Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spring Has Arrived

Ahhhhh... Spring. It's finally here!

Out with the ice storms.
In with the tornados!!


How exciting!


I really do love planting new flowers. I spent some time getting started but haven't pulled all of the pansies yet.

It's so fun to see the azaleas bloom and watch stuff come up that has been hiding all winter long. It's like starting over.



I'm not sure I've missed this, though. Somehow the water never made it to the plants. Snicker and I enjoyed an outdoor shower and no part of the concrete was left dry.




Most of the things coming back I am glad to see.

But not these.


And while I'm photographing the bee... something else catches my attention.


Oh, yes - this is back too. Do you see it?


It IS that time of year. The time of year when it is hard to keep clothes on a certain little rebel.
And yes.
We are all "relieved".
It is now warm enough to PEE outside.


The End.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sweet

There's nothing better than a man who brings home flowers.



These are from Michael.
Picked from my own yard.
Sitting in a nice new vase.

Still... very sweet.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Meet the Newest Addition

If you were hoping I mean baby #3, then you may be really disappointed.
I finally caved to Snicker's crisis mode and went to buy a puppy on Thursday.




This worm-filled delight is not as calm as he was on Thursday, but then they never are. He's pretty darn cute, though. I predict a lot of chewing in the future based on the amount of time he spends biting my feet. Right now he is playing war with the old towel laying on the floor and he just might be losing.

He's just a teeny tiny little thing but he will grow to be big like Snicker. He's a labradoodle, too.

Here he is next to my size 9 shoe. Yes, big feet. Little dog.


The boys didn't know I was bringing a pup home so they were surprised when they got home from school! Snicker wasn't sure what to think about him and is still trying to figure it out. He isn't panicking in his crate anymore, however! I have the pup's crate right next to his.


Jacob came home first and it was love at first sight.




Then Michael. Here is Jacob telling Michael about the puppy.



Hello Michael!



Michael seems to think he has naming priviledges. I'm not so sure I think this is so wonderful.


So original... he wants to name him Doodle. Forget the fact that Snicker's real name is Snickerdoodle and that I call him Doodle a lot. We thought of other cute names but Michael wouldn't have it. I'm not sure I'm going to stick with Doodle but for now that is what we call the little guy. I'm putting a poll up (if I can figure out how) to get opinions. I'm sure it will be as popular as leaving comments in the comments section (that's what that part is for, people).

Ring Around the Fire Pit

I will say that for kids, dogs can perform miracles. What you might not see as amazing is different for me. You see, with Michael's autism - he has a deficit in understanding empathy. I know you will say this is common for all kids (AAACCKKK don't say it!!). It is different. We have to teach Michael in a systematic way (similar to how you teach reading and math) about people's emotions and the proper reaction to them. For instance, if Michael saw me crying - we would have to teach him to say "What is wrong?" Or... show Michael a facial expression (such as mad) and exaggerate it all you want. He won't have a clue what you are thinking or feeling. A baby can pick up on your facial expressions better than Michael can. We teach him through practice, flash cards, social skills group and experience. See how it isn't the same?

Back to the miracle.

Doodle was crying in his crate and I was bathing Jacob. I knew the puppy had stopped crying and I assumed he had just cried himself to sleep (awwww). I went to check on him and found this.

I asked Michael what he was doing and he told me that Doodle was crying. He also told me that he went over to sing to him and pet him until he fell asleep. Funny that he showed empathy for the dog but struggles with humans. I'm just glad that he showed an experience of having empathy without any prompting! This picture is like gold to me. It's what success looks like!

So, Doodle. You can stay. Look what you did for my little boy already!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Fairy Tales

One day, long, long ago.......

there lived a woman
who did not whine, nag or bitch.
But this was a long time ago....
...and it was just that one day.


The End



****


Yeah, right - even for one day! Have you seen this email before? She also lived on a deserted island and was mute! My opinion - take it or leave it.




Thought it was a good intro for todays entry which should really be titled Things To Do. Or... Baloney is a nag. Whatever. The joke around our house is to say "I DO EVERYTHING" and walk away. Doc started saying it around the time that he realized the workload around the house was a little less than balanced. Now we work together more but we still like to say it.

In reality, my biggest gripe (besides golf) is probably the "to do" list. Doc doesn't allow "to do" lists. We are talking about some major fits when a list is presented. I get tired of having lists of things to do, but it's the only way I remember to get things done. I feel like if it's going to be done I have to nag (ewww) or just do it myself (unfair). Say what you will, but this is how I feel about it.




Over the last few weeks I have taken pictures of some things on the to do list. These are all minor annoyances - not major house repairs. For the record - Doc was aware of me taking these pictures. Some of them I didn't do because I felt like I could share the burden (ha) of getting things done around here and some I didn't do because I physically can't do them due to shoulder issues and fear of heights.




Example A: Baloney tried to use the drill to put up something to hang necklaces (after 6 months of living here and asking the boss to help out)

If you look closely I couldn't even get that screw on the right to go in straight - it just barely keeps things in place and still sticks out halfway! The other side is worse.

Then there's the stuff that just lies around and won't go away.
These are Christmas lights on my back porch. In November, I asked Randy to put them on the pergola back there. The intention was to leave them up year-round. Or leave them down I guess. I threw these away last week.

Who will plant these? (Gigi did when she was here - she can't stand it)


Nice storage for your garden hose. Looks great from the street, too.

This one is still on the fence for your viewing pleasure.



The light on one of my outdoor ceiling fans burned out a week after we moved in. Still needs changing. Might happen this summer?

This ball has had many homes over the winter. AND it has been deflated all winter too. Over the 3 week watch, I took pictures of it in all these different places. Whoever picks it up and moves it isn't capable of making it to the trash can?

I finally gave up and threw the ball away.

The pool caretaker can't ever seem to put the tools away. On the other side of the hot tub is the pole used for this basket! Doc doesn't like to have just one pile of mess - somehow we have to take it apart (for what reason?) and make TWO piles of mess. More is always better. These finally got put away last weekend because Doc's family was coming over for Sunday brunch the night after Becki's wedding. There was some grumbling about the insurmountable task ahead of him. Still, one point for Doc.

Inside the house, the list is usually a little smaller. I either pile up Doc's stuff in his side of the closet or the garage. At least I can get it out of my way?

You-Know-Who's locker shelf. It's full.

A personal favorite (back to laundry - remember my entry called Peace and Tranquility?) is something about laundry that I didn't tell you. Sometimes when Doc just sits in the living room and I'm doing laundry, I do this:


Notice, he is reading. I think this is the only time I've ever seen him read. EVER. That writer's strike from TV really affected him! He finally got so bored he picked up a book!!


Anyway, I ocassionally pile laundry on top of Doc while he sits there. And Doc ignores me. Sometimes he puts the clothes away, and sometimes he sets them aside and leaves them for days. We're very passive aggressive in this house. I put laundry away for 3 people so I fold and gather Randy's and make him put his own away. Kind of.

Another laundry issue - Doc likes his shirts to hang until they're dry. No problem, but come and get them!! This blue striped shirt had been there a month at picture time. I finally put it away.

This picture finally got hung by PapaDad when he was here for a visit. Gigi and I had him hang several pictures for me, in fact. It sat in my closet for only 2 months. This is record time for getting a picture hung in my house!

I'll have you know that my husband did do something on his own (without nagging I mean). He changed the battery on this clock. Funny thing is that I never look at this clock to know what time it is so I didn't care if it had batteries in it! Oh well. Still gets points for that one! Does that make TWO points for Doc?

I always think of Everybody Loves Raymond when I think about things getting done around here. My favorite episode of all time is when Ray and Debra have a standoff about who will be the one to take the suitcase up the stairs after a trip. They just leave it there and no one says a word while they wait for the other one to take care of it.

That episode describes Doc and I perfectly when it comes to the To Do list.

Should be sad, but it's also a little bit funny when things are put in perspective. Who will be the one to get it done?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Story of Michael, Part 5

April is almost over. Autism Awareness month is almost over, too.
And my goodness, we don't even have a diagnosis in this story!!

Christmas Card 2001 ~ Taken at my sister's wedding.



These pictures were taken around the age (3) that Michael was diagnosed. You can see that he doesn't even look directly at the camera. I know this happens with neuro-typical children (NT)- if you will, but I didn't realize that Michael was doing this all the time. He had occasional eye contact with me, but not really anyone else.

At this point, I'm immersed in therapy world. My every day evolves around visits with the state intervention program (scheduled but rarely attended by the speech therapist), private sessions of speech with Ms. Judy & preschool. I'm reading everything I can find on autism and aspergers - online and written text. In fact, I am at the the library all the time looking up books, requesting books, etc. - trying to find the one called "Michael" that will teach me how to help my son. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, we all have such uniqueness in what we are trying to work with. Your needs also change with ages and stages.

I've also come to terms with the fact that Michael is going to be diagnosed "autism" while secretly hoping that he is going to be the one who is "cured". I really believed he could be.


Michael had an obsession with Blue's Clues and Magnadoodles. Everywhere we went - the magnadoodle had to come with us. Other kids had blankies and even pacifiers, but Michael had a plastic toy that he could write on. I wish I could save some of the drawings. He could draw Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper at age 1 1/2 with perfect accuracy.


I put this picture in because of the magnet letters behind him. One month before Michael's 3rd birthday, he started reading. He had known all his letters and the letter sounds before age 2. I had quit working with him because I thought it would help him to not stand out.
One day, Michael went to the refrigerator and spelled out 5 words from a Blue's Clues episode and read them out loud to me when I asked what they said.
C-O-W
B-L-U-E
S-T-E-V-E
M-O-O-N
J-U-M-P
Just like that. He was a reader. At this point, he could also read and write his numbers past 100. We used to count in the car just to get interaction out of him. This revelation was both thrilling (the genius child I had prayed for) and cause for anxiety (this was not normal).

Turns out he could also write those darn letters, too.

And write he did. Everywhere we went. He wrote on that magnadoodle and people would stare. Kids that age don't write their name! He even used upper and lower case appropriately! Even played t-ball by writing letters in the dirt. I don't think he touched a ball all season.

Again, I thought smart kids weren't autistic.
Then I learned about scatter skills.
Scatter/splinter skills of abilities –
such as poor gross motor or fine motor skills and the
ability to read at a very young age
I also learned about hyperlexia.
All this happened while waiting for our appointment with the new developmental pediatrician.
Paid another $450 for a few visits while Michael was tested. Knew the diagnosis was coming. Didn't matter. The day came for Randy and I to meet with the doctor.
There's no great way to break the news but he was very professional and I trusted his judgement because he had tested and had very clearly explained each test and Michael's response. Michael even read for him.
After reviewing his strengths and his deficits, the doctor announced that Michael had high-functioning autism. I cried (the beginning of a 2 week cry-a-thon). Doc said nothing until that night. The doctor was done. Didn't have any recommendations for us. This wasn't good enough for me and I told him so. I quizzed him about ABA because Doc didn't want to start it. The doc said it was a "gold standard of treatment for autism." Gee, why didn't you mention that when I asked what we can do for him? I'm not picking on just this one doctor. I'm picking on the majority of them. Most moms I talk to were told the same thing at that time. Hopefully by now they are offering better support. The problem is that this is where doctors think their job is over.
That night Doc said the one thing I will always remember just before we prayed together.
"This is still the same child that we've always loved and always will."
Michael was 3 1/2 by now.
Fortunately, I had read Let Me Hear Your Voice and knew about ABA. I also had the name and phone number for a behavioral therapist here in town that knew ABA. I also met my friend Emily, a special education teacher. I also had my friend Jana - whose mom worked in the schools with children diagnosed with Aspergers. And we had started preschool in our school district at age 3 and had the wisdom & support of the developmental delay preschool teacher. You'll be hearing about all these great people who kept me afloat through the next year in my next installment.
God definitely gives you what you need - whether you know you need it or not!
I can not imagine going through this time without these people in my life.
Isaiah 58:11
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Lonely

We are all still missing our Suzy, but one in our house misses her most of all.





Snicker.


Snicker had never been alone before. As a puppy, he wouldn't go in the crate by himself. He cried and carried on so much that we finally just stuck Suzy in there with him to get a good night's sleep.

A few days after Suzy died, some things started going wrong. My perfect pup is really stressed. He's fine when we are all home, but he really freaks out when we leave. There's the barking and panting and mega-drooling. But that isn't all.

It started with the dog pillow. I used to keep it in the crate to provide some comfort. I don't think it provided enough comfort for this poor fellow.



So I cleaned up the mess and thought that he wouldn't be able to do any more harm (to himself or the house). Boy, was I wrong!

We started taking Snicker with us when we left. He doesn't like being left alone in the car, either.


Here's what happened the next day and several to follow.


This is how the crate looked when I got home. He got OUT! He's like Houdini!! He also somehow found a way to get the bottom tray out. Notice the chew toys I included are not bothered at all. Snicker hasn't ever been much of a chewer. Part of his charm.

Things change.

He hasn't chewed on anything when I am home but he's also never been so stressed out.

We started leaving him in the back hallway of the house. This almost cost Snicker his life.



Not only did he create a mess around the door frames (2 doors like this) but he has scratched his nose from trying to get out of the crate.

What do you do with a dog you can't leave alone?

Doc told me we were putting THIS dog to sleep when he saw the door. I had to stop and explain the hierarchy to him.

1. kids

2. dogs

3. Doc

He didn't respond well, but Snicker is still alive.

If you are a dog person, then you understand what I'm saying. If you are not, you think I'm crazy.

Hopefully Snicker will have a new friend soon. We are waiting to get a standard poodle that is already trained. First we have 3 more months of stressed-out dog. Hopefully we can wait that long?

Leaving our house is now a process. I had to rig the crate so he hasn't been able to get out. I have to use scissors to get him out when I get home. And there is still drool all over the crate and floor from his nervous breakdown.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

They did it!


Matt and Becki are officially hitched.
We are all officially tired!


For those of you just now jumping in, Becki is Doc's little sister.

Tammi's kids behaved perfect during the ceremony. Mine did good but were a little wiggly. Jacob peeked his head between the minister and the wedding couple to see what was going on.
I had forgotten all the wedding "stuff". Weddings are hard work!
It was fun for me to see a lot of college friends who I haven't seen since... well -- college. Becki and I became friends in college when we roomed together in the sorority house. So, it makes sense that I would know a lot of her college buddies. They really like to ham it up for the camera, too!

All the gang plus the groom's sister.


This is Stacy. She and I were roommates a lot of college years in the Kappa house! We were such goofs. Found these pictures (I have a lot of college pictures out from helping with the slideshow):

Here I am with Becki and Stacy. I have some very cool flower power jewelry on. Can you guess the party theme?
Not sure who took this. Or why. Here we are in the Kappa house. See the 3 closets lined up in one room? Hard to believe we crammed a year's worth of stuff in those.

Doc is in the picture below with her husband, Blake.
Found this from college from when Doc and I started dating and Stacy & Blake started dating.
Have we changed much? Hopefully you are thinking NO.

Here's Jenni. She's saying that it is time for pictures - come get your flowers!
Here is Jason. Stacy and I met Jason our freshman year in University Sing. Don't ask. I'm just glad I don't have any pictures of those lovely wigs we wore. Rock me Amadeus!! Only Stacy and Jason (and Bill and Stuart and Jenni and maybe Clint) would understand that one! The rest of you were just not fortunate enough to see our talent. Unless you have the video.
Here is Clint. Clint and I were neighbors. He was a good friend to Becki and rommate to Blake. Clint and I enjoyed munching on pepperoni nachos late nights and he always let me cheat playing computer monopoly. He didn't have a choice really. When he was winning I would turn the machine off. I don't do that anymore.

And here is Bill. I have some good pictures of Bill around this house somewhere. When I find them... LOOK OUT! Bill and I have been friends since our freshman year of college and he is one of Becki's closest friends (all of this gang are). I'll tell the story I know Bill wants me to tell when I find the famous picture I know he doesn't want you to see. We'll just leave it at that. Had fun dancing with Bill last night! I learned to do the pretzel with my knees bent (I'm a little tall and Bill's a little not tall).

And because I just can't help it. Here are my handsome boys all dressed up for the wedding.

Here's my mom with Michael. Couldn't have made it without my folks being here to help organize my house for the breakfast crowd this morning and also taking my kids home to get them in bed.


Jacob is dancing with his cousin Kati (flower girl & ring bearer). Aren't they darling?

So what are we doing today?

Now that the brunch is over and the dishes are clean, Doc is golfing.
Seriously.

Autism Links - Educate Yourself

  • www.aspergermomnetwork.com
  • http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger/
  • http://www.autism-society.org
  • http://www.okautism.org/homepage/
  • http://www.aspect.org.au/publications/Thinking%20and%20Learning%20in%20Autism.pdf
  • www.autismtulsa.org
  • http://www.oklahomadisabilitylaw.org/
  • http://www.asperger.net/index.htm
  • http://www.rdiconnect.com/
  • http://embracingaspergers.com/

But Who's Counting...