Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Recap

It was a year with ups and downs.

Brian had his major regression at the beginning of this year and couldn't seem to handle the full-inclusion classroom like he had at the beginning of the year.  It was a hard start to the year, for all of us.  Probably the worst for him, but I certainly felt like I was hit by it pretty hard.

Corbin had a fun year- his first year not doing tee-ball and doing "real" baseball instead.  He also joined Cub Scouts this year.  He also decided all girls, beside his mother, had cooties during this past year.

We had a huge fundraiser for the Autism Society of Maine prior to the walk and our team, which grew to 43 members, gave the largest donation at the walk.  We attended the Autism Society of Maine's family retreat for our second year in a row and loved every minute of it.

I completed 41 credits in 2010.  Gives me a headache just to think about it.  Each semester I ended up on the deans list. And yes I am very proud of myself.

Brian received a Bright Eyes medical grant to go to the Thoughtful House in Texas.  Him and I traveled there in September.  We changed his diet around and implemented a boatload of vitamins and supplements.  We've seen some real changes this year and if I have to choose one thing from 2010 that I am grateful for, it would be this grant.

I had a dear friend be diagnosed with breast cancer.  A sister that had to have a small tumor removed from her inner ear.  And dealt with another round of mediations with the ex (but also celebrated FIVE years of being out of that relationship this year).  Those were the worst parts of 2010.

Brian's been excelling in his full-inclusion classroom this year.  Corbin tested off the charts for math.  My sister and brother-in-law bought their first home.  Josh and I celebrated three years of being together.  I sang out-of-key at karaoke a few times this year.  I finished a lot of good books.  I was surrounded by friends and family.  Surrounded by lots of love, laughter, and hugs.  Those were the best parts of 2010.

2011 will bring another trip to the Thoughtful House and my graduation.  Reasons enough to believe the next year is going to be a great one.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Elusive Christmas Card

Comparing this year's posts to last's, it's obvious that I have been avoiding the subject of Christmas. This was the first time in four years that I did not have the boys for Christmas, and to say I was a bit pissed bummed about it is an understatement. Alas, it's one of the unfortunate things families must deal with when the parents are no longer together.

The boys will be home tomorrow and we will be able to start some of our own traditions although we won't be celebrating Christmas until New Years Day, as Josh has to work during the week.

To get myself out of this funk, and into the holly jolly goodness I know I possess inside let's revisit the elusive Christmas card from years gone by.


One of my favorite Christmas cards. Bought the boys their yearly Children's Place sweaters and hats and we did a couple photo shoots by the water. The first day was in Harbor Park and I took pictures of the boys, they were both super cooperative. The second day I had my sister come with us to the lighthouse to try to get some family shots and Corbin was not having it that day. The one picture I used he's covering his face, all the others he was crying in. Oh, and this was also back in the day when I made all of my Christmas cards.


Decided to not even attempt any sort of photo shoot, but we had the cutest photo booth pictures from the mall that I used. Once again, somehow I had time back then to make all of my cards.


Photo shoots just never seemed to work out anymore. You know how some things get easier as children get older? That doesn't seem to apply to my children when it comes to getting one nice shot for the annual Christmas card. In 2008 I went for a collage look, ordered them, and was quite happy with the results. Never looked back to my hand-made card days.


Attempted the home photo shoot, wrapped a giant box and stuck my two cute little gifts inside. Neither boy was too crazy about it. I did get a smile out of Corbin by bribing with a candy cane- never could get a smile out of Brian though. So instead I just took a picture from another day and stuck it on there so everyone would be treated with at least one of Brian's famous smiles.


Bought the boys the cutest Christmas pajamas that had their names on them. Though they should have been a Christmas Eve gift I gave them to them early because....well you know, I thought it would make a very cute Christmas card. Three different nights of trying to get a shot and could never get it. Finally I gave up and decided to go with a collage once again. I realized so many of our pictures from the year were of toothless grins so decided to play with that. Everyone seemed to get a kick out of it this year.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday, no matter what you celebrate, and I can't wait to share more with you when the time comes.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I'm thinking about staging an intervention for my child. He has a problem. We all ignored it for so long, but it's getting harder and harder to not notice.

He has an addiction problem.

He gets through the day alright, but he's fooling everyone. As soon as he gets in the car to go home he starts chanting and rocking thinking about his soon-to-be fix. If we have to make a stop before we go home, he gets incredibly anxious and gets the shakes flaps his hands.

When we get home, even though it's rarely above 35 degrees, he'll start stripping down outside before I even have the door unlocked. He rushes around inside with this mad look in his eyes and a slight tremor through his body while he puts all of his school gear away in the appropriate places.

Then without a glance backwards he is racing up the stairs to ease the withdrawal symptoms that have become increasingly unbearable throughout the day. His whole body loosens and that tense feeling disappears. He smiles and he laughs. He feels normal again.

He's playing with his trains.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Blog Gems: My First Post

Jen at The King and I has been getting everyone to "air their archives" by posting previous "blog gems". She gives prompts and encourages bloggers to link to an old post.

Right now the prompt is to share your very first public post. I honestly didn't remember what mine was, so I went back to look, and how fitting that it was a post about poop. Dani G. will love this one.

An Afternoon Nap


Friday, December 17, 2010

The Guessing Game

For the most part I think that I'm very patient. I think I have accepted things to just be part of my life and don't sweat the small stuff.

But some days I just wonder how long I can do it for.

Like searching all over for one particular train, not even sure which one I'm looking for because Brian can't tell me, but if we don't find it he's not going to get into the bath tub.

Then emptying the bath tub and having to wait and wait and wait, because he won't get out of the tub until the last drop of water is down the drain.

Then when reading a book to him I have to start over three times because he has another book he's holding and he wants us each to turn the page at the same time.

Then waking up in the morning to him running the trains on the railing of the stairs to watch them crash on the floor. It's so loud and alarming to wake up to.

Then making his scrambled eggs in a perfect circle shape because for some reason, unknown to the rest of us, he won't eat them any other way.

Then trying to calm him down when he's insisting he can't wear a zip-up sweatshirt AND a jacket. I guess it's the two zipper thing.

Then having the entire ensemble of snow pants, boots, winter jacket, hat, mittens on when he starts crying and pulling at his pants. Something's obviously not lined up right, but he can't tell me. And he's not going out that door to school until I figure it out.

All of these things need to be in a certain way, and none of them he can actually verbalize to me, it's so much of a guessing game.

I just wonder if the rest of my existence is going to follow this guessing game.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How Autistic Are You?

The very first book I read after Brian's diagnosis regarding autism was Karyn Seroussi's Unraveling the Mystery of Autism. It was obviously a hit with me as it continued my journey to find out more about biomedical treatments of autism.

Yet another piece that Karyn mentioned that spoke to me was this idea of parents perhaps having some quirks, and what happens when both parents do and they have children.

I thought about myself. I am one odd duck. I have social anxiety problems and there is a history of anxiety in my family, on both sides actually. I do this weird finger-flap when I'm in deep thought, I also find I do it a lot when I'm looking for something. I hate the phone. I hate when I don't know the exact plan when going somewhere. I was strangely good at math and was probably hyperlexic as I was reading well before I went to kindergarten (and never went to preschool). I may not be the most organized person but put the movies out of alphabetical order and it'll drive me nuts. I'm a major introvert and would choose to be by myself or with a small intimate group over a large gathering every time.

I thought Corbin had autism when he was little. He was a late talker, never babbled. He was obsessed with his train track and laid on the floor next to the track to watch the wheels turn out of his peripheral vision. He lined EVERYTHING up. He didn't like loud noises and the wind scared the hell out of him. He made fleeting eye contact. I actually came right out and asked his speech therapist at one point if he had the A-word.

But he was social. Very social. Knowing what I know now about autism, I laugh at the thought of Corbin having it. Yet there were all those little things, but things he was able to outgrow or adapt.

Funny I was so concerned about Corbin having autism. Then so clueless about Brian having it. Looking back now I think it was because Corbin was just a slow developer (besides gross-motor anyways) so I was always aware of his deficits- from the moment he was born with heart defects. Brian was NOT that way- he progressed just fine, totally normal. Then stopped. And having that perfect progression put me in denial that anything could possibly be wrong.

I know I talk a lot about how I think that environmental factors have played a part in the increase of autism, and in Brian's autism, but I will never say that I don't think genetics has a part. I think poor Brian got all of his family's quirks plus a crappy immune and gastrointestinal system- he got that "perfect storm" that made him so vulnerable.

Hot Dog Casserole

It sparked so much interest in my last posting, that it deserved it's own post!

My Dad was a single Dad when my brother and I were little and I always try to give him kudos for working long hours, taking care of us, cooking, cleaning, teaching, and playing. I never remember him being cranky or tired though I'm sure he had to have been.

One of his cuisines he made on the regular was his hot dog casserole. It was something he could make on a budget and something my brother and I would eat without complaint. It's super simple and it's become one of those recipes I fall back on when I'm tired or the kids want a "movie night".

I don't have exact measurements but it's cooked rotini pasta, hot dogs cut up, an onion chopped up, and mozzarella cheese. Mix it all together in a casserole dish. Cut a stick of butter over the top (or use some safflower oil like we do now!), sprinkle garlic powder, salt, pepper, and bread crumbs over the top. Bake at 350 for 20 to 30 minutes.

Classic kid fare. And at least it has an onion in it, so it's not all bad. At least that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


The theme for this week's Special Needs blog hop is "Random Thoughts". I only speak in random thoughts, so this should be perfect for me.

So where to begin:

  • I totally bombed my treatment practical today and I wanted to throw up, crawl under a rock, or throw something. Wish I had a time machine so I could do it all over again.

  • On the ride home from school today Brian was chanting "Percy and Tommy, Percy and Tommy". Any idea what he went to play with as soon as he got home?

  • Corbin told his speech therapist that Brian has been flapping his hands a lot more lately. If my 8-year-old is noticing, then it's time for me to admit that something has been off again lately.

  • I really really really want a frozen strawberry margarita with sugar on the rim. Right now.

  • Brian wrote a letter to Santa at school that said he'd help me with the dishes. I'll have to thank his aide for putting that in there- because I'm holding him to it.

  • I cry easily.

  • According to Corbin's teacher, he told the whole class yesterday the reason he is so good at math is because his mom has a ton of math trophies. Now the secret that I was a high school mathlete is out.

  • We're going to eat my Dad's famous hot dog casserole for dinner and watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Don't be hating.

Want to join in the nonsense this week? Click below!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Twisted Sense of Humor

I'm sure everyone has heard me talk about Corbin's interest in crying "It's not Fair!", when it comes to some rules that are different between him and Brian. Sometimes he is right.

Take for instance- watching things on television. I will admit, with my head hung in shame, that I sometimes will watch inappropriate things when just Brian is around, thinking he's not soaking it up or paying any attention at all. One should never, ever assume that about a child with autism, by the way.

The other evening Brian fell asleep at 5:00. No poking, prodding, shaking, tickling could wake him up. Of course he was up at 11:00 ready to play, the same time I was just snuggling into my bed. If I'm still awake at that time you can almost always bet I either have my television on Family Guy on Adult Swim or the Chelsea Lately show. I warmed up some of the night's dinner and invited Brian to eat it in my bed, and Family Guy was in the background.

We were good like that for a few minutes and Brian seemed totally involved in his food. There was a hilarious, completely uncalled-for joke, and I was giggling inside, when Brian let out a loud chorus of chuckles. I looked at him and he was completely engrossed in the show.

Still, being the lazy, tired Mom I was, I didn't change the channel. Seconds later, Stewie was punching Lois, and another large round of laughs from Brian.

He definitely gets a lot more than he lets on.

And I'm a bit concerned that he finds it funny when Stewie beats up his mom.

And yes, the television went off at that point.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Did You Know That Autism is on the Rise?

This semester I spent time volunteering at Coastal Opportunities, which is a wonderful non-profit organization, that provides living supports, day-habilitation services, vocational support, and so much more to adults with intellectual disabilities and/or autism. I could go on forever with how wonderful I think they are but that's not really the cause of this sporadic posting.

I'm going to do a presentation tomorrow at school about this service and this population and I was researching more into our state's resources as to why in the world there are waiting lists for such valuable services and I stumbled across this report that Maine put together on Autism last year. Particularly this jumped out at me....

In 1984 there were fewer than 40 individuals identified as having autism in Maine. To provide services to them, the 111th Legislature passed the Autism Act of 1984. Today, in 2009, our schools serve 2,222 students identified with autism.

And then in a document titled, "Realities of Living in Maine with A Disability", had this chart....

I know, old news, right? Autism is rising at an exponential rate. But it still gets me every time. Takes my breath away, want to pull out my hair, and just scream, "Why does no one notice? Or care??".

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Our Own Language

The longer time I spend with my kids, the stranger I become. One of the side effects of this phenomenom is how our language has evolved into one that outsiders may not fully understand.

For example:

  • Wonko (noun): silly, hyperactive person- derived from the British term, wonky.

    "Corbin, stop screaming about your boogers at the top of your lungs! You are being such a wonko!"

  • Peenee (noun): a slang word, invented by Corbin, for the male organ

    I don't think there is any need to use this one in a sentence. I think you get the idea.

  • Lubba-Dubba-Doo (noun): love, hugs, and kisses

    A friend of mine's grandmother always would say to him (and all other family members), "Give me some of that lubba-dubba-doo". I liked it, so I stole it.

  • Snuggle-buggle (noun): one who likes to cuddle

    "You are being such a snuggle-buggle and I love it," said affectionately when Brian climbs into my bed at five in the morning.
  • Easy-Going Brother

    I'm always being asked how Corbin and Brian get along. What their relationship is like. I can't say anything bad about it. In fact, they get along better than most any other siblings I've seen. I always thought part of it was that Brian was pretty easy going. He usually won't fight Corbin over a toy. He'll follow Corbin anywhere. Granted, ninety percent of the time their play is only parallel. They're each playing their own thing. But they are always in the same room together and respecting each other's space.

    Last night, my beautiful, wonderful, sweet three-year-old niece spent the night. The boys love her and she loves them but they really haven't spent too much time together, at least for long periods of time.

    As the evening went on I started to hear a lot more "Brian Be Quiet!" when we were all trying to watch Elf and Brian was jumping back and forth, flapping, yelling "Eeee, Eeee, Eeee". In the bath she didn't want him to put the train tracks on the side of the tub (which he does for every single bath) and it was causing some big time stress for Brian. When Brian made a pillow crash pad on the floor next to the couch to do some repetitive jumping, she wanted to lay on the pillows. (DISCLAIMER: Sabrina, Scarlett is absolutely wonderful and don't take this the wrong way! I know how you overreact!)

    None of these things are a big deal , but they made me realize how much Corbin does deal with. I just don't see it and maybe he doesn't either, because it's been this way for years now. It's just part of our life.

    I honestly don't hear Brian making his loud yelling noises if I'm concentrating on something else. Corbin likes to play Bakugans in the tub but he can do that with train tracks on the side of the tub, because they are just always there, and he most likely barely notices it now. When Brian has set up some sort of deep pressure obstacle course, Corbin just stays out of the way or he joins in.

    My original theory of Brian being easy-going may be backwards, I think it's us that have become easy-going. It's us that have just accepted Brian and learned how to continue on with our lives AROUND any oddities or quirks. To some outsiders, this may seem strange or maybe even sad for Corbin. I, on the other hand, think he is learning empathy, patience, compassion, and so much more and it will shape him into a very amazing young man. Brian couldn't ask for a better big brother.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Brian's Admirers

    I volunteer in Brian's classroom on Monday mornings and I usually arrive a little early so I can watch circle time.

    Brian uses a backjack chair to help him sit up, rather than sprawl all over the rug, and also gives him a clearer idea of his own personal space.

    I love watching him go and grab it out of it's spot at the side of the classroom and carry it over to the rug and find a spot to sit. A lot of the time he likes to put it on top of the letter "B", but if I'm there he tries to make sure it's close to whatever table I'm working at, while still staying on the rug.

    The chair is a little awkward to manipulate, especially when someone is only using one hand because the other hand is being sucked on. It's even harder when he has five little girls that seem to be attached to him by magnets, following him around, pushing each other, to make sure they are the ones next to him when he finally find the perfect spot.

    It's so funny how little girls are so attentive to Brian. It was the same way last year. I'm almost positive it's because most little girls have that nurturing instinct in them. They want to help him and hug him, and he'll let them, unlike many other little boys.

    I hope these girls that he grows up with will always be there to lend a helping hand, I know these things change when they age. And I hope he grows to appreciate it, because right now he's not giving much back to those little girls, besides making sure their clothes are always hair-free (another obsession of his).