Friday, October 29, 2010

Eleven Years and Still Mommy

Today, my 10 year old is 11 years old.  And today, I'm still Mommy.  I'm just waiting for the transition to Mom.  It's almost like a rite of passage for kids to go from saying “mommy and daddy” to “mom and dad”.  I think I was around 10 or 11 when I dropped “mommy” in favor of “mom”. I've actually been dropping subtle hints to him like, “Mom and Dad are going out tonight”.  The gift tag for his birthday present read, “Love, Mom & Dad”.  I don't know why I'm so ready for him to call me Mom.  I know that it's just a matter of time and that one day soon, he'll wake up and call me Mom. Don't get me wrong, I'm not least he's still talking to me.

Happy Birthday to my big kid!  Seven more years until you're 18, buddy.  Enjoy it while it lasts.

Oh yeah, one more thing: GOOOOOO GIANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Two down, two to go, baby!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's Your Kid's Excuse?

A little bit of sarcasm goes a long way.

Sometimes, every once in a while, parents of special needs children may romanticize the behavior and achievements of so-called typical children.  I think it's called putting on rose-colored lenses.  They may even visit Fantasy World and imagine what their family life would be like if their special needs child were a typical child.  I have done and still do this occasionally, but while I do this I forget a couple of things:

  • Typical children don't always exhibit good behavior.  They can be argumentative and self-centered.  Sometimes they're just plain mean. Who knew?
  • Typical children don't always live up to their potential. Sometimes they're lazy and apathetic.  Gasp! Really?

Is this true for all typical children?  No.  No it's not.  There is a range - a spectrum if you will - of good and bad behavior.  And yes, special needs children can have behaviors that are annoying, embarrassing, or downright obnoxious; I can testify to this.  It's not all sunshine and lollipops.  Unfortunately, learning new (i.e. “proper”) behavior takes time...lots of time, especially if a child has cognitive delays.  Meanwhile, these behaviors can be taxing on the parents and siblings, especially out in public or at a social gathering.  There are times when I think, “I need a drink” before going out in public.  But then I remember that I don't drink whiskey and wine wouldn't be strong enough. 

No matter where we are, when my youngest son is overcome with emotion, he just has to express himself.  He doesn't talk, but he can make noise.  It's amusing when he's happy; it's not so amusing when he's angry or frustrated.  When we're out in public, people stare. They stare whether my son is making happy sounds or angry sounds.  Sometimes the stares are sympathetic.  Sometimes the stares are clearly saying “WTF?”  It's to that last group of people that I am tempted to say this: “My kid had a brain hemorrhage at birth, lost oxygen at birth, battled seizures for the first two years, has mild cerebral palsy, is legally blind, cognitively delayed, and doesn't talk.  What's your kid's excuse?”  I would be smiling while saying this of course. :-) ,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Updated Entry

Back in May, I posted an entry entitled, "Moms: Most are Awesome, Some are Special".  In this entry, I mentioned my conflicting feelings after having read "Welcome to Holland" by Emily Perl Kingsley.  I have since updated this entry with a link to a blog post called "Amsterdam International", written by Dana Nieder on her blog, Uncommon Sense.  In my opinion, "Amsterdam International" does a beautiful job of describing the moments/days/months after getting the diagnosis. Forget the windmills and the tulips.  You don't get to see those until you pass through the airport.  Thank you, Dana, for writing this.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Girl's Best Friend is...a KitchenAid?

You can keep your diamonds...although if you don't want them, I'll take them.  My KitchenAid mixer and I have been friends going on 20 years now.  We got it as a wedding gift, and although hubby has used it occasionally, it's pretty clear that he and the KitchenAid are merely acquaintances - fair weather friends, if you will.  The KitchenAid and I are BFFs, and it proudly sits on my kitchen counter.  And yes, I used it to make last week's BFD coffee cake and last night's pumpkin pie.

With few exceptions, there hasn't been a week pass by when I haven't used this glorious stand mixer.  It no longer looks sparkly and shiny like when it was new, but it's still a workhorse.  Not only do I have the mixer, but I also have the Slicer/Shredder Attachment and the Pasta/Food Grinder Attachment.  I have mixed cake batter, and bread dough; sliced and shredded countless veggies and cheeses; ground up leftover meat to make my own sandwich spreads; and even made my own pasta.  I love this machine!  It's the only thing that has prevented me from buying a food processor.  Here's to 20 more years of cooking with my KitchenAid!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Color or Colour?

Several years ago when I was homeschooling my oldest son, I used to read blogs that dealt with homeschooling a child with Asperger's.  One of these blogs (the name escapes me) was written by a woman in Scotland.  One morning as I was reading her blog and drinking my coffee, my oldest son peered over my shoulder.  All of a sudden, he started pointing out words that were “spelled wrong” - words like “colour”, “neighbours” and so forth. 

Not wanting to dampen his enthusiasm for discovering misspelled words, I gently explained to him that this blog was written by someone from Scotland, which uses UK English not US English, and therefore, these words were not spelled wrong.  This took a moment to sink in and I could almost hear the hamster on the wheel.  Then began a short debate:

    “Oh, so I can spell 'color' two ways: c-o-l-o-r and c-o-l-o-u-r.” 
    “Sorry buddy, but if you spelled it c-o-l-o-u-r then it would be wrong.” 
    “But you said...” 
    “It's not wrong in the UK, but it's wrong in the US.”
    “But what if I wanted to live in the US and spell it c-o-l-o-u-r?” 

Thinking he had me cornered I said, “Well, then you have to move to Canada.”  “Canada?”  The hamster began spinning again.  This led to a very brief discussion of why Canada spells like the UK and why the US doesn't.

It's memories like this that help me to remember the positive aspects of homeschooling: that a 7 year old actually noticed a slight difference in the spelling of a word, which led to a brief discussion of three different countries using the same language (more or less).  While I don't regret putting him back in school, there are times when I miss homeschooling.  This is his third year back in public school, and after a rough start in third grade, he's doing pretty well now in fifth grade.  He is very good at spelling and he knows that he shouldn't spell “color” as “colour”.  At least, not until he moves to Canada...traveling there by RV of course.  :-)

Friday, October 15, 2010

BFD - Update

Yummilicious!  That's all I have to say.  This month's BFD consisted of:

I totally forgot that last night was my youngest son's school carnival.  So, I made a last minute change and pulled out the handy dandy crock pot to make Hash Brown Casserole instead of pan fried hash browns. In this recipe, I substituted equal amounts of Cheddar and Pepper Jack for the Velveeta. (I'm sorry, but Velveeta is not cheese.)  I heated the cream of mushroom soup with the sour cream, and then added both cheeses to that, stirring until smooth. You might want to add a little more salt; I added garlic salt.  Then I dumped everything into the crock pot.  It turned out like shredded scalloped potatoes – gooey, cheesy, yummy, and not low calorie.  I topped mine with salsa. Yum! 

The coffee cake recipe is fabulous.  I've made this several times before and it's always a hit.  And yes, we had it for breakfast this morning.  The fruit salad is purple, because I mixed frozen berries into oldest son likes color.  If you use fresh berries, it won't be so purple. :-)  The salad dressing is simply lemon yogurt mixed with cinnamon, a large dollop of sour cream, a tablespoon of sugar, and a handful of shredded sweet coconut.  How's that for exact measurements? Best of all, everything was made ahead of time.  It doesn't get any easier than that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Watch Out for Table Scraps

One of my favorite columnists for the San Francisco Chronicle used to, every so often, write a column about his cats.  He would preface that column with a warning: cat column.  So, I'll post a similar warning: cat blog entry.

I have two cats.  Well, actually, 1 ½ cats.  Little Cat divides her time between our house and a neighbor's least, that's what she's led us to believe.  Big Cat rarely leaves home, yet I can never find him.  They are as different as night and day.  The one thing they have in common though is their distrust of table scraps.

We are not in the habit of giving them table scraps.  They are quite happy with their dry food.  Seriously.  So on the rare occasion, when I'm feeling benevolent, I search them out in order to offer them a piece of chicken thinking that they'll be so happy they'll beg for more.  I don't know why I have this expectation, because this is what they do nearly every time: they look at me like I'm trying to poison them.

Even Big Cat – who, believe me, does not miss any meals - views this offering with suspicion.  They begin this weird dance by moving side to side, pawing at the chicken with nostrils flaring like they've both been secretly trained to be drug-sniffing cats.  Then they sit and stare at it for a moment.  This is amusing and exasperating.  “Geez, it's not like it's laced with cyanide!  You can eat a damn cricket or a moth but you won't eat a piece of chicken?!?  WTH is wrong with you two?!?!”  For all I know, crickets and moths taste better than chicken, but that's beside the point.  What's wrong is that I'm offering it to them; they aren't chasing after it nor does it come from their beloved bag of cat food.  Not until they've done their drug sniffing routine can they tentatively take a bite and determine that yes, it's only chicken, and yes, it's pretty darn good.  Don't even ask what they do with ham and cheese.  Damn cats.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

If All Your Friends Jumped Off a Bridge

"Mom!  What's the big deal? All my friends are doing it!"
"Well if 'all your friends' were jumping off a bridge, would you jump too?"

Ah, that classic argument between parent and child.  It's an argument about kids wanting to fit in with their peers and parents wanting to ensure that the kids don't blindly follow the crowd.  It brings back so many memories.  Many years ago when I had a real (i.e. paying) job, my coworker and I were reminiscing about the above conversation with our own mothers.  My response to my mom was to roll my eyes and say "Give me a break.  That is so lame."  My coworker's response to her mom was, "Of course I would or I'd have no friends."  I doubled over in laughter.  Sadly, both my mom and my coworker have passed on, so all I have are the memories.

These memories resurface as I watch my 10 year old with Asperger's both struggle to fit in and not struggle to fit in.  It's actually kind of refreshing to have a kid who doesn't always care if he fits in or not.  He does have friends with whom he shares common interests such as: video games, Pokemon, Legos.  It's his other interests that set him apart: RVs (as in recreational vehicles), origami, maps.  Sometimes, he doesn't care if his clothes match, like when he wears his Hawaiian shirt with plaid board shorts.  He could care less about sports, although he is sort of trying to understand the rules of baseball.  He's not afraid to walk away if the other kids decide to do something that he doesn't want to do.  He can always entertain himself and doesn't need the constant presence or approval of his friends.  That doesn't mean he's immune to peer influence.  Many of his friends have a Nintendo DS.  He decided that he wanted one, too.  So, over the summer he saved his money from his regular chores and doing odd jobs for me and our babysitter.  At the end of August, he had enough to buy a DS Lite.  He does try to fit in...sometimes...when he wants to.

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that the other kids don't give a rat's rump about RVs.  Even with common interests like video games, he can get a little overenthusiastic and talk for a little too long on the subject while the other kids' eyes glaze over.  Still, I don't view Asperger's as something that needs to be cured per se.  Having said that, social skills are important.  As long as he continues to learn to be kind and polite to others, I will encourage him to pursue his interests.  I can only imagine this future conversation between me and my son:

"So, if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?"
"No!  My friends wouldn't jump off a bridge anyway; there's no bridge around here."

The fun is only beginning.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Mmmm, breakfast for dinner.  Why, what did you think "BFD" stood for?  Anyway, BFD is one of my favorite dinners because I actually get to eat a real breakfast on those days.  Normally, my breakfast consists of yogurt, or toast, or an English muffin.  I don't like to eat a big breakfast first thing in the morning because I'm not that hungry and quite frankly I don't have the time or the inclination to whip up a big breakfast.  On BFD days, however, I have the time.

Depending on what you make, BFD can be surprisingly cheap.  I usually make a coffee cake, scrambled eggs (with or without veggies), home fries, fruit, and the occasional sausage.  Leftover coffee cake is served for breakfast the next morning.  Looking at my handy dandy meal planner for October, I see that I have BFD scheduled for October 14th.  I'll let you know how it turned out.


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