What kind of mother doesn’t post anything about her child’s Halloween experience until the middle of November??  A busy one, I guess.  A mom that’s trying to juggle full-time work (in retail, no less!) , the rest of her family, grocery shopping, etc.  Sigh.  Why can’t I just be inherently rich?  Blogging and eating bonbons all day long?  A girl can dream.

Anyway, Halloween was another good experience this year.  Scout’s friend Jacob came along to trick or treat once again.  Isn’t begging for candy from strangers so much more fun with an accomplice?  In true Scout/Aspie form, Scout went as a Barrel Of Toxic Waste.  He got this idea from his beloved ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ comics.   It was a big success, getting lots of great comments, but not so fun to run around in across root-infested lawns, up and down stairs, and around curbs in the pitch.  Scout looked like a cartoon himself, trying to run from house to house with his little legs only able to take baby steps as he went.  Of course when one is getting boat-loads of free candy, one doesn’t notice.  It was another successful haul.  So successful, in fact, that Mom ate all of the Snickers and now he’s old enough to notice.  I had to promise next time we go to the store I’d buy him a full-sized one.

Overall, things are going well.  I would say the meds Scout is on definitely is helping his temperament.  He can roll with the punches, go with the flow, much easier these days.  Blessed C-man does his homework with him and says he isn’t as quick to get frustrated and upset, which of course is a very good thing.  Scout had a sleepover at a friend’s house over the weekend, which of course makes me want to jump for joy.

He has again started practice for the Geography Bee at his school.  It’s interesting, this year he is not studying for it and talking about it as much as last year.  I’m curious how he’ll take it if he doesn’t do as well.  Of course if he doesn’t it will be everyone else’s fault but his own.  Ownership and consequence is something we constantly work on.  They are concepts he just doesn’t seem to understand and/or care about.  It’s a worry that plagues me as I try to cling to my mantra, ‘day at a time, day at a time’…and not wonder how in the world he will ever complete anything on his own as an adult.

Guess I’ll go back to my Snickers and finish this blog post…

A while ago I met a woman through my friend Stephanie at a fancy food event.  She had created a hilarious cake and is well known in the food blogging community for her talents.  Little did I know when I met her that she has Asperger’s Syndrome, a fact I found out not long after.  She is a Facebook friend and of course, blogs about food.  Recently, however, she posted a link to her blog and her entry was about being an Aspie.  It’s such a wonderful and inspiring post about her life and how she really feels inspired to help parents realize that having Asperger’s Syndrome is not a curse!  I completely agree with her sentiments and am grateful for her candid sharing and willingness to help others.

Celebration Generation:  Food, Life, Kitties!

Go Marie!!!!

I love drugs.  Sure, it’s always wonderful when you can get by in your life without the support of any controlled substance, but when you need them–you need them.  Recently we decided to see if meds could give Scout some peace with his anxiety issues, and boy am I glad we did.

At Scout’s tender age of five, the doctor who bestowed him his label spent the first 40 minutes of our appointment explaining all of the tests and observations that were involved with getting the diagnosis.  In the final 10 he told us our son had Asperger’s Syndrome, told us his printer was broken so he couldn’t give us any information about it, and informed us that Scout could be on medication.  Any questions?  Needless to say we were horrified and left there with more questions than answers.  With even our doctor not recognizing the fact that Scout was on the spectrum because he is so high functioning, I know both C-man and I didn’t necessarily think drugs needed to be part of the plan.  It’s not that we were against them…but it was definitely not something we were going to jump into lightly.

And we never needed to.  For the last 5 years OT, social services and summer school seemed to be helping Scout along quite nicely.  But of course with age comes more understanding.  And with understanding comes fear.  I don’t blame Scout one bit, this world of ours can be an awfully scary place.  Especially when you see the world as intricately as he does.  I feel blessed that I don’t, to be honest.

(more…)

I can’t wait until Scout enters middle school.  Did I say that?  Why yes, I did.  It means more homework and more autonomy which will definitely be a challange.  But it also means no more Carnivals, Fun Fests or any other opportunity for him to stand out as the ‘weird kid’ in such a painfully social setting.

Maybe it’s just painful for me.  That’s what I’m trying to figure out, and trying to come to terms with.  I always get my hopes up that things will be different ‘next time’.  Scout does have a handful of friends that he plays with, has lunch with, has sleepovers with.  But when we go to these elementary get-togethers he is definitely the outsider.  Even if any of his friends are there he doesn’t pay much attention to them.  He doesn’t pal up and go on the monkey bars, or sit down to eat, throw around a football, whatever–with anyone.  It kills me.

Tonight I had high hopes that this would be better.  The start of a new year and the last year Scout will be at this school, I would know more moms than usual and he would have his little core group.  We got there a bit early and immediately my hopes were dashed.  A DJ was there and was already playing some loud thumping music.  Three boys were hanging around the booth, boys Scout has known and even had to birthday parties in the past.  Instead of going over to say hi to these boys, Scout starts dancing.  Not just dancing, but doing the dramatic moves he’s learned off of his Wii game that–let’s face it–without the screen in front of him, look pretty darn silly.  He thinks it’s cool and impressive.  He doesn’t understand that  a) it’s not. b) when no one else is dancing, it’s probably not a great idea to start pulling out your moves.  c)  the boys under the tent were all laughing and making fun of him.  Just kill me now.

I called him over and told him he needed to stop dancing because no one else was and people might think it’s strange.  Is that being a bad mom?  Is it bad to not just let him do what he wants to do and the hell with what others think?  Maybe I’m wrong, but my thought is that I’d like to help keep him from committing social suicide.  He always automatically reaches out for my hand when we are walking side by side.  We have always held hands when we walk.  However, now that he is a big 5th grader, I doubt many of those boys hold hands with their moms anymore–at least not in public.  It’s so hard for me, but I have to tell him NOT to hold my hand when we are at school.  I feel horrible doing it, but I’ve explained why I am saying that to him.  I’m sure he understands, but it still hurts.

It hurts not to hold his hand, and it hurts that I can’t just let him do whatever he wants to because those are the Social Rules.  I’m trying to make his foray into middle school easier by making him aware of it all now.  It really sucks.

Moms and Dads of kids on the spectrum, people out there on the spectrum, please tell me:  Am I doing all of this because it’s my own problem?  Do I need to just get over feeling embarrassed for him and wanting to pour myself a drink every time we get home from a social function because I’M the only one feeling sad and alone??  The one thing about Asperger’s that I say is a blessing is I don’t think he even notices or cares if he’s fitting in with everyone else.

But maybe he does.

I don’t know.

Ahhh, the Great Minnesota Get-Together.  It  wouldn’t be summer without it.  Since C-man grew up doing this as a 4-H member it’s been a tradition for us since the kids were babies. (this is the ONLY reason he has the patience for it.  This is the man who wouldn’t wait in any lines at Disneyland but sat on a bench and waited for us to be done with the rides.  !)  It being my birthday, it was a great way to celebrate!  I knew better than to not try to stump the age guesser…I tried that years ago when we hit the fair on the day of my birth and he guessed me two years older.  ouch.

Kids LOVE the fair, of course, and Scout is no exception.  I’m impressed and amazed by this, since your typical (not that there really is a typical!) kid on the spectrum couldn’t stand the noise, commotion, and general unpredictable-ness of such a place!!  Of course he wants the entire day to be about HIM and sometimes gets a bit ruffled when the rest of us have something we want to do instead of his first choice, but I suppose any child can get that way.  The fact that it is a wonder he can enjoy such a thing was brought home to me when I met a woman there who mentioned she had 12 year old twins with autism that stayed home because they just couldn’t handle it.  (Hi Wendy!)  I felt sad for her that she couldn’t enjoy the look of joy on their faces that I get to experience with Scout as he encounters new sights and pushes himself a bit to do things that may make him uncomfortable.

Probably Scout’s favorite experience of the fair was this Bubble pen sponsored by Mr. Bubble. (I have a thing for Mr. Bubble…Scout wasn’t the only one who got a temporary tattoo of the cute little thing on his arm!)  This was new to the fair this year and oh-so-cool!  There was a bubble machine pumping out more and more bubbles as kids ran, rolled and piled bubbles all over themselves.  It was a hoot.  We warned Scout that he would be wet-wet-wet for a looong time after as we walked around the fair, but he went in anyway and never complained after.  I was very impressed by this as even I would NOT be comfortable walking around for hours in wet underwear!  Take that, Sensory Issues!!

Scout and I always hit the Butterfly House every year.  C-man could care less and V is deathly afraid of their tickle, so it’s something Scout and I have together that we love doing.  It’s so magical to have butterflies land on you like old friends.  You can have them climb onto your finger and it’s like they love being there.  I don’t know how they tame those things, but somehow they do! 🙂  I love this photo I got, Scout with a big moth on one hand and the other one having just taken flight off of his other finger.  Plus nothing brings you down to earth more than having a stranger tell you that you have a butterfly on your butt.  I’m telling you, these butterflies are friendly.

Each year the kids enter art work in the fair.  I never would have thought of this but my hubby does this himself and started the kids on it when they were quite young. (this is actually the first year my hubby got in after 10 years of trying!  wahoo!)  V did not get her painting in this year, but Sullivan’s clay polar bear box won a 2nd place ribbon!  I think entering this contest is a great lesson for the kids.  They see the value of their creations and of course feel very proud if they are recognized.  It’s also a good lesson if they’re not.  It’s so fun to go into the building and see their piece on display in the glass case!

This was the first year Scout really hit the main Midway.  He still did a few rides in the smaller ‘Kidway’, but as night fell and we headed over to the big scary rides for our teen V, Scout was ready to try a few.  One he loved so much he even went on twice.  He still won’t ever go on the scary rides–of course, 15 year old V won’t either!–and he seems to avoid anything that spins. (ironic, since spinning was a therapy he had years ago during some OT time) But he was so proud of the fact that he tried the rides he did, and he loved every minute. V even lowered herself to go on with him. I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see him up there, being brave and experiencing pure joy.  Seeing he and his sister together was enough to make sappy mom cry some tears.  Lord knows I can’t do those rides anymore, sadly, but I do remember that feeling they gave me.  It was such a feeling of freedom to fly threw the air.  It was scary, exhilarating, and nothing made you feel more alive.  I looked up at my two kids smiling and knowing they were feeling that way and I just felt overwhelmed with love and gratefulness that they are a part of my life.  Seeing them fly through the air I felt how they can do anything in their lives, they are free and healthy and happy.  Nothing is more satisfying for a mom than that feeling.  All this for the price of admission to a State Fair.  Well worth it.  The Great Minnesota Get-Together indeed!

Family Road Trip!  People said we were insane, but we did it….our family vacation this year was driving cross-country to Los Angeles, California.  There and back again.  Why L.A., you ask?  Well, we thought it would be a fun place that everyone would enjoy.  Both C-man and I used to live there (seperately!) so for us it was fun to see old haunts and some old friends.  For the kids, there is the beach, Hollywood itself, shopping, (okay, maybe that one’s for me…!) and of course, Disneyland.  And we did it ALL.

We found this great apartment to rent for a few days, it was right in Beechwood Canyon directly under the Hollywood sign. People would take cabs to get photos of it, and we just walked right down to the end of our little street.  Scout just had to do a karate kick with his sunglasses on, celebrity-style.  nice.

We hit the Farmer’s Market on Fairfax, Melrose Avenue for some serious shopping, Santa Monica and Venice Beach and as I mentioned before, the happiest place on earth.  That would be Disney, according to the commercials….somehow I was the only person positively giddy to be there.  The kids were sports and waited in line (s) without complaint, but I tell ya, it’s just not like it was when I was a kid.  With everything kids have today–all of the technology right at their fingertips–I can see how the quaint little special effects and moving painted dolls don’t excite them much.  Isn’t that sad?  For me it’s all about the memories, but of course they’re too young to have those memories.  How seeing those Disney things for the first time when I was young was indeed quite magical.  sigh.  I think the key for Disney, my friends, is to take your kids when they are old enough to really get something out of it, but young enough to actually believe in the magic.  I think we were past that point! (husband included!!)

From L.A. we drove to Scottsdale, AZ. to visit friends for a couple of days.  They are orthodox Jews and so we were lucky enough to spend the Shabbat with them on Friday night.  All I can say is, Wow.  Definitely one of the best meals I’ve ever had, and I just was in heaven with the beautiful ritual of it all.  I was also saying Wow at how Scout sat through the meal, through all of the prayers, and ATE EVERYTHING.  He didn’t necessarily like it all, but he tried it.  The boy was eating stuffed peppers (he won’t touch a raw pepper here at home, let alone a cooked one!) and a tuna and potato casserole complete with hard boiled egg.  I was so proud of him, it was amazing!  And all after spending hours in a swimming pool and being very tired.

In the yard of our friends’ house they had what is called a ‘Jumping Cactus’.  Reina was telling me that  the kids needed to be careful around it because if they got too close it would jump out and hurt them.  I totally thought she was teasing me, how could there be such a thing?  Well sure enough, it’s true!  I guess if you get a certain distance from it it will actually throw out a chunk of itself on you, like us being in the forest and getting burs stuck all over.  But the fact that this thing will actually jump out….eeeu!  Totally creepy, in my book.  And of course that completely fascinated Scout.  Not enough to get too close, however. 🙂

On our way back east we stopped at the Grand Canyon.  Was this the All-American vacation, or what?!  Neither C-man or I had ever seen it, and of course the kids hadn’t either.  Once again we didn’t have enough time to really get much out of it.  It would be fun to go back and hike around, really spend time seeing everything.  It was truly breathtaking.  I didn’t see that glass walk-out thing where you can basically stand right over the canyon.  Not that  you could have paid me to get on it, noooo wayyy.

Then there was nothing left of the vaca but the looooong drive home.  We had 12, 13 hour days in the car.  At some point in Denver someone who shall remain nameless missed an exit and we ended up off track somewhere in Kansas, which added another couple of hours to a day.  Can I just say that both of my children were the most amazing children of all time?  I figured V would be pretty good in the car–as long as she has her music and her phone for texting that girl can be happy anywhere.  But Scout complains on the 3 hour drive to Grammy’s house.  I wondered how the heck he was really going to do this.  We were armed with Dramamine, plenty of snacks, and of course their music and electronic games and darned if they weren’t completely happy.  They slept, ate, rocked out with their headphones, played Angry Birds, ate some more, farted and poked at each other…you know, what kids do in the car.  We stayed at less-than luxurious Super 8 Motels where we shared beds and a bathroom.  And not ONE COMPLAINT.  EVER.  Not one whine.  Not one, “are we there yet?”.  I’m still completely amazed and oh-so proud of those guys.  They were asking where our next road trip could be to!  Am I the luckiest and most blessed mom in the world?  I think I am.

We had a fun board in the car that had all of the state license plates on them, you could turn each over as you saw them on the road.  We got all but three….New Hampshire, West Virginia and of course Hawaii.  And I find myself still looking at license plates here at home, almost a week later.

One would have never known that we had an Aspie child with us on our trip.  I don’t think I knew either.  Except of course when he was able to tell us facts about each little site we saw along our way, which was fabulous.  Oh, and here was something else that was fabulous…at one point Scout was eating an apple.  We told him he could throw the core out of the window, since that is something an animal can eat.  Of course he delighted in tossing it right out of the car and as he did he exclaimed, ” There goes the apple core, into the bitch…”  He turned around and looked at V and his eyes got as big as saucers, his mouth dropping to the ground.  “I mean ditch, I mean ditch!”  Scout said a swear without even meaning to, and we all burst out laughing.  Only my son would then say, with all sincerity, “I am SO sorry, I am SO sorry!”    That was definitely a highlight of the trip!

OK, I’m going to be honest here.  I started a looong post to try to catch up since it’s been so loooong since I’ve written…and I got completely overwhelmed.  So I’m not going to finish it.

Oh yay!I figure as I write things that are up and coming it will all come out in the end. Right?  Maybe this can be part of that ol’ turning 40 thing (which actually happened about 5 years ago, alas…)  where you just don’t give a s*%t anymore about stuff that used to make you crazy.  I was putting off finishing that post because I was so overwhelmed by it…so guess what?  I’m not going to finish!  It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to.  I think sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that kind of thing, don’t you?  We have enough expectations put on us by all those around us….sometimes we can just let ourselves off the hook.

the open road...

It may also be that we are leaving for vacation tomorrow and my brain is already in vaca mode.  We are road trippin’ to Los Angeles!  I think we may just be trippin’, taking this long drive.  Scout can barely make it the 3 1/2 hour ride to Grammy’s without the old, “are we there yet?” routine.  Hopefully lots of Dramamine, snacks and electronics will get us through.  It’s going to be a great time–seeing old friends, going to the beach, shopping (of course, shopping!) and doing Disneyland!  The whole thing, including the road trip, should be quite the adventure.

I just can’t wait to spend 11 whole days with my family.  And that’s being honest.