Thursday, July 31, 2008

T-shirt Idea..Good or Obnoxious?

The staring is getting worse! I have posted about this subject in the past but it has really been bothering me again lately again. I have noticed that people are getting worse and worse about staring a Casey as he is getting taller and older. I recall Autism Vox speaking in one of her blogs about Autism ribbons, and how she really doesn't like to bring more attention to her son with such items than he already brings himself.

I somewhat agree, but at the same time, I really want to make people feel silly, and a little ashamed for staring. One of my closest friends told me about these little cards that some people hand out when their child might be having a tantrum or some odd behavior that migt compell people to stare. That's an ok idea but I have begun to have my own and I'd like to throw this out to the general public and see what others think.

I would like to make Casey a t-shirt (and please, let me know if this is already in production, and where I can get one, then I won't have to even question myself if someone else thought of it) that reads-"I'M AUTISTIC..YOU CAN STOP STARING NOW!" I think that is straight to the point. And if you weren't staring and read it, then you won't be offended, but I think if you were staring and you read it, you'd feel pretty dumb, but a wee bit educated at the same time.

I just get really frustrated at the way grown-ups imparticular stare, as if he doesn't notice, or I don't. It's almost as if they have a license to stare since he might look so strange sometimes. You'd think they'd know better. I have come to terms with children staring, and if they are in close enough proximity, I might even ask them if they know Casey. When they say no, I usually reply something to the effect of "Oh, well you were staring at him so much I thought you might!". That usually gets them to come up with some excuse or they quickly leave the scene.

But I believe a t-shirt with the afore mentioned saying might just do the trick! I agree with Kristina Chew that I don't want to bring more attention than he is already bringing, but at the same time, I want people to feel dumb and realize why he is the way he is at the same time. Bill, my husband thinks it's obnoxious. I disagree. I know I should just get over it but, but, but...I can't!

Any thoughts?......

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Camp Conversations

Summer day camp has been a new experience for Casey this year. So far so good, he seems to like it and no fighting me in the morning to not go is always a good sign. He's even begun to give me quite detailed replays of each day when he gets in the car after I pick him up. That is extremely exciting coming from a kid who rarely conversates.

After I picked him up yesterday, we hadn't event reached the car before he started on this tyrade about what his day had been like. It was more of a short play rather than a conversation, and I was apparantly one of the characters in it, played by Casey, who was also playing himself!

"So" he started, as me, I'm assuming, "how was your day at Camp Able Casey?".

"Well," he answered "It was, well, it was an ok day, but it was a rough day!"

Before the real me could ask he inquired, as me "Why was it a rough day?".

"Well," he, as himself said again "I pushed the emergency button in the room!".

I finally got to chime in, as myself, and asked "What happened?"

"Well," he answered, "it made a sound like whoo whoo whoo!".

"Hhhhmm," I replied. "Did you get in trouble?"

"No." he answered and then proceeded on as me "Well, did you have fun today Casey?"

"I don't want to say it was a fun day, but I do want to say it was a little bit of a fun day! Can I say that? It was a little bit fun, but it wasn't really fun." he said, clearly working out a lot of wordage in his brain.

Stunned by so much detail and deep thought on his part, I let him know how proud I was of him for using his words so well.

"But I'm not going to say it was a really fun day! It was a little bit of a fun day!" he repeated, seeming quite emphatic that he wanted me to understand his point!

"Ok," I answered "Got it, and that's ok, everyday can't be really fun, but as long as you had some fun and no one hurt you or talked meanly to you, that's good too." Boy, the conversation was rolling now!

"Can we get pizza?" he asked as he turned up his favorite Spanish station......


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Autism Awareness Cutie

This pic of Casey is so oddly Autism Awarenessy, I had to share it...little boy, clearly not socializing, behind a colorful pattern...cracks me up....

Cute picture I think! Thanks Rebecca!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Trampolines..Not Just for Jumping Anymore

We lay on our backs, mom and son, looking up into the trees. The sun glimmers through the leaves and branches. I look over to see Casey's dreamy yet aware expression and note the sun dancing on his sweet, smooth face. The breeze blows around us in a comforting cool blanket of indiscernible whispers. It is only us there for that precious moment. It is now, it's not thoughts of next week, what happened yesterday. Just deliciously present with my boy. Who knew a trampoline could be so relaxing?.....

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Casey is Back in Town

This past weekend I went to Indiana to retrieve my child who we missed very much.

It was interesting as I was driving up to my sister's house. I saw this boy who looked to be around 12 walking back and forth across their drive-way, and I thought that it was perhaps a neighbor boy. As I got closer, I realized it was my own son! He had gotten his hair cut very short and had a whole new outfit that one of the loving ladies in his life bought him. And I think he grew another inch or two while he was away. DUH!

He was extremely happy to see me as was I him. Running up to the car, he opened the passenger door right away,not to see me however but to see what I had brought as a surprise. Oops, didn't know he expected one, especially since he recieved a cavalcade of new clothing, trinkets, and videos the past week, again from loving aunties and grandma. He didn't seem too sad to see I hadn't gotten him anything and turned his attention towards me.

I got lots of hugs and kisses and noticed right away he was really talking up a storm. He had even told everyone before I got there "Get in your places everyone, mommy is coming!". His Aunt Cheryl, the occupational therapist I have mentioned in past posts, pretty much kept him off the computer and internet the entire week. She kept him extremely busy and it showed.

At home it's been really hard, he is loooooooves the computer. And he loooooves the internet particularly. I have to confess that I do let him play a lot on it even though I know it's not good. It's just hard to keep him busy when we're home with no friends in the 'hood, and having to take care of the house and things. Yes, he could do other things one would probably tell me. Yes, I know. And I also know it's affecting his attention and focus, and making his brain into poop basically.

Staying with this Aunt was really a rehab of sorts, almost like getting an addict away from drugs for awhile. The computer being his drug of choice just wasn't an option as my sister planned for the week to be busy with him. She knew she wouldn't have much time to clean, she's off the for the summer. It was the perfect set-up for her to get him away. Wish I had the same... Excuses aside, I really wanted to keep it up.

So, since being home, back to his "routine" he's been a little troubled and depressed that I haven't allowed him on the computer. I just don't want to screw up the good work that his Aunt has done. He seems so much more "on", with a little less self-talking which is always good.

Much of our conversation at the pool last night was how he wanted to play, and how I didn't want him to for various reasons, and his arguing my points. I finally came up with a funny game that involved his saying "Charmin" and my tickling him and the computer was forgotten (for anyone who doesn't know, he is infatuated with Charmin TP right now, I'm sure you understand). Guess you had to be there.

I am hoping I can carry through with this ban on computer. It's hard when he tells me before anything we do that if he does whatever well he can have computer time! It takes a lot for him to put those thoughts together, only to be shot down, but it must be done. I am hoping at some point I can let him play educational games once in awhile, but he can even find a way to perseverate on those it seems, as I've witnessed in the past.

It's nice to have the craziness back though, not wasting my anxiety on nothing like I did last week! Hopefully, life without computer will continue and get more bearable. Now if I could just get him off the tv.....Aunt Cheryl!!!!!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Isn't it Ironic, don't ya think?

We have a bird feeder hanging from our tree that looks like a cat head, and for awhile we put seed in it but the little trap door on the bottom kept popping open. We taped it, but kinda forgot to keep putting seed in it.

While gardening the other day, something called my attention to the forgotten cat head feeder. Having a closer look, I discovered something.
A bird had built a nest in a cat's head!

Now if that isn't ironic, I don't know what is....

Reflections on a Childless Week

The week has come and just about gone. Tomorrow I will be traveling back to Indy to get my boy and bring him back into my loving care. It's been a peaceful, but weird week.

I have to say for lack of a better word, I felt "disconbobulated". I'm spelling that phonetically of course and don't plan on using the spell check to change it, just so you get how I felt this week when you read it. It is really strange going from being on guard 24/7, wondering what one is doing at all times when not in view, from not having anyone to worry about except the cats, fish, and a hubby who blissfully expects little most of the time. Going to grocery was odd too, I am usually hurrying, trying to get dinner stuff and various snacks in time to pick him up. It was sorta nice going and shopping without having to hurry. I enjoyed that. I considered it a treat for the week.

Other "treats" of being childless included a lot of unscheduled, unpressured time that I got to do anything I wanted. I think that was what made me feel most "disconbobulated" because I am a terrible time manager. When Casey is around, we know what we are doing and when for the most part. Without him, I had planned on painting his room (in the style of Andy's room from "Toy Story" as promised before he left). Did I? Of course not, because it would entail a great amount of organizing of time that I suddenly had, and I didn't organize!

Instead, I did laundry (not fun but much needed), I worked out (which was really fun when I don't feel like it's taking time away from Casey especially), I watched tv more, which, is such a huge waste of time and something I don't do much of when he's around. But that was sort of a treat. I even sat last night and don't ask me why, but watched the whole movie of "Hell Boy". There's a "Hell Boy 2" coming out, so now I'm all set....sigh........

I think the biggest treat from being childless this week was quality time spent with the hubby. Not to sound corny, but it is really sad how much of that time disappears when you have a child. Dates are almost non existant for us due to lack of babysitters. We never really feel deprived though, it's just life. But this week made me stop and think of how nice it is to be alone with Bill, and just enjoy a tv show without having to get up and do a bath, get the boy ready for bed. We sat on our deck the other night and ate Chinese and shared a forgotten bottle of champagne I had in the frig. We enjoyed the beautiful night while listening to the 60's on 6 on the XM, discussing the music, the weather, our yard that we are proud of. It was nice having a chance to do this with no little interruptions. We fully appreciated it. Tonight we get to go to Caesars Palace in Windsor Ontario to see RIngo Starr and his band! We are going with our dear, dear friends and it should be a total blast, especially since we don't have to pay for a babysitter, or worry about what time we have to be home. Our last "hoorah" if you will!

But, I think we're both ready for our little guy to come back. I've had enough "me" time for awhile. While I like to think I add structure to his life, I've learned that he adds structure to our's as well. He also adds fun, sweetness, chaos, and silliness! We are ready to have all that back!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Sweet Dreams are made of....the Local News!

Well, Casey's ultimate dream came true today, without his mother present unfortunately! Case has been wanting to visit a television news studio for over a year now and today he finally got to do it.

I had been trying for awhile contacting our local stations, telling them about him and getting the same reply. It was always something to the effect of you had to schedule a tour with a group. They would never just let a little guy come for half an hour on his own. We went so far last summer as to drive to the various stations, hoping if nothing else we could get in the lobby of the building and maybe put in a good word with the receptionist while Casey could look at in awe the logo for the station that would more than likely be on the wall! But when we got to the the stations, they were set up like a fortress, high fencing around the buildings with a guard station that I didn't even attempt to try to get through, despite Casey's demands to do so.

So, my big sister who he is visiting promised him awhile back that if he stayed, she would set up a tour with one of the Indiana stations. She had started early emailing various stations and anchors and even went so far as to call them and leave messages. But she never got any replies.

Yesterday, she and Casey spent the day at the Children's Museum as mentioned in my previous post. It's centrally located in the Indianapolis downtown area, so she took advantage of their location and went to a couple of the local stations that were nearby, just so he could see them.

Clearly, the stations in Indy aren't nearly as difficult as the ones here in the Detroit area to access, as is evident by this photo. They visited the local NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliate, where they actually went into the lobby with no issue. My sister talked to the receptionist about a tour, but was pretty much told the same thing I was, you had to have a group. Casey was thrilled to get some sort of business card from there pertaining to the station.

He was sad that the tour hadn't taken place at any of the stations but still aglow from getting his picture taken in front of the sign and getting the business card.

Miraculously, my sister Cheryl recieved a call this morning from a guy at the CBS station who said he had recieved her email and wanted to let her know that he had some free time this morning to let them have a private tour! He asked if she was available and trying not to fall over, she said yes, whenever! So, they made their way back down to the CBS station for the big tour!

Casey was beside himself from all reports. They got a special badge to wear and he got to sign in, which was pretty cool. He got to see the actual newsroom and meet one of the afternoon anchors. Then he got to see the studio itself! The tour guide let him stand in front of the green screen where they put the weather maps up. He even got to meet the weatherman and watch him taping a forecast for a local radio station!

Best of all, Casey got to actually sit at the news desk itself! He even got to read some news script from the teleprompter! My sister said he did really well! Perhaps his future career?

It was totally awesome and my sis said she was really proud of how good he was. He was of course giddy and over the moon with the excitement of it all, but contained himself and really enjoyed the tour! I am so glad he got to finally go, even though I wasn't there to see him get to do it (makes me want to try that much more to get a tour here!).

My sis is so wonderful and really went out of her way to make his wish come true. I am lucky to have her and my other wonderful sisters who love him so much. She was so pleased with it all, she had fulfilled her promise despite lots of obstacles.. and in the car, still giddy with excitement, he said "And tomorrow we'll tour ABC!" go sista!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Something for Me!

This woman to the left is my new excercise hero. Her name is Chalene Johnson and she is the creator of Turbo Jam which has quickly become my favorite workout of all time. And in the spirt of the "me time" I'm supposed to be enjoying since my boy is out of town for the week, I thought I would blog a little about my new found excercise infatuation!

I am by no means an athlete, but over the years I've always really enjoyed working out, especially to home workout videos. It all started with the Reebok Step in the early 90's (my hubby still does this one occasionally when he doesn't want to go to the gym, so it must stand the test of time!). I did that one amongst some forgotten others for several years.

Then came marriage, and then came baby, and then came a local rec center that was buil by our homes with a wonderful gym. We joined that and I utilized those facilities for a long time during my Weight Watchers stint where I lost 46lbs. (I summarily have put some of that back on, but I'm working on it). But the gym became boring, repetative.

Thanks to the world of infomercials I came upon another weight loss system called The Firm that came with this giant step, and 4 workout videos. It really kicked my butt, and unfortunately my knees as well, making it not very enjoyable to do after awhile, despite giving me great results.

And so, I languished, and gained back weight. I was totally unmotivated. During this downtime, my oldest sis kept touting this new workout her daughter loaned her called Turbo Jam. I believe I had seen the informercial, but was not as beguiled by it as The Firm, feeling it was too young, too difficult.

My sis Cheryl kept going on and on about it, saying how fun yet tough it was, that you could really feel it in your abs, etc.. Yeah yeah, me and my next sis up Sue were always the ones discovering new and exciting excercise videos, we didn't need big sis chimin' in! But of course our interest was peaked and Sue ordered the whole set. She called from Indy the first time she tried them and said she couldn't believe how fun the first one she did was, and how challenging. She promised she would make copies for me and send them, she felt so strongly about it!

And so she did. Now let's get something straight here, I am completely uncoordinated. I can't dance to save my life. And I gotta say, the first couple of times I tried Turbo Jam lead by that very enthusiastic woman at the top of the page, I got mad, and frustrated. I believe I even called Sue and said "Yeah, I don't think I'll be doing that anymore, thanks for sending them though.". Oddly though, something made me come back to it and try again. And each time it got a little easier.

Turbo Jam is sort of a mix of hip hop dance and kick boxing. Of course kick boxing involves well, yes, various kicks, and lots of punches. Chalene also integrates some form of South American martial arts that I won't even begin to try to spell, but is interesting and fun as well. The music they play is way dancey and fun and fast and really gets my energy up. I am just happy and sweaty and in pain after I'm done. I love her enthusiasm as she leads the class as well as the other people behind her doing it (who you get to meet in one of the extras on the dvd, kinda fun). I think the best part of it is the moves are aggressive, especially the punching, and I like to pretend I am punching out what ever irritated me that day, a great stress reliever.

I am in no way associated with this excercise program other than that I do it, and I'm not trying to sell it. It's just one of those things that you find that you get excited about, and want the whole world to get hooked on too! So there ya go, my newest excercise obsession.

Casey Update: He is having a marvelous time with his Aunts and spent the day today at the Indianapolis Children's museum (awesome if you ever get a chance to go with your kiddie). At this time, he is swimming, and his tired Aunt is hoping she can wear him down so he'll soon drift off!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Joy in the Smallest Things

May I preface this entry by saying that I had started it days ago, but hadn't finished it yet till today because I HAVE TIME! (See Separation Anxiety entry). This not by any means the foremost thing on my mind....

Recently, I purchased a betta fish. Here he is pictured here, not well I'm afraid (I can't download my photos from my digital camera at this time so all the photos I use are from my phone camera!) and this photo just doesn't do him justice.

Initially, I got him because I had been wanting to make a betta fish planter,
similar to this. Others I know have done so, and it always looked cool, and it was explained to me that the fish could live off the roots of the plant that hung in the water in which it lived! A twofer, a fish aquarium and planter in one!

So, long story long, I got the fish, got the container, fish food, water purifier, a plant. I wasn't certain on the whole construction and began researching online as to the proper procedure for creating my spectacular betta fish planter!

But amidst the websites that popped up on making one, others popped up. Disturbing sites talking of the inhumaneness of betta planters! Inhumaness? It's a fish in a thing of water!?

Come to find out, the fish eat the roots because people don't feed the fish in these planters the proper betta fish diet of dried up blood worms and shrimp or something like that. They're forced to eat the roots, which aren't good for them! Then, one activist threw out "Would you buy a cat or dog and keep them in a cage not much bigger than themselves to stay in permanently?". I guess this alluded to the small vase that one would use to make a fabulous betta fish planter."

So, being the former vegetarian and avid animal lover that I am, I threw the idea of the betta fish planter to the wayside. I put the fish, who had been named Gilbert by Casey, in the vase that I had bought for this whole dibacle, sans plant which would have most certainly cemented the fishie torture chamber that those activists so disdainfully advised against! My bamboo stick did make it's way in eventually, but only because it only took up a little room, and it seemed like it made his new home seem more, natural I guess.

After this I became concerned with my fishes accomodations, and whether he did in fact have enough room, leading me to make a trip to IKEA to find an inexpensive, larger, glass container that he could call home. Returning with the same sort of jar I use for cookies, I placed rocks and a cool plastic plant in the bottom, poured some water in, dumped Gilbert in, much to his chagrin and placed him amongst the plants I would like to think he sees from inside the jar, I mean bowl, and thusly, feels like he is in his rice patty home. Yes, I do believe I am nuts....

To further support this, I find myself standing for a few minutes at a time (which any busy mom knows is complete time wasting) watching him swim around, and finding great joy in dropping a food pellet in and seeing him gulp it down. I excercise him by placing a mirror next to his jar, bowl, so he thinks that another fish is in there, and he swims around with his little face flaps outstretched, like he's ready to kick some fish butt. I find great entertainment in that. Yes, I am a geek.

Bill says he has no interest in Gilbert which I find very sad and I hope to somehow, spark a new found love for my betta in him like he's never known before. I doubt it will happen though.

In the grand scheme of all this, I have to ask myself why I like this fish so much, why I find him so interesting, why I almost tried to find a fish sitter this past weekend when we went away. I believe that his simplicity and beauty in some ways makes me forgot about the stress and busyness of everyday living. He doesn't make a sound, as everyother creature in my life does, and loudly. He is easy to take care of, unlike the other creatures that I take care of. And he asks for very little, quite the opposite of, again, those other creatures in my life.

I figure if I can find peaceful moments throughout the day in something as simple as my little betta fish, then I don't need much. And that has to be a good thing......

Those other creatures...........

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Separation Anxiety

Well, our little boy is spending a week in Indiana with his surrogate mothers, Aunt Sue and Aunt Cheryl. We live in Michigan but I'm originally from Indiana, and my family all lives there. My sister has often said she would like to keep Casey for a week some summer.

Since he's 9 now and I have to work full-time, it seemed the perfect opportunity to take her up on her offer. After much planning and discussion, Bill and I took advantage of the 4th of July weekend to spend some time with family, get away, and drop the boy off for his week with the loving Aunties.

I tried to prepare him a bit, trying to explain to him about how we would be leaving Sunday to go back to Michigan, but he would be staying with his Aunt Sue. I asked him several times if he would miss me, not really sure if he understood what missing someone means, and telling him that I would miss him a lot. I was sorta dredding the whole thing despite the fact that I would have a week of time to get my work done and a lot of other things, and having "time to myself" as everyone kept telling me, while he was safe and having fun basking in the attention of several mothering type relatives.

I never really feel put out by Casey. I never really think about having time to myself. I enjoy him so much, I enjoy taking care of him, I enjoy being there for him and his needs. The whole concept of having "time to myself" seems almost selfish.

So, we began packing up our stuff this afternoon, a bit of a dark cloud hanging over my head, not looking forward to our goodbye. Aunt Sue made him a schedule of things they were going to do after we left which he was quite satisfied with, and started his Wii game time before we left. I had to force him to come and see us off, giving him a big hug and kiss, Bill doing the same.

My last site of him was standing on the step behind Sue, arms draped around her neck, and Sue bragging on how she was going to get the loving now that I was out of the picture! I felt better...clearly he was secure in our leaving and his being with Aunt Sue, but clearly, he wasn't overly upset at our leaving.

He did shout as we were walking out the door "Bye, see you next Saturday" which is exactly what I told him would happen. Knowledge is power for Casey, and it makes him feel secure, just like the schedules. I guess when you know what's going to happen, there's no need for dramatics, at least in his world.

As for me, it was strange and surreal not having him in the car with us on the way back. I was able to read and nap which I don't usually do, and sit in the front, which I never do on trips. When we got home, it was really sad going by his little room and not seeing him in there. Dad has mentioned twice how very weird it is not having him here.

I called to tell him goodnight and he sounded sleepy and happy after his bath in his Aunt's giant garden tub. I guess I will go to sleep happy he is being well taken care of and look forward to that "time to myself".