Wednesday, January 27, 2010


My laptop has officially been checked into the computer hospital. It's not a deadly virus from what I understand, but it is a costly one, as my warranty doesn't cover such things. I'm not sure when I will be able to post again. Maybe this weekend?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

oh this is too good; or, my life in a sitcom

Have you ever done that -- daydreamed your life as the opening credits of a sitcom? Well, now you know that I have. Mine was always the "city girl out on her own" gig - very Mary Tyler Moore. I also starred in and wrote some extremely high quality Huffy bike commercials. ME? Enjoys being the center of attention? NOOOO!

And you know, even though I was so traumatized by The Great Mouse Invasion of 2009 that I wrote "chocolate mouse pie" instead of chocolate mousse pie in a previous post, it really has provided great fodder and fun for this blog.

So when I mentioned to my dad that the fan motor in my car sounded like an unbalanced washing machine and he hypothesized that there might be a chunk of ice stuck inside, I REALLY, REALLY secretely hoped it would turn out to be a rodent.

Clearly you see where this is going.

Oma and I are currently driving to Chicago with Punkin to be part of a Fragile X study and Opa is at home checking out my car. He called about 10 minutes ago; this is a rough retelling of our conversation:

Opa: So there was definitely something in there making it unbalanced. You'll never believe what it was.
Me (using my best high-pitched, hyper voice): IT WAS NOT A MOUSE!!
Opa (who is dying laughing): Yes! They won't leave you alone!
Me: MOM, it was a MOUSE! Was he all frozen?
Opa: Yes! He was in there, which made it unbalanced, and his tail was hitting the blades. I think he crawled in for warmth and then when you started your car it sucked him from the heater coil into the fan.
Oma: UGH! Was he all chopped up?
Me: No, he was FROZEN! This is so awesome.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

who knew?

You know how sometimes you're pretty sure you're talking just to throw it out there and see if any of it sticks on another person? Well, apparently all of what I said stuck.

Punkin has a long history of "targeting" certain classmates and pulling on them, tackling them, hitting them, and otherwise making them crazy. In the past it's always been a communication problem (he wants to play but doesn't know how to ask) or a jealousy issue (you looked at my mom/teacher/friend and now I must exact my revenge).

Well, he has been struggling with all of the new students coming into his room and taking his attention away. However, for a while he found a new way to get some glory; he became a mini teacher's assistant. (This is a nice way of saying he was bossy.)

He constantly reminded the other students of the routine, handed them their equipment that they needed, and told them "no" when appropriate. I think it's funny; however, unlike his teachers, I did not have to spend 6.25 hours a day with an uninvited assistant.

And then another new student came and he lost it. I saw him with this student, and it was not a confused invitation to play. My son was MAD! The reason why remains a mystery, but it is clear from the stiffening of his body and the clenching of his jaw that this child just set him off. And I think it got to the point where even Punkin didn't know why he was being aggressive, but the pattern of behavior held him captive.

That is until SUPERMOM! stepped in. Okay, I am totally kidding. It's like this; I had a completely nonchalant talk with him in the car (while we were driving) about this student and "no pushing, no pulling, no hitting." I think I even suggested, "No play with him. If you play with him, then gentle hands. We are gentle with friends."

Umm, it worked. He had a better day. I've repeated the conversation a few times -- in the car again -- and I think it's sticking. The car is a good place because there's no demand for eye contact and it's a happy place for his sensory system. If I tried to sit down with him at home and look him in the eye, he would either kick me or laugh. Or both.

So how does my son know what gentle means? Well, once a child hits, you say, "No hit; gentle hands" and hand-over-hand (if needed) help them gently touch the other child. It works best with toddlers, but the concept has stuck with Punkin. Now I can tell him, "Gentle to toys" and he knows that I mean, "STOP THAT INSUFFERABLE BANGING!"

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

melts my heart

After I told you about The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I wanted you to hear it for yourselves. Sorry about the nauseating camera work.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

meanwhile, he gladly smashes his entire hand in a pile of ketchup

Applying hydrocortisone cream to the back of Punkin's knees is like poking a fish. He's on his tummy in bed, and I warn him, "I'm gonna put medicine on your legs."
"Ready?" I touch him.
Legs are flapping, hands are flailing, wiping the white goo off of his knees."A MESS! A MESS! A MESS! TWEAN UP? TWEAN UP?" He's staring up at me, begging me for help; I hand him a towel.
And yes, I am laughing while I reach for the other leg.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

give and take

When I was eight years old, my family flew to Colorado for a wedding/vacation. My parents will tell the story this way: There we were, driving up to the Rocky Mountains, in all their majestic glory, and what are our girls doing? Reading. We have to tell them to put their books down and look out the window! AT THE MOUNTAINS! We live in the flattest place on earth, and they showed no interest at all in these enormous, beautiful mountains before us. They looked up, "Oh, that's nice," and stuck their noses right back in their books.

That is how it happened. And my parents weren't disappointed that we were reading, just amazed at our lack of amazement. You know?

Now, I don't know about my sister, but I was reading Heidi. So really, I was already in the mountains. I had been living in the mountains for days as I poured over those pages; I didn't really need to see them outside of my imagination at that point, as they were quite real to me already.

I have always treasured books, and so it pains me to write this next sentence: Punkin wants nothing to do with story time anymore. The child who used to snuggle up every night for God Made You Nose to Toes and cart around Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? just throws Where's Spot at the wall when I ask him to read. WHO THROWS WHERE'S SPOT?

Not the son of an English major, that's who! (Have you noticed that an English major will always indentify herself as an English major rather than someone who majored in English? Or is that just me? We are such a different breed.)

Feeling frustrated, I gave up for a long time. Every once in a while I could draw his interest to a book that was based on a movie -- like when he was perseverating on Ratatouille. So I bought the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom DVD from Scholastic because he does like that book, figuring that if he saw it on the magical black box, he might learn to LOVE the book and some of the other stories on the DVD.

Now, we don't need any more books. We have so many books I don't have room for them on the shelf. Books are piled in our closets. BUT I WILL TAKE MORE BOOKS. I will buy more books, especially from Scholastic. They're so cheap.

So we watched the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom DVD and it kinda worked. So I bought the Giggle Giggle Quack DVD (which he liked) and at first he didn't buy it -- even when I held the book up to the television and pleaded, "Same, same, same?! Look. The same! Duck! It's the duck!"

"No. No duck. Watch a movie."

Finally, I just felt a fire inside me and decided we ARE reading a book before bed and he WILL sit and listen and it IS going to be a fun experience and by golly he will LEARN TO LIKE IT! So I picked him up and plopped him on his bed and I read Giggle Giggle Quack in the best impression I could of the guy on the video, who I'm pretty sure is Jeff Foxworthy, and the book ended up in my face.

I did it again the next night, though, and this time I let him hold something he liked. Pretty soon he started paying attention. He didn't LOVE it, he tolerated it. But his very favorite book -- The Very Hungry Caterpillar -- is another one we have on video. He even helps finish the sentences when I read it. Warms my bookworm heart! And I'll take what I can get, which usually isn't much.

Usually, this is how we read books: I sit on the bed reading quietly while Punkin holds his car collection and tumbles on the mattress; sometimes glancing at a picture, sometimes not. I am often kicked in the face. But we read it several nights in a row, because new things are scary and once you do it a second time it's not as new or scary anymore. Get it? I know, so logical.

This past week I have managed to catch his interest with Llama Llama Red Pajama. The first two nights were pretty ugly -- "NO LLAMA! NO! I FROWED IT! NO!" But by the third night I was really getting into it and starting to ham it up. Since we don't have this one on video, I figured it needed to be acted out, and it helped a lot. So when Baby Llama whined for his mama, so did I. When he stomped, I pounded the bed; when Mama Llama kissed Baby, I kissed Punkin. And pretty soon I had him mesmerized.

I do sometimes miss the cuddles, but this new approach to books where the stories come alive outside of our minds is fun and exciting for me, too. And the giggles out of that boy --let's just say they're worth the bruises.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

"okay, everybody, i'm getting out the pies!"

I'm having a really hard time falling back into a blogging routine. I think it's all the sugar. My sister and I were text-messaging each other on Christmas Eve on the way to my Grandma and Grandpa's place. (Don't worry, Oma was driving. And yes, my sister and I were in the same car.) Anyway, one of my messages said that I had exceeded my maximum sugar limit; she didn't know such a thing existed. Just an FYI, it's approximately 5% of my total body weight.

Speaking of my sister, she did the sweetest thing ever. She made my blog into a book. I KNOW, RIGHT? She said she only printed the best ones, skipping "all the ones where you go on about your medical problems." She also brought it to my attention that I consistently spell etc wrong. And O - M - G she is right! How did I never notice that? She said she was going to make me a spelling list; I told her to BRING IT ON. This is a serious issue, dear friends. Frequently misspelled words = no good. I think it's because I never read anymore. Hmmm, maybe I need a resolution.

What was I saying again? Oh, blogging. Christmas. Oma, Opa, Auntie, Punkin, and I made the trip to my grandparent's place for Christmas. But instead of staying at their condo, we booked a cheap hotel. Meaning, of course, that it was a very nice hotel at a low cost because my mother is savvy; not that it was a place where the local crazies hang out. (Although Auntie was there....)

Anyway, Punkin was all about the hotel: it had lots of beds and a swimming pool. A SWIMMING POOL. That pool had such an impact on him that when we got back home and went to occupational therapy, Punkin told his therapist that we went swimming. This is major people; he recounted an activity from the past. The kid can't tell me what he ate for breakfast! It's one of his IEP goals this year, so I'm feeling hopeful that he'll achieve it.

And speaking of rooms with beds, I really need to tell you about when we went bed shopping back in the fall. Holy cats, it was better than an amusement park! I mean, amusement parks don't have bunk beds or low beds or beds with slides OR lots of pillows and blankets to play the Night Night Game. Really, Punkin's heaven may be a child's bed store with a ball pit in one corner and a Hot Wheels City along one wall. But I digress.

Christmas. After spending some time with my mom's side of the family, we came home for a few days before leaving for the annual hullabaloo with my dad's side. It's amazing that anyone maintains their sanity during this four-day food extravaganza. Let me explain.

My father has 5 siblings (with and 18 year age difference between the oldest and youngest) who are all married with children. A few of us (like myself) have children of our own. All together we equal 31 individuals; 24 of us made the trip this year. We rented a lodge retreat house this year instead of cramming into someone's house, which made moving around much less painful. That said, the activity level reached soaring heights. One movie played on the main television while Punkin watched Monster's Inc 211 times on his portable player, two people occupied the Scrabble board at all times, my sister dragged an unsuspecting cousin or five into playing a game every 10 minutes, and those cousins (and 2 uncles) who weren't playing BORED games shifted between rounds of Nerf Wars, Wii, and Coaster Golf (aka: Frisbee Golf with croched coasters found next to the couch).

Everyone has an unspoken role at this gathering. It is my Aunt KG's job, for example, to bring the cutout cookies made with three parts butter, two parts sugar, and one part vanilla. It is my Aunt L's job to boycott all of the BORED games with me. Aunt KL tells funny stories about my great aunts, and all of them are inclined to squeal over old pictures of each other with 80's hair.

My Aunt J's job is to bring the pies, and she is a master. Now, I've had several bad experiences with food as a child that have haunted me for a long time. For example, I cannot bring myself to eat chicken pot pie as every time I see it I remember the time I was ill on the couch watching It's a Wonderful Life when my sister spilled the contents of her steaming hot chicken and vegetable pastry all over the floor and her lap, scalding her legs. It was like a badly reenacted vomit scene, and it stuck with me.

My fruit pie story is similar; my friend showed me her apple pie on the bus and I proceeded to run inside the school and barf. I swore off all pies except pumpkin and chocolate mouse from that day on.

Until January 1, 2010 when a slice of peach blueberry looked so colorful, so delightfully tart and simultaneously sweet in the pie plate -- just waiting for me --that I took a bite. My world will never be the same and my pants may never fit again.