Thursday, November 30, 2006

Play Doh? Are You Kidding Me!?!

The names and emails of the innocents have been changed for their own protection..but this is a note we got from Demetrius’ Kindergarten teacher today via email…..

D walked up to a group of children and said, “Hey guys, what are you doing?” They responded in unison, “Playing play dough.” He said, “Can I play?” “Sure!” they shouted.
Only played for about a minute and then he left the table, but it was really exciting!

I’ll take that minute everyday, any day.

Posted by Jerry in 20:19:23 | Permalink | Comments (3)

This Posting Is So Sappy You Should Listen To The Carpenters While Reading It

I’ve intimated, and hinted many times that Kim has the hardest, and greatest, job in the world ‘managing’ the kids. Every family has to make its choices, but I consider the Grassos one of the luckiest families around (except when I complain about spending too much money, but that’s a ‘Jerry thing’) in that she gets to stay home with the kids at this stage in their lives. Especially with Demetrius’ condition… but regardless of it, we are lucky we have the option to make this choice. She sees things happen that I only get to hear about at dinner. Which then is right before we take our baths and read and go to sleep. I get two hours a night with them most nights. That means for five days of the seven in a week, I get about ten hours with the kids. Even though I know my role, it is never enough while they are this little. Maya is still small enough that she wants to sit on my lap for no reason..and when the rose bush blooms, she gets excited watching it happen each day.

And sometimes those things that I hear about at dinner happen again over the weekend, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they are good things, sometimes bad…but they are what we all are, and I hate missing them.

I take comfort in knowing that the kids gets cuddles from Mommy when they get up versus having to ‘get a serious move on it’ because Mommy has to be at work at 8:30am…or when Demetrius has a hard day at school that she’s right there at the bus stop waiting for him. Same for Maya when she goes out to the carpool to be picked up from pre-school…or that they all get to go outside and play or walk Buddy. They get to make cookies or cake…or just chat about aimless kid stuff (with Maya, this doesn’t happen with the boy), or play Legos, or along a different vein – that Mommy is right there in the waiting room when therapy is over. So if there is something that one of the therapists sees or needs to discuss, positive or negative, they can address it with Kim immediately. It isn’t a note to be read later after a long day at work.

So when I am frustrated about work, or am sitting in an hour or so worth’s of traffic on the way to or from the office, I think about this stuff. Do I romanticize it a bit? Of course I do. I know Kim’s wiping noses, vacuuming, negotiating TV time, fighting with little ones that are developing their independence and watching an autistic boy be…well, autistic and constantly worry about what she is seeing and what is happening in front of her… and having her heartbroken seeing and experiencing all the things I am hardly aware of on daily basis or she just doesn’t want to talk about and stir up again – like him not playing with other kids outside, or when he wanders into other peoples houses…or answer the questions from the other kids about why he is the way he is.

So you might be thinking, what’s the posting about? Well, last night I read to Maya and snuggled her and her 27 teddy bears as she went to bed and she was falling asleep (I was watching her snuggled in next me) and she said to me, completely unexpectedly, that she ‘had a really good day’ and that she was ‘glad Harrison could come play’ and that she is excited about going to the ‘Nutcracker’ with Mommy on Friday with her class…and that she’ll get to eat lunch with Mommy and her friends too (its two days away kid, I know you can hardly wait). It just got me to thinking about all these things….

And then Kim was making the kids breakfast this morning, and they were all at the table eating together…

Well hell, sometimes you should just feel good about things, right? Sometimes, too infrequently I might add, I am thankful that the three of them have this time together. Even if I’m missing it, one of us is there – and I’m thankful for that…

Of course, the American Express bill should be arriving any day now…and I’ll be a bit grumpy again. ☺

Go hug your kid and/or your significant other. It could be worse, or it could be better – but whatever it is – it is yours. Make the most of it today if you can.

Posted by Jerry in 13:48:53 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Charlie Brown Christmas = Not Going To Sleep

It was fun to watch, but not to go to sleep to

Demetrius came home early from school yesterday with a cold/cough, so he lounged around the house all day…but could hardly contain his enthusiasm to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

Now, it starts later than we usually let the kids stay up….so we try to have them in bed at 8pm, which is when it started… so they got ready and brushed their teeth early, so they could watch and march their butts to bed as soon as it was over.

But that doesn’t mean the boy went right to sleep. His sister crashed, but he was juiced after watching the show.

10pm-ish, I was laying in bed, and I heard him singing that high-pitched song they all sing when skating around a the start of the special… “Christmas Time Is Here”….he only obviously recognized the words ‘Christmas time is here….’, but he knows the melody, so he kept repeating it, and repeating it…in that high-pitched kid song….

So I was up until he was asleep.  No threat worked to get him quiet either…even the, “I’ll take all your Supermans from you in your bed (He sleeps with three or four Superman action figures) if you don’t be quiet and go nite-nite” meant nothing to him.

So I think we both conked out around 11pm…and I heard all of this down the hall, which means he was bellowing it….

Good news is that his sister can sleep through anything, even bad Charlie Brown cartoon music….

Posted by Jerry in 20:19:54 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Yesterday’s IEP Meeting

I like an IEP meeting where all the important people in the Boy’s schooling sit down at a table and they all jointly decree, “Everything is going fine.” That’s translated into he’s achieving on his IEP with his modifications, AND he is on task for learning what it is the other kindergartners are learning to move on to first grade.

So, everything is going fine.

That isn’t to say that we didn’t have plenty to talk about though.

There were four big issues that we discussed:
1.    Demetrius has begun really seeking out tactile stimulation lately
2.    Movie/TV talk
3.    How do we start having his assistant pull back so he has to force himself to interact, ‘listen the first time’, and react to the teacher’s (Ms. Ball’s) directions/instructions
4.    Appropriate prompting

You could say that 3 and 4 are similar or congruent or the same, but we broke them up and addressed them separately.

The tactile is maybe the easiest – as we can send to school ‘scrunchy balls’ etc…to help him with the tactile stimulation he needs to better stay focused.  The TV/Movie Talk will be the toughest – because it is the voice in his head, and we think that at times he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it.  One idea is to create a prompt that shows how people feel when he does movie talk… ‘sad’, ‘angry’ faces etc…because he just doesn’t understand other people that well, that doing this might give some context on when it is appropriate, or inappropriate, to do it. 

A funny side note – Ms. Ball has set up a chair for him to sit in when he needs to do ‘movie talk’ except when he sits there, he just does so quietly…and never talks at all while in the chair.

Go figure.

3 & 4: To get Demetrius to follow direction (prompting) better on his own, we discussed ways to have his assistant step back and force him to take action, versus his leaning on her as a ‘crutch’ to give him instruction/direction that the teacher just gave.  One idea is visual prompts, like a picture of a set of eyes, to look at just before Ms. Ball starts talking so he knows his eyes need to be ‘on her’… another is that instead of his assistant (Ms. Gambill) giving him the direction again, have him learn to lean over ‘to a friend’ to get the answer/direction.  We don’t want to put responsibility on a little one to teach D, but to have him seek out answers if he is confused or such. There were a few others, like oral prompts ‘chin up’ to get him to look and listen and pay attention, but we all were in agreement that he is so visual, that this might be the direction to go first.  We could as get him a list of ‘rules’ – like pay attention when Ms. Ball is talking or symbols mean things – a yellow circle means pay attention to teachers.

We are going to meet again in early February to see how all these are working, and once they have their (teachers/therapists) strategies in place, we are going to mimic them at home to ensure consistency for Demetrius.

I’m hopeful, though I said that the meeting in February is really, for me, a switch around meeting, that instead of talking about ‘how’s he doing in Kindergarten’ it becomes, ‘is what he is doing enough to get him into mainstream first grade’ with or without an aide/assistant.  Right now the answer is yes, but with an assistant.  My hope is that this remains the case, but with less of a need for one to get through the day.

Overall though – a great meeting…..

Posted by Jerry in 19:25:04 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sunday Shopping For Maya And Mommy

Demetrius had an exhausting 24 hours, and it looks like he’s coming down with a cold, and that’s no wonder because he’s been on the go this whole vacation (that and the weather is still going back and forth between the 40s/50s and the 60s/70s).

Yesterday, the two of us had a Daddy/Son shopping day for his sister and Mommy at the mall…and because the weather so was beautiful, it wasn’t as painful as I figured it to be. It was very enjoyable and he was very engaged in buying stuff for his sister…obviously less so for his Mother. After one point at one store for his Mom, you could just tell shopping there was killing him slowly….he announced, “Lets go to lunch, Daddy!” We did, and he ate as slowly as he could to keep from going to other stores with Dad for Mom.

But he was so good at this store that the woman helping us told us he was the best boy in the store all day…and gave him a bottle of water and a cookie! Holy Cow was he proud of himself.

When he got home he was shot. Kids came over and played in the yard and he was out of it, he didn’t interface with any of the kids and just wanted to veg out by himself. Even though the mall wasn’t crazy there was lots of noise (Xmas music), lots of lights are up, his wiring might have gotten messed up….and little did I know at the time he was coming down with a cold…so that played into to.

One funny: while he was eating lunch the waitress brought by a little bite sized piece of pumpkin cheesecake for him to try – it had walnuts on it. She put it right in front of him – in front of his bowl of buttered pasta and broccoli – and he made a face and said to her, “I hate pumpkin cheesecake!” My guess – out of 100 kids, 99 give a big goofy grin, and one autistic kid makes a face (see photo below) and says he hates. Oh, don’t get me wrong, once I took the nuts off he ate it…but he gave the stink eye to the waitress for the rest of the time.

These poor people, if they just understood all the rules….

He also had his friend Joseph spend the night and his Charlie Brown movie went back to Blockbuster….so a big 24 hours.

We’ll see if we get a call from school today saying he’s sick and to come get him….

Finally, Demetrius’ IEP meeting at the school is today to measure performance, plenty to post about that tomorrow…..

Demetrius played with these loops for a good :05 at the restaurant, which I’ve never seen him do before. He was very engrossed. He’s typically the ‘I can’t really concentrate on anything’ autistic kid, versus the tunnel vision type….but this grabbed his fancy for sure

Happy boy (notice the missing tooth), no longer shopping in ‘Mommy Stores’ and eagerly awaiting cheesy pasta and veggies at the restaurant, but that smile went away once the cheesecake showed up….

And anguish over walnuts replaced pleasure over pasta…good thing Daddy ate the nuts, or that piece of dessert would be ruined!

Posted by Jerry in 15:22:22 | Permalink | Comments Off

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Pinestraw and Kim’s Quick Thinking

We had a crisis yesterday.  We got a phone call from the place Maya is supposed to have her Birthday Party at in the morning telling us that they had closed up shop: two weeks before the party.


First, they refunded us our money.  Whew.  Second, Kim had a back up plan getting Maya booked for a party the day after the originally scheduled party at a place called Jump Zone (kids love these places) for about half as much moola as we had allotted for the first place.

So, big ups to my wife.

Maya was not so upset…she’s still little enough to not have gotten excited about the specifics, she’s just excited about the concept of her birthday party.  So to trade it from one fun place to another is okay with her…as long as she still has it and she still gets presents. Laughing

Yesterday we did more chores…I kinda sorta helped Kim hang some drapes (I held things for her) and put the pinestraw down in the yard. I had ‘help’ for about five minutes, until Demetrius got poked in the arms and hands by the straw: he wanted nothing to do with it after that, so he took off in the backyard to play. Not agreeable tactile stimulation by any stretch… But I’ve done ‘bending over’ yardwork for the past two days, and my back hurts.  I’m a wimp.

We had a grown up night out with the Carraghers, dinner and a movie. Nice.  At one point though, some high schoolers behind us were chatting away on their cellphones in the middle of the movie (ahh, to be 16 and not be aware of anyone but yourself) and I had to use the Mean-Grown-Up-Mind-Your-Manners-Daddy-voice, “Hang Up The Phone, Now!”

The kid looked at me like I was his principal at school and just caught him cheating on a test, he put the phone down in his pocket.  Then they all left the movie (about five in that group).  I don’t think I scared them off, but it wasn’t really what they wanted to do, they wanted to chat and kind of watch the movie…I guess they weren’t paying a sitter and were experiencing a rare night out of the house.

So maybe I actually did scare them off – its my quarterly night out with the wife, DAMMIT!  Behave young one!

Posted by Jerry in 14:28:54 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Breakfast To Go?

Cute story:

Where we start our Saturday morning run is by a Starbucks…but more importantly, it is by a restaurant that Kim and the kids love, called J. Christopers. So after the run, I called to see if they were interested in meeting for breakfast. They were. I ordered for them – they came in just as the food was served, they ate, they left and went to Target (remember – TOOTH FAIRY MONEY!). I stayed behind and paid the bill, and drove home. Now I’m blogging.

I am glad I know my place. Sealed

Poor Daddy? Nah – Maya gave me good snuggles in the booth, she ate my fruit and loved her egg nog French Toast she shared with Mommy. I can’t complain, but I thought it was funny how they came late, ate and left. Good gig if you can get it. Wink

Posted by Jerry in 15:13:33 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Relaxing Friday

Fridays after Thanksgiving are supposed to be relaxing….or frustrating….For a guy, that means either watching a ton of rivalry football, or going to the mall.  So that’s a guy?  But what about a Daddy?

Well, for this Daddy, today meant that I went for a a four mile run; then did about three hours of yardwork; then took the kids on a nature walk; then about an hour at the playground; then we went for ice cream (without Mommy, she’s doing Christmas decorations); then we dropped Demetrius off…and then Daddy and Maya went off to the school to practice on the soccer field riding our bike without training wheels (SHE DID AWESOME! FIRST PUSH AND SHE RODE FOR 3 MINUTES BEFORE SHE FELL OVER) then we came home and I made noodles and peas for dinner…

Mommy pulled out Demetrius’ loose tooth and Daddy had to calm him down because he was pissed at Mommy for doing it (only when he realized that when the tooth fairy left him money to go Target with did he calm down)…then Daddy finally sat down to blog.

Folks. I’m tired, but what a relaxing day.  Tomorrow, I have a six mile run with Buddy, then I have pine straw to put down in the beds (couldn’t be delivered today) and then I have to work with Maya on her bike riding, and then off to dinner and a movie with the Carraghers and Little Joseph (or Joesz, as his Mom and Dad call him) spending the night…..Saturday looks like as relaxing as Friday did.

The End.

And I did all of this without coffee!

Posted by Jerry in 02:14:08 | Permalink | Comments (1) »

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Posting

Hey guys: Happy Turkey Day!  A short posting today, but it is not because I don’t love you all….

Here are a couple of sites to visit I’ve discovered over the past 24 hours. I’ve also added both to the Blogroll:

Got off work a bit early yesterday, but unfortunately, the media never sleeps.  So I worked until about 4pm here at the house…and then helped Kim discipline the kids. They were basically monsters…3 days of from school and movies…but then they got bored, and the real fun of irritating Mom and Dad begun.

Fun, fun stuff….Everyone eat too much turkey, okay?  Lora – did you make the Mac and Cheese? :-)

Posted by Jerry in 17:18:13 | Permalink | Comments Off

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Letters To Santa

The kids are juiced.  Way juiced.  They are getting the concept that they are out of school for Thanksgiving, and then the wild, 24/7 Christmas mania starts.  Last night while they were watching TV it was, “I want that!”  “Maya, do you want that?” etc….I had it, so I took matters into my own hands…  We thus broke out pen and pad (for Demetrius this was a fate worse than death…until he found out….) for the letter to Santa.

Never has Demetrius written a clearer, more beautifully handwritten letter than he did for Santa Claus.

Demetrius is asking for a BlueMan Group Keyboard Experience, which surprised me as I have not heard him ask for anything like this in the past, but it is good to see him ask for something non-action-figure!  Maya wants My Little Pony stuff, which is expected.  She’s at that age….I just hope she realizes she’s getting toys, and not the real thing.

Her birthday is in two weeks also, so she’ll rake it in there also…..

Thinking out loud though, I am pretty sure we want to put this keyboard contraption down in the basement for Demetrius to play with….

Posted by Jerry in 16:38:00 | Permalink | Comments (1) »