Monday, January 29, 2007

No School, North Country, New Things

I have a love/hate relationship with the kids' days off from school. It makes my mornings SO much easier when, in my rush to get off to work, I don't have to stop mid-routine and wake up one, then the other, then another (repeatedly). Then again, Girl wants to go shopping, LargeBoy has school....what to do with SmallBoy? Granted, he's 10, and, were he NT, he could probably stay home by himself, but I don't think I'd be too comfortable with that ~ a dilemma with which working parents grapple each time the school calendar bolds those two words: NO SCHOOL.

Today we worked out a compromise, Girl didn't leave to go shopping until almost noon, and PC was going to be home around 3. I work 7minutes away, so I can get home in an emergency. We briefed him on what was going on. He's been home alone for 1/2hr/45 minute stints before, when he gets home from school and his brother and/or sister haven't arrived yet. He's fine. He gets up in the morning WELL before we're ready to and is able to occupy himself, although, it's usually with the TV, the computer, or video games...but the point is, he's able. I called a few times to check on him, but he never answers the phone which, I suppose, is for the best. He's fine. I'll be more fine when I get home.

Saturday night the new band, North Country, made its debut. I will have to admit that, although I attempted, and probably pulled off, an air of calm and don't-worry-be-happy, I was PETRIFIED....not because I wasn't confident in the band, I knew they'd rock, but because it was a first. I took for granted the comfort that comes with knowing where everything's going to fall, how people will interact on stage, what people have come to expect of the band...but it was fine. We had a few glitches, but whatever we encountered, we overcame and laughed off, especially our double - time song, Redneck Women (Alvin & the Chipmunks Style). We had a riot, though. I absolutely cannot wait to do it again. These people are so talented and so professional, and we were all right here under each others' noses.

I also had the good fortune to meet fellow autism blogger, Wade and his daughter, L, who had the great timing to be in town over the weekend. I can't tell you how cool it was to finally meet him (THANX FOR COMING - and staying longer than you had planned!) It was really nice to finally put a face, and a voice, to the amazing, "discussion - inspiring" posts over at Injecting Sense. I gotta tell ya, he's really cool! You gotta meet him!

In addition to the band, there are a lot of new things going on in our life, but I'll speak to the most important - that being the Not-So-SmallBoy. He spent Saturday night with my mom (GR), because Girl & LargeBoy were at Ex's. SmallBoy has a great time when he's there, he has a place to chill, sans all the distractions that our house and our schedules and our lives have to offer. Just SmallBoy & GR. When he got home, his engine was nice and regulated, as were mine & PC's, but, of course, as the afternoon rolled on and things got back to "normal," everyone's engines revved up high and we all got a little irritable.

SmallBoy ended up in his room cooling off/arguing with me over his GameBoy until I told him he had to clean his room. That, as you would expect, was met with a great big, "WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!" As we sat and talked together, I explained to him that I did not expect this Herculean task to be done all in one session, and made him a list of what he needed to do - Lists are beautiful things! After a few more trips up the stairs by PC & me, and some gentle prodding, the task got done. We had also turned on some of his Listening Therapy music (btw - the frequencies still play on the boom box the way they do in the headphones). His engine came WAY back down. I went up at 9 to check on him and he was, for the most part, done with the list I had written for him. Of course there is still some work, I called it "fine tuning," to be done, but he had finished what I had set for him. Dressed in his blue fuzzy sports robe and his boxer shorts, he was ready to come back down stairs and join us, but stopped before he did so. We are keeping Snood for a few days while her parents are out of town, so SmallBoy has an extra sister, and he knows that, even though she is at our house so much that she is practically another one of our family, she is still a guest. He stopped and said to me, "Mom, I need to put my clothes back on. We have Snood here and I can't go downstairs in my robe & sleep shorts." COOOOOOOL!

We have been trying, for a LONG time, to get him to grasp the concept of being dressed appropriately when we have guests, even when it's bedtime. He would always come down in his tighty whities when he was getting ready for bed, or if he got up first (which he usually does). This time, was as though something clicked. TaDA!

I'm going to try and write more again, but we're making some huge decisions in our life right now and they're wracking my nerves a bit, but hey, that'll be something to write about, won't it. Tonight, though, I don't think I'll get to it. My goal is to get the DAMN TREE DOWN! Yes, my Christmas tree is still up. I just haven't had time to get to it. It's never an easy thing, and it's never even close to as much fun and festive as putting it up. One year our tree was up til Valentine's Day (and beyond~~~sorry, my brain was invaded by the spirit of Buzz Lightyear). It WILL come down tonight. We actually discussed putting a drop of superglue on each ornament and just carrying it out to the garage...LOLOLOLOL. We also thought of telling people that yes, in fact, we had already taken our tree down, but that we looked at our calendar and saw that we have no time between now and next Christmas to put it up again, so, the only logical time to put the tree of for Christmas 2007 was, well, now.

I need coffee....anyone have coffee???????

Friday, January 26, 2007

"You Must Respect My Authoritah!"

For those of you who abhor South Park and all of its content, I apologize, but considering the post, I think that was a very appropriate opening line. For those of you who LOVE South Park, you'll understand. For those of you asking, "Just what the HELL is she talking about," well, just keep reading.

At the beginning of 2nd quarter, we started sending "the notebook" to and from school - the Communication Notebook. It's been a lifesaver for both PC & me and for SmallBoy's teachers. It has become something that we NEED...I need that notebook when I get home to find out what happened during the day; Mrs. M needs the notebook first thing in the morning to find out how he's doing, where SmallBoy's engine is, and how his spirits are, if he's having issues with homework, behavior, whatever.

The end of last week and beginning of this week were great. The only thing the notebook said was, "Great day today," or "Another GREAT day." I was SO excited, we were on a roll after coming out of a slump that, I believe was fueled by the bug that was visiting our house, anxiety about a test, and the stress around the house of trying to be in 12 places at once. The last couple of days, however, the notebook has said, "Great morning, but this afternoon at the all-school assembly, SmallBoy got upset when not picked by the presenter for an audience participant. Ms. B (the principal - also a lifesaver), had to take him out into the hallway and calm him. After the assembly, he joined us back in class." Yesterday, I ran into Mrs. M after work, we occasionally cross paths where we exercise....she decompressing from a day with high strung students, including SmallBoy, and me decompressing from a day with high strung students, a totally silly corporate system, and getting re-fueled to go home to SmallBoy and to play cab driver to all of Girl's sports (it's playoffs this week). Mrs. M said to me yesterday, "We had a FANTASTIC afternoon, but the morning was terrible. He's having a problem with being disprespectful."

I wanted to be surprised and say, "NO, not MY SmallBoy. He knows better. He has been taught to respect those in authority roles," but I knew that what comes out of an ASD mouth can VERY easily be taken as disprespectful, though it is not. Angry outburst, inability to pre-censor and think twice to rephrase and change the tone of voice....yeah, that can very easily be taken as disrespect.

I guess what happened was that Ms. R, the Social Studies teacher, had given them homework for that night, and SmallBoy wanted to do it right then and there. She told him that it was HOMEwork to be done at HOME. He was not satisfied and asked if he could go out in the hall and do it. She stressed to him, again, that this was classtime to work on the lesson, not homework time. I guess he then got extremely upset and threw a marker across the room out of frustration, and proceeded to have a bit of a tantrum.

We had a little talk when I got home last night. SmallBoy was very aware that what he had done was not appropriate for the classroom. I applauded him for being able to tell me WHY he had gotten upset (and identifying that he was, in fact, upset - AND SORRY). I asked him why he had behaved the way he had and he told me, simply, "Mom, I wanted to do my homework then, not later and I got angry when I couldn't get my way."

WOW!!He told me that he was angry and WHY he got angry. I was so happy I wanted to hug him and tell him how awesome it was that he did that, but it was time for me to play the bad cop. "SmallBoy, who is in charge at school?"
"The teachers and the other grown ups."
"SmallBoy, when you're at school, does anyone else get their way by throwing things, yelling, or having tantrums?"
"Does anyone else yell at the teacher?"
"SmallBoy, what did we just learn?"
"That the teachers are in charge, not me."

What a wonderful insight. Let's just hope that he remembered that past 8:00 this morning and then, was able to find that tidbit in the file cabinet of the Asperger's mind. I think this is something that should, perhaps, be a social story, or, at the very least, written on a notecard inside of his folder or desk.

Comments, suggestions, ideas? Anyone have a bottle of Pinot Noir?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Asperger's Online "Test"

Thank you for filling out this questionnaire.

Your Aspie score: 39 of 200
Your neurotypical (non-autistic) score: 163 of 200
You are very likely neurotypical

Perusing through my myspace site, I came across a bulletin from my friend Woofie Bones. Woofie had posted a test that he had found online. Out of curiosity, I took it.
Of course, it was easy for me to answer these questions, as it was clear what each question was seeking. I was surprised, however, by how many things I answered that could have been considered "traits". I'd like to have SmallBoy take this quiz, but there are some questions based on sexuality and how you feel about this, that, and the other that I don't think he would understand yet, without my explanation, and I'm SO not ready to go there - debunking the tooth fairy and Santa were enough, but not sex.
I may go back and answer from my home computer how I think SmallBoy would answer. You can only submit once from each computer, as it saves the IP address. Go there. Try it. Let me know what you come up with.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Adolescence & the Spectrum

Made you laugh, didn't it? Sometimes I need something absolutely hysterical like that to keep my head from drooping on the days when I feel totally overloaded. There are still many of those days, but as far as Asperger's is concerned, those days are coming fewer and farther between. While reading Kyra's post on Talking About Autism, I completely related to her feeling that somedays, she just doesn't feel like writing, because she doesn't feel there's anything to write about. I am, however, closer to a new aspect of Asperger's than she, and was inspired, by her post, to write about that - the OTHER "A" word - Adolescence.

SmallBoy is 10. Mentally ready for adolescence or not, it will be happening soon. Fortunately, I have the experience of having 2 children, one boy, one girl, go through this already, so I will be prepared and be able to read the physical signs - the hormone fluctuations, the changing voice, the skin issues, the moodiness - noooooo wait! That's something we see all the time. Moodiness, at least as far as we've experienced with SmallBoy, can be akin to teenage puberty moodiness. This leads me to wonder what other things we may miss or "gloss over" because we are so used to them as part of ASD and not take notice to them as what they are - warning signs of a teenager!

I'm tempted to reach out to those of you who have gone through adolescence with an ASD child and ask for advice or a list of "what to watch for," but, as well all know one child on the spectrum will experience and have different reactions to things than another. How then, is a parent to find their way through puberty with a child on the spectrum? The same way you got through early childhood - you feel your way, you lean on other parents, you ask for help, you vent, you celebrate, you question, you problem solve, until you've reached the point where Kyra and I are now...on an even enough keel to feel like you're above water more often than not. And guess what? When you get to that point, it will more than likely be time for your child to be hitting adulthood and all of it's issues.

For now, though, I'm not going to look too far ahead. I'm going to look at the strides we've made in the last couple of years and rejoice. I'm going to start looking ahead to the puberty years so that I can, at least for my own sanity, have SOME kind of an idea of what I'm about to enter. At the same time, I'm going to remind myself of some of the lessons that I have learned: acceptance, love, how to avoid a mommy-meltdown, and doing things for myself, for PC and me, and for Girl & LargeBoy. I am, though, open to suggestions, advice, anecdotes, horror stories of adolescent time better than the present!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Cross Promoting Music & Autism Awareness

PC and I have, for a while, been wracking our brains trying to figure out a way that we can use our music to benefit autism and autism awareness. We finally figured it out. With our combined resources and networking from here and from our multiple myspace sites (North Country, PC's site, my site), we discovered there are a multitude of sources who can help us to organize a benefit, perhaps an afternoon or evening of entertainment, music, comedy, fun stuff! In that light, I'm going to repost our call for help in the hopes that all of you phenemenal folks, ASD parents, music lovers, etc....may have some ideas! Please feel free to send us your suggestions - we'll take as many as you come up with. Also, if you'd like to help, from near or far, we would be SO happy to have you on our team!

Cross promoting North Country & Autism Awareness

Hi all! I'm reposting a message from North Country , the band that my hubby, my bro-in-law, and I are in, in the hopes that perhaps somewhere out there, someone has the knowledge, the willingness, and the time and committment to help us put together a benefit concert/evening of entertainment to help raise Autism Awareness and do some fundraising while we're at it! Thanks for your support!

We here at North Country would like to thank everyone for joining us on our site,and welcome those who are new to the gang! We've gone through a lot of changes in the last month, some that can be really nerve wracking,and we can't thank you enough for your support!

We promise that, in addition to the video clip, we will have music up on the site soon. We have a gig Jan.27th and will use the live recordings on our site until we get into the studio. The live discs will be available to those who want them for a nominal fee. Keep in touch and we'll see you all really soon!

Also, we are interested in forming a benefit concert for Autism Awareness in the near future. Would anyone be interseted in helping out? Let us know! Until then, you know where to find us!
Thanks again!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Were You a Little Girl in the 70's?

Hi Guys! I've missed you. Been crazy busy, and fighting getting sick, so I haven't been posting, or even keeping up on the Chia (which, is still alive, btw). I got this email from my aunt (she's only 3yrs older than me), and I knew IMMEDIATELY that I had to post it for YOU. It's such a flashback that it will make you laugh, and, temporarily relieve you from whatever stress you may be having - work, ASD, money, schools, life in general - so here you go! I've taken the liberty of adding in my own comments.

You had that Fisher Price Doctor's Kit with a stethoscope that actually worked. (It was SO cool!)

You owned a bicycle with a banana seat and a plastic basket with flowers on it.
My bike was purple sparkle, and the seat was white with really bright flowers (and matching basket)

You learned to skate with actual skates (not roller blades) that had metal wheels. And then I graduated to "gym shoe skates".

You thought Gopher from Love Boat was cute (admit it!) I'll never admit it! I did, though, always want to be Julie.

You had nightmares after watching Fantasy Island. Nah, I just considered myself lucky that I got to stay up and watch it.

You had rubber boots for rainy days and Moon boots for snowy days. YEAH! You owned a "Slip-n-Slide, on which you injured yourself on a sprinkler head more than once. Oh and mine were hideous, but I had them!!!!

You owned "Klick-Klacks" and smacked yourself in the face more than once
(or constantly had bruises on your arms!) I remember these, but I think they were my friend's.

You had either a "bowl cut" or "pixie", not to mention the "Dorothy Hamill". People sometimes thought you were a boy. Sadly, mine was neither, but a "repair job" to fix what I had done in 3rd grade when I decided to play beauty shop with myself as client & beautician. My hair's never been the same.

Your Holly Hobbie sleeping bag was your most prized possession. Oh how I LOVED my Holly Hobbie sleeping bag!

You wore a poncho, gauchos, and knickers. I have this aversion to the gauchos, which, of course, are now back in style...but I wore them as hand-me-downs, so by the time I got them, I was the ONLY person wearing them. See why I have a problem with them now?

You begged Santa for the electronic game, Simon. Ah, yes...had the mini version, too. Turns out, this is a GREAT game for SmallBoy - involves following patterns, which ASD kids so thrive off.

You had the Donnie and Marie dolls with those pink and purple satiny shredded outfits, or the sunshine family. Sure did. I had D&M, and my sister had the Sunshine Family. Would you believe I had Donnie and Marie albums, too? I bet you did. Come on, admit it.

You spent hours in your backyard on your metal swing set with the trapeze. The swing set tipped over at least once. I had a HUGE yard when I was a little girl. It was my own little world, my stage, my WAS my imagination! And yes, I had a swing set with a trapeze. Don't think I ever tipped it completely over, came close a few times, though.

You had homemade ribbon barrettes in every imaginable color. (Oh yeah!) Especially in school colors!

You had a pair of Doctor Scholl's sandals (the ones with hard sole & the buckle). You also had a pair of salt-water sandals and clogs. Sure did.

You wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder really bad; you wore that Little House on the Prairie-inspired plaid, ruffle shirt with the high neck in at least one school picture; and you despised Nellie Olson! Oh Lord, don't remind me about the school pics!

You wanted your first kiss to be at a roller rink! Yes, but I was a dor..never happened.

Your hairstyle was described as having "wings" or "feathers" and you kept it "pretty" with the comb you kept in your back pocket. When you walked, the "wings" flapped up and down, looked like you were gonna "take off." I tried so had, but cursed with bad hair, and growing out the awful "correction cut", "wings & feathers" were just a dream for me.

You know who Strawberry Shortcake is, as well as her friends, Blueberry Muffin and Huckleberry Pie. Heh Heh....I still buy Strawberry Shortcake stuff for my sister. It's hard to find the originals, though.

You carried a Muppets lunch box to school and it was metal, not plastic. With the thermos inside some were glass inside and broke the first time you dropped them. I didn't have Muppets, but I did have Holly Hobbie on my metal lunchbox!

You and your girlfriends would fight over which of the Dukes of Hazzard was your boyfriend. Now look at them, who'da thunk?

YOU had Star Wars action figures, too! Oh yes, indeedy! I had a sheet and comforter set for my bed, too!

It was a big event in your household each year when the "Wizard of Oz" would come on TV. Your mom would break out the popcorn and sleeping bags! What's really cool is that now, even though it's on DVD and we can watch it whenever we want, it's still a HUGE event when it's on TV!
You often asked your Magic-8 ball the question: "Who will I marry. Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, or David Cassidy?" Oh Shaun Cassidy, baby, all the way!

You completely wore out your Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Fame soundtrack
record album. And boy did I!

You tried to do lots of arts and crafts, like yarn and Popsicle-stick God's eyes, decoupage, or those weird potholders made on a plastic loom. I loved that plastic loom! I wasn't very crafty or skilled at the other stuff, but I had a blast with my plastic potholder loom! (Yet another thing that's good for ASD'ers - developing the fine motor skills.)

You made Shrinky-Dinks and put iron-on kittens on your t-shirts! To this day, I still have a shrinky dink ornament that goes on my Christmas tree every year!

You used to tape record songs off the radio by holding your portable tape player
up to the speaker. Definitely. Did you also make your own "demo tapes" by singing along into the microphone while recording off of the radio? Oh, wait, that was probably just the beginning of my NEED to be on the stage!

You had subscriptions to Dynamite and Tiger Beat. Posters plastered all OVER my walls!

You learned everything you needed to know about girl issues from Judy Blume books.
(Are you there God, It's me, Margaret.) Thank GOD for Judy Blume. I remember reading about pads and belts and being horrified, and the book was already outdated!

You thought Olivia Newton John's song "Physical" was about aerobics. (?? its not??) Well, isn't it? Hee hee hee

You wore friendship pins on your tennis shoes, or shoelaces with heart or rainbow designs. Rainbows, I believe - or school colors!

You wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer. Hell, I even had the outfit!

You drowned yourself in Love's Baby Soft - which was the first "real" perfume you ever owned. Is this stuff even out there anymore? I'm dying to get some for Girl....although she's well beyond Love's Baby Soft...but it's just sort of a teen age girl thing!

You glopped your lips in Strawberry Roll-on lip-gloss till it almost dripped off. Yes, yes, but did you also go for the flavored Bonnie Bell Lipsmacker sticks? Jumbo size?
Oh, please share your memories with me!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Monday, January 08, 2007

Back to School, Big Block of Wood Day Arrives, and SO Much More

Everyone goes back to school today! WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! I'm having very mixed emotions about it - ecstatic because life now returns to some sense of our chaotic normalcy, making things more structured for our SmallBoy, yet distressed, saddened, disappointed because now things get crazy, SmallBoy might begin stressing again, more demands on our time (like there aren't too many already), but you is the first day of back to school, yes, but it's one day closer to summer vacation!

SmallBoy's Party
Break went out with a bang, and a with feeling of perpetual motion. I don't recall sleeping very much this weekend either, and not for many really good reasons. Friday night, SmallBoy had his end of break sleepover with his friends. It went very well. SmallBoy was just happy that they had "ulimited" video game time. What they didn't realize was that we would periodically interrupt video time to do something else. Not too many meltdowns, not too much of "SmallBoy's rules only," and NO couch jumping! I think there was actually a time when they were all quiet. Sleep did not come easy Friday not, but, surprisingly, the four 9 & 10 yr old boys were not the reason, granted they were awake. The young college sophomore who lives next door to us was also having an end of break party. Loud, yet courteous, TONS of people, yet very polite, but loud - more the music and the talking outside. Our houses are so close that I could look out my window and feel like I'm in the room with them. The boys didn't sleep much either, but I think that was more due to the fact that I had forgotten to send the video game systems with LargeBoy when he went to bed.

For Christmas, we had given SmallBoy two games which he became familiar with while at OT, Tricky Fingers and Rush Hour Deluxe. Both games use problem solving and small motor skills (Tricky Fingers takes Small motor down to fine motor, though). Tricky Fingers consists of two square (ish) boxes filled with colored marbles. The bottom of each box has holes the size of the marbles. The object of the game is to manipulate the marbles with your fingers to create the pattern shown on a game card. What's spectacular about this game is that it can be played alone, or, in two different ways as a challenge - both players using the same card or each with his own. We pulled this game out as the kids were gathering their belongings and waiting to be picked up. It took a while, but once I got them interested in how "cool" this was, they were happy to turn off the video games to come and check it out.

The other game, Rush Hour (we have the Deluxe version), takes "puzzle" to a new level. The game is a grid of squares, "gridlock" cards at varying levels of skill, and plastic vehicles. The vehicles are placed on the grid according to the pattern on the card. The object is to clear a path so that the main car (in the regular version it's an ice cream truck, in ours it is a shiny red car) can make its way off of the gameboard. This game makes you think - the cars cannot be picked up and moved, nor can they turn - they can only move along the line of the grid upon which they rest. I have managed to get through the beginner stage with relative ease, and moved on somewhat successfully to the intermediate stage, while LargeBoy sat down and completed all 15 of the Grand Master skill level cards. SmallBoy LOVES this game, and loves to come and help me out of my "jams" too. It takes the whole Temple Grandin theory of thinking in pictures to a new level. I sort of saw that this game would definitely be one that would involve the visual-ness that our ASD'ers so often use, but it wasn't until I was stuck on a puzzle last night and LargeBoy enlightened me with "Well, Mom, you sort of have to think of it as a picture and work backwards from there," that it clicked and the lightbulb switched on. I HIGHLY recommend these games! They'll be good for the kids, but trust me, you'll find yourself drawn to them.

New Band
Saturday afternoon we finally had the opportunity to rehearse as a full band: PC, ET, Joey Pinks, Dreverb, and me. We had done a couple of mini-rehearsals with Joey Pinks so that the guitars would be on the same track before we went into a full rehearsal, so it wasn't a totally foreign thing, and for one, we had ET there banging on some congas (in lieu of a full drum kit). Saturday afternoon though, we gathered in the basement with all of us, all of our equipment, and amps, and we sounded, not like a band playing together for the very first time, but like a band that was ready to roll. We just gelled and it all came together: the personalities, the talent, the outlook on what we each wanted to do and where we wanted to go with the music. It was fantastic. We topped the night off by going to hear Joey Pinks play in one of his other bands (he's very, well, busy). Phenomenal!

We were all completely wiped out by late Saturday afternoon, between SmallBoy's lack-of-sleep over party, the party next door, and rehearsal, that when we returned home from rehearsal, all of us just needed to crash. PC went to take ET back home and SmallBoy was craving some snuggle/squeeze time, not to mention that he was dead tired, too. LargeBoy was on the couch playing video games so SmallBoy and I snuggled up, also on the sofa, smushing Largeboy into a corner. We snuggled and relaxed. Before I knew it, my sweet angel was asleep. My arm was dead asleep underneath him and my neck was kinked badly from the awkward way that I was laying, but I was so content. The combination of SmallBoy's "sleep breathing" and his little heart just beating away made it feel like he was purring. It's been a long time since he's fallen asleep on me like that - without being sick and suffering through an asthma attack. This was pure bliss. I was so content, and having such the "happy mommy" moment, that I forgot all about the dead limb and the krick in the neck, and dozed off right along side him. Peaceful.

Big Block of Wood Day
Sunday, the day designated as the day of rest, the final day of winter break for the kids, the day that's meant to be the one on which you either sit around and do nothing, or you cram in everything that you didn't get done during the rest of the week. We spent Sunday running non-stop. Girl had softball practice, now mandatory, from 11:30 - 12:45 at one of the local private high schools' gyms, SmallBoy had to be at school by 12:30 for the official weigh-in for the Pinewood Derby, and then Girl had to be back at our gym by 12:45 for a basketball game against the rivals from the rich suburb to our immediate west. It was sheer insanity, but we made it work. The only other thing we had to juggle was how to be at SmallBoy's derby and and Girl's game at the same time.

The Pinewood Derby runs by Den, starting with the youngest, the Tiger Scouts. SmallBoy's den, Weebelos I, is the second oldest, so they run second to last. The race, that was supposed to begin at 1:00, finally got underway at 1:45 after all of the rules and all of the admonishments for "stepping across, or crossing the plane of, THE LINE with any body part were laid out, and where the scouts were allowed to sit and where they were not allowed to even breathe near (given of course by Mr. Former Cub Master - you know, the one who said and did those mean things to SmallBoy at camp). Girl's game started at 1:30. While the race got underway, I bolted down to the gym to watch the 2nd quarter of her game, as it was clear that SmallBoy's den would not be running for a while. The girls were playing the team that everyone wants to beat. They played them and lost over break, once before break, and will play them again for the final home game of the regular season - which is our big spirit night. When I arrived, we were down by 9 with 3minutes left in the half. All of a sudden, one of our girls hits 2 three pointers and then hits a jumper with a foul. She missed her free throws, but suddenly, at the half, we were only down by one point, there was hope. I bolted back down to the derby, filled in the other parents who were also trying to do double duty (there are a lot of them at our school), and sent PC back to the gym. At 2:15, SmallBoy's den still wasn't close to running, so I talked to him and to a couple of the dads and went back down to the gym. Sadly, the girls ended up losing, but they played their butts off.

FINALLY it was time for our den. PC and SmallBoy had this nervous energy just exuding from them while I tried desperately to conceal - and manage - my anxiety pangs as I strategized in my head, and with PC about how we were going to handle the meltdown if he lost, crashed, or didn't make it to the finish line. First three boys raced. There was a wreck, it was beautiful, every one laughed and the race was re-run. Then it was SmallBoy's heet. We inhaled, 3 - 2 - one pulls away, car two comes up from behind, car three rolls to a stop on the straightaway, that was ours. We watched as SmallBoy's frustration level went up and he put on his mad face (and it's a doozy). I said to him, "SmallBoy, BREATHE! BREATHE!" And he did. He was pissed off, but he was ok.

Phew, round one done. Two more heets and it was our turn again. I prayed, promised God I would sing 7:30am mass for the rest of my life, inhaled and watched the whole scenario play out again, only this time, our car was in a different lane. Still stopped on the straightaway. I guess God knew that I had no intention of doing a year 7:30 masses. Again, "SmallBoy, BREATHE! The frustration rose even higher, and it was MUCH more difficult for him to manage his impending meltdown, but he did it. The leaders told us that we could make repairs to our car if needed. In our case, it was the tire. It hadn't cracked, it hadn't fallen off, it wasn't wobbly; no, it was something about the physical tire itself. It needed to be changed, but there was not enough time. PC and SmallBoy worked together to see if they could do ANYTHING AT ALL to make the car at least cross the finish line in the final run. If you look closely at the pic, you can even see SmallBoy is smiling.

Third run, different lane, same result. "WHAT?! I DON'T GET IT!" Oh, he was SO NOT a happy camper. I followed up with more directions to breathe, which he did. We was SO mad, but he did it, he pulled himself out of it and went on to cheer on his friends, including Dreverb's son, who was also racing that day, and, whom he had met for the first "official" time yesterday. As stressful as the race was for all of us, I was incredibly pleased to see that all of the prep work that we had done with SmallBoy and, invariably, with ourselves, paid off. I would definitely call it a success.

MaizeyCat Sunflower
Those of you who are at least my age might have some kind of a flashback to the words, "Klondike Cat Alwaaaays gets his mouse!" Anyone? Anyone? Klondike Cat, as I remember, was one of the cartoons on The Underdog Show. He was tormented by the mouse, Savoir Faire and his classic howl of escape, "Savoir Faire eees everywhere!" This phrase has been running through my head since yesterday when my lovely OCF FINALLY caught and killed the mouse. We had to take it away from her because she was planning on having it for a snack. Now, I know that cats eat mice all the time, but this was just to gross for words, so we decided to nip it in the bud. Once we had all settled from our mouse-capades, Maizey appears with ANOTHER mouse in her clutches. This one was just a little baby and I was having some serious mommy issues, but I quickly got past them. Sadly, we were a tad too late in taking it from her, and she'd already begun to partake of the mouse. We were only able to throw out half of it, the other somewhere in cat-land. I think, I hope, that the other mice have learned from this, but I am so glad to know that IF they get in, I've got a damn good mouser. See how happy and contended she is in this pic. All curled up like a little fluffball. Good Girl Maizecat.

And before I leave you, after this LONG post, I wanted to introduce you to the newest daily post, at least for the next two weeks or so. SmallBoy received a Chia Pet - Garfield - for Christmas. We started his seeds on New Years Day and applied them on 1/2. The other day, we decided that we would start tracking its growth on a daily basis - it really IS amazing how this works and how quickly it grows. I leave you with yesterday's pic and the one from the day before. Tomorrow, I'll post today's picture. If nothing else, it's something fun to start the new year!
Saturday's Chia - 1/6/07. Girl is fascinated with the Chia and is obsessed with touching it - think it's a sensory issue? Nah, just Girl, she's silly that way!
Sunday's Chia - 1/7/07 - See! Look at this progress, it's amazing. Hours, maybe 4, later, it had already gotten a bit fuller. I've always joked about Chia's, but it's really kind of fascinating, and SmallBoy's totally getting into it, too, which is truly the best part!

Update: Girl stayed home with the flu today. I was going to send her to school - she's been headache-y for about 24hrs, couldn't sleep last night, but she's tough. I knew she'd be able to hang in. Then she hurled. Needless to say, she's home, on the couch today, watching movie after movie after movie, extending her break by a day (but what a crappy way to get an extra day - YUCK!)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Big Block of Wood Day (and a Cat vs Mouse update)

It is time, once again, for the Cub Scouts to have their annual Pinewood Derby race (or, as I like to call it, "Big Block of Wood Day,". Last year, was SmallBoy's first run at this, so he and PC diligently spent hours upon hours preparing the ultimate car for racing. On the first run, SmallBoy's wheel fell off and the rest of the afternoon was spent melting after each race until, finally, SmallBoy's & PC's car won 3rd place for design in his Den. It was a rough one.

This year, though, we are prepared. How prepared? The weigh-in is tonight. The boys (SmallBoy & PC, that is) are spending today cutting, sanding, & painting. After the weigh-in, they will make any minor adjustments (like attaching the wheels - we'll weigh it with the wheels & nails resting on top of the car). We've spent quite a bit of time recapping last year's race with SmallBoy to stress and restress the importance of participation in the activity over WINNING the activity. We discussed and got him to remember how MANY other cars also had "technical difficulties" and didn't win a single race. We also reminded him that, although "The Shadow" (this year's car) is going to be REALLY cool and perfectly designed, there's still a large chance that it won't win - and THAT'S OK.

I think he'll have a better time dealing with that this year. It's been a year of growth for all of us. We've ALL learned how to handle things - be it extra preparation, an extra glass of wine for ME before the event so that I stay calm if he melts, learning from experience, etc....Also SmallBoy had the opportunity to participate in a basketball tournament over break. The school holds a 3-on-3 tournament the last week of winter break for the students. The teams are structured with kids from 4th - 8th grade - with one representative from each grade on each time, both boys and girls (sadly, siblings cannot be on the same team). To encourage the older kids to pass to the younger ones, the points work in such a way that a basket scored by a 4th grader is worth 5pts (10 in the last 2minutes), whereas a basket scored by an 8th grader is only worth one point. The 8th graders are not allowed to block the 4th graders either. It's a wonderful thing.

In this tournament, SmallBoy's has lost all but one game and, today in the single elimination playoffs, lost to his sister's team by a score of 76 - 46 (OUCH). But he scored A LOT! He's also learned about playing a game with a team, and by pre-set rules that he cannot change to suit him. The first game that he lost, he melted - bigtime. His sister and one of the teacher's (who knows our family very well), helped him out of it and he was fine. He had a mini-melt (as we like to call them) another time, and handled it all by himself. He's doing better at those - when he wants to. I told him how proud we are of him and that pleased him greatly. I am crossing my fingers (but not holding my breath) that this experience will carry over to the Pinewood Derby and will help build his confidence in himself and his ability to deal with his "Aspie-ness". I'll keep you posted.

Tonight, after the big weigh-in, SmallBoy is having three of his buddies, PQ, GC & GV over for a sleepover - he's calling it "The Last Bash of Winter Break." Girl & LargeBoy will be, in theory, with their father this weekend (though even that is becoming less frequent - did I mention New Wife is expecting AGAIN?). SmallBoy, then, will have the run of the house. He's got elaborate plans for a video game-a-thon (GOD HELP ME!), but he'll be having fun. I'm excited for him. Hopefully we won't have any uninvited furry friends again.

Maizecat went on the prowl again yesterday and caught the escaped mouse. She did not learn from her lesson , though. She kept letting it go and batting at it. She kept this up for over an hour - silly kitty. When the poor mouse was last freed, we're assuming it ran off and died somewhere, hopefully outside, because we didn't see a mouse corpse anywhere in the house - YET - and, the cats were very content last night. They moused for a bit, but then curled up and snoozed, as they do, and Maizey spent the night in bed with us, as she does. Check out the previous post if you missed our first adventure with the mouse - Ooh ooh and if you did, you can also see the "video" of PC, JG, and me (3 of 5 North Country members) performing - at home - a newly arranged version of the song that PC has written, Blue Star Highway. GO. NOW. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease! See, I've given you LOTS of links!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Learning From Mistakes and a Lesson in Mousing

We gathered tonight to prepare for our first gig as a newly formed band. We also had a small furry little univited guest in our home. This made for an interesting night of fun and adventure. Before I expound upon MaizeyCat's adventure, I wanted to show you a specimen of learning from and correcting mistakes. While we were rehearsing tonight, we decided to give it another go with the mini-cam and take a new video of the newly arranged (and still being re-arranged) Blue Star Highway. It looks spectacular. We realized that there were some issues with the viewing of the last video and, when copying the code from the site, I realized that I had chosen the option of not allowing external sites to embed or, even view, the video - which explains why you could see it sitting there on my site (if you were lucky), but it would merely sit and display the ever-frustrating "LOADING..." message for an eternity. Here's our next attempt. It plays on MY computer, as did the last one - and on all of my sites - as long as they were viewed from MY computer. I hope that you can see this one!!

Back to the Mousing Lesson: Picture two cats - one black & white, one brown tortoise shell and extremely furry sitting watch for DAYS in the same spot - a hall doorway that connects that addition to the rest of the house. Imagine the black & white cat, the elder of the two, letting her vigil lag a bit so that she can observe and tutor the younger furball. Two cats. Sitting. Patiently. Watching. Waiting. Until SUDDENLYthe furball darts from the room like a lightening bolt. Those of us observing this thought that perhaps she had found some stray catnip lying around and had a little Cat Party of One. Then I saw that she had something in her mouse. Without looking close enough to identify the object, my gut told me, based on their actions of the last few days, that the unfortunate victim was the hunted mouse. We were ecstatic for our little OCF - she had caught her first mouse (that WE were aware of)! I, out of some sick instinct, screamed and jumped on a chair - I'm SO ashamed -, while PC sat right down and watched her, with the pride of a father watching his child master the skill that he had been teaching since the child was old enough to walk. He had the camera out, the words of encouragement. When Maizey would drop the mouse from her jaws to bat at it, the mouse, scrambling for any hope of escape and, its life, bolted with a brown-black ball of fur bolting behind at break-neck speed. The poor mouse would run, Maizecat would follow - except the one or two times she lost track of Sir Speedy. When that would happen, PC would direct her to the poor little varmit and encourage her not to give up the hunt.

This went on for quite a while, unfortunately with Mr. Mouse escaping into the scads of plastic grocery bags that we save for any number of occasions. Oh she was SO pissed off! All that, and no mousey for snack. We rewarded her for her effort with a tiny piece of turkey lunch meat. She sat. And watched. And waited. And is still waiting 5hours later. I don't think she'll be nestling her furry little face in my nose tonight while I'm sleeping. I bet she'll be up on patrol.

SmallBoy did ok with the mouse. Don't get me wrong, he freaked when he realized that Maizey had not killed and devoured the critter, so freaked, in fact, that he got to the point that when I sent him to brush his teeth, he was convinced that the newly drippy tub faucet was mice and refused to go back in. I assured him, hopefully without lying, that the mouse was no longer in the house - that if, indeed, it was still in the house, that MaizeCat had caught it and was having a nice little snackypoo. Outside of this episode, though, he was better at this mouse-in-the-house thing than I.

Ladies and Germs, I must hasten to bed, as my dearest husband is anxiously awaiting my arrival, and my head is very heavy. Let me know if you experience any problems with the video. As with the last, I linked it up on North Country's myspace. TTFN, my loves.