Back from hiatus

Well, that was a long break.  I skipped the entire month of May.  That wasn’t intentional though.  I wish I had some type of exciting excuse such as being assigned to perform espionage or perhaps participating in an ultra marathon to stamp out world hunger.  But no.   I just got caught up in other things and blogging dropped to the bottom of my priority list. 

As for an update…….well I’ll give it to you in a nutshell. I’m a big fan of breaking things down to make them simpler. If you are curious as to how I feel about these certain updates, please note that I will have a visual following each one.  So here we go:

  • Alec is doing great in school and starting to enjoy reading long books  😀
  • Matt has had several great weeks at school in a row and continues to improve verbally  😀
  • Alec talked me into letting the stylist color his hair blonde 😕
  • John won several tennis matches in his tournaments 😀
  • My mom turns 60 this week 😆
  • I bought a new stun gun to go running with 😈
  • Our underground irrigation pipe broke 😡
  • This week is the last week of school for the kids (there is no emoticon available that appropriately describes the way I feel about this!)
  • Matt had a rough weekend this past weekend 😦
  • Matt has had much better days since 😀
  • I have been interrupted 3 times since writing all of this 👿
  • I appreciate all of you who read my blogs! 😀 


Just the other day, I was having a conversation with a friend who was telling me about all of the interesting things that go on in his neighborhood. He mentioned how he liked his neighborhood and all the quirkiness that comes with it. Such as a gentleman neighbor on the corner who wears spandex all the time. Or the girl from across he street who is always barging in my friend’s house forgetting the fact that it’s important to knock first. And lets not forget about the 60 yr- old woman from 3 doors down who is always chasing her disobedient puppy down the street while in her underwear. There were many other interesting features about my friend’s neighborhood. Features that actually have a resemblance of an episode of “Desperate Housewives”, but I won’t go into that. Sorry 😉

I said to my friend, “Wow, my neighborhood is dull in comparison.” I added, ” There’s nothing all that entertaining going on in this cul-de-sac”.  Then I pondered a little.  Well, there is that one gray house with the Christmas lights still up.  Yes!  That gray house with that family of 4!  One of the little boys in that family likes to walk this red bike around the cul-de-sac over and over again. He doesn’t even ride it! Every once in a while, you will see this same little boy run out in the front yard in nothing but his boxer shorts and socks! Sometimes he’ll do this in the dead of winter! Then his poor mom ends up chasing him all around the front  yard untill he jumps into the back seat of their car and locks the door so his mom can’t get him.  The mom just shrugs her shoulders and walks back in the house. As soon as the mom does that,  this boy will jump out of the car and run back into the house….but what happened to his boxer shorts???! Did he take them off in the car?  Sometimes I notice them in the driveway the  very next day. 

I notice this little boy has an older brother.  He doesn’t do the streaking-outside thing but I notice he is quite loud. I can tell whenever they are on their trampoline in the back yard.  Sounds like a hyena is being tortured but I know it’s just him having fun on the trampoline.  

Then the husband. Seems like a nice family man and a great provider.  But would it kill him to take the rest of the Christmas lights down so his poor wife doesn’t have to?  She’s the one who puts them up every year.  Poor, poor woman. 

Yes, this gray house keeps our neighborhood very interesting.  Would it surprise you to know  that me and my family are the occupants of this gray mad house?  

I often wonder what perspective my neighbors have regarding the madness that spills out the front door on an almost daily basis.  But then again, I don’t think I want to know entirely.  One thing I know about my neighbors is that they are all precious! They are not judgmental like many people.  My neighbors practically have front row seats to a great deal of what goes on outside.  They probably lost count of how many times Matt has launched his backpack in the middle of the street because it wasn’t fitting just right.  But they don’t judge.  They show love, acceptance, and grace.  We are lucky.  The neighbors directly across the street happen to have a son with Autism Spectrum Disorder who is grown up. They remind me that they’ve been there.  They know.  Even our neighbors who don’t understand the challenges of raising a child like Matthew-they still love. They still care. They don’t ever criticize or pretend he’s not there.  Not too many people in my shoes can say that about their neighbors.


A lot of books about autism have been given to me.  I haven’t read all of them yet.  I kind of pick and choose depending on what mood I’m in.  Many of the books are reference books and many are based on someone’s life.  Most of the books that I have seen are written by a parent of an autistic child. 

Recently my son’s teacher and my mother-in-law both told me about an article in our local newspaper.  It was about a writer who was coming to our small town to release her new book titled “How to be a Sister”.  My mother-in-law suggested that it would be great for me to contact her and get her book.  Hmmm. Get a book titled “How to be a Sister”?  I dont’ even have a sister.

The author of this book titled “How to be a sister”  is Eileen Garvin. She does have a sister. An older sister. A sister with severe autism. In this book, Eileen  narrates her own personal experiences of being raised in a family with her sister Margaret–who has severe autism.  This book is nothing like the others I have read.  As I said before, most books I have read are by the parents of children with autism. There are also many great books written by people with autism. 

What about siblings of children with autism?  Aren’t they affected too?  What roles do they play?  Eileen had a special bond with her sister that naturally placed her into a role as caregiver.  One of the things Eileen mentions is that “siblings of people with disabilities have all the same hardships as parents-only longer”. 

This book describes autism from the sibling’s point of view.  But this book is not meant for just siblings to read. I think everybody should read it. It is witty, humorous, heart-breaking, and affirming all at the same time.  Nothing is sugar-coated in this book. It is the real thing.  I am thankful for this book. I am thankful for the author. I am thankful for her sister Margaret. I am also thankful that my mother-in-law took Alec to the bookstore with her to buy Eileen’s book and have her sign it.  Alec was thrilled to meet Eileen and he was thrilled to know that this stranger knew exactly what he was going through.   http://www.howtobeasister.com/ 


Shut up!

I hate it when my kids say “Shut-up!” to each other. So rude. So disrespectful. I suppose there are a lot worse things they could say to each other. I’m sure they’ve said them. But “Shut up” seams to be the number one top choice phrase between my two boys. They know the words have power. The power to tick each other off and the power to make mommy’s hair fall out. Alec will usually tell Matt to “shut up” as a result of Matthew scolding him or telling on him.

Matt: Alec, you can’t eat marshemellows. They not healthy for breakfast.
Alec: I can too!
Matt: Mommy, Alec eating marshmellows!
Alec: Shut up, Matt!

Matthew will often use the “shut-up” phrase out of context. Such as when an expectation isn’t being met:

Matt: You want to swing with me, Alec?
Alec: Not right now.
Matt: SHUT UP!!!

Well, I guess he still gets his point accross :8:

But still, I can’t stand hearing it.

A couple days ago John took Alec and Matt to his grandmother’s house while I stayed home. Alec and Matt love playing in their big green yard.  On that particular day, a boy who lived accross the street from his grandmother’s came over to play with them. The kids wrestled, chased, and played catch. They were having a blast.  All while John and his family observed from inside the house. At one moment, the neighbor boy had a stick and was trying to poke Matt with it. Matt protested and then the boy looked at Alec.  “What’s wrong with your brother? He’s stupid!” the boys said.  Alec marched over to the boy, “SHUT UP! Don’t poke him with the stick, he doesn’t like it!  And don’t call him stupid!  He has autism and its a brain disorder! I told you that!”

After that, the boy didn’t say another mean word about Matt.  According to Alec, the boy started playing nicely with Matt for the remainder of the time.  It’s probably a good thing that I wasn’t there. I tend to want to interfere when I should just wait and see how the kids work it out.  Chances are that if I observed the altercation, I might have had to demonstrate for the boy what it feels like to be poked with a stick. 

I was so proud to hear how Alec handled the boy. Never was I so happy to hear about my child saying “Shut-up!” to another :).

We’ve all had those moments, right? You know, when you take your children out in public only to realize later, you wished you had just stayed home.   I normally don’t fret about taking the children out to eat as long as the following conditions are met:

1.  It must be kid friendly. 

2. If I am taking both kids out, John must be present. (tag team)

3.  It must not be during the lunch or dinner rush hours. (less people)

Today we agreed to take the kids to a restaurant of Matt’s choosing. He has been sick and we thought it would cheer him up.  He chose a fast food mexican restaurant, “Taco Time”. Once we arrived, Matt went straight up to the counter and gave his detailed order of “a taco with hamburgers (ground beef)  and cheese and no salad on it and no sauce and tater tots and a root beer.”   Alec placed his order of a taco and rice. So far so good. 

Matt filled his cup with root beer and quickly sat down.  He was not satisfied however because once he sat down, the suds of his root beer had disappeared leaving his cup 5/7th of the way full :roll:. With my permission, I let him fill it up to a more justifiable amount (sigh). 

Lunch was served. The boys were excited.  Matt pointed to me asking me if I liked” Taco Time”.  No big deal except that he pointed using his middle finger because he had a cut on his pointer finger. Since he doesn’t understand that the middle finger is an offensive finger to use, I ignored it. Alec didn’t ignore it. 

“Matthew!  That’s the middle finger!!!!” Alec pointed at Matt.  “Wow! I can’t believe you used your middle finger, Matt!”, Alec said. “Mom would NEVER let me use my middle finger!”

I leaned over towards Alec and whispered.  “Alec, Matt didn’t use that in the way you are thinking.  He doesn’t even know what that means, so lets not make a big deal out of it.” 

Too late. Matt learned something new. “MIDDLE FINGER!!!”, shouts Matt. Then he giggles, “Middle finger, middle finger!!!” He didn’t actually hold up his middle finger.  He just kept saying “middle finger” and giggling non stop. In my book, he may as well have been flipping the bird at everyone within eyeshot. 

“Matt, if you can’t use good manners in the restaurant, we will go home”, said John. “I’M SORRY!” said Matt.  Whew, got through that. 

I immediately changed the subject.  We know many kids on the autism spectrum like to stick to one category for a while, especially if its fun.  I decided it was time to move away from sign language profanity and talk about our food.

“Is Taco Time healthy?”  asked Matt.  “Not all the time.”, answered John.  “But apples, are healthy”. 

“Not too many apples.” said Alec. Then he added  “Too many apples give you diarrhea.”  I was glad Alec chose a quiet voice when he said that, but Matt chose a louder voice. “Apples can make you have diarrhea?!”  He said loudly.  Then Alec chimed in using a less-than-quiet voice “Yes, they make you have diarrhea!”

“Boys!”  I said. I went over the rules of restaurant etiquette with them. I also regretted that we didn’t practice this at home.  Taking them out one at a time was never like this!  Thank goodness the restaurant wasn’t full but I did notice one of the diners there was somebody I went to school with. She also works at the same doctor’s office where Matt goes.   She was with her husband. 

After giving the boys the “How to Not Gross People Out” lecture, they began eating again.  Then Alec started giggling, clearly reminiscing about diarrhea and the middle finger.  Time to redirect.

 “Alec, I see that you are done. Please put all the garbage on the tray in the garbage can over there.”  I said.  As I saw him get up and walk over to the garbage, I noticed his shoes weren’t on.  I saw other people looking at his feet as he trotted over to the trash in his white socks.  He took his shoes off?!?!  As I was about to give him the “How to Not Contract an Unpleasant Staph Infection” lecture, I was interrupted by Matthew who just let out an incredibly loud, obnoxious burp. 

“Matthew Kenneth!!”  I said sternly.  At the same, John said, “I see that it’s probably time that we got out of here.” 

“I’M SORRY!!!!”  Matt shouted.  John and I began clearing off the table and the boys grabbed their pop’s and headed towards the door. At that time, I noticed Matt’s shoes were off!.  What the……..!!  “Matt, go get your shoes on!”

“I’M SORRY!!!!”  Matt shouted as he ran over to get his shoes. 

On the way out the door, I made eye contact with the highschool friend and she was smiling……more than just smiling.  Smiling big.  Almost like she was struggling to keep from laughing her head off.  That caused me to laugh and I walked over to her shaking my head saying, “I am so glad I don’t have to explain him to you.” She laughed some more and so did her husband as they shared a similar story about their kids.  That made John and I feel better.   So after our short conversation, I said good-bye and ran off to get my shoeless, gassy child. 

If you have an embarrassing story to share regarding your children, please share!  It makes the rest of us feel a little more normal 😉

When ignorance hurts

There are many misinformed and judgmental people that Matt and I have encountered in his 7 1/2 years of life.  There will be more.  Most of the time, these people will catch you off-guard. Often times I will say to myself, “If anybody has any problem with my child, I dare them to bring it on! I dare them! They will be sorry!”  I am finding more often than not,  it’s not necessary for me to carry that chip on my shoulder.  It’s not my personality either……..most of the time. But when I do find myself in a situation where there is insensitivity and ignorance, I freeze and shut down.  Kind of like this computer does. Then after processing the events, I have all these clever things I wish I would have said during that time.     Here is a story Iwould like to share. Sure, it might be a little lengthy but you better read it! There’s a pop-quiz at the end 😉

A few years ago I took Alec and Matt to a pediatric dentist.  Alec had been there before but this was a first for Matt.  I spent weeks preparing him for the visit because I knew it would be a very difficult thing for him.  I also called the dentist’s office to explain the situation with Matthew.  “He has autism and high anxiety issues.”  I explained his sensitivities to lights and noise. The receptionist said that she would arrange for him to be seen in a quiet isolated room in the corner so that he wouldn’t be overstimulated by all the other children and  the noise.  I was thrilled with the idea.  I asked her if she could please prepare the doctor and the hygienists who would be working with him.  She said she would. 

Four days before the visit: I called the office to ask if they might have any questions about Matt so that we could  make this visit as successful as possible.  The receptionist (a different one, I assume) replied “Questions regarding what?”  I went over the story again about Matt with her and asked her to please prepare the staff for him. 

The day before the visit: I received a confirmation call regarding the appointment.  I asked what the small examination room that they were going to provide for Matthew looked like so that I could prepare him.  The receptionist replied. “I don’t know anything about that.”  I was surprised but then again….not so much. After patiently explaining things for the 3rd time, I was sure everybody was on board.

The appointment:  Alec was first to be seen.  The pediatric dental office looked like a fun children’s museum.  100% dedicated to kids.  The examination room was an impressive large bright room with dental chairs lined up next to each other. The walls were splattered with colorful wall art. And mounted on the ceiling for your child’s viewing pleasure was a flat screen tv.  One for each chair. The children even get to choose the movie that they want to watch.  A perfect place for kids like Alec.   I sat there with Matt on my lap as we watched them work on Alec. I explained to Matt step-by-step what they were doing.  Matt was  nervous. Matt repeatedly would say “I don’t want to!” I provided him with a squishy sensory toy but he wanted nothing to do with it.  Instead he squeezed my hand. I noticed the hygienist would look back at him several times.  She didn’t really say anything to him. I explained that he was over-stimulated because of the lights.   I felt he was getting ready to panick. 

Matt’s turn:  “Nooo!  I don’t want to!”  Matt yelled in a panick when the hygienist tried to coax him into the chair. “Matthew, look! You can watch ‘Finding Nemo’.”, she said pointing up to the tv on the ceiling. “Noo! i dont’ want to!”, he screamed.  She kept looking at me and appeared helpless. I told her,  “The receptionist told me by phone that he could be seen in an isolated room.  I think that would calm his nerves.”  The hygienist replied that the room was unavailable. Hmmm, what a shock. 

Matt’s crying was getting louder.  Then he began kicking his legs. “I want home!”, he wailed.

“Matthew, I will sit in the chair and you can sit on my lap.” I said.  He didn’t protest as I picked him up and sat him on my lap.  The hygienist was ok with this but she did mention that he would not be able to sit on my lap when the time comes to do x-rays.  I looked at her and said “I think its safe to say that he won’t cooperate with the x-rays.”  She nodded in agreement.  We were barely able to get him to open his mouth. 

“Matthew, we’re going to clean your teeth.”  She told him as she held up the spinning toothbrush.  “Do you want to cherry or cinnamon?”

“I want car!”, he shouted pointing in the direction of the parking lot.  I couldn’t help but notice the other compliant children quietly sitting in their examining chairs looking at him. So were their parents. Matt’s crying was becoming even louder.

The only thing that Matt would allow the hygienist to do was brush his teeth with a regular toothbrush and floss his bottom teeth.   He was on sensory over-load and terrified.  He knew everyone was staring at him which made him feel even worse.   But that wasn’t the worst of it.

 Doctor’s turn: So in walks the dentist, Dr Wonderful (We’ll just call him that for now). He’s the same friendly guy who worked on Alec.  He is quite a charmer, this dentist. The kids seem to love him. Clearly he has a gift working with kids…………working with neuro-typical kids.

By the time Dr, Wonderful walks over, Matt’s face is streaked with tears and he’s doing that hiccup thing that babies do when they cry hard. 

“Hey Matthew, what’s wrong, buddy?”  He asked.  The crying starts up again. The hygienist is clearly looking flustered.  “Where do you go to school, Matt?”, the doctor asked.  No response.  “How are your teeth, Matt? Does it hurt when you eat things that are cold?”, he asked.  No response.  Dr. Wonderful looks at me.  “He’s pretty shy, isn’t he?”.  Here we go again.  “He has autism”, I said.  Dr. Wonderful looks at Matt’s chart.  “Oh, ok. I see now”.  He said.  Does this office lack communication skills, or what?!

The hygienist filled Dr. Wonderful in on what we were able to accomplish with Matt….which wasn’t much.  “Ok, Matt let  me look in your mouth.”  The crying starts up again.  Dr. Wonderful puts his fingers in Matt’s mouth and Matt’s crying turns to screaming.  I repeatedly tried distracting Matt by reminding him of the yummy french fries we were going to get at McDonalds when we were done.  It didnt’ work. He became louder and louder.  Dr. Wonderful was getting pretty frustrated.  “At this point, all I can do is count his teeth.”, he sighed. ” He won’t even let me examine them.”

Then it happened. As Dr Wonderful removed his hands out of Matt’s mouth, Matt slowly bit down on the tips of Dr. Wonderful’s gloves. I saw the latex material stretch as he moved them away from Matt’s mouth. It was like extreme slow motion.Then Matt let go.  Dr. Wonderful put his face in Matt’s face and yelled, “DON’T YOU TRY TO BITE ME!!!”.  This wasn’t a stern scolding voice. This was yelling. The room got quiet. Matt got quiet, but for only a second. He began wailing. Dr. Not-So-Wonderful excused himself to help another patient because apparently we were taking up way too much of his time.  “I will be back in a few minutes.”, he said and walked off.

Matt was shaking by this point.  The hygienist didn’t say a word to us. She left to do something else.   Matt’s screaming out of control, despite all my efforts to calm him. People were staring and the staff practically disappeared.  What am I suppose to do?  I was so shaken by the Dr. Not-So-Wonderful-Jerk-Face screaming at Matt.  I felt frozen.  I felt sad.  I know that it has to be very frustrating for doctors when the children attempt to bite.  Nobody wants to get bit.  Truth is, Matt didn’t even bite down on his fingers. Just the tips of his gloves.  Did he have to scream at him?  I looked around the large room.  There were several kids in it with their parents.  There were several hygienists and dental assistants in the big room helping other people. I felt so completely alone.  I picked up Matthew and turned around and grabbed Alec’s hand.  “Come one”, I said.  “Let’s go.”  I walked at a fast pace with the boys on the way to out of the lobby.  “Ma’am!”  said the receptionist.  “Don’t you want to schedule a follow-up?” 

I couldnt’ even get the words out right away.  I stuck my sunglasses on, turned around and to face the receptionist.  “No, I don’t.”, I said.  And I walked out.  Matt was still crying and I was too. I remember passing this lady on the way out of my car.  She could tell I was upset but she offered me a very sympathetic smile.  I will never forget that.

Once we got in the car, I bawled for probably about 10 minutes.  Matt was done crying at this point.  Then Alec spoke up.  “Mom, will it make you feel better if I share my McDonalds french fries with you?”

………Ok so there’s no pop-quiz.  But thank for reading anyway!  🙂


After having Matt completely off the Mirtazaphine (night-time antidepressant drug that helps him sleep) for 5 days, I decided to have him take 1/2 of one last night just to see if his behaviors would in fact become worse:

And the results are in:

Obsessive/Compulsive behavior—worse

Moodiness–way worse

indecisiveness–way way worse

Irrationality–way way way worse. 

Causing mommy to age faster than the speed of light—you get the picture.

Is this just a coincidence? 

But hey, he did get a great nights sleep! (sigh)