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Monday, December 28, 2009

The Challenges in Family Picture Taking


TAKE 1

TAKE 2

TAKE 3

TAKE 4

GRACIE FIRED



Christmas 2009

We were anticipating a small family Christmas this year. Then my parents bought a house and moved out here and Diane came to spend
Christmas with all of us. So we were all together. This time in two separate houses and more than enough bathrooms available.

WE STILL MISSED YOU CHRIS, JEN, AND ETHAN!!

We opened gifts in two houses. Ate dinner at my parents. I still fulfilled my goal to wear my pajamas all day. I just didn't have to cook a turkey at the same time. Thanks, Mom.

It wasn't a total my side of the family celebration. Sean's brother Scott spent the day with us, so Sean's family did represent.

The boys were spoiled rotten by everyone
but their parents. Sean and I scaled back this year not only to save on cash, but because we found some things the boys got last year that were never touched!!!!!! We really focused on things they needed this year mingled with a fun item or two.

So there were still DSIs, and a cool
guitar pedal system that would make a 14 year old boy pee his pants, and a lefty bass guitar that left a Jared squealing like a little girl. Thank heaven for Auntie Dianes.









And at the end of the day, what kid wouldn't crash with a bag of candy in his hands.




Time for Snow

It finally snowed for real end of November/early December. I can't remember anymore. We had a cold October and a warm November. It's seemed as though the snow would never come. Probably about 2 feet of snow fell, though it was more like 2 1/2 feet in front of our drive way. We spent the Saturday shoveling not only our driveway, but the road in front of our house too. We could not get out otherwise.


By the evening we were able to get out and buy some groceries just for the fun of it and it's been fine ever since. The snow is still around, but we've hardly had any snowfall since.

We love how Gracie does her best not to actually sit on the cold ground when we tell her to sit. It's more of a squat.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Excuses and Apples

My laptop died. There you have it. Dead. Gonzo. Kaput. Bit the dust.

It was my blogging lifeline. Sixteen months after I bought it, the thing up and fails me. I just couldn't get myself blogging on our desktop computer. I don't know why. It just wasn't working for me.

Then along comes my lovely sister, Diane. She's here for Christmas all the way from Boston and brought a truck load of treats with her. She loves Apple products. I'm pretty sure she buys the latest model of anything Apple as soon as it comes out. She is also a lover of the earth, so recycling has been the theme this Christmas.

Our household has been the recipient of all things ipod and an ibook just for fun. Each of the boys claimed an ipod for their very own, thus replacing the Shuffles they currently use. I am learning how to use the ibook and now can go back to blogging.

My only obstacle seems to be actually getting this thing away from the boys. They've been playing around with Garage Band and making their own music. I'm totally on board with that, but it means I have to share and sometimes sharing means hardly using the thing yourself.

Over the next couple of days I will try to get caught up with December and post some pictures.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A New Blog

Just a note to you that I have started another blog that will be devoted to the experiences we have in this household with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

It's been a huge year for us and it is reflected in my posts. What it obvious is that Jared's challenges and triumphs and their documentation overshadow all the great things the other boys do and I am trying to find more balance in our family blog.

If you want to follow that blog you can find it through my profile or www.ourasdjourney.blogspot.com . If you would like email notifications of new posts on that blog I will add you but not unless you request it.

From time to time Jared's ASD will appear in our family blog. It is a part of our lives and cannot be avoided, but from now on I will focus more on our family life as a whole and give the other boys more "air time".

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Trip Review


Ethan is my favorite nephew EVER!!!!! Okay, he's my only nephew, but so what? I had some time off work and I decided it was a great opportunity to ditch the boys and go see this little ball of scrumpdiliciousness.
I love this baby. I almost want another one just being around him. I love how he does all the cute baby things he does....even the crying. I love how his parents adore him like they should.
Of course I did other things besides trying to hide Ethan in my suitcase. My parents are dutifully packing for their move to Lethbridge. We will all soon be living in the same city again. The kids are excited about it. I was happy to see that there were boxes to trip over and a moderate level of chaos going on.
With my parents busy with their packing, it freed up their car so I did not need to rent one. I visited with almost everyone I wanted to. I find I always need an extra day. It was nice to visit again with friends I haven't seen in a year.
Driving the Malahat in the dark and with the rain falling was not something I missed, but learned I could still do. Memorable was parking behind two boys not much older than 12 or 13 smoking pot across the street from my brother and his wife's condo. I really startled the boys which I thought was funny, so I left my headlights shining on them for a while just to make them nervous. Fun for me.
I went to Lululemon and did not buy a thing. I did want to and Mom offered to buy an early Christmas present for me, but I promised Sean I would not buy anything Lulu on this trip and I made good on my word though I may have shed a tear or two on my way out of the store.
I made it home and Gracie was delighted to see me. I didn't know she cared so much. The other boys were happy to greet me except Jordan who thought it would be more fun to go to his friend's house instead. Nice kid, that Jordan. He sits beside me as I write this with a smirk on his face and giggling. He's not out of the will.......yet.
So a nice time overall and plans to return in the summer are underway. It was wonderful to come home and be with my family of stinky boys. I have another week of vacation time with lots to do. I get to do "Mom" stuff without the work stuff getting in the way and I am looking forward to that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Note to My Guinea Pig

Is there an oldest child that is not damaged in some way? Again James, thanks for not being too wrecked by your Mom and Dad.

Happy 14th Birthday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Do We Need a Crash Course in All That is Off Color?

Ahhh........the teasing of children. When you have a kid like Jared and you know other kids are learning how to push his buttons or see him as an opportunity to increase their own ego, it takes effort on my part to keep my cool and parent accordingly.

Jared came home yesterday and asked me what a butt crack was. I asked why? Well, he began, some boys at school were laughing at him because he didn't know what that was. By now half the school knows about this and he is sure that he is the laughing stock of the school.

Now the good news. Even though this is an unfortunate experience, the fact that Jared sees that it is is great in a way. So much goes over his head that I wonder what cues he is catching.

So I explained to him what a butt crack was and said it was okay that he didn't know what that was and why should he??? The men in his family don't have those kinds of issues. We know how to wear our pants.

This has me thinking though. Do I need to have a sit down with him and go over some of the rude and off color jokes and situations he may encounter as he gets older in order to save him embarrassment and teasing?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Like Being Hit By A Truck

If there is one thing to say about life in this household it would be that there are always surprises around the corner.

I've been home sick the last couple of days - bronchitis - and home sick with the blessing of my employers no less. I am still coughing something gross periodically through the day, but I am coherent and relatively energetic.

So I am on my way out of the house to work this morning when I receive a call from Jordan's school. This is odd. If I ever get a call it is ALWAYS the elementary school. Jordan had an accident in gym class. He may have hit his head. He passed out for a time. Could I come to the school. He may need to go to the hospital. Ummm........okay, I'll be right down.

I called work on my way to let them know gracing them with my presence would have to wait. I arrived at the school to find a very colorless and blue lipped Jordan so we decided that the hospital was probably the best place to spend our morning.

A very upset gym teacher, who had a class to return to after getting Jordan to the office, phoned and told me everything I needed to pass on to the doctor. Jordan was doing sprints and went chest first into the stage when he couldn't stop in time. He then banged his trachea on the stage, hyper extended his back and she caught him before he hit the floor. He couldn't breath and sounded like he was honking while trying to get air, passed out, and then had a seizure. It was really bad, she said and I could tell by the tone in her voice that she had been absolutely terrified.

Long and short........He's fine. We had chest x rays, an electrocardiogram, and blood work. He's okay, but sore. He's getting stiff and his back hurts and I think tomorrow he's going to feel like he was hit by a truck.

He's resting now. We are going out later to pick up the get well notes the traumatized classmates wrote for him and he's adamant we attend a book fair at the school so he can buy a book since there's a good chance he will miss school tomorrow. So it doesn't look like there is too much serious damage to him.

His gym teacher?...I don't know. We stopped by to see her on the way home from the hospital to let her know he would live. She still looked freaked and she gave him a big hug. He wasn't expecting that. The look on his face was priceless. Loved it!!!!

So I am missing one more day of work and I promised I would return tomorrow, so I am asking my other boys to just play it safe for the next 27 hours. No more hospital visits until 5pm tomorrow....and if I do end up there again, mental note.....when signing hospital documents next time don't write "Mama" under relationship to child.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Snow + Falling Leaves = x

We've been enjoying beautiful, warm fall weather up to about a week ago. Then it got cold. 15 degrees below normal cold and windy. Then it began to snow. There's nothing better for kids than early snow.
When snow falls before the leaves are raked up and then you build snowmen, these are the masterpieces you end up with.

We are anticipating a return to seasonal temperatures and the boys will be out with the rakes before we see snow again.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thankful

I am thankful for a little boy who is always so darn happy. Perhaps it is because he is the youngest and we inflict the least amount of stress on him. Perhaps it is because he is just a happy little kid. In any case, thank you, Jackson.

I am thankful for a boy who teaches me resilience; who teaches me to just not worry about what other people think and go out and do the best I can. You can't measure the value of being able get up and dust your knees off when you take a fall. Some of us don't read social cues very well. Some of us just need to ignore certain cues. Thank you, Jared.

I am thankful for a boy who always shows me that despite the fact it sometimes feels like I live with a bunch of Neanderthals, there is tenderness hidden inside that body. He will offer to help me when he sees that I am at my wits end. He lets me hug him still. His attempts to take on more responsibility is a constant reassurance that he wants to do good things. Thank you, Jordan.

I am thankful for a young man who is making mature and good choices. When he saw that a friend who had not been out to church for a while showed up, he decided to stay despite not feeling well so that friend would not feel alone and awkward. Thank you, James.

I am thankful for a man who holds me when I cry about silly things. Who thinks I am smart enough to solve my own problems and doesn't try to fix everything for me. Who lets me be sick when I am sick. Who shows patience towards me whether I deserve it or not. Thank you, Sean.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Progress

Last week I received the following email from Jared's wonderful teacher from last school year.

Deb,
I asked (Jared's Gr. 5 teacher's) permission to share this little story with you. He said, "of course"...just as I thought...he knows how much Jared means to me.
This morning Jared fell and scraped his knee...the blood was dripping from the wound onto his shoe when he came into the school. I could see he was in distress as I emerged into the hall to say good morning to my students as they filed in for the day. I looked up at Jared coming straight towards me and he was breathing in and out rather quickly...not hysterically.
I asked him what was wrong...he breathed in and out and in and out while pointing to his knee. It was dripping. He was not talking...just breathing. I grabbed a handful of kleenexes and asked him to come into my room. He did and I mopped his wound as he breathed and said, "Aren't I handling this well?" I looked up at him and smiled...a huge smile and said,"You sure are!!" The kleenex started sticking to the wound...now a year ago that would have sent Jared into a two hour frenzy. Today, he stayed calm and asked me what I could do about it. I said we would get some water and fix it. He said it would be wet and how would a bandaid stick to it. He told me he would need bandAGES!! I told him not to worry. I would get it all under control.
We cleaned it up...he stayed calm and proud of how he dealt with it. Mrs. D. came in just in time to get the bandaids on. He told her how hurt he was..I told her how proud I was of the way he handled the situation. He gave me a high five and went on his way. I beamed!!
I know to some, this may seem small and maybe immaterial. To me, it meant the world. He has come so far.
At recess today when I was on supervision, Mrs. D and I had a minute to chat. She said Jared is doing so well. I am so happy. Jackson and Jared were playing at the monkey bars with a whole bunch of other children and Jared got too rough. He knocked Jackson down on his bum. Jackson cried and cried and as we consoled him Jared felt very, very bad. Jared kept repeating that he didn't mean to do it. We told him it was alright. He apologized to Jackson. Jackson said he accepted his apology. As Jared ran into the school, he called out to me and said, "Mrs. W., do you know what? I called out to Jackson as he was going into the school that I was sorry again and he said it was okay. He said it was okay!! Isn't that cool?" I turned around and gave him another high five. I again, beamed for him.
I know your family has been through a lot this past year. Mrs. D. and I do not have a lot of time to look back on last year. Today we did and we can not believe the progress in your boy. He is my hero and we both just love him.
Have a great week. I know I sure am!!


This email made my whole week. At the end of the week Jared came home with a note written to him about the above incident by the school district superintendent congratulating him on a job well done and for setting such a good example to his schoolmates.

He has definitely come a long way since last September. Back then I thought I had lost my little boy. Now I have him back and we are moving forward and continuing to learn and grow as we prepare for life and school ahead.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Under the Shadow of the Bridge


Thanks to the Lethbridge Herald, this is the picture I tried to get this evening but couldn't. Well, considering my photographic talents, I probably would have had to resort to this photo anyway.

It's the largest structure of it's type in the world, I believe, and it's a hundred years old this year. It's a mile long.

This morning we were down near the bridge for the start of the In the Shadow of the Bridge Jazz Festival. Back up a few months.....James auditioned for and made his high school's senior jazz band. Pretty nice. He's in ninth grade and is playing music for the grades 10-12 band. Okay, now to the present. The jazz band was performing at the festival this morning. They did so well, especially considering they've only been rehearsing for a week and a half. He loved playing in front of an audience. It's true there's nothing better.

I thought it would be fun to watch this much hyped lighting of the bridge. This afternoon Sean and I drove around the south side of Lethbridge to find a good place to watch the lighting. We staked out a location. We returned to the site with the boys and six 1.2L Big Gulps around 8:45pm. Light up was set for 9pm. We waited eagerly along with a crowd of other folks. I'd like to say that when the lights went on it looked exactly like the picture above, but it really, really didn't.

So we hopped in the car and hoped to get a better view from the west side and apparently so did the rest of Lethbridge. From then on we were in a traffic flow that made the obvious result of drinking 1.2L of pop a torturous affair.

We eventually did get a good view of the High Level Bridge, but it never looked anything like the Lethbridge Herald picture. Too bad. I would say it was still a fun evening despite the disappointment. We were all together drinking too much soda and dying for a bathroom.




Monday, August 31, 2009

The Return of the School Year

For the first time in 10 years I didn't take the day off work. I always take the first day of school off. This year I didn't.

We are officially a 3 school family. James started high school. Jordan started middle school. Jared and Jackson are still in elementary.

We were as prepared as we could be. Jackson worried that the first day of grade two would be as bad as the first day of grade one. Jared claimed that he was not worried, but his stimming was apparent for the last three days. Jordan was sort of nervous, but it didn't really show until we got to school today. James developed a horrific situation on his face. It started as chapped lips and got worse from there. Ahh.....the fantastic first day of high school horror story he will have to tell his kids.

Everyone survived and had good things to share about their day. I, on the other hand, barely survived work today. I have been taking the first day of school off for me, not for the boys, and I am fessing up to that today.

The boys are all on board to return to school tomorrow, and I suppose I will go back to work and recover from my stressful day.

I thought it would get easier. Maybe next year.....no......maybe the year after that.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lost in Music

It is always amazing to me how a group of musicians can get together, pick up some music, and start playing together like nuthin'.

That's what happened tonight. I am involved in a project for our church centennial celebrations.....the Mormons have been in Lethbridge for a hundred years!!!!!! Holy Hannah!!

We are ultimately going to record the music that the performers will sing along to at the end of an extravaganzic program in November. So singers, string types, and horn types, along with a bass player and hopefully soon a percussionist got together tonight to hash out music.

Needless to say the hashing out didn't take long. Being a person who fakes her way through most things without sounding like it, I felt rather silly being amongst them. However, being a person who fakes her way through most things without sounding like it, I did okay.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

August Catch Up

I've been very tired recently and not in the mood to do much other than work, look at my family, and sleep. Summer is quickly coming to a close and though our summer has not been the greatest in terms of weather or time to do much, we have taken a time or two to go do some more exploring of this part of the world.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to check out Writing on Stone Provincial Park. It's a little more than an hour away from us and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

One of the things that I love about this area are the hidden gems you find where you least expect them. As you drive to the Montana border, you see fields of whatever is growing. You wouldn't expect that if you ever so slightly descended into a coulee, you might enter an entirely different landscape and wonder what planet you landed on.

Hoodoos are one of my favorite things. We first saw them in Drumheller last year. They were roped off in Drumheller and we couldn't climb around them. At Writing, we were able to walk through them and climb them. It was great. Writing is known for its petroglyphs, but we didn't find any.....only graffiti, which is a shame, but fortunately there wasn't too much.









We went down to the Milk River and saw some folks floating by. I think this will be on our list of places to go camping in the future.









This was also our first trip taking Gracie along. We were concerned about how it would go and she was a little nervous on the trip out. When Gracie goes for a car ride she usually ends up with a needle stuck in her from the vet. She did wonderfully and even found a comfortable place in the van to stretch out and sleep all the way home.


I had hoped to hike in Waterton this year, but we've had so much rain this summer on the days I am off. Perhaps there will still be time. In any case, this northern tip of a desert is green and lush. Not bad.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Unsupervised

This is what you find when the dog is not being paid any attention.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Double Digits


Number 3 hit double digits today. Yes, the Jared is 10. I actually remember very clearly the events leading to his birth. It does not feel like a decade ago.

In so many ways it was like having a first child all over again and I wouldn't trade him for world. I feel so rich having him in my life.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our Trip.....Some Highlights

While we were on Vancouver Island we did some tourist type things because we never seemed to do it while we actually lived there.

Going down to the Inner Harbor in Victoria is something I never tire of. I guess if there is one complaint it is that there are too many tourists down there. It's a busy place. We walked the Causeway. Strolled Government Street. We were bombed with pigeon poop, though poor Jared got the brunt of it. We bought him a new shirt to wear. He got hit good. We bought Rogers Chocolates and crossed the road to get Slurpees.

We drove out to Ogden Point and walked the breakwater. It was a beautiful day. I think the boys enjoyed it.





We also drove up to Coombs which is up the island a ways. We enjoyed watching the goats up on the roof of the store and eating ice cream.






It was great to see friends and family. There is never enough time to see everyone you want to.

We left and visited friends just outside of Vancouver then drove the 12.5 hours to home the next day. I was glad to have stayed alert the whole time, but once we arrived in our driveway I realized my bum was numb and I needed to sleep NOW. Good thing Sean was ready and waiting for us and got our van unpacked in an orderly fashion.

Taking the kids on my own was a great experience, but it just didn't feel complete with Sean staying behind. I'm looking forward to him coming the next time.....yes, there will be a next time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I'm an Auntie.........Finally

Finally!!!!! And I don't just mean because the little critter was 8 days late.

What I mean is for the last 14 years, Sean and I have been doing all the procreating work to provide offspring for both sides of the family.

Now don't get me wrong. My brother and his wife are 10 years younger than me and were just married almost three years ago and my sibs-in-law are 16 and 17 years younger than me respectively.

It just means that because of all this age difference, I'm the only one around here that didn't have Auntie duties. But now I do.

I can now pass the the proliferation torch on to the younger generation and focus on other things. But when I look at little Ethan I wonder which of my kids I can trade him for.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Observations

I'm not one to use my kids as guinea pigs in some kind of science experiment, but I do like to observe their reactions from time to time to events that occur in their lives.

Vacations away from home always bring out a new side to everyone. I don't think anyone likes change, even when it's temporary.

The boys are supercharged at the moment. They are bored at the same time. Who wouldn't be with all this driving. I am finding myself refereeing much more than usual and I anticipated this. I know what I signed up for with this trip.

It's been interesting watching Jared. The farther we get away from home and he is away from his bed, the more autistic behaviors I see. He is perseverating far more. His stimming behaviors are far more apparent than usual. He is making funny sounds over and over. He can't sit still to save his life.

Jordan was up to his eyeballs, frustrated by all this and becoming quite mean to Jared. I finally had a chance to sit with him and explain what was going on. It's hard on the siblings. You don't want to be embarrassed and ashamed of your brother, but you are. When public displays present themselves, it's the siblings that desperately want it to end. It's harder when your brother "looks" totally normal. I think the boys would feel better if Jared had a more "visible" disability. I know they are trying their best though and it's not easy for them. I know they wish they didn't feel that way.

For me it's eye opening to see Jared outside of the home environment. I experienced this when we went to the zoo as well. When we hear how he is at school, our first thought is that we don't really see that in the home. I take for granted the safety of our home to him. It's the world that I really need to prepare him for. It's scary, unpredictable, and lacking security for a person who needs safety, trust, and order to function anywhere close to "normal."

I watch the reactions of other people. Mostly at this point it's like they don't know what he is doing, but it's odd and he's cute. At times they look at me like I don't have enough control over him. For me, I don't care. For him, it kills me.

It kills me for my other boys too. I want them to be proud of each other. I want them to defend and care for each other. I get that they are children and this is a work in progress that is a lifelong thing. I get that there is a certain amount of animosity towards Jared for the embarrassment they feel often and for the time with Sean and I that gets taken away from them. I get all that.

I think they have a right to feel all that they do. I just wish it didn't have to be so hard.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

On the Road

We are on the road. Well, we will soon be to our destination. Back to the island we go to see family, but most of all to see a little baby who seems determined to stay cocooned in a mommy tummy.

Our first, first cousin EVER!!!! Come out. We are coming.

We've left Sean and Gracie behind and we miss them terribly. Here the rest of us are - on the road. One mom and four boys. I'm just trying to stay awake and sane as I do all this driving.
We are having fun. We spent way too much time in Banff yesterday. We shopped. We went on a Gondola ride up to the top of Sulphur Mountain. It was a mission: Get a kid who is afraid of heights and an anxiety ridden autistic kid up to the top of the mountain and stop to other kids from making it more difficult.

My question is why do paranoid kids believe what their older siblings tell them?


We did make it to the top and we had great fun. Jared loved it and was running around everywhere. The rest of us "slowpokes" couldn't even keep up.















We made a pit stop at Lake Louise and the boys got to see what is left of the glacier.
Jared lost a tooth while chewing on a Fruit Gusher and bled everywhere. The tooth fairy couldn't see in the dark that night and left a $2 coin under his pillow instead of $1. Lucky boy. The man tooth fairy always does a better job of that.
Today we drove to Washington State and are resting up for some shopping in the morning and back across the border in the afternoon. We'll hop on the ferry and spend a week on the island.
So far all children are alive, healthy, and unharmed. I am tired, but still sane and in a happy place. Sure miss Sean though. I hate being away from him.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

School Trip to the Zoo

At our school, the fourth grade classes get to go to the Calgary Zoo as an end of year activity. The teachers involved in this have been organizing this trip for the last 5 years.

I thought I would tag along and help the other adult supervisors not lose kids. We almost lost one in our group for a couple of minutes, but we soon found him and I am sure he didn't want to run off again.

It was a great trip. The kids had fun. Jared had fun. I know that when it's Jackson's turn I'd better take 2 days off. One for the trip, the second to recuperate.

School is now done for the year. The boys all did well. Jordan is now moving on to middle school. James is moving on to high school. All I can think is 4 boys in school and three different schools at that. Yikes!!!!!