Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

So we, my boys and I, are sitting here waiting for the new year to roll in. The Disney Channel is on the T.V. in the background and Ben is laughing over slap stick humor that he's seen before. The boy who farts "Stairway to Heaven" even got a laugh out of me.

Many people tonight will be going out and drinking heavily and ringing in the new year with a hangover.

Not my style...

I will hang out, listen to audible books, knit on the new sweater, and try to keep the boys from killing each other during the commercials.

I look forward to 2009, new President, Thank God! Hopefully a shoulder that will work well for me again. I keep working on that, P.T., Pain and Torture. A year where, hopefully I can convince my oldest that a bath is not evil and that it will not kill him. (Really Sam, you stink.)

I could wax philosophical about the new year, but it is really hard to focus on goals and new resolutions with Hannah Montana failing her driving test in the background.

So... My hope for everyone out there is that your new year is safe, that you remain comfortable in your world around you, and that you embrace your inner geek. We all have one, accept it and move on!

Be safe, we'll see you on the other side of midnight. Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Vacation can be too long...

You know, with the snow storm that we had here in the last two weeks the boys have had an extra week of Christmas vacation. Let me just say that this Friday was that day when parents would have said:

"Thank the good Lord the children are going back to school Monday, they are ready to kill each other!"

Of course, this Friday was not that Friday... That is still a week away. So we have done our best to deal with the stress and the irritation in the home. We are failing, miserably.

Oh well.

They have new video games, those are always good for distraction. This is the reason that I have not posted in a while. "Spore" has entered our world. This version of the game is PC based, and because I refuse to get my children their own computer, I have not gotten near a computer until now.

I have, instead, finished some knitting projects, and started some new ones. I will admit to finally scraping my brother, Eric's, Skull hat. I give up, I hate it, I avoided even looking at it -- enough, I ripped it out and will send the k2p2 watch cap to him with some coffee beans and no apologies about the crappy hat that I could see in my mind, but could not translate to yarn. Don't worry, I'm not bitter. Really.

I am happily starting new socks (of course, I always have socks on the needles) from yarn that I dyed myself and I will be working cables into the pattern. They have just been started. See?

Icky photo, sorry. Not much to see yet, I'll post more pictures later when I'm farther along.

I also finally started my Alpaca, fair isle yoke sweater a la Elizabeth Zimmerman. The sweater will be a cardigan, I am just starting the ribbing. See?

And here are the colors that will be in the yoke. See?

And here are the kittens that have done their best to attack every bit of yarn that I've touched for several weeks. See?

Why do all of my children look so angelic when they're sleeping?

Friday, December 19, 2008

You try to teach them...

The irony of last night's post is that school was closed today too.

I went to work.

So once again, I remember that I control my attitude, not anyone else's.

Unless I duct tape their mouths.. naw, bad attitude comes out with the stomps down the hallway.

To be fair though, now that Christmas vacation has started the boys are quite happy.

Go figure.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

School? I don't wanna..

So we've had no school for the week due to bad weather, and there is school tomorrow, and my boys are really irritated about this. I can understand this because my place of work shut down for my shift on Monday and Wednesday, and I was grumpy today because I had to go to work... I think that we take too much for granted too quickly. Blessings like school, and a good job are easily dismissed because they are mundane to us.

Guess what? School is not always available to everyone. A good job is (as many of my friends and family are finding out) not always there to have.

Tonight I am thankful for my children's chance for an education. I am thankful for my job with a company who care more for my safety than for their schedule. Tomorrow I'm planning on going in to work, remembering that I am blessed...

Convincing my children that they are blessed to go to school may take more time, if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Crafty projects completed!

Just in case all of you think all I do is deal with bickering kids, and schools and such, (and after the last couple of posts, you may feel that way) I wanted to show you the latest projects that I have finally completed.

In early June 2008 I had started embroidering some new dish towels for my kitchen. I was taking my time completing them, you know, working on them in between knitting projects.

July 5Th I broke my shoulder, really, really badly. That's a totally different post.. I'll share later, I promise. Anywho, I could not do the sewing at all.

I did manage to knit. Addicts are like that.

But yesterday I finished the set and here they are! Aren't they pretty?

And these are my Goddaughters' new slippers (and funnily enough, their feet as well!)

I'm still working on my brother Eric's hat.. I finished one for him, just a normal watch cap, but the skeleton one had to be ripped back... again... I think I've figured out how to solve my little issue with that blasted hat, but then again, I've thought that before. More on that later.

Sam's Socks will probably be done tonight! and I will start my new pair for myself! I will be using some of my own hand dyed yarn (as she rubs her hands together in anticipation) Also, I have promised myself, after Eric's skull cap is done, that I can start on my alpaca fair isle yoke cardigan a'la Elizabeth Zimmerman. My senses reel everytime I smell the yarn. (yeah, I really do smell it! Heady stuff!)

Lastly, we here in the Pacific Northwest are getting hit with a very cool snow storm, well, several of them actually, so here are the boys out in the snow. I caught the picture of Sam as he was coming in from the cold.. Poor kid, all he wanted at this point was hot chocolate.

Ben would have stayed out all night, he's my outside guy. Ben would garden in the snow if he could.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bicker, bicker, bicker....

"Mom! Sam hit me!"
"He stepped on my hair!"
"Only one hair!"
"It was 36 hairs!"
"You were laying in front of my bedroom door, your head was in the way!"
"I can lay in the hallway in front of your door if I want too!"

"Mom, Sam bent my finger back!"
"Your balloon touched my balloon!"
"You stood right in front of me with your balloon!"

"Mom, Ben ste..."

"That's it! Both of you, to your rooms... Separately, your own rooms, not mine! No talking!"

My boys have been in the corner so often lately that their foreheads are developing points... I am considering repainting their rooms with bars...

Ben comes out a few minutes later.

"Where is my harmonica?"
"I took it from you the last time you were in your room"
"I want it back!"
"No, you want to play it while you are in your room being punished, because it annoys your brother... go back to your room"

Ben has a wicked and subtle sense of humor he does....

Are you there God? It's me, Mom...


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Just a few ideas...

Pam said...
What kind of an assignment is write a paper with a subject that starts with the letter "H"??

Exactly, Pam, exactly my point!! And the upshot is that my boy was feeling like he was the cause of my irritation. I walk a fine line, because I do not want to discount his teacher, but how do I make sure he doesn't feel like a failure? Sam's teachers are all really great teachers. I really like them all, and they really like Sam. That being said I think that any teacher that learns to teach to Asperger's students, will be a better teacher to all of their students, neurotypical and non-neurotypical alike. Three pretty easy rules:

First, treat them with respect. As much as I've seen written that Aspie's don't get sarcasm, I have to disagree. In my personal experience (and this is not just limited to my children) I have found that even if the child cannot name the tone of voice, they understand if they are being talk down to. Try speaking to the child as if they are a business associate, a co-professional if you will, a partner in their education even, the results will be amazing.

Second, people with Asperger's have a large sense of self, they understand their own autonomy long before most of us. For example, when Sam was being tested for Asperger's, his speech teacher asked him if he had a girlfriend. (He had just turned 8 years old) His response?

"That's a personal question, and I don't have to answer that!"

Okay, what 8 year old says that? What 18 year old says that? So again, understand that the normal, "Because, I'm the teacher and I say so" attitude will not fly. Unfortunately this doesn't work at home much either.. but I can say it a little more often.. I'm the mom...

Lastly, be specific. Really, you cannot over explain yourself, about what you want from them, about assignments, about the needs of the other students. If you do over explain yourself, don't worry, they will tell you when to stop.

Remember the most important question you can ask a student is "Why?" They will tell you! Another case in point, today, my husband got a call from an aide in Sam's class... it went like this..

(aide) "John, Sam is refusing to go to math class, please talk to him"
"Hey Sam, what is wrong" (said John)
"Hey Dad, (not upset, by the way) I can't go to math, I can't find my spiral notebook for math"
"Do you know where it is?"
"No, I can't find it in class, maybe one of my other teachers has it"
"Well, you need to go to math, can you use some other kind of paper?"
"No, it would feel funny"
"Well, give me a solution Sam, how about a different spiral notebook, like a back up if you can't find the normal one?
"Yeah, that would work"
"Okay, get another one, and go to math."
"Okay, bye Dad."

So, the question "Why" is really, really important. He wasn't refusing to go to math because he just thought it'd be a great idea, he was missing the proper equipment (in his eyes).

The notebook was left at home, by the way.

So... here is a shout out to all of the teachers in the world today! You all work way too hard.

To Pam, who teaches special Ed, Rock on my sista.. really, thank you for getting it, and doing it, and repeating it... I have only run across one teacher in all of my kids education that really wanted nothing to do with my children, was really hostile about my kids. All of the other teachers have been interested, giving, and stretched way too thin to even think about learning how to handle special cases.


As Elizabeth Zimmerman once said, "Someone help me down off of my soapbox, please".

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More homework hell..

I really don't know if getting homework done is so hard in every household, or if it is just mine.

My youngest son, Ben, is really very good about getting homework done. As I've said before, Ben is very wolverine like. If something needs to be done, no matter how distasteful, he does it, with a minimum of fuss. Ben may growl about it (and frequently does) but ultimately, it is work and Ben is a worker. He feels the power and joy of a job well done, he would just rather the job is outside, say in the yard, or garden, then inside doing carry over math or writing exercises.

Sam is another matter.. Sam has the typical Asperger's idea and philosophy of homework.. "What's the point?"

It just repeats what has been gone over in class (math) or is vague (reading/writing classes) and frankly homework, is school work, and school work belongs at school. Clear defined territory here folks!

I am evil. I am unyielding, I am demanding, I am Sam's personal homework Nazi. I actually expect him to do the work! Someone shoot me now! Someone remove this horrible affliction from my eldest child! What, figure out my own prime numbers? Write my own answers? Read my own book and record my journal.. you want me to read the book so that I can answer questions about the text. And you're going to read the book I'm reading so that I cannot fake the reading?
What kind of horrible monster are you?!?!

To be fair, I need to define a lot of assignments for Sam. The assignments are not always clear to an Aspie. Case in point, this week Sam has to write a paper on a subject beginning with the letter "H". This is all of the information he has to go on. Oh, except that it needs to be a page long, and it is due Friday, and that he needs to bring the first draft with the last draft to class.

To a person with Asperger's this is a Hell assignment. (I wished he'd have chosen "Hell", that would have been fun) Without clear definitions of what the paper is to be, there is no clear direction to go. I spend my time prompting. What does the house look like? How do you feel when you come into it? What colors are there inside?

You're not going to get a philosophical, lyrical paper about the comforts and joys of home. You will get a description of each room and where the video games are kept. Oh, and he will try to say as little as possible to make up that page. Why can't someone type up questions to ask about the subject and have the student fill it out in class? What do kids with Asperger's do when they do not have parents like me who are going to graduate all grade levels again, because there is not one ounce of work that doesn't have some prompting, if not all out assistance from said parents?

Honestly.. is it supposed to be this difficult?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chelle's Salon

So.. as I've mentioned before, both of my boys have Asperger's. One of the things that you can count on Aspies not liking (at least in my house) are hair cuts. The words "hair" and "cut" separately are not so bad. Saying them together in the hearing of my children causes furtive sideways stepping, and occational "Run for it!"'s to the backyard. The thing is, for a person with Asperger's, a haircut is really rack-like torture. The little cut hairs all over your super-sensitised skin, the buzzing razor that vibrates your head, the need to sit in the same spot without a video game. You get the point.

Today, was hair cut day. So...

"Sam, when we're done with homework, I'm cutting your hair"


"Yep, your hair is long enough for me to put in curlers"

"Mom!" said as he starts to sideways steps toward the back door.

"Sam, come on, let's get the homework done and out of the way and then finish the hair cut."

"I'm NOT getting my hair cut today.. tomorrow, 5:30 works for me." (he really said this... not an exaggeration)

Now right here, being the wise mother I am. I stop the arguing, redirect to the homework.. not wanting to get into the power struggle of hair cuts..

"I'm not getting my haircut today mom.."

"Let's finish this math"

"Fine, ... (mumbled) I'm not getting my haircut today...

So homework is done.. I'm hot under the collar (hey, you can only stay wise so long when someone keeps repeating "I'm not getting my haircut today""I'mnotgettingmyhaircuttoday" "I'mnotgettingmyhaircuttoday" .. you try it.. then we'll see how wise and reasonable you are..)

I stand up, say "That's IT! HAIR CUT NOW! NO TV OR GAMES UNTIL IT IS FINISHED! PERIOD!!" Yeah... I yelled it.. see the preceding paragraph..

So I grabbed the spray bottle, and started spraying the child's hair... while he ran. Luckily this produced the laughter I was hoping for..

"HEY, I'm not the cats.. "

"You're running away like one"

(grab child's hand, pull toward kitchen, push down into seat)

At this point, Sam calms down and realizes that the hair cut will occur and everything is coming along quite nicely. We are talking, and he is only occasionally saying ..

"It itches... it itches... it itches... it itches... it itches..."

Then the unthinkable, his head zigs, while my scissors zag and..

"You cut my ear! Damn it Mom! " (this last said, kind of testing like...we are approaching the teens, after all..)

"Ooo, yep, I did.. mea culpa guy."

"What does that mean?"

"My Bad.. in latin"

This, thank the good Lord, caused him to laugh.. actually laugh. Two years ago this would have taken hours to recover from, he would have hidden under a blanket and spoken to no one. Our boy is growing up..

"Is that BLOOD?"

"Ah son, you ever hear the term, 'Here's your sign'? I just cut your ear with scissors, there will be blood.. head wounds bleed copiously"

"What does that mean?"

"A lot.. usually said with an English accent.. it sounds better that way"
(more weak laughter)

Also, luckily, his father called from work as this happened and Sam yelled.. "Mom cut my ear!" Dad's response? " Oh, Sam Gogh"

More hilarity. We have sophisicated humor here!

Now, do not think that I have not offered to take these children to the barber shop.. I have, often pleading.. ("Please let momma pay someone else to go through the torture of cutting your hair. ") but the idea of dealing with a hair cut and not being able to immediately jump into the bath is more than they can bare.

To be really fair, Ben, the younger, is so much more stoic about these things. He doesn't want the hair cut, but he sets his jaw, flares his nostrils and barely audibly growls as I cut his hair.. Kind of like giving a hair cut to Wolverine..

"Watch the ears.. BUB!"

Anyone need a trim?