Sunday, November 30, 2008

Alex is a good helper

I use this forum as a sounding board--a place to vent a bit of my frustration--but today I must register what a great helper Alex was yesterday. We started the process of doing the Christmas decorations. He was excited and truly, truly, helpful. Last year decorating was a chore in which no one else showed much interest. This year, Alex begged me to put up the tree, and he helped haul boxes from the basement, helped hold parts of the tree as I put it together, helped unpack decorations, helped decorate, etc. etc. He was a trooper, and he was genuinely helpful. What a blessing!

I think the a big difference in Alex of late is directly related to me taking iron and having more energy. Instead of hearing myself say "maybe later," I hear myself say "yes!" Now, I don't want to heap guilt on myself and say I'm responsible for all of Alex's poor choices over the past six months, but a parent with energy is way better than a parent without, and parenting matters.

I am particularly proud of my mantle this year. I used real greens from a tree that blew over when the last blast of Ike hit central Ohio a few months back. I think it looks very nice... The overall effect (with the vacuum cleaner) is very cheery!

We have a cow in our yard

Thanks to my dear friend Lynn Anne, whose Christmas present this year is a lovely, light up cow. She doesn't photograph particularly well, but she stands at our front door, as Alex says "in the forest" (of fake light-up trees) and holds out a present to all that come to visit. Dave says she isn't nearly as tacky as he thought she would be from the picture on the box. I guess that is the hallmark of a good present... something someone would never buy for herself, but loves!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Looking Ahead

I want to prevent some of the problems we had in our household last Christmas where every sentence Alex spoke for a solid month started with "I want....." I also want to approach the holiday in a different spirit given that I feel economically pinched, and that our world is seeing tough times. Basically, I want to spend as much on giving to charity as I do giving to my family, and I want to find a way to involve Alex (and Joseph) in that. I know we can buy presents for needy children, and give food to the food pantry, but I fear that won't stop any of the "I want" mantra... I'm thinking of doing 25 really small gifts--dollar store gifts-- so each boy can open one a day, and then making sure we do something for someone else every single day. Maybe it will be sending a card or putting food in the food pantry basket at church, working on a homemade present for grandma, or buying toys for needy kids. Maybe if instead of an advent calendar with candy in it, if there is a present to open every day starting Dec. 1??? Or maybe not...

I'm putting all of the toy store ads and all of the catalogs that come in the mail straight into recycling before anyone gets a chance to open them, but I know the TV is full of ads...

So. I need advice? Anyone have any good ideas?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I heart potatoes

I made stew in the crock pot today. As I was scrubbing potatoes I found this one. Isn't it bizarre??? I seems like I should sell it on ebay or something... but instead, I'll just take a picture, and post it on my blog.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Uncle Joe and Alex go Fishing

This was a few months ago, but I forgot to post the photo. They didn't catch anything worth keeping, but they had a great time.
Uncle Joe gave Alex his first fishing rod for his birthday last year. Finally they had a chance to try it out!

Friday, November 07, 2008

From Jerry's blog

I know you can just click on "My Autistic Boy and other Adventures in Fatherhood" at left if you are interested--but this post is so good--I want to be sure you read it. This is the kind of thing that happens at Joseph's school. Not everyday--but it happens, and it is why we are so happy with the school.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Kids At School
I drove by a school with a colleague today. She drove. I was looking out the window. The kids were playing all the games you expect of 10-12 yr. olds. In one corner was a boy off by himself about 10 yards from the crowd.

As the colleague was talking I watched him. His tick was small but telling. He was taking his left hand and wagging it back and forth like he was waving at the ground. It looked like with his right hand he was pressing his forefinger into his thumb.

He was mumbling to himself. He was skinny, a mop of semi curly brownish-blonde hair. He was doing 'tv talk', talking to himself.

Of course you see Demetrius juxta-posed. You can't help but to.

I shook my head like I was paying attention. I didn't want to look like I was being rude. Another boy ran over. Making fun? What would his body language show to me 30-50 yards away at at a stop light.

He grabs the autistic boy's hand. Pulls him over. And they throw the ball to him. He pays enough attention to make a bumbling catch. He lifts the ball over his head. They clap. He throws it back to a different boy. And he steps away and starts wagging the hand again.

Repeat, pull him back into the group.

Behind my sunglasses I tear up a bit. Not the right place and time to get really sentimental and misty about what I just saw.

But the sun did shine a bit brighter, it seemed to me, on a beautiful, crystal clear day in the Southeast.
Posted by Jerry at 16:54:04

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I'm supposed to be going to a work related conference in Nashville. A good six hour drive... I'm planning to visit my dear, dear friend Lynn Anne in Cincinnati tonight on the way, then leave early Friday morning to catch as many sessions as possible on Friday. Stay Friday and Saturday and come home Sunday. But I don't really want to go. I'm exhausted all the time. I only want to go because it would be a night or two away from home to rest. Perhaps I will. Perhaps I won't. I'm actually giving myself the option, tomorrow morning after staying at Lynn's of turning around and coming home. I guess as part of my quest to take better care of myself, I should skip the long drive, skip the boring conference papers, and spend Friday doing something really fun--like going to the outlet mall.

I saw the Dr. last week. For the third year in a row he told me I was anemic. I think I finally heard him. I've taken iron supplements for a few months after every visit, but never for the whole year. Perhaps my sheer exhaustion is the anemia. It is certainly worth being disciplined about taking iron three times a day if it really will help!

Dave and I talked for 30 seconds this morning-- over the din of two boys brushing teeth, not brushing teeth, jumping, grabbing, clinging, talking, complaining, and in general NOT doing what we wanted--about how we are in a marathon. Raising Joseph and Alex will take 20 plus years. We are maybe halfway. We must both pace ourselves so we have the mental and physical stamina to last. And when our boys are 20, our job will not be done, at least not with Joseph. Maybe not with Alex.

I'll let you know if I drive to Nashville. Right now, don't bet on it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I found this on another blog this morning. It still brings tears to my eyes. The first time I heard it I was a junior or senior in high school, so 1972, 73? We watched a movie of the speech in a social studies class. I have very, very few clear memories of high school, yet that moment is etched in my memory.

I seem to be able to put aside a bit of my shell of cynicism this morning, and feel real hope for our country, and our world.

The full text of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech:

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges. But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of injustice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the
 heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every 
mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"