Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Little White Lie

Andrew does not have choir practice tonight.  That is what I told David this morning, which was followed by a twinge of guilt as I watched David bravely try to blink back his tears, blue eyes glistening.

No choir practice means that David does not get to go along, ride the elevator a few times and pause in the sanctuary to reenact last Sunday’s service to the best of his ability.  It is one of the highlights of his week.

So, I told a fib.  Andrew does have practice, but also has math and science homework, not to mention a nagging cough that would certainly make singing challenging.

If I had told David the truth, he would have expected me to take him to church without Andrew.  I know, because I have had to complete that exercise before.

Please tell me that it was just a little white lie said to protect David, to keep him flexible and able to tolerate a change in schedule--much like when you tell someone that you love their hideous new haircut in an effort to protect their feelings.

Please tell me that Dante’s Inferno didn’t graphically describe one of the concentric circles of hell reserved especially for weary mothers who have lied to their children with the express purpose of preventing a church-going experience.  A place where poetic justice dictates that I will be forced to spend eternity, sleep deprived, racing to church ten minutes behind schedule, praying not to receive a speeding ticket while wondering whether or not I managed to find two shoes that actually match, having perpetually forgotten my steaming mug of coffee on the kitchen counter.

Oh wait, no.  I am not paraphrasing a passage from Dante’s masterpiece, but rather describing our family experience almost every Sunday morning.  And that part is all fact.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Wintery Walk

The botanical garden is one of David's favorite places. We ride the tram, visit the model railroad garden, literally stop and smell the flowers.

We visited the botanical garden last week while David has his break from school. In February, there is not a tram ride, no model railroad chugging around the bend in the track, no blooming flowers.

There is simply a hint of green, the promise of renewal.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Snow Burst

As I was pulling out of the driveway, I noticed an errant snowflake.  It wasn’t supposed to snow today, but by the time I got to the grocery store it was snowing so hard that I could barely see two car lengths ahead of me.

The flakes were big and heavy and it didn’t take long until the grass was covered in a fresh blanket of snow.

I was doing the mental calculations as I raced through the grocery store.  Have I left enough time to get the 11 items on my list and get back home to pack David’s snack before his bus arrives?  If David’s bus is too late, we will never make it to speech therapy.  Should I just go ahead and cancel David’s appointment?

When I arrived back home, I stopped the car on the driveway as I waited for the garage door to open.  I had already turned off my windshield wipers and the snow was collecting on my window.  I turned off the ignition and sat for a moment.

I wanted the snow to cover my windows.  I wanted to feel like I was in a warm cocoon.  I am not sure how long I sat there in the car before I felt my phone vibrating in my pocket.

It was like I had been underwater, holding my breath and all of the sudden I needed to come up to the surface to get air.   Suddenly, my mind was racing.

I have frozen food in my sack that I need to take downstairs to the freezer.

David’s bus will be here soon.

I need to call Michael back.

The phone is ringing.

I forgot to take Andrew’s popcorn out of the microwave before I left.

I have been playing with an iPhone photo sharing app and recently took this picture, which incidentally is the picture that appeared on my phone as it rang.

One of the features of the app allows you to focus on one object in the photo and blur everything around it.  I wish that I had an app that would allow me to do that for my life.

I have recently been somewhat consumed by thoughts of financial difficulties, job stresses, David issues.  I have a job.  Any financial issues that we may face pale in comparison to some, so I feel guilty with these worries.

Why can’t I just focus on what is important and blur everything else around the edges?

Why can’t I eliminate all the noise?

Please ignore any reference that the candle picture may have to light/coming out of the darkness.  It is Friday night and, as always this time of week, I am tired.  Rest assured that any metaphorical meanings or proximity to profundity are not expressly intended and are purely accidental.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

The Friday Favorites

My Mom gave me a Hallmark "Blooming Expressions" flower for Valentine's Day, which slowly opens from a bud to a full bloom when you press the button, revealing the message inside. David likes to watch it bloom, but much prefers to put the bottom of the pot up to his ear to listen to the gears turn, somewhat reminiscent of a Dr. Seuss character, who has sprouted a whole flower complete with pot out of his ear. To David, it is a perfectly logical to want to listen to the sound of the flower blooming and the sight of it makes me laugh every single time.

We were riding in the car, when I overhead Andrew tell David that he loved him. David replied with three simple sentences that brought tears to Andrew's eyes. "I love you too, An-ROO. Thank you. That makes me SO happy." 

I love that David sometimes like to use my nephew as a human jungle gym. I also love that Thomas tolerates it.

This post is the 173rd that I have written and today marks the two year anniversary of my first post. When I wrote that very first password protected post, I never would have guess that two years later I would still be writing of heartache and happiness, worry and wonder.

Speaking of wonder, tonight David pulled a chair in front of the door so that he could just sit and watch the snow fall.

When David did not want Andrew to leave for basketball practice on Tuesday, he hid Andrew's size 9 Nike high-top tennis shoe in my oven. Fortunately, Michael discovered it before we turned the oven on.

David has made so much progress over the last year and, as I mentioned yesterday, some of it has to do with church—one of the many instances with David where sometimes I need to slow down, stop leading and simply allow myself to be led, stop talking and just listen.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Six Degrees of Agitation

As I was sitting at the desk in my home office this afternoon, I asked myself the following question:

Why did I just spend twenty-five minutes searching for printable pictures of Burger King hash browns and unfrosted cini-minis?

The answer, of course, was to try to calm David, who was agitated because we were not going to church for Andrew’s regular Wednesday night choir rehearsal.  Cini-minis and hash browns seem to be David’s “thing” for the week, replacing the toilet paper tower which I have not yet had the courage to disassemble AGAIN.  And short of carrying around petrified cini-minis and hash browns, which he actually tried to do yesterday, I figured a picture was the next best thing.

Why didn’t Andrew have choir rehearsal?

Because, of course it is Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday means rehearsal is cancelled because there are Ash Wednesday services and we all know that we cannot take David into the church for an Ash Wednesday service.  We learned that lesson last year.

What does David have against Ash Wednesday?

The answer to that question is that I really have no idea.  He was not a big fan of the imposition of ashes on his forehead—or anyone else’s for that matter and insisted that all foreheads in our immediate vicinity be wiped with a Kleenex immediately upon our return to the pew.

I make light of the situation, but something about that service scared David.  It took us months to get him to step foot back into the sanctuary and then several more months to coax him to walk up to the front during communion to receive a blessing.

David can sometimes get so upset, agitated by something that happens and I frequently do not understand.  I suppose to David, it is quite obvious the loose thread that connects things, but often I cannot see it.  For me, the link is too far removed.

I have no idea what upset him so much about that church service about a year ago.  Much like I have no idea why he dissolved into tears yesterday when we came home from a winter walk at the botanical garden and opened the door to the mailbox to find that the mail had not yet been delivered.

Each day, David is increasingly able to express to me that something is bothering him.  And every day, I am thankful that David can now articulate to me HOW he feels.

But the question remains, the very same question that David sometimes asks of me when he is upset.

Why?  Why?  Why?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Presidents' Day Progress

David and Andrew did not have school yesterday.  There was a time when that simple statement would have made me shudder.

Other Moms talk about spending a vacation day at the park or at the zoo, baking cookies or making homemade play-doh.  I must admit that I was always envious of those other Moms.

For David, a day off of school has always revolved around trying to make him comfortable out of his routine.  I know I have written about some of these days, trying to put a bright spin on what was probably a very difficult day for both of us.

Michael has been working at a new job in a brand new “green” building, so yesterday we piled in the car to make the 30 minute drive to go see it. This time, I did not have to prepare David hours or even days in advance for the visit.  We simply told him that we were going to Dad’s office.  Surprisingly, he rejected both the portable DVD player and his iPad, normal comforts for him when visiting someplace new.

As we pulled out of the driveway, Michael became worried when David started repeating the words water, bridge, trees and train tracks over and over again and we realized that he remembered a single visit to a previous office over a year and a half ago.  And what made that office so special?  An e-l-e-v-a-t-o-r, but shhhhh—don’t remind David.

It was obvious during our visit that David was somewhat uncomfortable, but it was bearable for him and, in turn, the rest of us.  It was also apparent that, in David’s opinion, a green roof and rain garden, recycled carpet and cabinets or even polished concrete floors cannot compete with an elevator.

That is, until David discovered a bag of Fritos in the snack box.  And all of the sudden the new office didn’t look so bad.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Leaning Tower of TP

I was very careful to insure that circumstances did not warrant a retraction to the Friday Favorites like last week, but I do feel it necessary to add a note, a humorous anecdote to the items pictured as David's favorites.

Last night I went to a party, a small book club.  Instead of having thoughts focused on Pride and Prejudice, the month's chosen selection which miraculously I had found the time to read, I was instead pondering whether or not I could ask my hostess for a parting gift--a roll or two of toilet paper--or if it would be better to try to sneak them out of the house in my bag.

Since the hostess was my sister, I managed to find the words and left the house with not only the requested two rolls, but an entire six pack of Charmin.  Score.

We were experiencing a toilet paper emergency in our house and I must state in my own defense that it was not due to poor planning.

One of David's favorite things pictured earlier was a toilet paper tower comprised of exactly thirteen rolls.  It has been sitting in the middle of our family room for over a week.  A few days ago, I disassembled the tower while David was at school, but he had not been in the house five minutes before he became agitated by the tower's disappearance and the rebuilding effort began.

Yesterday, I devised a new strategy.  I would simply remove one tier of the tower, leaving an 11 roll tower and giving me the ability to replenish the paper in two of our bathrooms until our weekly trip to Costco tomorrow.

Having detected the TP tower security breach earlier in the week, David was on high alert.  He spied the missing rolls within thirty seconds and started calling, "Twelve and thirteen!  Twelve and thirteen!"  So, the tower has been rebuilt again and apparently will remain a fixture in our family room until David decides that it is time to move on to, who knows, plastic cutlery?  Garden hoses?

Once again, David has thrown me a curveball.  To whatever that magic number is, that minimum number of TP rolls below which you should never allow yourself to fall, I need to remember to add 13.

I had underestimated the importance of the toilet paper tower to David.  And David, in turn, had underestimated the importance of un-towered toilet paper to the remaining members of our family.

The Friday Favorites


Obviously, just  few of David's favorite things.  For those of you paying attention, I am not sure why David insisted that the timers be set at exactly 60 minutes and 3 seconds.

And now, for my favorite.  Parenthood fans may recognize this song from this week's episode.  When I have an "aha" moment with David, why don't I hear a similar love song on the soundtrack to my life?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fact or Fib?

It is a common misconception that kids on the spectrum cannot tell a lie. While I am sure that is true of some kids, David seems to have mastered that skill. I don't mean to imply that he lies to me all the time because he doesn't. Sometimes he is teasing, so that doesn't really count. Or he is telling me something he thinks I want to hear like yeah sure, I ate that. And sometimes he is simply trying to get something that he wants.

So, today I introduce a new feature. You be the judge.

I wasn't really listening to the one-sided conversation, but David apparently wanted Andrew's help.

"An-ROO, come here!" David called down the stairs in his sing-song voice.


"An-ROO, come upstairs, PLEASE."

Still, no response from Andrew.

After a few more minutes and different variations on the same theme, I heard David call again.

"An-ROO, it's time for lunch time!"

So, you tell me. Fact? Or Fib?

Well, Andrew fell for it and came charging up the stairs, which is somewhat humorous because David isn't usually the preparer of food in our house. Actually, David isn't usually even the eater of food in our house.

The answer, of course, is fib.

But David got the help from Andrew that he needed. In many ways, David is just like any other seven year old boy and in this case, it probably shouldn't make me smile, but if I am telling the truth I have to admit that it does.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Be My Valentine

David has been tossing around new expressions pretty liberally lately.  What the heck is a new one that we heard for the first time over the weekend.

I love that David’s language is getting more expressive, but it does surprise me when I hear something new—especially an expression that I usually do not say, like what the heck.  I think we may have Andrew to thank for that one.

All weekend, I tried to get David to sign his valentine cards for his classmates.  He did such a sloppy job on the first one, I put them away.   I asked David (actually, I probably begged David) to sign them tonight and he responded, “Ummmmmm, no way!”  I will give you one guess who signed all of David’s valentines.

After his bath, I kissed him on the top of the head and asked if he would be my Valentine.  He replied without hesitation—there were no ifs, ands or ummms about it, “Yes way!”

Sorry, Michael, but I do believe this Valentine's Day, I am taken.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

D Week

It was D week in David’s Kindergarten class this week, so I wasn’t surprised when this paper came home in David’s backpack on Tuesday.

D is for dog.  It makes sense, although did I mention that David doesn’t really like dogs?  We do not have a dog and the only dog that David sees on a regular basis is my sister’s dog, Winston.

David and Winston have a mutual agreement to ignore each other, which seems to work for them.  But, Winston is most probably a lab, husky mix and looks nothing like the dog in David's picture.

I didn’t really give David’s drawing much thought, until I was sorting through the papers in his backpack on Wednesday and I saw this picture.

David drew the same dog, two days in a row.  It has the same curly brown and black hair, the same orange tongue, the same green collar.  The only substantive difference is that the removable tale, originally held on with a brass brad, seems to have been removed.

Where did David get the idea of this particular dog that really most closely resembles a Portuguese Water Dog?  I think he had his weeks confused.  “D” week was last week.  Presidents’ Day is next week.  David simply drew the President’s dog.

Friday, February 10, 2012

***Friday Favorites RETRACTION***

Earlier today, I posted a picture of a snowman, one of my favorite things from the past week.  I had made it with David during the snowstorm last Saturday.  Strike that.  I had made it while David contemplated whether or not he wanted to step into the snow, and then gave further consideration to whether or not he wanted to put his gloved hands into the snow, and then decided that snow dancing was fun. 

He really was not at all interested in helping.  His lone contribution to the snowman assembly was the perfect placement of the carrot nose.

Until yesterday, I mistook his lack of interest in the building process for an indifference to snowmen in general, but before David even stepped off the bus, he had noticed that the sunshine had melted the snow just enough for the head to slip off of the body. 

His insistence that the head be replaced that very instant could not be dissuaded by the fact that we were supposed to be at Andrew’s school in less than ten minutes to pick Andrew up from rehearsal.

My quick foray into the hallway coat closet in an unsuccessful search for a pair of gloves, allowed David a glimpse of the American flag, which reminded him of his former propensity for patriotism.

I cannot even take a guess what led David from bare handed snowman repair and flag hanging to insist that the whisk attachment needed to be in place on the stand mixer before we could leave the house.

We made it to Andrew’s school in time—barely.

Tonight, we had another quick turn-around.  On Fridays, the minute that David steps off the bus, we try to hustle him to the car to get to speech therapy a normal amount of late and not LATE late.  I was sitting in the office at the front of our house watching for the bus, when I saw a small red car stop in the street.  A kid got out of the car, ran up the lawn, jumped right on top of David’s snowman and bolted back to his car.

It sent me over the edge.  I ran out the front door, yelling for the kid to stop the car.  Not surprisingly, he didn’t.  I am not sure what my plan was if the kid had stopped; I didn’t think that far ahead.

I sheepishly collected the snowman pieces, losing my shoe in the process, and hobbled back into the house, snow-packed shoe in hand to try to collect myself before I went back out to greet David when the bus arrived.

I know that once you put something out there on the internet, there really is no way to permanently remove it.  So, the snowman picture will remain with the Friday Favorites, but consider this my retraction.  He turned out to be more trouble than he was worth.

The Friday Favorites

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

What Not to Wear – Winter Edition

Life with David is a constant negotiation—a delicate balance of coercion and compromise, leaning heavily toward compromise. 

We had our first significant snowfall on Saturday, and I guess I got greedy. I saw an opportunity and I wanted to seize it.  I had set out the snow gear—boots, jeans, a sweatshirt (red, but never before worn), coat, hat and gloves.

The coat would be no problem. David has been wearing it every day, but it quickly became apparent that five other objects of irritation might be a few too many.

So, David swapped the snow boots for his dinosaur rain galoshes. They happen to be two sizes too small, but are familiar to him and therefore more comfortable. He also requested sweat pants rather than jeans.

I won the battle of the sweatshirt, plus he wore the hat and gloves, which is great progress for David. The score was three to two, but who's counting?

I must admit that it was not exactly David's best look, especially from this angle, but it was a beautiful day to play in the snow.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Finding Inspiration

For over a year, I have had a handwritten note pinned to my bulletin board at work.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly.

I am not one for making New Year's resolutions. Or perhaps, more accurately, I am not one for keeping New Year's resolutions so I have stopped making them, but if I had made a resolution (or four) I guess this quote would just about sum it up.

Yesterday, I had placed a phone call at work and was on hold, when this note caught my attention. I have always wondered who said it, so I typed it into the google search box and looked it up.

And then I looked again.  And I looked again, hoping that maybe I could find an entry that contradicted the first three answers I read.

Apparently, the whole quotation is

Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.

Certainly a noble undertaking. And who do you think was the author of this sage advice? Mother Teresa? Archbishop Desmond Tutu?

No, and no.

It was Ronald Reagan.

I have spent the last year trying to live by the philosophy of none other than Ronald Reagan--or Ronald Reagan's speechwriter, as the case may be.

Maybe it is time for me to find my own inspiration.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Lifestyle Changes

I am currently sporting a fancy new pedometer. I recently had my annual physical and, not surprisingly, the "just ignore it" approach does not seem to have done much to lower my cholesterol and/or blood pressure.  I have been given three months to continue with “lifestyle changes” before I have to talk with the doctor about cholesterol medication, which I have been trying to avoid.

So, I am wearing a pedometer every day, which does help me keep my activity level up.  I have even purchased new running shoes and dusted the treadmill.  Hey, it’s a start.  Right?

David came home from school yesterday and was enjoying his afternoon snack while watching an episode of SpongeBob.  I had ten minutes before we had to leave to pick up Andrew and I had a choice.  I could either A) fold a load of laundry or B) get ten minutes of exercise.

Impulsively, I started jumping on David’s trampoline.  It was actually bordering on fun—not exactly fun, but in the same neighborhood, and for a moment I was transported back to my seven year old self, summers spent outside, climbing trees, building forts with my neighborhood best friend, Johnnie.

But then, I saw the look of panic on David’s face.  He was scared and I am still trying to determine if he was scared for his Mom-mom or for the trampoline, but if I had to guess I would choose the trampoline.

David paused the episode of SpongeBob so that I could more easily hear his pleading.  “Mom-mom, NO.  Get off!  Come HERE.  STOP!”  He was even signing the word “stop” for added emphasis.

And when pure pleading did not work, he pulled out all the stops--called in the big guns, the piece de resistance.

Because, you see, my super smart boy has read all the research, which confirmed what he had long suspected that each additional word that he can string together to form a complete sentence exponentially increases his likelihood of getting what he is requesting.

His speech came haltingly, at first:



a cuddle with Mom-mom

on the sofa!  PLEASE?

Ten words lined up all in a row, plus he threw in the cuddle card.  I told you he is a smart boy.