looked at us like we were totally off our rockers!


Off we went to Millenium Park and goofed off for a couple of hours. We were going to go skating, but the line to rent skates was over an hour long. Instead, we looked for some snow for KR - keep watching for the slide show to see what happened with the snow!

In a couple of hours, we have to return KR to her mama :-(. That's my pout. We are very fortunate to have been able to steal her away for a few days all to ourselves. That was truly a wonderful Christmas gift! Now, though, I'm going to find some breakfast!!!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas to All, and to All, a Good Night

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Heading off to sing at Christmas Eve Mass, but wanted to get my Happy Holidays in to all of you. Pseudo-Supermum is already setting out the gifts, and heading off to bed, some of you are still hitting the malls for those last minute "OH SHIT!" gifts, tape, wrapping paper, stocking stuffers, and some of you are calmly prepared, and kicked back just waiting for the kiddies to go to bed.

Are we all prepared for an ASD Holiday, probably as much as we can be. My holiday wish to all of you, then, is for as stress-free of a holiday as possible, happiness in your family, and all that you deserve.

Have a Very Merry Christmas!

Love,
MG, PC, LargeBoy, Girl, & SmallBoy

Friday, December 22, 2006

Remember When I Said...

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us...that I felt weird for writing about nothing Asperger's related? Well last night was meltdown extraordinaire. As is usual for us, we had a busy night. It was only two things, OT & Scouts, but they started almost as soon as we walked in the door from workat 5:00, and lasted until about 9:00. In the door, grab a piece of pizza, change out of work pants & shoes (no time to find a new shirt), and head off to OT.

We had a blast at OT, even PC & I got into the act. J the Fabulous OT had SmallBoy working on a crib mattress set on top of some foam rollers. He had to maneuver his way back and forth taking an item out of a bag on one side of him, using his arm muscles and his balance to pull himself, via rope, to a bucket on the other side to deposit the item. It was a lot of work for him, trust me, I tried it. We are fortunate enough to have a wonderful OT who lets us take part in the activities so that we can get a feel for what he's doing in order to replicate or duplicate as close as possible, those actions, activities, exercises at home. As SmallBoy's had OT off and on for the last month, he was ready to roll. His engine was way high, and he needed this session desperately - not to mention that we were going to a scout meeting right after OT. He worked hard, he was focused on the task at hand and he did a great job. We are so proud of him! She helped SmallBoy to bring his engine down to a nice moderated level. He did a lot of balancing for the vestibular, and a lot of upper body work to work on his muscle tone. His focus today was unreal. She had him up in the lycra layers and was having him use clothespins to attach some of the toys to each side of the layers. Every time he fell, she told him he would have to do sit ups or pushups. Well, he was concentrating so hard on the task at hand, that we could see his legs shaking. He was ready. He was calm, he was focused, and his engine had come down just below a regular, moderate level. I expected it to go back up at scouts, so a little below "just right" was just fine with me.

OT was over at 6:15 and Scouts started at 7. This meant that we didn't have to rush from one to the other, since OT and Scouts are, literally, a 2minute ride away. We had brought SmallBoy's scout uniform to OT so that he could just change there before we left, but we still had to stop home and pick up Girl for basketball practice. This was one of the few times that she didn't have a friend also needing a ride, so when we got back to the school, it was only 6:30. Girl had no problem with that, as the boys' basketball team had a game that she could watch until her practice started. We, on the other hand, had a half an hour to kill doing a whole lot of nothing. Instead of just sitting in the car, or wasting gas by driving around, we went inside. Thankfully, the Boy Scouts were there, as the were setting up and practicing the flag ceremony for the meeting. This meeting was a combined meeting/Christmas party with the cub & boy scouts. Everything was going swimmingly. GR even came to watch the skits that each scout den was performing. SmallBoy's den did this cute scene in which each scout had a letter spelling out "Merry Christmas", starting at the "S" and working backward toward the "M", each boy saying what part of Christmas their particular letter represented. SmallBoy's "R" stood for reindeer.

The show was wonderful and, as you can see from the pic, he's not shy about using a microphone...I wonder where he gets that?. After the skits, the boys had the privilege of throwing a pie in the face of the Scout Master (the new one, the one we adore) as a reward for meeting and exceeding the popcorn sale challenge he had set for them. Everyone was in a great mood, the room was loud with happiness and anticipation and excitement. The troops received gifts, with SmallBoy's troop receiving flashlights for camping that wind up - no batteries or electricity needed. This flashlight was the downfall of our evening.

SmallBoy, after receiving his, immediately brought it to me and asked if we could open it for him. After looking at the clock and realizing this meeting only had moments left, I told him no, that I didn't want it to get lost, that the meeting was just about over and that he could have it when we got home. Ok. No problem. He ran off to play. PC was running outside and asked me if I wanted him to take it. I told him not to, because then SmallBoy might notice it missing and meltdown thinking it got lost or "stolen." I should have let him take it to the car.

I walked away for a few moments to take pictures of the newly "pied" Scout Master - he ended up wearing three cream pies, chocolate, I believe. When I walked back, GR said to me, that SmallBoy had come back, seen the flashlight package on the chair (I must have missed the bag) and walked away with it. Damn! I fought with myself, having the non-stop internal arguement as to whether I should let it slide for the next 3 minutes while we finished up the meeting, or if I should make it a point to dole out consequences for the action and risk a meltdown, thus, ruining SmallBoy's night - because no ASD meltdown is a "good" meltdown. I went with option B, and went up to SmallBoy and asked him for the flashlight back. I explained to him that I had previously told him that he could not play with it because I didn't want it getting lost or broken.

"But, Mom, all the other kids...."

"Yes, my love, I know, but the meeting is almost over and I've already told you no. Why did you take it from the bag without asking?"

"Because I wanted it and everyone else has theirs."

This was true, they were all running around like crazy, having fun, playing, SOCIALIZING. I found myself, again, arguing within my head about what the best, most practical solution would be. Again, I chose to lay down the law. I told him that he had to give me the flashlight as a consequence - of course I explained this three or four times, in language easy to understand when his engine is skyrocketting. He got angry and just started crying, baby-crying, not crying like a 10y/o - more of a WAAAAAAAAH, than anything. And he wasn't faking either. He was upset, he was angry. This went on for a good ten minutes until he finally just shut down. It's very rare that he completely shuts down on me. I didn't know what to do. I was at my wit's end, partially because I knew that we never should have gone to the meeting, because we haven't had ANY down time all week and partially because I knew that he was fried and had already been to two scout meetings this week, plus school, plus just overstressed from us being stressed.

"I'm done doing the big pack meetings. This is just too much for him, and it's too much for us. I think we'll just go to the den meetings."

That was my big pronouncement. Now, you know that's not going to happen, because he needs the socialization, he needs the recognition of getting his awards and achievement badges in front of the whole pack, he needs all of it. But I, too, was fried beyond belief. SmallBoy and I had both finally, after many weeks of holding it together - JUST barely - cracked. We were done. I wanted to cry, he was already crying. Instead, I held it together just a little bit longer to show a friend SmallBoy's sensory tunnel and body sock, and to let her son, who is ADHD, try them out. We also gave them a copy of "The Book". I wanted SmallBoy to show T how to use the sock and the tunnel, but he was angry and upset at me, still, and went and laid on the stage to sulk and be mad. Most people just thought he was tired, but when he became unresponsive to their prompts and chatter, I had to step in. It was time to go. We almost had to drag him out, because he wasn't going.

I don't think I've ever experienced that with him. This is something new, for which I was not prepared. Given the circumstances of the last couple of weeks, though, I'm not surprised. I would be more than content to not have to go to multiple places on Christmas, but you know, Christmas just wouldn't be the same without all of the hustle and bustle, now would it? So, we'll suck it up for a few more days and it will all be over. I think I'll sleep through 2007 to make up for all of the stress of the last 2 or 3 weeks though.

Pseudo-Supermum, never fear, I will de-stress!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

T Minus a Day and A Half and Counting

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us....because I'm not setting foot in a shopping mall, strip mall, grocery store, drug store, nothin' after tomorrow night. Now way. No how. Nuh UH! My poor, yet wonderfully caring and selfless husband is free today, so he's out with my list. I have called him so many times now, adding to the list that I think he's finally turned off the cell phone. Really, I think he has. He's probably thinking, "It's the last time I volunteer to go do the shopping!" No, he's wonderful for that.

In addition to getting that off my list, SmallBoy and I got our haircut on Tuesday and decided to commit our great cuts to posterity. Once again, PC demonstrated his compassion and selflessness (LONG word!), and took many many pictures on multiple settings and lightings until SmallBoy and I were satisfied with our own appearances AND the ethereal light of the beautifully decorated tree AND the lighting in the room. Why PC didn't just give up on us, I'll never know - perhaps because he loves us. The kids and I decided that my fresh-from-the-salon do made me look very much like Jane Kaczmarek - or, as we call her, Mrs. Malcom's Mom (from Malcom in the Middle, also married to Bradley Whitford from The West Wing, and both very very AVID supporters of Cure Autism Now).

I still feel just plain bleh, but keep putting that aside for all of this Christmas-ing and regular madness. I think perhaps I might just allow myself to get sick on Jan. 2 when I have to go back to work, cuz I'll be damned if I going to spend MY Christmas break in bed with a fever. Nope.

Tonight we have OT and cub scouts - complete with Christmas festivities and our first time together with Former Scout Master and Son of Former Scout Master (joy oh joy...GR will be there to watch, too!) {insert evil cackle here}. Cookies, juice, screaming happy boys excited about winter break, parents with throbbing heads and empty wallets begging for some peace and quiet (and maybe a glass our their own "juice"). Perhaps I'll do that while I color my hair and then slide down into a hot steamy bath......ZZZZZZzzzzzz

Sorry, nodded of there. Speaking of baths, I've had some great fun taking pictures of Charley cat in the bathtub. She has this thing for licking the water out of the tub, even if the tub, itself, is dry, but the faucet still has a drip or two. We have a beautiful white claw foot tub. Chuck, as we affectionately call her, is a white & black cat. Took the pics in black & white. Pretty cool, huh? Can you see why we call her Charley? It was either that or we named her Adolf - and, well, I didn't think that would be such a good name, now, don'tcha know.

And while I'm on black and white photos, I'll add in this one me and my wittew goowah. It sure feels like I'm trying to write something other than Christmas or Asperger's or the chaos that is our schedule, doesn't it? M'ija and I had fun with this pic. Again, being the perfectionists that we are, we re-took this self-portrait several times. Unfortunately neither of us could agree upon one in which we BOTH looked good, so we settled on this one. I think it's cool, though, so I'm not complaining.

It's almost 3. Think I should do some work - especially since that's where I am? LOL. Have to have all of my year-end stuff wrapped up by tomorrow since I won't be here the week after. Just don't feel like working, though. Maybe I'll go read all of your blogs instead!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Uh....OH MY GOD...Prepare for PANIC!

OH MY GOD!!!!!! Have you SEEN my list? CRIKEY! Whatever shall I do? Call in sick for the rest of the week? No, too much to do at work. OH! I know...I'll cancel all of our evening obligations this week - haircuts, basketball, work on reading with SmallBoy, driving with LargeBoy to prep for on-road driving test (GOD HELP ME!), work on reading with SmallBoy, basketball, OT, figure out if Ex is taking them at all for the weekend or just on Christmas Day proper, work on reading with SmallBoy, scouts, basketball, work on reading with SmallBoy, basketball, basketball, gig with the band. Nope, too much to do with that too. I see that my only solution to this problem is not just calling in sick - that will only delay the inevitable. I must call in DEAD. Somehow, though, I don't forsee having a problem pulling that off. I'm not sure how I'm actually even conscious right now. Must be that ethical part of me that won't allow me to sleep on the job even though there is no one here but me and I can count on less than two hands how many times the phone has rung today.

Tonight - haircuts basketball sleep. I will not stop in between. I'm on a mission. I haven't slept well, I've been snapping at the kids and at PC. My to do list is made and organized into what I need to do in the next - OH MY GOD- 6 days:

SHOP FOR:
Mom
Dad
BMD
KR
Chica
Cousin in grab bag
random adult in grab bag
1 more thing for LargeBoy
ET
something else for Princess
stocking stuffers
posterboard - MUST GET TONIGHT

Can anyone do this FOR me? I haven't anytime unless I don't see any of you for Christmas and just plain old shop on the holiday.

I feel yucky, oh so yucky. I feel yuck, and ucky, and bleh.
Eyes are burning, stomach's churning. I don't want to do much else but sleep.

Ok, I better stop there before someone hurts me.

Update: Really, this IS yesterday's post, but I was a good girl last night and went to bed as soon as we got home from basketball - without even stopping by MommyGuilt first. We got the haircuts, we got the posterboard, we even managed to get the gift for the cousin in the grab bag! (Walgreen's is a beautiful thing - no, the haircuts came from the shop across from my office).

Girl's game was a heartbreaker, but they played one of their archrivals - and they're equally as good as we are. Let's just say that for MOST of the game, it was all defense, until the other team's offense kicked it into high gear and the refs started calling jump balls instead of fouling out the other team's leading scorer (though we drove to the hoop and drew foul after foul after foul on her - she should have been fouled out at the beginning of the 4th quarter had the refs been calling).

So that's where we are. I still feel yucky, but today it's not the burning eyes and the yucky stomach so much as a sore throat. Better heed my mother's advice and take my vitamins!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Let's See If I Can Stay on Track Again

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us Last time I made myself an outline I stayed, relatively, on track. Think I can do it again? Hmmm...I want to tell you about so many things that have been going on, that I think I should make THE LIST again. Darn, my snowman's not moving. Well, you get the idea. Ok, let's see - what do I need to tell you about?
Scouts and the camping trip
SmallBoy & school (OY)
Christmas chaos
House...GRRRR
Cookie Day
EXHALE!!
I think that's it! Let's start at the top - and I don't know that these are in order at all:

SCOUTS & CAMPING
The first weekend of the month, PC & ET took SmallBoy on a campout with the scouts. The Boy Scout troop invited all of the boys in SmallBoy's age bracket (Weeblos I & II) to join them on a camping weekend. They planned on doing many activities to help the boys earn badges - and lots of them. From our den, only three other boys/dads went on the trip, as it was RIDICULOUSLY cold - my guys were brave! From the Weeblos II den, a few other father/son teams went along, including the man who, until last year, used to be the Scout Master of the whole pack and his son.

When my guys finally arrived up north in Woodstock, IL, they were ecstatic to be alive. The snow had hit two days before, but up in the rural country of the campgrounds, the roads were barely passable and they thought the certain death was imminent. As they exited the snuggly warmth of our little Honda, they were slapped across the face with the cold biting winter wind reminding them that, indeed, they were roughing it for the next 24hrs. My guys were prepared, dressed in layers and "toughness." They schlepped their gear to their cabin, geared up for the day, and headed out to meet the boy scouts of our troop. Their journey into the "arctic," as it seemed, came to a temporary screeching halt as a troop of boy scouts pulled up to the cabin, also to unload. These scouts had previously given up their reservations due to the weather and now, apparently, had changed their minds. Good, caring gentlemen that our troop are, offered to share the cabin, which had two separate floors, and plenty of room. The other troop was thrilled, and began to unpack their cars, from which they carried in at least 10 television sets, multiple video gaming systems, stereos and mp3 players - all contraband in the eyes of the scouts. Clearly this troop had no intention, whatsoever, of "scouting" for the weekend.

Giving it only a second thought, my guys continued on with their days. There wasn't much going on in the way of earning badges, but the boys were outside having fun. They did, however, hone their hunting/seeking/retrieval skills through a 3-Man Slingshot challenge. PC, ET, and another dad took frozen oranges and shot them out of a 3-Man slingshot into the deep deep snow. They scouts were instructed to follow the orange by sight, and then to listen for the thud when it hit the snow. Then, they were sent to retrieve it. Not an easy job in 2ft of snow out in the country, but they had fun. Sled hills, snow, boys - yeah, lots of fun, minimal badgework.

Unfortunately, SmallBoy got targeted by Former ScoutMaster (who is NOT a very nice man, thinks he's a drill seargent), AND Son of Former ScoutMaster. The son is a year or two older than SmallBoy, and they go to school together. This child has a reputation for harrassing other kids, pushing them around, and just being a general pain in the behind. This child also has an underlying learning disability, so, being the open minded person that I am, and not his parent, always turned a semi-blind eye to the behavior (shame on me). That is, I always turned one until now. The boys were down at the bottom of the sled hill when one scout came back up and told PC that SmallBoy was crying and he thought that SmallBoy was hurt. As it happened, this was the scout's way of indirectly ratting out Son of Former ScoutMaster who had SmallBoy face down on the ground grinding his face into the ground. PC didn't even hear him screaming until Son of Former ScoutMaster lifted his head up for a brief, oh so brief second, so that he could breath, and then promptly smushed him back into the snow. Where, oh where was Former ScoutMaster? In the cabin playing cards with some of the other fathers. Another lovely incident was when the boys were actually outside working on a badge project. SmallBoy told PC that he needed to use the bathroom. PC told him that he had to go to, and that he'd go with him. Well, Former ScoutMaster, abusing his former power and his "power" as the only leader there from our Pack, told my SmallBoy, "You're not going anywhere. You PISS IN YOUR PANTS!" First of all, NO. Second of all, NO. Thirdly, NO! You don't tell a child, especially one that doesn't belong to you, to PISS IN HIS PANTS. You don't tell MY child, with or without an accompanying adult, to PISS IN HIS PANTS. You don't tell YELL at a child on the spectrum, you don't SWEAR in front of all the other boys, you don't humiliate MY son, nor do you outrank my husban who is with my child and knows exactly how to take care of him.

The next incident was at dinner. The boys were all neatly lined in 2 lines waiting, believe it or not, quietly, for their food. Mr. Former ScoutMaster decided that he did not like this arrangement, made the executive decision to make it a single file line, then grabbed MY SON and another young boy by the scruff of the neck and told them that they had to go to the end of the line. Again, a child on the spectrum who is at the beginning of the line AND being patient and quiet is a very wonderful sight to behold. YOU DON'T MOVE HIM. Also, you don't GRAB a child, particularly a young one, and one who is behaving, by the scruff of the neck and yank him out of line. It's been a couple of weeks since this incident and I'm STILL FUMING. Later, Son of Former ScoutMaster told ET that he didn't like SmallBoy because he was stupid and an idiot. Honestly, I don't know HOW ET held himself together and didn't just go off on this kid - perhaps because, being a phenomenal father himself, ET is smart enough to know that know matter how much of a jerk someone is, particularly a child, you don't go off on them. I can't remember exactly how he responded to this boy, but it was completely in defense of SmallBoy along with a "don't you ever...."

OH, I almost forgot about the other troop with the televisions and video games. Loud boys upstairs. They stayed up, well after our troops had lights out, and played video games, loud music, furniture rearranging, jumping, you name it, until 3am. When the guys arrived home the next day and relayed the goings on to me, I was LIVID. I am not one to put up a stink to a higher-up, but this time it involved my child. That's going over the line. I got on the phone with the current fantastic ScoutMaster who has a son in SmallBoy's class, has different issues, but uses the same OT as SmallBoy, ScoutMaster who understands SmallBoy and treats him with equality, but with the little differences - and respect, that he deserves. He was livid. ET wrote an email to the Boy Scouts of America who assured us that this would be looke into. Boy do I feel like I opened a nasty can of worms. We get to spend two of the nights this week at scout outings with Former ScoutMaster and Son. Should be interesting.

SmallBoy & School
Meltdown city. Oh LORD! School's been incredibly trying these last couple of weeks. I have spoken more in the last two weeks to SmallBoy's teachers than I did all of last year. My poor guy has just been having such a difficult time. He's not been wanting to do the work, he's been complaining that it's either too easy or too hard, he's not been wanting to do the assignment as given, but his own way. He's been exploding in class and the kids, who have been SO incredible with him, are now all afraid to even speak to him for fear that he may blow up again for reasons unclear to them - and even to SmallBoy.

We all know that with a spectrum child, meltdowns can come on out of the blue, or over the smallest little thing. We also know that, odds are, it isn't the smallest little thing that causes the melt down, it just happens to be the spark on the powder keg that's been waiting to go off, filling more and more with powder - enough to fuel a HUGE explosion. I've been at my wits end, trying to hold it together and not burst into tears at the office after talking to Mrs. M. I've broken at home, only for a bit, to let a little bit out, whild trying to remain "SUPERMOM". I've lost it at home, melting on my own - venting at everyone in my house for stupid stupid things - things like, "Mom, I need posterboard tomorrow," (oh crap, she really does), things like, "Geez, will you look at the calendar?! How are we supposed to be in all of these places that require us to be there all at the same time? And HOW, if we're supposed to be in those places, are we supposed to get our holiday shopping done? Our laundry done? Our house clean? My flat tire changed? Homework done? Lunches made? Spend time as a family?" Oh my head hurts.

My poor guy has been having his own struggles and meltdowns and, without realizing what I was doing, he's been stressing out worrying about ME. My Not-So-SmallBoy has been worrying about ME. Love him to pieces. He's worrying about himself, about making friends - he's feeling the "excommunication" from the group, he's associating that with what Ex is doing to him, he's struggling with reading comprehension at school, and now he's worrying about me. What a schmuck I am. Totally unthinking sometimes, but I am so grateful to have a family that will help me see what I'm doing and where I'm going.

SmallBoy and I increased our intensity on our reading program that we're doing at home. I'm not sure if I posted on exactly what we're doing, but we're using one of the programs that we do at our center at work, and helping him learn to visualize and make pictures for everything that he's reading. This will help him to build comprehension skills in order to understand what he's reading, and to build an even greater vocabulary. We were doing it just a little bit, which, I should know better, isn't nearly enough. Now we're working on our own little deal: He works really hard and gets x amount of stars. If, by the end of the week he has earned 50stars, he gets to teach me one of his video games. This works out well for both of us because I'm teaching him, and then he'll get to teach me. It's just really really been breaking my heart to see him hurting like this.

Christmas Chaos
This should be a little shorter of a blurb. Are YOU done yet? Religious affiliation aside, everyone celebrates SOMETHING this time of year - Solstice, Hannukah, Christmas, Kwaanza - all of which involve preparation of something, joining with loved ones, sharing of something, usually, some kinds of formal ceremonies - be they at church, temple, home, etc....This year, we have Christmas parties, Christmas baking, elongated Christmas celebration, transportation of the children ON Christmas, deciding who will have them when and how they will get where on Christmas when we're not even certain what time we'll be where on Christmas. And that's just Christmas DAY! Christmas Eve, SmallBoy will sing with the youth choir at mass and I'll be the cantor, so we'll be singing together. Then we'll be having some family over and beginning a new tradition. Christmas Day, we'll do our thing in the morning, Meem & FIL's for food and gifts, then to my aunt's for more food & gifts, then home to collapse. Day AFTER Christmas, we'll spend at Dad's with KR and then bring KR home with us for 2days!!! WHOOT WHOOT!

If I live that long, I have a feeling I'll enjoy it. I haven't finished my shopping, and I still haven't shopped for my mother, my sisters, my father, my father's wife, ET - and I think I still have some stuffers to get for the stockings - OH GOD! I haven't found the stockings yet! And I have NO time this week. Tonight - Scouts/Basketball Game/Reading with SmallBoy/Passing out. Tomorrow night - basketball/Reading with SmallBoy/promoting Code West's gig for Saturday night/passing out. Wed night - Basketball, something else...you get the idea. Somewhere in the spare moments between all of these activities and the important things like sleeping, eating, bathing, and just plain dropping dead, I can find time to do all of the rest of the stuff that still has to get done - oh yeah! And I have to color my hair and find time for haircuts too! EGADS!

Dear Santa:
All I want for Christmas are a few more hours in the day and an extra day on the weekend that are reserved soley for me, that cannot be taken up by obligations for OTHER PEOPLE, other things, work, or anything that I do not care to do. I have been a very good girl this year. This gift does not involve spending any money or creating a brand new toy or video game. I would say this is a relatively simple request. Thank you for taking the time to carefully consider my Christmas wish.
Yours truly,
Me

HOUSE...GRRRRR
Saturday, in the mail, I get a letter from my mortgage company telling me that because I had a nasty little spell with paying for my house, that my escrow is so far down, they are now DOUBLING my mortgage payment, effective Feb. 1. First of all, this house is so NOT worth that amount of money each month. Secondly, if I really and truly could afford to spend that much money on my house each month, I'd live on the richy rich side of town...or at least in a larger house in the comfortable side of town. Can you say REFI????? Seriously, do mortgage companies actually think people will settle for this and just pay it? No. But I've got to do it fast, cuz Feb 1 will come up soon. I don't make that much money in a month. Seriously, I need to sell my house, but it's not ready to be sold, plus stupid Ex will put up such a stink that it would be unbearable if I tried to leave this town of "wide lawns and narrow minds," (E. Hemingway on this town in which I live).

Electrician is coming tomorrow to see what he can do to fix this awful thing. Our house is still on the original fuses and is totally stupid. Our house is sinking on one side, my stairs are falling apart, my garage is falling apart, my insurance company changed my policy and now, get this, they no longer cover any damages to the house caused by the weather - so if a tree falls on my house - nope, if we have a tornado and my house blows to Oz - nope, if we get so much snow that my roof collapses -nope. Can they DO that?????????

Cookie Day
We made scads and scads of cookies, I took scads of pictures. We baked from 10:45 until 6, propped the TV up so that we could roll and decorate cookies while watching the Bears almost blow it against Tampa. We made Grandma Rosie cookies (secret family recipe, roll out dough), butter cookies, gingerbread cookies, butternut snowballs, peanut butter kiss cookies, apricot delights, almond crescents. There were about 21-25 of us (and we were missing several people), and we rolled and decorated and spritzed and baked. I tried desperately to post a slide show of the pics, but they moved my entire blog around.

Cookie day was at my mother's house this year, we rotate every year. My mother lives across the street from a forest preserve. As we were walking up to her house, we noticed a few deer at the edge of the forest. Surprisingly, they stuck around all day. We all walked down there at one point or another over the course of the day and looked at and admired them. I believe there were five total - 2 bucks, 2 does, and a fawn. Amazingly, the bucks were not fighting. (I know, could have cropped a little better, but forgot). We arrived at around 11:15 and the last time we saw the deer outside - you could see them just by looking out of the window, was just before it got dark. I'm impressed, and surprised that they hung out that long.

These are just a smattering of our end result. We baked. A lot. Of Cookies. Somewhere in my spare time, I will bake some more, when, though, I'm not certain. To more pics from cookie day, either peek over at the sidebar, or, to see them larger, head over to my myspace blog, where the slide show is considerable larger in both height & width. I think I'm finally done with this post now. I stopped in the middle of the Christmas Chaos part, went home from work, snarfed down some food, did some reading work with SmallBoy, went to scouts, came home. It's now 10:00. I think that I may just go crack a beer (another beer) and go color my hair. Of course that means, no sleep until at least midnight, but then at least I will have THAT done! EEEEEK. Ta Ta my Friends. Sleep tight.

Test Post

Is it me, is it blogger, or was it because I was trying to put the fabulous cookie day slide show into the post. (check the sidebar to see it - or go to my myspace blog to see it bigger!). I'll blog some more in a bit...trying to work this bug out and, believe it or not, I'm actually busy at work. YIKES

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Short , for Me, and Probably Missing LOTS of Important Stuff

I made it, somehow to the weekend. I think I have the flu, SmallBoy's just been having the most awful week, life is insane, and tomorrow's cookie day...oh, wait, this morning my alarm went off at my weekday wakeup time, entirely too early, I was convinced it was Friday until PC told me it wasn't, and then, I couldn't get back to sleep. WRONG.

I'll post tomorrow or Monday about my Not-So-SmallBoy, but I'll just suffice it to say that the hyperlexia - weakness in reading comprehension - is REALLY getting to him. When that's added onto his already overful plate, full of stress, social struggles, Ex being an asshole issues, lack of time to do what HE wants to do (video games), it just makes things incredibly difficult for him. So today, in the few hours that I didn't feel like total and complete crap, just partial, incomplete crap, SmallBoy and I made a couple batches of cookie dough for our big giant family Cookie Day - which I'm pretty sure I mentioned in the post below. That kept him focused and happy for a while. He's just been SO sad and pained lately, so it was nice to see him genuinely interested in doing something and being happy about it.

Girl's Christmas program was Thursday night and I never got pics up from it, so here are a few:





She had a basketball game today, well, two, but only played in one of them. Thankfully I was still feeling somewhat ok - tired cuz I couldn't go back to sleep this morning, but relatively ok. Took some pics there, too...can you tell I don't feel like writing, but want to post SOMETHING?





She made it, we won - of course. Low scoring game, but we won, and that's what mattered. Second pic was from the half time shoot-around.

OH....DUH....Meem is in the process of publishing a children's book about Princess & ET, it's called "Daddy's House." PC built her a myspace to help promote. There are no pics or blurbs up about the book yet, but it's going to be wonderful. The book is a story about a little girl who lives with her mom, but visits her daddy every weekend. It tells about all of the fun things they do when they're together, their adventures, and their love for each other. Obviously, I'll keep promoting it here, too, but hop over there and check it out - say hi, whatever. Don't worry, I'll let you know as soon as we know when it's going to hit the shelves!

Alright, Loves, it's almost midnight, I feel like crap and we've got a busy day tomorrow! Smoochies. Good night, sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Is This Week Over Yet?

Lord, what a stressful week it's been! No basketball to be running around for, but just a whole bunch of stuff piling up at one time creating tension beyond belief. The posts below (yesterday, Wednesday) describe the stress the whole Santa thing has placed, not only on SmallBoy, but on the rest of us...and here, I thought I was doing a GOOD, POSITIVE thing. My computer at home decided to, quite literally, take a dump. Just shuts down, all my memory is taken up...YO! JH! I NEED YOUR HELP!!!!! Thankfully, I managed to save all - most - of my pictures before that happened. I didn't get them cleared out of the computer to see if it was memory thing, but at least I have them saved this time.

To add on to that, we're trying to get all of the Christmas things going, purchased, wrapped, YIKES - craziness all in its own right. Then there are all of the things that go along with the holidays: school programs, parties for this group, that group, and the other group, secret santa, our own family traditions - Cookie Day. You know, of course that trying to cram all of these activities into just a few short weeks, on top of all of the OTHER things that are already on the schedule, creates massive havoc and more stress. (Kyra, I really think your solstice idea is a great one. Too much with Christmas. I can't find the link to the post, but if you want to read Kyra's solstice post, click on her link, then go look in Nov. 2006 for the "Lanterns" post).

Last night was the school's annual Christmas program. The 1st-3rd graders sing, the orchestras (varying age groups 1 - 8) play. SmallBoy was not in the concert this year since he's in 4th grade and does not, YET, play an instrument (viola or violin for Christmas), but Girl played her last Christmas program (Hopefully I'll be able to post some pics for you later - or tomorrow). It was lovely. We had no OT yesterday since J the Fabulous OT was sick, so I was quite relieved when SmallBoy said he wanted to stay home and have some "brother time" with LargeBoy (I know, that sounds awful, but I know you all understand). Tonight we run to get a Secret Santa gift for Girl's Girl Scout Christmas Party, which is tonight, because we haven't been free to do it any OTHER time. Tomorrow, I THINK, all we have is Girl's game and taking LargeBoy shopping and driving. Sunday, though...is insane.

Sunday - our annual Cookie Day. This has been a tradition in my family for, probably 25-30 years. As many of us are available, and we are a LARGE family on my mother's side, get together for a day of baking, decorating, and eating cookie dough (yes, we're bad). Everyone brings a batch or two of their favorite cookie dough and we make gobs and gobs of cookies - all day! I made it a point to not be singing at mass this weekend so that I can get there early and maximize cookie baking & decorating. This will be the first weekend in about 7 that I haven't had to cantor mass. Well, as it turns out, Girl's string quartet is playing at a breakfast for the parish that morning. Granted, it's only 45minutes, but she won't be done and ready to roll until about 11:00, but then we don't get to mom's and in the swing of things til 11:15/11:30.

In the middle of all of this, SmallBoy has a scout meeting. 2:00. Smack in the middle of the day. Sunday meetings usually run about 2 hours. I thought about having him miss the meeting since he's been looking so forward to cookie day, but after talking to his den leader, who knows SmallBoy very well, we decided that it would be best if SmallBoy goes to the meeting. The boys will be earning a badge, practicing a skit that they'll be performing at the Scout Christmas party on Thursday night, having a uniform inspection (guess what I'm doing tonight - sewing badges, UGH! Laura, how fast can you do this for me - LOL), and doing something else that requires his presence. Cookie day can be a bit overwhelming, though, so it's probably a good thing for SmallBoy to take a break in the middle of the day and go hang out at Scouts with PC, more bonding time for them, too. I just worry that SmallBoy will be spending the entire time at scouts thinking about what he might possibly be missing at Cookie Day - will all the good cookies be decorated already? will all the good decorations be used up already? will somebody take home (or worse, eat) the cookie that I decorated especially for me? JUST a little much for me. I suppose, though, that if I dwell on it, he probably will, too. So, I won't. I'll just trust that I'm making the right decision.

After all of that is said and done, we go back home, take showers, make lunches, pack backpacks, go to bed and start the next week all over again. I think I need a glass of wine (or a cup of coffee) now.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

How Do You Spell Oy Vay?

The keeping of the Great Secret of Santa has proven to be an extremely, unbelievably difficult task for my Not-So-SmallBoy. I wrote yesterday about how we had given him something to keep in his pocket to help him keep his lip zipped whenever he felt the urge to share the news. At the time, I thought that was a BRILLIANT idea - and it was. What wasn't a good idea, was re-stressing the importance of not telling. My poor little guy had a REALLY awful day yesterday because of it - or at least, that's my theory.

About 3:15 yesterday, I got a call from Mrs. M, SmallBoy's teacher. She had started writing this in his communication notebook, but as she hit two pages (and she writes small), she figured that calling me was the better idea. The trouble started in social studies class, which he has with a different teacher, Ms. R. Ms. R is a wonderful teacher and is cued into all things SmallBoy also. PC and I went in to her classroom last week and presented the book and Asperger's to the class. As we did the first time, we were well received and the students were glad to have a "reason" that SmallBoy is the way he is and acts the way he acts. Kids are still kids, though, and, unfortunately, in social studies class, Ms. R. had them work in pairs, pairing SmallBoy with someone who likes him, but doesn't "get" him. They had a difference of opinion about which page the assignment started on, and SmallBoy melted - BIG TIME. Crying, yelling, your basic SmallBoy-having-a-really-shitty-day meltdown.

After class, Ms. R spoke with Mrs. M who suggested that she always, always, always pair SmallBoy with his best friend, his rock at school, PQ. PQ is such a wonderful boy and somehow, just knows how to read SmallBoy. I spoke with SmallBoy last night and questioned him, gently, about what he should do if he and his partner disagree on something - ask for help from another classmate or a teacher. He said, yes, he agreed this was the right solution.

That was just the first time. Once they were back in Mrs. M's class, they were starting Language Arts. In preparation for the next part of the lesson, she told the class to take out their practice books and put them on their desks, but not to start working in them until she gave the assignment. Yep, you guessed it - SmallBoy started working in the book - he knew the assignment, it was on the board. Mrs. M was fine with that, saw that he had started working and turned a blind eye - she's good with him that way. One of the other students, however, saw that SmallBoy had begun to work in the practice book and ratted him out. Of course, Mrs. M had to say something then, she couldn't just ignore it. Well, now the attention was drawn to him and he got upset. He got loud, yelled, didn't understand WHY he couldn't work in his book if he wanted to. Mrs. M explained that because she had given the directive NOT to work in the books until she said to, that the class, as a whole, including SmallBoy, had to wait.

He wasn't satisfied with that answer and laid down on the floor next to his desk - and continued working in his book. Mind you, he's not disturbing anyone, but he's not following the directions. Again, though, Mrs. M was willing to let SmallBoy be, as he was now quiet. A second student ratted him out this time. And that was that. Nuclear Meltdown.

He screamed. He cried. He yelled. He went under a desk in the back of the room - the quiet desk - still working in his practice book. Mrs. M told him that it would be just fine if he wanted to work there and cool out there, but that he had to end the yelling and crying. She asked if he'd rather lie on the floor in the hallway, but he wanted desperately to be in the classroom. All of a sudden he let out a yelp and started crying again. It turns out that he burned himself on one of the pipes in the classroom. The classes have radiator heat on that side, and Mrs. M always makes certain that once the students are in the room, the radiator is off. Unfortunately, the pipes that lead to it are still holding heat and steam. It wasn't a bad burn, just a little one, like if you brush your hand across the cookie sheet, but sensory issues plus already being in a "bad place" with his meltdown and his day, he was just lost then. I dont' remember how she finally got him to cool off, because by the time we had gotten to that part of the conversation, I was somewhere else in my head. I did manage to formulate a thought that perhaps, the behavior issues yesterday were linked somehow with SmallBoy focusing ALL of his energy and strength on NOT spilling the Santa secret. Mrs. M concurred, as did PC, that it's a very likely theory. He used everything he had to contain that, and just couldn't hold himself together any longer.

SmallBoy has been talking about how he's having a very difficult time with making/keeping friends at school and Mrs. M confirmed that yesterday. She said it seems as though the other students are keeping him at a distance because they never know if/when he's going to explode and what is going to set him off. I wish that I could be there with him so that I can head these off. I see them, I know how to handle them and bring them down, sometimes before they start. Nope. Gotta work. That sucks. I mean, I know he has to learn these things on his own, or he won't learn them for later in life. My heart just ripped in half, and I think my legs were wobbly until about 8:00 last night. We have OT tonight, so I'll mention it to J the Fabulous OT and see what suggestions she has.

Update: J the Fabulous OT just called- she's deathly ill. No OT tonight. CRAP! Not sure what to do. SmallBoy needs it desperately. I really do need to find somewhere in my house to put an OT studio - or to at least convert his bedroom into one.
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We also have the school Christmas program tonight, so it's going to be rush rush rush from one activity to another - but we've had a quiet week, so that's just fine. This year, will be our last year. We've had one child or another in the program for the last 10yrs or so. The children in grades 1 -3 do a little concert, and the three different orchestras play. The whole thing lasts maybe an hour, but it's a BIG DEAL. SmallBoy won't be in it this year, since he's in 4th grade, but Girl is playing with the orcestra. As an 8th grader, this is her last Christmas program. Hopefully we can get there in time to get good seats. This is SUCH a big deal, that the front 2 or 3 rows of center pews in the church are auctioned off for this program at our annual school auction - and they go for upwards of $800 - $1000 - THAT's how desperately people want good seats. The kids are adorable, though. Usually the entire first grade is missing teeth.

I'll bring my camera and hopefully get good pics of Girl playing. My new camera has a setting that lets you take good pics even in places you need a flash but aren't allowed to use one. I can't wait to show off all of the pictures that I'll be taking - once I learn all of the fun stuff. I'm not one to sit down and study manuals, but this camera has SO many cool features, that I would definitely be wasting my time and my money by not learning how to use everything. Posting my pics, however, proves incredibly difficult since I NEVER get to use my own computer. MOST of my posting is done at work because my computer is constantly in use by other people. I usually have to wait until midnight or later to get on. Last night, I fell asleep on the couch waiting for my turn. PC took this hysterical pic of me sleeping, and one of the OCFs all snuggled up next to me. Hopefully, someday, I'll be able to get another computer - one I can use - JUST for me. I bought this laptop so that I could write my book. Now there's about a smidgeon of memory left, creepy things that pop up, in, my "d" key sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, and out of my computer, the lap top mouse doesn't work, so I had to use one of my USB ports to plug in a mouse, and the other port is almost always in use charging someone's iPod. EEEK - and the damn thing's not even paid off yet!

Boy, I'm getting way too stressed, and it's barely 9am!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

New Band & Stuff

Last night we met, again, with JG and another gentleman to work on forming ANOTHER band, to supplement what we're doing with Code West. We're looking to play a LOT and a similar, yet different form of music. Hoping a lot of good will come out of this. Tonight, we're going to start recording one or two things and get them sent out and ready to be put up on North Country's myspace. We'll be doing some bluesy rock, a little bit of jazz-ish kinda stuff, and, well, having a grand old time doing it. What I really like is that everyone is willing to do what we have to in order to get moving and start out from the gate running! It seems that everyone has the same ideas on how and what we want to do, and three of our 5 already have some originals written!!!

Oh, I should plug: If you're around on December 23, Code West will be playing at the Pioneer Tap in Forest Park. Click on our myspace for more info. I know, I know, it's the night before The Night Before Christmas. Hopefully by then, you'll have everything done and will be ready to go out and relax before the holiday chaos. Or, if you're like me, you'll need a break from the fact that you're STILL not done. SO, if you're around, come on out! It'll be a blast.

Kids - yes, kids! I'm feeling particularly old today. Girl went to school with LargeBoy today for a shadow day. For those of you not familiar (and I certainly wasn't until very recently), the shadowing day is a day when 8th graders can visit the high school and follow a student around to get a feel for the school, the classes, the structure, the enormity of the school compared to the school they came from. She is shadowing her step-sister, not LargeBoy, because neither of them thought that would be "cool."

I think this is a wonderful process. I have no idea if this was around when I was going into high school, oh so many years ago. If it was, it certainly wasn't something that was brought to everyone's attention as it is now. So, this morning, on our runs, we dropped of TWO children at the high school. THAT was our "shadowing" - getting a feel for how it's going to be with two high school children. EEEEEK!

SmallBoy will be the last one at his school - from our family, that is. I thought he might be worried about not having his sister there anymore, but he was totally gung-ho about the idea. I believe he said something along the lines of, "Yes! Girl won't be there anymore!" It was kind of funny.

What's nice about that, though, is that it's giving us a good feel for how HE feels about his independence. This year began the walking home alone in preparation for next year. I didn't think he's be ready to be on his own next year, but apparently, that's not going to be an issue.

He IS having difficulty, though, with the revelation about Santa. I got a note yesterday in his communication book from his teacher saying that he had had a great day overall, but that he's having a very hard time not sharing his "Santa Secret," and could we please discuss this with him. I was surprised, yet not surprised. I thought that, being in 4th grade, he would be one of the last kids to know. I found out in 1st grade. So I was very surprised when the teacher's note came in. I'm not nearly as surprised, however, that he feels this need to share his new found knowledge with everyone he can. It gives him a feeling of confidence that he knows something that not necessarily everyone else does.

We expressed to him how incredibly important it was to keep this secret to himself, because there are many kids older, his age, and younger, who don't know yet. We told him that it was up to their parents to determine when was the right time to let them in on the secret. To help remind him, and deter him from blurting it out, we gave him a little something from our dishwasher project (something else he's fascinated with) to keep in his pocket during the school day. We told him that whenever he felt like telling someone about Santa, that he could reach in his pocket and hold this bolt-y thing or that he could take out the bolt-y thing and talk to the kids about THAT instead of about Santa. He laughed. He thought we were totally silly, but at least this way, he won't be perseverating on the fact that, "I can't tell I can't tell I can't...oh I GOTTA TELL!"

If anyone has any other wonderful ideas on how to dissuade the sharing of the secret identity of the Jolly Red One, I'd LOVE to hear them!

Monday, December 11, 2006

CAN WALK 2007

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI missed it last year because I had to work, I think it was our spring open house - probably will be again this year. NOT missing it this year. This year, in Chicago, the Walk will take place on May 20...I believe, at Soldier's Field. If you'd like to support Cure Autism Now, you can make a donation either directly to Cure Autism Now, or by joining Team SmallBoy - as a member of our walking team, by making a donation, or both.

When you click on the link, it should, in theory, bring you to a page with a pic of SmallBoy in a tree. From there, you can make a donation directly, or click on the link to join our team - where you can join the team and make a donation at the same time.

Please spread the word to people you know, people in YOUR state, people who, like me, didn't know about the walk last year until it was too late and may still not know that they can help support such a great cause. I know, still a short post today, but worth it all the way.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday Sunday Sunday

I've made the switch over to beta, figured out what I'm doing and am finding this new format to be pretty cool so far. I discovered the "label" feature and am in the process of going back and labeling all 409 posts. As I went through the month of November, to mark them all as NaBloPoMo, I discovered that somehow or other, I MISSED November 4th - two posts on 11/3, but nothing on the 4th. I was SOOOOOOOOOO diligent about getting them in. I threw my children off of the computer, "GET OFF! I NEED TO POST!" I can blame it on I thought I was posting after midnight and apparently didn't. I can blame it on a different time zone (but I wasn't in one), or I could just suck it up and say I didn't get the post in for some reason, and just never realized it. AAAAAAARRRGGHHH!!!!! Well, next year. Unless you guys, Laura & Kyra, really want to try and get a NaBloJanMo going - even if it is only the three of us.

This weekend went by entirely to quickly. Anyone agree? Ex had Girl and LargeBoy, of course NOT SmallBoy, for the weekend. Friday night we stayed in and made some music. We are in the process of forming another band (in addition to, not instead of Code West). So, ET came over, as did JG, who will be our other guitar player. We hung out, made music (and merry), and had a blast. SmallBoy hung out with me while the guys did their thing with their guitars and bongos. He taught me a couple more games and played just with me for a while. It was very nice for both of us, I think, especially since it was a weekend when he had been, once again, excluded from visiting his father.

Saturday was a very busy day from start to finish, yet it didn't seem overly crazy, like it usually does on the weekends. We had promised LargeBoy that we would take him out driving to log in some more behind-the-wheel time. Ex refuses to do this with him (Why? I'll never know.), so PC took him out for a couple of hours first thing in the morning, when traffic was relatively light. He's really doing a wonderful job. I'm still terrified, and I'm sure I will be for the rest of my life when I know he's behind the will (right, Mom?), but I'm much more comfortable with him driving than I was in September. New element in the equation now, the snow, but he's got to learn somehow.

GR had called and asked if SmallBoy would like to spend the night. She likes to have GR and SmallBoy nights when she knows that Ex has the other two. SmallBoy was THRILLED and had his bag packed within seconds. I told him that it would probably be mid to late afternoon before GR picked him up, because she had things to do, and we had Girl's play to attend. He was quite fine with that, as he was ecstatic that he was going to GR's and that he was going to see his sister's play.

The play was fantastic. The drama club performed a play based on children's books including Courduroy, The Grouchy LadyBug, Horton Hatches an Egg, Lon Po Po, Pierre, The Rough Faced Girl, and a couple others that I can't remember. The play began with a group of kids in the library talking about just how TOTALLY LAME it is to read. "Boring!" "Reading? Um, no." With that, one of the girls knocked over the table where the books are displayed and out rolled the Grouchy Ladybug. The librarian told the girls that to make up for losing the ladybug, they would have to read all of the stories until they found the one in which she belonged, and returned her to her story. The performances were wonderful. The play was written to have a narrator reading the story and then the story book character reciting their "lines." Girl was in 3 or 4 of the stories. In this pic, she was the wolf in Lon Po Po - a story similar to the mother goat and her three kids. Mother goes to visit grandma and tells the kids not to let anyone in no matter what. Big Bad Wolf (Girl) poses as Grandma and enters into the house, the kids finally discover her identity and then set about getting rid of the wolf. In Horton Hatches the Egg, she was the Ringmaster at the circus. Now, the costumes are never too elaborate, it's junior high play in a Catholic School, so you know that it's all volunteers, but the kids always manage to pull them off. She came out in a "ringmaster" jacket and a hat and looked fantastic. She already had her nose and eyebrows on for her Lon Po Po character, so she looked extra adorable. She came out and with all of the confidence in the world, like she owned this role, like she was meant to be a ringmaster. She was graceful, elegant, and Seuss-ian. PC and I were terribly proud of her. I really want to put more pics in this post, but I'll add them to the slide show in the sidebar instead. In the Grouchy LadyBug, Snood played the ladybug and Girl played one of the animals that the ladybug kept challenging to fight, in Girl's case, the rhinoceros. I tried to get a good pic of the two of them on the stage together, but when I finally got into position, Girl was the one and only character that came out stage left. Go figure.

After the play, GR came and picked up SmallBoy. PC and I were home alone with nothing to do - at least for an hour or so before we headed out to Girl's basketball game. It was against the rich snooty kids from the next village over. They had all been "myspace-ing" each other all week and trash talking each other. Our girls were pumped. It was the other school's Pack-the-Place, the school spirit game - the BIG rivalry. Sadly, our girls did NOT win, but their record for the season, so far is 15-3, so we're not complaining. Between the coaching, the shots just NOT falling, bad defense, bad calls & non-calls, it was not a pretty game, but they fought hard. They've got a great record and we're all proud of them. After the game, PC and I had SUCH a craving for sub sandwiches that we stopped at one of the best joints in town, SubTender (or SubT, for short), grabbed some subs and headed home - to our empty house. Gee, what should an exhausted couple that hardly ever gets alone time do with a house to themselves - no kids, no obligations - do for the evening? What any couple would do in this situation; we plopped ourselves on the sofa with our sandwiches and popped in the first disc of the second season of The Office. I nodded off by about episode 4, PC was out by episode 6. We were in bed, asleep by midnight.

That actually served me well, as I had to sing 7:30 mass at church this morning. I so had hopes to go back to bed when I got home, but by 8:45, I was awake. PC got out of bed, we made some coffee, and discussed our game plan. We both had a craving for biscuits and gravy for breakfast, so we headed to our favorite breakfast restaurant - Page's, in Hinsdale (GO THERE!!!!). We pigged out. Out to GR's we went to pick up SmallBoy and go to Cub Scouts. We were doing an outdoor 3 mile hike today, so we knew we'd walk off breakfast. The weather was relatively decent (for Chicago in December), especially compared to the great freeze we had last week. PC ad SmallBoy, fresh from the frozen camp out last weekend, were well prepared with their layers of clothing. I did pretty ok, too, but by about 5 minutes into the walk I was wearing both my hat and PC's hat (which technically IS mine anyway). The boys goofed around, explored, got off task, on task, followed, passed, lagged behind, but had a great time. Every so often our den leader, Mr. G, would stop the guys and have them massage their feet to warm them, take a hydration break and, believe it or not, cool off. We got pretty cozy warm while hiking. SmallBoy got so warm that he wanted to take off his hat (especially since some of the other scouts had). I, not thinking in ASD mode, ended up arguing with him about keeping his hat on. DUH - after going back an forth for about 45 seconds, I told him that he could take it off for 2minutes but then had to put it back on. After 2 minutes, he put it back on - no arguements, whatsoever. LIGHT BULB! I told him then that, absolutely, when he got too hot, he could take his hat off for 2 minutes to cool down. Bam! He put it back on each time!

The boys hiked along doing 1.5miles out and 1.5 miles back. They were fortunate enough, on the way back to spot a fawn - then an 8-point buck and the doe (can you find him in here?). We were considerably closer than this picture represents. It was really fun watching the boys saying, "COOL! Deer!" and knowing that the deer were probably thinking, "COOL! People!" We stood and stared at each other for about 2 or 3 minutes before we moved on. The deer, surprisingly, never bolted - I expected them to take off at the noise and sudden movements that the boys made, but they stayed, and we moved on.

Our long, cold afternoon came to an end as we dropped SmallBoy off for a whole whopping hour at his father's. He insisted on having SmallBoy for a little bit of time this weekend, even after I explained his incredibly busy schedule for the day. Had I known HOW little time he would have him, I would have just said no. Literally, it was an hour, and then he came bounding through my door again. I asked him if he had a good time at his father's and he told me about what he and LargeBoy did for the hour - worked on a Lego toy he has there.

Now, we're all home - except Girl, she's at a softball tournament (don't worry, it's indoors). Snat and a friend are over trying get our dishwasher to work, the boys are watching a combination of The Simpsons and football. LargeBoy is DESPERATELY waiting for his turn on the computer. He's got some CDs to burn into iTunes, so I should be a nice mama and let him have it. Perhaps later I'll get the rest of the pics from the play and the scout outing loaded into the slide show for your entertainment.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Ok - Switching Now

Somehow, I managed to make the switch to beta. Now all I have to do is figure out how to get all of my cool stuff back - you know my slide shows, my links, all that jazz. In the meantime, bear with me. The kids are at their dad's this weekend, so I only have to work around everything else we're doing today in order to get computer time.

Stick around. I'll figure it all out soon!

Friday, December 08, 2006

She's at it Again!

I am still receiving congratulations from parents at school on Girl's award. I am still bragging and saying, "Yes, we are terribly proud of her. She truly IS such a wonderful Girl." Everyone asks how she does it? What is it about her that makes her so wonderful? Well, obviously she gets that from me, and I got that from my mother (you're welcome, Mom). In this pic, she's gathering the food that they collected during a food drive at school and getting it ready for delivery to the local food pantry. How DOES she do it? She's in 8th grade and already more overextended than I...ok, she can't be MORE overextended since most of my overextension goes hand in hand with her crazy schedule, but for a 14yr old girl, she is overextended. Tell me if this doesn't make you want to collapse (and this is just a normal week):

Drama Club after school 1 - 2 days/wk, orchestra at lunch 2 - 3 days/wk, student council (I have NO idea when THEY meet), yearbook committee 1/mo at 7:00am, Girl Scouts 1 -2 x/mo, more at the holidays, basketball practice/game 6 out of 7 days/wk, softball practice/tournament 1-2x/week, babysitting - standing 1/wk after school gig...and seriously, the list goes on.

With all of this, she still manages to find time to achieve High Honors at school, to be a force of nature in life, on the court, field, diamond or whatever sports venue she's playing, be a phenomenal friend, an amazing daughter, and an absolutely supportive sister. She is sandwiched by her brothers, and keeps up with them both. She "gets" SmallBoy. She knows how to work with him, anticipate situations, handle meltdowns. She takes what LargeBoy, as the older brother, dishes out - and gives right back.

She's a strong girl. She's gone through this horrible crap with Ex - through the divorce, through her father's coniption fit about my remarriage, through all of the crap Ex is pulling about SmallBoy, through the crap he's pulling now about taxes. She's seen the ugly side of life, the real, the unfortunate, the underprivileged, those who make us look wealthy (and we are SOOOOOO not). She appreciates what we have, even if it's not as much as we'd like. She has compassion. She stands up for a cause and for her beliefs.

An example of that would be the viewpoint/opinion blurb that was printed in one of our local newspapers on Wednesday. I can't link it for you because it's been removed from their website. Our village is up in arms over playing night games on the football field at the high school. Various reasons include the proximity of the residents to the blaring lights, their concern over people "lingering", parking issues (which, are a joke in this town to begin with), and the race/achievement gap that seems to be ever present. This particular viewpoint was posted along with a picture of the students of our high school marching in support of lighting the football stadium. The students shown marching in this picture were of mixed races - black, white, yellow, purple, green, whatever - it shouldn't matter. One African-American student, representing the football team, in his school jersey, was walking to the right of the student carrying the a sign in support of lighting the stadium. This student was making the peace sign across his body with his right hand at the sign. The viewpoint/opinion blurb that was written by one of the residents in our village accused this student of flashing gang signs in the picture, thus pointing out that we shouldn't light the stadium, because it will attract gangs. He also stated that this photo confirms that our high school has a gang problem. Not only that, but he, through that, accused this student, who he does not know, of being a gang banger. Well, you can imagine the uproar and outrage from the school community, the residents of the village, and the student's family.

This accusation affected not only the school, but the student and is family directly. Regardless of the outcome or anyone's opinion, my point is about my daughter. She, being the wonderful person that she is, listened to LargeBoy explain the whole situation clearly, listened to LargeBoy's letter to the editor (the whole school is writing letters - LargeBoy's is amazing and extremely well written, btw, and, if I find a copy, I will post it for you), and then immediately went online and responded to the paper directly with her own letter of disgust, disappointment, and apology, as a resident of our village, to the football player's family. This from an 8th grader. I'm so proud. She fights for what she believes in.

She's always doing something for someone. She's totally selfless - ok, not totally, she IS a teenager, but you get the idea. I'm so proud of my children. They are amazing. What a wonderful gift I was given.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Lord, Help Me Make the Switch!

THIS is how I'm feeling right now. I've been trying to make "the switch" to blogger beta, since, whether we want to or not, we all will ultimately have to either make the switch to blogger beta or to another host. Simple enough process, I figured, since Blogger pretty much walks you through everything. It's geared towards severely technologically impaired people like me who either like to do things simply, without worrying about formats, codes, and all that stuff or those, me included, who just don't get all the mumbo jumbo with html and blah blah blah. Sure, I'll make the switch tonight, and tomorrow I'll have this great new blog.

Not so, my dear friends. It keeps asking me to create a user id and password...which do. Then it tells me that my password is incorrect (not that it's too short or doesn't meet their specifications for a password). Ok, fine. I created a different password. Then it tells me that my email address is missing the @somewhere.something part. Ok, fine! Since it didn't tell me what to put as the @somewhere.something part, I just used my regular email address (because it said it had to be an existing email address). Nope. Not good enough. Guess why. Come on, I dare ya. "That email is already in use by another user." Yeah! ME!

I'm stressed. I'll try again tomorrow. Sadly, though, this has totally blown my post for today...and it was a good one, too, though I don't remember what about. GRRRRRR - oh, yeah, that's right -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA!!!!!! TE AMO!!!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

'Tis the Season for Dispelling THE Myth

I finally had THE talk with SmallBoy. You know, the one about the jolly old guy with the white beard. The guy who wears a red suit and stays out all night flying high as a kite, going into people's homes and eating all of their cookies, and then leaving gifts in return. Yeah, that's the guy. The big S.C. I wasn't too certain how the conversation was going to go or be understood. Granted, he's 10years old and in 4th grade, and I'm surprised he hasn't found out from peers or from spoil sports wanting to ruin the fun, but it was the Asperger's reaction that I was concerned with. I wasn't certain how knowing this reality was going to affect his trust in us.

Let me start at the beginning, though, and tell you how all of this came into play. On Monday, I had put up several posts, which, for me, is unusual, but I was having fun. In one of the posts, I had put up a funny "music" video that I had seen on Bloggg's site. It was the cast of the Christmas Charlie Brown video doing the dance that they do, only it was set to the song, "Heya". The whole family watched this video and rolled on the floor in hysterics (go check it out, you'll pee in your pants). As I was addressing Christmas cards last night, SmallBoy hopped onto the computer and checked into my site to watch the video again. I don't usually let him read my site without my knowledge, because I don't always say very nice things about how his father treats him or his other two children or me, for that matter. This time, though, SmallBoy was sitting right next to me. and I knew what he would be looking at. Perfectly harmless, or so I thought.

All of a sudden, I hear him say,

"You got me MOON BOOTS?"

OOPS! I knew exactly what had happened. When he was watching the video, he had scrolled far enough that the beginning of the previous post was showing. Guess what that one was about. God! You're smart! Yep, I had posted about what would be great Christmas gifts for SmallBoy - things that would help his sensory issues, his spatial awareness issues, and would also give him a way to use up a lot of his energy to help when his engine is too high or when he's feeling particularly upset or stressed. At the VERY beginning of the post, though, I mentioned that I had bought him some moon boots for Christmas. There's a story behind that for another post, but for now the door was open for the Santa conversation. How to begin?

I took a moment to argue with myself about whether or not I should just leave well enough alone. Certainly I could say that, yes, indeed, the moon boots were from PC and me. We give gifts from Santa and gifts from us anyway, so it wouldn't have been an issue. I could have simply let the proverbial sleeping dragon lie. Nope. I knew that if I did not seize the moment, it would be lost for another year or, at least, until someone spilled the beans. I inhaled to prepare my words and, moreso, to prepare myself for the fact that my youngest child, my baby, was about to lose the last shred of childhood innocence - the fantasy that we've been playing out for the last 16 years, since LargeBoy was a small boy was about to come to its fruition. And within the long 5 second inhale, I readied myself for that reality also.

I exhaled and said to him,

"Hey, SmallBoy - how do you think I knew that you were getting moon boots for Christmas? Remember that conversation we had about my secret identity (tooth fair myth disepelled), well, I've got another one. Can you guess who?"

"No way! You're Santa, too?"

"Yep." (LONG pause to gauge reaction) "So, what do you think about that?"

"Sooooooo, you're Santa?"

"Yep. Is that ok with you?"

"Yeah. Soooooo can I still believe in Santa?"

Ahhhh, the Christmas spirit is not broken, nor lost. Face it, we all still have that Santa thing, right? I went on to explain how it's wonderful, he can still believe as long as he knows that it is the grown ups who bring the presents. He can still believe, but knowing this new secret, it's his responsibility to play along with those who don't yet know their parents' secrect identities. He was cool with that. I'm so happy. It could have been MUCH MUCH worse. Now, my biggest problem is finding him something DIFFERENT for Christmas. Anyone have any more ideas?