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!