Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Ice Out cometh

It's March 30 - the final day to choose a date in Ice Out 2008. (There is still time! Act now, while supplies last!) This week's forecast calls for seasonably warm weather, with the potential of passing the 60 degree mark. Let the melting begin!

Because people have placed their bets in a variety of ways, it's been a bit of a record-keeping challenge, so I want to post the current bets to make sure I haven't missed anyone. If you should be here and you're not, my apologies - and please send a new choice from the dates still remaining.

Here is the current roster:

April
10 - Mike
14 - FXSMom
15 - Daisy
18 - VTBudFan
20 - Jeni
21 - telemommie
22 - Stimey
24 - Robin
29 - rebecca
30 - Kristen U.

May
1 - Kyra
2 - mom2spiritedboy
3 - Bonnie J.
4 - Robin
5 - Teal
9 - BPDad
10 - KAL
11 - Suzanne
12 - Erin
13 - Michaela
14 - Bad mommy
15 - Kaethe
16 - Mommy to those special Ks
17 - Shelley NC
18 - goodfountain
19 - ghkcole
20 - Kitt
21 - Holding It Together
22 - Kristen Spina
23 - Linda
24 - Beth Up North
25 - kandqsmom
26 - Delilah
27 - Cindy Ericsson
28 - GTV
29 - Harvest Mom
30 - mom of 3
31 - Phoebe

June
1 - Drama Mama
2 - Club 166
3 - Jordan
4 - Uncle D.
5 - KHC in Texas
6 - Jenn
7 - Rachel
8 - Krista
9 - Stacy from One March Day
10 - Jen
11 - grace under autism
12 - Rebecca
13 - Nana
14 - Noelle & Liv
15 - Julie B.
16 - Niksmom
17 - Cathy
18 - Erin Alanna
19 - mommy dearest
20 - Ange
21 - magicdrgn
22 - Christy
23 - Lynne
24 - 2xgtld
26 - Bannie
27 - Amy in CO
28 - Eileen

July
4 - Gretchen

Friday, March 28, 2008

The brighter side of autism research

I have to admit that I don't always keep up with the latest in autism research, because it exhausts me to think that much of the headline-grabbing research probably leads people to believe that Bud's autism is the result of my bad judgment, bad parenting, or bad timing or the cause of the bad experiences in my life. I've had enough with the bad stuff, because - as you know - there is so much good stuff to focus on in my life with Bud. That's why I'm delighted to shine a little spotlight on a new study that's currently underway.

Teresa Ulman is a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Vanderbilt University, and she is also the older sister of a young man with autism. She wrote to me recently to tell me about her dissertation:
My dissertation study seeks to learn more about the positive growth in mothers and fathers of a child with a developmental disability. Having lived in a family with autism, I was struck by how the family research almost exclusively focused on all the horrible, terrible outcomes for families once a child with autism was introduced into the mix. My little project is hopefully a step forward in breaking the myth that a family touched by autism and other developmental disabilities is all doom and gloom.

I was intrigued and I followed the link to Teresa's survey, but was disappointed to learn that I was not able to participate because, for research reasons, she has had to limit the scope of participation. But I am happy to do my part to help by passing the information on to the rest of you, as I know that many of you will have valuable thoughts to share. In order to participate in the survey, you must be a parent of a child or adult between the ages of 8 and 25 with a diagnosis of one (and only one) of the following: Angelman syndrome, autism (not PDD-NOS or Asperger’s syndrome), Down syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, or Williams syndrome. (Because Bud's diagnosis is PDD-NOS, we were out of the running.)

If you fit the description and are willing to participate, I urge you to follow this link to Teresa's study and let her know about all the good stuff in your life.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Last call: Place yer bets

I had a brief moment of terror after I published the post inviting people to participate in Ice Out 2008. Oh no, I thought, suddenly horror-struck, What if no one replies? I'll be the Peter Brady of the blogosphere! But, luckily, my fear was short-lived. Thank you, friends, for bailing me out and turning up even if you thought the party might be a little lame.

So far, 40 people have chosen a date and are eagerly standing by to watch the snow melt. But there's still time left to join in the fun! Since some uber-optimistic souls have chosen April dates, I'm going to make March 30 the official cut-off for date-choosing and bet-placing. So, if you haven't already - now is the time! This is a particularly good time for lurkers to de-lurk and say "hey" in a low-risk, potentially-high-payoff setting. Bets can be placed via comment or e-mail - momnosATgmailDOTcom.

There are plenty of great dates remaining:
April 1-9, 11-14, 16-17, 19, 23, 25-28
May 2, 6-8
June 25, 29-30
July 1-3, 5-31
Any time in August

And since the pool is still open, I won't give much information on the current status of my yard, except to say this: It has been warmish this week and there's been some melting. On the other hand, the forecast calls for snow over the weekend.

So, what are you waiting for? Plow in!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Called ahead

How's this for a premonition?

More than two years ago, on the virtual pages of this very blog, I said that Paul Collins is such a good writer, he could make a telephone directory compelling.

This week, Collins has a compelling article in Slate about - you guessed it - telephone directories.

You know how to check it out, of course: Let your fingers do the walking...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Everybody in the pool!

So I was thinking.

I told you yesterday about my snow-covered world and about the fact that my yard is likely to have snow in it long after people around here are wearing shorts and sandals. And yes, it makes me cranky, but really - my being cranky is not going to make the snow melt any faster.

So, I was thinking: We might as well have some fun with it.

I hereby announce The Official MOM-NOS Ice-Out Pool. Take a good look at the pictures I included in my previous post, and use whatever scientific or intuitive talents you have to determine which you believe will be the precise day that the last of the snow will disappear from my yard. And I'm talking very last vestiges here - not a single sliver of ice, not a tiny lump of frost. Nothing but water. Place your best guess in the comment section below, and I will keep you posted as the melting progresses (Because it will melt, right? It has to melt, right?)

Only one guess is allowed per participant, and once a date is taken it will no longer be available as a valid guess. The person who chooses the correct Ice Out Day - or, in fine Price is Right tradition, comes the closest without going over - will win a super-special Mom-NOS surprise pack, which will include, at a minimum:

A copy of the Dierks Bentley DVD, Live & Loud at the Fillmore

A box of Kashi TLC Original Seven-Grain Crackers

A $5 gift card to Starbucks

A copy of whichever must-read book is striking my fancy at the time

And, most likely, other fabulous prizes that have yet to be determined. (But, honestly - Dierks, TLC, coffee, a good book - what more could you possibly need?)

Step right up, folks. Choose wisely, place your bets, and start calling forth the sun!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First day of spring, my Aunt Fanny

Blogging friends, please forgive me if you write lovely little posts heralding the arrival of spring, sprinkled with colorful photos of the crocuses popping up in your gardens, and you find that I don't leave comments or - worse - I leave comments that are ever so slightly on the cranky side.

It's not personal. Truly. It's just that in my world, the calendar says "spring," but the environs say "deep black hole of unending winter."

These pictures were taken several weeks ago, but my yard looks just the same now as it did then.

When I open my front door, I see this:

I should point out that this path to my front door is not hedge-lined. There is no stone wall under there creating an illusion of depth. Under all the snow you can see? There is just. more. snow.

Here's a photo of my front yard, with Bud modeling that the snow is so firmly packed and ice-laden, he is able to walk across the top without falling in:



When the yard is snow-free, the ground in front of the car is level with the ground behind it.

It should be interesting to see how this all plays out. My front yard doesn't see a lot of sunlight, so in a typical year - when the snow totals in my front yard at the beginning of March are just a couple of feet - the snow does not melt quickly, and even when the surrounding area is experiencing the joys of spring, my yard is a mound of unseasonable white stuff. Last year, we set up Bud's paddling pool before the last of the snow melted.

And this year? Stay tuned right here for what are certain to be some interesting summer pics.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kitchen confidential

It's only March, and I'm already out of the running for Mother of the Year.

Remember a few months ago when I told you that Bud was on a new medication that made him ravenously hungry? I was under strict orders from Bud's doctor to reign in his caloric consumption and I began ridding the house of all of Bud's favorite snack foods: blueberry bagels, ice cream cups, Nutri-Grain bars, frozen pancakes - everything. But Bud was intrepid - and hungry - so every time I left the kitchen he'd go foraging and then try to hide the evidence, stowing Popsicle sticks under the sofa and leaving a tell-tale trail Whole Grain Goldfish crumbs in his wake. He quickly learned to master the art of the dine-and-dash, waiting until he heard my footsteps going up the stairs, then diving headlong into the refrigerator to scarf down whatever he could reach. At day's end, when Bud was fast asleep, I'd open the refrigerator to find thick boy-mouth sized bite marks through a half-pound stack of American cheese or a bag full of stems where a pound of grapes had been that morning.

But nothing - nothing - compared to last week. Bud and I spent the usual amount of time engaged in food negotiations ("But I'm hungry, Mama"/"I'll get you a snack in a few minutes, Bud,") but, due to limited shopping opportunity, our house was even more free than usual of anything approximating snack food. Still, I'd hear the refrigerator open when I went upstairs, but then I'd dash back down to find him empty-handed, over and over and over again. It wasn't until week's end when I discovered two things in our mostly-empty refrigerator: 1) a tub of Olivio butter substitute that I thought was unopened, but that was, in fact, filled with the deep track marks of the eight-year-old who was eating the stuff by the fist-full, and 2) a bottle of ketchup that days earlier had been full, but was now completely empty.

Margarine and ketchup. My son is so hungry, he's been eating margarine and drinking ketchup. If you are what you eat, then I am raising my poor boy to be a condiment.

I have got to find a better solution.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Finally

Finally.

Bud finally had five full, consecutive days of school - making it, literally, the first week that his schedule was not disrupted by surgery, illness, holidays, or snow-induced delay, cancellation, or dismissal since November.

I finally settled on a single, consistent response to Bud's pleas that I not leave him at school: a matter-of-fact "I will leave you every day, Bud, and I'll see you again every night."

Bud's teachers and I finally established a workable drop-off routine: a meeting with Bud's aide at a side door with low traffic and a small audience, and a quick drop, kiss, and exit strategy for me.

I've stuck to the script and we've stayed with the plan for weeks, and for weeks we moved two steps forward and one step back as, week after week, Bud started settling into a routine, only to have it disrupted by a sudden delayed opening or day off in the snowiest winter I've seen in my life. But this week, the weather was with us and Bud's health held up and for five days in a row, Bud had an established, predictable morning routine.

And by Friday, Bud finally - finally - had a tear-free morning at home, a tear-free ride to school, a tear-free drop-off, and a tear-free day at school. His teacher sent me a note that actually called it a "good day" in which he was "more available as a learner." And, don't get me wrong - "good" is good; "good" is delightful - but I'm not quite ready to bank on "good." For now I'll take tear-free.

It's snowing again today. Because it's Saturday, today's snow doesn't disrupt our routine, but as I watch it pile up outside my window I'm reminded that it could have. Had this snowfall come 24 hours earlier, had it come 48 hours later, we'd be facing a delayed opening or yet another snow day. We'd be facing a tear-filled ride, a tear-filled drop-off, a tear-filled morning at school - perhaps several of them, until we settled back into a routine.

Next week's forecast calls for fair weather, so I'm spending the morning today staring out the window and willing the snow to fall, willing the clouds to empty, calling upon the universe to let this be winter's last hurrah, to bring on the frost heaves and pot holes and thick tire-trapping mud of spring. I'm calling upon the universe to end this winter of our discontent and let us settle into a new normal.

Finally.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

What sustains us

It's the little things, isn't it? In the face of the madness and the noise and the confusion, it is always the little things that sustain us most.

It is for me, anyway. And, I suspect, it is for Bud.

The evidence?

As I sat at my desk at work today, an e-mail popped up - from Bud, from school. A first.

Hi mom

i am with miss brown. i going to get pretzels love bud

A pretzel reward. An upbeat e-mail.

The little things.

Sustenance.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Sometimes the walls close in

Sometimes I am at a meeting at work that is not about me and is not about Bud, and conversation turns to a student who is struggling, who is atypical, who lacks friends, who has trouble reading social cues, who is unpredictable, who is literal, who craves routine, but who is in college and is, on some level, a success story, but who, on another level, has made choices that have set him on a slippery slope that could put his future in jeopardy, and who tries to scramble off the slippery slope, but only seems to accelerate his descent, and I hear open-minded, warm-hearted, thoughtful, caring, student-oriented colleagues express concern, dismay, confusion, angst, as they use words like "odd" and "scary" and "unusual" and "threat" and I flash back to my morning, filled with the wailing and tears of a boy who is sad to see that vacation is over and it's time to return to school, who is not eager to see the adults and children who, by now, should be a familiar part of his daily routine, who has taken to growling when he's struggling to make a point, who sometimes gets so edgy and angry and beyond my control that for brief flashes of moments, I almost don't recognize this person who is so much a part of my very own heart, and my throat closes and my eyes fill and I gasp audibly as I struggle for breath as the room grows dark and the walls close in, but only, it seems, right around me.

Sometimes.