Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Catching up

Just in case anyone ever checks up on me anymore.

IEPs tomorrow at the new school. So far, so good. Same boys, basically even the same services. The difference is this school goes out of the way to make us feel as if we are doing okay. They are positive. They don't start every conversation with a list of the things that are wrong. If they do have a problem to tell us about, they tell us how they plan to address the problem.

Closing on the old house is Oct. 26th. I'm feeling pretty lucky that we found a buyer.

Last Friday did not count as a good day because I went to the ER. I fell at work and broke a small bone in my foot. Not terrible, just annoying. I'm tired of limping already, and it will be 5-7 more weeks.

My niece had a baby with a cleft lip. I find myself bothered by it more than I'd expect. (Our Joseph had a cleft lip and palate.) I guess I know too much--I know that it is hard to put a baby through surgery--I know it is hard to have people stare when you take your baby out. I know none of that is important, but it is still hard... I just wrote to my brother that although the important stuff is all okay, the unimportant stuff is still hard. Can't wait to see a picture! They said it was a small cleft--I hope so!

There are the cliff notes on our lives!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yes, I'm busy

I just talked with my sister, and she says she has been checking my blog!!! I'm sorry she never finds any news.

The new job has a steep learning curve. I've not made any huge mistakes, yet. Well, one kinda big mistake, but others could fix it.

The boys start school tomorrow.

The new school hired an interpreter for Joseph. Seems their attitude is "let's assume he is capable, and give him what he needs to succeed." I'm terrified--nervous--anxious--but very hopeful--excited--pleased. All at the same time.

Alex's teacher is young and energetic. His new tutor seems great also.

I continue to think that if half of what looks great at this school turns out to be good, we will be WAY AHEAD of last year. The move will be worth it.

Speaking of worth and moves. We are still the proud owners of two homes. Luckily, we are too busy to do anything but give our money to the banks. If we had time for recreational activities that cost money, we might be feeling distresses. As it is, the news about the housing industry is not good. The realtor keeps telling us to update the cosmetics of the old house. Yea--I have trouble finding time to shower. I'm not going to find time to strip wallpaper. And there just isn't money in the budget to pay someone to do it. So... We will hang onto our real estate investment, hope the market improves, and be patient.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My Last Day at Mom's

I'm feeling a bit sad to leave. It has been so nice to have the time to rest and relax here. I feel completely isolated from my "real" life here.

I talked with Alex on the phone today. He was chatty for Alex. He is enjoying gymnastics camp-they are planning to paint today and wondered what shirt he should wear. I'm glad I'm still useful from afar! I tried to talk to Joseph, but he isn't very patient with the phone. So, I asked him to say MaMa and I got to hear his voice. I need a big Joseph hug. Tomorrow! Grandma told me everything they had eaten for dinner all week--it is clear they are eating better without me than with me!

I've met all my modest goals. I have a several new jackets for work--and a new skirt. I have much softer feet. Who knew soaking just a few days would make a big difference. And I've typed some new recipies out of mom's cookbooks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Great news!!!

No Cancer, it was a goiter!!!

We are all very happy here.

I'm sure Dave and the boys are stressed, since I'm gone for a few more days, but--my reservations were made without all the information!

Dave called today for advice on how to make the TV remote work right. Last night he called to find coffee filters for grandma. I'm glad he misses me for all the right reasons.

Monday, July 23, 2007

And again, I try to get back to blogging

Since the last post I've started my new job. I can't believe how busy the days at work are as I try to get oriented to my new responsibilites. I've had three full weeks. My books are unpacked, but I've not put any pictures on the walls to make it feel like my office just yet. I've put out most of the fires that were waiting for me. My immediate boss was out of town for a week starting my second day, but I handled the problems that came up in her absence. One of my colleagues noted that I had two computers on my desk and an illegible signature so I was surely "going places."

I have time to blog today because I'm at Mother's house. I flew in on Friday for her surgery. Not knowing what to expect I took a full week off work. (With the blessing of my boss, thankfully, and Dave's blessing also. Grandma Helen is staying with Dave and the boys all week to help him!)

Mother came through the surgery like an ablolute trooper! Now we wait for the pathology report and pray for good news. She spent two nights in the hospital and came home yesterday. She was up early, fixing her own coffee, dressing herself, and in general acting like nothing happened. I can hardly believe they took a 5 cm tumor out of her neck on Friday!!!

I'm feeling a bit guilty about staying here 'till Thursday. She doesn't really need me, and I have so much to do at home. I guess the forced time to slow down is important for my soul. My goals for the week? Shop for some new clothes to wear to work. Soak my feet every night and try to eliminate the callouses with daily pumicing. (Too much information???) Look for new recipies online--Mostly on Sarah's blog. Keep up with work email and other work i brought. Oh, and take care of Mom. Okay, I guess I'll be busy enough here, and I don't need to fret!!!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'm sort of back

I can't believe it has been a month since I blogged. But it has been a busy busy busy time.

Updates-We are moved. We are not completely unpacked, but it is getting close. The move was a nightmare. The house is beautiful--my dream come true. So, the nightmare was worth it. I'm still married, but there were a few rough spots. We met three new neighbors all within a grade of Alex. He is feeling better about the new house now. I started the new job on Monday. I've a lot to learn. I miss my old neighbors. No one is even looking at the old house--so the money drain will be wide open in our lives for awhile. Oh well, can't take it with you and we don't have time to spend it. Have I mentioned the woods in the back of the new house? Joseph has been fine. He has adjusted better than any of us.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Moving update

You've not heard much from me and you won't for a week or two. Official move day is next Tuesday. That is also the day they are to move me out of one office and into another at work. Could we please have scheduled these moves for two different days?

I packed 19 boxes at the office today. All books and files.

I've moved almost everything from the kitchen, many of the books and decorative items from the house. All the photos and pictures from the walls. The house looks very bare.

The original estimate from the moving company was for 8 men, 2 trucks, and 12 hours. Not only was the fee over my original budget, I couldn't imagine spending 12 hours watching them carry and unload our stuff. I'd have been a basket case. So, I've been carrying van loads every chance I get. Anytime I need to go near the new house, I have a van load of stuff with me and I put it in the garage. Then, when I get a chance, I unload the boxes and take them home for more. I told the moving company I'd moved 75% of the boxes, all the pictures, etc. and he revised the estimate to 6 men, two trucks, and 10 hours. I still hope to be done in 8, but I suppose I should plan for 12 and be happy with 10. Maybe I'll just take the boys to the movies and let Dave deal with it. But, of course he doesn't know what I want to leave behind for the give away pile or a possible garage sale, and he doesn't know where anything is supposed to go in the new house, so... I'll have to stay and micromanage this one. How can movers do the job if there isn't a semi-hysterical homeowner hovering over them at all times!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Stress and Dave

Ah--Even the never stressed out Dave can lose it and it is worth a second blog entry on this very busy Wednesday.

I just sent him off to the office--but only after a solid 20 or 30 minutes of speed whining. Peppered with comments like "you know none of this is directed at you." Ah--it was bliss. 99% of the time I'm the one in our relationship venting and whining and telling him that he just needs to listen and not take any responsibility for any of it. I know it is all related to being overworked--but still I marvel at his threshold for stress and pressure. I would NEVER let myself get into the jams he gets himself into because I couldn't take it. He is so relaxed and easygoing all of the time that he just takes on more and more and more 'till finally he has to let off steam. The sad thing is that he will be fine tomorrow, or maybe the day after. It would take me days or weeks to recover and I'd expect to be treated with kid gloves until I did. He ain't perfect, but I count my blessings!

Messiness is not all bad

I read a great article about being messy the other day. The gist was that some clutter is a good thing for children--helps them be creative. Also, we can find things faster if they are not "organized" because our filing schemes--like alphabetizing--are random and not intuitive.

I wish I had a camera in my office, 'cause the piles of junk on the floor are getting way out of control.

Meanwhile, I spend every possible moment at home packing, sorting, stacking, moving, and wondering if the green couch will really look okay with the new blue carpet, or will it bug me and I'll end up putting the green couch in the basement anyway so I might just as well have the movers put it there in the first place.

My dear friend Lynn Anne visited over the weekend. We moved kitchen things and started organizing the new kitchen--and then we sat on the screened porch. Just sat and looked at the trees and enjoyed the light breeze the ceiling fan on the porch makes. She wondered where Dave was going to take the children when she visited the next time. It is not that she doesn't love our children. She does. She treats them as if they were her nephews. But, she sees the value in sitting on the porch listening to the birds and not doing a blessed thing.

As you can see, even my thoughts are messy and disorganized these days!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Birthday Joseph

Joseph is 10 years old today!!! I can't really believe it. I remember this day in 1997 so clearly--so many details.

A lot has happened in these ten years--99% of it good.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Moving fun

Well, the estimate from the moving company has me hauling a few more boxes than I'd planned on my own.

I took Dave's mom out to the new house with Joseph and a load of boxes last week. Grandma loved the place. Joseph seemed to like it just fine. There is a loft off the master bedroom that overlooks the family room. I was in kitchen talking with Grandma Helen when I heard a thump, followed by another thump, as I walked into family room to investigate I was hit by flying shorts and underware, follwed by shirt. The thumps had been his shoes. Joseph was in the loft getting naked. He was pretty pleased to have a big stage on which to dance and frolic--knowing that the only way I could get to him to give him back his clothes was to go back through the house and up the stairs... He had a good 20-30 seconds to dance for the imaginary admirers below. Remind me to lock the door to the master when we have company lest this becomes a habit!

We saw two deer in the back yard that afternoon.

I was back over the weekend twice. My new exercise routine is to carry boxes up and down stairs. Perhaps after we are all moved in I keep a few boxes loaded up and ready to carry up and down.

Had an honest chat with the realtor over the weekend. I told her that I really could not keep the old house clean enough to show on a moments notice. She advised that we might just as well wait 'till we were out to list... Just don't think about the money. If I move a few more boxes the savings from the moving company will cover a week or two of extra mortgage payments...I hope!!!

Alex has requested that his new bedroom be blue. I think that is a fine idea and in uncharacteristic moment of generosity I said, sure. The room doesn't need paint, but it the boy wants it to be blue, he will get blue!

Anyone out there want to come over and carry some boxes? The mover mentioned that we have a lot of stuff. Doesn't everyone have boxes and boxes and boxes of books???? I thought that was normal?!? I've even given away 8 or 10 boxes of books and 6 or 8 boxes of LPs in the last two months.

Now I'm thinking we will have enough furniture left over to have a yard sale.... or maybe just a give away... MaryAnn--will you come help with the yard sale? Maybe the guy on the bike will come to my yard sale!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I'm not much of a blogger these days, am I.

Let's see, what is going on around here?

Closing was supposed to be today, but was changed till tomorrow because of paperwork problems.

Our tutors for Joseph have many personal issues, all of which are understandable and real, but we end up with unpredictable help. I'm really looking forward to sending him back to school. I've taken a boy to a meeting or class a few too many times this year.

Speaking of taking a boy to meetings. Alex went to work with me yesterday. He was suspended from school for one day after he was caught stealing a pencil from another child's desk. I can't get mad--I just think it is more of his "acting out," telling all of us that something is wrong when even he doesn't know exactly what it is... I suppose the positive spin is that if he works through some of his anger and fear and frustration at 8, maybe there will be less to work through at 18 when he won't be suspended from school, but thrown in jail. I tell myself over and over and over that raising this troubled boy is a work in progress, we do our best and we keep doing our best, and then we let go. (Let go and let God...) Keep Alex in your prayers for the next ten years!!! (And us, too!) We get results from the three year cycle of testing (basically IQ tests) today. I'm curious if this round will be consistent with the tests they did 3 years ago. Two data points are better than one.

The handy man finished the repair of the wall upstairs. Looks fabulous!!! Now, move some boxes once I have keys to the new house, and list this thing! Dave figures we can cover both houses for 6 months, no problem. I wish I had his easy-going attitude. I'm already in panic mode and we have not even closed on the new house!! We had a "final walk through" Sunday--and the new house is still beautiful. The trees have leaves now, but it doesn't feel closed in, just private, quiet, peaceful. Actually, this place is a bit too quiet this morning. 8:15 and everyone is still asleep. I'd better go get them moving!!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Miracle League and Confession

I took Joseph to his first Miricle League game today. He had a great time. He sat and stood still when he needed to, and did some of what he was expected to "on the field."

I thought of Jerry--He wrote a thoughtful blog entry a few days ago about summer and baseball and parenting an autistic child and how we relive the lost "expected" moments over and over again with our kids. I thought of Jerry as I watched the Dads watching their boys. I think missed moments during sports activities are harder on the Dads than the Moms. But we are sort of a whole bleacher full of folks that love our kids to death... but would rather not be there... but will always be there.

I think Joseph enjoyed the game so much because he is missing school. It is hard for him to be home all day every day.

Now for the confession.

Children's services may call yet. I took Joseph with me Friday to pick up Alex at school. We walked. The other two parents from across the street that usually walk to pick up their children were late so I told the teachers I'd see that everyone walked home safely. Meanwhile, Joseph was on the playground. We started home--I was busy making sure everyone was okay with walking home with me and understood that Mom or Dad would be at home or meet us on the way and all was okay. You can see this coming, right? We were a good two blocks away from the school before I realized I'd left Joseph on the playground. Argh. Heart in throat. Panic. Turn around and move as fast as my 50-year-old not so great shape person can move... My boy was sitting on the steps of the school, waiting patiently. My heart starts beating faster even now just writing about it. The teacher standing next to him had not looked at his face and just thought he was one of the kids from the school, waiting for a late parent 'till she saw me... All's well that ends well, but... The good part of the story is that J-bear did exactly what I'd want him to. Sat and waited. However, it becomes clearer and clearer that I don't have the mental sharpness I need to stay one step ahead of him, let alone just REMEMBER him!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The New School

Dave and I visited the building where Alex and Joseph will attend school next year. Frankly, we were blown away. We walked to our cars (of course, we couldn't have driven there TOGETHER) and just looked at each other and said "WOW." I know it won't be perfect. I know there will be problems. I know Alex is having a very very hard time right now because moving is making him very very anxious and he is acting out in all sorts of difficult ways,

But--if the new school does half of what they promise--if it is half as good as it looked on that first day--if only half of the things that looked great end up being good--I'll be thrilled.

The best thing: The woman who gave us the tour and talked with us about the programs just kept reminding me "special education is not a place, it's a set of services." I kept tallking about placements, and buildings, and resource rooms, etc. etc. She kept gently correcting me "it isn't a place..."

Even Dave is excited!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

To Mother on her 90th Birthday, April 24, 2007

I have always enjoyed hearing your stories about your past--learning what you experienced during your childhood and young adult years, and thinking about what you were like as a girl and as an ambitious, adventurous young woman.

As I have grown older, I have gained more and more admiration for your courage and determination. I think your life has been a remarkable and inspirational journey. I see a lot of you in me. This apple didn’t fall too far from the tree, though sometimes I wish I were even more like you! I am always aware that I have a long way to go to live up to your high standard.

I’ve been amused by the stories of you as a young girl reading books in the trees while you were supposed to be watching the cows. I know how much you have always loved reading, and I know how much of my childhood I spent with my nose in a book. I’m glad no one expected me to watch the cows at the same time!

I’ve been inspired by the stories of you working in the clothing factory as a teenager, dreaming of a different life, working hard to have a chance for an education. I am awed by the courage it must have taken to leave home and travel half way across the country at twenty-one to attend high school. Would I have done the same?

You dreamed of studying literature, art, and music—and made sure your children had all the opportunities you did not. But you married this handsome fellow, and had these five children, so not all of your dreams came true… I’m not sure I’ve ever said thank you for that.

When I look at this photo I can hear you say “What a bunch!”

My own Joseph and Alex have helped me appreciate all you did for me.

If I’ve learned anything as a parent, it is that children don’t always do what you want or expect! You must have been pretty frustrated to watch as I wore jeans everyday when I could have worn beautiful clothes. I had great music teachers, and a wonderful education, but I didn’t always have the self-confidence to make the best of my opportunities.

I think I’ve learned most of the lessons you were trying to teach me, just a little later than you hoped!

Happy, Happy Birthday, Mother dear. I love you!

Monday, April 23, 2007

More Creative Meals

I want to report (although my honesty may jeopardize my Domestic Disaster status) that I made two new recipes over the weekend. Both were given favorable reviews. I made “Lentil Barley Stew” out of the “More with Less” cookbook ( Dave thought it was great. Alex told me it was delicious. (We let Joseph leave the table and I forgot that he had not eaten. He found a giant candy bar I’d bought from a neighbor’s child for a school fundraiser and ate the whole thing… So, I guess my DD status is secure.) And I made a Bisquick pizza recipe off the back of the box. I thought it was bland, but everyone ate it—even Joseph.

The fact that Dave ate lentils and barley without a bit of whining is a miracle. I’ve had a great influence on him during our years of marriage! (Okay, I guess some might think that he was, in fact, better off eating pepperoni pizza every night.) The fact that Alex ate lentils and barley without whining is a testament to what a great kid he is. I guess I balanced the lentils with pizza and Bisquick the following night.

So, the pantry purge continues…

Friday, April 20, 2007

Identity Theft

Well, I've been pretty complacent about the whole identity theft hoopla... I shred my bills, and I shred anything with my SSN on it, but I've felt like it was the least of my worries. It still feels remote, but 14,000 OSU folks had their identity information hacked this past week--and I'm one of the lucky ones. The University gave us all a year of credit monitoring via a professional company. I guess that is great. I still hope someone else on the list looks more attractive to the bad guys than I do. After years of ignoring the problem I now have to admit I'm a bit worried. It would be a royal pain to deal with.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Working at home

I'm working at home today--and falling asleep. This is why my new job will be such a good change for me. My current job puts me to sleep!!! I need the stimulation and presence of other people to keep me engaged. The new job will have a more demanding "face time" element, andinvolve much less "work at home at your own pace by yourself" stuff... The later sounds great in theory, but in practice, I just doze off.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Creative Meals

You are all going to get really tired of stories about packing and moving--but I work, and I pack, and I try to keep up with the boys.

This week's challenge--How do I make decent meals out of all the various stuff we already have in the pantry? I could just move all of the random cans and jars and boxes, but once I got the idea that if I used everything up, I could start with a empty pantry at the new house and stock up on fresh basics. That sounds so nice I'm trying to finish up everything in the freezer and pantry. I'll move whatever is left, but...

Maybe I'm so excited about the move because I think the stale parts of life will be left behind and I'll get to start again with some fresh supplies. Doesn't that sound great? Maybe it is why I'm so happy to be sorting and recycling and giving away the old. I'm ready for the new job and the new house and new challenges. Yes, I AM taking the same old husband and the same old Joseph and the same old Alex along with me. They don't get to trade me in for a fresh new Mom or wife. We all just get fresh pasta, and fresh spices, and fresh frozen food.

I was sitting in the backyard last week, enjoying a few minutes watching boys play, thinking about our 12.5 years here. Some pretty big things happened in this house--The best years of my life happened here. The hardest years of my life happened here. It will be hard to move, but we aren't leaving the important stuff behind--all of that goes with us...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

My Digital Boy and My Social Boy and ramblings

Okay, I'm struggling again with how much digital stimulation is too much. Joseph is so happy and so easy when he has TV, computer, or his PSP football game. It gives me time--it gives me a bit of space--But it also creates a need for more and more. Once he has a little, he just wants more.

But for today, and for this week, we are indulging. We will pay for it later.

On the other hand, Alex is only happy with a friend by his side. It is spring break so I'm home more than normal and Alex is enjoying his friends when at home and tolerating my meetings and classes when he has to go to school with me.

Meanwhile, I'm still packing and sorting into the donate pile and the recycle pile and the save pile. Dave is buying boxes for me--I told him fifty... I sure hope that is enough with what I already have. How did we get so much stuff? Can it all really be necessary? How do we simplify our lives in the 21st century? Do I need all these books? All this china? Does Dave need to save his stamp collection? His art project from 4th grade? Do I really need my baby doll?

Obviously, these are all retorical questions--but planning a move certainly makes one sort through the storage places in our houses. Thank goodness no one ever makes me sort through the storage places in my mind--Those are filled with even more obscure and useless stuff!!!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Snow for Easter

Yesterday was Good Friday, tomorrow is Easter, and we are having serious snow flurries and cold, cold weather. I had a church gig last night and felt like I should be playing "Oh Holy Night" instead of "Oh Sacred Head now Wounded." (Seasons and holidays are all about the music for me...) The grass needs to be mowed and it is a nice bright green, but there is snow. I brought all the tulips and daffodils inside lest they all freeze, and we are enjoying spring indoors.

A few days ago I told Alex that God must be confused that the weather is so mixed up. Alex latched onto that phrase and started repeating it--"God is confused." Now, I didn't quite think all the theological ramifications of that one through before I said it. I don't really want to teach Alex that God is easily confused... Maybe I'd better start saying that I'm easily confused by some of the things God does. (That would be true!)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I love the word awkward. Its meaning is so like its spelling.

Now, that being said, I just spent a very awkward 45 minutes. Most of you know that I am starting a new job July 1. I’m excited for new challenges, etc. etc. The man I’m replacing is not happy about the transition. He is being replaced because he didn’t work well with current leadership. So, I spent the last 45 minutes talking to him about the transition. Methinks that will be all the time I get to pick his brain, learn the ins and outs of the position, figure out what and where and who… In other words, he is doing all he can to make it hard for me to succeed. Well, darn it… I don’t take that from anyone. I’ll do the job well without your help, and I’ll do it better than you did!

Yes, and work still feels easy compared to home.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Well, if we were feeling sad about leaving our city neighborhood and moving to the suburbs, we are starting to feel better and better about it. I noticed about two weeks ago that our bikes were gone from our garage. It must have happened during the February snow and ice. It was very hard to close the side door on the garage, so we didn't for about 5 or 6 days. A few days back Dave noticed our 20-foot extension ladder is gone. So we looked more closely-- also missing: a gas powered edger, a blower, a string trimmer (that doesn't work--joke's on you Mr. Thief), an electric hedge trimmer, and Dave's toolbox full of tools. (No power stuff, but lots of wrenches, screwdrivers, hammer, etc.) At first we were not going to report the theft to the insurance, since our deductible would cover everything we lost, but now it is really starting to add up!

Alex talks about the bad person that took our stuff. So we have issues other than the monetary.

I think the ladder is the thing that hit Dave the hardest. It was a ladder his family had in his childhood home. The toolbox and tools also feel very personal to him.
The only upside I can figure is we won’t have to move the stuff. But we will have to replace most of it. I certainly want a bike in the burbs.

Thankfully they left the lawnmower! With the current balmy temps in Central Ohio, we will need it soon. Although the forecast is for snow later in the week!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Weekend with Sarah

We had a delightful weekend with Sarah, Rob, Jonah and Isaac. The weather cleared enough for a trip to the zoo. We watched basketball, played with boys, ate, shopped, and had a fun time.

I'm facing another week or two that looks insane. One day at a time. Today, I won't see the boys until it is time for bed, and I left before Alex even woke up. That is never a good thing, but, it happens. Sarah commented that I was an example of a Mom who was doing it all--working full time and raising children, but I'm still not sure I'll ever be comfortable with the sacrifices I've had to make. And I'm leaving a lot of the child rearing to Dave and others.

I will also miss my bookclub this evening. I have a dinner for work that starts at 6, probably won't end 'till 8. At that point I'd be late to book club. AND I'd want to leave bookclub early to watch a basketball game at 9:00. So, I'll just go home after dinner so I can help tuck the boys into bed and watch B-Ball.

Monday, March 26, 2007


We think of ourselves, and others, with labels all the time. Alex is ADHD and sort of dyslexic. The professionals are quick to say that Alex has ADHD, not Alex is ADHD; I need to be careful about that little detail… Dave and I are both at best "geeks" or "nerds." I label myself a Domestic Disaster. The other day at a meeting of Joseph's therapy team, the man that has been helping us with our home program for the last 5 years announced, in passing, that he wouldn't call Joseph autistic or PDD-NOS. Clearly Joseph's problems come from a genetic anomaly—but I’ve grown comfortable with the label autistic. It is never easy to say, but it is getting less hard to say. It has surprised me over the past few days how often I’ve thought about that one brief, off-hand comment. Autism isn’t a label I’m comfortable with, but I’m not comfortable without any label either. That is where we were for the first 5 years. Genetic anomaly. No record of any other person with the same genetic anomaly. The geneticist told us “Joseph will write his own book.” I used to think something like Downs would be easier, because at least we would know what to expect. At the very least, the PDD-NOS diagnosis gave us a place to be. It also gave us access to behavior therapies and teaching techniques that have been extremely useful. We will continue to label him “autistic” because there isn’t a better category, or a better way to make it clear to others that one shouldn’t expect typical behavior from Joseph. But it has had me thinking.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Back Home

I had a great visit with Mom. She is such a dear--starting to get lost in the past. I don't think it is dementia, I think it is more that she doesn't do very much anymore, so she sits and thinks about the past, and talks about the same things over and over. But she is a dear.

Joseph was a great traveller, and a great guest. He went right to sleep and slept well both nights. He stayed out of Mother's things, for the most part. He gave her sweet hugs and kisses. I forgot my camera, so none of it is captured for posterity. I will just have to remember.

Joseph did a funny thing the night before we left--I was on the phone after dinner. I noticed J get the cereal and milk, but it didn't really register in my brain. Soon thereafter J came up to me as I was still jabbering on the phone and sweetly signed "help." I signed "later" and didn't think anything of it. Next thing I knew, here comes J out of the kitchen, heading towards me in the family room--cereal box tucked under one arm with bowl and spoon clutched in his hand, the other hand is lugging a gallon jug of milk. If Mom won't get off the phone (or at least move to the kitchen since it is cordless) to help a boy pour a bowl of cereal, well the boy and the cereal and the milk will just have to come to Mom... He was too cute. Of course, no camera.

And speaking of funny, dear things. Mother goes downstairs every morning to get her paper as soon as she wakes up. And she gets the papers for everyone else on her floor and takes them back up and delivers them to everyones door. She says she has a new job as the paperboy.

Going home and coming home. Both are wonderful.


We are in contract on my dream come true house. We will never take another vacation or buy new furniture to put in the new home, but what we have is good enough and the house is worth it!!! I can't get a picture of the backyard to copy off the realtor's web page... But I'll tell you that it sits on a acre of woods... In the right school district... 7 miles to Dave's office, 14 to mine. It has a Mother-in-law suite that will be a fantastic guest room if I don't find the right college student to live in! Lots of updates, but the charm of an older home. The suburbs look pretty wonderful right now. I plan to spend a lot of time on the screened porch in the back, watching deer and birds... oh, and boys... and slathering calamine lotion on poison ivy. Is it heaven? It just might be!!!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Visiting Mom

Joseph and I are driving to Iowa tomorrow to visit Mom. (Yes, Mary Ann--I hear we are having dinner with you on Wednesday!) J-Bear and I have never been on a trip by ourselves. I'm looking forward to it. He is a great traveller. I hope that doesn't change because he will be in the car about 16-18 hours over the next three days. We return on Thursday. I know, I know... but I have too much to do and I don't think I can stay any longer. (That also will probably be enough for me with J-Bear by myself...)

Hopefully I'll remember the camera and have photos to share when we return.

Otherwise I'm cleaning out closets. I'm recognizing that I don't need to save four boxes of old 33's. But I do have a great collection of classical music... There is also no need to save every scrap of paper I touched in grad school No one is ever going to want to study the archeive of my papers. I don't even want to study the archieve of my papers! (Except maybe to laugh at my spelling!!!)

Saturday, March 17, 2007


It is hard to balance my needs with my faimily's needs.

"A Mommy" wisely commented on my post about prejudice a week or so ago: "Think about the person you could be if you didn't have to worry about J or A's school, and felt like you had made a move that worked for them. What would you do with that energy?"

This has made is much easier for me to dive into the moving process feet first. I'm in love with yet another house--and have made a formal offer--I'll give details if we actually get the place.

I've ended up being selfish about the process--and I've put my needs first. If I don't like the house or the lot or the location, I move on. I didn't even think about if it would work for Joseph, Alex, or Dave. I'm figuring the schools are for the boys, the short commute is for Dave, the house is for me. Okay, I've thought a bit about how the layout works for everyone. It does. The house even has a separate Mother-in-law suite with it's own outside door that we could offer to a college student in exchange for before or after school care for the boys! (Yes, it would have to be just the right college student...)

Okay, those are details. I do hope we get the place...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


I'm obsessed with the whole moving process. I've been looking at houses online 'till I can't tell if I'm seeing photos of 100 different houses or the same house over and over. The web has certainly changed the way real estate is marketed. It has been 12 or 13 years since we moved. We went driving on Sunday, found an open house or two. Saw a house I was interested in "online" and found it very useful to compare the digital presentation of the house with the real thing. Notes to self: 1) everything looks bigger in photos, 2) our clutter and familiar furniture will make any house feel like home, 3) sidewalks and bike paths are very cool!

I talked with realtor this morning about selling our current home. It is starting to feel real. They have me scared about what we can expect to get for our house, but, we will just have to find a place we want, sell our house, and buy the new one, in some order, probably not a logical order...

I'm obsessing about all of this since it is exam week and next week will be break week. I have more flexibility, so I figured I just need to dive in and start the process. I can't just talk about it--at some point I have to do it. I could use a manager for my life. Any volunteers? Your duties would include finding a great place for us to move, packing up our junk so someone will want to buy our house, and dealing with the realtors. I guess what I'm saying is I think for the next few months, there will need to be two of me.

Monday, March 12, 2007

March Madness

Are you filling out your brackets?
I don't know enough about it to really want to this year... I'm just now starting to pay attention. I do know it is fun to watch the Buckeyes!

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Prejudging--we all do it. Most of us think it is wrong. An interesting feeling that has surfaced as we contemplate moving is my own prejudice about the suburbs. Some of it is Dave's influence--He is a city kid through and through. He figures he was raised in the city and he's done okay, so the city is the place to be. Some of it we share. For years now we have enjoyed short commutes, and laughed at the folks living in the 'burbs fighting traffic at rush hour. Some of it is all my own pride and insecurity. I imagine the stereotypical suburban woman, and I'm anything but... I'm not thin, my hair is greying, my nails are a mess... A part-time violinist is not going to have nice nails, I think grey roots would look worse on me than grey hair, and... well... I just can't seem to solve the plump problem. So, I look down my intellectual nose at the suburban woman and pretend that I'm somehow better than all of that, when really I'm just worried I won't fit in! Will I find neighbors as wonderful as the ones I surrounded by here and now? I have great friends living across the street and just down the block. Will I find friends as willing to accept me even though I'm kind of a square peg? I'm so afraid that in the burbs I'd be stuck in traffic in my (not very nice) van or making small talk over the fence with a snotty, shallow person who just wants to impress me with her fancy clothes and new SUV. I also worked really hard to convince myself that I wanted to live in the city in the first place. I'm a small town girl. But I grew to appreciate walking to the grocery, the hardward, the drug store, the elementary school, etc. etc.

I need to stop myself and imagine instead that we will move into a house next door to, or down the block from Sarah or someone just like her. There are wonderful people everywhere--and obnoxious, dolts everywhere! And it will be okay.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Update on Alex

I've been focused on Joseph so much of late that I've not talked much about Alex.

Alex has been having great days at school about 80-90% of the time. They have not expected him to do all of the grade level work in math and are substituting work that is more appropriate for him at this time, and it seems to have helped him throughout the entire school day.

I worry about him if (or when) we move. I think it will be hard for him to start in a new school. He is just now getting comfortable in a new grade. But, I also don't think we will stay here for middle school and high school, so maybe it is best to make the adjustments now.

I think I'll always be worried about my dear A-bear. But his smile, and his enthusiasm, and his charm will carry him.

I've been working on the "currency" that motivates him ever since Sarah blogged about knowing your "child's currency." We hvae been doing a sticker chart, and it is starting to help. I've exchanged stickers for cold, hard, cash at the end of the week. That has worked, but not as well as I would like. Money doesn't really motivate him. Sadly, it seems that television is the most consistent motivation for him. He was willing to trade extra days of being grounded from friends for not being grounded from television last weekend. (I can't even remember what he had done that caused me to ground him from friends... ) And after yet another episode of food in the bedroom at night, and another mess with peanut butter on the sheet and blanket and carpet (argh!!!) I told him no TV for a day anytime he takes food out of the kitchen. (I've not forbid him from coming downstairs in the middle of the night to eat, just forbid him from taking food out of the kitchen...) So he had no TV yesterday. This morning, with no food in the bedroom, he proudly announced "I get to watch TV today!"

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Video of Jospeh

I'm trying to get really fancy here, and I've uploaded a video of Joseph to youtube. Here it is:

One of the most interesting things is to see how well he ignores all the distractions from the rest of the house. Trish is working with him. Dave is on the phone. Alex and Owen (our neighbor) are running around playing. You will want to turn the sound down!

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Dave is finally home after a long week out of town... I guess he was only really gone 3 nights, but it felt like 3 weeks. He took the boys this afternoon, and I promptly fell asleep on the couch 'till they returned about 2.5 hours later. I needed that!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Joseph at Home

My boss is late for a meeting, so I'm blogging.

We are settling into a new routine-- Joseph seems to miss going to school a little, but he is such a happy kid, it doesn't make a big difference in his life.

I'll end up being complacent, and not stay focused and motivated about next year. I really must keep working on next year. If I don't blog about it, someone here must call me on it, and be sure I've been doing the legwork to find a new placement! I decided we can't buy a new house just to get a new teacher for Joe-bear. If we need a new school district, we will rent. It may not make long term fiscal sense, but I don't want to buy and move and then need to move again... Moving more than once is bad enough, but selling twice would be horrible. If I'm willing to pay enough, something decent will be available to rent, especially with the slow housing market!

I thought about it this morning as I was driving to work--Pursuing a new placement in two school districts at the same time feels like dating two guys at the same time. I was never good at that. But it is the right thing to do in this circumstance. I have to check out two, three, four different placements to figure out which is best--and I need to act like we are serious about moving, staying, or whatever... I need to be a better actress than I am!

Well, the phone just rang, the boss is here, gotta go...

Sunday, February 25, 2007


Any chance I can blog about something other than my kids school problems? I'll try! Maybe Basketball! I've completely ignored the college basketball season so far, but I did sit down to watch Wisconsin and OSU today. Go Bucks! I think I may need to pay attention to March Madness. I've always loved college basketball, and this is the first time in many, many years I didn't go to a single game. I guess that is some indication of just how busy I've been. Anyway, Dave has been going to games with Jospeh or Alex. Joseph LOVES basketball, and Dave enjoys taking him, so I may never get a chance at a live game again.

We also went to the symphony last night. Ah. Culture. The concert was better than I was expecting, so I enjoyed it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Found a house I love

The upside to upheaval-- I get to browse the internet looking for a new house. The experts (Joseph's psychologist and behavior consultant) suggest a different district than the one that is halfway between Dave's office and mine. But still a shorter commute for Dave than where we are now.

I found a house I love on an acre of land, surrounded by trees and other peoples back yards. Now, I only love the photos on the internet, I haven't really seen the place, should be blind, right! It has well water, not city water. If the well water is nasty like Philip and Holly's was, I may not want to deal with it...and the love affair will be shortlived But, maybe the well water is fine??? We can buy drinking water with flouride! And it is in the district of the best elementary school for autistic kids in Central Ohio. There is always some way to focus on the positive.

Another positive, Joseph's tutors say he is flying through material since he has so many hours of therapy at home...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Reality Sets In

This morning, the tutor couldn't arrive on time to be with Joseph because the other child she helps was on a two hour school delay. Only way to cover it was to have Dave bring Joseph to campus on his way to work and have J-bear hang out with Mommy for two hours until tutor could pick him up. So, Joseph went to class with me. My students were good about it, and Joseph had his PSP with the sound turned almost off and he behaved okay. There were a few "Joseph chirps" during class when the game was exciting, and a few times the overhead was more interesting than the game. I'm sure it was distracting to the students. Not ideal. Makes me question my "home-schooling" plan... But I'm still not ready to send him back to school next week. I guess that is some indication of how frustrated I must be with school, if having him trail me at work is better than sending him to school.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Email I'm thinking of sending

Below you will find the text of an email I'm considering sending to the head of special ed in a suburban district where I'd like to move. Any comments? Should I give them a chance to say, no, we would rather not deal with you? I'm thinking I'd like to hear that up front... before I buy a house... Another option would be to rent for year to see how it goes in Worthington.. I still need to add a nice closing about how I'd like to meet with her and visit some classrooms to observe, etc...

We are considering moving to the Worthington School District, as my husband recently started working North of 270 and I am at Ohio State. We have two children, currently enrolled in Columbus Public Schools, both with IEP's. My husband and I would like to talk with you concerning the opportunities and services that would be available to us if we were to buy a house in Worthington. I'll try to give you brief information about our children so you know some of what we need.

Joseph is 9. (5-22-97). He is diagnosed PDD-NOS. He has been served by CPS since he was three. He started a home ABA program when he was five. He is non-verbal, but has a huge vocabulary of over 750 ASL signs, can understand, write, and read English at a level that I think is that of a typical first grader--although clearly pieces of the language process are still missing. He adds and is learning to subtract, tell time, count money, etc. He needs an environment that challenges him academically, supports our home behavior program, and includes a teacher or interpreter or aide that understands his sign. I have a video of him signing with one of his home ABA tutors if you wish to see how fluently he signs.

Alex is 8. (7-11-98) He has lived with us since the summer of 2001 when we adopted him. He is diagnosed ADHD and LD. He has been served by CPS since he was 5. He is currently in a mainstream 2nd grade class with the support of a tutor for about one hour each day. He has some visual processing issues that make reading challenging, and is about one grade level behind in reading (according to the school--I think he is doing a bit better than they.) He has a lot of challenges with math. We have been discussing placement in an LD classroom for next year. He is a creative, energetic child who loves gymnastics and dance. We are currently working with a psychologist at Ohio State to try to cope with some of his emotional and behavioral issues, which I hope will help his school performance.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Home-Schooling Joseph???

Well, the proverbial #@!* hit the fan this weekend chez DD. Dave went to Joseph's teacher conference Thursday, Friday the teacher finally sent a copy of a report written a team of four Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs), one of whom has worked with J for past 1.5 years (and I thought had a clue of who and where he was) home. This report is the tipping point for me. I've been dissatisfied with the school for the past two years--we never signed Joseph's IEP this year, hoping to inspire the system to do the right thing. Well, it is clear that no one is going to do anything to educate Joseph... At this point my plan is:
1) Keep Joseph home for a few weeks, doing ABA all day everyday and going with his ABA tutor to "home school" activities so he doesn't lose all touch with other kids...

2) Think about the next step--Do we want to officially pull him out of school and homeschool for the rest of the year? Do we want to sue the district to provide appropriate services? Do we move? Will another district do what we need without a law suit. Figure out if we have enough ABA hours, or can get enough ABA hours to cover full time ABA. If we can't get the hours, figure out how much it will cost...

3) Dave's job will be to talk with the head of special ed in other districts. My job will be to talk with a realtor.

4) I'm also going to record Joseph working with his ABA tutors at home. I don't think anyone in the school system really understands how fast J signs. I need video proof. I figured out how to record short video clips with my digital camera and play them back on my computer this morning (for a 50 year old, this was an achievement!!!) I hope I can burn them to CD/DVD to let other people see them. Or email files that others can watch... More experimenting in my future...

5) I know signing scripted sentences, reading books, etc. etc. isn't "real" language. But it is the building blocks. He has a way more sophisticated set of building blocks in his hands then PECs will ever give him. I need educators who want to work with the building blocks he has to help him develop as much real language as he can. I don't know his potential... but I know he sure as hell has not been learning a @#$! thing in school. Okay--I've started to rant. There has been quite a bit of that over the last 48 hours.

Keep in touch. Say prayers for us. Come visit in August when we will be packing and moving! I don't expect to find a perfect school or school district or teacher--but I have to find better than what we have. We are looking at privates, charters, publics, etc. etc. Everything is on the table. This is all very hard for Dave. He invested 8 years in this school system as a board of education member (most of you know that). He doesn't expect special treatment, but he is frustrated that his district--the urban district he believes in so passionately--shows such incompetence when it comes to his kid...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Joseph's Hugs

I've realized over time that Joseph doesn't have as severe of sensory issues as many autistics, but he loves to be held and hugged tight. When he was just two I would take him to OT and watch the therapist sit on a swing and hug him for ten minutes at the beginning of each session. I wanted to tell her--I can, and do, do that! Joseph still loves to sit in the rocker with me or on the porch swing and be hugged and rocked. It is therapy for him and for me. A mom I don't know very well once said that she had made her son quit hugging the tutors that work with him because as he got older, watching him bury his head in these young women's chests "didn't look good." Well, I understand the dilemma, but... I hope to help Joseph keep his face at shoulder height rather than making him stop hugging!

He is getting almost too big for the hug on the lap that he so loves. And he is getting stong enough that occasionally he grabs the back of the kitchen chair and pulls me to him so I can't get away.

So, as he grows I may need to find new ways to give him the close hug he needs and wants, but for now, I love having a lap full of bony arms and legs.

I read about similar situation on Jerry's blog this morning, and Mcewen commented "... I believe it is common for boys to become less demonstrative as they grow up, so I feel that this is a little bonus for me to enjoy whilst it lasts." My sentiments exactly... Autism does have bonuses...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I figured out how to make a title

Thank you Sarah. I've long admired other peoples title lines on their blog entries. It turns out I had to edit my settings to show a title box. Okay, it is clear that I'm not using my day at home to do work. But the cheesecake should be done in just a few minutes! I hope it is as yummy as it looks!

Is Being Lazy Part of having a Snow Day?

I just want to let boys play computer and watch TV all day--for the second day in a row. I have not yet turned on the TV today, but the computer has been on since breakfast. I'm home because they closed the University!!! Only the third time in 25 years. I'm trying to decide if I should email my students that the work due Friday is still due... or let them have a lazy day, also, and turn in the work on Monday!

It is so cold today that we won't even be able to play outside very long.

Joseph is still in his PJs.

Actually, these few days at home have been good for me. I've needed a bit of time to think and get myself focused. Alex has a teacher conference tomorrow. I think the most important thing I want to tell the teachers is "hang in there with us." We are not going to solve all of Alex's issues overnight. The psychologist says treatment will involve medication, therapy, and special ed. We are doing two of the three already. Maybe a different medication will help, but I think the therapy and special ed pieces will be more important. We are to have new testing done--and that may change the special ed services. I'm at a place with him where I know he has learning challenges, but I can see him learning. He is reading more and more fluently all the time. When he doesn't want to try, he can struggle with easy passages, when he wants to try, he is doing really well. So, it isn't the ability or the level of achievement that are the root issue, it is his motivation. Until we sort that out, we won't know what his potential really is. Math is a different story. He struggles all the time. We will have to keep working on that one.

Joseph has a conference tomorrow as well. I'm not going. I can't get past the bad feelings from the IEP meeting last October. Dave is going. He is the diplomat. All I want from Joseph's school is that they control his behavior and don't let him get away running away, grabbing, etc. Simple behaviors that he doesn't do at home anymore, but they still have problems with at school. Next year he will be in a different school. Not clear yet where, I'm working on that one. I did an experiment with Joseph the other night and tried to have a conversation all in sign. I always speak/voice with him and sometimes sign as well. The tutors sometimes just sign. He has always signed more with the tutors than with me (or Dave). He really did respond better to me when I didn't voice at all. He answered my questions appropriately, and we had a nice little conversation. He has enough language (in sign) to get everything he wants or needs, but language development beyond that has been slow. So, it is clear that he would benefit from me signing more. And me using sign only inspires him to respond. I guess if I make it clear that I speak his language, he will try harder to communicate with me. Now, of course, the problem with this picture is me. I can sign, but not very well. Old dog, new trick. I've never had much aptitude for language, and sign is so hard to learn well. In some ways the tactile part has made it easier for me to remember vocabulary, but the visual part is very difficult for me. I can say much more than I can understand. And it must be very frustrating for Joe-bear to sign something to me and have me stare blankly back at him while I’m trying to figure out what he has just said. Sometimes I figure it out, and it is echolalia, sometimes I figure it out, and it is something new and interesting. Sometimes I never figure it out.

So I guess this is a good day to laze around and let all this stew on the back burner. That reminds me, what should I let stew on the back burner of the real stove today? What do I have in the freezer that I could stew or simmer all day? I have cream cheese to make a cheesecake… Maybe I will do that. It IS Valentines’ day, after all.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Another Snow Day

Yes, it is snowing again in Central Ohio. Snow plus ice makes for a day at home. We have played store with real money to try to help learn to count change, and I've been trying to grade papers. We had ample warning of the storm, and I had already made plans to not be in the office today. Now, if boys are home again tomorrow, I'll be in trouble. Maybe it is Dave's turn.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Neighbor Children Making a Kitty House

I'm tempted to say this is a picture of Alex with our neighbors Josie, Sophie and Owen making a cat house, but that doesn't sound very good.

I'm hoping the cats have the good sense to hide until all the children are long gone, but they had a great time working together on this project. Joseph was off on an adventure to the office with Daddy, so he missed out.

I must say I love eavesdropping on the kids, listening to them when they think I'm busy doing something else. They are getting old enough to have an interesting social heirarchy, and they have played together for several years now. We are so lucky to have great neighbors. Am I really thinking of moving

Well, I just checked on the kids again, and there is blue marker all over the floor--That is more like life here chez DD.

Think I'll go bake brownies for the little angels.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Alex's new Gymnastics Uniform

Alex is on the gymnastics team at the local rec center. Not a fancy private team... practice once a week, meets once a month. The team hasn't had uniforms until this year. Some parents found a donor who gave the team fancy uniforms, both "leos" and warmup suits. The boys all looked great last week at practice. Alex is very proud. I really love the picture with the tough guy look, and then the next one with the "aw shucks, its just me Mom" face. It was also fun at the practice to watch the boys try to get comfortable in those leos and short shorts. I'm sure most of those boys had never been out of the house is such short pants!

Beautiful Winter Day in Ohio

It is clear, cold and beautiful. My pictures don't do it justice. You folks in California and Atlanta can be a little jealous--the cold and snow do have an upside! The kids have school today, and Joseph's bus was only 1.5 hours late.

I have just two manageable things on my to do list for the day--buy a new cell phone and grade midterms. My cell phone is coming apart, and turns off whenever I try to answer it. Since it doesn't ring very often, I've been in a panic twice when it rang and I couldn't figure out who called...

Oh, wait, I have a book about managing conflict in the workplace I'm supposed to read before a workshop tomorrow. But, still, I don't have to go to office to read the book, the house is quiet, and why would I want to read it before the workshop anyway.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Update on the Furnace

We spent $120 to find out what a mysterious light switch in the basement controls. You guessed it. The furnace. Alex must have flipped the switch while playing in the basement Monday evening. The furnace man said it is not "up to code" and we should have a real electrician take it out.... Next week...

I'm absolutely in "get through the day one fifteen minute chunk at a time" mode. The third day of no school because it is too cold is behind us. I hired a lot of help today--spent the whole day at the office finishing one project and sitting through interesting, but not critical meetings. Thank goodness I can find help at the last minute!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Okay, It is really cold...

School has been canceled for the second day because wind chills are predicted to be below -10. In typical DD fashion, that means our furnace doesn't work. I woke up this morning and thought, wow, it must be really, really cold. Our bedroom is always cold, but it was much worse than normal at 7 AM this morning. Well, I went downstairs and the thermostat said 52. I keep the temp low--but not THAT low. So, I checked the pilot. No such luck... the pilot was burning bright. So, I've called the furnace company, and they are to be here before 1 PM. Meanwhile, I'm baking anything I can think of, just to put extra warmth in the house. Phone just rang--the technician is on the way!!!! Yea!!!

Ironic that school is canceled so children can stay home, warm and safe. Hmmmm.... Not in my world.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Slogging or Blogging

I have the winter blahs. Rather than do my work today, I've been surfing the web looking for a new house in a different school district. Perhaps if we moved to a smaller district with fewer urban issues, my boys would have a better chance of getting the education they need. The psychologist we are seeing for and with Alex has still not completed his assessment, but indicated that the "treatment phase" of the process would include medication, therapy, and special education. None of this is a surprise, but I'm thinking that as the special education folks in the district have been so difficult about Joseph, I can’t imagine fighting the bureaucracy for two… I’ve been in contact with district officials trying to get a different, better placement for Joseph next year. They don’t want to provide a sign language interpreter, I’m insisting there be someone in the room that understands what Joseph is saying. No telling if another district would do better. It is an expensive request. A teacher that can deal with Joseph’s autism, and a sign language interpreter that knows what he is saying. The officials keep telling me they have teachers that “know some sign.” They don’t seem to understand that Joseph knows a lot of sign. Way more than I do. And I’d say I “know some sign.” It is one thing to have a vocabulary of 200-300 signs. It is another to watch Josephs hand’s fly and follow what he is saying, spelling, reading, adding…

Anyway, the good news is that it looks like we could afford some very nice homes much closer to Dave’s new office, and without counting Dave’s new salary—as long as we can sell our current home for what we think it is worth. Packing and moving sounds like a total nightmare, however!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sometimes I CAN be a Good Mom

Yesterday Alex was blowing bubbles in his milk with a straw. I stopped myself from just telling him "NO, stop that, it isn't good manners." Instead, I told him, "Don't blow bubbles in your milk, it isn't good manners, but after we clean up the lunch dishes, I'll make you some soapy water--and you can blow all the bubbles you want." He actually finished his lunch and then had a blast blowing lots and lots of bubbles. Yea Alex, and yea Mom!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Pictures from Trish's Wedding

Trish was married on Dec. 30th. She is one of Joseph's tutors. Another of Joseph's tutors, Becky, was a bridesmaid. Joseph was pretty happy to hang out with his favorite girls, and liked that they were all dressed up!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I was wrong

I checked the news about the bus shortange and discovered "Officials said the shortage was a result of an investigation into a bus driver who was found with cocaine on a bus this week. The driver in question worked for First Student, a vendor contracted by the district... officials discovered that they had not completed all criminal background checks for their employees, therefore halting operations during the investigation." First student operates about 30 busses for the district. They hope to have bus routes running normally tomorrow. Seems crazy that in a district with hundreds of bus routes, and many students that don't ride busses, school could be canceled over 30 busses.

Oh well!
No School

There were not enough busses or bus drivers this morning, so school was canceled???? Dear Joseph stood at the end of the sidewalk for 10 minutes waiting for his bus. I finally looked in the neighbor's driveway--her van was still there. She is a teacher in the district, and usually leaves about five minutes before Joseph bus comes. So, I checked the news. No school. Maybe it was cold and the busses wouldn't start? I'm glad this didn't happen last week when I had a looming deadline.

I baked cookies for tomorrow's book club. And I spent at least an hour crafting an email to both of Alex's teachers, his tutor, and the reading specialist at his school. It was probably just a page or two, but I thought about every word. We were all to have had a meeting this morning. No school may work to my advantage, because I took a lot of time to think about everything I wanted to say to the teachers, and in person I'd have been distracted, we would have only had 20 minutes or so, and with such a big group, I'd have forgotten something I wanted to say. I hope they take the time to read and think about what I've said. I just want them to work hard to teach Alex. Sometimes I think the school has given up on him. Sometimes I think they are clueless. I tried to tell them in my email that I need feedback from them about behavior so I can properly reward him at home, and so I can tell the Dr. if his meds are working. I still think they are so focused on test results they can't see the child. I explained that while some of his work looks the same--for example he is to write sentences with his spelling words each week--it takes him a fraction of the time. In Sept. he could write one or two sentences at a time, and it could take 20 or 30 minutes. Now he can write 10 sentences in less than 20 minutes. But the work the teacher sees is the same. Same sloppy handwriting, same sentence structures over and over. (He likes to start each sentence with either the spelling word or "I." That seems like a reasonable way for him to start to learn to write to me...and it can't be that unusual for a second grader... Acutually, I find his sentences interesting. It helps me see into his brain a bit.)

Alex has figured out that he might not get to go to bookclub, and has actually been on good behavior for me...trying to earn enough stickers!

So maybe in my next post I can complain about Joseph for a change. Or maybe, you all will be thrilled to read how great my kids are! They really are... really...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Luke and Annie

My nephew Luke and his wife Annie are heading to Honduras with the Peace Corps. Check out the blog of their adventures!

Check out the website These women are my cousins. My mom sent me their cookbook, and it looks like a lot of fun, although more like a domestic goddess than a domestic disaster!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pat myself on the back and rambles

I just finished a big work project. Whew.

I've been sick, way behind on stuff at work, making Dave's life miserable (although, at least some of it he deserves) and trying to just get through the day. Anyway, one project finished and out of the door, well out the figurative email door.

Maybe I can be more patient with my dear children this week. Alex is the difficult one these days. He continues to get up in the middle of the night almost every night. I've been ignoring it. This may be why it is getting worse--he is trying so hard to get my attention. Behaviorists tell me to expect the behavior to get worse before it gets better. Friday night the dear boy, all 55 or 60 lbs. of him at most at about a cup of peanut butter, straight out of the jar. He had carried three brand new 18 oz jars of peanut butter upstairs, opened just one, and eaten half the jar. I figured it was about 1500 calories of pure peanut butter. Needless to say, he didn't want breakfast. But he ate lunch and dinner. Maybe I'm not feeding him enough. Although, Thursday evening, Dave was gone, I baked a batch of pre-packaged tollhouse cookies. The kind that comes in the dairy case, break apart, and bake. It made 12 big cookies. I had two. The boys finished the rest of them before Dave came home that night. They also ate dinner. Even I won't feed my children chocolate chip cookies for dinner. What will it be like when they are teenagers? I suppose a half a jar of peanut butter will be nothing! Let's just hope he keeps it in the kitchen. Earlier in the week I came downstairs and found two OLD containers of Redi Whip on the counter, and a brand new container of ready made frosting open with a spoon in it. At least he didn't finish half the frosting or take it upstairs. And he didn’t get sick from the expired Redi Whip. I gotta clean out the fridge if he is going to become my night time fridge raider.

Alex took his quarterly reading test last week. No progress. I just want to tell the teachers to quit testing him. Or, quit believing the tests! Can't they tell he is learning without a standardized test? I can. I read with him almost every day, and he is reading more and more fluently. Why do they have to have a test prove it? Is it no child left behind? Are they upset because Alex is ruining the school's numbers? Here they have this bi-racial kid that makes no progress on the standardized tests. Anyway, they tested him a second time and he showed a big jump. I expect if they tested him a third time it would be lower than the first. He is daydreaming all day at school, telling the teachers "no" when they ask him to do something, distracting other kids, etc. etc. I'd imagine he is quite a handful. The Dr. has adjusted his ADHD medication; the Psychologist still needs one more appointment to make a diagnosis, but has already indicated we will have a "treatment" phase with Alex. All I know is that I’m exhausted trying to keep up with him, help the teachers, deal with the teachers, and do my work. But one big project down, I feel better already! Also, since Sarah's post about knowing your child's "currency" I've been thinking about Alex. He loves to play with his friend Owen, and he loves Kids Friday Night Book Club. I told him and his teachers that I want him to stop daydreaming in class and stop saying "no" when he is asked to do work. They are to report to me daily. (One teacher is reporting, one is not.) I've had a hard time deciding what will motivate him. I've decided to try book club. So, this week he needs to get positive reports from teachers 3 of 5 days or he can't go to book club. I'll let you know. Sounds harsh, but I can't think of anything he really cares about. Anyway, at the moment, my spectrum child is my easy one.

As I type this he has been wandering around, singing, talking to himself, etc. So funny. Singing “Alleluia, alleluia” and talkiing about a babysitter he has not seen in about two years. He actually has a very nice singing voice when he thinks I’m not paying attention. I think much of his inspiration comes from the Disney channel. Now it is “use yer ‘magination” over and over? Anyone know the reference? Is it High School Musical? Okay, now the song is "How do we know you, how do we love you?"

Well, I’m going to go reheat dinner.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Longaberger Baskets

I'm having a Longaberger basket party. Locals, watch for your invitation. Line up your excuses. It will be Monday January 29, 7-10 P.M. I'm planning an open house, not a presentation at a specific time. Out of town readers, check the Longaberger web site, and email or call with your purchase requests! I'm doing the party in January because all the basket sets are on sale, 20% off, and all the baskets alone are on sale, about 10%.

Why do I love these baskets? I don't know. They are expensive, obscenely so, but made locally by workers that get a living wage. I love a bargain, but maybe some of the bargains I so enjoy are made possible because the people working in other parts of the world are not making a decent living. Okay, I can't believe I'm managing to make buying Longaberger baskets a ethical issue... I should go to the local MCC store and buy baskets if I want to be politically correct...

ANYWAY, I love Longaberger baskets, I love the new dark stains, and I want a new Picnic basket. My old picnic basket, not a Longaberger, was stolen out of our church basement!!! (Full of cookies at the time--so the thief got a real treat.)

Rather than just order the basket, I decided to have a party. I've never had a real party at my house. I've had one "catalog party" about five years ago, and I've ordered and bought many baskets, but this time, I'm doing the party thing. It should be fun.

I think I like the idea that baskets will make me more organized. In reality they just provide cover for my clutter. They enable me to be more disorganized but look all tidy.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy MLK Day!

I'm making a big pot of Chili in the crock pot. Since Sarah posts such great recipes, I'll post mine for crock pot chili.
I used to call it Ten Can/Tin Can Chili, but now I use more frozen things so, it isn't all cans. ( I have, however, literally used ten tin cans for this...)

Fill crock pot, as big as you want with

1 lb. ground meat, browned (or more if you want it very meaty)
canned tomatoes, corn, beans, etc.
frozen onion, pepper, corn, etc.

add spices: Chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic (powder or chopped), black peper, etc.

That's it.

Obviously, it turns out a bit differently each time. I don't have such a discriminating palate that I really care how much of each spice I use. My family is used to it. Dave, graciously, often tells me, I think this is the best batch you ever made!

Kroger has a frozen combo of onion and red, green and yellow peppers. I buy it for $1 a bag on sale. MUCH easier and cheaper than fresh peppers. And, from what I've read, frozen veggies are just as good or better than fresh for cooking.

The leftovers go into the freezer for quick meals on busy days. I often serve it over rice or cornbread.

Friday, January 12, 2007

This says it all--
Book Club Potluck

Our neighborhood kids book club, adults card club, potluck dinner is at our house this evening. The theme for the meal is "redneck comfort food." I need to come up with salad or veggies. ??? I can't think of a comfort food salad? Iceberg wedges with 1000 Island dressing? Creamy coleslaw? Comfort food veggies seem too soft and mushy to be appealing. Crisp salads don't sound like comfort food either?

Any good ideas?

We are also starting a once a month wine tasting in conjunction with the above mentioned group. We are basing our tastings on a book Andi has. This month is champagne. We pool our money and buy four different bottles, at different price points. Each month we will try a different kind of wine. I may actually learn something! We are even going to take notes so we know what we like.

So, cheers to our great neighbors!

PS The irony of Champagne tasting at the same time we are eating red-neck comfort food is not lost on the group. I just got this email from a neighbor "How does one cleanse the palette with Champagne and tater tot casserole? Do we break out a hunk of Velveta? I think a fine red would go with Taco Bell....or a new Reisling with BK......We are such the aristocratic group, decerning tastes in wine, trailer trash with food. Pass the Ketchup....."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Boise State is #1

We won't even talk about Ohio State. I slept through the second half of the game, Dave is still fuming.

Here is a cute photo of the boys in their new Christmas Brutus Buckeye shirts. Who cares about football when you have cute boys! Notice how thin Alex's hair is on top... That is 10 days of growth after his "haircut."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Doing the same work over and over.

Okay. I'm going to answer my own question. I know why it is so hard to stay organized. I have two kids, and one of them is spectrum.

Joseph helped us this morning by over-turning 3 laundry baskets. I'd folded and sorted all the laundry last night, but not put things away in the drawers, yet. So, I did that job again. Dave had hung all his shirts on a rod in the basement. Joseph climbed on something to reach them, and when no one was looking, took everything off the rod and threw it on the floor. Alex has done his share of things like this, but today it was Joseph.

Why are we short-tempered?

I just put an ad in the student newspaper to find someone to help out with AM childcare and light housekeeping three mornings a week. It seems ridiculous that we can't keep up with our lives, but we can't. My hope is that if Dave and I can both get out of the house by 730 or 8 three mornings a week, with minimal responsibility for anyone other than ourselves, we will have a bit more time and energy in the evening. (I'd rather give up fixing breakfast for A and J three days a week and have time and energy to cook dinner and do homework after school...

On a positive note, I saw Dave's new office and it is beautiful. Big, good windows, clean, and cluttered, but pretty well-organized. (That seems like an oximoron, but it seems like well-organized clutter to me.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Why is it so hard for me to stay organized? Because I don't put things away, and I don't throw things away, and I have too much junk!

I guess this will be my New Year's resolution. To get a grip on the piles of junk that surround me. (Notice, I'm blogging about it, and not doing it!)

The junk surrounds me at my office and at home. Alex lost his reading book this morning, I can't find anything on my desk at the office...


Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year and Alex's haircut...

Here's to the next 365! The years do roll along at an alarming rate.

Read Sarah's blog about her 2006. She is a wise, wise, wise young woman! I admire her very much.

We went to Trish's wedding on Saturday. Trish is another of Joseph's tutors. I forgot the camera, so no pictures of the beautiful bride, or of her hugging Joseph or dancing with Joseph. All will have to be preserved in memory!

We had a fun evening. We sat with two other families who benefit from Trish's services. The other children stayed at home, so Joseph was the only one representing the the spectrum at the table, and he behaved very well. Made us proud and the other families jealous. Way to go Joe-bear. It was fun to trade stories, strategies, laughs, and sympathy with other families that face similar challenges every day.

Alex did not attend the wedding. He had a mild cold and I hired a babysitter at the last minute. Spent $75 I had not expected to spend that day. However, it was money well spent. Alex wasn't really sick, but I was still glad to have the day away from him. Some explaination is in order, I guess. I've spent the whole Christmas break with the kids. Alex in particular has been very clingy difficult to entertain. I went to bed Friday night knowing he was still awake, pretending to be asleep, and then running around the upstairs--I guess hoping I would notice and get up. I decided it just was not worth a fight, let him stay up, and went to sleep. Dave was watching TV and dozing downstairs.

The next morning, Alex got dressed and put on a ball cap before he let me see him... I asked him to take it off, and almost cried. Give me credit, I didn't yell at him... I almost took a picture so I could post it on the blog, but don't want to give him that much attention. Can you guess? He had cut his hair the night before. He has beautiful, think, curly hair. We keep it pretty short, so the curls are not as beautiful as they could be... He had three or four big bald patches on the front, top of his head. I was just sick. All I could think of was to buzz it all off. I took him outside and gave him the shortest haircut of his life, and the spots he had cut are still very obvious. I know, I know, all kids do this. But at eight?

I asked him why. He told me it was because I wasn't paying attention to him. I told him that I had gone to bed and I was asleep! He said he wanted me to yell at him to go to sleep. Ah, you just can't win sometimes. I'm sure I'll laugh about this some day. But I'm not quite there yet. I was SO angry, but I didn't want to reinforce the behavior by reacting in a big way to it. So I tried really hard to stay calm. Needless to say, when he announced that he was too sick to go to the wedding, rather than tell him he had to go, and point out that he only had a mild cold, I called our favorite babysiter and luckily caught her at home with no plans. We were gone all day--12 hours. We had never all been away from Alex for that long. He had a really fun day with the babysitter, but pouted big time when we got home and the next morning to let us know that he didn't like being left behind.

I told him over and over that if he needs one of us after we have gone to bed, he just needs to knock on the door and tell us. Or come in and wake us up. Having a non-verbal brother has not helped Alex develop his typical communication skills. Alex's issues are not spectrum issues, but he sometimes acts more autistic than Joseph! I hope the counselor we have started to see with Alex can help him develop some self-esteem and independence.

Ah, it is a great journey! Happy 2007 to everyone!