Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I'm Still Here

Hutton and Harrison posing with Mommy. Actually, that's the snowman we made.

For those of you wondering about my absences of late, I'm still here. I've been a poor blogger this month -- both reading and writing.

Some excuses: My desktop computer died, and I had to get Hubby to get my laptop to work for me in the meantime. (A few years ago, when Hubby started working from home, he had to turn in his old work laptop, and just commandeered mine -- which I didn't use much, but still, it was a gift from my MIL! --to go along with the other three computers he has on his desk. After he started back at a big software company here, he got a new work laptop, but still kept mine. I finally asked for it back, and he gave it to me, but without any way to access the Internet. Uh, thanks, Honey. I don't use the Internet at all! So, when my desktop stopped working, I asked Hubby if I could access the Internet on my laptop, and Hubby set it up so my laptop will hook up to our wireless network again.) Hubby got my laptop working, then, after about a week, he fixed my desktop! Wahoo! I was functioning OK with the laptop, but it took a long time to get used to the keyboard, as I am accustomed to the weird rounded ergonomic one at my desk, and I didn't have access to my Outlook calendar and email contacts on the laptop. I could check email online, but I still felt I was going to forget some world-changing appointment without access to Outlook. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Phew! But now, I have my laptop downstairs, so I can lounge on the couch looking things up online while the boys watch too much TV, and go upstairs to check email and do serious typing on my desktop. Ah, technology, I love you!

Second excuse: School, or the lack thereof. Last week was Martin Luther King, Jr. day, which I think is a very important holiday to remember. But, it means three days of school for Hutton versus four. Plus, this Monday, there was a teachers' only day at Hutton's school, and it snowed three inches here in addition, so Harrison didn't have school, either. Tuesday school was delayed because of lingering snow, so again, no school for Hutton as morning Kindergarten was canceled, and Harrison doesn't have school on Tuesdays. I don't know why, but just missing two hours of time to myself for a couple of days is enough to throw off my internal workings somehow. Plus, Hutton's home therapist couldn't make it Monday because of the snow (yes, we live in Washington state, where they don't believe in plowing roads or using salt -- at least not in the western half of that state -- in the event of snow. The world grinds to a halt. I still got out on the roads Monday and was fine. If nothing else, there wasn't any traffic, but I was worried about being hit by a driver who wasn't used to driving in snow.) Today, the therapist is sick and can't make it.

The problem with this lack of school and therapy is that I'm not exactly using our time wisely. Sure, we got Hutton's homework done, and played outside in the snow Monday, and went to the library Tuesday, but the rest of the time has been squandered in front of the TV. What's that, boys? You want to watch a fifteenth hour of Sponge Bob? Sure! No, I'm not even pushing the educational TV on them! The boys, to their credit, did manage to play together for some non-TV related activity. I got a package Monday that came in a gigantic box, filled with various packing materials that entertained the boys for several hours.

Anyway, I'm back, and I'm going to try to be better about posting more of this banal crap on at least a twice weekly basis, as well as reading all of your blogs, my blogging friends!

Oh, but I have accomplished a few things this month! I almost finished knitting a sweater, which is frumpy looking as it is too big in the torso, but fits everywhere else. Hmm. I'm sure I can reknit the torso section, but I think it will involve math skills. I'm not good with sweater math: "Using the larger needles, pick up 198 stitches along the upper yoke." Hmm, there are 223 stitches there now. How do I turn 223 into 198, while spacing the stitches evenly around? Agh! My brain hurts! So, if I do decide to reknit the torso, it will probably mean the sweater will not be ready until next year. But, I think the frumpiness is beyond the realm of blocking. (Blocking is when you wash the knit item, then leave it out to dry so that it will dry in the shape you want it to be. It's much easier to block a wool sweater to fit, as it will shrink or stretch a bit, but I don't think cotton/acrylic blends do that very well.)

And, I took the boys skiing for a second time last Friday. Hutton had a lesson with Outdoors for All, which does outdoor activities with kids and adults with disabilities. He had two instructors work with him for an hour, and the main instructor told me afterward that Hutton was great at following directions and had good balance. Who knew? So, having someone else teach him is definitely easier. Harrison didn't have as much fun. He got cold, fell on the "magic carpet" lift, got colder still, and ended his hour of skiing crying and fussing. Oh well, one kid had fun! Hutton was smiling afterward and told me he liked going fast. So, we'll have to see if I can convince Harrison to give skiing another try, and get him a personal instructor as well, instead of impatient Mommy.
Some exciting video of Sally running in the snow. Turn the volume off if you don't want to hear my loud, annoying voice.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Plastic Strips on Your Feet + Snow = Skiing?

Things are going better around here. Yesterday, we took the boys skiing for the first time. They were both very excited to go when I told them about it Thursday, but Hutton wasn't quite as enthusiastic Thursday night after we'd been in the ski rental place in town for an hour. Finally, we had the boys' skis, boots and helmets and were ready to go for Friday morning. We got up early and headed out Friday morning, and the boys got excited when we started seeing snow and mountains.

Things got whinier once we parked and started getting the boys in their layers and helmets. We decided to rent a locker at the lodge, so we wouldn't have to walk in ski boots too far. If you've ever worn ski boots, you'll understand that these boots are definitely not meant for walking, and making children walk in them for long distances, when they have never even skied before, seems like a good way to turn them off of skiing.

We got to the lodge, Hubby stood in line for lift tickets and I went to buy some new waterproof gloves, since mine seem to have disappeared in the five years or so since I last skied. So, buying those in addition to the clothes I bought the boys, the equipment rental, and the tickets, reinforced the fact that skiing is very expensive. We then found a locker and put our walking boots in, and got into our ski boots, and clomped back outside to get our skis and hit the slopes.

We went to the slope by the "magic carpet" - the ski "lift" that is essentially a conveyor belt to bring the skiers back to the top of the slope. I use "top" and "slope" in the loosest sense of the words. Think of a 5 degree slope, and you're getting the idea of the steepness we're working on. Then, we got the boys into their skis and starting skiing.

Or not. Skiing would not really describe what we spent most of the day doing. The first few runs, Hubby and I took turns, swapping boys on each run. I "skied" with Harrison between my legs, holding him up by his jacket, while Hubby did the same with Hutton, then we swapped. After a few times of this, I was sweating and ready to lose some layers. Hubby stole some tips from the ski instructors working with the kids on the slopes, and we introduced the boys to the "french fry" and "pizza" positions. A couple more runs, and I was hot and had exhausted both my muscles and my patience. It was time for lunch.

As we sat at a table inside recharging, I told Hubby I had no patience and would never be a teacher or a ski instructor. He nodded. Then, we headed out again. I worked with Hutton a bit, and though I won't say he was a natural, he was figuring out his balance and only falling when he was going too fast and wasn't listening to my screams of, "Pizza! Pizza!" as I tried to ski in front of him to stop him. Fortunately, on a 5 degree slope, it's hard to go too fast. Then, I swapped with Hubby and sat on the side of the slope for a while with Harrison, who was tired of skiing and preferred to sit and eat snow. That was actually pretty enjoyable, as it was a beautiful sunny day, though my butt got cold after a little while, even with the four layers of pants I was wearing. I offered to take the boys for a snack while Hubby skied a real run, but he said he was tired, and didn't take the hint and offer the same for me. We swapped boys again, and Hutton and I did two more runs, while Hubby and Harrison finished one more run. Then, we finished up our day at 2:30.

Not exactly like the "old days" when Hubby and I skied together, before kids, when we'd ski all day, or all weekend, several times during the ski season. Back in those days, we'd been on ski trips to places in Utah, Colorado, California, Oregon, Montana and British Columbia, in addition to the Washington ski resorts. As I mentioned above, we hadn't skied in several years since our kids were born, so just getting outside in the snow was a start. Hopefully the boys will gain some skiing skills and like skiing as much as their parents do. The resort we went to didn't offer lessons for 3-year-olds, and I signed Hutton up for a private lesson through a special program that caters to skiers with disabilities, including autism, but they are busy and probably won't have an opening for a while. I think having a "real" instructor teach the boys will help a lot though. At least someone with some patience.

This morning, I asked Hutton how you slow down when you're skiing. He smiled and said, "Pizza!" I asked him how you go fast. Another big Hutton smile and "I go fast with the French fries!" Ahh, I love this kid!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Autism Is Getting Me Down

I'm fuming right now. I made the mistake of reading Hutton's notebook from school. I didn't even think that he didn't call home today, so it came as a surprise when I read about his bad behavior. He gets to call home when he earns nine checks for good behavior, and generally, I can tell if he's had a good day, since he'll get to call home. Sometimes they are doing to many other things and don't have time to call. Either way, I had forgotten about it until I read the notebook.

"Hutton did not get to call today. He had eight out of nine checks, until he ripped a page out of library book. Then he filled a toy with hand sanitizer."


I left Hutton at the kitchen counter with his lunch, telling me to "stop talking" after I angrily told him I was sick of his bad behavior, ripping library books (I had to replace one in September as well) and treating things badly. (The boys managed to break one of the handheld game consoles they received for Christmas - don't know who broke it, but the screen is cracked.) I just told Hutton, who came upstairs having finished his lunch to leave the room as I'm still angry at him.

Sigh. I hate having to vent about my son's behavior.

Friday, he had a really bad session with his ABA consultant. Great. We drive 40 minutes to get to the University of Washington, I pay $11 to park (it's cheaper if you pay cash, but of course I never have cash), and then things go steadily downhill when Hutton asks to put fresh batteries in the farm toy at the consultant's office. I tell him to make his own animal sounds. No go. I explain that even if we had fresh batteries for the toy, we don't have a screwdriver to change the batteries. That doesn't seem to matter to Hutton. As far as he is concerned, a toy with non-working batteries is the end of the world. He became upset, and couldn't accomplish anything. He finally completed one worksheet, with two words of text (black dog) which he was supposed to trace, then write on his own, but he insisted on getting help and cried nearly the whole time. So, needless to say, he didn't earn his nine checks to call Go-Go (my mother) in his hour and a half therapy session. At least his consultant got to see some of his worst behavior, so she knows what his home therapist is up against some days.

Sigh. So, I'm not having a good day now.

Hubby had wanted to take the boys skiing on Friday, but right now I don't want to deal with that. It seems like a big reward for Hutton's bad behavior. I guess I should focus on catching him in good behavior. I'll see if we can get them signed up for a lesson Friday, just in case. Who knows, Hutton might have a good week after all.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

It's a New Year...And a Whole New Laura!

OK, the first part is true, but the last is not. Same old Laura. I've been bitten by the New Year Organizational bug, though, which is why I haven't posted since last year. Har har. I always loved that "last year" joke. Said to best friend across the street on New Year's Eve every year: "See you next year!"

The wonderful Kim was kind enough to check in with me and see if I was OK. I didn't fall off the earth (it is flat, isn't it? I'm still not sure, like Sherri Shepherd)> No, I'm still here. We went to Nashville, TN and Pensacola, FL for Christmas and New Year's, and came back home last week, over-loaded with twice as much stuff as when we left. Oh, the joys of gifts. (I had typed "jobs of gifts" accidentally, which seems pretty accurate, when you think about it!)

Since our return, Hutton has been making sure that every toy he owns has "fresh batteries," and walks around with the phillips head screwdriver to try to change the batteries if they're not-so-fresh. Fortunately, we own lots of rechargeable batteries.

I have, as I mentioned earlier, been busy trying to make my home less of a cluttered cesspool. I've de-Christmased our home, cleaned out the fridge and refilled it with food, exchanged Christmas gifts, washed about a dozen loads of laundry, moved furniture get the idea of my excitement filled new year! On the other hand, my evil old dog, Fergus, has been doing his best to make sure the carpets are still freshly peed on. I swear this dog must have decided a good new year's resolution is: Do my best to be euthanized very quickly in 2008. No, I'm not there yet, but the dog has peed in our house every day since our return, and it's usually just a few minutes after I gave him the chance to go outside to pee. Currently, he's in a crate in the garage, but he's been sleeping in the laundry room (the better to be close to the urine soaked towels in the wash, I suppose!). At night, he's been acting like a crazy old man, shaking and panting. Well, I guess that panting is more of a crazy old dog thing. I don't know how much longer we'll have with old Ferg, but every time he pees in my house (or even in the garage, which happened today when I came home and let the dogs out) I seem to be a bit more hardened to his death. Don't get me wrong, I love this dog, and will be sad when he dies, but as I soak up pee, I don't ever think, "Gosh, I love this dog!"

So that is what I've been doing. Nothing exactly blog-worthy. I did want to blog when we were at the in-laws for five very long days, to vent a bit, but I just did some "mental blogging", which made me feel a bit better. Better that than having to try to explain to my extremely nice mother-in-law why I was bitching about everything when she accidentally stumbles upon my blog someday!

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