Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sometimes he's so flipping cute

Joseph is up in his room right now throwing a yelling, crying, kicking temper tantrum because Elle looked at once of his books. He's yelling things like "This proves it! I knew they never loved me!" and "Why did I even make her a mother's day present?!?" He came by the nickname Drama Joe honestly.

To remind myself that he's not always a whirling dervish of emotion and angst I'll tell you a cute little story. Today when Joseph came out of school to be picked up I could see he was clutching something tightly in his hands. When he got to the car I opened up the door for him and he handed me what he had been holding: a little plastic container with 4 tiny plants growing in it. "Mommy!" he said breathlessly "I planted these at school! Now we can save money on groceries because I'm growing my own carrots!"

See? He's cute sometimes.

I just don't get my husband

In my house we have deal. I make dinner, Jesse cleans up afterwards. In the past Jesse thought that "cleaning up" meant "putting the leftovers away ...... sometimes". Over the course of our 8+ years of marriage though I have managed to nag and harass lovingly redirect him so that now he does a much better job. He clears the table, puts leftovers away and sometimes loads the dishwasher. It's my job to unload the dishwasher and if I haven't done it he doesn't pick up my slack and do it for me. The dishes just sit there until I get to them. Ok, fair enough. Unloading is my job and I'll take care of it. And while I'm at it I'll go ahead and load up the dirty dishes when I'm done.

But here's the thing. Husband, if you are reading this (and I know that you might, a week or two from now) there is something you need to know. If you want me to load the dishwasher then you're going to have to do your part. No more leaving food on the plates so that it hardens into a crust and becomes permanently bonded to the plate. If you do that again I'm going to load the dishwasher with the food still on the plates and then the food will come off and clog up our crap-ass dishwasher and you'll have to try to fix it again like you did that one time when you thought you could just vacuum up all the pieces of food only you didn't realize that there was a puddle of water in the bottom of the dishwasher and you vacuumed up the water and broke the vacuum cleaner. And nobody wants that.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The spider on my contact case

Proof that I rock

Featured in Alltop
What was that sound? Oh yeah. That was the sound of everyone on alltops moms groaning as they realized that now they're just letting any old person into the club. It's the highlight of my week though.

Sunday, April 27, 2008


I'm going to admit something really lame right now. For a while I was feeling pretty down about this whole blogging deal. Every time I had a post that got no comments I would feel a little sad. I would be bummed if I checked my stats and I had a slow day. (I feel stupid even typing that out.) i would think things like "I would like to do this with my blog but I'm not popular enough." and "I would like to do that with my blog but no one would even read it."

How stupid is that? It finally occurred to me that it doesn't matter how many people are reading my blog. If I want to do something new with it then I should. If I want my blog to be something other than what it is then I have to make it that way and it doesn't matter if I have one reader or one million. I'm not blogging for stats, I'm blogging for myself.

So, with that in mind, I'm going to be making some changes around here.

First off, I'm going to start answering comments. It might not matter to anyone but me but it's always bugged me to not answer comments. So often people leave such kind, funny, helpful words and then I just ..... don't say anything back. It's not because the comments don't matter to me, it's because I've never found a good way to answer them. Bloggers "respond" button doesn't work, email doesn't work. So from now on I'll be responding right in the comments. Don't feel like you have to check back over and over waiting for my witty response. Just know that I am responding because your comments do matter to me.

Second, I'm going to be expanding my blog. I know what you're thinking. I thought the same thing myself. "But Jen! Don't you have like, four readers? And isn't one of them your grandma? Do you really need more content for people to not read?"

Ok, valid points. But shut the hell up and listen for a second. If I'm not blogging about what I want to and what I care about then it really doesn't matter how many readers I have. I want to like what I'm writing about. I want it to be interesting and enjoyable to me. So, here's some stuff I'm planning on adding:

  • A cooking section. I'm not a master chef by any means but I do enjoy cooking a great deal. Sometimes I would like to share recipes and I would like for other people to be able to respond with "I tried that recipe and it was really good" or "That recipe made me sick and caused my blood pressure to skyrocket. You should be in jail!"
  • A photography section. This is something I've been holding back on for a while. I'm beyond armature when it comes to pictures so I've been a little shy to share my efforts. But I love taking pictures and I think I'm getting better at it. Maybe it's dorky but I want to share that too.
  • An artsy-fartsy section. I like to make things (even if I'm not very good at it). I would like to talk about the things I make and the things I would like to try to make.I want to open an Etsy store but that's way off in the future. Right now I don't have the space to create things like I would like too. The only space in the house that's open enough is our dining room table and .... we eat there. So I have to wait until we're in a new house and I have crafting/computer room that I so desire.
  • An exercise/getting healthy section. This is largely for my own benefit. I need to get my rear in gear and I think blogging about my attempts will make me more accountable to myself. This will mostly be for my own benefit but anyone who wants to is invited to come along and point and giggle at the fat girl in yoga pants.

So there you have it. A lot of this is a ways off as much of what I want to do requires some site redesign. I need some technical know how. And some time. And maybe a little money. But I really don't have a lot of any of those things right now so I'll have to move slowly.

One final note - A while back I mentioned that I was starting a new blog that was more private. I changed my mind about that. I started it and I didn't like the direction it was going in so I erased it. So if you asked for an invitation to the new blog and you never got it, that's why. I just decided the hurt feelings and upset it could cause if it was discovered just weren't worth it. So that's what happened with that.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Interview with Joseph

I wanted to ask Joseph some questions about his perspective on Aspergers. All his answers here are exactly what he said to me in response to my questions.

Me: What is Aspergers?
Joseph: We don't really know. The world doesn't know.

M: What do you know about Aspergers?
J: That I don't like certain sounds and it's something that makes me really smart.

M: Is there anything about having Aspergers that you don't like?
J: Not much.

M: Is there anything having Aspergers that you do like?
J: Yeah, everything. I'm smart.

M: Does having Aspergers every make anything harder for you?
J: No, not recently.

M: But in the past?
J: It made it hard to eat.

M: Does having Aspergers make anything at school harder or easier?
J: Yes, because I'm good at math.

M: Does having Aspergers make anything harder or easier when it comes to making friends?
J: No.

M: Is there something you would like people to know about Aspergers?
J: That if I have Aspergers you don't have to treat me different.

M: Do people treat you different?
J: No.

M: If someone gave you a magic pill that would take away Aspergers would you want to take it?
J: No.

M: Why not?
J: Because I like being the way I am.

M: If someone gave you a magic pill that would change one thing about Aspergers would you take it and what would you want to change?
J: That I don't get angry so easily.

M: Is there anything else you would like to tell me?
J: No. Can I watch Ratatouille now?

I was interested to hear that Joseph feels so positive about Aspergers. I wonder if he'll always feel that way or that change some as he gets older and discovers some of the ways that he's different from neurotyipcal kids.

It just never ends

The other day it was 77 out. Today? Not so much.

It's April 26th and and it's snowing out. Really Minnesota? Really?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Whatever could it be?

When I picked Joseph up from school today he got in the car and said "I have a present for you in my backpack for Mother's Day. I won't tell you what it is but I'll give you a clue. It's in a pot, you have to water it and it's a flower."

I'm gonna have to think about that one for a while.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mo' housework, mo' problems

Two minutes, she was out of my sight for two minutes. I was just loading the dishwasher. I was trying to clean.

"Look!" she proudly exclaimed. "I draw round and round!"

I put her on the time out step right away. Then I pulled her right back off so that I could take pictures of her. Does that make me a bad mom? Come on! Who could be mad at a face like this?

The moral of this story? I shouldn't even bother trying to clean the house. My attempts to get things in order just led to another mess for me to clean up. From now on we'll just live in squalor. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Wordless Wednesday - Little monochromatic farmers

This is an old picture but I was just playing around to see what I could do with it on my new photoshop program.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I think they're trying to tell me something

Yesterday I was playing this game with Joseph where I tell him something and look him right in the eyes and he tells me something and looks me right in the eyes. Sounds fun doesn't it? Doesn't it? Yeah, that's pretty much Joseph's reaction too. When we play it his statements usually include things like "I hate this stupid eye game you make me play." and "Can I please do something else now?!?"
(But I am a mean mother and I make him play anyway. Because, you know, I sort if want him to have the ability to establish eye contact with people when he's talking to them. It may sound silly but it has helped a lot.)

So we're playing yesterday and I ask Joseph to tell me something that I don't know. He pauses for a moment and then (looking very pleased with himself) says "You don't have very many eye lashes and your eyebrows look like a boys eyebrows."

This morning Elle was drawing on her doodle pro and she drew this:
That's me. You can see my eyes and my nose. There are my arms and my legs (they hang out of my mouth). You can see my hair and my ....... wicked unibrow.

I think I might need to do a little grooming.

Monday, April 21, 2008

To the person who stole my antenna ball

To the person who stole my antenna ball,
I am so glad that you got such a kick out of my Mickey Mouse antenna ball. We always enjoyed it too. I'm sure you'll enjoy how much easier it makes it to find your car in a crowded parking lot. That was one of the things that we liked most about it. In fact, just the other day my son remarked how when he came out of school he always looked for the antenna ball to help him find the car. I'm sure the tears he shed when he discovered the ball was missing were tears of joy. Joy that now someone else could get use out of something that we ...... weren't really done using.

Stealing that antenna ball certainly was clever of you! Where else in the world would you have found one if you hadn't taken the one off of our car? It not like you could have found one in a store or a catalog or ebay or Amazon or in 8 billion other places. And think of the money you saved yourself! Why, by stealing our faded old Mickey Mouse antenna ball you saved yourself the three or four dollars it would have cost you to buy a brand new one.

Enjoy your antenna ball! I hope it brings you as much pleasure as it brought us! And I certainly hope no one ever steals anything from you (even something that might seem small and insignificant) because it kind of sucks ass.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

It's my birthday today. I'm 31. I went out with some friends for my birthday last night and I bought 4 pull tabs and I won $175. I've probably bought all of a dozen pull tabs in my entire life so that was a nice lucky shot last night. I can't decide if that means I am going to have a good year or if it means I used up all my luck for the year. Knowing me .... well, never mind. I'm going to be positive about this.

Here are 10 things I want to accomplish before my next birthday:
1. Potty train Elle. (Or have my mother potty train her.)
2. Get up that second rock climbing wall.
3. Get pregnant again.
4. Buy a Wii Fit. (I want one so much I dreamed about it last night.)
5. Get moved into a nicer, non-drug dealer across the street having house.
6. Sew something wearable on my sewing machine.
7. Take a college class on-line.
8. Buy a hybrid car.
9. Get Joseph a therapy dog.
10. Come up with one more thing to round out my list.

If you would like to buy me a birthday present there's a link to my Amazon wishlist there in my sidebar on the left. (SUBTLE HINT!) But if you don't do that, please just leave me a comment telling me what you want to accomplish before your next birthday.

Now I'm going to go and spend my pull tab loot on a stack of books about Disney World. I'm out of control.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I have a sports injury!

I would like to be able to tell you that I totally kick butt at rock climbing but that's not true. I did fare a little better than I predicted I would. In fact, on my first attempt I managed to make it to the top of the easy wall. That felt pretty good. I should have just stuck with that.

I decided to give the next wall a try and promptly fell off. Four times. Every time I fell I thought "Oh god! I'm going to kill my spotter!" The girl holding my rope to keep me from falling looked like she weighed about 27 pounds soaking wet. I don't know what kind of crazy physics were at work that kept her from flying up into the air every time I fell but I was impressed that every time I slipped she managed to keep her feet on the ground.

The last time I slipped off the wall I pulled a groin muscle and banged my knee pretty good. I have a nice bruise to show for it today. That's ok. It's an honest bruise. I'll be proud to tell people how I got it. Not like other times when I bruise myself and have to say things like "Oh that? I got then when I fell down as I was running to get cake."

Before we were done climbing I decided to try the easy wall one more time. As the 27 pound girl was hooking the rope onto my harness the end of the rope snapped up and hit me in eye. She felt really bad but I just had to laugh. If anyone in the world was ever going to lose an eye getting strapped into a harness it would be me. It's a symptom of my Constant Hair On Fire Syndrome.

I only made it about half way up the wall before my legs and arms got too tired so I had to come down. Meanwhile my mother and my aunt were also there and they were climbing circles around me. My doula/friend Jen came too and on her first attempt she managed to get to the top of the wall I kept falling off of. (She's really similar to me but like, 78% more awesome.) But that's ok! Considering that I've never rock climbed before and I just had baby not that long ago and that for me athletic activity usually means "reaching really hard to get the remote laying way on the other end of the couch" I think I did ok.

I'll go again. It was hard but it was fun. (My arms are like rubber today!) I am bound and determined to get my fat ass up that second wall even if it kills me. And it probably will. But at least it will be a cool way to die.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The proper way to handle whining kids

Dinner was rough tonight. It involved the usual whining and crabbing but this time it wasn't just coming from Joseph. Elle has started doing it too. I don't know if she's doing because she's copying Joseph or if she's doing it because she's two but she's started pulling the exact same stuff that Joseph does. I put a perfectly nice dinner down in front of them and right away they both start to whine and crab and push their plates away. "Augh! This is not what I wanted! I don't like this! Why did you make it like this!"

I thought back to all the great advice I got in comments, emails and phone calls after the last time I wrote about our dinner difficulties. After a little consideration I decided that the best way to deal with it was to ..... um, throw a temper tantrum. I slammed hand down on the table and yelled at them. I yelled at the kids for whining and I yelled at Jesse for yelling at the kids. Then I stormed up to my bedroom and pouted for a while. Then I went out to buy some tennis shoes.

I had a legitimate reason for going shoe shopping. I'm going to attempt climbing a rock wall tomorrow and I don't have the right kind of shoes. I've never climbed a rock wall before so I'm not sure how it will go. I predict that I'll get about two feet off the floor and then collapse to the ground in exhaustion. That will make my new shoes the biggest waste of money since the last time I bought a pair of tennis shoes in preparation for athletic activity.

But I digress.

I'm back home now and feeling a little better. Elle is asleep and Jesse is upstairs trying to get Joseph to sleep too. It doesn't sound like he's having too much success. They're starting to raise their voices at each other so I better get up there and separate them. Sigh.

(Just so we're clear here, we're not usually a yelly family. Everyone has their limits though and one too many nights of the same old crap kind of pushed me over the edge. I should be good again for another couple months now.)

Blogging Haiku

Pioneer Woman
How perfect can one life be?
Wish I had a ranch

My dear Plain Jane Mom
She of many links and blogs
Swoon when I am named

Very funny gal
Absolutely Bananas
Name is it's own line

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I'll trade you this baby for a video camera!

We had a really nice visit with J&B and their boys on Sunday. I explained how to get rid of cradle cap (J is afraid of scrubbing Little A's head too hard) and how to use a baby sling (J is worried that he'll drop Little A if he tries to use one). J&B offered to give us their old video camera. I would love to be in a financial position where I could be like "No! Seriously! Take this expensive piece of electronic equipment. It's just cluttering up the house anyway!" I got to hold A for a long time and he gave a bunch of great big smiles. Every time I would talk to him he would look at me very closely. J&B are convinced that A remembers my voice. That's kind of a neat/odd/crazy/cool idea. I wonder if it's true.

When we were getting ready to go I thanked them for offering us the video camera and J&B both said "Thank you for giving us A!" A passing waitress shot us a confused look and I wondered what she must have been thinking.

On a totally unrelated note, have you ever been in a situation where you're talking to someone you know really well (or maybe someone you just know casually) and out of the blue they make some really racist or homophobic remark and you don't even know what to say back because all you can do is stare at them and think "Wow. I didn't even know that you sucked like that"? I hate when that happens.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My kid is cool like that

I refuse to be jealous of the fact that my son's blog gets more hits than mine.

Joseph sure did get a kick out of all the comments that he got on his blog. He even said "That's more comments than you get isn't it mommy?" I tried to explain that it's fun to get comments but that me might now always get that many. He's pretty sure I'm wrong about that.

He's probably right. Just watch the little guy blow my non-swag-getting, non-baby-camp-invited ass right out of the water with his blog stats. Soon people will be like "dooce? Who's dooce? We love Drama Joe!" And I'll be here trying to siphon off just a tiny bit of his traffic for myself. Because I'm lonely like that.

Speaking of dooce, I don't really "get" dooce. I'm sure she's a very nice woman but I have to admit that I don't really understand the appeal of her blog. I read her for a while but one day I realized that I have to really care about someone a lot to want to see pictures of their dog and even then I'm probably not going to want to see pictures of their dog every day and I don't really care what the new lamp that she bought looks like and why am I even reading her blog anymore?

To be clear, she seems like a perfectly lovely person (and I have to be very clear about this because even though there's only like a 1 in 80 gabillion chance that she will ever see this I don't want her to read this and (even though she doesn't seem like a spiteful person) bring the wrath of the entire internets down on my head.) I just don't see what it is that's so compelling about her. I read tons of blogs that are far less popular than hers that I find tons more interesting and compelling and engaging. So what is it about her that draws people in? And how can I get some of that for myself?*

*I don't really care about traffic. I just wish I was popular enough for people to send me free stuff and ask me come to blogging conferences at Disney World.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

My baby is all grown up

Joseph has a blog! Do him a favor and go leave him a nice comment. Comment moderation is on so you won't be able to see your comments until I approve them. It's the over-protective paranoid in me. Check out what my boy has to say here.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Snowball massacre

We took the kids out for one final romp in the snow before spring sets in. (I hope, I hope, I hope!) Joseph decided to start throwing snowballs (aka hardened chunks of ice) at me.

I wasn't going to stand for that. "Get behind me!" I yelled to Elle. (Enjoy my ladylike and dainty gloves and boots. They're Jesse's.

Joseph picked up the same ice chunk I threw at him and came after me with it.

He got me!

Elle tried to help.

Then she lost interest.

So I had to take care of business.

I love my kids.

And I really, really love my new camera.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Watching the snow fall

Flickr has locked me out of my old account and it would be a huge hassle to fix it. Since I am lazy I'm just going to start a new one. You can click on the pictures on the left to be taken to my new account.

Don't you wish your girlfriend was a Minnesotan like me?

Want to know why school was cancelled for today?

Just to be clear, this picture was taken this morning. It's showing no signs of stopping either.

The pros of this snowfall are: 1) It's keeping the trash from the drug dealers house from blowing into our yard. 2) We're going to build an awesome snowman later. 3) Joseph got to stay home from school and I got to stay home from an IEP re-evaluation meeting that I wasn't prepared for.

The cons are: 1) IT'S APRIL 11TH! It should not be snowing like this at this time of year. I'm not an Eskimo, I was not built for this weather. Sigh.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The trash can belonging to the drug dealers across the street blew over and now there's trash all over their driveway and sidewalk. I would find this a lot funnier if I didn't know that all that shit is eventually going to blow into my yard.

On pins and needles

I can't sit still. I'm on pins and needles here. I'm waiting for Jesse to call me and let me know that he made the reservations for our Disney trip. Thanks to my dad and I keeping a very watchful eye on Disney World specials and promotions we've dsicovered a way to get all our meals for free. That's a good $700 or $800 just for the four of us right there. This deal just started today and it appears there everyone and their brother is calling in to make reservations. Jesse had to try for 15 minutes before he could even get through and now he's spent the last 30 minutes on hold. What if he gets through and they say "Sorry! All our hotels are booked and all our park tickets are sold out!" Ok, so that would never happen but what if it did? That would suck rocks. So I cannot relax until Jesse calls to tell me the trip is booked.

Update! - Reservations are made! Sort of. Well, they're made but they have to be changed. Due to a kind of wonky policy they have with this free meal deal we would have to end up spending an extra $650 or so on hotel rooms and tickets than we had planned and wiping out our meal plan savings. So we're calling back tonight and changing some stuff so that we can comply with the policy and not have to sell off one of our children to afford the trip. Now I have to get cracking and make our lunch and dinner reservations. Becuse if you want to eat at Disney World you need to make reservations 5 months in advance.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Eat, Drink and Be Quiet

I am worn out.

I am tired of the dinner routine we have at our house. Every night is exactly the same. It starts as soon as I start making dinner. Joseph will wander in the kitchen and ask what I'm making. If the answer is anything other than pizza he will start to whine immediately. He'll ask me to fix him something different, he'll demand to "ask daddy" to decide if he has to eat whatever I'm cooking, he'll ask how much of what I'm making he has to eat before he gets something else. When he doesn't get the answers he wants he collapses to the floor and cries. Then he'll pull himself together and recharge himself for battle.

When I set the table the whining starts again. Sometimes it's not so bad. Sometimes it doesn't start until I call him to the table. Most nights it starts as soon as he sees the first plate touch the table. It's always a rehash of the same complaints from earlier.

Once I've called Joseph to dinner and he sees whatever it is we're having the whining changes. It' becomes more high pitched and frantic. He starts rubbing his face (I think this is a sensory thing) and flopping around in his chair. He begs for something else. He cries. He insists that he isn't hungry. He yells at me for making such a gross dinner.*

This continues on as the rest of us start to eat. Thankfully Elle is a champion eater and will try pretty much anything we give her. Jesse and I trade off trying to get Joseph to take a bite and/or shut the hell up so that the rest of us can eat in peace. Joseph continues to whine and cry and yell. I smother my urge to (and this is not very nice) smack him on the back of the head. (He's lucky I don't believe is spanking is all I have to say about that.) Because I'm the grown up and I have to keep control of myself I speak calmly and say things like "This is just chicken. You like chicken. Instead of worrying that you don't like it please just take a bite." instead of screaming "Knock it off! Please, for once in your life just eat like a normal person and stop ruining dinner for everyone else!" like I want to. Joseph gets more and more upset until we either:

a) send him to the couch and do our best to ignore him. Once there he almost always cranks up the volume because now, on top of everything else we're no longer paying attention to him. This gets him sent to his room where he continues to crab and complain but at least it's somewhat muffled.


b) convince him to take a bite. Almost without fail the reaction is "Hey! I like this ....... but I'm full now." After one bite. One stinking bite.

Most dinners end with him having less than five bites of food and that only comes after much convincing on our part. An hour later we will claim to be suddenly hungry and when we bring out the leftovers of his dinner the whining routine starts all over again.

We've tried everything we can think of to break this cycle but nothing seems to work. We have to keep trying though. I would love nothing more than to let Joseph spend every dinner in his room playing so that the rest of us could eat in peace but that wouldn't be fair to him or to us. We need that family time together and on those rare occasions when Joseph cooperates we really do enjoy dinner time. Just as important (maybe even more) is that Joseph needs to eat. It sounds so simple but it's not. He's seven and half and he weighs 38 pounds. He's the smallest kid in his class. The other day someone asked him if he was four. He cannot be skipping meals because there's already nothing to him. I can't handle seeing him not eat because he's so tiny, I hate to think of him losing weight.

If there was one thing I could change about Joseph's manifestation of Aspergers it would be this damned food issue. I hate that eating is such an issue for him. I think it's partly a sensory issue. Each meal presents an overwhelming number of smell, sights, textures and tastes that can be difficult for Joseph to navigate through. I think it's also an issue of control. Joseph can be very rigid and he only wants to eat what he wants to eat and when he wants to eat it. This would mean vanilla ice cream and pepperoni pizza once or twice a day. Anything else is different from what he wants and therefor difficult for him to accept.

A year of food therapy hasn't made meal time easier for Joseph. Punishments, rewards, indifference, Jesse and I have tried it all. I don't know how to win this battle. I don't know how to make it not a battle. I feel like I'm at the end of my rope.

Tonight I'll make another dinner that Joseph won't eat. I'll calmly ask him to try just one bite. I'll do my best not to raise my voice when I tell him to go to his room. When dinner is done and put away I'll sit on the edge of Joseph's bed and rub his back and remind him (again) why it's important that he eat. He'll pick at his fingers and promise that the next dinner will go better. And I'll smile at him and promise myself that I'll find a way to make that come true because I'm the mom and that's my job.

* This shouldn't hurt my feelings but it does. I take pride in cooking for my family and it stings when my efforts are called "gross" or "yucky". It's very rare that a night goes by where there isn't some negative comment made about dinner. We can't seem to get across to him that this is not appropriate but that's the subject of a whole different post.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Animals I know and love (and some I don't)

On Sunday we were supposed to go to a family get together and spend some time with family members that (in my opinion) behave like animals. Jesse and were not looking forward to it. So we decided not to go and instead went to spend some time with some actual animals. We packed up our whiny kids and went to the zoo.

Joseph spent the whole day holding Elle's hand and showing her around. "Up here is the fish tank Elle. Don't be afraid! The shark won't bite you!" and "This is a komodo dragon. Don't worry, it won't bite you!" and "This is a wolf. Don't worry, it won't ...... Oh. The sign says they might bite" Elle spent the day screaming with joy over every animal we came across. "I like-a da camel!" and "I like-a da gibbon!" and "I like-a da animal all gone!" (after we came to an empty exhibit)

It was expensive and we all came home smelling like otters but none of that matters. We enjoyed being together, just the four of us. The kids were cute and it was fun to watch them have such a good time. We got to see a newborn lamb. We got to see baby meerkats playing together. I saw a lemur licking it's privates. And best of all we didn't have to spend time with these people.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Lucky girl

I get to see little A next week. I'm really looking forward to getting in some good snuggle time. I'm really looking forward to seeing J and B again too. One wonderful and unexpected result of the surrogacy was how close I feel like we've all gotten. I didn't go into this expecting to make such good friends but I'm so happy it worked out this way.

I feel like I probably wasn't totally fair in the way I described J. Yes, he was often a nervous wreck but he was also (and continues to be) generous, kind, caring and concerned. Now that a little time has passed I'm really able to see that his nervousness was really just because he wanted the best for his baby. Using a surrogate means surrendering an enormous amount of control. I probably wouldn't be able to do it and all things considered, J actually handled things pretty well.

On Friday I got some nice pictures of A in the mail. A few of them were of him and I together the day after he was born. It meant so much to me to get those pictures and I'm so thankful that J and B are so willing to let me have them. They've both been so wonderful since A has been born. J and I talk on the phone fairly often and it's not unusual for us to talk for an hour at a time. I didn't think I was going to come out of this with such good friends and there were probably moments when I was pregnant J and I would have happily strangled each other but in the end it's all worked out so wonderfully.

I am a lucky girl.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Because people deserve to go to Disney World

Cancer makes me sad. Disney World makes me happy. You can bet your sweet ass I'm contributing to this.

Survivor tidbits

Dear Eliza,
I have never, in all of my many seasons of watching Survivor, ever seen anything funnier than you having the following conversation with Jason:
E: That can't be the immunity idol!
J: Yes it is!
E: No! It can't be!
J: Uhhhh...... why?
E: Because it's just A STICK!
I laughed loud and I laughed long. It was the best moment of the entire season.
Your new #1 fan,
PS Isn't Ami almost a little bit creepy with the way she can look someone in the eyes and smile as attempts to destroy them?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Miss Elle Belly

Elle at rest.

Elle in motion.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The fixation situation

We are currently in the middle of a video game lock-down at our house. It's been an interesting week.

Joseph, like many Aspies, has an issue with fixation. He will become so interested in one thing that that's all he wants to talk about or think about. Where Joseph is somewhat atypical is that he has shifted his fixations several times in his life. The first one I ever noticed was with the movie cases for our Disney movies. That was when he was very young, not yet three and he would spend hours looking at them and lining them up in rows. A more recent one was Scooby Doo (that was hell) and his current fixation is video games. It's become a bit of an issue.

You might be saying "Video games? So what? Don't all kids like video games?" Well, yes but a fixation is a lot more intense interest than what a neurotypical child might have. Joseph will play video games as much as we let him. When he's not playing them he's reading their instruction books or their strategy guides over and over. When you talk to him he wants to talk about video games even if you try to engage him in a conversation about something else. He likes to draw pictures of characters in his video games. When he takes a bath he uses his bath toys to act out scenes from his video games. It just never ends.

I don't feel like the video game fixation is 100% bad though. In fact, I see some positives to it. A lot of neurotypical kids like video games and being knowledgeable about games gives Joseph something to talk about with other kids. This is huge because social difficulties are common with Aspies. There are other benefits too. I think playing the Wii has improved his gross motor skills. I know it sounds crazy but if you've ever seen him play you would agree. He throws his whole body into whatever he plays. I think playing his DS has improved his fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination. The games he plays are always age appropriate so I don't feel like he's being exposed to anything negative just by playing them. I think a lot of the games he plays have improved his logical thinking skills and his ability to read. (Joseph is in first grade and reads at a fourth grade level so he's able to do even text heavy games on his own.)

So there's a lot of good with video games. Jesse and I noticed though that the fixation was becoming more and more intense. If Joseph asked to play his DS and I said no he would immediately collapse to the floor and cry. If we asked him to put his strategy guides aside and come eat dinner he would yell at us and then spend dinnertime whining about his book. Lots of times he wouldn't even eat because he was so anxious about wanting to get back to his book.

So we laid down the law. Time for a video game detox. No wii, no Playstation, no DS, no computer games. He can still read his instruction books or his strategy guides for short periods of time (because I can't bear to tell him he can't read something, it goes against my nature) and he can still draw video game pictures (because he's still delayed in the area of fine motor skills so I think any time spent with a pencil in his hand is a good thing) but that's it. We're encouraging him to spend time doing other things that he likes without whining and complaining about video games.

We've been playing a lot of board games this week and doing a lot of Legos. There's been a lot of dancing to the Lilo and Stitch soundtrack and lots of time playing with toy cars. Joseph invented a game where he and Elle throw stuffed animals at my exercise ball and yell "Boomba!". It's called Boomba.

We've also spent a lot of time saying things like "No, remember? You're not allowed to play DS this week." and "You've been talking about video games with Grandma for 45 minutes now. That's enough." I've explained several times that once he gets video games back again it's still going to be for very limited amounts of time.

I don't know if we can break this fixation. Actually, I probably can't. I can't rewire Joseph's brain. I'm just trying to get him over the height of this fixation without turning into a little blob with tv screens for eyes. The goal here isn't to make him stop liking video games so much, it's just to try to help him find a good balance between his fixation the rest of the world.

We'll see. Three days down and four to go.

(Thank you aj for this link. I had not seen that before.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Blogging for autism awareness

This month I am going to be doing a few posts about what it's like to raise a child with Aspergers. I'm going to try to get Joseph to give me his take on what it's like to have Aspergers. I might even try to get other family members involved to get their perspective on it. I've often been suprised and frustrated by the large amount of misinformation there is out there surrounding autism so I want to do my part to try to let people know what austism (specificaly Aspergers) is really like (for us anyway). (Thanks to momolouge for getting this party started.)

If you're new to my blog I would like to take a minute to introduce you to my own little Aspie.

This is Joseph and he has Aspergers. And yes, he really does have it. It's not just that I'm too stupid to understand how special and brilliant he really is. That's not to say that he isn't special and brilliant because he is. He's also kind, funny, sweet, tempermental, moody, rigid, loving, thoughtful, stubborn, generous, self-centered and million other things that I could spend all day listing. If you would like to learn a little more about how Aspergers affects Joseph you can read some of my older posts here.

I hope that people reading this blog who are unfamiliar with Aspergers might learn something new. I hope people who are reading this who are familiar with Aspergers might be able to laugh and say "Oh yeah, I've been there." Raising a child with Aspergers has it's own unique challenges but it also has some interesting rewards. I hope you'll stick around and read my humble little blog posts on the subject.

This is the face of Aspergers. Beautiful, no?