Famous Kids

Today I was almost reduced to writing about the mushroom I found growing in my backyard. I am that low on material since my little muses shrugged on their backpacks and headed off to school. It’s a problem. Fortunately, I didn’t spend my whole day today sitting in front of my computer, thus no fungi for you.

Today was the year’s first Wall of Fame ceremony. Usually the Wall of Fame is for kids who achieve a certain level on their monthly school assessments, but the first one is for all the kids who completed their summer homework packets.

Sam and Jack were both on the Wall of Fame this month. I took nothing but bad photos of them during the actually ceremony, so all I have to present to you are the photos I took of their Wall of Fame mugshots that hang on the wall (the Wall of Fame as it were) in the hallway of the school.

Lest you think I’m strange, I’m not the only one who was taking photos of the photos.

Sam was on the Wall of Fame, not just for doing his summer packet, but he also earned the citizenship award for his class. So now he has a certificate with his name and the word “respect” on it. Every time he gets all insolent from now on, I’m going to wave it in his face. I might start carrying it with me at all times.

During the ceremony, Sam spent a lot of time focused on the girl sitting to his right. Like, a lot of attention. Like, interested-in-girls a lot of attention. The scandal here—other than the fact that Sam is but a wee baby and shouldn’t be noticing girls yet—is that the girl sitting to his right was NOT the girl with whom he exchanges phone calls.

I will keep you posted.

Jack, per usual, was thrilled to be on the Wall of Fame. He earned it too. He worked hard on that packet. At some point near the end of the summer, I kind of tried to plant a seed in his head that he didn’t actually have to do the summer packet if he didn’t want to, but he insisted on doing it so he could be on the Wall of Fame, so we had to super buckle down to get it all done.

Honestly, between that summer packet and ESY, he worked harder than anyone this summer.

Get a load of those eyebrows in that mugshot. His eyebrows have always been one of the cutest parts of him.

I was naturally very proud of my two older guys, but I think the best part of my day was when I ran into Quinn. He wasn’t eligible for the Wall of Fame because incoming kindergarteners don’t get summer packets, but I did run into his class when it was marching down the hallway in a little line.

I waited until he saw me, while wondering if I was going to completely blow his little mind. The stages of recognition that his face went through when he saw me are almost indescribable, but quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

Each stage (La, la, la, la, la, I’m walking in a line…—>There’s an adult standing there.—>I know that adult…—>Hey! That’s my mom!—>What is my mom doing here?—>Oh, right. She’s here for the Wall of Fame.—>I need to immediately hug her!) registered for a split second until he ran out of line to give me a hug. It was adorable.

So, yeah, I had to give up a couple hours of my precious time to hang out with my munchkins at their school, but it was well worth it. In fact, it makes me itchy to start volunteering. I like hanging out with the kids at that school. Especially mine.

Time Hoarder

So it has been almost exactly a month since all three of my kids have been in school full time. This means that I have about six and a half hours of time without my kids each day.

I have to say that I’ve really been enjoying this time. It’s not that I don’t love spending time with my kids, but it is so much easier to be present and engaged with them when they are with me when I also have some time without them. I am excited to get them off the bus in the afternoon. I look forward to their arrival at home.

Wanna hear a secret?

Some days I even miss them.

I am still getting used to having my six hours. I jealously guard each minute of it. I don’t want to waste any of it. I had to go to the post office today and I could feel that half hour slipping out of my day. I have an appointment tomorrow that takes a while to drive to and from. I am already resenting it. I don’t like wasting my valuable alone time with annoying errands.

I am hopeful that this time hoarding eases as I get used to having it. I think it will.

I do know that I have been getting a lot done. I feel like I am just catching up with all of the stuff that I let slide a little and now I’ll be able to start working on some of my bigger projects. I work from home at night and I’ve been able to shift that to work from home during the day, but I’m still trying to figure out how to fit everything in without having to do so much at night or on the weekends.

Plus, I have to figure out how to routinely clean my house and exercise daily. I also haven’t started volunteering at the school yet. My big goal, however, is to not take on anything new. So far I’m doing well at that.

Probably the best thing about having time during they day is that I’ve been going to sleep before midnight almost every night. This is a huge change from my days of staying up until 2 a.m. almost every night. I feel lots better.

It’s not enough time though. There is still never enough time.

The addition of six kid-free hours though? It’s good. It’s so very, very good.

Dipshit Friday: The You’re Glad You’re Not Our Pet Edition

Welcome to Dipshit Friday, where I tell you something embarrassing about myself. This is different from every other day of the week because I put a fun little button to the left there.

Feel free to grab the button and play along on your own blog!

Today I’ll be telling you about something terribly funny that Alex and I did to our dog in October of 2000. October 31, 2000, specifically. You might be aware that October 31 is Halloween and that the year 2000 was a time before Alex and I had children—human children, that is.

What do you do with kids on Halloween? You dress ‘em up. What do you do with (furry) kids who can’t talk back and object to what you dress ‘em up in? You put them in embarrassing, albeit adorable, costumes.

 Just look at her jaunty clown cap!

The neighborhood children found her hilarious. You know, after she stopped barking at them. I feel that the joy she got out of greeting porchful after porchful of kids made up for the abject humiliation of the costume itself.

She should really just feel fortunate that they don’t make giant red clown noses (or shoes!) that fit dogs.

I do feel that the blame for this Dipshit Friday lies not on me and Alex (him: “That was one of the stupider things we have done. Not the stupidest, but…”), but rather on the enormous pet industry that produces all of these costumes. Because, frankly, it is nearly impossible to resist a dog costume that has those little blue pompoms on the front legs.

A Query and a Link

Does anyone else feel like it’s a major victory when you unexpectedly run into someone you know in public and you’re not doing anything embarrassing?

Because I do. My standards are ridiculously low for myself.

*****

I have a cold and feel kinda crappy. I think it has  a lot to do with my kids having gone back to the germ factory*. I’m going to go wallow in a pile of blankets and used tissues, but before I go, I will send you off to rediscover The Junk Pyramid and my first new post there for a long time. Call it The Junk Pyramid 2.0.

That is all.

* school

*****

Edited to add: The above situation didn’t actually happen to me in the last few days. It just occurred to me that after I run into someone I do a little mental rundown: Did I know who they were? Were my clothes appropriate for leaving the house? Did I make an idiotic joke? Were my kids throwing a tantrum at the time? Was I picking at any skin abnormalities or orifices*? You get the point.

* orifi? orifae?

The Lizard That Ate Jack’s Shirt

I don’t know why I continue to ask Jack how school was every day when he gets off the bus, because everyday he says the same thing: “Awesome.”

Well, maybe it’s just because I like hearing “awesome.”

Regardless, today I asked him how school was and he said, “awesome.” But then his eyes drifted to the side and he said, “Yeah, except for in math.”

“What happened in math?” I asked.

He answered, “Ms. B brought a lizard and it nibbled my shirt.” Then he unzipped his sweatshirt and showed me his t-shirt collar, which had been ripped about half way off his shirt.

I’m going to give you a warning here: Don’t fall for Jack’s lies.

That lizard? Well, last year the gym teacher brought it to school and it nibbled one of Jack’s shirts then. The lizard has also made more than one appearance in my home, nibbling not just on Jack’s shirt, but on one of my curtains.

I have a feeling that the lizard looks a lot like Jack. Also that it occasionally transmogrifies into a pair of scissors.

Usually the lizard doesn’t need scissors though. If I send Jack to school in clothing with a tiny hole in it, that hole will get ripped over the course of the day to a gaping tear…

What? You don’t send your kids to school in clothes with holes in them? (Is this like the time when I revealed that it had never occurred to me to put a napkin in my kids’ lunchboxes? Honestly, I could use a social skills group myself.)

Jack is pretty insistent about the existence of the lizard (and where he came up with that, I do not know), but he was at least able to admit that if I were to ask his teacher about the lizard that she would not necessarily back up his story but would instead say “Maybe.”

I think, in fact, that she would probably do what I do, which is pretend to be stern and try not to let Jack know how hilarious he can be.

Unfortunately, I think he knows.

Autism Unexpected: Autism Evaluations: Forms, Forms and More Forms

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Jack, my son with autism, has been evaluated many, many times. Pediatricians, speech therapists, school officials, psychologists, developmental specialists, occupational therapists—you name it, he’s been evaluated by it.

As different as each of these specialists and evaluations have been, they all have something in common: I’ve had to fill out pages and pages of detailed forms for each of them. I loathe these forms. I’ve filled out dozens of pages of developmental questionnaires about Jack, and honestly, I’ve probably answered the same question differently each time.

It’s really hard to remember many of the specifics the forms ask about. When did your child consistently put two words together? At what age did your child say his first sentence? At what age was he able to use a fork and spoon without spilling? When were you first concerned about your child’s development?

It doesn’t help that many of these milestones occurred when Jack was two and my youngest son was an infant. Between sleep deprivation, trying to take care of three very young children and attempting to keep up my various responsibilities, there is a whole year of my life that I have little to no recollection of. Unfortunately, it was during that year that Jack learned the alphabet. But what month? I can’t remember!

Some of these things are in Jack’s baby books or his medical records. Jack first smiled when he was one and a half months old. It says in his baby book that Jack’s first word was “mama” at just under a year and that he said both “uh-oh” and “hello” at 16 months. I know I was concerned about Jack’s development at age two, because he was evaluated—and found to not qualify for services—by the county early intervention program when he was two and a half. (I filled out forms for them too.)

Yet even with my decent record keeping, there are huge gaps in my memory. When I fill out these forms, the details seem so crucial and important. I hope the specialists looking at them know that many of the answers are guesswork. I can’t imagine that I’m the only mom who extrapolates when her child first zipped his coat by remembering that it had to have happened in the winter, but we still had the old car, so it must have been November 2005.

Jack is going in for another evaluation next month. Tonight, I plan to sit down with a stack of forms, Jack’s baby book, and folders full of prior evaluations. I will write down what age I think Jack first rode a tricycle, when he was potty trained, and how he played with toys when he was a baby. Hopefully, at least some of the information will be accurate.

Originally published at Autism Unexpected on September 21, 2010.

Hey, Look! It’s the Crazy Cat Blogger!

Yeah, I know. I was all, “I’m done writing about my cat for a while.” Turns out I’m a big fat liar.

I took Izzy to the vet last Friday and her bloodwork is much better than it had been. I think she’s doing really well. I mean, the vet is still filling out her insurance papers by giving her a 2/5 on her “body condition score” and keeps answering the question, “Was this accident or illness fatal?” with “not yet,” but I think she’s doing well.

It’s like she’s going out of her way to stab me in the heart.

Anyway, things are going well with the medicine and fluids I have to give her. Except, well, there is this medicine that the vet gave me that I was supposed to replace with an over the counter version when it ran out, but it turns out that the over the counter version is mint flavored and when I told the pharmacist that it was for a cat, he was all, “Well maybe the cat will like it and, hey, my girlfriend has a tattoo kinda like yours. Let’s talk about THAT instead.”

The pharmacist can compound the medicine with chicken flavoring (Aside: anyone else think it’s funny that the pharmacist has chicken flavoring?), but he needs a prescription. Until I get that prescription, poor little Izzy is going to have minty fresh breath.

Izzy really has been enjoying her special canned food, although she is still not hale enough to notice that she sometimes eats it four inches away from a cage of mice.

Izzy and her tiny black and white doppelgänger.

I only feed her there sometimes and that is only because when she came home from the vet hospital, she hunkered down in the corner of the kitchen counter behind Mouse Town. It was weird.

Now she wanders around all over the house, which is great because I think she feels better, but is bad because I can’t leave regular cat kibble out for Denali, my other cat, hereafter known as Hungry Angry Cat.

I can haz my goddamn fud?

Today the two of them kept me busy keeping them away from each other’s food. They both seemed hungry and I was working, so I put their respective bowls of food on the ground next to me.

Wow. Denali is two times bigger than Izzy—AND blends into the carpet.

The only problem was that Denali kept trying to eat Izzy’s food and Izzy kept trying to eat Denali’s food and I had to keep picking up food bowls and putting them on my desk depending on which cat would show up and meow at me.

I can haz Stimey as my bitch?

Seriously. The cats just went from being the easiest little beings in the house to the most labor intensive. Stupid lovable animals.