Monday, February 28, 2011


time for a little blog gem--a post about happiness. Even though today's post is pretty happy, here's a little gem from last year that was pretty happy too!


Well, I am pleased to announce that the Old Man and I made it through another IEP--a fairly successful one, if I must say so. We walked out of there with 30 MORE minutes of speech a week (for 60 minute total) as well as an hour of OT and an hour of adaptive PE--the adaptive PE isn't in his IEP , but a few kids have it in their IEP, so the teacher just takes the whole class over there and they all get to benefit, which I think is cool. I'm a big proponent of PE--especially if it wears him out and makes for longer naps!

But the Old Man made an observation that I couldn't agree with more. He said about 15 minutes into the meeting, he became aware that he really had to work at just paying attention and getting all the information. And he's right. This isn't some board meeting that you can be bored at--you are getting a year's worth (if the teacher & therapists are good) of information piled into an hour meeting, plus suggestions, plus new goals, plus questions being answered. And that doesn't even count the times when you have to be a biotchnit and demand services from recalcitrant state workers. Even though this was a really good IEP, we still walked out of there exhausted.

And did I mention his teacher talks REALLY FAST and with an ACCENT? I'm getting tired now just thinking about this meeting.

I will say, I am glad this meeting is over for the year, and that our little man is receiving the lion's share of services. He met all his goals for last year, and has some pretty attainable ones for this year. I'm not wishing for it and putting any hopes into it, but there is a possibility he will join a mainstream Kindergarten class in two years. That didn't seem feasible a year ago. Now, its one of the 25 scenarios I've set aside for the future. (remember--Autism means you live in the now, but you gotta be prepared for whatever the future will bring. I'm glad to add one more possibility)

Also, and this came directly out of the teacher's mouth--even though Ben hit her last week (a rare occurance) she would still love to teach him for 4 more years if she could. He has been dubbed her "sunshine". When he gets off the bus, she says "who is my sunshine?" and Benji raises his hand and says "Benji!"

Can't get much better than that! *wipes a tear*

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Este Lado de Tipico

So we had a notice taped to our mailbox yesterday that someone was filming in our neighborhood. Specifically at the monstrosity mcmansion across the street. As if we didn't notice the five million cars parked on our narrow street and random people milling about.

I've never blogged about that giant eyesore, but it is something to behold. We all were nosy neighbors took a tour of it after they finished building it and it is both the greatest and ugliest house in the world. It's got a closet the size of my kitchen, a screening room, 5 tvs in the master suite, and servant's quarters over by the sauna. All the workmanship however is just this side of high quality with uneven drawer knobs, plastic shutters , and decorated with the ugliest rainbow unicorn and dolphin paintings I have ever seen. Unless you're trolling the streets of tijuana--you might see a few there.

We are unaware of who actually owns the house, but it has been leased by a number of people, including a Jersey mobster complete with moll in leopard print hot pants, and the vaseline eating emotionally unstable Stefan Marbury. If anything, this house has been a source of police calls entertainment, if not parking snarls.

I don't think anyone is living there now--and like many empty houses in LA, it's a prime target for filming. So next to our mailbox was this blue notice that they were "setting up" for filming as they wait for their "permits" to go through. That's LA speak for "we ain't in your way, don't call the cops"

Now I should add the caveat that I am aware that a great deal of PORN gets filmed around here--meaning the valley--but I don't think this fit the MO. For one, I don't think they'd post notices--that sort of thing is a hush operation around here. Not that this place isn't the perfect backdrop for a visit from the cable guy. But there weren't enough creeps tramps fake boobs to arouse any suspicion.

There were a LOT of Spanish sounding names on the permit, so, knowing the industry, our only assumption was that a tele-novela was being filmed across the street. Interesting. Because if they wanted a novela, they could have just come over here.

I liken my life with Autism to a novela, si. Note the comparisons:

First of all there is a language spoken over here that many barely understand--but if you really try, you can figure it out from gestures, tone and how many items of clothing the protagonist is wearing. I mean, the dude walks around without pants most of the time.

There is a LOT of drama in this house, over the littlest things. You want more goldfish? why won't you eat the meal I cooked for you? why? don't you know you're going to STARVE? followed of course by an exhasperated sigh and the need for something alcoholic. Ay, Dios mio!

A lot of secrets are kept in this house--mostly to avoid tantrums meltdowns nuclear armaggeddon. He doesn't need to know that I hid his valentine candy, or that I sneak butternut squash or cauliflower into his scrambled eggs. In fact, I'd say its vital that this truth never sees the light of day. Que mysterioso!

You can also say that some things are discussed ad nauseum in this house. such as the request to pick up toys. I feel I have to discuss this repeatedly so that a) I am actually heard and b) someone other than ME picks up those pinche toys.

Like many a novela, it isn't always easy to get the affection we craze. Sometimes the protagonist is held back from giving his co stars a kiss or hug because train videos are just too engaging. And yet we root for the characters to find that moment when all obstacles are removed and true affection can be found. Ahhhh, amor!

Unlike American soap operas, novelas do not last forever--they last for maybe 120 episodes, and then end, to be replaced with another story. Welcome to life with autism. Last month, Ben was fascinated with dominoes and ate hot dogs. This month its bowling and a concerted effort to eat no meat. What will the next story be, I wonder.

Now we don't have orphans looking for their parents, or a family business falling apart--although that wouldn't be a surprising autism story. I've certainly seen enough fall apart. But we make a concerted effort to keep our family solid. And by solid I mean mommy has a full supply of tranquilzers liquor available.

In some ways, of course, our lives do not resemble a novela. I see no need to put on make-up, rarely wear anything other than yoga pants and an old sweatshirt, and don't talk to anyone, which certainly cuts down the potential for drama. And while there are certainly "smell a fart" acting moments in my day, for the most part I know most of my lines and am able to improv at a moment's notice.

I'm not sure I'd ever win a daytime Emmy or its Spanish equivalent, or if id even want squeeze into some spanx and go to the party to find out I lost. That money would be better spent on therapy or mixers. Or a new TV. Or a translator so I can at least find out what the hell that pendejo Ricardo is trying to keep from Consuela. You just can't trust that guy...

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

the somewhat engaged but otherwise distracted duo

So, the Old Man and I actually got a chance to get out of the house the other night for our weekly respite date--the one we've had to cancel twice this month due to illness. so, come hell or high water, we were determined to get OUT of the house at least for a few hours.

But since we were still recovering, we decided an action movie was the best choice--to keep us awake, if you will. We decided against Unknown, as it seems like the same movie we've seen a number of times over the years. Our only other choice, really, was the Green Hornet--which we both wanted to see. Little did we know we'd be more entertained by the audience rather than the film itself.

[aside--the film itself was …meh. some parts funny, others not. cool stuff going on, but the scenes were a little drawn out too much, and we kept waiting for something cooler to happen. Seth Rogen saved the movie--and I mean if someone other than Rogen had made the movie, it would have been more boring.]

When the lights went down a tall skinny dude--let's call him Lionel--came in and sat down in the row in front of us. Nothing to remark upon--just a late arriver.

Shorty thereafter, a very large man--we'll call him Julius--looking remarkably like comic book guy from the simpsons--and I mean, this may be the guy upon whom he is based--LITERALLY-- came in, stood by our seats for a long time, then moved to the row before us and asked Lionel to move over. At first we thought this was a random thing, and rather strange, but then we realized they knew one another. Perhaps the head to head conversation about how Bruce Lee was the original Cato tipped us off.

As the movie began to lose our attention, Julius and Lionel began to engage it.

These guys were the classic comic book reading, online gaming, star trek watching, multiple variable equation solvers that rarely step out of their dens, if only to see movies involving one of the above topics.

And these guys were a little different, as they are not as dedicated as their brethren--or else they would have seen this movie a few weeks ago when it actually came out. Oh no--it took time for them to actually leave the safety of their compound and stray out into public. Notice how they could not come into the theater when it was lit--no only under the cover of darkness my friends.

WE began to notice them when they began to reiterate what was JUST SAID on the screen--in case we hadn't heard it. But afterward they were quiet, so you couldn't say anything to them about being loud (unlike Sheila and isabel across the way who had to be shushed repeatedly)

So then we began to study them, this slightly dynamic duo. Lionel kept picking up this large ziploc bag that held some sort of treat or plastic explosive--and examining it in the movie light--trying to discern no doubt the difference between chocolate covered raisins and circus peanuts--or whether the detonator had been attached.

And occasionally they would put their heads together to discuss some anomaly on the screen--quietly though, so we couldn't really hear--such as the fact that a number of these scenes were "debunked" on mythbusters as a poor attempt to promote the film, and wouldn't it be great to spend some time with that awesome redhead, Kari, but only if she were dressed like princess Leia--yeah!. We could only speculate, of course.

No doubt these two ventured out of their online fantasy world in order to research their own plans to fight crime on the side. I mean, they were the perfect duo--opposite in looks, smarter than their surroundings and a certain penchant for tights. Julius in particular--with his great rotund belly that couldn't even let him sit forward in his seat and facial hair to make a pre-pubescent teen green with envy. Oh yes, a superhero in the making.

Now, perhaps I shouldn't poke fun--perhaps this mediocre duo will one day save me from buying the incorrect router for my network, all the while laughing at my ineptitude and inability to write html. Or perhaps they will create an online world in which I and others like me will be mocked mercilessly for the automobiles we drive and the fact that we've never been inside a comic book store.

Or perhaps, guys like this will be the men my son befriends in the future. These may be the boys that hang out in my basement, with my son, building robots and writing software, and talking about inapproachable red-heads.

In any case, the Old Man and I were glad to have the distraction, and were comforted to know that such stalwart youth were ready to take on each villain and bad guy that threatens our wireless network. Continue your selfless work, gentlemen. And redheads beware.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Revolving White Coats

Well, it looks as if the third generation in my family is allergic to penicillin. Lil man is covered with this rash--head to toe. Not the best pic--but squint a little, you'll see it. He only started scratching today. Looks like I need to cut his nails again.

I've had this same rash, and my mother before me.

This is probably a reaction to the amoxicillin given to him for an ear infection, and horrible fever that accompanied it. (i say probably because that's what the doctor said. She also said it could be a rash from the little cold he's sporting. But as he has never had a rash with a cold before, and as i have lived through this rash myself, and i'm fairly anti-Pharma, imma blame the drug.) The fever, I realize in hindsight, prolly had nothing to do with it actually, since I am recovering from the same fever without the ear infection. But after you kid is miserable for 4 days, what are you supposed to think?

Anywho, we did the traditional thing and took him to the doctor--his new doctor that I LOOOOOOOVE. She is young and sweet and autism knowledgeable/friendly. Our first visit with her was for an annual check-up and shots, and after gathering all the info she could about Ben, she listened to our vaccine concerns and gave us a solution we could deal with (we don't like to give Ben more than one shot at a time--we do vaccinate, just not all at once. It has never sat well with me, whether Ben were NT or not, to get multiple shots in one visit. We only like our multiple shots with liquor and action movies.) She didn't poo-poo our concerns, tell us it wasn't possible, or look at us like we're crazy and watch too much Oprah. You may gather from that sentence the myriad reasons why we left our previous doctor.

Of course, our previous doctor wouldn't even acknowledge that Ben had a problem. At least, not one about which he might get his knickers in a twist. Now don't get me wrong--he previous doctor was a very nice man, just not a very good doctor. Besides the fact that his staff was the worst--his nurse NEVER returned a call--he also wasn't up to date, spewing out the old info anyone could read in Baby 411. He was also the pediatrician for the kids of a good friend of mine, and botched their flu shots horribly. Like malpractice worthy. not kidding. Losing confidence in him after that, I drew the line when he referred to my kid as "troublesome" since he doesn't like getting poked and prodded and measured while he stands around nekkid in a cold office. troublesome. My kid. Gosh, maybe he wouldn't be so "troublesome" or "uncooperative" if he could COMMUNICATE, which is a little tough for kids with AUTISM. Yeah--that thing he told me not to worry about, because he's just a boy…

Our current doctor is actually our third doctor--but Karma and a little prep put her into our lap. After leaving the Asanine Enabler, I actually did a search of local doctors, and found one with outstanding reviews--one of the best pediatricians in the area. Wonderful staff! Amazing collegues! And we got to visit her once for a freak fever that wouldn’t end (sound familiar?) and she was wonderful and great and amazing and warm and all the things you'd like in a doctor. But more than that, the minute I mentioned the A-word to her staff, their demeanors changed, their sensory input decreased, and their patience knew no bounds. To this day Ben has been weighed and measured without screaming. If I hadn't left the previous quack, I wouldn't even know it was possible.

And a month after our visit, that wonderful doctor retired. crap!

Well, before Ben's annual appt, I call the office to make the appointment and when they ask which doctor, I tell them my situation and ask for the most autism-friendly doctor they have. The receptionist puts me on hold to actually FIND OUT, and sets us up with Dr. Kao. Yeah--I'll name her here. Anyone in the area would be lucky to have her as their child's doctor, NT or not.

My son yesterday, when told that we had to go bye-bye to the doctor yet again (we had been just the week before) gets up, jumps around, claps and says "Hello Dr. Kao!" And this woman has given him a shot and poked him when he wasn't feeling well. I think we've got a keeper this time...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

If it walks like a duck...

So, i had no plans to post today. I am still recovering from this killer cold/fever, and thought i would give myself a bit of a break and watch a little TV and chill out. Not so much.

So, thanks to Dani G over at I'm Just That Way, I learned that Dr. Oz was going to have a show on the causes of Autism today. Now, let me state for the record that I am not a Dr Oz, Dr. Phil or Oprah fan--in fact I have a few choice words I would use when discussing them, none of them suitable for anyone under the age of 14 (because let's face it, by then they pretty much know more curse words than we do. Am I wrong?) But my nausea and disgust aside, I figured I should take this show in to see what this guy would do. I mean--he's got a voice, LOTS of women across the country listen to him and I figure I should at least witness this.

The guy has an hour long show. He spent HALF of it on the causes of autism. 3o minutes. On what may be one of the most medically complex and emotionally charged issues of the day. 30 minutes. Really?

He had a "panel of experts" (if experts mean "know-it-alls) from different viewpoints (ok--kudos for that bit of diversity of thought). He had a bunch of Pediatricians who were propped up like beleaguered victims. (oh the poor peds. who have to answer questions and deal with fearful parents--oh woe be onto the person who chooses pediatrics for their profession!) And an audience of angry mothers and fathers.(how hard is that?) Two of which he completely blew off to "tag on" his own questions, when really he just wanted to ask his question.

You know what--Phil Donohue had more class and would have handled this 100x better. And I'm not just sayin' that cause I'm old or mistrust smarmy medical folk.

Now, the possible causes discussed were genetics, vaccines and environment. Naturally they spent a GREAT deal of time on vaccines because that's the hot topic. Some time spent on environment (which really includes vaccines, so I don't know why it’s a separate cause) and a few minutes on Genetics. Now, I'll admit my annoyance about the time spent on genetics is biased--this is the camp into which I fall, (with some slight leaning toward environment), so naturally I'd like to hear more than "being an older mom increases your risks"--which seemed to be the gist of the genetics portion of the show. Thanks Dr. Oz. Thanks.

Now I would be remiss here if I didn't acknowledge that the vaccine camp holds very little faith in Dr. Oz who promotes the AMA guidelines for vaccines. Even though, he admitted in the show, that he staggered the vaccines for his kids. And how that was somehow "hard to keep track of"--really? I realize the kids get a lot of shots the first year, but unless you have three children all 9 months apart, I don't see how keeping track of a schedule of vaccines, like WRITING IT ON A CALENDAR, could be that tough, esp for someone with a MEDICAL DEGREE. Am I crazy here? Or anal retentive? 'Cause my house ain't that neat, and my laundry aint' done, but I can damn well keep track of my son's vaccine schedule.

Some time was given to he GFCF diet--and I'm not knockin' that. I'm glad it works for so many kids. It just sucks when you are one of the ones for whom it doesn't work--as Dr. Sears pointed out, thank you. (as you might guess, I'm a little tired of the "well you must have done it wrong" argument i hear when I say that GFCF didn't work for Ben.)

But he spent NO time discussing early intervention, or proven and promising therapies. In fact he said he was "angry" that Autism Speaks refused to come on the show that day, and said they would come on the show if things like "early intervention, insurance reform, and life strategies" were discussed. Oz said it made him angry. Angry? I'm not a huge fan of Autism Speaks, but at least they had the foresight to know he was NOT going to treat this professionally and were not going to waste their time. I only wish I had been so wise.

In the end, I am glad that he at LEAST spent 30 minutes on this topic, so that more folks across the country will at least hear more of the argument. I wished it hadn't been so doom and gloom--throwing up statistics and then saying "we don’t know, and it sucks". I'm not saying he's wrong, but wow could we use a better message than THAT. an Autism diagnosis isn't a death sentence, and there is more to it than the struggles and the difficulties. But you wouldn't know it if you only watched Dr. Oz.

Seriously, that guy needs to drink more.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fevers, not Beiber-related

The plague has descended upon this house. Its amazing that i could scrape two thoughts together to actually come up with a blog post. Everyone here has succumbed to this feverish cough leading to a week+ of no housecleaning, a variety of take-out, and copious cough medicine consumption. And of course, it is easy to notice that when Benjamin has a fever, his behavior is excellent. In fact he seems more "typical" than usual.

Turns out my observation isn't in a vacuum. A few years ago a number of stories came out proclaiming that fevers seemed to actually benefit kids with Autism. I discovered this when I did a Google search last year when Ben had a freak fever and no other symptoms. There were a few articles that gave some sort of scientific explanation as to why a fever of 100.4 or higher seemed to effect the brain in such a way that magic things happened and kid with Autism were less sensory sensitive, made eye contact and other neurotypical behaviors. There were also a few other less-scientific articles that discussed this in terms I understood: fevers + autism= almost typical child. Or at least less "autistic-y."

And while I don't yearn for him to have fevers because I am a mother and want him out of my hair occasionally and they tend to frown on sending feverish kids to school, the Old Man and I have noticed some changes when Ben is sick. Now, the "calmer, more prone to snuggling" behavior aside (turns out being sick can bring that on) he has been giving dad more eye contact (he already gives me a lot), his sentences have been more experimental (using new words and phrases) and clearer (at least there is less jargon) and there has been very little scripting or stimming--not that I don't love hearing the whole dialogue from Finding Nemo when his father is chasing after the boat. Repeatedly.

Of course that doesn't change the fact that he was sporting a 102* fever for more than a few days, which frankly never sits well within my comfort zone.

I suppose it makes sense though--all science/mitochondrial/frontal lobe of the brain data aside. I mean, my own behavior is almost the opposite when I am sick. My sentences are incoherent (and that's before the cold medicine), I don’t' want to be touched or soothed, my vocabulary suffers, and I insist on watching the same movies I've seen before.

Does that mean having a fever makes me more autistic? or is it that fevers just bring on opposite behaviors?

The Old Man has also had a fever, but he seems the same…laying about, playing video games and farting. So maybe my theory doesn't really hold.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm late for my next dose of pitiful moaning and bad movie-watching.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I've got nothing today. No, take that back. I've got a fever, a hacking cough that has yet to reach the inner depths of my lungs (and it will), a feverish boy still abed (Thank G-d) and a sick husband moaning in the other room. So, you'll forgive me if i have nothing witty & brilliant for you today. But my muse happens to be high on cough medicine and everything she is telling me sounds like a flashback from a Skankin Pickle concert.

Feel free to make any comment about this current plague battling the whole of southern CA, and if facebook is correct, the country. Not that i will read any of it. I plan to spend the day in bed, trying to get well. That's my plan, anyway. We all know (don't we ladies) that that is NOT what will happen today, and that before the day is over i will have done a load of laundry, made copious peanut butter sammiches, changed a few pull-ups, wiped down the counter repeatedly and administered medicine to all members of this house--except the dog. Unless there's some medicine that will cure him of peeing just inside the dog door in the middle of the night. Other than a rubber band.

For those of you who are well, enjoy it. It may not be long before this plague takes you down. For those of you that have it, have a codeine shot for me.

Monday, February 14, 2011


It's blog Gem time--and lucky for me i posted a lil piece about the Old Man last month, which should be squishy enough for any heart day festivities. (as you can tell i am not impressed with this particular hallmark holiday) Currently, the Old Man is laying on the couch, moaning in pain, because he has a fever, and, well, he's male. So i get to spent Valentine's practicing my poor bedside manner, and remember why i married him...

if you want to avoid the whole linky thing, you can just check out my previous post here.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Day 30

Day 30 - A picture of someone you miss.

This is more of a list. And mostly they are good friends or mentors with whom I have lost touch over distance and time.

• Steve Spivey--dearest friend from high school who no doubt shuns all forms of social media.

• Eric Thomas--cohort from college who stood by me on what was then my darkest day, without question, and with the willingness to harm someone if I had requested it. Someone needs to consider himself lucky.

• Rod Sievers--the one professor with whom I felt comfortable sitting at the bar arguing about Thomas Jefferson and the basics of social history--MY kind of history. You were a force of will, you old coot. And impossible to drink under the table.

• Lori--whose last name I never knew--hippie chick with whom I worked at the sprout farm, who had the biggest heart and an open soul. we worked together on the weekends and would discuss Wicca, nature, the soul and our love affair with jerks. I miss our long talks, chica.

• Theresa Hyde--old friend from Indiana. Time and cultures changed us both in hard ways, but I miss the camaraderie we once had.

• Tracy Numark--my JSU co-captain. You taught me what it was to be a Jew--not just shul and davening, but to really be in it. I miss the passion of your convictions.

• Harry Wells--the one professor in the RS department that was not full of himself or trying to prove something. I miss our arguments, and sitting at the spinning wheel discussing the finer points of religious life.

I'm lucky to say the list pretty much ends there. The other people in my life with whom I had lost contact--good AND bad have come back thanks to the beauty of Facebook. I have to say it is an amazing vehicle of communication and connection. And as much as Mark Zuckerberg is a bit of a douche (or is he just a high functioning aspie?), he did create an amazing platform. And I'm thankful for all those old friends with whom I can keep up and talk to daily. For this self-proclaimed hermit, it is the perfect venue.

well--this is the end of my 30 day experiment, and i have to say it's been interesting. we'll have to see if it actually built the habit of daily writing, or if i'll fall of the face of the planet in the next few days...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

day 29

Day 29 - A picture that can always make you smile.

This was his very first school pic. Well, first official, get cleaned up and wear a nice shirt school-year picture. He posed for one of those safety cards last year, and looked like a proper thug. A crying thug. And angry crying thug that might take your juice if you looked at him the wrong way.

I'll admit to being absolutely nervous about the school pic. You see, any change in his pre-school routine usually ends up being some form of meltdown/shutdown/beatdown. He hates those little programs they always put on around various holidays where the kids sing songs that no one can understand and do little dances and all other sorts of activities that make the batteries run out on your cam-corder. Although I'm pretty sure he likes the cupcakes and treats afteward. Even after a week of making me a little crazy by singing all the songs, repeatedly, at home, if you should mess up the routine of "breakfast, circle time, table time, playground clean-up, potty and bus home" (his pat answer when I ask him what he did at school that day) and he will sit on the riser like an angry hobbit and sing nary a word. There is a way things are supposed to be done, and god help the person who fucks it up.

So, I didn't hold out a lot of hope that the picture would go well. I spent the week before practicing "picture" with him--sitting him down, smiling for the camera and then letting him see the picture. And I will say, it is the best bit of pre-teaching that has stuck with him. To this day, when he sees a camera, he'll mug and say "picture!" That and he's a bit of a ham. If bit means I worry that he's gonna want to be an actor when he's older and never get a real job.

So the morning of doomsday, I put him in his little shirt and sweater-vest--nerdy cute--did what I could with his hair, and sent him on his way. After that, all I could do was hope.

A few weeks later, I got to see the group photo they took with the class--and there was my kid, squirming, refusing to stand with the other kids, red in the face. At that moment, I lost all hope that his school pic would be any good. I told myself, it's just pre-school. We've still got another year to work on this (thanks to that December birthday). In the words of Tim Gunn, we would make this work!

Then a few weeks later, lo and behold, this gorgeous picture came home tucked into his school bag. I couldn't believe it. There he was, sitting still, SMILING, eyes twinkling, a pale little angel instead of a blotchy-faced imp. I was gobsmacked. Still am, I think.

So I framed it and put it up on our growing "family picture" wall--you know the one--the wall with bad marks on it that you try to cover up with a bunch of pictures arranged artistically instead of just painting the wall. And every day when I sit at my desk and write blather, I can look up and see that beautiful smile and know there's hope yet.

At least I know he'll have a good headshot in the future...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Day 28

Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of.

Ok. Time to be irrational.

This was a fear that I had long before I read this book. Cormac McCarthy just helped to flesh it out a little.

Don’t get me wrong--I have the usual fears: bugs, burglary, zombie apocalypse, demon possession. But there is something about the armageddon scenario that really gets under my skin and actually make my blood pressure rise. The thing that frightens me the most is being in that situation without the Old Man, and having to care for and protect my son in dangerous times. Its making my pulse race right now just writing about it.

Now, I should state here, that I have myriad skills to help me and my family survive an apocalypse--now I'm talking natural disaster or nuclear holocaust here. Not zombies or the 4 horsemen. In either of those situations, I figure I'm toast. Not that living in LA doesn’t make me a target for getting nuked, but that's beside the point. Anywho, I got me some "skeels." I can cook and preserve food, I can make clothing and nets and any kind of cloth shelter. I've got an extra layer of body fat that should get me though lean times. I know how to make yarn out of animal hair. I know a bit about healing with herbs and oils, like any good kitchen witch. Soon, I plan to learn how to brew beer--and wouldn't THAT be a skill? I can also play a musical instrument, and in a pinch, I could probably come up with a good story or two. In short, I've got enough going for me that I don't think I'd get kicked off the island.

The Old Man has skeels too--mostly in the manly man division--shooting guns, building shit, scaring off meanies. Honestly--its one of the reasons I married him. My hormones recognized the protector/provider when they caught their first whiff. He's also good at "up-cycling" or using junk to make other stuff. Luckily for me he only sits and thinks about it instead of actually bringing home stuff he finds on the street.

And were it just me, or just he and I, armageddon doesn't frighten me at all. Add Ben to the equation, and I am a blubbering mess. And take the Old Man OUT of the equation, and you might as well just dig a hole for me.

The though of having to protect Benji from others frightens me to the core. And of course, this is linked to his Autism. I worry so much that he will not be accepted/appreciated by his peers here in reality (foundless since he is #1 personality in his pre-school class and a charmer by all means measurable) and of course that worry can translate easily into this kind of survival scenario. How easily would he be accepted if sources were scarce? I've read enough books to know that the weak have a tough time of it--would he be interpreted as weak? Would I be able to keep him safe? Hell, I don't even know how to fire a gun. How threatening would I be--I mean, my smart mouth aside?

(I should also state that I can take this fear and translate it to a "Nazi occupation" fear as well--pretty similar really. I can see me and Ben in a line being yelled at by a Nazi, and Ben having a meltdown. ah the joys of studying history.)

But it makes sense. As a mother, this is your main job--protect your progeny. From the moment he was born, my hormones made the switch. He can't even cry without something inside of me snapping to attention.

Now the Old Man has tried to alleviate my fears more than once telling me it's a non-issue. He's got this all worked out you see. and I'm not kidding. IF anyone is prepared for disaster, it is my Old Man. He's told me what to do incase he isn't here, which he assures me isn't an issue. He's even worked out what to do in the case of a Zombie apocalypse. NOT KIDDING.

So perhaps my fears are unfounded. Or perhaps they are fed by his preparation for the worst.

So, I'll continue to keep this fear at bay by making sure the earthquake kit is in good condition, not watching movies where any kid is in danger, and never watch The Road or Schindler's List again. EVER.

oh, and suck it Cormac.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

day 27

Day 27 - A picture of yourself and a family member.

This is my son Benjamin. And he has Autism. No, he is not like "rainman", and no I haven't "cured" him with the GFCF diet or chelation or any other therapy a warrior-mom would induce. Our household is like any other household. We all like to watch tv together. We eat dinner at the usual time. We are struggling through potty training. I spend each day worrying about making sure he is getting the best education he can. We go to the park a lot. Or the mall. A lot of Pirate Booty and graham crackers and raisins are consumed here. We practice trying to make letters or numbers. We paint and sing songs and dance. We smile for the camera. We have time-outs. We spend a lot of time picking up toys, mostly. We like to look at bugs, and birds, and squirrels and sunsets. I try to keep the amount of sugar consumed in this house to a minimum--and am sometimes successful. We play with trains and cars and planes and Mr Potato Head. We don't like going to the doctor. We do like going to the zoo. Trying new foods is a lesson in patience. We love to give hugs. And tickle. We go to bed at a decent hour, and wake-up at ungodly ones. There is a favorite blanket that is in desperate need of a trip to the washer. We enjoy bath-time. And chasing the dog.

Yeah, a few things are different. But I suppose it all depends on how you look at it. Every kid's got his or her "thing". Ours just happens to be Autism. And sometimes it takes over our entire day. And sometimes, it's like its not even here. Some days, it defines us, and on others we define it. For the most part, though, we just live today and try not to worry much about tomorrow. The future may hold more or less therapy, a mainstream classroom or special day class, tantrums, hugs, or breakthroughs. But like an eternal Scarlett O'Hara, we'll worry about that tomorrow. Today we've got bugs to examine, letters to practice, tricycles to conquer and graham crackers to consume. Sounds like a full day to me.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 26

Day 26 - A picture of something that means a lot to you.

This may seem like a silly thing to you--but there is something in this picture that means a great deal to me. The two women who stood up for me at my wedding are two of the most amazing women I know. Of all the women I could have chosen to stand up with me, they were choice #1 & #2. I should state here that considering where I spent my childhood, the genetic make-up of these women could have been very, VERY different. It means so much to me that the two most important women in my life are women of color--more than I can ever explain verbally. You see, as a child I grew up in one of the most racist communities around, heard the N-word almost daily, and had a few teachers that were known members of the Klan. Yes, THAT Klan.

(Shakespearean aside: I know it always sounds weird when a white girl takes any time or paper-space to describe how she feels about racism. I know I always start the eye-roll parade whenever I hear anyone as pale as I am talking about it. So, feel free to eye-roll along. I won't be offended.)

Southern Indiana is…well, its…it’s a place in which I never wish to live again. While I have some pleasant and bucolic childhood memories, I also have a handful of ugly memories, caused by the people who populated that small klannish town. (now, not all Southern Indy is all bad--the bigger cities aren't quite as…well, let's just say they don’t hang ropes from trees, k?) In fact, the fact that I did not become a rabid racist, as my neighbors traditionally became, has to do with the fortitude of my mother, who strove to fight the times in which she grew up to raise me differently. As her parents did. That isn't to say she didn't have her own biases or predjudices. She did. As her parents did. But here's the thing--WE ALL DO. All we can do is raise your kids to be to not carry your personal issues, then we are one step closer to equality.

I was not popular in my childhood town. Turns out, it didn't help to be poor. Or be friends with one of the only African American girls in town. I was tarred with a number of epithets discounting my own heritage and loyalty. (who exactly I was supposed to be loyal to was beyond me). I know my mom took some shit for letting me "hang around that colored girl"--and that was the "nice" phrase. But I can rightly say that as a younger kid, I never really understood it. And as I grew older, I understood it, but thought it was stupid. It made me angry. But my friend's parents taught me some vital lessons about rising above it--as they had to, DAILY. I strove to maintain that cool detachment that they exhibited. Didn't always work.

Moving out to CA helped. But don't fool yourself that racism doesn't exist out here. Hell, half the people out here (including myself obviously) are not FROM here. There is only one native Californian in this household. Ok, two if you count the dog. Anyway, the anti-"mexican" sentiment around here (at least in SoCal) is pretty stiff. And the rhetoric is only getting stronger. As a student of history, you always see this kind of nativist behavior in times of trouble. During the great Depression, immigrant labor was villified just like it is now. I wonder that those with the loudest voices haven't just gone back to the 30's to pick up some slogans. Its amazing to me how ANGRY people get when others don’t' speak "English" around them. As liberal as CA is, the anti-Hispanic sentiment is frankly a little frightening to me. And reminds me of Indiana more often than not.

So, I am grateful for my upbringing that allowed me to view a world full of wondrous diversity. I am happy that I do not carry around much of the baggage of past generations' fears, that allows me to traverse racial planes to discover beautiful cultures everywhere around me. (not to mention the abundance of Mexican and Thai restaurants) And I look forward into "shedding" more of that baggage in the raising of my own son. In my own generation, I have seen an African American elected president and an Hispanic woman appointed to the supreme court. Among other wonders.

Is racism over? Hardly. But what I dig more than anything is that we can see it in it's death throes--that's how I view all this vitriol we see now. My son will know a world more equitable than my own. And should he have children, it will be even ore equitable than his. THAT means more to me than any bill or law. That my own grandchildren or great grandchildren may not even have to waste time on this nonsense, and it will simply be something in the history books, like the Cold War and Westward Expansion.

Of course, by then, they might have extra terrestrial life to deal with, and the whole thing might just start all over again...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 25

Day 25 - A picture of you last year and how you've changed since then

This time last year, Ben was just getting diagnosed. (this picture is actually AFTER the diagnosis, but it turns out I was avoiding cameras for a good 6 months) We were jumping through hoop A to enter Maze B in order to get service C, and I was at the end of my rope. Not only was I trying to deal with the reality that almost everyone, including professionals, had denied for so long, but I was having to deal with every moron in the system that is allowed to push paper.

(now, let me state that I have a great love for a paper-pusher who can do their job well. My mother is one of those people, who can manage papers and such items with efficiency and aplomb, and I hold other paper-pushers up to her standard. I understand there are budget and pay-cuts, and that some parents who call similar or same agencies are absolute d-bags with no sense of propriety or manners. But perhaps it is not prudent to assume all parents are that person--or worse, force me to BECOME that person in order to get shit done. I was nice for a month. Then I threatened an advocate and a lawyer--pure bluff, mind-- and dropped a couple curse words. Amazingly, shit happened after that… Morons.)

This time last year, I knew no other parents in my situation. And my friends with typical kids were drifting away. I was becoming an island, and it wasn't suiting me well. I mean, I get that I am a hermit and all, but even a hermit needs a volleyball to talk to. This time last year, I cried at the drop of a hat, barely had the energy to get out of bed, let alone shower, minimally kept house, and pretty much gave up. Well, that's not true. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had just given up. But I was certainly residing in a pile of my own pity.

Those early days of diagnoses and drama are rough for any parent--whether you think you are prepared or not. And I wouldn't wish them on my worst enemy. Yeah, even her. Wouldn't wish it on her. Boils or monkeypox maybe, but not this.

What changed me? Time really. Getting the dx and then getting Ben into school helped. Getting him services (FINALLY) from the otherwise stated moronic agency also helped. Respite. Blessed, blessed Respite. And starting this blog. (Hell, starting this blog kept me from taking an automatic weapon down to the local Dairy Queen and demanding a six month supply of Dilly Bars.) In joining the Autism parent community of bloggers, I realized I was not alone in my snarky view of this disorder--and THAT helped tremendously. I was tired of reading about blessings and rainbows and unicorn poo, and all the other Autism stories that started with "this disorder has been the greatest blessing of my life…" Spoiler: as eye-opening and growth-inducing as a child's diagnosis of Autism can be, it isn't all leprechauns and marshmallow surprises. Some days you are out of milk and the only thing available is the Grape Nuts that have been sitting in your pantry for over a year. And some days just need to start with a cocktail. Or 4. The "blessing" is that I can actually write that down and know that there are a number of parents out there who actually feel me, and are not rushing to call Child Protective Services.

This year has been a hell of a ride. And I've learned more than I will EVER need to know about state agencies, Autism and how to mix the perfect Apple-tini. Yeah, in odd moments I will admit that this whole adventure has made me a better parent, and prolly a better person. But don't tell anyone. I don't want to give the impression I've got any unicorn stables over here...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Day 24

Day 24 - A picture of something you wish you could change

I suppose this is the post where I'm supposed to say I wish my kid didn't have Autism. And there are days when that certainly is the truth. But even with all the meltdowns, sensory issues, and delays, I still dig Ben just the way he is. He is a sweet, lovable, funny and intelligent little boy who, like his dad, makes me laugh almost daily. yeah, there are a few things I wish were easier for him. But we are working on changing that instead of sitting around wishing for it, you know?

You know what I would change? Other people. Other snooty, artificial, smug, sanctimonious, superficial, insecure, hurtful, bullying, know-it-all, DOUCHEBAGS who feel they have to place judgment on me or my kid because he is different from others. Yeah, he doesn't always respond to your greetings, and sometimes he likes to hand flap or spin, and he rides a smaller school bus, and his speech is still a bit of a garbled mess and he will occasionally lose it at the grocery store. But he's cuter than hell, sweet and altruistic, and gives the best hugs. What I wish I had was a STFU button for those people who refuse to see that. THAT'S what I would change

Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. Not if it meant I lost this precious little boy who hugs me on a whim, loves tickles and seems to take the world head-on. In all of his struggles, I can tell that he is really trying--and that is all that matters. As long as we continue to try, the more we continue to grow. Something from which I think a few previously mentioned people could benefit.

That, or a cockpunch. Either one would work.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Day 23

Day 23 - A picture of your favorite book.

OK. I hate answering this question, because it is impossible. I am a voracious reader. When I am not being a mom, housekeeper or seamstress, my nose is in a book. I've always been this way, since I was a kid. I come from a reading family. My mother had a house full of books, and while I may not have a house-full, I've got enough. I am mainly a fiction reader, although I have been known to be intrigued by the odd piece of non-fiction.

This is the only bookshelf in the house, and it houses 90% of my books. That's not including the other half that I gave away in a moment of strength, when I realized that there was nowhere else to put my books in this house, without bringing in another piece of furniture. And I am loathe to do that as there is nowhere to put it unless we start crowding shit. And when you have a kid, you realize, the less furniture you have, the better. So this is it. And with the exception of that shelf up on the left, the shelves are full.

I am also a member of the Los Angles Public Library, and often put books on hold to read. But trying to get any bestsellers in this town is a matter of timing, that I obviously don't have. Those senior citizens are spry when it comes to snatching up the good ones! So the Library is usually my non-fiction source.

No room in the house, no luck at the library, what's a girl to do? Yeah, I could watch TV like the rest of the country. And as you can see from the pic, that's obviously a priority in this house. But as you may have also noticed, that large screen has the habit of playing kids shows if its on during the day. I do have a couple of shows on the Tivo, but they aren't always a priority.

Luckily for me, the Old Man got me a Kindle for my birthday last year. And while the print industry is up in arms about the transition from print to e-readers, I am VERY happy with it. Yes, I like to read a "real" book, and if I want to, I have this bookshelf and the library. But I also like the fact that I currently have @20 books on this thing, and it weighs less than a pound and fits in my purse. I am not making my husband crazy by bringing MORE books into the house and looking for creative places to store them. I am not also spending TONS on new books, as the kindle books are usually cheaper (thus the print industry's anxiety). And I can read any strange fiction I want (like the weird goth/vampire/greek mythology series I am into) without having to skip volumes because the book store doesn't have them. Or new bestsellers. Or a million books on Autism (those things start to get heavy). Or an encyclopedia on mixed drink recipes...

Now it does have some downfalls. If I get a book I want to reference (like one of my essential oils books) you can't just turn to the index and turn to the page--there aren't page numbers. I've had to learn quickly to bookmark a page that I think will interest me in the future so that I can find it later.

so, when I get a free couple of minutes to myself, my favorite being the 10-20 minutes I have to wait for the Ben's school bus home, or when I'm not reading a Greenspan book on Floortime, or another book on ABA strategies, I take a moment and read. Often, its to the detriment of folding my laundry, or keeping up with the current episode of Pawn Stars, but I can live with that.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Day 22

Day 22 - A picture of something you wish you were better at.

So, I think I've discussed this in a number of other posts, most notably here, but me and math are not the best of friends. To my credit, I did make it through half of high school pre-calculus--passing, but upon the advice of one of the wisest teachers I had,(that's right San Dieguito alum, the extremely unflappable Mr. Close) I spent the last semester of my senior year doing something fun instead of struggling through one more semester of WTF. (Note: that does not stand for Whiskey That Flows.)

To reiterate--I CAN do math. In my head even. Just not quickly. My answers are usually correct, even without a calculator. I mean, I do keep the books here at home--both personal AND business. Not to mention the algebraic and geometric equations involved in my sewing and pattern-making. I recognized my weaknesses early, and learned to work with them in order to complete those UC high school requirements. It CAN be done, it just took work. And sobriety.

It was a shame, though. I loved science. Still do. Biology and animal sciences were a blast. Chemistry and physics--not so much. The difference? Math. As much as my physics teacher George Stimson was a favorite (whose style I even emulated in my own classroom), I rarely understood what the hell he was talking about. I managed to pass his class, with a C even, but LORD was that a nightmare. If you're old enough to take a physics course, you're old enough to drink in my book. Or as I preferred, old enough to have a drink right next to my book.

(I should report though, that I had nothing but A's in geometry. The only math class at which I kicked ass. Prolly because it was the kind of math in my wheel house and I could fall back upon my near-professional skills at a Spirograph.)

Now, I should also report that I am not a family anomaly. There has been a great deal of struggling with math on my mother's side of the family. No flunking, just struggling. Some did better than others, but we all learned to get over the hump and at least work it out. So, I always worried that my own progeny would have this same issue, this same set of problems.

But something in my gut tells me it won't be a problem for my little man. He took to number aptitude early, and he has nowhere to go but up. I am predicting that he will be a pattern thinker, which may lend to art, music or math. I don't know what direction it will take him, but I think numbers will be involved. Not a surprise, since his old man can sit at a poker table and predict other people's hands and instantly calculate the odds of winning. He tried to explain it to me a few times. HAH! *wipes a tear* THAT was a good time.

So here's to all you folks to whom math came easy. And more to those of you who worked past personal limitations to make it work for you. And to Jillsmo, who works with numbers professionally: don't mock me too mercilessly. Or I'll drink all your liquor. Even the 750 mL bottle you hide behind your old physics textbook.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 21

Day 21 - A picture of something you wish you could forget.

You know, I had plans to write a poignant piece today about personal loss. But frankly, I already wrote about that here, so there's no need for me to write about it again.

And then I thought, I could write about family issues, or growing up never meeting or knowing my father, but it never does any good to hash up that old shit, either.

I suppose I could write about the death of a friend or mentor or student, but GAWD is that a downer (not to day the others aren't)

And honestly, while these things are with me always, they are not things upon which I linger constantly. They all cross my mind from time to time, occasionally get more than a fleeting glance, but usually stay filed away, shaping my subconscious, making for the occasional strange dream, and creating a breeding ground for the next great american novel. Or tv mini series. Or perhaps a strongly worded letter.

So, I am going to write about the things I really wish I could forget: the useless facts that I have collected over the years, taking up brain space. Hell, I could have been a doctor with this kind of retention, had it not been for the poor math skills and the COMPLETE lack of bedside manner. So here are the things I would like to forget:

1) the Inuit peoples of the north would use the bone of a walrus penis to club baby seals. I actually saw one of these things on Oddities (a new favorite show) and it was impressive. And scary.
2) If you give any liquor to a scorpion, it will go crazy and sting itself to death.
3) Ingrown toenails are hereditary. And yes, Ben has inherited mine. Thanks mom.
4) The favorite form of execution of Ivan the Terrible was Defenestration
5) Turtles can breathe through their butt.
6) I can recognize a myriad of orchestral songs, and tv jingles just from a few bars. I can still play a bunch just from memory too…(but not my school alma mater…)
7) A cockroach can live for a few weeks with its head cut off.
8) You can lead a cow (and a horse, I think) upstairs, but not down.
9) tigers have striped skin-not just fur
10) I can recite "Jabberwocky", and "The Walrus and the Carpenter"--although it takes me a minute to really access that file...

This is just a list of what I could thing of right now. I'm not as prolific as some folks who have entire websites devoted to this kind of thing. Most of my head is filled with words (poetry or literature) or music, with the odd cooking or sewing fact strewn in. Like how to attach a waistband, or the ingredients of a fuzzy navel. Those are things, however that I do NOT wish to forget.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Day 20

Day 20 - A picture of somewhere you'd love to travel.

hmmmm….I guess right now my interest lay in the British Isles. I've always had and urge to see Scotland and Wales--and not because my son watches and REWATCHES his favorite train video, which travels through those two countries, narrated by Love Boat's Bernie Copell. Nor is it to go on a Scotch tasting tour. There are actually a few historical and sacred sites that I'd like to visit. And I love a beautiful and rugged landscape. I'm not a huge fan of British cuisine, and I'd prefer warmer climes, its true. But there's just something about this place that calls to me. And not just because Trainspotting is a favorite book.

Now don't get me wrong, Scotland and Wales are part of a LIST of places I'd like to see. It's just at the top at the moment. There are also a number of countries I would love to visit that have been deemed UNSAFEand OFF-LIMITS by the old man. It doesn't matter that I spent a great deal of my college years studying the religions and cultures of these places--he has put a quash on any possible travel destinations anywhere in the Middle East, or India. The Middle East, I understand. My mother would spend a week in apoplexy while I was gone, scouring the news for suicide bomber attacks. So, I'll lay off the Jerusalem tour for now. But India? I think he just doesn't want to go to India because of sanitary issues (yes Lynn, you are not the only one whose husband has "issues"--but at least mine lets me use the microwave!) But one day, I'll get chance to see some ancient temples and fight off rabid monkeys. Until then, I'll just have to contact tech support whenever I feel the urge...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 19

Day 19 - A picture of a habit you wish you didn't have.

It tasks me. It tasks me, and I shall have it.

Yes, I'm talking about my love for baked goods. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have rationalized to myself that I should just start smoking again so that I will stop shoving cookies down my throat. That's how bad this has gotten. I have come to dread birthdays and similar celebrations, because inevitably, it means CAKE.

I can't even have it in the house. That includes soft cookies, cupcakes, muffins or any kind of quick bread. Unless I make some sort of bran/blueberry/zucchini bread--then it holds no interest (and rightly so, am I right?). But bring in a moist, white, heavily iced confection, and I cannot stop thinking about it until it is in my belly.

I can have chocolate, or store bought cookies, or candy in the house, and it will last moderately well. But I have been known, and I'm not lying, to plow through half a cake (granted I was younger, and had a higher metabolism, but still). When I go to my WW meetings and we discuss, "I still feel hungry after I eat______" my first response is always cake. And then Chinese food. Seriously, that stuff never fills me up.

I thought I would be saved for a moment when we went GF for Ben. But that proved to be ineffective, and possibly a little harmful (he has improved TREMENDOUSLY since we put him back ON gluten) Because, frankly GF cake blows. And it could sit on that counter, taunting me all it wanted. It was like brown weed, man. It was there in a pinch, but you REALLY had to want it.

At present, no baked goods reside in the house--well, except for some Vitamuffins in the freezer-- they are a poor substitute, but suffice in a cake emergency. And no one in this house is having a birthday until September. Not that THAT will keep cake out. It's like horse. And all the bakers in the area are pushers--displaying their wares temptingly, entreating that one little try isn't going to hurt. Oh, I'm onto you, you white-jacketed-sugar-traffickers.

So, for now, I will fight my addiction to frosting, and the moist sugary vehicle that carries it. I'm shaky, but not too bad if I'm not around it. But G-d help me when birthday party season starts. G-d help us all...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Day 18

Day 18 - A picture of your favorite place.

Bora Bora

By far the most beautiful place i've ever been. The one place i would willingly take the 10hour plane ride back to. The one place i would consider emigrating to, except that i don't speak French. There is only one road--major road--that goes around the island. The island is gorgeous, the people are gracious and the food is amazing. I fantasize about returning. It is my Bali Hai.