Thursday, May 30, 2013

Summer, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways ...

I know some parents that absolutely love summer.  None of them have special needs kids.  Coincidence?  I think not!
My favorite day of the year?  Usually the first day of school in the fall.  I saw this picture on Facebook last fall and fell in love.  Obviously staged, but still hilarious.  This could so be me.  

But as it is May not August, I have to content myself with enumerating the many ways I hate summer ...

1)  The heat.  Let's face it, I am of an age where heat is a problem.  I have hot flashes in December but they are seriously uncomfortable in July. 

2)  The humidity.  I live in a very muggy location.  If you walk outside, you start dripping.  Ugh.  The old adage of "Men sweat, women perspire and dancers glow" is BS.  I sweat and so do most people I know.  It is not a pretty thing.  Nor is it fragrant and I am very olfactory in nature.

3)  The clothes.  Let's just say I have a body best viewed with clothing ON!!!  Shorts, tank tops, etc. are really not that flattering.  I look much better in jeans and a sweater.

4)  The options.  What can you do if you are cold?  Exercise, put on layers, eat (one of my favorite activities) or snuggle under blankets.  Let's face it, sleeping in the winter is so much more fun!  What can you do if you are hot?  Sit in front of fan, drink something cool, or take off clothing (see #3).

5) My hair.  I have thick, curly hair.  I frizzes less if I let it air dry.  In summer that can take a while.  And it gets hot hanging down my neck.  But if I keep it short, I resemble a Poodle.  Sigh.

6)  The hours.  Alan used to always get up with the sun and go to bed when it got dark.  This has gotten better since he has become a teen, but used to always be a big reason I hated summer.

7)  The pool.  We live very close to a neighborhood pool.  It is noisy and frequently makes traffic a nightmare.  It is also a spotlight for how my children are different.  When most people have teenagers, they do not have to take them to the pool anymore.  They also do not have to supervise them because their teenagers do not swim where they are not supposed to swim or try to climb the water slide -- yup, Alan tried to climb UP the water slide last year!  And then of course there is #3.
8) The yard work.  To be fair, I do as little as possible in the yard (see #1 and #2) but it keeps DH busy more than the occasional snowfall in the winter and I happen to like to spend time with my hubby in the evenings.  At least Joe is helping out in the yard more.

9)  The absence of vacation.  This might seem like a weird thing, but we took our last family vacation last summer.  Alan tried to climb over the third story balcony on to the one below and tried to swim for the horizon (he's got a real "thing" about task completion) last summer.  This forced us to make the decision that it is just too hard to take him anywhere remote anymore. The problem is that I loved family vacations.  I don't think about it in the winter, but I sure do in the summer.  And it hard.

10)  The schedule.  Autistic people (and especially children) crave routine.  Routine goes out the window in the summer.  And summer school and camps are shorter than school hours.  I also have to provide transportation to camp.  All of which give me less time for my hobbies.  Selfish, but true.

To be fair, there are some perks about summer so I have to give them their due ...

1)  The hubby.  I get to see more of him because he takes days off work to help me out.

2)  The laundry.  There is just less of it in the summer.  The boys can wear two outfits on average every day and it just doesn't take up as much room as their jeans and sweatshirts do in the winter.  The only problem is that laundry is one chore I do not mind.  Figures.

3)  The colors.  I love looking at flowers.

4)  The light.  I actually do suffer from Seasonal Affectedness Disorder a bit.

5)  The food.  I have never been much of a veggie eater, but salad and fresh fruit?  Oh yeah!  And then there is ice cream.  'Nuff said.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two graduations and some pictures

Joe is now out of high school.  He has a diploma and a lead on a job.  He opted not to go through the graduation ceremony and I am fine with that -- actually I encouraged that.  


We had a little party for him on Saturday -- mainly family and two friends.  His one friend, Harris, had a great time playing the miniature golf course with Joe.   


His cousin who came to visit played some ping pong with him the night before.

Alan's last day of 8th grade is today.  He had a little "graduation" ceremony on Tuesday and he didn't walk across the stage and wouldn't wear the hat but he happily accepted his "diploma".  

We are definitely going to miss his fabulous teacher although we are lucky enough to have her for summer school as well!

So life is good and calm in the Sparks household and there is nothing interesting to write about.

Of course as soon as summer starts I'm sure some things will crop up.  Meanwhile I thought I'd just share a few photos ...

Here are my "bookends" -- DH on his iPad and Alan on his hanging out in our bed relaxing!


And Alan combining two of his favorite activities -- sitting in the tree and chewing his toes.  I originally called it "Pedicure in a Tree" but a friend called it "Tree Yoga" and I think I like that name even better.

I'd also like to do a link up, but I am not sure how to do that.  So feel free to share your blog link in the comments.

Happy Thursday!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Debate

Sometimes I feel like I have both sides of a debate team in my head.  Lest you think I am schizophrenic (which is a possibility says team B) I will explain what I mean.

Team A:  Life is so much tougher when you have autistic kids.  There are endless meetings with schools, teachers, doctors and therapists.
Team B: Have you talked to your friends with typical kids?  How many games, practices and club meetings do they have in average week?
Team A: 1   Team B: 1

Team A:  When I take my child to the pool, they never play with the other kids.
Team B:  Have you seen how annoying other kids can be?  Are you really sad that they aren't playing with those jerks?
Team A: 1   Team B: 2

Team A:  Every time I tell someone my child has autism, they look at me with pity.
Team B:  If it wasn't important why did you bring it up?
Team A: 2   Team B: 3

Team A:  What is my 18 year old going to do now that he has graduated?  He doesn't have a job and he isn't ready to go away to college.
Team B:  Look at all these parents whose 18 year old kids are going to college.  Do you think any of them are "ready"?  Do you remember how much trouble you got into at 18?  Maybe it isn't so bad having him still at home.
Team A: 2   Team B: 4

Team A:  We still have to get a babysitter respite provider every time we want to go out for a date and we have two teenagers.
Team B:  Would you want to leave two "typical" teenage boys alone in a house when you go out?  How many girls could they get pregnant and how much liquor could they consume?
Team A: 2   Team B: 5

Team A:  My kids are rarely invited to birthday parties and they've never been on a sleepover.
Team B:  Think of all the money you haven't had to spend on other kids' birthday gifts, all the time and money that you haven't had to spend planning parties and all the useless things you haven't been given at your own kids' parties.  You also haven't had to host any other kids.
Team A: 2   Team B: 6

Team A:  Everyone has a story about someone they know who was "cured" by doing something (usually bizarre).
Team B:  Yep, they do.
Team A: 3   Team B: 6

Team A:  My boys do not interact with each other very much.
Team B:  You've heard stories from the hubby about how teenage boys "interact" -- is it really so bad that older one isn't giving the neighbor hints on the best way to beat up his little brother?
Team A: 3   Team B: 7

Team A:  We aren't able to go to many family celebrations because of Alan climbing on things and getting into trouble.
Team B:  And haven't you also used that as an excuse to get out of things you didn't want to do?
Team A: 3   Team B: 8

Team A:  We haven't taken Alan to church since he was 3 and therefore have to go to two separate services every weekend.
Team B:  OK, that is a pain in the butt no two ways about it.
Team A: 4   Team B: 8

Team A:  There is so much conflict in the autism world.  The vaccination debate, the GF/CF folks, acceptance vs. awareness, is Autism Speaks the anti-Christ, should we call them people with autism or autistics ... I can go on and on.
Team B:  Parenting debates exist everywhere.  Do you have to defend whether or not you breastfed, let your child sleep in your bed or made him cry it out, did attachment parenting, or have ever spanked?
Team A:  Autism parents don't care about little things like that.
Team A: 4   Team B: 9

Hmm, maybe I'll keep my strange little family and our bizarre life.  After all, it could be worse.  I could have two typical kids.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Showing Off

This post has nothing to do with autism.  This has to do with my favorite hobby -- miniatures. 

But first a little background.  Joe loves miniature golf.  He says it is his favorite "sport".  As a mom, I would prefer a sport where he got a tad more of a workout, but hey, it isn't like I can control it.

So for his upcoming graduation, I decided to make him a golf-able (is that a word?) miniature, miniature golf course.  I had a lot of fun making it, but of course all my grandiose plans (Harry Potter themed, working parts, excessive landscaping) pretty much went by the wayside when I figured out that I didn't have enough time.

 Still I managed to go from this ...

to this ...
in less than two months!

I did like the way the little stream and the covered bridge turned out.

Anyway, enough bragging for the day.  I just wanted to share with everyone.  If you want to look at more pictures feel free to check out my photo album on Google+.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Trying to look on the bright side

Today is Joe's last day of high school.  When I was younger and so much more naive I used to dream about this day.  "If only I can get him to graduate then _________" (fill in the blank).  Now that I am older and wiser, I realize this is just another twist in the road.

A few months back, Joe was accepted into the VR program at his school.  This is a program that aims to get special needs graduates employed after high school.  They take them on several job assessments and the goal (as I understood it) was to find a company where Joe wanted to work and could be successful as well as a company that wanted Joe.

So why, did the assessor take him to places that he didn't want to work?  Why did she spend so much time telling me why the employer wouldn't want Joe?  If the employer is that difficult to work for, why is she bringing potential special needs employees there?

Most of her complaints against Joe were rather minor.  She tells him to put some cans on a shelf.  He says "Are you sure that is where they go?" and she thinks he is undermining her authority.  Really?  Has she ever talked to an autistic person in her life??  Joe questions everything.  That is just the way he is.

She claimed he was too negative.  This is a legitimate claim against many on the spectrum.  But not Joe.

This is the child that when my sister's cat ran away, he tried to console my sister that she still has another cat.  When I'm running late and am wearing my workout clothes, he tells me that "at least you had a chance to take a shower" when actually I didn't.  When my car was totaled it was "at least we still have two other cars."  This young man could be the poster child for looking on the bright side.

To the age old question of "Is the glass half full or half empty?" Joe would probably respond "The important thing is that you have a glass!"

So now I am facing graduation with an unemployed 18 year old.  I am terrified.  I am sure he will eventually work somewhere although hell will freeze over before I let it be the sheltered workshop she thinks he needs.  The kid drives for crying out loud.  Okay, deep breath mama bear.

At least I have Joe.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The ties that bind

I have often said over the years that Joe would have been perfectly happy being an only child.  A big part of that, I'm sure, is that Alan needs more than a little extra attention and consideration in almost every aspect of our life.

This past weekend Alan had overnight camp and Joe had prom so this was the first time Joe got to experience home life without his little brother.  By early Saturday morning, Joe was saying how odd it was without Alan around.  He didn't say how nice it was (which I was half expecting) just that it was weird/different/unusual.

It was nice for DH and I to be able to both be there for such a huge event in Joe's life and Alan had a blast lying in the pine tree at camp.  He came home more than a bit sap covered and very tired but happy to be home.  He was making his cooing/talking noises all night last night!

As for prom, Joe apparently even danced (although probably not well) -- I guess as long as his date didn't mind then everything is OK.  It sounds like they had a good time.  Joe did say it was better than the Homecoming dance he went to his junior year.  I am pretty sure having a date helped.

Then last night Joe says to me, "It is good that we are all home together again." 

So does the young man likes his little brother more than he usually lets on or was it just that Alan's absence was a change to the routine?  DH says it is probably the latter.  I like to think it is the former. 

Happy Monday!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


We had Alan's transition meeting yesterday since he is starting high school in the fall.

Overall it was a great meeting.  His current teachers obviously love him, the high school teacher was very positive about his recent communication break through (switching to "Go Talk Now" on the iPad) and DH and I were praised as "exceptional" parents.

So what is my gripe?  If we are "exceptional", then I think most parents are missing the boat.

The sort of things that got us praised were silly things -- the funny Christmas card with all his goofy climbing pictures, keeping after the doctor until we got a good medicine mix that would control his OCD and programming and using the communication iPad.  The last item the speech therapist went on and on about for what seemed like 10 minutes.

That was supposed to be the condition of getting a communication iPad from the school -- that we work with him at home as well.  After all, that is the goal, right?  Not just to have him communicate at school but at home as well.  So why is that unusual?  Shouldn't all parents make the time to take pictures of food choices and his favorite videos and restaurants?

I only spent an hour or so programming it and I really thought I should have spent more time on it.  But the SLP kept gushing about how much I did.  That just seemed a little sad to me.